Monday, July 29, 2013

The End of an Era

I'm moving. I've lived in my tiny studio apartment for seven and a half years. When my second marriage ended, my beloved "caramel sister" Mia let me sleep on her couch. The next morning, I was lamenting that I had no place to go, so she called her landlord. He showed me three apartments, the third of which was across the hall from Mia's place. I told him I needed that one so that Mia and I could start our sitcom. He did no credit check, asked for no security deposit, and let me move in four days later. I lived across the hall from Mia until she moved out last June. It was time for her to take a new direction in her life. I miss her proximity.

Michael lived there with me for three years. He called it "Living French", two people in such a small space. I don't know how we didn't drive each other crazy living in 600 square feet. Love makes you do strange things. The night Michael died, I again slept on Mia's couch. God bless Mia.

After I lost Michael, the apartment became kind of a prison cell for me. I could function on the outside, but I was trapped by memories in my own home. People deal with grief differently, and I was paralyzed by mine, but only at home. I could function perfectly well on the outside world, but I couldn't even bring myself to go through Michael's belongings. Grief is weird.

But this is a happy blog! My dear friend and talented artist Sarah Bell and I are going to be roommates!! Sarah is a sweet, fun girl with a generous spirit and a sparkly aura. Moreover, she found us a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in our beloved Rogers Park!
 Here's Sarah and some of her art
Here's some more of Sarah's art. She's cute AND political!!

The apartment is on a beautiful, tree-lined street a little bit north of Morse Avenue. It's got a big living room, a formal-sized dining room that will become our craft room, a good-sized closet that Sarah has claimed as her "cloffice", two bedrooms, a built-in hutch in the hallway across from the bathroom, and an eat-in kitchen with a sizable pantry. There's a small yard in the front and a small yard in the back -- basically the whole thing is a little slice of heaven.

So this week, I'm going through seven and a half years of accumulated stuff. I spent most of today on yarn. Seriously -- who needs all that yarn? I untangled skeins and skeins of yarn that my cats had gotten into. I always tell my Habibi that I crochet and have two cats -- without him, I'm a pathetic middle-aged stereotype! I tenderly balled each tangled skein and nestled it in a Ziploc bag so the cats can't undo my work, then I put the bags in a see-through heavy-duty plastic zippered "jumbo" storage bag. This way I can see what I have, have easy access, and squish it into smaller spaces so the yarn is not taking over my life. Now I can use the bins in which the yarn used to reside to pack clothes and linens and kitchen stuff.

It's taken me a while to get motivated to begin this task -- I've been talking about moving for months now -- but once I get through the skeins and skeins of yarn, I think I'll be about halfway done!

Saturday is moving day. I can't wait to begin a new chapter of my life with room to move about!! I'll post pictures of our little hermitage in next Monday's blog post. And then I'll post more pictures when the furniture that my wonderful mother is purchasing for me arrives!!

So that's the news for now! I'd better grab some dinner to fortify me for tonight's Stitch 'n' Bitch at the Glenwood. I hope to see you there at 7:00! Until next time, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Read This Book!!

 This weekend I borrowed my boss' copy of Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon. It's a fabulous book! In it, writer and artist Kleon gives advice on how to tap into your creativity, find your artistic voice, and get your work into the world. Kleon offers ten jumping-off points to quell the voice of your inner critic and get you to make stuff.

First he points out that NOTHING IS ORIGINAL, and that every new piece of art is a remix of old ideas. You just need to find the best stuff to put together in a conglomeration that speaks in your voice. Do research. Devour other people's work. Build an artistic ancestry.

Later he talks about the importance of unplugging and working with your hands. He shares a picture of his office, which has a digital area for final editing and sharing with the world, as well as an analog area where he can draw and play and listen to the music of the marker squeaking on the paper. Along the same lines, he talks about the importance of hobbies; that your work is for others and your hobbies are for you. Those hobbies feed your creative spirit and nourish the areas of your life in which you make the money.

Kleon talks about networking in the digital neighborhood and being a mentee. My favorite quote in the whole book is from this section: "If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find a new room."

My favorite page from the book is pictured above. This is my new manifesto. Curiosity, kindness, stamina, and a willingness to look stupid. I've got all that stuff!!

So buy this book. Borrow this book. Get this book from the library. Read this book. It will take you less than an afternoon. And it's worth it. And now I want more than ever to visit Kleon's place of residence, Austin, Texas.

That's the news for now, darlings. Oh! Except that my Habibi took me to Lincoln Park Zoo for my birthday and we saw this
and it made me laugh really hard. Come to the Stitch 'n' Bitch at the Glenwood tonight, 7-??. Bring a craft. And until next time, as always, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

There IS a Cure for the Monday Blues

I've got a case of the Mondays. I have been an absolute oxygen thief all day! Thankfully, I had no obligations except blog-writing and stitching 'n' bitching today. Last week was my first week teaching camp this summer. I had to be at work by 8:30 AM all week. I am NOT a morning person, and to have that alarm go off every morning at 6:45 was not delightful. Camp, however, was delightful. So ultimately it was worth it. I had sixteen great girls and two amazing assistants. Crafters Camp was a huge success!

The secret to getting up early when you're not a morning person is a good, solid afternoon nap. You know you're not going to be able to get to sleep earlier at night, so you feed that deprivation with a nice siesta. Those Spaniards are really onto something! This weekend was very social. Friday night mojito party, Saturday community brunch, coffee date with one of my best friends, and barbecue with dear friends, Sunday house party at my opera buddy's place. Long story short, as a direct result of the activities of the last seven days, today has been one extended siesta. My cats have been very supportive of my decision to lounge in bed today. They don't understand the appeal of leaving my spot of sunshine on the pillow anyway, unless it's a trip to acquire them kibble.

I've found the solution to my general malaise. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Windy Knitty and bought from the clearance bin four skeins of mulberry silk yarn. Oooh, aaah!! What is mulberry silk, you may be asking. I sure did! Had no clue! I made some pithy comment about the pink yarn being named mulberry, and that mulberries aren't pink. Was educated by the very helpful Tara, one of the yarn mavens at Windy Knitty. You see, mulberry silk is spun by silkworms who only eat mulberry leaves. It makes for a very soft and lustrous fiber. And it was on sale. And I knew I would need it someday. Today is that day!

Darlings, I was very tempted to cancel my Stitch 'n' Bitch at the Glenwood tonight because I feel so blah today. And then I remembered the two skeins of pink and two skeins of navy mulberry silk yarn waiting patiently for me on my shelf at home. The siren song of the silkworms in the mulberry trees is calling me to stitch. The silkworms are singing me home. So I'll be at the Glenwood at 7 tonight, sipping on a tall mocktail of club soda, cranberry juice, and limes, turning some mulberry silk into a fabulous shawl for myself.

Until next time, my darlings, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!