Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not the usual dust of daily life.

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." Pablo Picasso

"Clean hands might make clean prints, but it seems to me it's the dirty hands that make the magic." Bridget Mailley

I realize, after reading through my most recent, late night post, then perusing the random writing I have done before with this blog, that I tend to cater to my heavy, long-winded, introspective, self-analyzing tendencies a bit too much with this space.

I swear to anyone who reads this and doesn't know me in real life - I laugh, obnoxiously, uncontrollably and often at the wrong times - and I do so quite frequently.

You know, just in case you thought I might be some sort of mole, holed up in her room, musing about life without actually going out and experiencing it... those are just my weekdays.

Just kidding... sort of.

As I mentioned last week, I need to write more. I love writing. Writing makes me happy. My friend and I were discussing the other day how, when one is surrounded by creative people constantly but does not have an outlet for creativity of their own, one suffers. A blog, or I should say, for me, my blog is just that - the easiest way to create something that makes me feel good. A personal pat on my own back that I can share with my friends, family and anyone else who stumbles upon it. Nothing significant to anyone but me, just a way to quench that need to create.

This desire to do more creating has been fueled lately by said exposure to creative people - mostly due in entirety to one creative type in particular - my sister, Jessica Caldas.

Here we can observe Jessica Caldas in her natural state - dirty, carving and injured.

You can google my sister. Unlike me, what you'll find is not just a jumble of random high school cross country results or newspaper articles. When you Google my sister, or explore her hashtag (#JessicaCaldas for those less social media literate) on Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, you'll find images of her incredible prints, reviews of her solo and joint shows, articles and interviews galore, and all the information you could want about her many residencies, fellowships and art grants.

She is, literally, kind of a big deal.

(By the way, just because a ton of those hashtags were posted by me doesn't make them any less significant...)

An announcement for Jessica's opening at Beep Beep.

One of my biggest motivations for moving home happened to be Jessica's incredible ambition and motivation in increasing her already rapidly growing presence in the Atlanta art scene.

Here was my twin sister, just having received her undergraduate degree from UGA in 2010, beginning her first major residency, participating in first one group show, then another, then submitting to juried whatever-you-call-its, then kicking serious art butt with her first major solo exhibit just ONE YEAR after graduating, showing up in magazines and newspapers, getting invited to participate in crazy, cool artsy things, printing buildings and bridges and other stationary objects all over the city of Atlanta, receiving ANOTHER major residency, plus a whole ton of other things that filled up something like five pages of a resume...

And where was I?

So far away, so busy with school and work, and so broke that I can't be there for any of it... not one single moment since her senior exit show.

That shit just does not fly.

So I made it back to the ATL just in time to accomplish one of my major goals in moving home - to be there.

I got to be there for the opening of Jessica's second solo exhibit at Beep Beep Gallery. I, along with everyone else who attended, got to be blown away - not through the internet and second hand accounts - but in person, by the incredibly intricate, emotional and skilled work she showed. I got to be the one who took one look at the meager plate of cookies provided and perform the sisterly duty of jetting off to Trader Joe's and purchasing the most random assortment of meats, cheeses and fruits to fill the hors d'Ĺ“uvres table. I got to watch Jessica meet and greet, mingle and explain her work, seeing a new side of my twin that I haven't yet really learned.

I was there. And that alone, was awesome.

"Anything for the children." by Jessica Caldas

Even more awesome, this incredible review (one of many) that everyone should read if they haven't yet. I cried a little (read, I cried so hard I was practically hyperventilating) when I read words like "mastery" and "finesse".

And on top of that? Jessica has welcomed me into this strange and wonderful art world of hers. I am slowly meeting her print-making, painting, sculpting, street arting friends. I get to tag along to art events, dinners and meet ups that otherwise I would know nothing about. 

Sean Star Wars print for Atlanta Printmakers Studio Print Big event. Google that shit, its awesome.

The friend and I that had discussed the need to be creative were invited by Jessica to volunteer at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio Print Big event, as well as a fun, little VIP gathering the night before featuring Sean Starwars, some sort of infamous printer.

Walking around snapping photos, most of the people there who knew Jessica recognized that I was her sister, and usually began the conversation with, "Are you an artist as well?"

"Uh, no, not really. I'm, uh, just taking photos 'cause Jess asked me to. I don't, uh, do art."

Jessica, within earshot, would immediately interrupt sweetly with a comment about how I could and should be, or how I am a writer, or used to paint - something along those lines.

She's right. I should be an artist. Okay, maybe not an artist per say, but I should be more creative.

Spending the entire day watching all these extremely different people, from inner city high school students, to elderly women, to men that looked like they might be living on the street, even little bitty kids, all get together for an event that's sole purpose was to introduce more people to what I'm guessing is the slightly obscure art of print making, to give more artists, young and old, the opportunity to actually print some massive pieces, and to have a damn good time doing it, made me want to stop being so lazy and start utilizing some of my own artistic gifts.

I'm pretty sure the Sean StarWars guy's whole message was that it doesn't really matter if you are artistically talented or not, you should still go out there and create if you want to (I thinks that what he was saying, I honestly ended up a bit lost at some point during his presentation).

Art, or creating, really does seem like the perfect way to do away with daily worries, and my sister just happens to be the perfect inspiration for how to go about just creating.

So, here I am, joining her realm and actually trying to create (Sifu is in my head saying "Just do it!"), and although I should perhaps be focusing on creating my master's thesis or creating a job opportunity for myself, I have to admit, stringing a whole bunch of random words together for no good reason in this blog is kind of like taking happy pills.

You should try it :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I'm a new soul in this very strange world.

There are times when I really have to sit back and ask myself, what better moment to update the neglected blog than 3:21 a.m. when suffering from a bout of insomina, eh?

Here I am in Atlanta, nearly two months to the date since my cross-country, Eastward move, and boy, has life changed.

Which, of course, is to be expected.

I had been wanting to move back to Atlanta for so long, little else seemed as important goal wise (besides maybe thesis completion), and without realizing it, in my mind I think the move home took on this pedestal-ed, unparalleled solution to any kinds of problems or unhappiness I may have been experiencing in Washington.

Bad weather? The south has sun and heat! Need a hug? Atlanta has family and old friends! Miss city life? They don't call it Hot-lanta for nothin'!

I've been through enough major transitions to know that whatever you expect in your imagination when beginning a new path, you are probably about as close to what the reality will be as the 3000 miles between Washington and Georgia.

That being said, I am not ashamed to admit that I thought I had it all planned out and that this time, just maybe, I'd have a jump on life and have this incredibly smooth transition into a new place (that was kind of an old place for me). I mean, I had a job, I have family, I have friends, I have a new man, I have my thesis to motivate me and exciting career options...

Did you notice a few of those tenses? Yeah, let me explain that.

So, the disruption to the "plan" began with finding out, two days after arriving in Atlanta, that my long time job working from home, which so conveniently and fortunately had allowed me to move to Washington and attend grad school in the first place, due to several very valid and fair reason, had decided to end my contract.

Well damn. That sort of, kind of makes things different.

Begin job hunt now - not later, when I've actually completed and defended my thesis and received the piece of paper that will somehow unlock the key to my professional and financial success (or so I fantasize) - but now, right now, can't wait.

'Dem bills gots to be paid, yo.

This proved a very positive, albeit painful, wake up call. I managed to finally put together a decent resume and cover letter with the help of my amazing friends and family, something I had been shrugging off for too long. I also learned a little about going into a potential job with a much more critical eye as well as with a sense of what I was worth, after not doing either of those things and accepting a job (which lasted about one week) that turned out to be complete and utter bull crap. Most importantly, I realized that, even after two more years of debt building education, I still basically have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Ah, life lessons, how fun you make the daily grind.

Added to the new job situation *cough* unemployment *cough*, is a brand spanking new respect for my body and health. The impromptu hospital visit before my trip was not the last I have seen of some issues with my digestive system and stomach. The solution, so far, has seemed to be an extremely strict diet of foods that do not irritate my probable correct high school diagnosis of IBS and intolerance for certain foods, particularly no gluten, no dairy, no coffee (this one sent me into a week long depression that anyone who knows me and my coffee consumption can probably sympathize with), and no egg yolks (thank god I didn't have to give up eggs completely - let's get real, if salmonella couldn't rid me of my love for non-fertilized baby chicken, than constant abdominal pain sure as hell won't). This, plus slowly getting back into a routine of PT for my knees, core workouts, cardio and rock climbing mean that, slowly but surely, I may just be getting into the best shape of my life.


The largest looming goal/expectation/deadline is of course the thesis, which my love so accurately describes as a noisy monkey jumping around in your peripheral vision whenever you try to do anything that is not your thesis (or something like that). Somewhere in the last two months I did manage to get a lot of work done on my thesis, quelling the monkey somewhat. Not enough, however, to finish it in time to graduate this Spring. Instead, the monkey will remain my companion for a few more months, I will continue writing and working and defend in the summer, thus receiving that sought after piece of paper in August 2013.

This change to the plans probably should have stressed me out more than it did. Actually, most of these happenings - along with all the monotonous, day to day craziness no one is interested in reading about - probably should have. I'm pretty proud of how well I handled everything in the beginning weeks of my new life in Atlanta. I thought often about sitting down to write how, despite it all, I was a rock star and taking it all on with a smile - but I never made the time. Then somewhere along the line I had a bad day, then I had two, then it started to be days where there was certainly good (because there are no days where something good doesn't happen) but I spent more time thinking about the bad and having trouble noticing those good things at all.

Yeah, apparently non-stop grey skies in Washington aren't the only cause of that downward spiral thought process.

I am a lucky, fortunate, blessed, whatever-you-want-to-call-it soul, so this attitude just doesn't sit well with me. It reminds me of emotional places I've been in the past that I don't really care to return to. Look above, look at my last post, look at my life. I know all the things I should be happy and grateful for. So, I've been doing some hard thinking about how to get back to that positive, let it all roll off your shoulders place...

Mostly, writing this already makes me feel better. So I should probably write more. I should write to myself. I should write about my trips and adventures here. I should write to my friends.

Should, should, should. Now that's my problem! I need to do! (Reminds me of my Sifu telling me, "Stop trying, just do it!")

So, I am. And I will.

I am set more or less for the next two months financially, so I can take my time to really make some smart decisions about work. I will finish my thesis ASAP so I can kick that nagging feeling of incompleteness out the door and know I've accomplished something. I am climbing, and well climb more, and somehow will find someone who can belay me and go outside in this glorious sun and heat the South provides. I will finally start actually calling my faraway friends - loneliness may be natural in a new(ish) city, but I've got no excuse for it when there are so many wonderful people to catch up with all over the world.

Everyone has trials, so much more difficult than mine, but I think its how you handle them that makes the difference. Somehow, though I am far from perfect, I feel like I am learning more about handling my trials and respecting myself for them than I ever have before. In a way, its as if I am falling, which I have before, but this time, I know (or am learning) how to catch myself instead of relying on someone or something else that is bad for me.

The truth is, both in general and here in Atlanta, life is really great. Though sometimes I am struggling to see it, when I stop to really think about it, even the craziness seems like one, big grand adventure I am happy to be experiencing.

Now I just need to write about it more.