I am a Maker

Like my Creator I too have been given the blessing of being able to create. I have been given hands that can hold my instruments, and a mind that can see things that are not yet there. I have seen beauty beget beauty and deep searing pain beget beauty. I have seen that which seems impossible and made it so. I make words work together. I make small beautiful things to adorn people and places.

I work on my artistry and craft for the same reason I write here…for therapy. Every piece has held, helped, and healed a moment in my life that was joyful or painful. Each piece I have crafted is a monument to my desire to make beautiful things as I have been made into a beautiful thing. To remind others that though they adorn their homes and themselves with my work, they have been adorned with a souls, crafted by the greatest hands of an Almighty Craftsman.

I work to remind the world, that if you want beautiful things you must…absolutely must….stop starving the artists.

Below is a collection of some of my small adornments. They are a combination of metals and natural materials. If you’d like to see more you’re welcome to visit my business Facebook page.

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Nostalgic for Another Age

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor holds my thoughts a lot lately as I’ve been reading it. In a time where wealth, elitism, and a hostile environment towards modernism in art and Jewish culture become a chaotic romantic period all its own. I continually think about what it must have been like to be part of high society. To live with papers writing about you and to see painters display portraits of yourself commissioned and hung on gallery walls. To live during a time of revolution and oppression all at once.

I often think about the way things were then. About what being a young woman in society looked like. The oppression of the feminine sexuality in the brink of its liberation. A time when social standing could be both a blessing and a curse to the private and social life depending on the pastime you chose as a lady. The more I read about it, the more I find myself wishing to ah e lived it. To be part of the golden revolution of sexuality and modernism. To go to fashionable parties and meet the artists of the time, talk to hem about their artistry, to speak on political climates and to spend time bejeweled in gowns at operas with friends.

Most days I wish I was born in another era.

What I both love and loath about the time is he way men treated women. Male callers would respectfully call on you and show you a good time, but to be seen as anything but virtuous while out with the male caller would mean the complete destruction of your eligibility were things not to work out. If you were less fortunate, you’re marriages would be arranged, with wealthy older men who probably had mistresses and STDs. Still, the glamor of the wealthy lifestyle would have been nice. To own palaces and fine jewelry. To attend social events regularly at salons to exchange new and exciting ideas. To get dressed to the aces and go out dancing as a single debutante. The thrill of being chased after, and the thrill of knowing you had a chance against all chances to sense the changing tide of female liberation.

Of course, the book I’m reading takes placed during both WWI and WWII. With political anxiety at its height threatening the liberation you so desperately were seeking and the research of Freud was so nearly honoring, only to be swept under the rug of war along with racism. What a trying, terrifying, and anxious time it would be to live in, if we are being realistic. Not something to envy.

Still, I romanticize the idea of living high society life in those days at its glamorous height. I envision myself much like the rebellious women of the time. Sensually dressed in the latest forbidden fashions. Frequenting salons to talk on the artistic and political climate (which only means talking about men, which I would be a considerable advocate of being young, single, and allowed my forgivable ignorance). Sipping champagne and tea on hot afternoons in galleries, alone and mysterious…and stubbornly unchaperoned. Loudly fighting for women’s suffrage and rights at the turn of the century.

Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about it a lot. Wondering why such things no longer take place? Though, to be realistic once again, such lifestyles require not just wealth, but elitism, something most Americans, myself included, would cringe at. That is the unfortunate issue with fantasies like this…they have so many negatives about them that at the end of the day you wonder how good could anyone in high society, then or now, really have it? Still, the shallow part of me wishes being able to dress up and go to respectable house parties Gatsby style wouldn’t be too bad if one could avoid the drama and times were fairly peaceful.

Fallen Tree

Days passed. As they did, the demise of the felled tree in the neighboring house’s back yard became more and more apparent. The leaves turned a triumphant gold before withering to brown and wilting to the ground. The remnants of crab apples clung to the dead and dying branches, their last chance at life, withering hopelessly as they clung.

Our neighbor had died some months ago, and while the yard was still being kept, nothing was done to remove the old fallen crab apple tree from the yard for several weeks. I inspected the thing the day after it fell. During a storm, the night before, the winds had howled ominously and the rain beat the ground hard, as if the earth its self had committed some kind of terrible crime they sky could not, and would not forgive. It was no punishment for the ground, despite the violence, because the ground took in the water, practically dying of thirst from the many dry and hot days that came before the storm’s relief.

I contemplated the dying tree as I sat with a large cup of tea in one hand, and my feet planted firmly on the freshly cut grass. How long until all things fall and die? How long did that tree stand for before it’s unexpected demise? How long had the old widow next door (who I can say I never saw nor met) lived in that house and for how long alone? I could not and cannot say. We saw the ambulance take her away, and heard from another neighbor she had passed.

She was as much a mystery to me as her death. No. As death itself.

Until After the Wedding

Every word she spoke increased my sorrow, and made me realize just how bad my parents relationship had become. Not that I didn’t suspect it at some point to happen. When I was a teenager I noticed that my parents didn’t have much of a relationship, and despite my mothers efforts, my father was clueless and unfortunately more selfish than he would ever realize in his emotional ignorance.

My sorrow deepened even more as I recalled all the times I confided in my mother about concerns I had in my own marriage…and she responded with “You definitely married someone like your father.” No less, all the times she told me “You’re just like your father.”

Thank you mom. You’re so supportive.

The sense of hopelessness that it left in me made me consider that my marriage may end up looking like hers one day. Where my husband feels more like a roommate and less like a husband. Unfortunately hints of that have already started in my relationship, and to divulge my feelings to my husband and get an honest response out of him….I had to get him buzzed so we could talk about it without anyone saving face or telling lies a few nights ago last week.

The hardest part of being in my mothers situation is knowing that she was worth more long before my father was married to her. She was a teacher, with a good savings, paid well in her district, and a solid retirement plan. When my father got hold of the finances after they were married, he lost my mothers retirement and asked her not to go back to work until after we kids were out of the house. A closeted sexist and an unfortunate product of the era of his parents. He wasn’t counting on pregnancy and time to increase my mother’s health problems, and eventually he seemed to set himself up well for retirement and with life insurance policies on both he and my mother, but unfortunately no retirement plan for my mother, and no financial security either. Now she is unable to go back to work, and her health costs are taking them both for all they’re worth…which oddly enough gives me a sense of comfort know my fathers poor decision making has not come without consequences to his actions. It’s just unfortunate that my mother has to lose her peace of mind and security in her marriage over his lacking.

I had been wise in asking my husband to keep our finances separate. A method that many family and friends had given me flack for. Saying that I was not being wise or truthful to my husband about our finances and that it wasn’t right of me as a wife to request it or withhold from my household. Still, my husband was kind enough to agree to it. We each put what we can into our joint account, and we each do what we can to keep our own savings and checking accounts in line. If I’m broke, it is only my fault and no one else’s. No one can financially abuse me. I can choose what I want to invest in or not.

Still, financial abuse is not he only concern my parents relationship has caused me to be afraid of. My father, will sell nothing of his own, but often suggest selling things of my mothers to make ends meet. He will often be distant or removed emotionally and not have any kind of romantic attachment to my mother when he doesn’t feel like it. His moods swing and she falls victim to his coldness, not that he cheats or physically hurts her…but he neglects her…something I have noticed ever since I was old enough to become observant. All attributes I can see great potential of in my own relationship. Which makes me increasingly afraid.

Still I fight so hard to remind myself that my husband is not my father. He tried to ask me how I’m doing. He tries to take care of me. Even if he’s feeling distant he never pushes me away if I attempt to emotionally approach him. He may struggle with words, but he admits that. He asks for affirmation. He asks for my respect when he feels he is not getting it. He never makes unreasonable demands.

Still, we are young both in age and marriage…and so much has yet to happen.

Earthing

It’s like everything runs into the earth when I lay on it. All the worry. All the pain. All the anxiety. Just laying in the grass, with the sunshine warming my skin and hearing the life happen around me. The breeze caresses my face and plays with my hair. It’s the most calm I have felt all week.

My husband and I are trying “Earthing” or “Grounding” as it is also known as. A friend of mine had mentioned it to me as something that assisted with cysts she had in her uterus and was desperate to keep this particular child after having miscarried 5 others before. She tried it for the entire first trimester, every night all night while she slept. Her cysts reduced in size as much as 60% according to her doctor. I figured even if my issues were not the same as hers, I would give it a try too.

I started by walking around in my yard with my shoes off more frequently, and while I did feel really great, I didn’t want to attribute that completely to the Earthing, since I can be a bit of a skeptic. It could have been the sunshine and increase in Vitamin D. It could have been the movement since I was so used to an office job. Still I noticed that chronic swelling in my hands seemed to experience relief when I would go outside, and I would notice the swelling to return when I got inside or stood on the sidewalk. So I started looking into Earthing methods a little more.

My husband and I watched several documentaries and TED Talks about the nutrients of the ground, the electromagnetic fields of the earth, and the bodily responses to natural stimuli and phenomenon. Not all of them were necessarily related to one another, but all of them were worth researching and helped us figure out a bit of the claimed science behind Earthing. My research was more based on understanding the medical uses of earthing for physical illness, because to be completely honest, I do not find myself buying into the metaphysical sort of stuff that everyone seems to lean towards in these scenarios.

After I was satisfied with the findings, I figured it couldn’t hurt us to try, so I found an inexpensive indoor earthing kit and figured if it didn’t seem to improve anything or feel like it was helping, I could probably get my money back by selling it on eBay or something. So the day it arrived we went to bed with it. Here are the things we noticed:

1) My husband who has snored every night since we got married, stopped snoring and does not snore every night he uses his earthing band.

2) I woke up with blood sugars in normal range for the first time in years and continue to do so since using the earthing band.

3) My husband has noticed an improvement in mood.

4) Chronic swelling in my hands is gone and has not returned.

5) I’m not waking up as tired.

6) I’m not sleeping as lightly.

7) I’m less depressed and more motivated.

I suppose that all of this could just be a placebo affect, but it could be real too. All I know is I’m doing and feeling better. Even my husband has noticed his mood and anxiety improve. So we’re starting to take it a little more seriously now and are starting to tell our friends and family about it. All in all, I hope to see more results as time goes on.

Victims

My car was in the shop a few days ago, and since my husband and I get off work pretty close together, and our jobs are only a couple blocks away from each other. I told my husband if he dropped me off at work in the morning, I would walk over and meet him at the car in the parking lot at his place of business.

Big mistake. On the way, I got cat called not once, not twice, but 5 times…as well as followed.

The first one was pretty usual. A honk and some lewd yelling. I flipped them off and they sped up. The second was immediately after them, a small piece of the chain reaction, only this one was a man with a young boy no older than eight or so in the passenger seat. I kept walking and mumbled curses under my breath for that one. The third one was just a honk, and when I ignored it and kept walking, they made a u-turn and started back my way very slowly. That really freaked me out so of course, I ducked into the nearest business I could. A hardware store within the block of where my husband worked, and sharing a parking lot. I told the manager what happened, and asked him to forgive me for loitering for a while. He offered to call the cops. I told him I didn’t get a good enough look at the car to really have that be useful. Only that it was a blue car, darker blue, but not navy and not quite royal either. When we looked out to see if any blue cars were around, and saw none, I finally was ushered by the manager to exit the building out the back door to get to the shared parking lot faster.

When I got in the parking lot, and half way across nearly to our car on the far side (where employees are directed to park), I got cat called again. Twice. One guy hollered and I increased my walking speed. Then another guy from another car did too just as I reached for my door handle. I yelled back some vulgar words, remarking on the kind of trash I thought the guy was, since he was nearer to me and I had just about had it with cat callers for one day. He was older too, not like the previous four who were all probably under 40 or so I guessed. I got a better look at him than I did the others since he was closer and moving slower as he was leaving the parking lot.

Of course, when safely in the car I locked myself in, and turned on the AC full blast. The thermostat claimed it was 87 degrees. I felt like I was out of breath and melting. It had been a hot walk in my bootcut black jeans and blazer. What pissed me off was that nothing I was wearing was provocative. No makeup. Wearing all black with a company t-shirt underneath. Which also made me super aware that people who catcalled me on my way to my husbands workplace might now know where I work and watch out for me.

After a quick moment to catch my breath I called my mother to look busy in the car in hopes people would leave me alone. While recounting my tale to her, my mother remarked “I always worry about that with you. You’re so small. Anyone could just grab you up and throw you in a trunk.” Thankfully I’m pretty strong which I half heartedly pointed out to her, but she wasn’t wrong either. On a hot day wearing all black and exhausted by a long workday, I was probably a tired target…which might make me an easy one.

My mother had even asked what I was wearing on my walk after I had recounted my tale and calmed down, conditioned by the culture she grew up in, and every fiber of my feminist being was outraged and I got wound up again. Then I had to calm myself down once more as my heart raced in anger, disappointment, and fear. I was not alone, and how many other women had worse experiences on the matter than I? Too many. It made me angry for them. For the women who were asked the same questions. For the women who were victim blamed.

Why does anyone want to victim blame? It’s rude and insulting to the victim, and it doesn’t call-out the perpetrator for their harassment. II’ve thought about it for a while now. Why do people victim blame? The more I think about it the more complex the answers or reasons become. Part of it is I think people want to give others the benefit of the doubt to make their worlds feel a little safer. Cat callers mean no harm. They would never act on their catcall. It’s just a compliment right? Besides it doesn’t it take two to tango? Then there is the justification issues. Lot of people do it (apparently) so anyone might feel justified in asking how the victim may be asking for it because they have catcalled women before thinking outfits and mannerisms are some kind of justification for it. They want to justify their own actions so they don’t feel badly about it, or worse, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

When I was harassed, I felt objectified and upset, and when I was followed for a while by the blue car, it didn’t really feel like I was being complimented as some might think. It felt like I was being intimidated. Maliciously targeted. I was afraid. I hated it. Worst part? I got cat called walking to my car (which I had gotten back that afternoon from the shop) in the parking lot the next day when I left work.

So what do I do about it? I can’t go back in time and call cops or come up with better comebacks. So as an artist and letterpress printer, I decided to make posters. A weird response I know, but it was more or less to release my anger as well as an act of public service. Because letterpress printing has its therapeutic qualities. The result:

It’s a pretty great feminist work if I do say so myself. I also like how the image shows the rectum as well, so you can either think it says don’t be a dick, or don’t be an asshole! Or both! You can pick your part! This poster was also a really satisfying way to use my newly purchased gold ink, which looks beautiful on the black hand-cut card stock. Not bad, for my first truly feminist work.

Confession: Lost Boys and Long Drives

When my vacation time was officially approved, I felt a sense of dread. I enjoy visiting family for the most part, but it’s the freaking driving I cannot stand. Five hours through two large cities. I can’t handle it. Not this week.

Still, I’m doing it.

Unfortunately, my husband does not do long distance driving. Firstly, he isn’t a good driver when he doesn’t know where he is going. Secondly, he tends to fall asleep at the wheel. Thirdly, he is anxious. Very anxious. Which clouds all his rational thinking. So of course, I have to drive. Which is exhausting. He never even offers to drive, it is always assumed that I will.

It’s days like this that I miss pieces of the people I grew up with. People who were good friends and familiars. Mostly, old exes sometimes that I think about who used to take me on drives because it helped me sleep in college. Exes I used to call dear friends now long since unhappy from the breakup and much more distant in spirit than in miles. It’s days like this where I whisper their name to my heart and while I feel no romantic love for them, I still feel for them and some days I miss the friendship even if I don’t miss the romantic relationship. I miss the acts of service they provided gladly towards me to show they valued me. I miss being able to give to them in the manner that showed them I cared. I wish that something, whatever it was, never got ruined the way it did.

How interesting it is that years can go by without a second thought of that person, and then suddenly, all at once, they become some kind of fixture in a pivotal point in your life that you refuse to let go of the memories of? Still, while important, they still hurt. How much more interesting that you start to inspect the flaws of whomever you’re married to and still compare them to people you were once attracted too? What people never tell you about marriage is that you still find yourself attracted to past or even new people in your life. It never stops, and while you’re in a marriage it doesn’t make your ability to become attracted to someone new, or even someone old, comforting, and familiar. Perhaps more familiar than the spouse you have now.

While no one teaches you these things happen, there is still that part of you that is glad that exes are exes. There is still that piece of the puzzle that helps you keep that in check: the hurt. The hurt of the end and whatever betrayal that caused it. While it isn’t the best reason, nor is it the most healthy, I think it’s still a good point to recall and feel over and over again when you need to remember it. While most people in life try to avoid hurt, I find that it’s important to learn from it and recall why it hurt.

I tend to have the perspective that life is not about being happy. What it’s about is doing the right thing, and while doing the right thing can be messy and painful, it makes the right thing no less the right thing. Because I am now married, and have made the choice to be so, I have to do the right thing and not let my mind, heart, and body stray away from loving my husband, so I remind myself that no one else can love me the way my husband does. No one else tucks me in bed after long days of work that exhaust my introverted nature. No one else can make me cry tears of joy. No one else is worth my tears of sorrow. No one else has ever tried so hard to understand. No one else has ever come so close to understanding.

Still, I wish he would drive so I don’t have to.