So I’ve been painting. Not as much as I’d like. I put too much pressure on myself for every “relaxing” activity I find and the result is that I start avoiding it. Because the last thing I need is more stress.
But, here is one thing that I did get done and I am proud of, because basically now I’m an exhibited artist! I mean, Right?
I have painted this door, as part of the public art exhibition Go Out Doors – Northborough, an initiative of the town’s Cultural Council. My piece is titled #homeborough.
We had a great opening on a windy but somewhat sunny Sunday. I got to play reporter again, which hasn’t happened in a long time, and interviewed all the artists. I also got to take pictures with people next to my door, as “the artist”. Yeah, exciting.
I cannot say that I stressed a lot while painting this. On the contrary, the whole process was the most enjoyable experience. I worked for three weekends on it, for more hours than I care to count. Started to a sketch on my Ipad.
The colors are different, because at the time I was working with a friend on this project, who suggested a less autumnal vibe, so I tried to avoid that. Also, the realities of working on a door as opposed to a flat canvas came into play when in the composition and a little bit in the scale of the elements. I am not too unhappy with how it all turned out. I want to do more!
So, how is everyone doing? February feels like it’s three-months long, doesn’t it?
True to my decision to start posting here more often, here I am again after a month with a very interesting update about notebooks! Because why not discuss things that are pleasant, right? I am slowly realizing that our obsession to dwell on the trauma and unhappiness in order to heal it is not really working out for most people. I think the way forward is to continue to bury our feelings. Not to bury them, actually, just hit Ignore. Just choose not to allow them to take space in our minds. Don’t give them fuel to become larger than they need to be.
I read somewhere that the secret to happiness is simply choosing one thought over the other. Isn’t that amazing? Because it is as simple as that. What do we choose to dwell on? Life is hard and imperfect. We cannot solve everything or everyone. We cannot fix ourselves oftentimes. What we have to do is go on and for that we need to stay functional. Have you noticed that many people who “bury their feelings” remain very functional? Why not choose the good, happy thought over the dark, paralyzing one? Why not always imagine the happy ending? Might not turn out happy, but leading up to it we’re good. And afterwards? I don’t know. It’s not like I have all the answers. Afterwards I guess we choose to forget it as soon as we can. Because we can’t go back and change anything, so what’s the point? Just look up ahead again, to something else bright and shiny. That’s all. Life’s secrets unlocked. You’re welcome!
Accuracy Note: The correct quote is actually “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another,” and it belongs to William James, considered the father of American psychology.
And now, notebooks, as promised. Because that’s our happy place.
I think I have reached perfection when it comes to my writing/journaling supplies. This is where I declare myself happy and content and no longer looking at all the pens and all the inks and notebooks out there. Well, kind of, because of course I already have my eye on a new type of paper that I’d like to try. (The Onion Skin Journal! I mean, come on, how good does that sound?)
But I am good with notebooks. last year, everyone in the fountain pen community went a little berserk because the Tomoe River paper manufacturer in Japan said there won’t be any more such paper being made. Over and done. The machine broke and they could not fix it. Tried replacing it but that didn’t give the same results so they were just halting production. Oh, that was a sad moment. (Of course now there are rumors that someone else bought the machine and they might be coming out with more paper soon? Who knows?)
What I know is that I really liked my new notebook, so after a while I bought another one online, just to have a backup. And then, when the news came that the paper would be discontinued, I went ahead and bought two more. And another one when I got a coupon in the main. Here I have to stop and mention that it takes me about two years to fill out one of these monster journals (about 400 pages each). So I might be set for the next 8 years, you know? But onion skin paper, people! Who can resist the thought of that!
I do have to say that the cover I got for my journal is amazing and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s from JoyToken and was a splurge for my birthday two years ago. I removed the long cord that was tying the journal as a closure, because I really don’t need to use that, but the extra long flap keeps it nicely closed and protected in a bag. It’s lasted amazingly well after two years of constant use. I have been moisturizing the leather regularly, which probably helps. It’s very huggable. Really. I feel like hugging my journal every time I pick it up. Do you do that? Anyway, I expect to be using this cover for many many years to come.
Well, this was fun. I’ll be telling you all about my pens and inks in a future post, I guess. Something to look forward to. (For me, if not so much for you.) In the meantime, choose the happy thought over the other!
I found a great winter coat! And I mean great! First of all, it is looong! All the way to my ankles, which is the length I have been dreaming of for a while, because the Olsen twins make it look so good, and also because a recent, frigid weekend trip to Boston made me aware of how much more protection I could get if my coat was longer.
Secondly, the coat it is made of all natural fibers, which is the first thing I look for when thrifting, as you may know. The fiber content is 50% suri alpaca and 50% lambswool. And on top of it all it is not stiff and doesn’t weigh a ton, due to how the fabric is woven and also to the high alpaca content.
Thirdly, the coat is shaggy-looking and super warm, basically a teddy bear coat. It reminds me at the same time of the Max Mara teddy coat and of the coat Romanian shepherds wear called suba [shuba].
This fall I also bought (off eBay) a North Face maxi down coat, which is amazing as well and makes any freezing temperatures feel insignificant.
I feel lucky. For many years I didn’t own a proper winter coat because when my weight changed significantly after I had my daughter, I couldn’t make peace with a body that I didn’t know how to dress. Coats, all coats, just seemed to make me look so much bigger than I already was! My weight has been fluctuating, and now it’s again pretty high, but this time I know what feels good on this body, and I know how to find clothes that continue to make me happy regardless of weight. Finding coats that I love to wear is the ultimate proof that I am good and happy. Weight can come and go. And so can long and freezing winter.
I don’t know if I am going to call this a resolution, but I plan to work on my website more in 2022. It’s been ignored for too long. So yeah, expect me to be more present here as I slow down an other places like Instagram for example.
I will first of all have to update my digital marketing & design portfolio page because this is what’s be been keeping me busy these post two years. More than writing or even Web design I have been doing digital art and social media marketing. It’s been a period of learning and growth but also mourning for the times when I could still find time to write. I need to get back to that. Because if I don’t write who am I?
My artistic preoccupations have been more in the area of watercolor, digital design than writing. I find visual arts much more relaxing. Writing is too intellectual, too much only in the head. And that can be very taxing. But drawing? Painting? I feel they are more free. You don’t need to think that much and you can allow yourself to be led by inspiration only. Maybe some writers can do that too. For me, it might be an issue of writing in a language that’s not exactly my own.
Here are a few of my paintings. The “woman with the hairband”portrait is digital art done in Procreate on the iPad, and all the others are watercolors. I have an affinity for portraiture, clearly.
I have also been sewing a lot more in the past two years. Lots of oversized square tops in linen and silk, and several #cottagecore dresses in Liberty of London fabrics with which I’ve been having a short-lived infatuation.
My fountain pen hobby has remained a constant, although I did streamline that after getting a coveted gold nib for my birthday this year.
I think I might have found my perfect pen finaly. It’s the Kaweco Special. So underrated! Tried the Al sport first and just hated it! Everyone raves about that pen on fountain-pen enthusiast discussion forums. But the special is great for me. I like a thin barrel and a sturdy but not heavy aluminum construction. Plus it can hold a large international cartridge, which holds a lot of ink. So yeah, I bought a second one! Had to. I always have a need to buy two of everything. Or three if it’s really love. Anyway, in the case of the fountain pens I needed two because I use one extra fine point nib for regular writing, and a 1.1 calligraphy nib for headers and such. But those are the only pens I use every day. I know many people keep several inked pens at a time (up to a dozen or so). I am good with two.
Okay. This is a long post and I’m just about starting to bore even myself. So let’s not push it. I’ll be back!
This has been long due. Long, long due. I just couldn’t. And I still don’t know that I can. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed. So honored. So undeserving.
First, my friend Rachel Fenton calls me her friend in real life. And that, let me tell you right now, it’s so wildly underserved that it frightens me. It frightens me right underneath the bed, where no one can see me and judge what a poor excuse for a caring, loving human being I am to be honored like this. Because what have I done? What? But not respond to texts in time, take six months to write a letter and never reciprocate with gifts as generous as those with shich she’s always showered me and my family. I am not a good friend.
And then, my friend Rachel Fenton, is an insufferable good writer. So good that I don’t even feel jealous anymore, because what’s the use, you know, futile waste of energy to envy someone whose equal you’re not and never will be. Her creative energy is so exuberant, it just attracts you into her magic and you cannot but admire and clap, clap, clap as hard as you can. And now, she decides to make me a someone inside her book and I am not good enough. I cannot be a good character.
Lastly, my friend Rachel Fenton, writes about a delicate, very beautiful and sensitive memory we both share of the time we met for the first time after many years of correspondence from across the world. It was a magical time for me that left such an intense shape on my mind that I, for one, still have not formed into any kind of words. But for her, like for any good writer, this was an experience to memorialize in poetry. Poems! They turn me to mush. I do not have a good relationship with poetry.
Her own experience of that time is much more profound and complex. I was just meeting a friend, she was researching a book on Mary Taylor and Charlotte Bronte, and she was sowing the seeds for a book of poetry. About a different, new day kind of Mary and Charlotte. And, oh no, you guessed it, reader, I a good Charlotte do not do.
How couldn I ever? It is not dark enough under this bed! Where else to hide? Hoe much deeper to go before I emerge on the other side?
Love you, Rachel! I am beyond honored to play any part in anything that you write. I hope to offer help. support and love. As you need it. Always. Always lots of love. That I can, have, and do. Not hide. When it comes to you and your work.
The thing that holds me back from posting here the most is the pictures. At the same time, I easily find pictures to post on Instagram at least weakly. So what is happening? My brain being … a brain. What do I know?
This start of the year has been hard. We are planning a trip back home to Romania. I miss my family so much that it makes me sick, but at the same time, travel couldn’t be more daunting. Why? I think I am allowing myself to think too much about it. Especially flying. I think about it too much. It’s stupid. But I do it anyway. Why? Why, brain?
I’ve started creating this survival kit for myself: essential oils, crystals, prayers. But maybe it’s just January that makes it all seem harder than it is. I swear, I feel like this trip is the end of the world. I am not well in the head. But then this head is my whole world. So I have to work with it. Make it work with me. I need to exercise and I need to meditate. Eat well and sleep well.
I swear it’s like the world flipped upside down and inside out around the time I turned 40. Nothing is anymore the way it was long time ago. I have completely transformed and been replaced by a new thing.
And life is good, by all objective measures. I have work and I have friends and family has been well. Still, in the middle of the night when I wake up, I am on a plane experiencing turbulence and I cannot quiet my heartbeat.
Anyway, I know I can do this. I have faith. I think this is the ingredient that’s been missing. Belief in something bigger. A bigger intelligence out there that has our (my) well-being at heart. I need to believe again. In essential oils, incense, gems, prayers. In the Mother. She knows. She hears. She heals. She’ll make it all right.
I bought a new Tarot deck this summer during our annual trip to the Maine seaside. There is a rather large new age shop in Kennebunkport that we visit every time. I always look at the Tarot decks but most don’t speak to me. I have strict criteria. The cards need to be a certain size, the designer needs to be a woman, and the illustrations must speak to me. This year I couldn’t leave the shop with out this Nicoletta Ceccoli deck. I loved it so much that I also bought a small, travel pack for my daughter.
It’s not like I know what to do with my Tarot cards. I have a couple of older, neglected decks gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. Like with all things of the esoteric inclination, I am wary but so attracted to Tarot! But wary.
I think, though, this might be the year when I pick up the Tarot more seriously. As an introspective, spiritual practice. I’ll put some effort into it. Maybe I’ll actually learn something, not just pretend.
So I pulled out the cards this morning and I did a four card spread that I found somewhere online, and it was relevant enough. Then I started reading some Tarot blogs, subscribed to a Tarot newsletter and researched ways to shuffle the cards. While doing all this, one of the cards in my deck kept coming up on top. It was the first card on top when I pulled the deck out of its box and then it continued to appear from behind all the others, as I worked with the cards. So it finally occurred to me that maybe it had something to say. And since my Tarot abilities are limited right now to the booklet that came with the deck, I went there to find out what it meant.
“Knave of Wands: One who is learning about magic and energy.”
“Receiving Room” is a short story that came to me quickly and complete. I wrote it in a couple of sessions, which is very rare for me (I tend to rewrite to death). It was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had writing a short story. I never had to struggle to find its connecting threads or its ending. It remains one of my favorites. And now it has been published in Moonlit Dreams/Moonlit Nightmares, a collection of short stories compiled by Laura Seeber of Antimony and Elder Lace Press.
My story is in great company there. The other stories included are
A Consultation by Moonlight By Thomas Vaughn Phosphene by Sarah Walker A Visitation by Parineeta Singh When the Moon is Full by Dawn J. Stevens The Sound of Stars by A.P. Sessler One Stormy Night… by Jesse Moak Anamnesis by Cara Fox The Magic Circle by Dimitris Psomadellis The First Victims Club by Shaun Avery To Make A Violin by L. Seeber The Experiment by Todd P. TaylorYou can read a great review of the book by Jamie Ryder on The Comic Vault. (Thank you so much, Jamie!)
The book is available at the moment on the publisher’s site, but will soon be available with the major book retailers. I’ll keep you informed!
In this article on Something Rhymed, a blog celebrating female literary friendships, she talks about her new book, a biography of Mary Taylor, an intimate friend of Charlotte Bronte’s, with her own literary ambitions and radical views of the world and of women’s standing in it.
Rachel generously mentions my name in the article and makes it sound like I had some involvement with the book, although from where I stand it was more than minuscule and of little consequence, not at all deserving of all the praise.
But our friendship is indeed as special as it sounds. And I feel a lot of gratitude. I hope she finds a wonderful publisher for the Mary Taylor biography, a truly spectacular work (believe me, I know!).
I’m very excited and grateful to Death’s Head Press for publishing my work, and in such amazing company too.
“The Maiden of the Triangle” is a feverish dream of a woman’s escape and journey towards the freedom to be her own. It is set in a small tourist town in the mountains, inspired by a place where I used to go to summer camp in Romania. It is there thate a fickle pastoral deity looms larger than present or history. It’s a story unlike most I’ve written, and I’m very fond of it and very happy it has found its place in this beautiful book.