Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Moving Forward

In so many ways it feels like life has come to a complete halt but in other ways it’s still moving forward.

It’s spring in Texas. Bluebonnets are out along the highway and I saw a lovely patch of Indian paint brush the other day. I haven’t seen anybody stopping to take the obligatory annual bluebonnet photos that are a Texas tradition, but that is likely to be due to rain as much as social distancing.

Pumpkin the cat has had a litter of 4 kittens. Daughter now has 14 cats in her house: 2 of her own, 1 of her boyfriend’s, and 4 that belong to her roommates plus 2 litters of kittens. One litter is actually old enough to go to new homes but the person who wants them lives in another state and travel is restricted right now.

We had a meeting at Dunbar House with a potential client. She seems like she could really benefit from 3 – 6 months of assistance while she gets her feet under her. And she seems pretty motivated to move her life ahead. The drawbacks are that she has a dog which she simply could not bring with her, and she has a significant other who she would like to stay with. We can’t take in a couple. In fact, I said to V today, we should let it be known that there is no dating within the household. I just see that being a bit of a problem.

I am still planning to move on the 18th. I picked up boxes from a friend today. It was so weird, both of us with masks and afraid to actually chat about anything because of risk of exposure. I just totally appreciate the boxes. I should be able to finish packing now.

I am finding all kinds of cool stuff in my bedroom as I pack. I mean, I knew I had it. I just didn’t know where it was exactly.

I need to do much laundry in the next week. Charli the kitty has been peeing in my laundry again so I need to get that handled and packed. If I can just wash and pack that will be easiest.

I have no idea where I’ll be putting stuff once I move. So much of it is art supplies. I need to actually use art supplies instead of just buying them. I hope to have an opportunity to make some art once I move.

So yeah, things are difficult and strange, but on the other hand the situation is changing even as I write this. Slowly but still shifting. Slow is not staying still, so that’s good. Hopefully things will be different before too long, in a good way.

I feel pretty optimistic today.


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Franklin

I don’t know Franklin, I only know about him.

A friend of mine passed him on the street regularly. He was unhoused. She didn’t get to know him, but he was part of her community. For several days she didn’t see him, then she noticed his belongings scattered about the area where he camped. She knew something had happened but she didn’t know who to ask. Then she found the little shrine in his honor. His friends had bundled up his sleeping bag and set out flowers and candles, a small sign that said “Franklin”, the usual thing you see on the side of the road.

I want Franklin to be remembered so I painted a picture in his honor:

Parts of it I am very pleased with. Considering that I can’t draw.

I am slightly off my meds, and I am weepy. I ran out of the mood stabilizer. I have been crying over sentimental things, like a character dying in a movie. I generally feel pretty stable in my moods but I thought that was just me. I learned in my 20s that big emotion was bad for me so I worked at being understated in my expressions. I thought I was a calm person. I’m not really. I’m quite emotional without my meds.

I wonder, is that a problem? I made art because I felt sentimental about a homeless man. And it’s not bad art, all things considered. I want to make more art. Is taking the meds interfering with creativity? Is making art worth being emotionally raw? Maybe if I lived alone, but surely it would be a problem for my roommates, if I was all over the place.

In a few days I will be stabilized. The meds will have built up in my system and my mood will settle down. I’ll be back on my usual weekly schedule and things will be back to normal.

Funny phrase that, “back to normal”. Normal is a double-edged word in my life. Normal, like neurotypical, which I’m not. Also normal like typical, as in typical for me. Do the drugs make me normal? Is it worth it? I’m not 100% on that, but is that just my mood because I’m off my meds?

Does being on my meds cloud my thinking? Or is it that depression so often feels like truth to me? It seems like seeing things clearly but maybe I am just used to that particular bias. If you always look through tinted lenses, that appears normal. If you take them off, that might be reality, but putting them back on feels familiar and comfortable. Is it really better? I can’t tell.

I feel like I’m talking in circles which is surely a sign that I need the meds. Do I really need them, or do I just think I need them? I mean, joining a gym, looking for a full time job, those are normal things. Making art, not so normal. Yet making art makes my soul happy. Going to the gym is good for my body though. And I need to do it more often. I wonder if I would go, if I was off my meds. I mean, I’ve been off them for about a week and I haven’t gone. Coincidence? Maybe.

In other news, Momo just nosed the dog. He laid down next to me, which was also next to Jack. Charli getting in the middle of everything has driven Momo off. Such a shame, I was honored that he was dozing against my leg.

I have some add-and-pass pages to send out. I’m going to send them to each other. I mean, they have names and addresses on them so I’m going to send the item from envelope one to someone listed on item 2. Ah, yes, add-and-pass. A picture, or in this case a chapbook, where you put your name and address and maybe alter it in some way. Then you send it along to someone else to do the same. A mail art staple.

I haven’t left the house today, except to get the canvas out of the car and put the empty cat litter container in the trash. Today was lovely out. Hopefully tonight will be temperate. Last night was too cold, but today was warmer than yesterday, so maybe. I usually get out of the house to go to a group or a store. I’m thinking tomorrow would be a good day to work out and do some laundry. I want to make more mail art but that isn’t exactly something I can do in public, like at a coffee shop.

Trying not to think in circles. It’s only 9:30 so I’m not ready for bed yet, but I think soon it will be time. Charli the kitty has decided to nap balanced between the back of the sofa and my shoulder. She will be bothered when I get up. Right now she’s purring. And snoring. It’s almost like a sleeping child, that level of trust and relaxation.

Well, I’m off to look at mail art calls and see if there’s anything I can do tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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Metrocare

I went to Metrocare today. It was an interesting experience.

On February 8th, I got an email that as of January 18, I had 15 days of health insurance left. That was February 2nd. My insurance ended 6 days before I was notified.

In the meantime, I ran out of Metformin and Abilify. I can’t afford to pick up either one of them because full price is too much for me right now.

I’m not too upset about the Metformin. I was put on it because my A1c was elevated to 6.1. Now if you watch TV, you’ve seen the commercial where the man is happy his A1c is below 7. Last time I checked, 6.1 is below 7. So maybe 6.1 isn’t so bad. On top of that, I’ve been taking it for 9 months and my A1c hasn’t budged. Apparently it’s not working for me, and I was going to talk to the doctor about stopping it. I think I can live without it.

The Abilify, now, is a mood stabilizer and the past few days I’ve been out of it, I’ve been emotional. An online friend posted about a homeless person in her neighborhood who apparently passed away, and it made me cry. Then I responded a little heartlessly to her, because that is how I am with myself. I”m just all over the place. I continued to be weepy about the man for several hours. Now I am fine. I think the fancy word is labile. I feel like I need the Abilify for stability.

I tried to go to the pharmacy. Prices are a little high. To be honest, even with the insurance copay, I wouldn’t have been able to afford both of them. I needed to figure out an alternative. The only option I know is public health so I went to Metrocare.

I am not so bad off, all things considered. I am not so impaired. I am not suicidal or psychotic. I am, at the moment, pretty well controlled with my meds. Many of the people at Metrocare are not doing as well as I am. It’s said, but hopeful.

I waited to apply for assistance. The process was pretty quick. I don’t know how I’m going to prove income, but they saw me the first time without that information. I guess I’ll bring my W-2’s to prove my annual income. Except that I’m not making that money at the moment. Anyway, the application process was rapid.

Then I waited for hours to be seen. I’m sure that’s because I was a walk-in. I saw a nurse practitioner named Charles who I think was from Africa. I didn’t ask. He had an accent that wasn’t Australian or Caribbean so I think it was African. I could be wrong. He criticized my drugs a little. He seemed to think my does of Prozac was too high, and that if it was lower, I probably wouldn’t need the Abilify. I told him, the meds were working, I didn’t see a reason to change them. He wrote me the same prescrptions and said to come back in 6 weeks.

I went back out front, and talked to the pharmacy. They were able to verify that I was accepted into the program, and they filled the prescriptions for me for $16, which is about 1/3 of what I was paying with insurance. I had a moment of uncertainty when I went to pay it though. I wasn’t sure I had $16 in my bank account. I still don’t know how much I have, and I’m afraid to look.

Whole process only took 3 1/2 hours. All afternoon. I suppose it could have been worse.

Oh, my friend’s issue with the homeless man. His name is Franklin. She is quite distraught, even though she didn’t speak to him ever. I asked, what is she inspired to do? Other people are also in dire straits. My friend got quite upset with me. But for me, that is how I handle grief. I do something about it. My way isn’t better, and I do allow myself time to feel it, but I feel better if there’s a plan. So I wept for Franklin, and for my friend, and I will make some art about it later. I think, the fence where his community set up a memorial altar for him, with some flowers and candles. I have the image in my mind, I just need to put it together.

I filed my taxes this year. I still get a refund, but it’s only about 1/3 the amount I got last year. This administration is not good for me. Not just the tax money, but supposedly there was a tax cut. All I can say is, my refund was sure cut.


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Working Again

I will be going back to work next week. I don’t know what day yet.

I passed the interview at Michael’s and they requested information for a background check. I know I’ll pass that, I just have to wait for them to do their due diligence. The manager thought it would be 24 to 48 hours, but then she remembered this was the weekend so it might take an extra day. Once I pass, they’ll let me know when I work.

I am also going to talk to W about what she does. She seems to think I could be pretty good at it. I just need more information about it.

It’s finally gotten chilly here in Texas. I know it won’t last, but I’m sure enjoying the cooler temperatures. I like shirts with sleeves. The best part is, the cats have become cuddly. I love their furry little bodies snuggled up against me. Charli has been sitting in my lap.

Charli and Komori nesting in a fuzzy blanket

There has been a certain amount of haggling over the fuzzy blanket. I sleep under it and I don’t mind sharing it with the kitties. However, the dogs also want to lay on it, which I do mind. Frankly, the dogs are smelly and make the blanket smell like dog. I assume cats are also smelly, but to me they have no odor. Perhaps I am prejudiced.

Tomorrow I have a DBSA staff meeting at 11. That seems pretty early but it means we’ll be done early too so the rest of the afternoon I’m planning on making art. I haven’t made anything in a while now, it’s time to get back to it. Maybe take a nap, but definitely make some art.

And do laundry. I should really do some laundry tonight but I’m not motivated. I need clean clothes for the rest of the weekend but the idea of doing laundry is just overwhelming. I’m actually thinking of taking a nap now, except that it’s so close to bedtime.

But I really need to use some of my art supplies. I just don’t have the energy to start now. I am going to settle into the sofa with the animals and watch Ancient Aliens. TV then bed sounds like a good idea.


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Mothers Day

Mothers Day was yesterday.

Is it Mothers Day, as in the day we celebrate mothers, or Mother’s Day, as in the day we celebrate Mom? I don’t know. I don’t suppose it matters.

This is a holiday that I am truly ambivalent about.

In 1984, my mother died of cancer. Part of the issue was that she wouldn’t go to the doctor so the disease was pretty advanced by the time anyone picked up on it. Part of the problem was, well, it was 35 years ago, cancer treatment just wasn’t as advanced as it is today. She was given the option of treatment that would extend life but make her sick, or no treatment with a life expectancy of about 8 months. She chose to forego medical treatment.

Now let’s be clear. She turned down radiation and chemo. She said, “If medical science is done with me, then I am done with them.” But she did pursue holistic alternatives. Only, again, it was 1984. No internet. No community of people to help with advice. And “holistic” was a concept without a name.

I remember her insisting on organic produce, and soaking it in the sink to remove toxins. One time, after she had moved back to my grandparents’ house, she accused of us trying to poison her by not soaking the vegetables. They came from Grandpa’s garden, which was de facto organic because that was the way he learned to farm when he was a kid.

So I am without a mother, and by this age, I am without grandmothers. Nobody for me to spoil on this day. For many years, Mothers Day was simply a reminder of what I don’t have. I chose to ignore the holiday.

Only, I am a mother myself.

I have been terrible with holidays because I missed my family of origin, but that means my daughter has never really experienced a good holiday. I was perhaps too caught in my own grief and did not provide the right environment for her in terms of celebrating special days.

This year, I spent most of Mothers Day afternoon with my daughter. I went to her place. We drank rumchata (horchata with rum in it) and made art. I made an abstract of her friend, she tried out a texture technique that she didn’t like and painted over. Several of her friends visited. I laughed, and said it’s because I’m the cool mom, but really I know it’s because my kid is cool. People want to be around her.

So I am learning to make days special in non-traditional ways. What’s important is to spend time together, not to go to brunch or get flowers. I feel good about making art with a friend, and my daughter is becoming a friend. I miss my mom, but I will see her again soon enough. And I want her to see how far I’ve come, when we finally get to catch up.


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Worn Out Sneakers

I finally wore out my sneakers over the weekend. I went walking with a friend both days. We logged over 5 miles. But I have now worn out the insole of my sneakers and I can’t afford a new pair at the moment. So I will keep wearing them for walking but I am shifting to boots for daily wear.

I told my friend I couldn’t afford the Alaska trip, and she paid my airfare. Wow. Now I didn’t expect her to do that, and I will pay her back. But very interesting response. I have to find the money for a passport now. The trip includes a stop in Canada and you can no longer use a driver’s license as proof of residence.

I get food stamps now. I am trading them for rent at the moment. I know this isn’t quite legal but I have no cash for rent this month. Or for gas or for meds. I should have some cash next month.

Next month, I can apply for unemployment again. I applied last June and was awarded a settlement. I then went back to work so I stopped collecting. That’s the job that ended in December. I tried to file against the new job, and was told that I still had the previous settlement to use up before filing for the new one. I used up the old settlement and tried to file the next one, and I was told I can only file one time in a 12 month period. So I can’t file again until the beginning of June. Hopefully I’ll qualify. I mean, I did the work, the job ended, I haven’t been able to find anything new.

I signed up for Care.com but there is a small problem. I applied for some jobs, but I don’t have the $20 to pay for the subscription part so I can’t hear from people through the website. I guess I’m going to have to start including my phone number or my email address. I could be pet sitting by now.

Next weekend I am pet sitting for a friend. I’ll enjoy spending the weekend at her house. I like her cat. It should be good. And on Sunday I’ll see my daughter for Mothers Day. We don’t have any money, so we decided to hang out and make art. I told her to invite some of her friends to join us. I figure they’ll be ready for a break from their own families by the middle of the afternoon.

I need to pack up all my art supplies on Thursday for the weekend. I have a whole plastic grocery sack of mail to reply so I need to bring my letter writing accoutrements. I need to bring paints and such over to my daughter’s place on Sunday too. Plus I need to have my vision board supplies with me. I shall have a car full of art, which makes me happy.

Ah, life. Money stress is what it is, but it could be worse. The rest of the world is working out okay. I just need things to fall into place for me.


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Procrastination

I am procrastinating, right now, even as I write this.

What I want to be doing, is working on some watercolor sketches for the focal point of some art I have made. I’m actually not sure if watercolor or acrylic would be the best medium; and if I use watercolor, whether I will apply it directly to the surface or collage another layer. Probably collage.

The point is, I mean to be working on art, not blogging. And here I am, blogging.

I have also started another set of cards for my mailing list. I’ve worked my way from the Z’s up to the C’s. There’s about a page of names, maybe 30, left to send. After this I will start replying to the cards I’ve gotten in return. It will be a lot fewer items, but it will be real letters, not the sort of generic cards I’ve been sending.

None of which is getting my art done.

In a minute dinner will be ready, another cause for procrastination. I love me some chicken wings. Nice and crispy from the oven. So good.

So now the question is, did I procrastinate or just wait until after dinner to avoid getting paint and food mixed up? I think the motivation is to procrastinate. Or is it the lack of motivation?

After food, I plan to get out my pearly watercolors and some sketch paper, and try out making loose flowers. The idea is to lay down general color, then go over them with Pigma pens to sketch outlines and details. Kind of Traci Bautista style but not really.

Dinner is ready so I will go eat now. Food is good. Then art will be good. Then writing cards will be good. Life is good.


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Art and Games

I have made a background that I am very pleased with, but it needs a focal point. I should really paint something on it, but I am unsure of my ability. I think a simple flower in some lovely pearl watercolors I have would be good. I guess I have to practice flowers in my sketchbook.

I have made a few other backgrounds that still need work, but I am generally pleased with how they are coming. I have a painting I’m working on as well. I am doing a little bit every day and I think it’s working out for me. I have some picture frames and some shadow boxes to make too. I feel pretty well settled for art projects. This makes me happy.

I went to a game night at Cafe Brazil with my roommates tonight. I really liked the people I met. They know each other from an online group. If I want to keep going to events, I have to join the group. I almost didn’t go tonight because the group has a participation requirement. I really hate being told I have to post. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say. But I like I said, I like the people so maybe I can live with posting regularly.

We played a game called Red Flags. The idea is, you try to create someone’s perfect date and another person tries to ruin it. So, when it was my turn, the others tried to come up with good qualities of a date for me. Each person in turn picked 2 qualities. So, for example, is a millionaire and has morning breath that smells like fresh baked cookies. Then the person next to them throws in a red flag, like has 12 children with 12 different partners. The person whose turn it is, picks the combination of qualities they are most likely to actually date. So the game is a little different in a group that knows each other. Still, really fun. Recommend the game.


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Communication

I may be second-guessing everything about myself and my internal processes, but I am still curious about everything and interested in everything.

Here is a video by Ray and Charles Eames, best known for their contributions to mid-century modern interior design.  This short movie was made by them for IBM and centered on the idea that the pattern of how communication works is consistent even when the method of communication changes.  Important information for all of us in a shrinking world from the era of punch cards and teletype.