Process and Progress

I have managed to carve out about 2-3 hours each week for arting and art adjacent purposes. That’s an infinitesimal amount of time compared to previous epochs of my life. Almost non-existent to be truthful. But I’m still really proud of myself that I’ve found that time and that I’ve been able to maintain it most weeks. Because it’s fucking hard. I never know from day to day (some times even from hour to hour) how I’m going to feel, and I never know what else the day is going to throw at me. Train delay? Contrary toddler? Late leaving work because I had to put out a metaphorical fire? Have yet another doctors appointment (I have been to the doctor’s literally once a week every week for the last month, with at least another two weeks ahead of me 😤)? They all happen. All. The. Damn. Time.

When I initially started to play around with this set of images, I was concerned that I would lose my place. That, since there were such big gaps in time where I wasn’t working on them, wasn’t thinking about them, I would never “figure it out.” I was scared that I was never going to progress on them. And you know what? Yeah, I DO forget things. I sometimes repeat the same experiment on an image file or print, only to remember half way through that I’ve already done this. Or I find that I can’t always rely on my notes to myself to help keep my place. They’re unclear, contain too little information, or I just straight up can’t read my own damn handwriting. And yeah, it does take me forever to make even the most incremental progress, but it’s still more than I could have anticipated. I’m counting it as a win that I’m still working on them six months later.

Most importantly though, in the time I’ve been slowly crawling forward on this series, I’ve learned that I never know what is going to come out of the printer at the very end anyway. Regardless of how meticulously and specifically I have edited the digital files. Regardless of how methodically I approach the file in the hex editor. Regardless of what the final image looks like on screen when I send it to print (True story… Some of my images are so damaged by the time I get to the print phase that what the screen shows me isn’t actually the information the printer gets 😂). And of course, there’s always the variable of the printer itself. The trusty old 9880 and 9900 I’m printing on have some head issues that lend me even more unpredictability.

Somehow though, working this way hasn’t brought me the expected anxiety and insecurity I’ve come to expect from everything I do. Somehow it’s actually been relaxing and therapeutic to do it this way. It means that no matter how many notes I take and how methodically I approach the creation of each image, I ultimately don’t know what the fuck is going to happen. So then it doesn’t really matter so much if I’m having trouble thinking or focusing on a particular day, or if I’m not being as detailed as I should be in the process. It means that if I’m having an off day physically or cognitively, it’s not going to impact the work in a negative mannner. That’s so very encouraging to me. It gives me such freedom to work at my own pace, in my own way. It has also forced me to slow waaaaay down and focus on right now, as opposed to what might be next. Which, let’s be honest, has always been a downfall of mine. 🤫

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Kitchen

Sundays in our house are days of cooking. Sundays, all the food for the upcoming week is prepped and prepared. This is a task that is mainly my responsibility, but Matthew helps when and if I ask, and of course the Noodle “helps” whenever he feels like standing in his Learning Tower long enough to make a mess.

This Sunday practice (tradition?) comes from long before I had a kid though. And from before I met Matthew even. Back during my first year of grad school I fell into doing meal prep, because I couldn’t afford to eat out much (if at all), and if I wasn’t doing the cooking, no one else was. Eventually it developed into full on meal planning, grocery shopping, batch cooking, weekly event. It’s been 6 or 7 years running now.

Understandably, this practice has become more challenging after the arrival of the kiddo, but it has been my health that has impacted the ritual the most. Whereas in the past I found this tradition really refreshing and invigorating, I found myself completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the prospect. I started to hate it. Not only did it take the obvious physical toll, but believe it or not, the mental strain was also pretty intense. So things had to change. Grocery shopping was moved to Saturday mornings, simpler recipes were selected, fewer “extras” were made, naps were added in to the mix, everything else was removed. A leaner, meaner version of Sundays evolved.

It would obviously be very easy to just give this practice of mine up. To either do carry-out, prepared foods, or prepackaged meals the majority of the time. To attempt to do “30-Minute Meals” each evening when we got home. Sure. I could. Might my life be a teeny tiny bit easier? Possibly. Would my stubborn little heart rebel at that level of privilege (and waste), when I can still very much recall times in the recent past when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my next meal? For certain.

My stubborness aside though, this ritual is important enough to me to continue because it is a routine. I can count on it. Every. Single. Sunday. With my health and it’s associated cognitive problems, routines are important. Predictability is crucial, and the rest of my life? Not so routine. My work schedule changes every day, as do my duties and efforts there. The way that I feel can wildly vary from day to day. Also, Toddler. Doing this one thing (albeit a big thing) gives me one definite check point in my week. It gives me some security and sanity, when I often feel as though I am juuuuuust barely keeping my head above water.

And so, The Kitchen and The Kid finds it’s way back to it’s point of origin, the kitchen. Which is undoubtably the center of my home. AGES ago I brought home the large canvas test prints I made. They wound up thrown on the floor of my studio, right in front of my desk, when I cleaned the apartment about a month ago. Matthew asked me if that didn’t worry me… My knee jerk reaction was neatly roll them up and tuck them away somewhere, to protect them. But then I thought about it, and I actually didn’t care that they were on the floor and that I might step on them. And more to the point, hadn’t I brought these prints home so that I could live with them, and look at them, for awhile? Yes, that’s why I brought them home. Why ignore them? Then a few weeks ago as I was gearing up for Sunday cooking, the idea struck me to put one of them down on the floor of the kitchen where I would be spending the day. Where everyone will walk over, spill on, and generally fuck up, the print. And there it has stayed. How long, I don’t know, but I like seeing it every day, and I’m curious to see what affect life will have on the work.