On Boredom…

I really, really want to be bored…

Not bored indefinitely; just for a little while. A spell of boredom would be lovely.

It’s something I find myself getting excited about.

sanibel

Here’s what I’ve got going right now:

  1. My last child just graduated high school, won state at his event in track/field, competed in nationals as a decathlete in North Carolina—and I threw him a graduation party. ALL in June.
  2. My eldest just finished her third year of college and is around this summer, working full time at her engineering co-op.
  3. My rental house lease is up August 1st.
  4. By a stroke of luck or divine intervention, a realtor friend found me a house in a nearby city—and I bought it. (Gasp…) Not quite in the plan.
  5. The house is HUD/Bank owned and vacant. It needed inspections; needs love,  a good scrubbing, painted, trees cut back, fixtures, appliances, a few windows, etc.
  6. And it’s TINY. A little 1 bedroom cottage.
  7. This means I have a week or two to get rid of most everything I own, while organizing closing on the house, contractor fixes, getting quotes on homeowners insurance, arranging utilities turned on, and more.
  8. Oh yeah, and I need to get my tiny cottage habitable.
  9. Then there’s the kids…
  10.  Darling Daughter will soon begin her fourth year of college.
  11. My son is about to start college. He’ll be a decathlete on a track/field team at a D1 school AND a college student.
  12. It’s never quiet. Not ever. There are bonfires, movie nights, friends in and out at all hours of the day and night. A new slackline out in the yard.
  13. I’ve got an overgrown lawn, too many dogs, no groceries, a basement full of dirty laundry, AND a home in the process of being packed for a move.
  14. I’ve got a full time job–am out town for work in both July and August.
  15. And I’m an artist.
  16. An artist who desperately needs a haircut, and an exercise regimen.

Why art?

Art isn’t something I looked for, it found me. I’m just along for the ride, meeting people, having fun, and creating with whatever I find outdoors using upcycled frames. I consider myself an accidental artist.

Art is an escape from the chaos listed above. When things get crazy, I play with my glass, metal, rocks and sticks. Or I get outdoors; walk in the woods or on the beach—find more inventory (rocks, sticks, glass) to use in my art.

legacy

Legacy Village

I’m wearing my “artist hat” this week. Have teamed up with Shirley Slemc / Shirley’s Loft to have a storefront at Legacy Village. I spent last weekend getting ready, finishing up art, getting photos/copy on our websites, loading a trailer, so that Shirley could get our space looking beautiful. Shirley worked a miracle. It looks great! She’s been there all week. I’ll be there to Friday night and Saturday.

The boredom?

Thankfully, it’s coming. In a few short weeks, I’ll have an empty nest. For the first time in 22 years, it will just be me. And the dogs…

I’m thinking of hanging a hammock. I can see myself lounging in the shade, with a toe dangling off the side in the breeze. I’m really looking forward to some boredom.

A bit of information…

Legacy Village Event

Shirley’s Loft

Amy Lauria

Come on up to Legacy Village this weekend.

Shirley and I would love to see you!!

This Week, I’m an Artist

9614_542728359228816_7288947357352113483_nSeemed a fabulous idea to join Shirley’s Loft at the Home & Remodeling Expo in downtown Cleveland this weekend. And I’m sure it was the right decision—that having some of my art in Booth 100 for three days will be super.

But…

Something had to give. In fact, a lot of things had to give.

Started with Darling Daughter last weekend. She vacationed in San Francisco during her spring break from college and flew into Cleveland last Friday. She is self-supporting, has taken care of herself since she left for college.

And yet, she likes when I “play mom” and cook for her, put flowers on her nightstand, wash her bedding when I know she’s coming.

Best I could do was invite her to hang out at the workshop with Shirley and I as we finished up art for this weekend. I’m sure that was not what she had in mind.

Then there’s the house. Son mostly does his own laundry, and sometimes mine. Floors aren’t mopped or vacuumed like they used to be. The house is not tidy these days—and I’m being kind in that assessment. A dog watcher (thankfully!) comes in during the day to let the dogs out, exercise them—because I’m off to work at 6:30 a.m. for my full-time job—followed by art in the workshop, track meets, and other things in the evenings.

I understand the term “starving artist” now. It isn’t because I (and I am an artist) can’t afford food. It’s because I can’t manage to get to the grocery store. Hence the children are starving. I haven’t cooked, or grocery shopped all week.

My son missed a day of school this week.  Not because he was sick. On Tuesday, my always helpful, cooperative son was absent from school most of the day. When I contacted his school, I called it an “appointment” which was a bit of a stretch…

The boy was up early, loaded the Family Hoopty with my art, then moved on to the workshop to load more equipment, art, and tools.

Hoopty (Noun); an old, worn-out car.  Often cheap, broken down, or embarrassing to drive.

In our family’s case, the Hoopty is a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that gets about 8 miles per gallon. Belongs to my father and his lovely wife and has been driven by most everybody on both sides of the family, has crisscrossed the country from New England states to Florida. It’s like driving a bus. But with comfy leather seats. And it floats down the road, a smooth ride. The rusted thru spots on the exterior are spreading and there are dings/dents. But the Hoopty is loyal and faithful; keeps running, hauling our sh@t all over the place. Lately, that includes poles my son uses for pole vault.

photo 1 (6)Anyways, my son drove the Hoopty into downtown Cleveland, between a couple of buildings, and down a ramp into the Firstmerit Cleveland Convention Center. He unloaded it—helped unload a couple of other vehicles. He also helped put down carpet, so the walls could be built.  Ironically, my son rolled back to school in time for his entrepreneurship class.

If you think about it, Tuesday was almost like a field trip—I’m sure he learned a lot, right?

Where was I during unloading and setup? At work. And I truly love my day job—but such a bummer to miss out on some of the setup. It’s fascinating to see what goes into setting up this type of event. The behind the scenes, as an enormous convention center goes from nothing to something spectacular.

At least I work nearly next door and I was able to walk over after work.

So…

Shirley’s Loft will have Booth 100 at a large show in downtown Cleveland this weekend–and it will be filled with both her art and my art. We work well together. And we’ll enjoy hanging in Booth 100 from Friday until Sunday.

But…

To make that happen, I had to forgo the parenting, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the house. The dogs were lonesome. A nice pair of my work shoes became a dog snack. I had no time to get new tires that I ordered over a week ago put on the car. My nails should have had a manicure early this week (hoping to deal with them tomorrow) and my hair needs cut. The inside of the car resembles a garbage can. I went to work at my full-time job and I did art. That’s it.

The important thing is that the art looks lovely—and it should be a great event. Those going to the Home & Remodeling Expo—make sure to stop and say “hello” to Shirley and I.

Maybe next week, I’ll be a solid mom. Or clean the house?

The “Art” of Teamwork

“Faith” ~ Fluid Art by Shirley Slemc

I’m an artist, among other things…

In September of 2015, Judy Kean pulled together a group of local artists, and hosted It’s Cleveland! Art Gallery Show in her gorgeous new Avon studio, Creative Space Art & More. I was honored to meet Judy, to be asked to be one of those artists. Shirley Slemc, owner of Shirley’s Loft, was also part of that show.

Turned out Shirley lives and has a working studio nearly in my backyard. We traveled nearly an hour and half away from home to meet each other?

Teamwork…

Shirley is currently out of the country at CHIPSA Hospital where her sister is being treated for cancer.

When a piece of Shirley’s art sold online, she called me to see if I could get “Conflicted Desire” to its new owner. No problem. I picked up the art, packaging supplies, marketing materials, a prepaid shipping label, and a Certificate of Authenticity from Shirley’s house last Sunday.

On Monday, I bustled off to work thinking I’d hit the local post office after work. Then Tuesday, we had pot luck at work. I couldn’t possibly carry a crock pot and the Box.

Wednesday was The Day.  Had to be the day I sent “Conflicted Desire” off to California.

It was pouring rain at 6:30 a.m. I gathered everything up into a large black garbage bag and headed to work. (There is a post office in my building.)

At 7:15 a.m.,  I lugged my garbage bag through the parking garage, up a few flights of steps, down East 9th Street, and into my building. My Box, bubble, and art went through the security scanner and I endured some teasing from security. Anything for my Shirley.

Did I mention I work in the Federal Building?

At “break” time, I sat on the office floor, in professional attire. Little bits of tape stuck to my trousers and the copy machine nearby. And I was breaking a sweat getting the series of four canvases that made up one stunning piece of art all bubble wrapped and packaged.

A while later, it was time to take my Box to the post office. The box  was 25” x 16” x 7.5” which I know because I measured it.  The size of a rectangular laundry basket, but only about 8” deep—and no handles.

I hauled my Box (awkwardly) into the elevator, then down to USPS on the first floor.

USPS Lady: Isn’t ours.

Me: Huh?

USPS Lady: It’s NOT ours.

I wasn’t getting it…

USPS Lady: IT’S FEDEX!!

And I was back to security… the information desk in the first floor lobby.  Apparently, there’s a FexEx in the building. In the basement?

I tromped down another flight of stairs. And it turned out there was a basement AND sub-basement.  I’m still NOT sure which one the FedEx box was on, but there were more hallways, and elevator rides, more people giving me directions, until I finally reached FedEx, and it was a little white box for small items. I could not leave my Box there.

By now, it was going on 11:30—and I was hungry. Executive decision;  I was NOT escorting my Box on another elevator ride up to my office, only to ride back down the elevator to the Cafeteria that is below the first floor. I set off with my new “friend” to the cafeteria where I grabbed chicken tenders–and people stared.

“There ain’t no bomb in there, is there?” somebody mumbled, eyebrows raised.

And me, my chicken tenders, and my Box were back in the elevator. Headed back to work.

By the time I finished eating, I’d had it. Figured I’d just pay for USPS, even though my Box had a prepaid FedEx label on it. It would have been $50-60 to buy a new shipping label with USPS.

And I was on the computer, looking for a Kinko’s.

As luck would have it, there was a Kinko’s (with FedEx Shipping Center) a few blocks down East 9th Street. My Box and I were back in the elevator, this time with an umbrella because it was raining again.

On the first floor, I stomped out of the elevator, past a woman I’d seen earlier either in the basement? Or was it the sub-basement?

“You STILL got that thing?” she commented as I lumbered by with my Box.

Back through the lobby, out the front doors, down more steps…I marched down East 9th Street carefully keeping my Box dry under the umbrella. I almost wept with gratitude, as the FedEx Fella took the Box.

Back in the office, a co-worker noticed my Box was finally gone and assured me I’d taken VERY good care of it, “rocked it just like a baby.”

Workplace

Shirley and I…

We’re artists, we don’t complete sentences. We “see” things on a canvas that aren’t actually there yet. And if I had a sister, she might be it. We think alike. We create with similar processes, and so we understand each other in a unique way.

Often, I tell her she’s the best “teammate” I’ve ever had. I’ve played on sports teams, worked as part of teams, been grouped with teams of friends and family, etc. But until now, I’ve never had an “artist teammate” to collaborate with on website building, branding/design, planning for new art pieces, and to help pick up my slack. And it’s like a whole new world.  So when my teammate needed art shipped to California, that art was GOING to California.

It’s probably hanging happily in its new home right now. Looking gorgeous! No idea of how I bumbled about getting it there.

My Christmas Failure…

tree 2015I just really didn’t get it done this Christmas.

I should have known it was going in that direction when Darling Daughter and I were hanging out in the living room several weeks ago…

Me: I saw a watch I love; going to buy it next time I’m out.

Darling Daughter: Oh? What kind?

I tried to describe it, then fumbled with my iPad, as I tried to look it up.

Darling Daughter: Was it like this one?

Me: Yes! That’s it. Isn’t it pretty? Working in an office, I need a watch. Just isn’t acceptable to look at my phone to keep track of time.

Darling Daughter: It will be here in 2 days.

Me:  Huh?

Darling Daughter: Just ordered it.

I was a little stunned…

Darling Daughter: You can wear it when it gets here. We can just wrap it up on Christmas morning, and you can act surprised.

So really, Darling Daughter started things off with her gift to me…

The Christmas Tree

Lead off the season getting it up a little late. In the spirit of our tradition of cutting down ridiculous trees, this years was a long-legged beauty—like a gazelle. Or a “pencil necked” tree, depending on how you look at it. The tree has a very long trunk; branches start 2 1/2 feet from the ground.

The Christmas Cookies

I made homemade dough. My mom’s recipe needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight  before being rolled out into cut out sugar cookies. Except it sat overnight for many nights, and we (mostly I) slowly ate the dough. I did roll out and frost 11 cookies a couple of nights ago. A miserable failure, really.

The Christmas Gifts

We started off with gifts under the tree from Santa, but the kids slowly opened them before Christmas.

I had the best of intentions, but I’m working downtown now and who wants to shop after work? I’m not a fan of the mall, avoid it at all cost. I’ve always been the girl who wishes the right clothes would magically appear in the closet. Same with furniture and household goods. Shopping has never been my thing. I kept planning to get the Christmas shopping done, but things came up…

And the kids couldn’t come up with anything they wanted.

Darling Daughter: You know what I REALLY want for Christmas?

Me: Hmmmm…

Darling Daughter: Toilet paper, paper towels, Clorox wipes, cleaning supplies for my apartment, shampoo, razors…Would it be bad if I asked for Kroger gift cards?

Me: No.

Darling Daughter: Because I really have no problem buying clothes, shoes, the fun stuff. I really, really hate spending money on groceries, the things I need when I’m back at college in my apartment.

Then, three days before Christmas, she tells me about a college t-shirt that she’d always wanted, but never bought because it was pricey. FAR too late to order the damn thing!

My son was no better. Badly needed a couple of pairs of jeans, and a couple of pairs of sweatpants. We went shopping a few days before Christmas, so that he could try on jeans. We found ONE pair that worked. He wore them to school the next day. They never got wrapped. Same for the sweater that my daughter picked out. Ugh!

That is how we wound up with only a few gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. We were already wearing many of our gifts, using others. I guess I just kind of threw my hands up, figured why run out in the madness? Why stuff boxes with shit nobody wanted, or that wasn’t needed? Figured I might as well take the kids out shopping this week, get them what they need.

My Solution

I drew fun pictures of what I would have gotten them, if I was more perfect, if I had gotten it together–gotten the shopping done. Rolled them up, tied them with ribbons, and put them in their stockings. They (thankfully) were amused…

gifts

Really, I’m just giving them stories to tell. If I was a better mom, they’d have no stories.

I had Darling Daughter fetch my laptop so she could pick out the shirt she wanted—and we ordered it Christmas morning. It will be here soon. Almost the same as opening it Christmas morning, right?

Family Time

Though we pretty much ruined the normal traditions this year, we spent a wonderful Saturday before Christmas at my Dads house, spent time the family/cousins,  in Pennsylvania (a short road trip across the state line) on Christmas Eve, and the kids and I attended midnight mass. After breakfast on Christmas morning, we took a Christmas walk in the woods and we’ll see more family this afternoon.  We’ll have fun in the coming days, we’ll get that shopping done—and the whole family will be together for New Years Day, even the Pennsylvania and California crews.  We are getting the important things done.

Kids often grow up thinking they’ll do better than their parents…

I’m helping my kids out. Setting the bar low.

On Choosing a College, Career Path…

tealtreeframed1Friend: I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and my life is half over.

I knew there was a reason we are friends.

Then it hit me. We’re guiding offspring toward college, careers and futures. (Gasp!) Our children are making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As adults, we’re guiding them.

Take a look around.

Does it LOOK like we adults know what we’re doing?

My Career (or lack thereof…)

After graduating college, I married, had children, and stayed home to raise them. Divorce changed my plan. The word ‘divorce’ has negative connotations. But really, it’s like getting off one bus and taking a different bus to a new destination. Just a change in path.

My résumé is a crazy mix of full-time jobs and freelance projects. It’s impossible to chronicle where one job ends and another begins, such is the chaotic overlap. I’ve been lucky to have worked for/with wonderful people, have appreciated each opportunity—but I’m not 100% sure where I’m headed.

And now it’s my job to guide two young adults?  God help us…

True Story:

A job presented itself a couple of weeks ago. It intrigued me, so I applied; agreed to an interview to see if the job, company, and I were suited for each other.

Interviewer: If you could go back to the beginning of your career, what might you do differently?

My (Brilliant?) Response: Nothing.

Interviewer: So, No regrets?

Me: No regrets.

I did elaborate. Gave solid reasons for having no regrets; that my choices led to my current place, tied that to my suitability for the position. I refrained from admitting that I loved every walk in the woods with my children, gathering rocks and leaves outdoors, biking to get ice cream, all the moments and memories. Perhaps they wouldn’t have seen the value in those years?

Common Advice from the Adult Contingent…

Go to college, but don’t overspend: Don’t go heavily into debt for a major/degree that offers only a slim chance of a job, or a job that won’t pay enough to satisfy college loans. What if that nixes a students’ chosen career, the thing they dream of doing? What if pursuing a major in a high paying field is highly competitive, stressful, and miserable? And that’s before even getting out of college. What about those pressured into college who would prefer a trade, or another path?

Do something you love: We often encourage our children to do something they’re good at, that they enjoy. (See above) Sometimes our best skills are difficult to monetize, or for the workplace to value. For example, I’m good at creating art with items (i.e. rocks, sticks, rusty metal) found outdoors and stringing words together in a pleasing fashion. My kids have ridden that bus with me; watched me wrestle that into making sense. It’s challenging that my talents are better suited to hobbies, than a career.

Use sports to pay for college:  College sports require the same dedication as academics. It can be difficult to schedule co-ops/internships, or manage more rigorous courses of study. My son is working this out now; he needs a college major that works with a track schedule, yet provides a future career. In college, they fly to meets—he cannot be in class and in another state at the same time. Injury is also a consideration.

What if there is no right way to choose a college, career path? What if the path is ever evolving over a lifetime?

On Aiming Low

pole vault

Per NCAA statistics, there are over 1 million high school football players. Only 6.5% will play in college, with 1.5% of those ever being drafted into the NFL. Even then, chances of NFL success are ridiculously small, but isn’t that the case with so many things in life?

Do we really want to teach our children to think small? That taking chances, or chasing dreams is a waste of time? If everybody played the odds, made choices based solely on logic and common sense– discounted as options ALL things with minimal possibility of success, what would happen?

We’d still be riding horses instead of driving cars. There would be no Apple Computer. Or brilliant structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry. Imagine the books never written? Songs, movies, art never created. The businesses never started. The lack of medical advancements, diseases without cure.  Forget about Olympic medals…

I’d love for my children to have easy paths, to never experience failure, or obstacles—yet I know that those things will shape them, pave the way for future success. I want them to take some chances, chase dreams.

What comforts me? Eases the pressure?

My children aren’t listening to my advice anyway.

They nod their heads when I speak, then go about things their way. And really, that’s fine. Who am I to choose their path, or tell them which bus to take? Can’t do it. Can only love them, support their choices.

Many thanks to my friend for sending my brain down this path. I needed a few more things to think about…