Last year, Suzi Blu posted a video about The Butterfly Project by the Holocaust Museum Houston. They are collecting handmade butterflies to honor the children killed during the Holocaust. I still haven’t made my butterfly, but the deadline isn’t until next June. After watching Suzi’s video, I wanted a pattern of a butterfly, so I Googled a bunch of butterfly images and drew my own. I didn’t even start using the butterfly pattern until recently.
My life has been through a lot of upheaval this year. We left the DC area and moved near Chicago, but after a few months we had to bail because neither of us could find jobs. While there, I had a low-paying temp job downtown, and I started sketching on my old journaling paper while on the train. I began to draw a woman emerging from a chrysalis. I felt it was time for me to emerge.
We are adjusting to our new lives in a rural area. My brother found Steve a job (on the night shift), but my jobhunting is going more slowly. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d really like to stay here in Bloomington rather than drive an hour into Indianapolis (spending $20 on gas per round trip).
I didn’t even know what the butterfly meant until now. Change. Transformation. I am incorporating them into the paintings. These paintings are kind of like Alex and Kelsey, but I gave up the arbitrary names. My work is inherently self-portraiture, and to do anything else is inauthentic. My work has always been about me, the Self, myself. Whether the figures look exactly like me or not is irrelevant. But they are not anonymous strange women.
Instead of piddling around and putting things off, constantly changing my mind or convincing myself I’m not ready or the work is not ready, I’m finally getting somewhere. Even though the rest of my life was driven off a cliff. The sprained ankle was a metaphor for what went wrong: I didn’t look where I stepped and disaster ensued.
It’s been hard to get out of my own way. Being out in the middle of nowhere with no cable, no t.v. and no internet has given me time to think. I’ve been writing, continuing to do my Martha Beck exercises, and am using a few other sources. This inward examination will continue. I am taking Suzi Blu’s A Lovely Dream Art Journaling course. I also joined Natalie Neumann’s Vanillery Garden August Revolution class, although I’m late! A whole month late! But she listed many probing questions I’d like to answer and write about. However, I won’t be posting my self-examination writing. That’s part of a recent discovery – that the analysis needs to come much later.
My Martha Beck relaxation exercises have, after much time, loosened the grip I had on my possessions. Last year I destroyed most of my grad school work and all but the pre-Journaling Project 1997 sketchbook. While in Chicago, I sorted through my letters, papers, mementos and photos again. I threw out half my photos and most of my old letters. I condensed three bins down to one.
We were hoping to have our own internet soon, but there aren’t any good options for where we are. It’s been hard being offline and out of touch. (What? DC had an earthquake? There’s a hurricane?!) Once or twice a week after jobhunting at the public library (What fun! Not.) I’ve been copying blogs I follow and pasting them into Word docs to bring home and read. When we are on our feet and in our own apartment again we’ll get back online. But until then, blog posting will be sporadic.
Our little Symon has made all this bearable. He had to stay overnight at the vet’s Friday night after being neutered. That was a long, quiet, lonely night. When Steve got home Saturday morning he missed Symon running up to greet him.
When I picked him up Saturday morning the vet tech said, “OMG Symon is the favorite animal in the whole vet! When I took him out of the cage he jumped right up on my shoulders! He’s been sticking his paws out of the cage at us.” Yes, he’s just the bestest kitty. I can’t call him a kitten anymore because he’s gotten so big. He’s nearly 6 lb. now.