Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where the hell have I been?

or "This entry is not all about art and pottery." 
From The 35 Symptoms, "Depression" 
     Several things intersected at once last year all culminating in a depressive state of mind. Peri-menopause, decreasing sunlight, the manufactured frivolity and pressure of holiday deadlines, and the string of deaths or anniversaries of parents and other loved ones. All my best plans and ideas got a little side-tracked. It doesn't always happen that way, everything coinciding all at once, but in 2012 it did. Also, the Mayan Apocalypse. Which didn't happen. And we knew that it wouldn't but it didn't stop people from, well, being stupid and apocalyptic. I digress.
When finished, some of these things will be on Etsy!
     In the midst of my foul mood, I still managed to get some things done. Oh, maybe not my whole "to-do" list but I certainly kept moving forward and did manage to crank out a few things. I have this philosophy of depression and other moods that cleaves with a Buddhist outlook, apparently, supposedly, which is simply to not sweat what is happening but to accept it, observe it and let it play itself out from a metaphysical distance. Call it genetic or artistic but I... well I was going to say, "I suffer from..." mood swings but it's not suffering. It just is what it is. I feel energetic and great, motivated and experimental for a period of time, and then I slow down, feel lethargic, dull, unfocussed. It's not in the extremes that you might associate with severe manic-depression and I do not take any medication or seek counseling when I drop into the less vigorous state of mind. I don't have anything against those methods; they don't work for me. There's a popular assumed connection between the continuum of manic-depressiveness and creativity. Van Gogh seems to be the poster boy for that theory. Perhaps there is a biological connection or at least the pre-disposition for creativity and mood swings having a relationship. All I know is that it's how I work. Since I was younger (and now that I am fifty, make that "much younger"), I have been aware of my moods and level of motivation. I clearly remember the very first time I became seriously depressed, as in staring-at-the-wall-for-hours depressed. I was 24. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I felt completely helpless and worthless but mostly I felt without any discernable motivation or even memory of being motivated at any time in my life. But clearly that wasn't the case nor was it a permanent state. My revelation at the time was simply identifying that I was experiencing depression. I also remember that the moment I identified what was happening, I detached from the depression a bit. I was observing it, labeling it, compartmentalizing it, experimenting with it, soaking in it, and then eventually, patting it on the head and leaving it on my bed as I got up after a few days of feeling very introverted and listless. I moved on. 
      One thing I did not do is panic and vow never to feel like that again. I recognized that it simply was a state of energy and it flowed. As it was low and lifeless, given time, it would become, I would become, energetic and ebullient. Less like a roller coaster in the extremes and more like Homer Simpson in the hospital. "Bed goes up, bed goes down."
     So that's why I have been a bit scarce. Actually, I don't even think of it as depression in the sense that I am sad anymore, just unmotivated and introverted. Not really into socializing (which is not productive when you have to do holiday sales, let me tell you. Paste that smile on!), not really into digital socializing, not really into showing my work or talking about it, blog posts, tweeting, updating my pages and sites, applying to shows, listing more pottery, writing cards, cooking, buying presents and so on. However, I do keep a long list of things I need to get done and I always make sure I have major, middle and minor tasks on it. I don't keep score on doing all of them but I do have a basket of stuff to keep me occupied; I pick and chose. Even if I only do one small minor thing, I congratulate myself on not staring at the walls for that moment and reward myself with a piece of chocolate. Yay for me! 
     I managed to do two sales and make sales on the internet. Yay for me! I managed to get some bowls and mugs thrown for future firings. Yay for me! I did manage to get my tax receipts organized, data entered, and taxes paid for 2012. Yay for me times two! That one calls for a bottle of wine! I finished the last four sculptures of my self-imposed quota of one per month for 2012 and got them bisque fired. Yay for me! I began the coloring and glazing process. Yay for me! I added new pendants and jewelry pieces. Yay for me! I worked on researching mailing lists and fair tents and other business related items. Yay for me! I cooked an awesome lentil and spicy sausage soup at home. Yay for me and my husband would concur. 
     And then I visited my folks back in the NYC area, who are 84 and 88. New York, my home town area. I did not look forward to this trip, particularly since I was feeling rather poopy-like but I knew the change of scenery, at the very least, might shake things up a bit. I did not relish seeing my mom and dad in their elderly and frail state as it reminded me that they, too, would pass away as my friends parents had in 2012 but that's the future and for the moment, I faced the present in whatever way it faced me.
NYC. A love affair with black.
     Only one day was spent in the city itself. We dove down as far as we could in the financial district. I very rarely went there when I lived in NYS so now I could tour it with impunity. We never got to see all of my friends but then I knew that this trip, with its purpose of checking up on the folks and helping them out, would not include much socializing. We did a lot of walking which is what you do in NYC. I got my fix for the moment.
     The folks did their thing and they are still doing it. We took them up to West Point where they have watched a few football games in their lifetime. They enjoyed the memories. Scott finally got to see another part of the area beyond New York City and the street I grew up on. Mom and Dad were their same combative and wise-cracking selves, even if Dad has become rather repetitious. They are seriously funny old people. I hope my husband and I are as funny when we get old.
Mother with my husband.
Dear old Dad.

No trend continues forever so eventually, I know this listless mood will abate. Spring will come. Flowers will bloom and there will be days when I cannot stop myself I'll be buzzing around like a bee. And now, I must get moving again. I feel a wee bit of energy more often each day. I am glazing and coloring the sculptures. I have some plans and goals outlined for 2013. We have done a little maintenance around the garden and house. Scott taught me how to start the chain saw so now I know that much more.

Yay for me!


  1. I truly enjoyed reading this slice of life, as it reflected on many topics that have recently crossed my mind.

    Your mother has some amazing genes - the way she's holding your husband is simply adorable.

  2. Cynthia.. I, too, enjoyed this post. thanks for sharing. My 2012 had some of these moods as well, great joys and great sadness..life in the full, and, yes, we carry on and can once again appreciate the joy that surrounds us.
    Look forward to seeing those pieces finished. :)..
    Trish from Alberta,Canada