At the end of this video, there’s a link that’ll take you to Belinda finishing out the night.
Yesterday Camwhores.com, where I have had my webcam exclusively for 14 years and where practically every single one of my friends come from, made a public announcement saying that they will be shutting down the site as of March 17th. I’ve talked with Kevin and there’s nothing to be done, it’s just time. A lot of people have been talking about building new portals or new communities so we all stay together but knowing what I do about what it took to make Camwhores work, I’m not very optimistic anything will last very long. I think the idea that shows the most promise is the subreddit Belinda set up, but I’m not really that much into Reddit so I can’t say if I’ll be in there much. I’ll definitely try. I know I won’t be posting nude cam pics, if I am, because the best part about CW for me, was that all my nudes and shows and sexual anythings were “contained” in one place where all of that was appropriate and inaccessible to minors. I don’t want sex stuff on my site and there’s no such thing anymore as a 30 second refreshing still cam portal. Camwhores was the the first and last one. And even if there was, honestly, I doubt I would trust it unless I knew the person running it. (And anyone I can think of who I’d trust wouldn’t be able to pull it off, I’m fairly sure.)
I’m fucking sad and I can’t stop crying. I had the realization today that since Camwhores is the ONLY place I cammed, if it doesn’t exist, I guess I’m not a camgirl anymore. :o/
A lot of girls will go to MyFreeCams.com and probably make more money, but for some of us, it was never ever about money. And me? I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate streaming video. Loathe. I don’t like watching myself move and talk and hear myself, like I just can’t deal. But at the same time, I can’t not watch. The other thing is that MFC has a lot of trolls who are gonna make fun of me because I have a space between my teeth or because of my scar or because they’re just assholes out to ruin a girl’s day and I did the dealing with those kinds of trolls 15 years ago when the internet was much smaller and my reputation was a lot bigger and I am way too grown to step into that arena and get “rolled in” again. And for what? It’s not like I *have* to show off my body or I can’t live or anything. It’s just that sometimes you wanna post a pic on the internet of (a) body part(s) you can’t show on Instagram or Facebook. Even though we’re all friends, being on CW was/is partly performance, you’re in the spotlight while doing a show, with a totally appreciative audience who all know it’s better to leave for 20 minutes, than to say anything negative because they will be banned for various lengths of time to indefinitely. To express your negative opinion of a camwhore, members could vote them minus or vote all of their pictures 1s (on a scale of 1-10). There was a healthy outlet built into our community for negative feelings and as simple as it was, most of the time it was enough. In recent history, the only egregious thing I can recall is a member got really drunk and went on an awful tirade in chat about one of our girls, who I think was even live at the time, and he had to be given a timeout. But what did he do when his ban was over and he came back? He wrote a sincere public apology to the girl by way of CW’s blogs and while I forget if she actually accepted it, that’s the kind of gestures that could happen in our Camwhores community completely organically. You are never going to find a community on the internet that moderated itself so well, with very few people actually having the ability to moderate. Especially not one that grew out of the E/N scene. (I actually only know of one person from the E/N scene A) still doing E/N basically and B) making a decent living at it, but some people I know are primed and ready for it to come back.)
There is nowhere on the internet where you can post a picture straight from your webcam, let alone a nude, let alone the most explicit nude you can think of. You can post nudity on Twitter but my mom’s on my Twitter. She was probably okay with naked tree pose last week but I doubt she’d be happy knowing the precise colour of my labia. And the picture I *was* gonna post on Camwhores 2 days ago that would be totally within site rules but decided against because I had an ingrown hair and it wouldn’t be perfect enough, would almost definitely get me perma-banned from Twitter. And we all know Facebook and Instagram are lame when it comes to nudity in even ART. My friend and fellow artist Ana Voog has been suspended from Facebook a million times for posting artwork barely featuring nudity, it’s ridiculous. I get wanting to keep Facebook a SFW place, I agree with that and think it should be what it is, but when we’re banning art and breastfeeding, something’s fucking wrong with us. And of course there’s Instagram whose most famous hashtag is #freethenipple. Need I say more on that one? (I like to covertly insert my boobs and nether regions into Instagram. Only I know it’s there or what it is, but it’s there dammit.) You can get naked on tumblr. Yes. Yes, you can. Tumblr is basically the 2nd last place on the internet I’d like to be, with 4chan taking home the prize. Tumblr just confuses me and ruins all the shows I watch because I download or record them and watch them later and how some of these people get gifs BEFORE the show airs, I have no idea, but tumblr is just a spoiler minefield so I avoid it at all costs. I realize I can stop following these people but sometimes I like seeing the gifs. Anyway, the tumblr community freaks me out and it’s a shitty place to actually communicate with people so that’s just a great big “no”.
So that pretty much leaves LiveJournal – which is totally fine with nudity but a bloody tampon is “obscene”, as Ana found out over a decade ago – and my site. You can’t make a webcam page on LiveJournal. I have a webcam page on my site, but it just tells you to go to Camwhores with a brief description of what I do there and approximately when. If I could change that page, and I only say “if” because it’s a WordPress page, so that my cam image updates every 30 seconds (maybe longer since it won’t be like CW), no archives and there’s a little chat thingy on the page, that would be good. Ideally the chat thingy would be one that you can pop out of the page or one that makes sounds when people talk and one where you can definitely ban people. In my brain, this sounds like an impossible thing, maybe to someone else it sounds simple. I dunno. A bonus to having a cam on my site is that Wes and Madison can be on it, so that would be cool. Instead of a PayPal link (because PayPal gets in a snit if they think you’re using it for anything “adult”), I think fuckit, I’ll accept Bitcoin. Why not? Camming’s not about money to me and Bitcoin’s not even real money to me, but with it there’s still an exchange of value, of appreciation, even if it’s a fragment of a cent. (I have no idea how Bitcoin works but I am signed up with this cool Bitcoin thing that Steph (the Geek) used to tip me enough Bitcoin to buy a cupcake if I’m ever anywhere that takes Bitcoin and has cupcakes that price! It’s made for tipping so it would be perfect. Totally forget what it’s called but it’s in my e-mail.)
Kevin doesn’t think there’s an audience for 320 x 240 static cams anymore but Ana and Steph and I are not so sure about that. What we all do about it remains to be seen. Maybe Everything/Maybe Nothing.
I finished an art video last night and left it uploading overnight, so it would be ready for people to see in the morning. It’s called “Fetus Balloon”, here it is:
It’s a bit dark because my office is a bit dark, but I’ve got a lamp on my desk now so that should solve the problem in the future. I don’t really care if anyone watches them, I like watching them, and I just bought a video setup to make them, so expect more.
I realize I haven’t been updating a ton lately and most of that has to do with the fact that I’m not feeling particularly “writer-y” these days. I’m feeling more…I dunno, visual I guess. In the video, you’ll see that I’m painting on a pad of watercolour paper. I’ve decided that paper is going to be my only substrate for the entire winter. I thought about limiting myself to only using Inktense pencils but I just couldn’t do it. I used them in the painting in the video but so far nothing I’ve been able to do with them has looked better than my usual acrylic paint so I’ve decided to do the opposite of limiting myself and anything, as long as it’s (relatively) flat, fits on that paper and won’t fall off when I file it in my portfolio, is fair game.
Here’s what I did with the first sheet of paper from the pad:
My first real attempt with #Inktense pencils. Honestly, I have no clue how to use these, or at least I haven't figured them out yet. I'm so used to painting in layers and you can't really do that with these, you have to paint with whitespace. I painted myself into a corner a couple of times. Also there are no flesh tones in the whole box, which is just weird. They do seem to react to salt similarly to watercolours, but the effect isn't as dramatic.
I’m so used to painting and working in layers that carefully leaving white space as not to mix your colours was really really difficult. Also there are no caucasian fleshtones in the whole tin and I have the really big 72 pencil one. I dunno, still playing with them.
When I go to San Francisco next month all I’m bringing as far as art supplies is this pad of watercolour paper, the Inktense pencils, brushes, brush basin, 3 Pigma Micron pens, pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, exacto knife for cutting eraser, ruler and circle template, gel medium, acrylic glazing medium and 6-8 two oz bottles of acrylic paint, colours to be determined, but Santa’s Flesh, Snow White and Lamp black are definitely going to be in there. I know it sounds like a lot but it really isn’t since almost everything is small or light and it’s NOTHING compared to the resources available to me in within the room I currently sit. So, during that trip I *am* limiting myself to that and whatever Belinda brings with her/buys while she’s there if she comes. We’re gonna sit around and watch movies and make bad art. It’ll be awesome. Steph’s also taking me to a restaurant that ONLY serves fancy macaroni and cheese, which I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty damn excited about. We’re going to see where Steph lives (in a bitcoin-fueled cyber hippie love commune), which should be interesting. At some point we’re going to hang out with Blake’s sisters and their kids, two of which Blake has never even met. They live in Lake Tahoe so they’re going to drive into SF and then I dunno what. On my actual birthday, my friend Kat is throwing me a birthday party and then driving us to the airport the next day (unless we just get a cab cuz it’s gonna be like, 4am). I’m trying to arrange a meetup one day with all the people I work with who live out there, but I’ve never actually met. So that should be pretty cool.
I’m going to SF because I figure by the end of Feb/my b-day, I’m going to be a wreck. The SAD officially kicked in this morning despite doing light therapy 3 times every morning for the last two months. San Francisco has warmth and sunshine and a MACARONI AND CHEESE RESTAURANT and friends. The place we rented has a pretty nice kitchen so we’re going to order in from this food delivery service that has all kinds of weird produce and organic meats. And I’m sure we’ll hit up a grocery store at some point. (I loooooove American grocery stores.) Blake’s going there to see his sisters and work on his book and be warm. I’m thinking about maybe getting a tattoo while I’m down there but I haven’t decided yet. I want to have my scar accentuated somehow because it’s fading, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. I don’t want to tattoo the actual scar though. I dunno, was just an idea. I want to buy THE most touristy godawful bong I can afford that says San Francisco on it, if I can find such a creation. I’ve been assured that such an item has been spotted once or twice so, I’ll be on the lookout.
Almost bought plane tickets to Vegas last week because my work can get us free tickets to AVN which is a big porn convention at the end of the month. Didn’t end up doing it because unless we could have rented a place with other people from work, we couldn’t afford to stay anywhere. I guess there’s also an electronic gadget convention happening at the same time so all the hotels raise their prices. Flights were pretty cheap, though. Plus doing that at the end of Jan. would mean only 3 paycheques between now and San Francisco and I want to save as much money as possible for that. This year would have been ideal to go to AVN because it’s their 30th anniversary so I bet there would be more than the usual amount of free swag. Oh well.
What else? Well, Madison has her learner’s permit and is learning to drive. She has two part-time jobs and spends all her money on Magic cards, something that she has gotten all of us into because the only shop worth going into in our town is the comic shop and they have Friday Night Magic until 1am or longer, depending on how things are going. My deck is white with a bit of blue, but I’m thinking about switching to a straight white deck when the new cards come out later this month. I guess we’ll see what I pull (I’m buying a full box of boosters and so is Madison).
Other than that like, all I do is work. I may play Sims 4 today though because I haven’t touched it since it first came out and I have no plans for today. Spending the day either in my Sims Bunker or farming in Warcraft and eating pizza sounds pretty damn good to me. So that is what I am going to do.
So last night Blake and I were in bed talking (way past our bedtimes) and we got onto the topic of Squam and how he really wanted to go and that I really wanted him to go too but there would be no way I’d be able to raise the funds x 2 through my site to make that happen since raising the funds for just me was really difficult. And then he said, “well theoretically we could use my bonus…” to which I practically jumped on him because YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That would be amazing!!!! I want to introduce him to so many people and things like the wish tree and the art fair and the dining hall that made us so much delicious food (he’s a foodie) and of course Thea and Elizabeth (the founder of Squam, who actually wrote a really nice blog post on Thea today, which you can read here)!
The only thing is that we’ll still need money for gas and incidentals so I have to talk to my mom about exactly how much gas was and then estimate incidentals once we know what classes we’ll be taking and what the kit fees will be etc.
This is good news indeed! And EXTRA good news is that I told Belinda this this morning while we were working and she was like “I’m in!” and she said her boyfriend Brian wanted to come again too SO YAY! ALL OF US ARE PROBABLY GOING!!!!!!! I am so fucking excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope so so hard that Thea will be teaching an intermediate photography class!!!!!!!!!!!!
And my other choice will be Alena Hennessy’s “Abundant Wild Life” if it’s offered again next year. It’s a painting class but in the dining hall people would leave their projects on a table and the ones from her class were consistently good and I couldn’t figure out the techniques they were using to get some of the effects so it wouldn’t be like the Pages and Paint class I took this time where I already knew everything. Or maybe I might take some kind of sewing class or a writing class. Pretty much I’ll take whatever Blake wants to take so we can be in the same class together! IT’S GONNA BE SO FUN!!!!!
The thing about using Blake’s bonus though is that it means we won’t be able to move this summer as planned. I don’t see how we were going to do that anyway, but his bonus was going to go towards a downpayment on a new house. I told him that if it were up to me alone, we wouldn’t move until at least Madison was out of high school, keeping in mind that Madison will be out of high school before Wes starts so if we move after Madison’s out of high school and before Wes starts, then he can start grade 9 in a new high school and it would be less traumatic than taking both kids out of school and away from their friends and putting them in new schools. I think it’s important that Madison, since she’s enjoying high school so much, finish high school with the rest of her friends. Especially because despite the fact that it’s a tiny high school, I actually like it. I like the house system. I like how involved in the community the kids are. And yeah, I’m not the hugest fan of this town because there’s really nothing here for me except the post office and the grocery store but I think I would be pretty lost without my shrink and the mental health centre which is about 20 mins away and I like being 10 mins away from the beach which is pretty much my favourite place on Earth. If it were up to me alone, we would move closer to the beach so I could walk there or to Midland, which I really like, but I know that’s not a possibility.
The fact of the matter is, it’s completely up to Blake because he’s the one who has to get up at 6am 4 times a week to drive 2 hours to work and then 2 hours home so he doesn’t get home until 6:30pm. That’s a long day, especially in the summer considering that we don’t have air conditioning in our car. If he can’t do the drive and we need to move, I will absolutely support that 100%, I don’t want him to burn out, but it wouldn’t be my preference.
The other awesome thing is that my friend Ming told me about this stuff called ALPHA BRAIN which is a “nootropic” which is a fancy name for “shit that helps you remember stuff” and I ordered a bottle. From what I can tell, it’s a mixture of vitamins and herbs and they use it for people with Alzheimer’s and they have a money back guarantee. It’s pretty expensive though at $34.95 for 30 pills and I think you”re supposed to take 2 pills a day.
I don’t really talk about it because it scares me and it’s kind of embarrassing but since I started taking psychiatric medications, my memory has gone to shit. Blake and I can have entire conversations, hours long, and a week later I’ll forget it ever happened. He constantly has to tell me things repeatedly or I’ll forget them. He always says “I told you this like a week ago” and I won’t believe him because how could I have forgotten such an important detail? And it feels like he’s trying to manipulate me by taking advantage of the fact that I have a really bad memory. He’s not (probably) but at the time that’s what it feels like. It’s the same with Madison, I’ll be like, “why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?” and she’ll say she told me a few days ago and I’ll have zero recollection. Now, it’s entirely possible that she is taking advantage of me because she’s manipulative like that sometimes but it’s still a problem and it scares the shit out of me that it’s a sign of early onset dementia or something which I’d be prone to by being mentally ill to begin with. I don’t know if 30 pills is enough to really test whether or not ALPHA BRAIN actually works but Joe Rogan apparently swears by the stuff which is how Ming found out about it so I guess we’ll see.
The final awesome thing I did today was I ordered more flower essences from Lotus Wei so now I’ll have all of them but the love one because I don’t need that one. I ordered both the mists and the serums of Quiet Mind for right before bed (“dissolve tension, quiet the mind, sleep soundly”) and Inspired Action for right before leaving the house (“get it done, stay motivated, clear & decisive”). Wes really loves the essences and asks for them now. Last night before bed, I offered Blake some Inner Peace but he said he was good so I sprayed myself and suddenly, like a little shadow, Wes was there saying “I’d like some Inner Peace” so I sprayed him and then Madison was standing behind him asking for some too. Then today before school, Wes asked for both Joy Juice and Pure Energy because he was running late and needed the energy to walk to school and he wanted the Joy Juice so he”d have a good day at school. That’s why I decided to go ahead and order the other ones even though I’d be putting them on Visa and paying them off over a few paycheques. (I had a 10% off coupon code too so the cost wasn’t too terrible and they really do last a long time.) I believe they work and even if it’s just the power of suggestion, I don’t care. The kids believe they work too and I think they’ve been a positive thing in our lives in the short time we’ve been using them. I think a spray of Quiet Mind and maybe some Inner Peace before bed would be good for all of us.
And that’s been my day so far. I’ve been spraying myself liberally with Pure Energy all morning and I’m wiiiiiide awake! I had steak for breakfast/lunch, which Belinda helped me cook because I didn’t know how (it was okay…not my favourite way to cook steak [ in the oven]) and for the rest of the day I’m going to work on learning Lightroom. And getting caught up on e-mail because I’m behind.
Also in case I haven’t mentioned it in a while, just about all my paintings are still in my Etsy shop for cheap and I don’t plan on making any more like these so now’s the time to buy! Another thing is that I have lots of cool stuff like stickers, greeting cards and posters and iPhone cases available in my Zazzle shop! In fact I *just* sold another iPhone case and a sheet of stickers over the weekend so thank you whoever you are! I appreciate your business!
Okay, off to tackle Lightroom and e-mail…
Saturday at Squam was pretty good. There was breakfast and then there was gentle yoga, which we skipped, and “No-Stress -Storytelling” with Camille DeAngelis which my mom and I decided to participate in.
My mom was on a search for coffee so she missed the beginning of the workshop where Camille (who played Cards Against Humanity with us on the Thursday night) talked a bit about the 2 books she wrote and that if she could do it, anyone can (which I strongly disagree with – I’m 99% positive that I don’t have the attention span or memory to write an entire book). The part after that was where we were shown two tables; one had all these pictures on it and the other one had cards with words on them.
These were my prompts.
After you chose a few prompts, you were just told to free write until you felt you were done. I don’t know what my mom wrote but I’ll post what I did (as bad as it is):
The twins in the stained glass window, while looking in opposite directions, each held a glimmer in their left eyes while the moonlight held that glimmer in the window’s colourful glass. They watched the arguing congregation before them with the patience of a Hindu god but without the wisdom to intervene.
“Watch them! Watch them through the full moon and see for yourselves the havoc they wreak,” said one of the townspeople. “They are not angels of our God but demons of the horned one! We must destroy this window and destroy them in the process, it’s the only way!”
“But what harm,” said the town scholar, “do you perceive them to have caused? Your crops failed this season because the rains never came. A piece of art does not control the weather.”
“But what about my Mabel?” wailed Annie Butcher in reference to her very pregnant teenage daughter. “She says the angels came to her in the night and seduced her with their evil charms. Who knows what kind of child will be born unto her. A child of light, I highly doubt!”
“Johnny Kingston put Mabel in the family way and we all know it!” shouted someone in the back.
“And what of my missiing sheep?” asked a man in brown, corduroy overalls and a John Deere baseball cap.
“And my pigs!” shrieked Mrs. Jackson. “All my spring litters were born with deformities, they were not fit for human consumption and had to be drowned. The angels did that, you mark my words, the angels did that.”
“Generations of inbreeding did that,” said the scholar quietly as the congregation all stared at him, boring psychic holes into his face with their stares.
And all the while, the angels looked anywhere but at them from their shiny place in the church window, their gazes to the left and to the right but never down as the moon illuminated their faces and cast yellow, green, red, turquoise and purple light across the faces of each townsperson.
While they may not have been looking down at the congregation, they were definitely listening and they were pleased by the discussion. They had nothing to do with Mrs. Jackson’s hideous pigs or Mabel’s situation, but they were happy that the scholar was injecting some sane ideas into the minds of an otherwise closed community.As the angels listened, they sent down soothing twinkling light, hoping to calm the congregation and make them open to these new ideas, if only to save themselves from their own destructive fate which was at the center of the discussion.
“This is a piece of art,” said the scholar. “Made hundreds of years ago and made a part of our church by the gods themselves. I see the phenomenal craftsmanship involved and its beauty while others in this room ascribe to these angels something sinister. My question is “Why?” What makes you think these innocent cherubs inherently bad? Why is it that you can’t accept the possibility that they could be responsible for the good things in your lives?”
“What good things?” asked a pruney old man sitting in a front pew. “I’ve been living here my whole life and nothing good has ever come out of this town.”
“Are you a good person, sir?” the scholar asked the man.
“Of course I am,” he spat.
“Then there you go,” said the scholar. “We’re all good people and good things happen every day. Look at these angels in the moonlight and envision them filling the room with love because that’s just as likely as hate and this is a building of faith, so maybe let’s try having some from now on.”
The room was silent as they all looked up into the innocent faces of the angels.
The angels were pleased with this turn of events and shone down white, shining light that filled the room with love that made the townspeople’s fingers, toes and noses tingle and from that night forward, the townspeople felt comforted by the nameless cherubs in their glorious stained glass window at the front of their tiny church.
I told you it was pretty terrible, but that’s sort of the point, to just write, to write ANYTHING, to get it out and see what sticks because that’s the awesome (ugh, I said it again) thing about writing, you can keep all the good parts and just get id of the bad parts, then you can add more good parts from other things to it and arrange this here and that there and voila, you have a nice little story! Admittedly I could have done better if I was given more time to think about it but at the same time, I think if I thought about it too much, I might have frozen up and not written anything. I’m not sure.
Here’s a picture Camille took of me and my mom writing:
After writing there was Vinyasa but my body’s just not ready for that yet so we skipped that and went back to the cabin where they were setting up the catered lunch of all the weird bean and corn salads and corn chowder and cookies and brownies.
At 1:15pm while everyone was at our cabin, Longhouse, having food, they took a group photo of us all on the stairs where my mom, Belinda, Brian and I all have prime real estate. I will absolutely post it when it becomes available so I can tell you about some of the people in it who were in my classes who were great. (No one was not great.)
After lunch the Squam fairies set up an open studio space full of limited art supplies which was just okay. I think it was mostly so people could finish projects they’re started earlier in the week. There was lots of paint but no brushes. There were these blank journal things we could take and play with but we needed to go get ready for the art fair before I got to finish the picture I was drawing in mine.
I didn’t take any pictures of the art fair in full swing, but I should have. Now that was a crowd. I did take some pictures of the wish tree outside though and my mom took some of me putting wishes on the tree. Behold!
Me tying my first wish (of three) to the tree.
My first wish. <3
And just as an aside, my mom wanted me to show you guys the path we had to take every single day for every single meal …and this is the part that DOESN’T have rocks…
There were things like this all over the place, put there by Squam fairies who were never seen:
These are known as “wish bombs” and I really wish I knew where they got those tickets.
These guys were on the path on our way back from breakfast Saturday morning.
This is the famous Squam Lake, as seen from our cabin’s back porch.
My mom being a freak.
My mom patiently supporting my photography passion.
Okay so the art fair. I can’t even begin to guess how many vendors were there but there were a LOT and most of them were super expensive. I didn’t bring my camera so I didn’t get any pictures of the dining hall all done up for the fair (did I mention there was free beer? I don’t drink beer, but still!) but Brian did capture my favourite part of the decorations. See, in each cabin there are ice boxes instead of fridges and what an ice box is, is a big metal box where you load up the biggest “cupboard” with ice harvested in the winter from the lake and that keeps the rest of the cubbies cold. Well, the people who work at the camp took those ice blocks and made these neat luminaries out of them by drilling a hole in the top and another hole in the back and this is what they look like all lit up:
The paths to the art fair were lined with these ice luminaries and it looked amazing!
So at the art fair, my mom bought 3 issues of Taproot magazine for her friend Jamie, signed by Amanda Soule who is the editor and apparently one of Jamie’s muses. My mom also bought a bag that says “Just be true.” and I can’t remember what else. I bought a white tank top with black writing that says “gentle spirit badass motherfucker” on it (which I got from this lady) that I wore to the grocery store and people were totally staring at me. That’s okay. I bought a greeting card that I’m going to frame from Paper Taxi that is a Roald Dahl quote (one of my heroes) that says “make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.” and an Alena Hennessy print of an Anais Nin quote that says, “I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
At the art fair, Thea hunted me down and gave me a one shoulder hug while I introduced her to my mother. Then Thea started spewing all this stuff at my mother like, “your daughter is such a special ray of light, a creative soul who needs to be nurtured, a glorious human being…” and all kinds of stuff like that that I honestly don’t really remember, I just know it was really weird but also sort of awesome because NO ONE in my life has ever Carebear stared at me like that, in a way that actually like, changed my life.
Then she asked if she could take a picture of the two of us on her iPhone and this is that picture. I’m going to print it out and hang it in my office:
And I almost forgot! Which is stupid because I’m wearing them right now! Saturday between dinner (we had to fend for ourselves so we got AMAZING sandwiches from this little deli in town while Belinda and Brian went to an arcade) and the art fair, while I was internetting and I;m not sure what my mom was doing, there was a knock on the door. So I yelled “COME IN!” and it was Belinda and she was like, “I haz a preeeeeseeeeeeent for you!!!!” and she presented me with my very own “Dick in a Mouth” hat from Korea (long story) and these adorable turquoise fingerless gloves with pink flowers on top. Check them out, I LOVE them!
I love them! I’m wearing them right now!
Belinda got herself a purple pair and I’ve convinced Blake that he’s going to make me all kinds of these because they look pretty easy to make and we have a sewing machine, so why not? Belinda also – at the arcade – went in a photo booth and gave me a crazy strip of photos of herself that says “I freaking <3 you” at the top and “xoxo <3” at the bottom. I have that stuck up above my desk so I can always see it.
Meeting Belinda (and Brian too) was just the icing on the cake. We’ve known each other since 2001 or 2002 but this was the first time we’d ever met and I think we got along just like this was the 100th time we’d met. I mean, I talk to her online every single morning and have forever and she is exactly the same online as she is in person. Which is a really good thing because sometimes people aren’t. I wasn’t worried though. In fact, I really can’t wait until they can come up to our house for a few days to hang out and meet our kids and Blake and maybe Ronny and Alex because I think we would all get along so well. And we could play Cards Against Humanity!
Sunday morning was pretty uneventful. We went to the dining hall for breakfast for the last time and while I was eating ice cream, my mom brought Elizabeth over to sign my Creative Pilgrimage book in which Squam is featured and she thanked me for bringing Belinda, who she said she had a connection with, and Brian and of course my mom. She wanted to know what I had taken away from Squam and I said I wasn’t sure yet (I’m still not sure, but I feel stronger for having gone, so that’s something!) and then she signed my book: “oh sunny you found your tribe. may you continue to vibrate to that same good vibe. love love love <3, e“
After breakfast, we all went back to the cabin to start packing. I’d started the night before so I really only had my electronics and toothbrush to pack up. As I was packing, Belinda and Brian came upstairs to our room to say that they were leaving and that they wanted to take pictures of Belinda and I together which I DUH had never thought of so of course I went down to the dock with them and this is the best of the pics we took I think. I’m going to have this picture framed for my future office for sure:
I love Belinda so much. You have no idea.
And that, my friends, was Squam. I’m all out of pictures. I’m all out of stories, except for the few I think I’ll keep to myself because you really had to be there.
So I guess this is it! A huge thank you to everyone who chipped in to help me get there. I truly had the best time despite a rocky beginning and would go again in a heartbeat. I’m trying to figure out a way to go with Blake next year but we’d need $2400 for tuition and $400 for gas and a few hundred dollars for spending money because everything in VT and NH is so expensive and you can’t not buy stuff at the art fair, everything’s just so beautiful. Oh and I bought a pink New York t-shirt at a rest stop and a blinking keychain thing with Blake’s name on it because we never see stuff with his name on it and I got Madison some perfume from the duty free shop and Wes a stuffed lemur. And 15 bags of Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Combos. The rest of my money was spent on food and drinks and I took $281 US with me and I came back with $23 US. If Blake came too, we’d need at least $100 more than that. So yeah, we’re still trying to figure out how to make it happen. I also guess it depends on what classes they’ll be offering too.
Anyway, something to think about but not too deeply. It’s too early.
Okay, I’m going to go start clearing off my desk and actually I’m feeling a little bit brave so I might go take a walk and take some pictures of things. I haven’t decided yet. (I should really nap, but hey, I can sleep when I’m dead!) *poof*
Friday at Squam was not so great.
Breakfast was fine, bacon, sausage and ice cream, of course, then off to Sap House for Pages and Paint with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare which was a mixed media class and it was this class that ultimately made me give up on mixed media painting.
The first thing we did was go to the dock where it was warm in the sun, as opposed to cold in the cabin (even with a fire) and Sarah showed us her sketchbooks which were all full of little bits of things that inspired her. I really liked looking at her sketchbooks because they were a lot like some of mine, although I don’t really put so much “stuff” in mine, as I do planning paintings.
Sarah is the one with the sunglasses.
Then we had all this free time to do…I don’t even know what we were supposed to do… Belinda and I just shot the shit with this other girl named Heather who I think was from Kentucky, in the cabin, mostly about the rampant racism in Kentucky and Indiana where each of them was from.
So everyone gets back to Sap House for our class and Sarah shows us all of her supplies and she shows us that she has 4 jars of Golden heavy body acrylics: red, yellow, blue and white. That’s right, she expected us to mix our own colours. I just don’t have time for that crap, personally, so I was glad that I’d brought my own paint, especially with the exercise she made us do later…So she’s telling us about mixing paint and how the primary colours will make every colour you would need (which is a filthy lie, as Bel pointed out; go ahead and try to make magenta or neon yellow with primary colours!) and she asked the class what colour she should mix…and someone yelled out “PINK!” and I’m like, “are you fucking serious?” (but I didn’t say that out loud) because HELLO, YOU MIX FUCKING RED AND WHITE – *EVERYONE* knows that! You learn that in kindergarten! Even Sarah was like “uh, okay…!” when that colour was requested and that’s when I knew this class was not for me.
Then we had lunch, which I have no idea what it was. Let me get this out of the way so I can stop saying “I forget” what we ate, here’s what I remember (and what Bel and my mom remembers too) as far as meals at Squam:
Breakfast was the same every day: Scrambled eggs, french toast, bacon, sausage, homefries, waffles, cereal, real maple syrup (from VT, which tastes different from CDN maple syrup, my mom says), cinnamon buns (which were amazing), muffins, yogurt, soft boiled eggs, oatmeal and I think that’s all.
Other meals: chicken breasts, salmon fillets, gourmet macaroni and cheese (twice, two different kinds, both absolutely delicious!), rice and beans (ew), salsa (ew), veggie burritos (ew), cheese pizza (twice, pretty good!), spaghetti (I didn’t have this but my mom said it was good), various soups (the vegetable soup I had was good but I think they tricked me into eating zucchini), all the salad you can eat, roast beef (phenomenal), chicken paninis, cold meats (for sandwiches), asparagus, carrots…I can’t even think of the other stuff. I know there was more because I ate a LOT and I’m picky as hell so I know there was more than this but I just can’t remember.
One night we had a catered dinner at a different dining hall and that meal was grilled chicken breast, macaroni and cheese and I don’t know what else because that’s all I ate. For dessert they gave us apple crumble with ice cream, which I didn’t eat because I think ice cream on apple crumble is gross and it’s not like you can eat around it, it’s all melted into it and it makes it mushy and cold and just blech. I understand that other people like it though so I’m glad it made them happy!
Another day we had catered lunch in our cabin (and we had appetizers in our cabin at one point but I forget what they were because I don’t think I had any). That consisted of all these gross corn and bean salads and corn chowder (which Belinda said was good, I’m semi-allergic to corn so I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole) so I just ate cookies and brownies instead. Then we had a group picture of all the Squammies.
Anyway…back to Friday….so we had lunch, that was pretty uneventful except for the fact that my mom was doing a class called “Story Scarf” where you made like, a quilted (sewn?) scarf with history and she was pretty excited about it. I’ll post pics of her scarf in this entry, DON’T YOU WORRY!
After lunch Bel and I went back to Sap House and Sarah showed the class how to do image transfers with clear contact paper and laser photocopies, which I already knew how to do and so did Belinda so that was nothing new, but I guess that was the “take away” from the class. And I guess…mixing pink…
So after she showed us that technique, she gave us each 3 small (4×4 inch maybe?) gesso boards. Now, when I read the materials list when I signed up, I saw gesso boards on the list and thought like…GESSO BOARDS. The kind I buy are 12×12 inches so I was thinking they’d be about the same size, especially since we were only supposed to get 2 of them with a kit fee of $12. So that was a disappointment, but whatever, I can try working small, no big deal. So she gives us these gesso boards (think a thin piece of wood sanded down and painted white, for lack of a lengthy description) and for the first one she says we’re going to play a game. And I’m thinking, “oh lord” because I hate shit like that. I didn’t even know what it was going to be but just the fact that she called it a “game” made me hate it immediately. In fact, she even said that when she’d taught this class before at Squam, during the game, someone yelled out “I HATE YOU!” and believe me, I understand the urge.
The game consisted of her giving us each a prompt, such as “paint with your eyes closed” (that was my first prompt) or “mix 3 colours that you love and use them in your painting” and then she played music and gave us 2 MINUTES to do whatever was on the card. Then when the 2 minutes were up, we passed the prompt to the left and we received the person on the right’s prompt and then we’d have 2 minutes to do that. We did this for 30 goddamn minutes and it was absolute torture. How the FUCK are you expected to mix 3 colours, let alone ones you “love”, from primary colours, that you have to go get on your palette from the supplies table as well, in TWO MINUTES? Know what I did for that prompt? I took the colours already on my palette and added white to them all. BAM! New colours. Fuck loving them. One of the prompts wanted me to use rub-on letters on my piece but how was I supposed to do that on wet paint, especially when using “vintage” letters that didn’t really work? I managed to get a “F U C K” on my piece but it took me about 4 minutes of trial and error to do so.
What I created during this game was an utter piece of garbage that was a complete waste of time and art supplies. Because there were collage elements in it (horrible ones!), it’s not even like I could paint over it. I’d have to wait for it to dry and then sand them shit out of it and I just don’t care for a $2 piece of gesso board. As far as I was concerned, it should have been added to the wood pile for incineration but Belinda said she’d recycle it so I gave it to her.
When Sarah was going around the room and asking us what we wanted to accomplish in the class, my answer was that I have a tendency to see my art supplies as “precious” and I need to get over that…well, that exercise was like art immersion therapy in that respect and I really didn’t appreciate it. It was fucking stressful and I wanted to cry when it was all over.
When the torture finally ended, Sarah went around the room again so we could show what we made and I didn’t want to show mine because it was a piece of garbage. She asked what I thought of the game and I said, “you really don’t want to know” and she said, “no, I really do” so I said, “are you sure?” and she said “yes” so I told her pretty much exactly what I wrote here and told the class that all I could get out of the rub-on letters was “FUCK”, to which they all laughed, but I said that that word pretty much encompassed how I felt about Sarah’s game. She thanked me for my honesty and then she told us that we would then be able to do whatever we wanted with our 2 other gesso boards.
Well I sat there and stared at mine for a while. Then I tweeted for a bit (as some of you know!). I just wasn’t feeling it. I mean, first of all, I don’t, I can’t, use photographs of other people in my work because I think that’s so hokey and fake because it’s not like I know these people and in a way I feel it’s sort of exploitative of dead people I don’t even know. So when I told Sarah this, she suggested I use some of her clip art instead, which was a fucking joke because it was all really stupid stuff. I told her I just wasn’t feeling it and that I was okay sitting there and talking to people on Twitter. She told me that she wanted me to do something creative instead and I argued that Twitter WAS creative, it’s writing for fuck sakes! It’s a challenge expressing how ridiculous it is that I paid this woman $12 to learn how to mix pink in 140 characters! So she asked me if there was anywhere else I would prefer to be and I said, “no, would you prefer I be somewhere else?” and she said “no, but I want you to be doing something artful” or something like that and she was all angry-faced, so I was like, “FINE” and I made the dumbest piece of art I think I’ve ever created out of her SCRAPS.
Because see, not only were the supplies she brought HER scraps of bullshit, but we were the second class so everything had already been picked through or cut up the day before and that pissed me off. In the materials list, we were promised an abundance of all these materials when in reality the pickings were pretty slim and completely uninspiring. I get inspired by materials and this scrap pile just wasn’t doing it for me so like I said, I made the biggest piece of shit I have ever created. I did 5 image transfers. Well, first I painted my gesso board red and light turquoise and then I put a clip art hand holding a poker hand of cards in the middle and then the suits of cards in the corners and called it a day. It was hideous and stupid. Oh and that’s another thing, I hate that method of image transferring because then you’ve got PLASTIC in your piece and that just gives me the willies something fierce. It’s like eating salad in the winter. *shudder*
I didn’t do anything with my other gesso board, I just put it in my box of art supplies and brought it home. Maybe Wes or Madison will do something with it one day. *shrug*
I gave my piece of crap masterpiece to Belinda to recycle and then Sarah went around the room and asked everyone how they felt about what they created and their pieces were passed around. When she came to me I was just like, “no”, so she went on to the next person.
Earlier in the day I had given her my copy of her book, Painted Pages: Fueling creativity With Sketchbooks & Mixed Media to sign even though I confessed that I was only on page 38 because I just haven’t had time to read it yet (but I’m working on it!) and this is what she wrote: “For Sunny: wonderful to meet you at Squam! Keep painting, keep creating + keep on making your glitter girls! I hope my book will inspire. xox Sarah“
Now here’s the thing: I *hated* this class. But I didn’t hate Sarah. I think she’s a good teacher. I think she’s talented like crazy. (I really do love her work, which is why I have her book. I just don’t want to replicate it!) I completely respected Sarah as a teacher (or at least I tried to), it’s just that her class was not for me.
The next day, we actually ran into each other on the way to dinner and we had a little chat and she introduced me to her daughter and there was just a mutual respect there. No hard feelings on either side whatsoever.
That evening, before dinner, there were hors d’oeuvres (fuck yeah, I spelled that right!) served on our cabin’s porch and when I was outside with my mom, we ran into Elizabeth, the “creatress” of Squam, the lady in charge, and she asked me how my day was so I was honest with her about Pages and Paint and she explained that that class was a beginner class and if she’d have known my experience level, she never would have put me in that class. I told her that it was my own fault because that was my first choice, in fact I got both of my first choices, and that Spirit Sessions with Thea completely made up for it because that class and meeting her totally made my Squam experience. I did mention that maybe putting like, experience levels on class descriptions might be a good idea. My mom told Elizabeth that she loved her class, Story Scarves, with Maya Donenfeld, so that was a plus and made Elizabeth happy.
Here’s my mom with her story scarf:
That material on the bottom that sort of looks like tie-dye? My brother and I made that out of Crayola Fabric Crayons (which I cannot find ANYWHERE!) over 20 years ago. There’s a better picture of my mom wearing the scarf on Maya’s blog, which you can see here. And speaking of Maya, at the art fair (which will be in another post) my mom got her to sign my copy of the book, Creative Pilgrimage: An Exploration of Artful Gatherings & Discovery of Innovative Art Techniques by Jenny Doh, in which she’s featured. She wrote, “Sunny – May creativity always be at your side! Love, Maya“.
After the appetizers, we went to the dining hall and had a delicious dinner of I don’t even know what and then I have absolutely no idea what we did until bedtime. There were no events or anything so I think we probably just sat around the fire in our cabin and talked to people. Maybe that was the night we stayed up late talking to Judy, a super nice retired blind person’s aid lady who needed a serious dose of creativity to nourish herself and replenish from the psychic vampires in her life. She goes to both the spring and fall sessions of Squam and her husband has no idea what she does there. Like, she said that a friend had stopped by while she was at Squam and her husband said something like, “Judy’s out quilting or something,” and it’s like…Squam is so much more than that! And I can’t even imagine having a husband who is so detached from my life as to think something like that, let alone say it out loud. I felt really bad for her. She seemed really lonely and unfulfilled. :o( I’m glad she has the ability to go to Squam though as she obviously needs and deserves that kind of environment.
I can’t remember all I’ve written about Squam so far so forgive me if I’ve already said this: One night my mom was talking to Jeanie, one of the 2 rich, old, grumpy drunk ladies (who were kind of awesome) and Jeanie mentioned that she probably wouldn’t come to Squam again (or at least I think this is what my mom said she said) because she was tired of hearing everyone’s story, that she couldn’t carry all of them around with her. And it’s true, everyone at Squam has a story, every single one of us is on a journey or a quest of some sort and it was for that exact reason I didn’t tell a single soul about my past 14 months. The only people I told about my agoraphobia and mental health issues was Thea because I had to and Elizabeth knew but I’m not sure how. Maybe because she was roommates with Thea. I just didn’t want my story to like, trump anyone else’s if that makes sense. Plus I’m sort of sick of telling it. It’s over. I have one more doctor’s appointment on the 25th and then I’m done. I’m not even going to have my “3rd nipple” removed because I’m so sick of doctors and I just don’t care.
Yesterday I added the event “Overcame Massive Ventral Hernia” to my Facebook timeline and I put the date as yesterday because as of yesterday I was done with it. I feel fine, aside from some lingering nighttime/morning pain. But my mom commented that at this time last year, I was using a walker to get to the bathroom, I had a vac dressing and had to carry around a suction machine with me everywhere I went. I had a puke bowl near me at all times because I couldn’t keep any food down. I got down to 100 lbs. My hair started falling out. That was a year ago! And now? I’m fucking THRIVING! I’m a healthy 125 lbs. I haven’t thrown up in a couple of months. I haven’t had a pancreatic attack since July 1st. I’m getting on with my life. I’ve bounced back. I’m a goddamn, motherfucking MIRACLE! And I’m doing my best to celebrate that!
And that is LITERALLY all I have to say about that, unless someone asks.
So the big thing about Pages and Paint that I realized is that I think I’m done painting, at least for now. The well is completely dry. I am completely uninspired. I am really sick of painting my girls, but while I say that, I’ve come to realize that my girls are now how I draw girls, it’s just natural to me, so that’s a forever thing, but I’ve put my canvases away and today I’m going to clear off my desk of all paint and put it all in my Squam bucket/container to be used at a later date, but my brushes will still probably stay on my desk. I’ll probably paint again at some point but for right now I think I’m going to concentrate on writing and photography. I mean, those just seem much more natural to me. I blog every day, I post pictures pretty much every day. It just makes sense to do my best to hone those two skills as they’ve been the most useful and consistent throughout most of my life. I used to write my own bedtime stories (with the help of my mom) before I could write because the ones on my bookshelf were inadequate. I was a born writer. Even if all I do is blog. (Which is probably all I *will* do, but who knows?)
I now know that an art class is not for me. I just can’t do it and it makes me angry to be told what to do in any capacity when it comes to art. However, I’m taking that photography class in October, thanks to Charlie, who, despite our constant arguments on all things political, supports me in everything I do, no questions asked and I am forever grateful for his friendship for that reason and many more. After that photography class, I think I’d like to take a writing class. I can’t take one until the spring semester though because I can’t ask Blake to take me to too many things after work and I can’t have too many late nights or I won’t be able to get up for work the next morning. The photography class goes until 9:30pm and is an hour away and I have to get up at 4am the next day which is going to suck, but I think it’s going to be worth it. I have no idea what kind of writing class I want to take. There aren’t too many (any?) offered at the local college and I’m not sure where else to look. I don’t even know what I want in a writing class to be perfectly honest. I think maybe I just want the “push” of having to do an assignment and the experience of having to read my bullshit in front of strangers because I think that would probably be good for me. Back in my pre-married life, I was actually an excellent public speaker and I was really good at presentations, so I know I have it in me.
Like I said a couple of days ago though, I think with writing I just have to be more selective in how I describe things. How I write now is just kinda…I sorta puke everything onto the keyboard as it comes out of my head, but I think maybe I should teach myself (or re-learn) to go slower, to actually craft my sentences better. It’s just that the only thing I really write is blog posts and I see that kind of writing differently than say, fiction. My attempts at fiction have all been better described, better crafted. Not everything was “awesome”.
I think if I find a way to do Squam next year with Blake, I’m definitely going to try one of the writing classes.
And with that, I’m going to go start working on my Saturday @ Squam post because it’ll be less rambly and probably a better read than this piece of garbage. Stay put!
As much as I want to write a happy, fun post about Squam and as much as I know I should, I just can’t. Since coming back, I’ve been having a hard time. It’s grey and cold and wet and I’m just…really depressed and scared. Depressed due to lack of sleep, lack of sunshine, and just the fact that this time of year is really really hard for me. Despite my successes at Squam, I’m terrified of making the call to Rick, my caseworker, to tell him that I need help with immersion therapy. I know I’m going to make Blake do it and I’m going to make Blake come with me to the appointment and I don’t like the guy and I don’t want to do this. Except that I do. I’m so torn and confused and no one understands because I can’t even put anything into words. I’m just scared. Scared of what I don’t even know. Just scared. :o(
There’s this girl who e-mailed me while I was away, Elizabeth Nervosa, who has a clothing line “geared towards mental health awareness“ who is also mentally ill and who wants to do a “spotlight” on me for her website, which I agreed to (despite the fact that she called me “hun” twice, I really, truly hate that; I used to say it until I realized how patronizing it sounded). Anyway, she said that agoraphobia isn’t actually the fear of leaving your house, it’s the fear of panic once you’re out there and I think that’s probably true. I don’t go anywhere by myself because I’m scared I’ll have a panic attack and no one will be there to help me or hide me. Or get me out of there. Take care of me. I should be able to take care of myself, I know, but I’m not. That’s why I need immersion therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
And I guess this is probably a good segue into the beginning of Squam…
So my mom and I get to Squam at around 6pm, which meant that we had to register at the office and not our cabin so we did that and the lady behind the counter handed us a gift bag full of weird magazines and local tourist guides and she said that dinner was underway at the Rockywold Dining Hall (the camp is divided in half; Deephaven and Rockywold, our cabin was in Deephaven and it was a good kilometer on hiking trails to get to food from home base – I lost lbs!). Anyway she said that we were supposed to go to the dining hall and sit with the people in our first day’s class.
I. LOST. MY. SHIT.
I didn’t even hear anything else the girl said, I needed to get back to the car as soon as possible because I couldn’t contain the panic. SO we get back to the car and I am sobbing uncontrollably and my poor mother has no idea what to do with me so I call Blake and I don’t really remember the phone call but I remember saying “I can’t move” because I could not get out of the car. While Blake talked me down (my phone bill is going to be ridiculous next month – PLEASE use the donate button on my site if you want to help!), my mom unloaded the truck of everything but my art supplies because where my 2nd day’s class was, was closer to the parking lot than our cabin.
So finally I get the nerve to move my legs and I go upstairs in our cabin to our room, still talking to Blake and then I realized that he’s a million miles away and can’t really help me so I think I said, “I’ll just talk to my mom about it” and I think I hung up on him.
My mom was just like, “they’re not your mom, they can’t make you sit with people you don’t want to”, and seeing that she had a point and after chowing down like, 6 Ativan, we drove to the parking lot and then we walked to the dining hall where my mom peeked in the door and informed me it was a buffet to which I freaked out a little more because I am terrible with buffets, they freak me right out. I made my mom promise that she’d come to the buffet with me and she did after we found a small table in a corner to ourselves to drop off our purses etc.
The food at Squam was amazing. I’ve e-mailed my mom and Belinda to see if they could remember what all we ate because like I said, my memory is crap, but I do know that first night I had salmon and this gourmet macaroni and cheese that was to DIE FOR.
In the dining hall there were two buffets, one was a salad bar and one was for hot stuff. Then on the end of the hot one there was a table for condiments etc and THEN beside THAT on the wall was a FREEZER with ALL THE FUDGSICLES AND ICE CREAM SANDWICHES YOU COULD EAT!!!!!!!!! I had bacon, sausage and ice cream every single morning for breakfast (and like I said, still did enough hiking that I lost 5lbs.) Beside the freezer was a station set up for something but I never investigated to see what it was. I know one night it was a Caesar salad bar where they put the parm and pepper on your salad for you. Belinda said it wasn’t very good though. I forget why but I remember her saying that.
Then on the wall behind the salad bar was the drink stations. You had your hot water for tea and your coffee (blech) and then there was a machine for both regular milk and all the chocolate milk you could handle (but I didn’t have any because US chocolate milk is gross with its vitamin D and crap added – ours is gross too but only because it has carageenan in it) and then they had this “enhanced water” which was like Crystal Light except with no aspartame aftertaste. I drank a metric fucktonne of the strawberry kiwi kind. I brought a water bottle with me and I just filled it up all the time.
So that was the dining hall.
So as I was saying, we got our food and we sat down to eat it and my mom said something that made me turn around and when I did, I saw two people with flaming red hair and I just KNEW it was Brian and Belinda and that Belinda would probably be freaking out too so I went over to where they were with one of the Squam guide ladies and I put my arm around Belinda, which freaked her out more probably and I told her to come to our table and so we could be freaked out together. (Bel & I had been texting pretty much the whole time on the road. At 60 cents per text. I wasn’t kidding about that donation button…)
So we had dinner and shot the shit and then, since Brian and Belinda had driven to the dining hall, they gave us a ride back to our cabin where they still had to unpack.
We went back to our room and I started freaking out some more because I was terrified of what to do about my photography class in the morning, like how I would find it and how I would get there by myself and how it would be and that prompted another frantic phone call to Blake to calm me down (he was on his way to bed, poor guy). When I got off the phone with him, my mom promised to walk me to my class and pick me up when it was done because her class was nearby and I was satisfied with that and, exhausted, I think I pretty much took my pills and fell asleep, but not until I found an ACORN in my bed! I can’t find the meaning of an acorn that my mom found but this is what I found, which is similar:
“Acorn: During the Norman Conquest, the English carried dried acorns to protect themselves from the brutalities of the day. Considered to be an emblem of luck, prosperity, youthfulness and power, the Acorn is a good luck symbol indeed! It also represents spiritual growth.”
Edit: Here’s the definition my mom found – “Mighty Oaks, from little acorns grow” Symbol of good luck, survival, growth & perseverance.
Anyway, I found an acorn in my bed, set it on the night table and passed the fuck out. Apparently my mom then Googled the meaning of an acorn and e-mailed Blake with it, telling him I’d freaked out, we solved the issue and I fell asleep.
So obviously my first day was “Spirit Session” photography with Thea Coughlin and honest to god, the woman changed my life. You know the saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world” that’s often (incorrectly) attributed to Ghandi? Well that’s her favourite saying and she really lives it, I think. I’ve never met a more genuinely positive, full of light person in my life. And the thing is, her light is infectious and she shares it freely. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First of all, I am SO fucking glad I decided to buy my Rebel for this class. Taking my point & shoot would have been completely pointless because there would have been nothing to teach. I know that purchase was controversial and I totally understand why, but believe me when I say it was essential for this class and as a result of this class, it is essential to my life. Now that I actually know how to use it, it goes with me everywhere, no matter how uncomfortable it is to carry around a giant bag full of comfort stuff (my laptop bag/purse) AND a camera bag.
But I’m still getting ahead of myself.
The first thing she did was a slide show presentation about shutter speed, aperture and ISO. I took TERRIBLE notes so I have to e-mail her and ask for a copy of her presentation. Truthfully, my morning meds make me really tired, especially if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, which I didn’t the night before and I was barely staying awake through her presentation. Somehow though, I came out of it understanding how to take a perfectly exposed photo.
I can’t remember if it was before the presentation or after but at one point there was a “warm up activity” where you had to put your camera in auto mode (which I’d never done) and figure out what the ISO was, the shutter speed and the aperture, then see the exposure meter, then put your camera into manual and set those things yourself. Despite the fact that I already knew all that I somehow lost my mind and sat on the steps of the playhouse (our classroom, sort of like a pavilion with a wall at the back with a fireplace and a stage at one end) crying so when Thea came to me to see how I was doing I just felt so defeated I let out a stream of my mental health history and how I never leave my house and how this is a huge thing for me etc etc etc so she took me over to the fireplace and hugged me and rubbed my shoulders and told me I was beautoful and talented and creative and strong and that I could do this and that she would help me and it was literally like a fucking Carebear stare of all this light and positivity directed right at my third eye chakra or something and then she sprayed me in the face with these flower essences that were supposed to focus me and calm me down and quiet my mind and I swear on a stack of bibles that these flower essences WORK because I was more or less fine after that. I don’t know if like, aromatherapy has been debunked by Penn & Teller or anyone like that, but I truly, honestly feel like the ones that gave me energy and calmed my mind really, truly worked. I would love to get some of those essences but they’re $35 a bottle. The bottles are big though and would last a long time. As an aside, if any of you do order the essences say that you heard about them from me or Thea and that it was Squam related because Thea’s trying to get them to come to Squam’s art fair if there’s enough interest.
After that, Thea helped me do the next exercise which was called “data gathering” where (for example) you take a picture in auto mode and note where the light is coming from (left or right etc), the quality of the light (shady porch) and what the camera chose for ISO, aperture and shutter speed, what you liked about the image, what you didn’t like about it, what you wish you were able to capture but couldn’t. And then you did this for 3 photographs.
Then we did “Spirit Journaling”. At one point in her presentation she asked us to think of 2 photographs that we really loved and I chose the sepia ones I did of Madison when she was three because they were so moody and to me, they showed the darker side of childhood. The 2nd one I chose were these pics I saw once by a photographer in Iceland of long exposure pics of rivers full of ice and stuff and how the water looked smoky and smooth. So the first question for Spirit Journaling was “Looking back at what you wrote about your 2 favourite photos can you think of one or two guiding words or a quote that ties in to your spiritual connection to photography?” and I wrote “moods, tones, feelings”. (Feel free to disagree with me if you don’t think my photos convey that.)
The next question was “How does photography nourish you?” to which I had no answer and the last was “Are there any poems or songs that inspire you or tie in with your guiding words?” and I left that blank too.
Then we went to have lunch and my mom came to get me and we went and had lunch, which I can’t remember what it was but I remember looking at the menu and saying to my mom that I couldn’t eat any of that because it was all gross and she took me aside and said that negative remarks like that would affect her trip and she asked if I would please stop it. So I did. Mostly. And all that gross stuff on the menu that day I bypassed and I had cheese flatbread pizza and ice cream, if I recall correctly. And it was good.
I think I walked back to my class by myself from the dining hall but maybe I’m not remembering correctly. It’s entirely possible that I made my mom walk me back. In fact it’s highly probable. And actually now that I think of it I’m pretty sure I walked to the dining hall by myself for lunch because I took this picture of fungus on the way there:
I actually think I met my mom on the benches outside the dining hall. I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Then once we were in the dining hall, we met up with Brian and Belinda and we all had lunch together.
After lunch Thea showed us how to use a bounce and these are the pictures I took during that part.
These rocks without a bounce:
With a bounce:
For those who don’t know, a “bounce” is a piece of SOMETHING white or silver (foamcore, styrofoam, cardboard etc) that you place on the side of the object that’s not getting enough light and the light bounces off the bounce and illuminates the side of your object that wasn’t getting light before. The bounce I was using was two pieces of styrofoam with silver stuff on it that were taped together to make a < shape. The effect is subtle in my examples because we were outside but it’s there.
Here’s another picture I took during photography class. These pom poms were everywhere:
This stuff was everywhere too:
After taking all those pics, I told her I was done. Because I did the assignment, I knew how a bounce worked and I didn’t need 32 million pictures of rocks. I played with depth of field with the pom pom as was asked (although really, I should have used 5.0 rather than 5.7) and I thought I took a pretty good picture of the twinkle lights, which was our next assignment (to adjust ISO & aperture) so I was done!
Other people still needed help though so she said to me that since she thought my talent was to find the moodiness of things, that she wanted to see dark Hansel and Gretel and light Hansel and Gretel, so challenge accepted, I went out into the woods and took these two pictures:
This was supposed to be my “dark” Hansel and Gretel.
This was supposed to be my “light” Hansel and Gretel.
I realize there’s not a fairy in that story but the sun reminded me of a fairy in the woods.
Then on the way back to the playhouse, I took this picture for no apparent reason:
Then I went back to the playhouse and took pictures of my shoes because again, I was “done”. I did what she asked me to do so I thought I’d just sit there quietly until the next instructions.
During this time, most of the rest of the class had paired up to try doing “Spirit Sessions” which is Thea’s way of doing portraits. I have a whole sheet on how to do it, but I’ll just show you the first little bit:
“*It is a dance. In a way a sort of heart spirit courting ritual.
* Start with a hug.
* Sit as close as you are comfortable looking into each other’s faces and eyes.
* Remain open to move closer while talking if it feels natural.
*In your heart keep your intention…connecting…seeing…sending love.
*Ask them what they are stepping into in their lives…”
Like I said, there’s a whole sheet on her process and it’s actually pretty cool and it totally works for her. I’m not sure I could pull it off but I’m going to practice with Madison and Wes as soon as it’s not so cold & rainy. We’ll probably start with geocaching pictures in the fall leaves, I figure.
So after she’d checked on everyone else and she saw me taking pictures of my shoe, she asked to see my Hansel and Gretel pictures and she asked if I was happy with them. I said I was not because they weren’t moody either way at all. Well, the “fairy” one kind of was but I was trying to get a lens flare and I didn’t know how to do that.
So Thea took me back into the woods, put her lens on my camera and she asked me to take a picture of this weird macrame wreath hanging in the forest which was actually what I’d been trying to get a picture of (with the sun coming through it) but was unsuccessful, so here’s the picture I took:
Then she showed me how to over expose and this was the result:
The aperture was 1.4 on this pic, where it should have been much higher, but it was over exposing that she was showing me so we had the ISO at 800 with a shutter speed of 1/127 sec. (You can see all that info in my gallery if you actually go to the gallery page of each pic. Like this. It’s VERY useful, I find, especially when you’re experimenting.)
Then she showed me how to under expose and how to get “moody” when Hansel and Gretel’s trail is just a bit too sunny (this was still with her lens):
Same path, just a little more ominous. ISO was 100, aperture was 1.4, shutter speed was 1/197 and my hand was verrrrry steady. I think it turned out rather well and now I want a lens like hers (but I don’t know what kind it is. I can ask her though.)
On our way back from the woods, Thea asked if she could take my Spirit Portrait and I honestly wasn’t sure. I’d e-mailed her before Squam to tell her how nervous about that I was and she reassured me and what I really learned from her class, aside from how to actually use my camera, was that taking a person’s portrait is all about trust. I trusted her not to show me the ugly ones, not to keep them and not to show them to anyone else. And she only sent me the 3 best ones. Here are the other two:
The rest of the class was spent taking pictures of “something that is special to you” and that, for me, is a whole post in and of itself, which I’ll probably write after this one if my drugs haven’t kicked in and put me to sleep. For now, here’s a playhouse chipmunk that I took a pic of while I waited for my mom; these little guys were EVERYWHERE and they were not afraid of people in the slightest.
After class, it was SO hot, especially after my mom picked me up from class and we walked “home” on the trails so when we got back to the cabin, I made it my mission to convince Belinda to go swimming in the lake with me. It didn’t take much convincing! I put on my aqua bikini and Belinda put on her suit and we grabbed towels and we got about tits deep, decided it was way too clod and got out. We shot the shit on the dock with the 4 of us until it was time for dinner.
This is a pic I took of my mom on the dock that day (with my phone – if you follow me on Twitter, you’d get pics like these as they happen!):
After we were done at the dock – oh yeah, we were drinking Mike’s Hard on the dock too, we only had one each though – Belinda went to shower and my mom and I went up to our room so I could change and so my mom could do internetting or whatever she was doing (I forget) and then it was time for dinner so we got a ride with Brian and Belinda who drove to dinner and classes most of the time because Bel has bad hips and hiking through the woods on trails really really hurts her. :o(
Dinner that night was fucking amazing! It was roast beef, medium-well, hand-carved right on your plate! There was also a mushroom risotto of some sort that I didn’t have…all of us are drawing a blank. I know there were roasted red potatoes, of which I had like, 4 because I LOVE potatoes. And I’m pretty sure all I had was meat and potatoes. And probably ice cream.
After dinner, we all drove back to the cabin and I know I internetted for a little while, just trying to catch up on e-mail and then somehow Cards Against Humanity got brought up, which Belinda had brought with her, and we had 7 or 8 of us playing it by the end of the night and it was a goddamn RIOT. We even had a real live OPERA singer named Ramona in our cabin who wanted to play and a fellow Whovian named Kat who was wearing Dalek socks! I told Blake we had to buy it and get the special Canadian deck of cards once we’re not so far in debt. My mom didn’t play but she sat with us by the fire and at one point the grumpier of the two rich, drunk ladies who were criticizing us the whole time said something like, “do you condone this garbage?” and my mom said, “It’s just good to hear them laugh.” I heard that and almost started crying because I knew exactly what she meant. 14 months ago, we didn’t know if I’d ever have the chance to laugh with my friends again and I know those kinds of thoughts shook both my mom and Blake to their very cores.
The game was over at about 11pm when Belinda had to go to work (she won because she’s a truly terrible person) and then my mom and I went upstairs to bed. I think I checked my e-mail again and just passed out.
Oh yeah, after dinner, we transferred my art supplies from my mom’s truck to Belinda’s car so Brian could drive us to our first class/breakfast and drop it off because our class the next day was right across the path from the dining hall. Then when he got back from Fun Spot, this super old arcade, he’d pick it back up from the cabin and all would be good.
The next day would be Pages and Paint with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, whose book I have and had brought with me to have both her and Thea sign (Thea did the pictures). Thea signed it: “Dearest Sunny, You are brave, beautiful, and full of light. Much love, Thea“. That class I also shared with Belinda so I was less nervous about it than my first day’s classes. But I’m going to save that story for tomorrow because it wasn’t a very positive experience – well, in some ways it was, I learned some things after the fact – and I don’t want to bring this post down.
The next day my mom’s class was going to be “Story Scarves”, which ended up pretty cool, so keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post where I’ll show it to you!
And now I’ll go work on my other photography post where I had to take pictures of something that was special to me.
PS. The new Mother Mother album “The Sticks” came out yesterday and it is pretty damn good! Check it out! I think “Dread in my Heart” is going to be like, my new anthem.
So I guess the best place to start is at the beginning, with how we got there, how we got home, and what we saw along the way.
As you all know, if you’ve been reading about this journey the whole time, I was really scared that my mom and I would fight on the car on the way to or from Squam since it was about an 11 hour drive each way and we have a tendency to not get along if we’re together for too long. THANK THE OLD GODS AND NEW that didn’t happen. In fact I had THE BEST FUCKING TIME EVER adventuring with my mother through the US of A.
Blake drove me to my mom’s house, which is about an hour away, after (his) work on the Wednesday (the 12th). We shot the shit for a while and then we walked to a Chinese food restaurant in my mom’s new town (she just moved into a gorgeous old house that they’re currently renovating the fuck out of) and we all had dinner. Then Blake left and my mom and I pretty much went to bed right after that because we had to get up at 3am to ideally leave at 4am because we had to be in New Hampshire for registration by 5:30pm.
I was up before my alarm at 3am and I was dressed and ready to go about 15 minutes later. (I’m pretty low maintenance in that regard. I’m not a high maintenance pain in the ass ALL the time!) I don’t know what my mom was doing because she was upstairs and I was downstairs checking e-mail and tweeting etc with my phone. Then my mom and John and I loaded the car with all our stuff and then we were on the road!
This is me and my mom about to start our adventure and being very very excited and awake for it being 4 in the fucking morning:
Damn, I look good in a tiara.
Honestly, the way there was pretty much a blur and I forget 95% of it because I was so out of my mind with terror and excitement. I know my mom and I talked about a ton of stuff but god only knows what because it really was just shooting the shit.
We had no trouble at the border that I recall. As is typical when border crossing, the person (I can’t even remember if it was a dude or a dudette, honestly…probably a dude though) didn’t really care what we were doing or where we were going because we’re white ladies with the same last names on our Canadian passports going to an art retreat. We couldn’t have been more benign if we tried.
I don’t even know where we crossed the border to be perfectly honest. I think it was Cornwall, Ontario to New York, or at least that was the plan, but the GPS lady was a tricksy little hobbit so it could have been anywhere really, I just know it wasn’t Buffalo or Niagara and that we definitely crossed into New York state.
So by the time we were driving across NY it was light out and the GPS lady was telling us what to do and where to go and everything was fine, until we go over this hill and the GPS lady was like, “Now get on the ferry,” and in front of us was a FUCKING LAKE! We had literally 20 seconds to decide what to do because we were in a lane to a little booth where the ticket lady was waiting for us, so we go to the booth and my mom’s freaking out saying “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?” (to me, not to the lady in the booth) and the lady said we had to pay $13.10 and then we had to drive up to the ferry and wait to get on, freaking out the whole time. The lady at the booth’s parting works were “Trust your TomTom!” (which is what my mom’s GPS is called). That became our mantra for the whole trip, trust your TomTom…(which turned out to be bad advice on the way back but I’ll get to that later.)
So my mom had never been on a ferry before and she was losing her shit and I’d been on a BIG ferry on a school trip once and threw up so I was scared that would happen again, but this was a little ferry and we THINK we were crossing Lake Champlain into Vermont. We know we were crossing into Vermont but the actual name of the lake is pretty much a mystery because the GPS doesn’t tell you that stuff (or if she does, we didn’t know that setting).
These are pretty much the only pictures I took on the way to Squam, all on the ferry and freaking out about the ferry (which was probably only a 10 minute ride in reality but it felt longer and we were practically screaming the whole time):
See all those water droplets? I had my window down when we got on the ferry and I got sprayed!
Wherever we were, there were mountains!
“A fucking FERRY? This wasn’t on the map!”
I love this picture. She looks absolutely radiant.
This happens to me a lot, actually.
New York was pretty much the same as Ontario and I’ve been there a million times before so it was no big deal, but I’d never been to Vermont or New Hampshire before. Both were pretty cool. And pretty much the same as each other, as far as where we went. There were a lot of trees, some mountains, a lot of winding roads. The only real difference I found between the two states was that in Vermont there were lots of campaign signs for senators and stuff, but no signs for Obama or Romney or even that Gary libertarian guy, who I thought would be popular in Vermont. In New Hampshire there were all kinds of signs telling people to vote for Romney, which surprised me because I thought NH was a blue state, but A) apparently it’s a toss up/battleground state, and b) Mitt Romney has a house 35 miles from where we were staying. Also, according to Belinda, where we were was like, a super expensive part of the state. I can’t remember the figure my mom gave me but one of the ladies in our cabin was a rich lady from Victoria, BC and she knew how much property was worth there by the square foot and it was crazy expensive. They also had rules as to what colour you were encouraged to paint your house if you built your house on the lake. A bright pink house would have been extremely frowned upon.
In NY, we stopped at a Wal*Mart because I had broken Blake’s phone charger for the car so I had to get us a new one and my mom got me some socks because she thought it was pretty pathetic that I only packed one pair because I literally only own 3 pairs of socks (until now): one normal black pair, which I’d packed, the black pair I wear with my Docs and a black pair Charlie got me from Free People last year that on a normal person would only go to just above the knee but on a midget like me, they go all the way to my crotch so I honestly have never worn them. Oh and I have fishnets and stuff but I’m not wearing fishnets in the woods.
Also at Wal*Mart I bought 15 bags of Pretzel Cheddar Cheese Combos because I’m obsessed with them, I love them and eat them for practically every meal, and they’re extremely hard to find in my part of Canada in the quantities I need. I’ve cleared out the two convenience stores that had them in our town, one store in Wasaga Beach and another store in Barrie. And that’s just the places that even have them in that flavour in small bags OR big bags. I’ve bought them all. And the one store in town says they’re going to get me more but it’s been a few weeks and so far there’s been no progress so GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THEIR INFINITE SUPPLY OF CHEDDAR CHEESE PRETZEL COMBOS!!!
Also, let me tell you how fucking weird it is to see BEER at Wal*Mart! In Ontario we have liquor stores that are controlled by the government somehow because here alcohol is a controlled substance more or less. I mean, it’s not a big deal or anything, they’re just liquor stores, but that’s the only place you see alcohol here so seeing it just out in the open at fucking WAL*MART was a little crazy. I’ve been to NY and MI a million times so I’ve obviously seen it before but it still kills me every time because it’s just so bizarre. It’s kinda like seeing one of your teachers out in the wild.
In New Hampshire we went to an actual liquor store and they didn’t carry coolers. In fact they didn’t even know what a cooler was. You could buy giant bottles of premixed mudslides and shit like that but we wanted like, 6 packs of vodka (or whatever) COOLERS. Like Mike’s Hard. (In my case, specifically Mike’s Hard.) So the lady behind the counter was like, “I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about” but a lady who had just walked into the store and who had overheard us asking about them pointed us in the direction of the grocery store across the road (WEIRD!!!!) and so we went and it was like, fucking alcohol cooler MECCA.
Mike’s Hard Lemonade was invented in Canada. We’ve had it up here for about a million years before it was introduced in the US. I know this because we learned all about the brand when I was in college. Anyway, up here, I’ve only ever seen the lemonade, the limeade, the cranberry, and there’s a gross blue one. There’s also sometimes a pink lemonade for breast cancer. If there are more than that in Canada (or at least, Ontario), I’ve never seen them and when I drink, that is what I drink. Specifically the lime one.
WELL!!! At thie grocery store they probably had like, 12 different kinds of Mike’s Hard that we don’t have here and that I’d never heard of. And I was shocked because IT’S A CANADIAN BRAND so why don’t we have all this shit? I got a case of Mike’s Hard Strawberry Margarita (which is AWESOME – I still have 3 of 6 left) and I think my mom got the cranberry. I stupidly didn’t get anything else, and I should have because Blake and the kids wanted some stuff from the grocery store that you can’t get here and we didn’t have a chance to hit a grocery store or a Wal*Mart on the way home because my mom’s GPS lady is a stupid bitch who put on on the NY Thruway all the way home so we could cross as BUFFALO which is way too West. And we didn’t get off the Thruway because the toll booths freaked my mom out and we just didn’t know *where* to get off that would have a Wal*Mart or a town or whatnot. It was also getting pretty late when we were going through NY on the way home and it was in NY that I wanted to fiind a grocery store because it’s almost Halloween and I happen to know that around Halloween, in some places in NY you can get Boo Berry cereal, which I’ve never had and I desperately want to try. If ANYONE SEES ANY BOO BERRY (I don’t even know if it’s one word or two) CEREAL, PLEASE BUY ME A BOX AND I’LL PAYPAL YOU THE COST + SHIPPING!
On the way home we drove through New Hampshire and Vermont in the afternoon and since we didn’t have any time restraints, we stopped at all kinds of little shops and stuff, of which there are many in the parts of those states we were in.
We stopped at this veggie stand in NH because their sign was awesome. Behold!
My mom chatted them up and I got so distracted by the sheer amount of produce they had that I forgot to ask them about the pot. Because if they really did have some, I would have bought some in a heartbeat and would have just smoked it right there (I would never bring drugs in my mom’s car). I was pretty surprised that I didn’t catch the whiff of weed AT ALL at Squam. Lots of alcohol, especially since we were in the party cabin, but no pot that I was aware of and I was on high alert.
Anyway, at that farmstand I bought some strawberry jam, which Blake says is really good, and a bumper sticker for him that says “Eat Right or Die!” I also took a picture of some weird red pumpkins for my mom:
On the way home, I bought a pink t-shirt that says NEW YORK on it (duh), something that I can’t say because it’s a gift for someone who may be reading this (just a little thing that was less than $10) and a hand pressed card that says “Namaste” on it that I’m probably going to frame one day for my future office. I also bought a lot of Diet Coke and Dasani water because it’s my favourite water (reverse osmosis FTW!) and in the US it’s only $0.99 whereas in Canada it’s $2.00-$2.50 a bottle. Oh and since I like drinks, just in general, the whole time we were in the US I was buying weird, local pop in neat bottles that I never kept but I did keep some of the cooler bottle caps.
We also stopped in Vermont to eat at a Friendly’s…oh lord. We ordered these “Mac & Cheese Bites” which is battered macaroni and cheese that is then deep fried. My mom and I each tried one and they were some of the most vile food stuff I have ever had in my whole entire life and it pretty much summed up American cuisine for me. I did follow it up with a cookie dough sundae with chocolate sauce and whipped cream though, so that was pretty cool. We actually brought the Mac & Cheese Bites home so Chris and John could try how vile they were but I haven’t heard as to whether or not they tried them. They were in the car for a long time so who knows how they tasted by the time they got to them. *shudder*
Also let me tell you that Friendly’s? Not so friendly to someone with major anxiety issues. The colours and the decor of the place was like, closing in on me and freaking me right out to the point where I had to take Ativan and go out to the car and get my bag and camera so I didn’t feel so naked and exposed. It was pretty terrible. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Crossing the border on the way home was a bigger deal than crossing into the US because the guy asked more questions, but still, we were pretty benign so he just waved us through (IN FUCKING BUFFALO WHICH WAS NOT WHERE WE WERE SUPPOSED TO CROSS!) and then we were on home turf and my mom knew more or less where to go from there.
I fell asleep during the middle of the ride home (like, IN Ontario) with my glasses on and they dug into my face so hard that it STILL hurts to touch in places a day later. :o/ We got to my mom’s around 3am, unloaded the car and went to bed.
I woke up yesterday around 7:30am I think and John had given me the password for the internet so I set up my laptop on a table on my mom’s fucking awesome front porch and just internetted all morning until my mom said she’d take me home.
On the way back to my house, we stopped in Orillia, which is the next big city to my mom’s new town and we went to this place called Mariposa Market and we had homemade meat pies, homemade chicken noodle soup, cornbread (which I’d never had before) and homemade donuts that were pretty much the food of the gods.
We’d parked in a parking lot behind the shops and restaurants of the main street and I noticed this, uh, advertising, on our way to lunch and decided that on the way back I’d take a couple of pictures of it. Take a look. I kinda love it and I’m not even really sure why…maybe it’s the ad geek in me:
I kinda wish the light would have been better, less glaring or maybe I had a better lens or maybe I’d have had the time to play with under exposing it but I just wanted to take the pic and get home so there it is.
After that, we went home and waited for the kids to arrive since it was right after school. My mom hung around and waited for them, we all had a group hug in the driveway, then she went home and Madison and I chatted about Squam as we unpacked my stuff. Then Blake came home and we chatted about everything that had happened in the last 5 days, watched Doctor Who, had some pizza, went to bed.
The End…For Now…
Squam’s Facebook fan page posted this old article from the winter about having anxiety about attending and I’d read it before, but I didn’t read the comments until now. The very first commenter made reference to having a “mind/body/health crisis” that she was only “untangling” now.
And I thought about that for a little while and I did a lot of blinking and I realized that “untangled” is exactly how I feel these days. I mean, aside from being fucking petrified about going to Squam. Like, lifewise I feel finally untangled. All my medical crap is finally DONE. My 14 months of hell are OVER. And even before I got sick, my life was like a snowball rolling down a hill going faster and faster and getting bigger and bulkier by the minute and I knew I was going to crash at any moment. Right before I got sick, I basically begged my boss for a week off in the summer because I was so stressed out. But at the time, there were only two of us doing our job (plus our boss) so taking time off was pretty much impossible. And then I got sick. Really sick.
I often wonder if the pancreatitis that came out of nowhere happened because my body couldn’t deal with all that stress. The doctors and Blake and my mom and everyone keep telling me there was no reason for it to have happened, the usual reasons didn’t apply to me at all, it was just pure fluke, but still, I wonder.
Losing my mind to psychosis and being put in a psych ward made me stop believing in God. It made me think that “God” was just a delusion. Because for me God WAS a delusion. My psychosis was largely religious (and I’m not, nor have I ever been, religious), I thought God was speaking to me and telling me to say and do things. I thought I was having a religious experience and I was trying desperately to share it with Blake, to show him that God was real. But the drugs they gave me in the hospital, and the drugs that I take to this day, keep “God” at bay. Because God was a delusion.
But then when I got sick, and the way it happened, it made me wonder about God all over again. They say God only gives you what you can handle and obviously I couldn’t handle a full-time job since I was stressed to the gills, so if I were a religious person, I might think that God made me sick to force me to take a break and re-evaluate my life. My brain (that IS capable of understanding logic, despite popular belief) knows this isn’t true and that the world doesn’t work that way, but I grew up not religious, but not believing in coincidence so it’s been really hard for me to accept the fact that this was fluke. That this just happened for no reason. I also grew up thinking there was a reason for everything and as an adult, it’s been extremely difficult to curb these kinds of thoughts. I think it’s because I want there to be a reason for everything. I want there to be a higher power or several. I also want there to be fairies and yetis though, so there’s that. (And oddly, I absolutely, 100% believe in both despite a distinct lack of physical evidence of either. Fairies are smart enough not to leave a trace because duh, they’re MAGIC and as for yetis, well, it’s a big world that we’ve only really begun to explore it. Scientists find new species of birds and lizards and fish and animals all the time.)
Anne Rice has me pretty convinced that werewolves are also entirely possible. I just finished reading The Wolf Gift, which I loved. I dreaded reading it because werewolves are cheesy, but Anne Rice’s are dignified yet completely animalistic. And cannibalistic! Anyway, it was classic Anne and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended! My only beef with it…well, I can’t really say unless I get spoilery. There’s a couple of gay characters in the story and they and their relationship is such a stereotype that I just rolled my eyes and thought, “Anne, you can do so much better than that!”. (I’m talking about Stuart and Margon, for those who have read it.) But whatever, it’s such a minor complaint that it doesn’t even matter and I’m eager to read the next installment of the series. I actually hope she writes these characters as long as she did Lestat. (Blake is listening to the Vampire Chronicles on audiobook right now. He just finished The Vampire Lestat. Mostly I wanted him to read them because the last two books of the series, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle are so fucking good. She ended the series so beautifully that I bawled my face off, especially knowing the “behind the scenes” stuff about her and her husband. I’m also going to make Blake read the Mayfair Trilogy before the Mayfairs are introduced into the Vampire Chronicles. He has a LOT of reading to do!)
Wow did I ever stray off topic…
Anyway, I feel like the last 14 months have been a total mess, choppy waters, and now it’s smooth sailing. Maybe I shouldn’t speak so soon because as soon as you say something like that, disaster strikes, right? Well, if I can survive pancreatitis and all that came with it, I’m fairly confident that I could survive anything. Bad things may not be easy and they may take some time to deal with, but in the end, I truly feel you’re stronger for it. These days, while terrified of Squam, I feel like I can do anything. Today I almost went to the post office with Madison, even. (But there was no point in going because the Free People box that’s waiting for me there is too big to carry home with even the two of us so Blake’s going to try and get out of work early enough to make it home in time before the post office closes. Thanks Charlie!)
I just feel like when we went to the beach on Labour Day, it was like hitting the “reset” button on life. I felt so at peace when we were there, it felt so natural. Life was finally normal. Yeah, I’ve got this gigantic scar to remind me of what happened and I’m going to have a tummy bulge for the rest of my life because they couldn’t fix my guts completely, but I’m okay with both of those things. A little self conscious about the bulge because it looks like I’m maybe 4 months pregnant if you look at me from the side, but so what? Let people think what they want, no fucks will be given. After spending so much time in hospitals, you kind of value your dignity a little less. A nurse had to clean up my shit when I lost bowel control in the shower due to the fact that they’d just removed the catheter and poo bag after nearly 2 months of it being in place. This is what I mean by a loss of dignity or maybe not even a loss per se but you just value it less. It’s not like I can help this bulge, it’s not like I ate too many Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Combos* and I’m fat as a result. So why should I care if people think I’m fat or pregnant? And it’s not like I can tell people in a sentence what happened to me to make me like this either so there’s no point in trying to explain so my only choice is to let them think what they’re going to think and go about my business.
While I’m terrified of Squam, I’m excited too. I get to wear the fingerless gloves I bought on Etsy! And not feel self-conscious about them because everyone else will be wearing them too! (They are basically a Squam necessity, I’m told.) I get to maybe go swimming with Belinda. The weather looks good, but maybe not hot enough for swimming. But if it is, I’m bringing my turquoise bikini and showing the world my scar. Maybe. (I’ll bring it but I might chicken out and just wear a tank top and bikini bottoms like I did at the beach.) And I get to hang out with BELINDA!!!! One of my very best friends who I tell practically everything and have for the past 10 years, yet we’ve never met in person. And I’m pretty sure my mom’s going to like her too because I think it’s pretty impossible NOT to like her. My mom’s already insisted that she and her boyfriend, Brian, come to dinner with us on Saturday when dinner’s not provided at the camp. And I have enough money that I feel secure being 10 hours from home. And I have a friend in Vermont who has told me that if there are ANY problems whatsoever, she can come get me in a heartbeat. And I know that if, for some reason, I got stranded, between Blake and Charlie, I’d find a way home. Blake wanted me to go to Squam so bad that he was willing to drive me there and sleep in the car on the side of the road the whole time I was there (because it’s like, $800 or something to go to Squam and sleep there but not take any classes). Luckily my mom was down for adventure.
And yeah, I’m pretty scared the car ride with my mother is going to be hell. We have a looooong history of not getting along and she gets mad at me so easily and when she gets mad at me I cry and can’t deal. Because as easily as she gets mad, that’s how easily I cry. Fuck, I’m crying right now just thinking about it. The bottom of my stomach dropped out and now I’m reaching for the Ativan because I just cannot even cope with the possibility of that scenario without Blake there to mediate. People have told me to sleep or have headphones on (I don’t have an iPod so that wouldn’t work anyway) and basically ignore her but it’s a 10 hour car ride so that’s not even practical and she’s my mother, we’re supposed to be doing this together, I’m not going to sit there and ignore her for 10 hours. Plus I love the crap out of her and when we do get along, we get along REALLY well. So I’m just hoping neither of us trigger the other. I think that’s an impossible dream, personally, because it happens pretty much every time we’re together now. The further we get from me being sick and the closer we get to things being “normal”, the more ready to be volatile and jump my shit she’s become. I think my fears of a terrible car ride are not unfounded. My only hope is that she’s in a totally positive headspace and is excited about our adventure and that that overshadows any negativity she may point in my direction. And I’m going to try to do the same. Like I said, I’m trying REALLY REALLY FUCKING HARD to go into this without expectation, to not pre-judge the experience or the people I’m experiencing it with, and to just – as my mother has said since I was little – “trust and allow”. That is my mantra.
I’m also trying really hard to just let myself fuck up. I’m not so much scared of my photography class. The only thing that scares me about that class is the portrait and that there won’t be anything to photograph. We’re going to be in the woods. Where there are trees and pine needles and too many of us being noisy for there to be any significant wildlife. I’m hoping my artist’s eye will see more but right now I’m full of doubt. I like taking pictures of people but I’m scared of strangers. And I don’t want people taking pictures of me, so I can’t really be a hypocrite and take pictures of other people. Anyway I’m not scared of that class. I’m looking forward to it. My fears with this one are so minor that they just don’t even matter, it’s my SECOND day’s class that scares the ever-living fuck out of me because I’m going to create things I don’t like or I’m not proud of. I just know it. That class is not a class where you’re there to show off what you already know, you’re there to learn what you don’t and then throw it on the canvas (well, gessoboard). I don’t like experiments. I throw those in the garbage or paint over them, on the rare occasion that I actually DO experiment, which isn’t very often. I don’t do anything unless I’m fairly confident in knowing what the end result will be. I’m not a risk-taker. And I need to get over that. I really really do. I’ve written before about my art supplies being “precious” and how that’s a bad thing because it holds me back and this is a prime example of where that kind of thinking would be pretty toxic. That’s partially why the only thing I’m bringing with me for that class from my “old bag of tricks” is crackle medium, which I doubt I’ll even be able to use because it takes too much time to dry, and all of my glitter.
And then I have this crazy, stupid irrational fear that’s been plaguing me for the last 2 weeks or so: what if I love it? What if I love it so much I want to go next year? And the thing is, I can’t go next year. I can’t afford to. And I don’t want to ask for donations again to make this a yearly thing because I’m not sure that’s ethical. I mean, I don’t think it’s terrible to want to make money from my blog and then use that money to fund Squam, but I don’t want to beg to do it, which is what it feels like, and I can’t think of any other way. The cost of Squam is over 4 months of my personal income without buying anything else and that’s not even considering expenses like food and general incidentals and “get yourself out of shit” money. So I have this Negative Nancy in my head saying, “Don’t go because you’ll have a good time and then you won’t be able to do it again and then you’ll feel like shit. Might as well stay home and save yourself the grief.” I’m not sure what to do about that. I mean, I’m definitely going of course, but I don’t know what to do about this negative self talk.
And I’m scared for after Squam. As much as I feel like right now is a new beginning where I get to start my life over from scratch, I’m terrified of what comes after Squam because what comes after is immersion therapy with Rick, who I don’t like already because he stares at me and makes me feel uncomfortable. I’ve only met the guy once, but that was my first impression. The goal of immersion therapy is to be able to take a cab from my house, all by myself, to the mental health centre in Midland (20 mins away) to take a cognitive behavioural therapy course once a week for probably 8 or 10 weeks, and then take a cab home. I don’t know how in the hell he plans on accomplishing this but that’s the plan. And I would like to be able to walk into town and go into stores and go to the post office. And maybe even one day I could drive to Barrie or the beach all by myself. (The beach would be more realistic because it’s closer and you take back roads.) But that’s a long way off. I mean, right now I can’t even leave my house by myself or even with the kids so I dunno. I haven’t really been anywhere by myself except for horrific attempts at self immersion therapy that just made my agoraphobia worse in like, 8 or 9 years.
Now I’m feeling tangled. :o(
I better stop writing before I go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. As together as I feel I am, I’m teetering on the brink of absolutely falling apart. And I can’t do that. I just can’t.
(*I am completely obsessed with these and have them for breakfast and dinner a LOT. I’ve cleared out our whole town of that flavour, all of Barrie [that we know of] and Wasaga Beach.)