Jeez, Louise! Joy in existing.

  1. Who am I?
  2. If I had just 4 months to live, how would I spend that time?
  3. What would I like to have contributed when life my life is complete?

Three questions posed by the Rich Roll podcast. Three pretty obvious “la la woo woo new agey self development” questions. Maybe not? To me, at least. I’m no stranger to that woo woo shit. But, are you surprised that these three questions absolutely fucking paralyze me? Especially that “who am I?”—who is anyone? FUCK.

I try consciously to notice love and joy in every moment of the day (I’m looking at you sweet ‘lil chirping birds in the trees outside the Children’s Museum this morning), but I also get easily caught up in negativity and expectation (both societal and self imposed). My emotions fluctuate a lot in day, hell, in a hour sometimes. Digressssss. During this podcast, there was mention of the things that stirred happiness in your six-year-old self. I suppose that’s a good jumping point from my gravy brain, so I am going to attempt to suss some of this out.

As a six-year-old, I was talking to trees. I was standing on stumps and singing to grass. I was outside a lot. I was riding a bike (I want a new bike—this is something recently on my mind). I drew pictures of super tall women and portraits of my family. I watched movies and kept to myself a lot. I wrote in my diary. I recorded songs from the radio onto cassette tape. I begged my mom to buy me poster boards from the grocery store and I would spend an entire afternoon making a GIANT collage from old Metropolitan Home magazines (We lived in a trailer; I resented the shit out of this magazine and I know my mom never willingly subscribed to it. There was this weird time bubble in the 80s and 90s when magazines just appeared at your fucking house—it’s a fact).

The past couple of nights Eliot and I have spent an hour or so working on collages made from old National Geographic magazines Joe picked up at a yard sale (from the 80s, no less—I’m just putting that “coincidence” together at this moment). I found myself in that sweet spot where you lose time. Even cooler to get to experience it with your eight-year-old kid. (Will he sit down and write something like this one day?) I have a lot of ideas and feel cool about making simply for the sake of it.

I’ve been caught up the past couple of years in having a “plan” financially to get out of my day job. I’m not entirely divorced from that mindset, but it has almost always included a way to make money from art—not that I’m downing that—but it really helps you to lose the whole purpose of making art in the first place. I think most creative minds can attest to that. The making, the doing, has to be the first priority or the rest of it is just an inauthentic wank off fest.

To quote David Lynch: “Enjoy the doing. So many people do stuff but they don’t enjoy the doing of it. And I always say, that’s your life going by. It’s important to enjoy the doing of something. Jeez, Louise!”

So, I suppose I do find joy in making. Joy in existing. Joy in creating. Joy in expressing myself and convening with nature. Joy in consuming the art of others. I am pretty sure that answers all my questions in one. I’m not shocked they are all interconnected…I’m sure that’s the point of the entire exercise. I need to do all or part of these things every day with that intention alone—joy.

How do these questions make you feel?

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I Drew A Picture of My Food – “Tuna” Noodle Casserole

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Full recipe view

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Instructions close up.

Spent a little longer drawing and coloring this one (colored pencil, Sharpie, ballpoint pen, on Moleskine sketchpad). I thought it would be rad to take a more comic book approach to the illustrated recipes I’ve been doing.

Classic recipes with a twist. Gotta love that comfort food. It’s also way easier to get my kid to eat when I make stuff like this. I have recently made the transition to almost entirely plant based, so this one is vegan AND gluten free to accommodate some of the most fickle guts. (Expect vegan and gluten free stuff going forward.) Yeehaw! I’m hoping the measurements are ok. I apologize if some of them are off at all. That is something about my own recipes I need to get in the habit of doing, ya know, measuring. I cook very intuitively, but if I want to share those recipes with people, I am going to have to get more precise. Workin’ on that. Enjoy!

Bright & Busy – Personal Style Evolution & Art Inspiration

I’ve been working on a lot of commission work lately, so the other night I took some time to work on updating my own denim jacket. A close friend sewed me a new patch and I had a couple vintage patches I’ve been sitting on for a few years (yikes!) that really needed a new home. I love that jacket. I bought it for maybe $10 at Avalon Exchange in Oakland (Pittsburgh, PA) in maybe 2004. Memory is fuzzy about the nitty gritty (pointless) details, but I remember picking it up and seeing the moon and star buttons like it was yesterday. I have such distinct memories of combing the racks of that store. I was in an intense Morrissey phase at the time (some things never change, just evolve a bit), so I was on an obsessive mission to find the perfect denim jacket.

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Mega babe inspiration.

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My own patch in the middle I’m pretty proud of. Still so much space to explore and fill on this thing.

I’ve always been more inspired by quirky and outcast men’s fashions than super girly style. Not to say I look at a beautiful feminine aesthetic and cringe, it just isn’t my go-to ensemble. The days I go super femme, I am not being completely honest with myself. I am open to experimentation, but I feel most comfortable in jackets, t-shirts, jeans, and flannel.

Another one of my clothing inspirations is Ryan Adams. Something about him feels like home. I cannot explain it, but he speaks to me on many levels. I’m pretty sure his influence on my life is painfully overplayed. I have the tattoos to prove it. Sorry, guys (no, I’m definitely not).

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Ry at Newport Folk Festival, 2014, repping Terminator and the Canadian tuxedo.

Speaking of Ryan Adams, he shares a birthday with the late, great Gram Parsons. I’m sitting here sipping a glass of Riesling listening to The Guilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers. Let’s talk about Mr. Parsons and the Nudie Suit and a style I’m in the mood of not only emulating, but creating and adapting to my own art style, as well.

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Gram in the Nudie Cohn original design.

These bright and bold designs have me so inspired, people. I’ve always had this style subconsciously on my radar, but, lately, I am particularly drawn to the vivid beauty. I’m not saying I want to start sewing polyester suits, but I am saying I want to start upcycling some thrifted and vintage pieces with lucid designs that scream: “I’M ALIVE, MOTHERFUCKER!” I’ve also just heard of Manuel Cuervas. I’m woefully behind, man.

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Manuel Cuevas suits

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Jack White in Manuel Cuevas garb.

When I was a kid, there were two things I always said I wanted to be when I grew up: a cartoonist and a fashion designer. Why not combine the two?

I Drew A Picture of My Food #1

Last night I made some pretty simple, pretty bangin’ crustless quiche. I had a half bunch of asparagus I really needed to use before it started the great slime. My favorite vegetable really does not age gracefully. Instead of your standard “here’s a picture of my food” I thought: I should draw a recipe. My brain is busy and glittery. I can’t help myself.

Ever heard of the Moosewood cookbook? I love that thing. My friend Betheny bought me a copy many moons ago and I’ve always thought how rad would it be to draw a cookbook.

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My copy.

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Exhibit A

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Exhibit B

AND, here is my version of a hand drawn recipe. I drew it in the antique ledger that I had been journaling in for a bit because I just thought it looked cooler.

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The recipe itself was pretty straight forward. Gluten free, obviously, to accommodate my fickle guts. Also, vegetarian, but certainly not vegan. I used a feta, cheddar, parmesan cheese blend because that’s just what I had. I’m sure you could sub any veggies you have on hand. The parmesan crisps topping was from a bag I got to put on salads the last time I was at Kroger. Also, measurements are pretty loose. I cook very intuitively.

It was fun to experiment. I may stick to a more pen and ink approach next time, but I do enjoy adding the pops of color. Maybe I’ll dedicate a new sketch pad to it in the future. What do you think? Fun idea?

 

 

The Consumption!

I thought it might be cool to start perhaps a weekly / bi- weekly / monthly?? (dunno, still sussing this out) blog post about the books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, music I’m obsessing over, etc. (you get the idea).

I have been doing a lot of podcast-listening these days. Perhaps it’s an escapist thing given the current fuckery of the world. Not perhaps. That’s definitely it. Especially given the nature of the media I am consuming on the daily. Aliens. Bigfoot. Skinwalkers. Werewolves. Witchcraft. Mothman. GIMME ALL THE CRYPTO.

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Example: A handsewn Mothman patch I sent to my friend Angela

Current podcasts in heavy rotation:

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I love this misfit podcast. Jessica Chobot and Andrew Bowser highjack a corner of Nerdist studios and talk about weird shit, current events, bodily functions, and Junior Mints. They are at times irreverent and aimless, but I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s refreshing to hear people sit around and bullshit about subjects that some people take far too seriously. It reminds me of my friends and I in high school and college lounging around and discussing theories and possibilities of the universe.

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Recent obsession

The above, Astonishing Legends, I have been binging for the past week. They just wrapped up a four-part series about the Mothman. They also introduced me to the stories of Skinwalker Ranch. I am really surprised I had never heard of this place and the lore surrounding it, but I am now on a mission to read all the books referenced throughout the episodes about it. Speaking of books, this podcast is really great at sprinkling in really great reading suggestions for all-things-weird-obsessed folks like myself. Do check them out. I am also planning to start donating to their Patreon page which can be found here.

Current books I have lined up are in the same ilk as the above mentioned content (all of which I bought recently at a book sale to benefit the Mt. Wood Cemetery in Wheeling, WV).

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Mt. Wood Cemetery photo from Facebook event page

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Love Stephen King and this is a classic I didn’t have. Finally gonna get to read The Mist!

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Alien abduction. Need I say more?

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My friend Matt spotted this one. This is the real deal, y’all. (see below)

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Just in case…

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Thank god. I’ve always wondered.

Cool. This was fun!

First Snow, First Quilt

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First official quilt I’ve ever had enough patience to complete. The satisfaction is real. I don’t want to give it away. But, alas, all good things must end.

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I just love these cabins so much. Much less creepy to take pictures of them in the winter because no one is living in them.

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Almost the mark of the beast. The bite of the beast, perhaps?

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Mona on high alert.

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Pretty and dying.

On being well

Before I even launch into it, I’m listening to this Spotify mix called “Lush Vibes” and really blissing out. Check that shit out.

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Onward with the word vomit — I’ve been super swamped with sewing projects lately. A lot of commissions. Not complaining, believe me…it feels good to be pursued for my talents. But, damn, I have no time. Working 40 hours a week (and we’ve been BUSY), juggling household duties, my son back in school, etc. etc. has made it fairly challenging to squeeze in time in a day for the thing I actually enjoy doing. On top of that, I have gotten back into exercising regularly. Not that I hadn’t before, but I’m serious with it in that I am back to challenging myself, topping goals, getting higher reps, running faster and longer. I signed up for a Savage Race (I mean, shit, it’s not until next summer, but whatever) and I have this intense and renewed desire to just kick all the ass. Be the healthiest me. Feel super comfortable with how I look, yes, but also super confident with how well my body performs. And, of course, the ever present (but true) cliche of setting a good example for my kid.

With this renewed vigor for healthy living, I’ve been perusing instagram accounts and reading other people’s stories…because it’s just what you do. You look for someone that’s on a similar journey and you get inspired. It keeps you focused and motivated. I’ve noticed a lot of people into this beachbody thing. While I’m not solely in the business of weight loss, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a part of the equation. I do see a lot of different types of girls, not just your typical “fitness model Barbie” basic chicks into this stuff. I see a lot of them do coaching and I’ve been researching it. Of course I’ve been intrigued. I’ve considered jumping on the bandwagon, but adding more to my plate right now seems fool hardy. Also, do I really want to push stuff on people? Not particularly. I am everyone’s counselor in my life though it seems and for that it intrigues me further. Basically, I haven’t ruled it out, but I still think it’s wise to focus my time mostly on keeping my head above water and getting this sewing thing on course.

I am aware I say it all the time, but I know I can’t do this full time corporate grind forever. I’m motivated and I’ll find my niche elsewhere eventually, I’m sure. Until then, I’ll just continue to vibe and live as fully as possible.