Shapes on the wall

IMG_3917I’ve lived in the same apartment since before I was married. I moved in at the start of my last summer as a college student with three other girls. That was May 2014. There was a lot of shuffling around of roommates in the year to follow, but then I got engaged and they all kind of agreed wordlessly that they would leave and I could have the place. There’s more to that story, but this blog isn’t about that. During the year us girls lived there, it was kind of a mess. We each had different lifestyles, cleaning habits, decoration preferences, and work schedules. We’d all brought hodge-podge furniture from dorm rooms and garage sales; the apartment was a patchwork of futons, IKEA tables, and thrift store microwaves. Sometimes I look back on that year fondly, but mostly not. I’ve never done well with roommates.

So in May 2015 everyone moved out but me. There were still two months until the wedding and I had to live on my own for the first time in my life. I have abandonment issues (not seriously, but a little) and I’m an introvert, so it was a weird time. Most days I enjoyed it, but when the sun went down and I had to turn off the lights to go to sleep I often struggled with irrational fear. Most of the furniture was gone; the shapes and shadows were foreign in the dark. I also had a stupid number of spiders visit me that summer. Never had more spiders in the apartment than that summer. They knew I was vulnerable. I called Wyatt a dozen times to play exterminator, sometimes very late at night. Luckily he lived just a few blocks away.

After we were married and Wyatt moved in, we started the slow, weird process of making the apartment our own. We were gifted a surprising amount of very decent but old furniture from family. We purged in fits and starts, getting rid of pieces left over from roommates or found by dumpsters. We replaced thrift store finds with better thrift store finds. I discovered the joy of painting things white and hanging them on the wall in artistic groupings. Small shelves, crates, mirrors, sconces. I used my pittance of spending money on decor I saw on Instagram. Letter boards, geometric picture frames, art prints. The place started to feel different. I no longer looked around and saw how it had been filled with three other girls. The memories of conflict, misunderstanding, and mess began to fade, and it just felt like home.

All of this is to say — we’re moving. After living in these rooms for four years (that doesn’t sound like long when I say it out loud) we are packing boxes and trucking across town. We have a truly lovely situation waiting for us in Northeast with dear friends of ours. A duplex — the top floor for us, the bottom floor for them. A yard, a garage, a patio, a fire circle, a Little Free Library, and a burgeoning garden. Free laundry within our own four walls. Wood floors and windows on all sides. A walk-in closet. We are very excited about it and we can see few downsides, yet I can’t bring myself to pack. Yeah we put away the books and the winter clothes and the things I already haven’t touched in months. But next on the list are the things we’re going to notice. The things that will make the walls feel bare. The shadows and shapes at night will once again be foreign. The pretty things I carefully chose are going to be taped up in cardboard for weeks. Yes, they’re just shapes on the wall, but without them it’s not home.

So stay tuned for our next chapter. I’m sure I’ll do lots of overthinking about how to arrange the shapes on my new walls.


A Bunch of Things I Want You to Know

BeeswaxSundays really were not meant for doing anything. Especially when church is cancelled (or rather relocated) and you can sleep in and it’s sunny but not hot for the first time in a week. And your husband toasts you a bagel and you got new yarn in the mail and you washed your hair last night so you feel all tidy. And you found a new band you like and you got new jeans and the kitchen is clean. But you have to go to work in the afternoon anyway.

Back in May I started doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. We get a copy of the Times (and four other papers) at the library so it seemed like a nice way to wake up each morning. Get to work (still a little asleep), log into computer, glance at to do list, find newly delivered papers, make copy of puzzle, sharpen pencil, pour coffee, commence wake up process. I copy every puzzle so that I have a backlog. I only work five of the six days that they publish puzzles, and sometimes the deliveries are delayed over the weekends, so I’ve got a nice little stack built up. And for some reason I haven’t thrown any of them out once I finish them. I’ve got half a ream’s worth of paper in completed NYT crosswords. What does one do with something like that? Wallpaper a room? They’re getting too big for the binder clip holding them together. Something’s gotta give soon…

I’ve stolen this idea from Wil Wheaton, you should know… He posts blogs filled with random unrelated updates and thoughts, and I love reading them. He’s a good writer – no crap, just to the point but still using his unique voice.

Molding beeswax over sharp wires in your mouth is like riding a bike. The permanent retainer the orthodontist left me with as a parting gift after six years of braces is finally giving up the ghost. A slice of dried mango is what did it in. One bite into that leather sweetness and I felt something give. Now maybe a month later the wire has worked itself all the way out of the cement and I can no longer run my tongue over it without a snag and a wince. So I cannibalized the base of one of the hipster hexagonal candles I got at the farmers market, rolled the tiny shavings between my fingers until they molded, and thumbed the lump right over the offending poke. Only after shaving the base off my trendy centerpiece did I remember my stint with bookbinding and how I was told to strengthen my binding string with wax. I had gone out right away to buy PVA glue, cotton string, and a handy little brick of beeswax made expressly for running string through. That brick still lived somewhere in my apartment, I was sure of it. My husband helped me ransack a few drawers and shelves and there it was. Dusty, discolored, and bearing many wounds from slicing string, but still legibly labeled for what it was.

So anyway, I have to go to the dentist. My nostalgic wax is only a stopgap.

Wanted: buyer for my childhood (home)

4838503_1One week in the middle of May 2011 I graduated from Highschool. That week started with a 4-ish hour drive south to the Twin Cities on Tuesday to meet with my college adviser and register for classes, then the drive back home.

On Thursday we practiced how to graduate, including trying on our flat hats and throwing our tassels at one another in our Senior Adviser’s classroom. Someone picked a stupid senior class color, someone chose country music to go over our slideshow (I hate country music), and we were lined up in alphabetical order.

On Friday we graduated, gave some speeches, hugged each other, accepted flowers and well-wishes.

On Saturday a whole bunch of people from all chapters of my life swarmed all over my yard, porch, and house to celebrate my successfully walking across a school gym and shaking someone’s hand (and completing the 13 years of classes that were the prerequisite of that honor). As people sipped punch and ate pulled pork sandwiches on my porch at one end of the house, my family hauled boxes and furniture out of the garage at the other end and tetrised them into a huge trailer to be hauled behind a borrowed truck to Canada (North Dakota).

On Sunday we moved away from the house in which I had lived since I was three years old.

I had my first big girl bed in my bedroom there. I got to choose the stencils for the walls. I fell and goose-egged my tiny head the first night we lived there, causing my parents to realize they didn’t know where the closest hospital was. (Spoiler: it was a half hour drive away). I learned at the home school table in the basement, danced to Steven Curtis Chapman and Steve Green on the orange shag carpet with my brother for P.E., explored the forest (my yard) for science. I saw shapes in the stones of the fireplace as if they were clouds. I shaved my legs for the first time in the basement shower. I grazed our goats in the tall grass of our ditch. I fed baby chickens in the shed in the backyard, collected their eggs later on. I pulled millions (hundreds) of weeds from the gardens. I built dozens of forts in the woods. I learned to ride my bike on the garage slab. I learned to drive a car in the circle driveway. I got ready for prom in the living room with my best friend. I had fights in that house, made friends in that house, made mistakes in that house, loved in that house, hated in that house, grew in that house.

We moved to North Dakota, four or five hours northwest, and we didn’t sell the house. Eventually my parents found some renters. They always thought they’d go back once they retired and live there again. I always thought that too. My brother had a pipe dream of starting a summer camp on the land with his wife.

Yesterday the house was listed for sale. The renters were gone, the floors were polished, the driveway resurfaced, the lawn mowed. The realtor took pictures with a wide angle lens to make the rooms look bigger, upped the exposure to aid the natural light.

My childhood home needs a new family. And yes, it has to be a family. It can’t be an old couple unless their grandkids visit every week. It can’t be a young couple unless they have kids right away. Because that house has childhood steeped in every beam and shingle.

I am proud of this weird yarn patch

fullsizerenderI am teaching myself to weave. I’m not sure why, but I’m filled with inspiration and motivation to learn this skill and use it to make beautiful and/or functional woven things for myself and others.

At first, I thought, “Chill, this is gonna be just like calligraphy and you’re gonna get in over your head.”

And then I thought, “But it’s just yarn. There’s no ink or digitization or business involved. You want to do it. Just do it.”

And this is my first woven thing. This lop-sided, oddly colored, patchy little rag is hanging on my wall because I am proud of it. And I definitely wrote an entire page of notes on how to not do things the next time around. That’s how you learn, right?

Writer with a capital Wuh

salt-driftwoodAt some point toward the end of earning my English degree, it occurred to me that there was a fundamental discrepancy between myself and my peers. I listened during class discussions, I saw all the hours put into drafts, I observed body language, tone of voice, diction, and I realized something. At some indeterminate point in that three years, each one of my peers became a Writer. Some of them showed up on campus as a doe-eyed freshman already a Writer. Some of them made the metamorphosis during their Capstone projects. For most of them it was somewhere in between. But as I glided across the stage to receive my extremely expensive Official Piece of Card Stock, I didn’t see myself as a Writer.

I had done plenty of writing to get to that point – I passed all my classes and read all the books – but I didn’t have that voracious, permeating sight that seemed to set Writers apart from people who wrote. Even when it wasn’t for an assignment, I never found writing fun. It was cathartic, introspective, purifying, but I never felt giddy or found myself grinning for no reason after a draft.

These were my thoughts upon my graduation. Everyone else had Changed. They needed to write in order to be themselves. I didn’t. Therefore, I wasn’t a Writer. So now that the impetus was gone, there were no deadlines or assignments, I stopped writing. Oddly enough pretty soon after that I began again, but of an entirely different sort. Instead of the content, the form was the focus now. Calligraphy. I wrote for hours and hours a day, but they were never my words. Only my body, my wrist and hand, made my writing appealing.

So, welcome to my blog. I hope that introduction gave some context. I’ve tried to land the plane and give my idea of what a Writer really is, whether or not I am one, and why that matters, but the sentences jumble and twist and make no sense. So I’ll answer those questions later.

So, yes, this may end up being a blog full of answerless questions. But it’s mine.

My husband just told me that he loves when I write. I asked him why.

“It’s a permanent conversation. It’s a conversation that I can’t forget, and it’s full of your voice.”

And voice, my friends, is a whole other story.

By Way of Explanation: Closing my Business

fullsizerender-2As you can see, I haven’t posted anything on my professional Instagram for about three months. That last post was around the time my heart was understanding something my brain wouldn’t yet agree with — I was not meant to run my own business.

For some context: I adore creating things. I inherited my creative spark and talent from my mother, and I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t enchanted by paints, charcoal, thick paper, colorful pigments, dark ink, and smudged fingers. After college I saw so many “solepreneurs” and “lady bosses” making it around me in the creative hub of the Twin Cities, and I was completely caught up. I was swept along in a current comprised of one part inspiration, one part aspiration, and quite a few parts, well, envy. I wanted what they had. I wanted the modern/vintage combo studio, the shining, diverse portfolio, the inviting website, the freedom to work when and how I wanted, the family of encouraging collaborators. And how could it go wrong — I love art! That’s surely all it takes; the crowd of creative business owners around me made it look so joyful and easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to take some elbow grease. I knew there would be difficult clients, long hours bent over the work table, cramped fingers from gripping the pen into the night, practicing until I went cross-eyed. My head knew that, and my heart thought it sounded amazing. I could fit it in around my “day job” and make it happen until I could go full-time. I could really be my own boss, construct my own work space, schedule my own hours, have that perfect work-from-home balance.

And it worked, for about a year. I had clients, they were happy with my work, they were giving me glowing reviews and recommending me to their friends. I was expanding my ideas, trying new things, dreaming about the “big time.” And then, without noticing, I was myself putting things off. I was turning down opportunities. I would rather read a book or organize the kitchen or have dinner with friends — this was my “free time,” I didn’t want to spend it working! But Lindsey, isn’t that the life you’re dreaming of? Being in charge of your time and choosing to spend it on your work, what you’re passionate about? Isn’t art “what you’d rather be doing?”

At this point I put my shop on vacation, telling myself I needed a breather to re-focus my goals and generate some exciting new ideas. I spent time with my husband. I read books. I went out with friends. I threw myself with new purpose into my “day job.” I watched a TED talk called “How to Unfollow Your Dreams.” I took time to understand how I even work as a person. Turns out, on paper, I’m the last person that should be their own boss. Concrete schedules, clear instructions, finite checklists, set working hours, annual reviews, progress reports — all things that make my little INFJ heart sing — are seldom found in the working life of a solepreneur. Being your own boss means not knowing what your day is going to look like. It means having your plan change in a split second, making it work with what you have, taking opportunities before you think you’re ready. All those things, the things that I saw in the lives of those around me and thought I wanted, were sucking the life from me. They’re good things. Extremely admirable traits. But God made me how I am, and I’m not wired to thrive in environments like that.

This process has taught me to admire all the lady-bosses around me even more. Having dipped my toe into that pool, I am in even more awe at seeing them thrive with the late nights, the “work until it’s done” hours, the making it work when things change in a blink. They’re on fire! They’re up to their ears in what God created them to do.

So, as I glance over my meticulous personal planner, my three redundant calendars, my bullet-pointed monthly task list, and my to-do list for today, I think, “How did I ever dream of a life so full of curve balls?”