that time we almost died

For the last few days I’ve been frazzled in a way not typical for me. Life is good. Work has been busy. A new painting has been swirling around in me and seems like it wants to come out. Last night I blogged about my medical freedom being stolen by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. I love writing stuff like that. Then, last night and today I was working at the computer all day. When I paused my billing clock and looked at Facebook or twitter—and I did that a lot—I felt anxiety-ridden and frenetic. Click! Click! Click!

On Monday morning this past week, I was hit by a truck. I was walking my three year old in her little stroller. As we entered the crosswalk, a pickup truck began turning (right on red) and drove into us. We weren’t physically hurt beyond a little stiffness in my thigh/hip/shoulder. The palm of my hand also burned all day from where I slammed it down on the hood of the truck as I screamed. I don’t remember much of it, really. My body bent with the impact, though I didn’t fall. My daughter’s stroller had mostly already passed the truck, so it didn’t make much contact (if any, again, my memory is fuzzy).

Mostly, I haven’t talked about it. Mostly, I found myself blurting out what happened at the most surprising times. In an email to a subcontractor. To the barista at Starbucks. Blurting is the right word. Moments after it happened, I used my phone to email several people and said “I just wanted to tell people who I knew would care.” The whole day was, in retrospect, hazy and confused. I kept thinking I was making too big a deal of it, though at the oddest moments I’d burst into tears.

One of my closest friends pointed out if I kept trying to convince myself it wasn’t a big deal, my body wouldn’t let that happen and it would keep coming back until I dealt with it. Thankfully, I had what I needed for support. I did spend some time crying that night as the horrifying “what if” scenarios played out with unstoppable force.

The moment when I knew there was nothing I could do to stop that truck from continuing on into me.

The moments after, walking away quickly, just wanting to get away away away when I only wanted to be away.

Not scooping my daughter up in my arms because to do that would be to face the what if of those what ifs that I can’t put into words because they are too horrible.

The anxious, confused, disconnected, insecure, self-doubting frenzy I felt in the last 24 hours or so, I now realize, was a reminder that what happened was “a big deal.” As I consider it, I begin to lose words.

This past summer I had some important experiences that helped me rediscover the richness of offline life. Those who haven’t experienced authentic depth and intimacy in their online life might not understand what it means to forget about how beautiful offline life can be. The last day or so caused in me an uncommon confusion, an absence of connection to myself. When I wrote about being a recovered alcoholic, I wrote about tapping into an infinite source of strength. When I connect with that strength I can live mindfully in the present moment. Making that connection is, most of the time, nearly second nature. It’s more than a habit; it’s where I mostly live.

Still, I feel rattled. This chunk of hours full of anxiety and disconnection from my center are leftovers. Remnants or echoes of how I felt when we were hit by that truck. Everything was called into question. I felt an obsessive need to focus on only what is really important and to let everything else slide. I connected with people who mean the world to me, even if it was just a brief “oh my god” shared moment. Now that I’ve identified the source of the last day’s puzzling spurts of staccato existence—I’m not finished feeling all that is there to be felt about the truck hitting us—I can do something about it.

Thanks to what I learned this summer, I know that what I need to do about it now can’t be done online. There are ways my online life supports me when my offline life can’t. It was one of my closest online friends who helped me through much of the adrenaline-induced traumatic fallout the evening after the truck hit me. And now, after getting the bulk of my computer-dependent work done, I’m going to go back to those peaceful places I rediscovered offline. I’m going to breathe. Thank you for reading this.

[youtube:http://youtu.be/ThWgNvV0LNs]

kickstarter (funded!) project update

Periodically, I send updates to the folks who backed my kickstarter project. I’ve been feeling out of sorts when it comes to my social activities online lately. I’m wondering if writing some blog posts (instead of aimlessly refreshing twitter, reading blogs, or checking Facebook) might bring me back into a good groove. So, instead of posting this “for backers only” via kickstarter, here’s an update for anyone who visits this blog about how the “Three New Paintings” project is going.

I have three paintings actively in progress, though (as the backers know) it’s unlikely I’ll have three finished in time for July’s show — I was too ambitious and didn’t think through how long things take and how short June 1 to June 30 is.

One is, so far, exclusively oil pastels. It’s 10×10 which is smaller than I’ve used in a while. With this one, I’m finding the line between “a picture” and “a painting.” It’s a nice picture right now, but there are several sections (most of it) that are almost entirely uninteresting. I’ll work on that tonight to see about turning it into a painting (where each area feels complete).

The second is 20×24. I started this before the smaller one, but it is of a related image. This is the first time that I’m making paintings that are different views or portrayals of a similar image. With this, I’ve added some layers of very thin (lots of medium) paints over a large part of the painting but am still using only oil pastels on much of it.

The last is the largest (I forget the dimensions) and it’s one I started almost a month ago. I stumbled into the idea of what I thought of as making layers, but is apparently called “glazing.” An old friend of mine (I babysat for her children in the 90s) sent me a message describing her passionate position on glazing — using thin layers of paint, allowing the layers to dry in between, showing the luminescence and depth of the previous layers.

the painting where I stumbled into “layering”

my feet :-) and the mixing I did when I painted a bit this afternoon

just about finished (for this afternoon’s layers). also, the shade or sunlight (?) make this look much bluer than it actually is

finished (for today) — this shows the colors more accurately

I can already tell that blogging won’t be the solution to my dissonance about online life. I’ve already been simply “not online” a lot more than is usual for me (it didn’t seem to be helping) but I suppose I’ll go do more of that for a while. Thank you for visiting and reading my stuff here. :-)

setting up at Starbucks

My parents were coming through town from their summer place (they visit a few times off-season to “rough it” a bit) and were there to help me. What a difference it made, having extra hands and eyes to try to get things hung straight and balanced. (Plus, the all-expenses-paid sushi extravaganza after wasn’t too bad…)

I’ll be in town for First Friday tomorrow (May 4). If you would like to check out my paintings and talk with me about them in person, please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to meet you there.

As I was setting up, I taught my father how to take pictures with my phone and he took a lot. Here are some of them:

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Also, I’ve set up a kickstarter project in an attempt to raise funds to buy more paints, pastels, birch panel, and other supplies to make more paintings. I’ve now sold two (yay!) and with shows coming up (shows?) I need to keep making more. If you would like to know more, or make a pledge, you can do that here.

Thanks for all the blog-based support. It helps. :-)

grand gestures and finding balance

Seems there hasn’t been a way, yet, for me to strike a balance with my online life, my personal life, and my needs (and unique logistical limitations) as a single parent. Many of you know I have tried without success to just cut out all online socializing. This leads to an exaggerated loneliness in my otherwise simple but rich life.

What I’ve been looking for is a community like I had back in the 90s with misc.writing and alt.music.soulcoughing. Playful fun, writing challenges, intellectual stimulation, limited commitment or investment, and total control over when and where I interacted at all. It’s possible that google+ may turn out to be a decent replacement where Facebook, tumblr, blogging alone, or twitter all haven’t been just right. For now, though, even that space isn’t working.

So many times in the last year I’ve made these grand statements, exploding off the scene with sincere commitment. I “twittercided” a few times (cancelled my account entirely). I announced my departures from here, from tumblr, from everywhere, in an attempt to hold myself accountable. While the shame of changing my mind in front of all of you won’t stop me from changing my mind, it might cause hesitation that wouldn’t be there if I just slunk off quietly on my own.

Many people advocate for making changes just by making them instead of talking about them. The fact is, talking about changes is part of how I make them. It’s been steps forward and more steps back.

I’ve just come through a major physical move (May), work changes (complicated but settling down), personal life stresses (custody sharing, no matter how amicable, is difficult) and I haven’t felt grounded. On Thursdays, most weeks, my former husband starts his time with the girls. This has become a time I need more support than usual. I’ve been depending with success on these online communities to help with that stress and hurt. I’m anxious about giving up that source of support.

In the end, my sense of self is my touchstone. Knowing myself and being true to myself is how I get through any difficulty. Lately, I haven’t known who I am, or, rather, what my needs are based on my authentic and true self. That has been the most troubling of all of this. I know everything will be okay. It always has been and it always will. But not knowing in the deepest sense what is right for me based on my strong sense of who I am is something I need to fix.

So, I’m giving this “grand gesture” another try. I’m going to see about not going online for socializing for a while. If I add much more space and metaphorical air into my daily life, I hope to return to my center. Once I really get back to Me, I suspect I’ll be back to socializing online because it works so well for me.

This is a picture of me that I took just before writing this. I took a posed shot and then caught myself in my typical stance as I’m looking at the computer (head in hand). I thought that would be a decent closing image.

troll? no. interested? yes.

A Facebook friend recently said I was a “shameless troll” in response to this question I’d posted:

Let me put it this way: If men really like women just as they are, how do you explain the mass marketing success of the private area hair waxing and removal and the must-be-thin-no-jigglers and the must-look-“good”-as-defined-by-mass-marketing phenomena?

I disagree I’m being a troll with this question, or that I ever would be an Internet troll. Wikipedia defines a troll as someone posting inflammatory content with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. No way that’s me. I certainly welcome emotional responses if the topics deserve them. I ♥ heated debates, discussions, arguments, conversations.

When I post content that might seem inflammatory my intent is never to just stir up the muck. I want to make my own position clear and learn what other people’s positions are. Or, I’m seeking information from other people about their perceptions. If people get into name calling and hitting brick walls not listening to each other, that’s unfortunate. But it’s absolutely and totally a price worth paying for the meaty substance that can also come from “hot topics.”

So, no. No troll here. Just me, believing in the power and pleasure of direct and blunt conversations.