Monday, September 30, 2013

Miranda with a capital K

Started off today feeling mega-anxious about work prospecting and trying my very best to focus on other stuff, to take my mind off the constant naggling going on in my head.   Anyway, after doing all sorts of stuff today on the interwebmachine, I managed to secure some work paying reasonably well for today and tomorrow and things are looking up a bit, starting to see more things being uploaded by the company I 'work for'. I actually work for myself but you get the drift, or do you? Oh well, keep up.

H and I watched an episode of the British soap 'Miranda' over the weekend.  I am now a bit of a fan of Miranda Hart  she's me but younger.  What a Klutz she is but you can't help admire her klutziness.  It's refreshing to watch someone who isn't botoxed up to the armpits, bleached blonde and orange from too much spray tan. She's intelligent, even if is she is a klutz.  Her klutziness only seems to underscore how ridiculously pompous and anal, the so-called 'together' people are in each episode. I am definitely going to be watching more Miranda, she's a girl after my own heart.   Oh God, I unintentionally made a pun.  oops.

I've managed to get my account sorted out with Art and am now waiting for those lofty personages to decide whether the images and text I sent to them for my profile and picture descriptions is good enough for their auspicious site.   More on that soon, I hope.

The blog to book or book to blog (I can't remember) I am in the process of ... er, writing, is coming along, need to get stuck in before Friday (which is my personal deadline to have most of it written). Then I'm going to be asking for advice, so all you critics out there better start girding up your loins.  Or whatever it is that critics do before they critique.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

got sick

Little man has had a bit of a bad cough most of this week, so of course yours truly has ended up with it as well. Yucks.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Peace out

I'm wondering today whether it's worthwhile continuing LAAC.  I have deleted blogs in the past (the very first LAAC actually back in the early 2000's and I regretted doing so ever since).  I am getting on average 60 to 130 hits/views a day but not much in the way of comments/feedback. Most of my audience is UK, USA or Indonesian in source but I am also getting regular visits from China, Australia, France, Russia and the Ukraine.  I suppose most of these visitors are 'bots but not all of them are. I've had over 8,000 visitors since I started this blog (nowhere near as many as LAAC, the original).  What's flummoxing me is why people are reticent to say 'Hi' or maybe even to tell me to shut up.  

From my Stats (I use other tracking programmes, not just Blogger statistics), there are a lot of return visitors.  These people are not coming to me from an internet search result, or from another page, they are coming here as a direct link, which means they have bookmarked this site. Or they are using a site feeder but generally, from what I can see, they are using a direct link.  So hello, again, to you, if you are popping in to see what shite I've been writing about recently.  Next time, can you say hello?  Or 'eff off.  It would be quite cool, either way. Or not.

Of course, these comments don't apply to persons who do decide to comment here with frequency (you know who you are) and I really do appreciate the input.  It makes you feel as though you aren't just sitting in a corner, talking to yourself (which is almost the title of another Blog I've got running at the moment over on Wordpress).

Cheerio and have a goodly weekend.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There's always Bonnie Scotland ...

I had a chat with my aunt yesterday morning on the phone, can't believe it's only a few more weeks and then I'll be driving myself off to Wales.  The day after we'll getting on the train for our holiday up to Scotland.  I am so looking forward to this chance to be on my own with ... erm ... adult company for what is tantamount* to a long weekend.  Hopefully this is the first of many more to come. I seriously dig Scotland.

This morning when I got back from dropping the kiddies off at school, I had a weird type of déjà vu experience in the kitchen.  Just for a nano-second, it seemed like I'd just come back into the kitchen of our home back in South Africa and my son was calling to me.  I almost half-turned around expecting him to be standing there.  So for just a split second: 

1.  I felt deliriously excited and happy.
2.  Then somewhat stupid and glad I was on my own, so nobody else could have witnessed it.
3.  Next, I was angry that my mind had decided to play such a cruel little re-wind trick.
4.  Ultimately, though, I was left feeling desolate, depressed and wanting to cry because I miss him so much.
All in the space of about 1/1,000th of a second.  

Otherwise, it's a misty, semi-foggy morning. Will be warming up to sunshine and a warm day later on. I've got to find something to do now to earn some money because the transcript company I've been 'working' for since February seem to be drying up on the work front.  Ho hum.

*Hardly anyone uses that word 'tantamount' anymore.  Maybe I should do a post a week featuring an obscure word, that's always a fun project.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Take a pill ... it'll go away.

I started reading through piles and piles of journals and diaries that I have brought with me from SA over this past weekend.  They start at 1983 – when my twins were born – although I know that I had many more at one time, dating back to 1968 when I first emigrated from UK to SA.  I must have chucked them away. 
I have been trying to read through all entries I’ve made concerning my daughter and events in her life that could have brought about schizophrenia.     I’ve found quite a few things that may have had a direct bearing, or could have even caused it. 

However, that’s not what this post is about.

In reading through the journals I became increasingly aware that there was a continuous pattern in the entries related to how I felt about MY life and psychological state.  It came as a bit of a shock when I realised that for perhaps the larger portion of my adult life I would appear to have been exhibiting the signs of someone who was (and maybe still is) clinically depressed.   The diary entries (and there are thousands) speak for themselves (no, I'm not going to drive you all nuts posting excerpts) and the more I read them, the more depressed I became!

So I had a look on Google today to see what the professionally-observed signs of clinical depression actually are, to see if this is really what’s been going on in my head since oh, well 1969 or thereabouts.   I went to the NHS website here.  The list of symptoms is as per below and I’ve put my comment alongside in capitals (and seriously, I haven't exaggerated). 

Psychological symptoms include:
  • continuous low mood or sadness YES, VERY OFTEN
  • feeling hopeless and helpless YES, VERY OFTEN
  • having low self-esteem  YES, ALL THE TIME
  • feeling tearful YES, VERY OFTEN
  • feeling guilt-ridden YES, VERY OFTEN
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others YES, VERY OFTEN 
  • having no motivation or interest in things NOT OFTEN, COMES AND GOS IN STAGES
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life OFTEN, YES
  • feeling anxious or worried  ALL THE TIME
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself  I’VE HAD SUICIDAL THOUGHTS MANY TIMES – not self-harm though.
Physical symptoms include:
  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual  DON'T THINK SO.
  • change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased) ALL THE TIME – my weight swings about like a yoyo  
  •  constipation OCCASIONALLY. 
  • unexplained aches and pains QUITE FREQUENT.
  • lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido) BIG YES TO THAT
  • changes to your menstrual cycle NOT APPLICABLE BUT WAS AN ISSUE AT ONE STAGE
  • disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)  ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY.  
Social symptoms include:
  • not doing well at work  NOT APPLICABLE – I don't believe this applies to me at all.  If anything, it's the opposite. 
  • taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends  VERY OFTEN, in fact let me rephrase that ALL THE TIME.
  • neglecting your hobbies and interests  SOMETIMES but not very often - they are, after all, the things that keep me 'sane'.
  • having difficulties in your home and family life ONE LONG BATTLE basically from 1969 to 2012 (i.e. all the time I lived in SA)     

So if you were a psychiatrist, what would you say?  Am I clinically depressed? Should I go see someone?  Then what?  I’m not interested in going onto anti-depressants, specifically because I know I have had the above feelings for the better part of my adult life, which would mean that I would need to be on anti-depressants for the rest of it.  Not interested in that. What’s the alternative?  Carry on, don’t dwell on it?  Get over yourself (as everyone always says).  Am I a write off?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why am I such a lazy old biyatch?

I’m battling inertia again.  Now that the kiddies are at school almost full day (well up until 3pm most days), I have a lot of time on my hands and things aren’t panning out the way I was thinking they would.  I guess I’m going through a period of adjustment, or I’m just a lazy old cow but whatever is going on, I’m not happy with it.  I can’t seem to get myself into gear to do much at all – and I have so many things to do!

I  keep telling myself that I’m a selfish, spoilt brat and why the fuck am I whining, millions of people would cut out their eye out with a spoon for a chance to be able to ‘work at home’ and potter about doing their other side projects whenever they pleased.

Why do I feel so guilty?
Why can’t I get stuff done?

I made all these plans to do transript work on X,Y, Z days, writing on W days, Paintings on P days … and so on and so on … and so far this week :

1. Monday I seemed to do nothing except wait around for transcript audios that never came; stare at kiddies empty rooms; fold up kiddies clothes (twice).  Then got all energetic and actually did some research into the structure of my blog-to-book that I've started about schizophrenia.  Wrote lots of shite down in the car whilst waiting outside school for kiddies to finish.

2. Tuesday – farted about tidying up, doing washing, fixing a lot of South African business cock ups (that, to be fair, actually took most of the day). Tried in vain to get some work out of the transcript company but it looks like that's dried up at the moment. Got depressed about that, so coloured my hair natural honey blonde).  Posted letter to my Aunt in Wales, bought Digestive biscuits (big mistake). Sat in car again for ten minutes waiting for one of the kiddies to finish her activities, took other kiddy to toilet at school, came home, stopped wars.  Wnt to library with kiddies - exchanged gazillion books, read stories, did more washing, didn't make dinner cos I ran out of momentum.

3. Wednesday got off my arse, after doing a bit of ‘writing’ (cough) on my blog-to-book, as well as some research.  Did some painting- actually er I finished a painting (of sorts) and worked on another one.  Spent the afternoon at school supporting other child doing martial arts for the first time. Came home, caught up on more SA business work, cleaned up a bit, read stories, made dinner.

4.  Today, spent the whole of the morning, sorting out SA business stuff and couriers. Tidied up kitchen and stared at this bloody laptop. Had two cups of coffee and six Digestive biscuits.

I started the blog-to-book on Blogger but everytime I log out of my current profile and into the blog-to-book profile, everything goes all weird and I can’t check my regular email from the same machine.  Bloody hell.  So I am now going to write the notes in my notebook, long hand and when I think they are enough for a ‘post’, then I’ll log out of my Gmail profile that I use for everything and back into the other one for the blog-to-book.  Yes, I know there are ways you can have multiple sign-ins but it’s not working for me, for some reason.  Oh the joys of internet / IT crap.

Blah blah.
Shoots self in head.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I can hear a pin drop ...

So quiet.
Little man started full day school this morning (well they finish at 3pm but it's technically considered full day).  And I'm lost!

I've been wandering around the house, doing odd jobs, sorting stuff out, making his bed, tidying his clothes, sorting out his toys and books.  I've done my real day job work already. Looked at canvasses that are prepared and ready for paint but don't have the inclination to even get the paints out. Stared at my sewing machine and the material I bought about four weeks ago to make myself a top and again, can't be arsed with that.   Had a cursory scan over my 'notes' for the book ... oh fuck it, I'm not interested in that for sure at the moment.

I'm consumed, wondering how he's doing, if he's getting on okay with all of the kids. If he's not too overwhelmed by it all.  I know he isn't.  But ...

I was NOT like this when my own sons started school, I was actually so bloody relieved, couldn't wait for them to be out of my hair. But it's not the same with your grandson and especially this grandson. My daughter was only saying the other day when we were driving back from the shops, how attached I am to him, how he's completely filled my heart!   It's true, I really do 'only have eyes for you' when it comes to him.

So I guess I have 'empty nest syndrome' hey? ... oh well, I'm just going to enjoy (?) it for today, tomorrow I can get stuck into all the other things that I'm supposed to be doing with my time.  Roll on quarter to 3. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Learning as you go along.

I spent much of my free time yesterday preparing two canvasses for paint that I will be chucking on them during the course of this week.  

When I have a few minutes to spare, usually in the evening before I go to sleep, I spend a lot of it dabbling about on YouTube.  I have found so many artists and other people there who give of their time freely, helping a person become more proficient and skilled in what they do (artwise).  There is a plethora of experts just on the topic of marketing art, for example and I've learnt a lot from these people already  - it's not all bollox and worthless pre-ambles to them trying to sell you their book on selling art.   There are many people who spend a lot of time and take great care in giving tips and hints that would actually take years to learn on your own. It takes a lot of the guess work out of the whole exercise.

I found a chap last night who gave very clear instructions about how to best photograph art and what not to do.  He was from Saatchi, so I guess I should take note, you don't really get better experts than perps from those hallowed halls.  My initial reservations about photographing my art as it hung above an expensive leather lounge suite were correct. There should be no distractions, no peripheral stuff to dress the photo with.  Just the piece of art, cropped and well photographed in natural light - just as I've been doing all along.  It's gratifying to know that I'm kinda on the right track. 

It's also depressing, sometimes, trawling through YouTube and watching other Youber Artists display their body of work, or show you around their studio.  One chap, who I admire quite a lot as an artist, doesn't have a studio per se but he has his art stacked up all over his house.  And his website is full of images of completed pieces.  I feel very sad, when I see that because I've dumped or destroyed a huge bulk of my artistic output over the years.  I can only imagine how different it would have been for me, if there'd been YouTube when I was in my Twenties.  I've also realised the importance of getting organised, even for part-time artists like me, organisation of the workplace is fundamental to producing good quality work in a reasonable timeframe.  So I have to go out this weekend and get better lights and a few large plastic outdoor tables (the kind that usually come with an Umbrella and 4 garden chairs).  I had these tables when we were in South Africa - large ones, as well as a big wooden bench and I'm starting to get into a right muddle when it comes to finding my materials! The garage where I'm working looks like a bomb site.

It's also surprising to me how many artists are reluctant to sell their work, or have ethical issues about it. Why?  It's selfish to hang onto the stuff, specially if it's not on display in your home but stacked up in a dusty corner of your studio, or worse, in the attic or cellar.   If you've spent time creating something, set it free, let someone else enjoy it and allow them to explore what you were trying to achieve when you put the piece into conceptualisation. I don't have any qualms about selling my work. I just hope that I can do the right research into the pricing and make sure that I don't sell myself cheap.  I suppose that's a mistake that most artists make, or anyone starting out selling their own products ... then again, starting low you can always increase your prices.  If you start too high, it's very bad business practice to reduce the price immediately afterwards.  I understood that with the online adult toy shop that I ran back in South Africa. If a person really wants the product, the price is right and they have confidence in the company or individual selling it, then you've got a sale. It's not really magic, it's straight forward common sense.  I always ask myself, would I pay that much for this thing?  And if I wouldn't, then I'm pretty sure many other people wouldn't either. 

I will have about 10 new pieces ready by the end of this month (or sooner, if I have my way).  So it's going to be very interesting to see what I can sell on my first outing.  I am aiming to have several 'price points' and see what does best. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Coming soon to a car boot sale near you ...

From next week Monday, I will have the house to myself for the whole day - well at least up until 3pm!  I'm so looking forward to that.   At the moment, little man is at home in the mornings - he goes to school from 1pm to 3pm every afternoon until Wednesday this week and then he will be going for a bit longer.  It seems quite ridiculous that they have to 'baby' the kids into going to school and stagger the amount of hours they spend there until they are up to full day.  Little man is used to going to school and when we were in SA he was at creche full day anyway - in fact he was away from his parents (and me) from 730am until 5pm each day, so much longer separation and it didn't bother him at all.

I'm excited that I am actually getting work together sufficient for a mini-exhibition.  I am quite pleased with the things that I've managed to salvage and prepare for a 'show'.  Even though I'm going to start tentatively selling art at car boot stalls, it gives me something to prepare for and if nothing else, I might manage to meet people who know where to market semi-professional art properly. I would be so cool if I could actually sell some of my latest work.

 Norfolk has a huge art community, there are numerous flyers, brochures and posters from various organisations and studios, put out for free and readily available in the information displays at your local Tescos, or the Co-op.   I picked a brochure booklet up last week and it was quite an eye-opener to see just how many galleries and associations there are that concentrate on promoting emerging artists in this part of the world.  Hope I can find someone who likes my work, enough to give me a commission, then I'll be well and truly happy. 

Anyway, once I have gathered the pieces together, I'm going to try and take half-decent photos in relevant settings, that actually do the work justice.   I've noticed a lot of online artists like to 'pose' their paintings in some minimalist Bauhaus styled interior, hanging pompously above expensive looking leather couches and what not ... I think that's lank pretentious but if it works for the 'pros', then I suppose I shouldn't knock it.   I will actually use a tripod to take the photos this time, so they're not blurred :)  Being professional is such hard work. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bloody 'ell ... 2 posts in one day.

Zen and the art of communication. 

I don't know.  I'm just wanting to waffle away textually.  (Have to be careful how you type that).

So for the past couple of weeks, I keep thinking about someone who's name starts with a G.  He knows who he is. Kinda hoping that he will pop me an email. 
Out of the blue.
Just to say hello.
I'd be happy, even if he used one of his famous aliases.   

Psychobabbling again.

There are so many logical theories about so-called 'psychic' awareness/ability in humans.  Mainly centering around the fact that it is a load of old bollocks and not possible etc. etc.  

I don't consider myself a gullible person, or someone prone to herd mentality, or following the cliche but as I get older, I've come to recognise certain things that happen physiologically to me have a direct bearing on what's going to happen very soon.   And usually bad stuff.   I begin to feel an overwhelming sense of dread, it permeates every fibre of my being, I go to sleep feeling sick and anxious, I can't sleep.  When I wake up, I'm completely jittery and prone to jump at the slightest thing.  I want to burst into tears. 

As the day progresses, it's like I'm just waiting for the proverbial Sword of Damocles to fall on my head at any given moment. There's no rational reason why I would feel like this. 

Yes, I'm still working in the immigration business (part of my multi-tasking during the day) and by extension, one has to be constantly ready for a disaster.  But that side of my business life is nowhere near as stressful as it was when we were in South Africa. 

I wish I could figure out where these feelings come from, so I could send them back.   But I guess they are a kind of early warning system, so I can in some way steel myself for the crap that's gonna fall on my head in a few minutes' time. 

I had these feelings of complete dread all weekend, even though it was a lovely couple of days off and I did lots of things that nurtured my creative soul, I still could not sleep and woke up this morning ready for Armageddon.  And for the past couple of hours I've done nothing but fight with clients about stuff that's completely out of my control.   Not normal Monday morning blues at all, real Wrath of Titan battling type of stuff.   I want to go home.

Oh I am home.

Well then I'll hide in a cupboard, maybe they'll go away.