Highlight of the day: seeing my friend Lindsay Burck’s paintings hanging in the Chrysalis during the Initiation of the new Escapists today! Among them is a piece called Queen Bey, and it reminded me of so many things, including how I need more Beyoncé in my life. So this evening I decided I needed to sketch Queen Bey myself, and listen to Lemonade while doing so. Being excited that my friend is now an Escapist gave me a much needed boost. I ended up dancing in my gallery and as I was dancing I decided to start taking down my West Texas show – after all, this morning I had the closing party for Lone Wolf, complete with Turkish breakfast! – and start hanging my new abstract works. I don’t have all of them here. I need to go retrieve most of them at Sabine Street, but the ones that are here brightened up the space immediately. And it occurred to me that perhaps I’d had the right idea all along: having an abstract show with happy spring colors at this time of year might just be the boost of energy we all need!
Today I continued working on the abstract pieces I’m preparing for my February 1st show, which honors Imbolc, the return of the light. I am so ready for spring, y’all! There was, luckily, some sunshine today, but overall I don’t enjoy this dark and gloomy time of year, and don’t enjoy the cold. Still, days are starting to get longer, and I’m praying for the bluebonnets to come early. I figured the best way to manifest these prayers is by painting. Abstract still is challenging for me. There is a surrender of control to it I find both exhilarating and disconcerting. I can spend hours painting and literally getting obsessed. I guess in some ways I’m not yet comfortable with being so fully free – which is a great metaphor for my life right now. I have not yet grown fully accustomed to my freedom and its vastness still scares me. But I feel like I’m growing and that soon, I will inhabit it well.
Here’s a portrait of me trying to achieve balance in my busy life as an artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Today this felt a bit like a struggle, although I was in a good mood, and had a lot of fun. I awoke to my daffodils standing open and joyous on the table in the gallery, but also to a full day of activities. Tonight was my book release party for Lone Wolf. It ended up being very nice. I’m excited about the book meeting new readers and being out in the world!
I saw the daffodils at Trader Joe’s as I was buying snacks for my book release party! I love daffodils and I figured my party needed flowers, among other things. And I did too. After all, today I successfully ran payroll, and so I’m one step closer to being Employee of the Month. Tomorrow I should receive my very first paycheck from Sandovici Art LLC!
I can’t say all the anxiety has dissipated, but I feel a little bit better, like order has, at least partially, been restored.
And I’m excited about the book release party!
Today I finally did what I’d been meaning to do for a while: I finished reading the 1900 part of my Galveston ghost story and, freshly reacquainted with the characters and their woes, I sat down and wrote a little over a thousand words! I’m still worried about loose ends, still worried about committing some historical blunder, still worried about not being consistent with the characters or the story, but at least I’m slowly moving forward! Next week I plan to go to the Island to do more research.
For now, though, it feels like a breakthrough that I’m once again feeling closer to Suzanne, my 1900 heroine, who, constricted by the times and society she lived in, was having a hard time carving out a little bit of freedom for herself. I imagine her strapped in her corset, nothing short of a torture device, and wonder how the poor girl is supposed to make any decisions about her life at all when she can barely breathe. Then again, society back then didn’t want Suzanne to truly make her own decisions.
I suppose compared to her problems, my life seems easy, full of possibilities. Though I still feel that even in our day and age women face so many constrictions, that social pressures are different for us, and that there’s still a lot of sexism in our world, especially when it comes to work (let’s not forget there’s still no equal pay for women in 2019!), financial independence, and family life. Luckily I’m blissfully single, will soon work for myself – here’s hoping I get to run payroll without a glitch tomorrow! – and my supervisor, perched on top of the stairs, is more interested in dog treats than anything else. Perhaps I have, in my own way, escaped various layers of oppression, and yes, of course, women have gained so many rights since 1900, but still, in today’s day and age, I still find us to be often constrained. It’s as if society is still not comfortable with us using our full lung capacity, or being too comfortable in our own bodies.
Still haunted by the Blood Moon Eclipse, I was slow today. I decided to immerse myself into a world I had nearly forgotten, that of my Galveston ghost story. I started rereading the manuscript, trying to get reacquainted with its atmosphere and its details. Now that Lone Wolf is published, it’s time to reconnect with it and pick up where I left off.
Also, John took me to Tony’s this evening. It was good to get out, to put on a nice dress, to laugh and have fun. I think the bell jar is starting to lift. I’m reemerging after the moon eclipse, and hopefully by tomorrow I’ll feel like myself again.
Did you see the eclipse last night? I did! It was cold outside and I shivered in the winter coat I wore in DC, but I saw it. It filled me first with awe, seeing the moon gradually disappear, then turn blood red, but later something strange happened, a portal was unlocked to a place in the past I thought I’d left behind, and I started to feel sad for things I didn’t think could make me quite as sad anymore. I didn’t know what to do with all those feelings, so I just drove to the Island to get my dog. The air felt salty, especially when we went to see the pelicans. My emotions were still stuck in the past, still heavy and unpleasant. There must be a reason for this, some lesson to be learned from this blood moon, some transformation to undergo, and transformations are always painful, aren’t they? Or maybe I’m just tired. Tonight I’ll sleep off my long walk and the salt air I breathed. I’ll sleep next to the little dog I missed, and hopefully tomorrow will be better. I have a lot of work to do, a lot of exciting stuff to set up. It should distract me and push me forward.
“But what was your favorite part of the trip?” my friend asked. I thought of Arlington National Cemetery in the snow, the rows and rows of tombs with wreaths on them, and all of us hiking up the hill to attend the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Did you know there are 4,000 unknown soldiers buried in the cemetery?
I loved the Wreath Laying Ceremony, its solemnity, the rituals, all enshrined in the beauty and peace of the cemetery. It makes me sad to think of the unknown soldiers. Did they have loved ones who waited for them in vain? Or did they have nobody waiting? Were they lost and alone? I hope their spirits were comforted by our presence there to honor them, and by John’s offering. I hope they like yellow roses.
Today we went to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to freedom of the press, which was quite amazing: we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall, also, among other things, a collection of historical front pages, my favorite being probably the one reporting on the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his Morganatic wife. After the Newseum my friend and I had Peruvian for lunch in a place that had really cool decor and where the food showed a pronounced Asian influence.
Then a friend from grad school came and picked us up and took us to the Botanical Gardens where we saw the most beautiful orchids in the Conservatory. It was fun seeing my friend from long ago, whose career path has also veered away from academia and who is happy living in DC and raising her little boy. We talked about books, ate gelato, talked a little about people we both knew, and a Boston Terrier named Gus who belonged to one of the professors in Binghamton and whom we both babysat at different points in time.
Today was colder than yesterday, and also a bit drizzling. But despite that we had a nice time. The drawing is of a statue of Count Rochambeau we saw while walking around yesterday. We didn’t see any monuments today, except the Capitol, from the distance.
This morning my mentor, John Ross Palmer, laid a beautiful wreath of yellow roses on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. I was honored to be attending, along with other friends, family, and collectors. We all gathered in the snowy cemetery, walked up the hill, and watched the ceremony, which was laden with symbolism.
Afterwards, there was a lovely lunch at the Old Ebbitt Grill, then some of us took a long walk back to our hotel, past the White House, and the Washington Memorial. In the evening, we went to see my favorite monument: The Lincoln Memorial. We walked a lot. The city is absolutely beautiful even now in winter. I keep thinking of Sally Quinn’s novels, which I absolutely love. Also, I had the most amazing scallops for dinner. And I was very happy with the dress I bought for today, my black wool dress with puffed shoulders from Maje.
I also sold out my DC commissions, which I’m very very happy about!
And frankly, I haven’t had this much fun is a long time. The group of collectors who came on the trip are all so wonderful, all interesting to talk to and fun to travel with. It’s been almost twenty years since my last visit to DC, for a conference, in grad school, and my life is so different now and I find that it’s so much easier to enjoy everything, and that I am at this point in my life surrounded by people I truly resonate with.