On the brink of nuclear war is what the headline says today. I sit at my computer screen in early January it seems dark and gloomy. My house seems like a mess, dirty things everywhere. The kettle pops. I pour boiling water over my chamomile tea bag. Socks on the floor, groceries on the counter, left over breakfast on the table, overconsumption, waste. I sit at my computer; my dog moves to be right near me. It’s quiet. I stop panicking just a little. I’m shaky and nervous that my husband will bring Jack and Fiona home sooner than expected. I look out the window and notice the sky behind the bare branched Sycamore tree looks like winter. Jack and Fiona’s birthday is in less than two months. I had my first facial today since before they were born. The esthetician reminded me I was lucky to ever have had one, that it’s a luxury to be able to have a facial. My skin feels so good, my inner body is still tense, I can’t relax inside. I feel panicked. Catastrophizing. A seriousness and a sadness. I need more time alone to think. To paint. To meditate. To do nothing. These are luxuries too. Quiet, alone, time. The kids and I have been having a great time together. We love each other so much. They are wonderful human beings. I love spending time with them, being their mother. Feelings and moods take over. I feel guilty for wanting more alone time and we could be on the brink of a nuclear war. I still need more time even if the worlds ending and I love being with my kids. Dizzying. I miss my studio.
Everything I’ve done up until now has been about pregnancy: wanted and unwanted. It’s been about deep, dark, secrets. The kind in my dreams: I’m climbing up a dirt tunnel, fingers clutching to the sides, dirt crumbling, roots exposed, there’s blue sky above, I can breath but feel the cold at my feet, my face is hot, my feet freeze. The paintings come out murky or scary or dark, with sprinkles of light from behind. In the beginning they were about my strange relationship with my dad, from sadness and depression. They were darker, thicker, and crustier portraits. When my mom died they turned to thin, barley there figures, which have been referred to as children or babies. I based them off childhood pictures of my mom, her baby pictures. I was trying to have a baby myself at this time. It was the beginning of charts, dates, non-fun sex, ovulation kits. I started to stitch and felt and weave and sculpt. I made places to hide if I were to turn into a tiny mouse. Where art emerges from. My childhood, my dead babies lack of childhood, my children’s current childhood, Birth. The birth of an unspoken world uniquely mine living on paper and canvas. Each stain on the paper is a new birth, each stain on my uterus a lost birth. Memories of losing. Childhood angst. The way I see Jack under the table today at the park. Two girls talk to him, older than him. His lip in a pout, ” what did they say to you Jack?” His head angled down, sucking a finger, nose a little runny. “They asked if I scribbled on their”, i finish the sentence, “sidewalk drawing?” I tell the girls he didn’t. He wants me to hold his hand. He’s not that much older than the little baby I used to take to this park, he’s still a sweet baby boy. Born healthy. His sister too. They infiltrate my art. They infiltrate my life. Having young children leaves little time to be alone. It leaves little time to relax. Things happen daily adding to my plate of anxiety. Times like yesterday when we were going to the car from the park, Jack and Fiona on scooters, Jack took off so fast I didn’t even notice until he was no longer in sight. My heart raced, please don’t go in the road, please don’t get taken. There’s nothing much I can do, he can’t hear me call him. I get to the car and he’s sitting by it. Everything’s fine, but I can still feel that panic in my chest. Last night at dinner I was running behind schedule with dinner prep, Fiona is in the bath downstairs and Jack is watching a movie upstairs. I have a sink full of dirty pots and I need to make dinner. When my husband got home he was hungry and ready for dinner. I panic. I start chopping carrots, celery, sautéing onions, in between running downstairs to check on Fiona. I feel a sharp pain in my thumb. I thought it was a carrot, the knife went straight down, slice. I am afraid I will need stitches. I put a Band-Aid on it and hold it over my head. I finish dinner, almost burnt it. And this morning my finger is healing up nice and it wasn’t a bad cut like I thought. I was a stress case before kids too, and going through infertility was the worst I’ve ever been. This is different though. Having kids is a big responsibility. Being a mom and a housewife is hard, it’s a rouse to say otherwise. I think it’s hard just being a human. We are all in our own circles of truth, the circle which we can not escape. Our history is who we are, is what our art is about, is how we raise our kids. And knowing this doesn’t make it easier. But knowing this might help us raise better kids and make better art.
I’m having anxiety lately. It’s hard to just sit here and not worry. Are other people feeling this way too? I am worried about the people getting hammered by hurricane season. I am worried about the Trump administration. The horrible things I worried about when president Trump became the Republican nominee are coming true. The worst things I thought he would do are happening. Thank god for our judicial system, at least things can be slowed down a little. I worry about the Earth and Global Warming. I worry about nuclear war. I worry. The furrow between my eyes becoming deeper. The lines around my lips. We all die someday. Will I be alive to see the collapse of the world as we know it? What future is there for Jack and Fiona? I live in the moment when we are together, like it is the most important time in the world. My worries slip away when I am with my children. I cherish those moments, even the annoying ones.
I am forcing myself not to turn on the news again today. I must force myself. I am consumed by the bad news, the fires, the racism, all of it. I need to not watch the news and not look up facts about places and weather systems and wars. This morning when I was walking Billy, passing the Mission, I read the Church Services Schedule. I noticed there was a Haitian service, one Sunday a month at 6:00 PM. I thought about taking Jack and Fiona. I imagined the Haitian Priest conducting the service in French, and how beautiful it would be. Then imagined Jack and Fiona making too much noise and maybe the church goers would be mad at us and think we were rude. It felt good to know there is a Haitian community in San Rafael.
Outside, a sea of noises. Dogs barking, Blue Jays cawing, the Sycamore tree leaves rustling. The chimes-chiming. I finally take a deep breath. Fiona and Jack will be home from preschool soon. Older and wiser than when they left this morning. I’m going to try not to worry this afternoon. I’m going to give myself a break. Drink a glass of Sake, take my sign language class, take care of the kids and go to bed early. I want to turn on the T.V. so bad. I should unplug all of the T.V.’s. Turn off my phone. Let it all go. Except my sign language class. It’s a webinar!
Emotions. Struggle and pain. The baby lives in all of us. How can I navigate the world of disipline with Jack and Fiona when I’m still part baby? I do not like to be reprimanded, I struggle with rules and authority. That’s all I’m going to say about that right now, I’m in my studio and I want to talk about my process I’ve employed for this current body of work.
My old recycled works on paper have invigorated me and connected me more physically to my work. I sat on the floor yesterday while the babies took a short one hour nap and started tearing my old work up. At first I thought of stacking, then I decided to soak all the pieces, they broke down, revealing hidden marks and stains. As I search through the pile picking pieces I feel like I’m on a treasure hunt.
I often start to panic when I think about how much work I’ve made and continue to make. It’s kind of overwhelming, and that’s another brillant thing about the notebooks. But where will I put all this stuff?