I usually try to write something on New Year’s Eve and even though I’m at work this year, I still feel the need to post.
What I most want to say has nothing to do with resolutions, or the year in review, or regrets or hopes-all the things we usually write about in the waning hours of the year.
I spent almost an hour in the doctor’s office this morning with two of my residents. No, I’m not complaining about the wait. We were early and that’s what happens when you’re like me-I’d rather wait than be late.
I love looking through magazines because they are a rich source of ideas for art, writing, cooking, etc. Of course, this is the holiday season so the magazines were all loaded with Christmas decorating and cooking ideas. I love holiday magazines for all those reasons. Except this morning I got so bored, looking at one color coordinated Christmas scene after another. The children were outfitted to match the tree, which was decorated to match the furniture, and the accents in every room were so well coordinated that all I could think was…
“Everything’s so beautiful, so PROFESSIONAL, so cold, so expected, so PROFESSIONAL…” and after the third magazine I was aching to see one tree-just one!-that actually boasted handmade children’s ornaments mixed in with ornaments bought on memorable vacations mixed in with ornaments saved by our own mothers and handed down to us for our trees…and ornaments from the office and ornaments from our first tree when we moved out into the world on our own…ornaments that prompted stories as they were reverently removed from drying, yellowing tissue paper.
I wanted to see a room with a fat tree bursting with meaningful ornaments in all the riotous colors of Christmas. I wanted to see colored lights-not just the sane, elegant everywhere-you-look tiny white lights that “hold all the elements together.” I wanted to see old toys-real old toys, our own old toys mixed in with gaily wrapped presents in lots of different paper, in lots of different colors and patterns. I wanted to see all the physical proof that we come together at this one time of year to show each other we care.
I wanted to see a room full of people in individual clothes that spoke of their culture and hope and enthusiasm for being there.
I understand why magazines make these photographically perfect displays. I worked in the publications industry for years and those color coordinated rooms are agonized over for months. I know that. I understand. I don’t care. I still felt famished after looking at hundreds of pages of “Christmas Celebration.”
I was hungry…hungry for color¬–real color, not sea foam and pink, not sage and peach. I wanted to see hundreds of colors-not three shades of two colors. Texture! Give me metallics and flocking and velvet and satin-make me want to touch the person wearing the red velvet dress, pick up the shiny package with the sparkling bow. Make me want to be there, interact, experience the season!
I do have something to say about hope, though. I hope that next year, someone out there in publication land has the courage to stage a Christmas scene that speaks to those of us in the real world.
I don’t have a family much anymore, and I make things for Christmas for my friends and the residents where I work. I read these magazines to get ideas, as do many other people. I take one thing, one DIY ornament idea, or decorating tip, and I go with it. My room, my ornament, usually doesn’t look much like the designer version. That’s OK; it looks like I made it. And the person that gets it will hang it every year from now on, even when I’m not there.
I know I’ll be remembered and there will be fond (I hope) comments about the year I made and gave the ornament. There are grown people out there who got that ornament before they could drive and have hung it every year. One niece keeps hers out all the time in bowls because it keeps me close to her even though we live hundreds of miles apart.
Oh, I doubt I’ll ever see a REAL Christmas scene in a magazine. They’re just for ideas and they just offer guidelines about how to decorate for the most anticipated season of the year. Still, I had to say it.
I haven’t participated in Christmas for YEARS. Love the color and sparkles, though. And the Christmas carols.
Same here. Thanks for reading. I should post more often, but some days I write and then think so what? When someone reads my thoughts and comments I feel more like writing, so THANK YOU!
As for Christmas, I guess as an artist I will always do things Christmasy because I love the colors and sparkle and the fact that you can do anything at Christmas and get away with it-like hanging pretty things form a tree just because they’re pretty to look at. I keep a string of colored lights up at my front window and at the end of a dark hall now just because I like the color.
That’s funny you say that, “you can do anything at Christmas and get away with it” because I remember thinking one time, “What if people dressed like that all year ’round (sparkles and velvets and red hair ribbons, etc) and sang in groups in front of houses and baked all day long like crazy, just to have nice treats to give their friends and co-workers?” Yeah, a crazy thought. Of course that’s why Christmas just keeps hanging on. Not about “baby Jesus” at all…. it’s just a few weeks out of the year when stagnant, walking-dead zombies snap out of their paralysis and feel somewhat human again. So I say it’s ok.
You’re right, that’s why it keeps hanging on, as you say. It feels good to do things just to be nice, just because it’s fun, just because it’s pretty. Let’s remind ourselves that making pretty things and keeping them around makes us feel good. let’s do something nice because it feels good-to the receiver and the sender. Let’s step out of our walking dead routines every now and then. You’ve given me a good feeling just by pointing out how simple it is to brighten our lives. Thank you.
It is hard, though. Speaking only for myself of course. Hard to “do nice things” and sometimes it’s hard to even see pretty things. Even though they’re all around us, every day, all the time.
I’m like you – I like “pretty things” in my home environment. All the time, just to be part of my surroundings. Right now, I have a vase of daffodils on my kitchen table. AMAZING how much difference that makes!!
Fresh flowers are so ALIVE! The color and absolute natural innocence makes me smile and feel so good. I live up in the mountains, surrounded by trees and hills and when the wildflowers start blooming…any minute…I start gathering! They open up the heart.
This has been the l_o_n_g_e_s_t winter I ever remember. Flowers are going to be especially rewarding this Spring!
Do you have and art shows coming up this Spring?
No art shows-I’m experimenting with new mediums. I do have art in galleries in Asheville, Mars Hill, West Jefferson and plans to put some of my new things out soon. Also, I’m revamping my website and people will be able to buy from the site. Thank you so much for reading my blog-even though I don’t post often enough.
I’m sure you post as often as you can, I wouldn’t worry about it. My visits to the “interwebs” is sporadic at best, life just keeps me too busy to spend much time in cyberspace. But I do enjoy checking your blog and viewing your art. I’m sure you’re enjoying discovering new ways to express your art, there is always somewhere else to go with inner vision. How are your cats?
Thank you!! That’s it, exactly. My REAL life takes priority over what I post. I met someone recently and he wanted to know me better, he said so when I mentioned my blog, that I used it as a sounding board and respository for writing he said it thought public personal journals were so weird…Well, another one bites the dust. But no, I don’t post on a regular basis even though I write on a regular basis. Again, thank you for showing an interest in my art and writing. I wish I knew you better.
“another one bites the dust”
Is he nice? Maybe he’s just stuck in the past when it comes to internet diaries. I’ve met people who just don’t have anything to do with the internet, and people who use it “as necessary”, and also people who profess to being online any time they have the opportunity. Maybe he’s just put off by the extreme “nakedness” of posting online. I’m really sort of the same, I don’t necessarily think it’s “weird” it’s just that I certainly couldn’t do it.
Of course, you were the only one there and if he made you feel like he was judging you, I can see how you’d let him go.
Whatever happened to that guy who you had mentioned wanted to just ‘pop in” with no notice, and didn’t really seem to “get it” that you needed some kind of notice for outings?
Whatever the outcome is for these ‘social experiments’ I think you’re brave for even TRYING to allow somebody else into your life!
Oh, I had lunch with him and we had a pretty nice conversation. Later he wrote that he had visited my blog and he still referred to it a public private journal. I explained again that I mostly posted essay type writing. I never really post about personal stuff-except in response like now. I don’t use names or dates or anything like that. He also wanted to get physical immediately and I am so beyond that. I would like to meet a grown up-not someone looking for casual sex. I have NOTHING against sex. I just prefer it to happen naturally, in due course. I’m not interested in sex with someone I hardly know. When someone wants to start talking about it right away, wants to make out so quickly, I find them annoying.
Maybe I’m not so brave. Every time I go out with someone, I am so glad to get back to my peaceful, quiet home! Oh well, I’m trying to stay open to the Universe.
Oh, and I did tell the other guy that he seemed so unresponsive that I didn’t feel it was working out. He sent me a nice response…and wished me the best. Sure, he was a nice guy,too. But not a grown up. I guess I’m too picky. Good thing I like being on my own, huh??
OK, when you say he “wanted to get physical immediately” that’s all I needed to hear! That’s so inappropriate. And actually a little creepy. Hey, you’re VERY brave! To even try to allow a new person into your life is very difficult.. and scary.
I’m glad the unresponsive guy took the news well, and it sounds like he’s being civil about your not wanting to see him anymore. Again – he could have turned nasty (lots of people simply cannot process rejection), so good on him!
And I understand what you’re saying about getting back to your own safe place, your home, your fortress of serenity against a world of crazy people. Or annoying people. Or harmful people. I’m the same way, really. I LOVE being at home! I LOVE feeling relaxed, secure, comfortable. I won’t let anybody mess with that!
I have an acquaintance who panics when she’s alone. She falls apart when she’s by herself, she always needs a man in her life, even if he’s abusive to her. She feels like “any man is better than no man”. She makes me want to cry! I’m like you, I enjoy my own company and so if I have to exclude someone from my own sphere because they bring in bad vibes, I can cut them loose and not buy into that “lonely” thing.
I’m never lonely! I have a houseful of animal companions, and they make me happy in so many ways.
I’m sorry for your friend. I family members who will take ANY man, as long as it’s a man! They have no true sense of themselves, no independent thought process at all. I was like that growing up. My last meaningful relationship, the one that tipped me down the rabbit hole, was the worst, and best relationship of my life. It made me realize I was going to live my mother’s life if I stayed. I wasn’t ready, and I had a breakdown…or several…but in the end I grew up. I discovered myself. And I like who I am. I wish everyone could be independent before they tried to partner up with someone else. I think we’d all be happier. But, human nature being what it is, I realize that’s a fantasy.
Like you, I have my animal companions to keep me company, and they are more than happy to let me know I’m loved. They also have more interesting personalities than I’ve seen in men…sorry, that was mean…
Thanks again for talking with me. If you’d ever like to correspond in private I’d be happy to send you my email. Have you ever been to my website? The link is there.
Did you ever see that movie where Julia Roberts planned her “escape” from her abusive husband? Man it was intricate. They lived in an incredible house right on the beach. Very wealthy. She went to.. I think it was the YWCA… for swimming lessons (she didn’t swim), and — Oh, I won’t tell the whole story but the point is she got away, went to another whole place, started a new life. That is nearly impossible for the average person to do! So the fact that you recognize that you needed to get out is a very self-aware thing. So hard to leave! So hard to start over from scratch! I cannot count the number of women I’ve interacted with, who sing the same ol’ song, “Can’t live with him, can’t live without him”.
“Sleeping With the Enemy.” I went to that movie with my best friend (gay!) and we talked for hours afterward. By the way, the movie was filmed in my area! I was in Wilmington, NC when it was being filmed (I wondered who was dumb enough to build such a big house right on the beach!) but I didn’t know it at the time! My girlfriends and I walked right by it, wondering how long it was going to take to finish. There was tape around it to keep people away. We thought the people who started building it must have run out of money!
Anyway, yes, we talked for hours about the complex psychology of abusers and abused. And we agreed that it does take two to tango. It is an interdependent relationship. I thought of my mother, my sisters and even my brothers who were in codependent relationships. All ended badly. Several times. We seemed to be as addicted to the drama of abusive relationships as anything else.
Life is washing dishes, I’ve concluded. When we live our lives as responsible grownups, we spend a lot of time washing dishes. Things have to be done, every day. Washing dishes, making beds, changing the baby. Making dinner, chopping vegetables. There’s nothing dramatic or movie-worthy of any of that. It’s real life. I planted coleus and caladiums on my shady deck, sorted through the contents of my bathroom cabinets (how did I manage to collect 6 kinds of shampoo?) and vacuumed the house. I cleaned the cat box, I organized my workroom; I planned the next project…none of this would have made exciting viewing. Because it’s real life. But it’s my life and it’s satisfying to me. My sisters and brothers have not gotten to the point that they care about their personal, private life enough to care about organizing their bathroom cabinets. Hey, I’m not OCD. I care about my personal space; I have a relationship with everything in it. My home is my HOME.
My brothers and sisters and those millions of people intertwined in abusive relationships don’t have an inner life, they are defined by the relationship…which can’t EVER be boring. The addiction to drama is every bit as real as the addiction to heroin or any other substance.
Oh man, didn’t mean to go on so much. That movie still comes up when my friend and I talk. Not so much because it was stellar movie-making, but because of the ideas, images and conversations it sparked.
I have empathy for people involved in abusive relationships, but I also say -There are resources we never had before. You have to DECIDE you aren’t willing to live this way. Period. It’s as hard to reach that decision as it is for any addict…but it’s possible. That’s why I don’t bend much when someone cries about how hard it is. I understand, I do, but lots of shit in life is hard. It’s LIFE. Get out, find help, make a decision and get on with it!
Hey, long time no see — I was re-reading some of these posts. Don’t know how I missed the part where you offered to correspond via personal email accounts, but I’d like to take you up on that offer if you’re still interested. The email address I actually use is firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from you soon! How’s your summer coming along? Frankly, I’m ready for cooler weather.