Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who supports the support?

In two short weeks I'll be going solo.

My aunt, a school teacher, will be losing her leave-of-absence and has to return to work to keep her health insurance and benefits.

That means I'll be helping my uncle all on my own!

Getting blood-work at the clinic, his weekly shots, chemotherapy treatments, changing colostomy supplies, documenting all the medications and appointments.

In the past it would be my aunt, uncle, and I with my aunt keeping track of EVERYTHING. I was the back-up support....assisting as needed. Now I'll be taking on the lead role.

A birthday card for my aunt last week from one of her 3rd grade students

And I wonder....who supports the support? Who's going to help ME when my aunt goes back to work? What if I can't handle all of it by myself?

When discussing this about a month ago, my aunt said, "We'll have to work out a schedule. One that your mental health can stand."

I almost laughed when she said that but realized she was serious.

I guess the wear and tear of it all has gotten to me....apparently it shows. I was already depressed and felt slammed by life before any of this happened. Add this to the mix and that leaves me worried.

One of my biggest triggers is being boxed in, trapped, or being forced into something. And yet I am choosing to help.

After all, helping is about sacrifice. Sacrifice is about giving to others....even at your own expense. It no longer matters what I want. It just needs to get done. Simple as that.

I'll be spending much more time at their house too, almost every day, because my aunt feels more comfortable knowing someone is with him. That'll eat into my time to draw and paint. I'll have to find a way around that. Maybe bring art supplies with me or something.

Once school is out my aunt will be off for summer vacation and things will be back to normal. But that'll be eight weeks away!

All I can do now is dig deep and pray to God that I don't get burned out or overwhelmed once the transition starts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I must have done something bad.....

"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good."

- Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer as Maria and Captain von Trapp

In one of my FAVORITE movies, The Sound of Music, there's a scene where Maria and the Captain finally confess their feelings for one another and both sing the song "Something Good".

The lyrics suggest that the love they feel right now, this amazing experience, must be because of something good they had done when younger and are being rewarded as adults.

"I must have done something bad"
Watercolor with acrylic in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

And here I am shattered and alone. Maybe this explains the way I'm feeling. Like I'm falling apart. Broken into pieces. A sad numbness.

That I must have done something terrible as a child and am being punished now. Or perhaps in another life I was one evil person am paying for it in this lifetime.

That must be it. I must have done something terribly wrong at some point.....I must have done something bad.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chicago lakefront sunrise!

I've been feeling overwhelmed, emotional, and worried lately.

When I reached Buckingham Fountain, I began breathing so heavily, gasping the cold air, as if I ran for miles. I felt so manic that I actually yelped in high pitches like an animal. I needed to see it to calm myself down. I just HAD to!

The sky changes so quickly in the morning and time was of the essence!

Buckingham Fountain in silhouette!

I've lived in Chicago my whole life and can you believe I've never seen the sun rise over Lake Michigan?

That is until now!

Overlooking the lake

I had some errands to run in the city yesterday and took an early train downtown.

I arrived in the Loop around 6:40 a.m. just as the sun started to rise! Something deep inside made me want to see it. So I high-tailed it past Buckingham Fountain to the lakefront, sat down, and just watched the magic unfold.

Close-up shot of the crisscrossed markings on the water!

I pressed my body against the metal railing and stared ahead like it was one giant movie screen. The deep pinks of the sky changing into warm golden yellows. The cool breezes creating the most intricate waffle pattern on the lake. The serenity of the view.

It's all starting to glow.....

Seagulls in groups of 10 or so circled overhead in a loud frenzy looking for morning tidbits while solitary ducks waded through the water at a leisurely pace.

Which one had the better life? The ones part of a group or the ones all by themselves? Were the isolated ducks sad? Lonely? Or did they just accept that's how life was for them? That they'll go through things alone most of the time?

Very close now.....

As I took it all in I wondered what my future holds and if there's even one worth holding. Will I always keep coming to this same spot all alone? Will I ever be happy? Will I ever have the life I want?

And as more seagulls flew over, some of them pooped in the water nearby and my thoughts suddenly shifted to, "They better not poop on me!"


And when the sun finally emerged and became too intense for my eyes, I knew it was time to go.

I guess that's what life is made of. Little moments all blended together to create something much larger. Too bad those moments can't always be good ones like this.

Ahhhh.....but it was lovely while it lasted.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green never tasted so good!

My mom made marble pistachio cake over the weekend!

A gorgeous shade of green for St. Patrick's Day and the perfect way to get my chocolate fix!

It's days like this that I'm glad I'm skinny and can afford to gain a few pounds!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fall leaf W.I.P. - Step 1 - Drawing

Yep, you read the title right. Fall leaf.

That's how friggin' behind I am!

This painting was supposed to be a companion piece to "Crumbling" way back in November.


To make it more current, I thought it might be neat to do a leaf painting with a snowy sidewalk underneath. But now spring is this weekend and all the snow has melted!

Fuckity-fuck and super shit!

I even debated putting this piece on hold for six more months because by then it'll be autumn all over again.

I've walked past this drawing every day as it screamed, "Paint me! Paint me! Paint me already you fool!"

And you know when your own works of art start talking back to you, rudely no less, that you've got problems!

So I decided to go ahead and finish this painting off once and for all! Regardless whether it's winter, spring, or summer. I don't care. I just want it over and done with so I can focus on other things.

Either that or it gets ripped up!

Because its size is so small, the next step is also the final one. To lay down the paint and add any last minute details.

And away we go!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Grey Day.....

Even though everything was on time, I ran towards my neighborhood train station. And I was in such a rush I forgot my gloves! Ughh! That's how badly I wanted to leave.

It's been almost three LONG months since I've gone downtown. 77 days to be exact!

Nervousness set in but the train heading into the city wasn't crowded by any means and I had my own little space. Thank God for that!

A 35-minute ride later and I was at the terminal. I walked up the exit slowly. Step by step. Taking my time and finally entering the heart of the Loop. It felt like going home. Seeing all the people and zooming traffic was a bit overwhelming at first but I pushed through that.

It was chilly outside with cloudy skies and no sun in sight! Rain looked like it could fall at any moment. PERFECT! As one blogger coined the phrase, it was "A Grey Day."

I even felt kind of attractive for once! Dare I say....cute even. It must be the weather.

Magnificent, no?

After running some necessary errands I paid the mighty Buckingham Fountain a visit.

Currently it's still shut off so very few people sightsee it this time of year. I LOVE THAT! It's like I have the whole place to myself. There's something terribly romantic about it and it's no surprise you'll usually find couples meandering the area.

Perhaps one of these days I'll be going back with someone instead of all alone.

*deep sigh*

Walking down the aisle.....

Just north of the fountain is a wonderful spot adjacent to the rose garden in Grant Park. It's easily overlooked but there's a pathway lined with trees on both sides.

During cloudy or rainy days, the branches look especially full and create a tree tunnel! I always envision a couple getting married here. A woodland aisle if you will. Ah, to steal a kiss here.......

Squawk squawk squawk!

At the end of the path were some inquisitive geese getting a quick sip from melted snow puddles and munching on the nearby grass.

The skyline disappearing into the fog.....

From there I made a beeline to the lakefront, sat near the edge, and deeply inhaled the coolness.


I could sit here for hours.....

Lake Michigan moved in smooth, dreamlike ripples while seagulls cried overhead. And in the distance, the sky and water merged so perfectly you couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

Two ducks taking a nap near the lake!

It was all so private and peaceful. And I found myself smiling. Feeling calm. That surprised me! Even chilled fingers couldn't ruin the moment. To be kissed here as well....ah, that would truly be lovely. Can you tell I have romance on the brain? (^_^)

I guess the more remote spots of Chicago will do that to you.

Until we meet again.....

The sun dared to emerge briefly but quickly went back into hiding. It knew better than to ruin MY day!!

In the end, it wasn't earth-shattering or cataclysmic or a lot of time spent but it was a nice day for me. A chance to escape and forget things for a little while. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be boo-hooing by the end of next week and things will be back to normal! LOL

Monday, March 1, 2010

Auntie and Uncle've got mail!

It's been almost two weeks since we found out the results of the CT scans.

According to the oncologist, the cancer hasn't reduced any but hasn't spread either. A stable stage.

I admit to being disappointed by the news. I'd hoped for there to be some sign the tumor was shrinking even just a little bit. But perhaps no news is the best thing for right now.

That means the chemotherapy would continue and we'd have to wait for new scans after six more treatments. This has been going on since September of last year. A part of me feels very heavy knowing this will drag on many months more....if not longer.

My aunt and uncle just seemed relieved nothing got worse. I'm sure they were disappointed by the news somewhat too.

To help boost their morale, I made them some Mail Art!

Here's the front:

Markers and ink on standard mailing envelope - 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" (NFS)

My uncle is a fan of big cats so a lion seemed like the natural choice. I wanted it to evoke power, pain, and struggle.

The backside!

On the back of the envelope I wrote all the things I've said to my uncle since I began helping both of them:

"Breathe deep. Look straight ahead. Nothing to it but to do it. One day at a time."

This arrived to them in the mail earlier today. Thank God! Now I don't have to worry about it getting lost or stolen! *whew*

Now they have a visual reminder of sorts. A piece of me on the days I'm not there to help.