Sunday, November 23, 2008

Got your own back, Sista?

While you are chewing over the XBox vs. Wii debate, consider something else.

Besides packing and fearing my pastels will be dust upon arrival in CA, a strange drama has unfolded.

Last Monday or so, a woman on a dating website started a new thread saying she was disappointed in a man with whom she'd been emailing. He finally said he wasn't interested several days after she divulged that she has a bipolar 14yo son. I've seen plenty of posts about this boy in the past - he's stayed in residential facilities, she hasn't worked in the last year in order to care for him, she moved back to live by her parents so that he'd get care. Okay, the kid is troubled.

Anyway, she posted that the man dumped her because of her bipolar son. During the course of the threads with little details she'd dropped, I realized that the man was someone who'd I'd also been talking to and he seemed like a very responsible father. He seemed honest and forthcoming, a good guy. She, on the other hand, was prone to hyperbole, or that was my opinion in the past.

I responded on that thread that I'd done my bit with a troubled teen and I sure would think twice about doing it again. Maybe the guy was saying that out of experience. Mostly I was thinking that she was being a martyr playing the sick kid card and he had plenty of other reasons to reject her.

He and I were scheduled for lunch on Saturday. We had a good time. At one point I brought up the post. The post was created in a pwp woman's section which is for girl's only, but I felt that it was appropriate to discuss it, b/c it related to a guy that I had a date with and I felt that we could discuss it in an adult fashion.

As I had suspected, he said he discontinued with her more b/c he was not attracted to her - she is not h/w proportionate at all, but her picture is creatively cropped; he got a fully body picture of her to realize that. He said it wasn't b/c of her son, but she went there with him in emails. He'd merely said that he understood she had her hands full with him. Anyway, she went off and he felt her unstable, something he'd already sensed. A few days later, he considerately emailed her and asked if she was doing alright. He got a terse, "I'm fine," and that was all.

I believed him, b/c I feel like he is genuine and a good father. I do not believe her b/c I have doubted her stories before. I think she embellishes an element and completely leaves out pertinent details, then tries to garner support. She also dropped entirely too many details in her post and made it too easy for me to figure out. That's her bad.

Well, I thought the guy was okay. However, he goes home from lunch and emails her to quit talking about him. Oy! Talk about stabbing me in the back!

She then starts another thread in this pwp girl's only section, saying there's a rat amongst the group who is blabbing details. It's become a witch hunt with the posts, because someone supposedly betrayed something confidential pertaining to the sisterhood.

First, I already had little respect for this woman. Second, me having a conversation about her thread was not to badmouth her; it was to interview this guy I had a date with. Third, I am absolutely positive that others discuss things within this email group with other members.

According to some, the rat is an unconscionable attention hog, which is funny b/c the rat hasn't spoken. Others say the rat is catty - as if this (sorry) whale of a woman (very Catholic, very martyry, very repressed) were even in the same category of a person as me.

I'm usually the upstanding type claiming what I should, but I do not feel like being ostracized over either of these two. I was justified in having a conversation about something that pertained to me - as in, if he didn't like bipolar people, there was no reason to continue.

Anyway, I haven't posted there all day, so I look busy. Then tomorrow we leave, so I won't be back into the mix for a week. I hope it blows over.

Women. Maybe I shouldn't be in the girl's club. I do not understand them.

Before we leave...

I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! And that you eat hearty, but each lose two pounds. Except Aunt Becky who must only maintain.

While I'm away basking in Sunny California, which is supposed to be rainy, I have a request of you. Tell me all about these Wii things and XBox 360 monsters. I hate such, but my mother wants to get us a Wii for Xmas without J's knowledge. He has an old PS2 at his father's and it seems like the world revolves around him getting new games.

Without him knowing my mother's specifics, he really doesn't want a Wii, says XBox 360 does most things a Wii can do, plus much more. And it comes with two games now.

My mother wants me to buy it and she'll pay me back. Well, I haven't bought it yet, b/c I really don't want to front it right now.

Do you know of these things I speak? Do you have guidance?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stress regardless of season

Thank you so much for each and every comment.

My gyn/thyroid doctor had changed me to Armour in April. As always, she started low and titrated upward. It is a slow process and I want it to be slow, seeings how I've had two thyroxine overdoses already. So she raised me from 75ug to 90 on Friday. Maybe it'll work, may it'll need more.

It takes a lot of energy and mindfulness to keep track and figure out which is causing what symptom. It can make one a little paranoid about symptoms, which in itself might be a side effect due to either too little thyroxine (ie depression and anxiety) or to too much thyroxine (ie mania.)

Like Bridge said, it's nice if you can err on the side of too much thyroxine. I lost 30lbs that first year and sure could use the boost again, although the heightened anxiety is causes does not feel good. I don't like second guessing everything I say, even as I am bursting at the seams to say it!

As a side, I've had a presumably related scalp issue since August, although it's not the first time I've had it. It is broken out, kind of acne-like, but also very dry and crusty; it's painful and one is compelled to scratch it. The bumps are also along all of my hairline, but especially in the back and behind my ears. It is visible. I've read boards where many people describe this very thing and have no cause or cure. I've been wondering if it's thyroid-related, so we'll see.

In related fashion concerning confounding dosages, I am taking it slowly on the Concerta prescribed by my psychiatrist Friday; it is essentially Ritalin. I plan to begin it in a few weeks, because I don't want the change to be confounded by the change in my thyroid med, too.

I felt somewhat better on Friday than Thursday, but then I started spotting on Saturday and I figured Thursday may have been to a progesterone drop, something to which I am very sensitive. The thing is that I'd had my period (they're very light since I came off bcps and they only last 2-3 days with only 24 or so in between) just the Saturday before, so it never occurred to me that my crash might be progesterone-related.

Add peri-menopause or, I guess, menopause to the mix.

The show/demonstration thing on Saturday went well. It was fun meeting people. One lady is a lab person like me. She wants to paint, buys the supplies, mat cutters, etc to paint, then doesn't. She even had a topic in mind she wanted to paint, inquired at a gallery if they had one on this topic and they did, so she bought it instead of painting. She gave me a card in case I ever need a job, which I am glad of, with ex returning from Iraq in a month to no job. I worked for two years for the very company she began with this year as a project manager.

This lady has perfectionist's disease. She needs to just get dirty with abandon; classes would be good for her. When you realize that every painting doesn't have to be a masterpiece, it is liberating. Then, you discover that everybody has different tastes and your opinion of a painting doesn't matter if it speaks to someone else; it can be a masterpiece to them.

I've had a hard time producing art effectively lately. Either I had a chatty security guard (one session) or bad paper (four sessions) and it's gotten me down. I also post on an arts community for feedback sometimes. I try to put their advice into play sometimes and it is counter-intuitive. I wreck a piece with studio work, something that was perfectly plein air, meaning it was fresh, spontaneous, and perhaps a little bit fuzzy or stylized from being done on site with a moving sun.

Although I need to take critique, I need to maybe not respond to it. Anyway, I ruined two paintings that way, but finished two others despite that. I guess I'm 50-50 lately in responding to suggestions.

The thing that put me over last week was being criticized for my framing. I'd brought two pieces to a meeting as part of a show and tell. This woman blurted out how pastels should be framed with a spacer next time I do it - as if I were an inexperienced idiot framer. I replied that all of my stuff is professionally framed and she blurted out, "A professional did that?!" I was mortified. She said she saw no space between the mat and the painting. I said I saw a small space. A space is put there so that errant pastel crumbles will fall away and be hidden, in particular, that they not fall down the front of the mat and soil it.

Anyway, this was occurring in front of over a dozen people. She's president of a different art society and she's seen as an authority figure. And now I feared being seen as a hacker with a cheap framer. I didn't mouth off about my framer's credentials, but he does all the pastels in the area, to include my old teacher, who is nationally recognized and even won a show this summer.

I am at a loss what to do, except bring another piece next month and firmly/nonchalantly say what my framer pointed out, b/c I went by to see him on Friday afternoon. Some pastels he frames like she says, with a spacer (often just another piece of mat board) between the matting and the painting. One thing he does not like about this is that the paper isn't secured by the mat and waffling occurs. The way he framed mine is called a reverse cut and it accounts for the small gap I saw. If the mat's bevel faces inward, it catches stray pastel and funnels it behind the mat. It also serves the purpose to be in contact with the painting and prevent it from waffling. He might have done mine that way because mine are quite burnished (I press the pastel into the sanded paper, so it isn't mobile) and behave.

I am finding that through another society it is a kiss of death to be considered amateur. This happening with this society was a surprise and I was very upset. I always figured my work would speak for itself, but I don't want to be chopped off at the knees over something stupid. That night, she quashed the mood and I only got one comment on each piece. I didn't feel that they were allowed to speak for themselves.

I really hate when artists are left brained and, it seems that in a right brained undertaking, there are an awful lot of left brained people. I'm right brained, but when taxed I swing into left brain overload.

Okay, if you're still with me, we have some really good news. J is finally getting his braces off in a month. Believe it or not, it's been 18 months since they were put on. I think they'll be off a week before his father gets home. I'm trying to change J's teeth cleaning appt to be in the days between the braces come off and when his dad gets home, just in case insurance changes really quickly.

Strange to think of ex potentially being unemployed soon. Hoo boy, does that impact me. I could well be bankrupt in two months.

So how was this peek into my stressors? I can't blame myself for reacting.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pity rant

It has been a tough week, a tough two months.

This week I learned the school district is making some changes, just the wrong ones. I learned that my son has to go to the school seven miles away for six years, that he won't be coming back to the school one mile away at all, like I'd been led to believe with school announcements two years ago.

I need to calculate how long it takes to ride over 14 miles a day for six years, versus two. Simple put, it is seven times longer.

Buses are the bastions of the infidels.

This stuff has skewered me to the soul and it will take a long to get over how angry I am at the school board once again. We go through this about every other year. I feel powerless.

Some stuff has happened over the last two months that has shaken me artistically.

I go to two doctors tomorrow - my thyroid/gyn and my psychiatrist. It's not a moment too soon. My thyroid medicine is not doing the trick; look at my broken out body and see that. My new, timed-release ADD med did alright for a few days, but I'm afraid it's what is crashing me. I only started it last week, beginning with one. After a few days, I went up to two, the recommended dosage. I began feeling really good, being jovial and chatty, too chatty perhaps, but happy. The previous med I'd taken made me edgy and anxious and saying all the wrong things, so I was liking the new. On this new one, I felt good, hypomanic even, the lovely productive time that comes before crazy mania, which I do not get. I asked my therapist Wednesday if she thought it was hypomania, but she said to relax and enjoy it. Strange, b/c for all the focus it was supposed to provide, I was completely unproductive. And my mind was prone to racing.

Of course there will be no answers tomorrow. I have no faith. And the stimulation of the thyroid meds already made my hands shake. Adding an amphetamine doesn't help.

I am sick of being sick somehow and having so many confounding factors.

I'm tired of hating on myself and feeling justified when I do it. I don't want to get into how bad it is.

There's so much more, but I'll stop here.

Suffice it to say that I am prickly and depressed.

I guess the good (but scary) news is J and I going to visit Lyd for Thgvg in CA. If you'll recall, she and I are great friends by phone and email, the but second time I saw her, she came here w/out money, acted the fool, etc. A good while after that, we renewed our friendship and I care for her like I did; I fear seeing her and being turned off.

This is one of those positive life circumstances that is too stressful.

I am maxed out.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Show and Tell: Scouting for Eww?

Last weekend, the bags were distributed. This weekend, bags of food were picked up.

Just like last year, I had J for the pick up weekend. A year ago, we got a small area, two or three courts of townhouses, and we only got about six or eight bags. People lamented the economy.

This year, because of fewer people available to do pick up, we got a much larger area, several times that of last year. And despite the economy, we got over 50 bags. These two were happy, busy boys, except...

Starting out, we'd been confused by newspapers that looked like Scout bags on the elevated stoops. So many leaves made it confusing, too. At one point early on, I spotted a bag with the ears/handles straight up and J hopped up on the porch to get it.

He rushed over. He paused. He picked it up and poked. He came back down the stairs, then seized in terror, ran back to the door to deposit the bag from whence it came.

Simultaneous to that, I realized what the bag was: a stinky diaper so bad that they'd put it outside.

J, aka Mr. Clean Hands, was mortified to have any residuals on his hands, but I had no wipes. So my hair, my clothes, and my hands received all the diaper cooties.

I am still laughing.

Thanks to Mel for helping me out with an occasion to share this shite-filled story.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Scavenger Hunt: Water

Tara chose water as our word for the week.

I'll concentrate on a few water pictures from yesterday, which was beautiful. In fact, the forecast called for a great day, so I canceled a first date lunch date (the guy is a lawyer and I'd hope he'd impress me more in person that he has on the phone or by email - he's very dry and much like the last patent attorney I dated last Spring) so I could paint. Well, I actually canceled with plenty of notice, before noon on Wednesday, and then that evening several painter friends had the same idea for Friday and invited me along.

I stopped at this location, planning to paint water. Instead, I painted up the hill to the bell tower of a church and included no water. The scene looks prettier than this picture, because the camera focused on the drapy limb thing.

^The water reflects an incredible blue, which is outside the picture frame of the sky.

^I love how powerful the clouds appear in the water's reflection.

I need to figure out what body of water this is.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Today so far, but to include the weekend

Anybody notice I'm not doing NaMoBloMe this year? It is making me so happy. I receive the emails and sigh in non-participatory contentment.

I had J's Parent-Teacher Conference this morning at 8:20. He stayed home in bed. His teacher was very impressed with him and how he has busted butt since mid-term. I wish they had some continuity in their grading forms, but at interim he had 3 Cs (his first Cs ever!) and 4 Bs. For his finals, he had 5As, a vast improvement. When I got home and showed him, he whispered, "I feel so proud." I told him to pocket that feeling for motivation later.

I got home and told him I'd take him to Dunkin Donuts for a treat, but he's downstairs watching TV instead. Booger. I needed more sugar after the past few days of gorging.

The weekend painting workshop was fun. The instructor had a great sense of humor and really emphasized drawing the first day. Okay, I might had had a crush on him. Shucks about that being married thing.

He liked my pictures and the way I had them printed light, medium, dark, and B/W, using them over and over as examples. I chose to do the first picture. It was the main example he referenced, so I got used to seeing it. I'd also printed up the red turtleneck one and an additional shot from pre-school I'd forgotten to post. The other pictures did not blow up well enough to try to use.

When I picked up J afterward, he saw the picture in the dim car. His first reaction was that it looked like him. That's the positive part. It does, however, look like a first attempt as oil painting. His face looks chalky and I have to blame that in part on the cheap Daler Rowney paints and Utrecht white they provided. When we got inside in the light, J started picking the details apart like a good little critic, but I kept falling back on the fact that it was my first attempt. I think I might try it again with my Grumbacher paints, which dry a little more slowly and have more of a sheen to them.

So, it was good and I learned a lot. I wish we'd gotten more individual instruction instead of just group art lectures. He hung out, kinda wasting time, mostly spending time keeping busy actually doing the paintings of two women. One had a lovely painting already and he put in the eyes and a few other details. The second woman, who is an officer of this art group, so I expected her skill level to be high, essentially had him do her painting for him. She'd say that the eyebrow was off, and he'd correct it. Then she'd say the hair was wrong and he'd fix it. I hope she doesn't claim the piece as her own, because he put several hours into it.

I'm just jealous. I wish he'd have put time into mine. Not really, but the personalized instruction would have been helpful.

Classes always seem to to work this way. Individualized instruction is advertised, but it all collapses into one or two people.

Which brings me to my pastel class this afternoon. I have four sessions left. The instructor is literally a clown. She is individualized, yes, giving the attention back to herself. She loves to hear herself talk. As a result, in a 2.25h class, we get about 45 minutes or less to actually paint the figure and we're always hurrying at the end or the model volunteers to stay over. Last week, she talked so much that she didn't even do a demonstration, so we had to do the head on our own.

You ever been in a class in which you wanted to kill anyone for asking a question and getting the instructor started up again? Yeah, it's that kind of class.

I noticed last week that the woman on the opposite end of the room was doing her own thing as the instructor blabbed/gestured/acted/self-aggrandized on. I took this to mean frustration. I brought it up with a lady in my painting workshop over the weekend, as the three of us take the pastel class together. Apparently others are as frustrated as I am.

Another thing that frustrates me is that the class is supposed to be nine weeks long. The instructor was going to be out of the country for one week and didn't want to fool with adding a class on the end, although I didn't see the issue. Instead, she decided it would be best to add 15 minutes to each of the other eight classes. She tried to tack it on the end of the class, but I requested that not be the case with J on his own for a little bit. I mostly wanted her to take back the 15 minute plan, but instead she tacked it on to the beginning of the class. I felt railroaded and I learned this weekend that I wasn't the only one. Taking away a class reduces the number of models and poses, which is just wrong.

Sorry, I guess this became a rant spilling over. I have yet to find the perfect art teacher, but I anticipate that I will continue trying.

I'm glad I have this blog so I don't complain on the other one. However, I will not be posting pictures of the portrait anywhere anytime soon.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday Scavenger Hunt: Street

Word on the street, Churlita chose this week's topic.

Sometimes the street compliments a good sunset shot.

This busy street in Cozumel was full to taxis and horse carriages. This also shows a quiet cross street.

This roadside mercado in Costa Rica served the tastiest berry juice. It always fascinates me when buildings are constructed close to the street.

Streets on Roatan, Honduras are actually quite dusty.

This guy walking down the street on Roatan just cracked me up. I guess cotton candy needs transporting somehow.

As we were leaving Roatan, Honduras, we went this scenic route. Technically, it's a street, I guess.

They lost that day, but it didn't matter to the boy. He took his fan spirit to the street.