Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting organized!

It's that time again where I start getting organized, not wanting things out of place and making sure everything is ready for the new year.

And of course that includes my blog!

Here is EVERY single post for the entire year all neatly packaged in one spot just for you!

Feel free to reread older posts you may have missed and for all you newcomers, you no longer have an excuse not to get caught up!

Here. We. Go!

God, what a hard year. I lost a lot but gained some things too. I'm hoping the new year will be a fruitful and happy one for us all!

See everyone next year!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

God won't let me have what I want.

A blogging friend asked if I was going to church yesterday for Christmas. I explained I hadn't attended mass since I last blogged about it.

"Why keep praying for the same things over and over if He won't let me have what I want anyways?" was my reply. "He already knows what's in my heart, why constantly repeat myself?"

Maybe sensing my frustration, the fellow blogger suggested a way of expressing it.

"What would that look like?" he asked. "How would you draw that?"

Reflecting on it for a little while, the only solid thing that came to mind weren't images but words.....

"God won't let me have what I want."
Ink pens and marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

All I had hoped and prayed for was written within the cross. How fitting that the background words obscure it making everything I asked God for become illegible.

Close-up detail

After finishing this piece and giving it some thought, my initial reaction was rather childish.

Perhaps He won't let me have what I want but is giving me what I need for right now instead.

Ahh, things to ponder.....

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holding his hand.

By that point we had e-mailed back and forth for a few weeks. I felt I knew this blogger somewhat. He talked of being tired and in chronic pain.

Not wanting to pry too much, I suggested he must be going through something other than being anemic and suffering an old sports injury.

When I read his response my heart dropped and I became teary-eyed.

"I've been HIV+ for 18 years," he wrote, "And I have AIDS."

That wasn't the answer I expected.

He told me most of his friends had died of the virus and that he thinks about dying. He talked about needing Procrit shots and blood transfusions.

That made me think of my uncle, who needed to get a Procrit shot every week along with the occasional blood transfusion while he battled colon cancer and chronic leukemia.

But I was there holding my uncle's hand for EVERY shot when it would sting and burn into his skin, squeezing his fingers as the tears ran down his face.

And I wondered if this blogger had anyone there to hold his hand during the various shots or had someone to accompany him to the numerous doctor's visits.

So to show my support I wanted to send him something. A piece of Mail Art as my way of holding his hand.

This is what I'm mailing out to him:

"Blood Orchid"
Markers and ink on standard mailing envelope - 5" x 7" (NFS)

It's a close-up illustration of an orchid drenched in blood. It seemed appropriate and beautiful and tragic.

The backside!

On the back of the envelope I wrote down words of significance which circle around a silver star:

Love. Compassion. Special. Hope. Survivor. Struggle. Tears. Life. Pain. Fear. Support. Future. Try. Strength. Live. Endure. Courage. Cry. Hard. Believe. Emotional. Trust. Dream. Free.

It must be a hard life for him. Hopefully this will remind him that he's not alone.....


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Always something there to remind me.

It contained a list of all his medications, insurance info, chemo and hospital appointments, and any questions to ask the doctors.

I had wanted to throw it out once he passed away this summer but that seemed wrong....almost disrespectful, yet I didn't want to hold onto it and remember him that way.

I still have my pocket notebook with all the notes I took while my uncle was dying of colon cancer.

My aunt and I were his primary caregivers and that notebook helped me stay organized.

But it was also a reminder of the pain, frustration, hope, and tears we all endured. I chose today to let it go, which would've been his 73rd birthday.

So one by one I ripped out each sheet, glued it down as a collage, and transformed it into LOVE.

Paper and marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

This will be a rough holiday season for my aunt. Thanksgiving, his birthday, Christmas, New Year's. Special days reminding her that he's no longer here.

But as I told my aunt earlier this morning, "I don't think he's gone. He's still around....just in a different form."

So with that said.....

Happy Birthday, Uncle Bill!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dean Facts!

I haven't done one of these in over a year-and-a-half! Yikes!

Since there are so many newcomers to my blog lately I thought it'd be nice to share some little tidbits about myself. Facts about, well, me! (Who else, silly!)

In no particular, here we go:
  • When Martha Stewart comes on the overhead speakers at the arts-and-crafts store I work at, telling shoppers in a prerecorded message about her variety of glitters, I close my eyes and pretend she's talking just to me.....
"It's a good thing."
  • Before getting braces in college, my orthodontist made a plaster cast of my teeth. I still look at it from time-to-time as a reminder of all the gaps I once had.
  • I have an intense craving for chocolate cake! Moist, rich, and sweet with a light chocolate frosting on top. It's just what I need when I'm having a bad day. As I always say, "When you're feelin' down, a piece of cake can turn things aroun'!"
  • As an artist, the true thrill comes while creating a painting NOT after. Drawing, sketching, and/or painting a piece is where the magic is. Once the work of art is finished, the high fades and I move onto the next piece.
  • I don't have a middle name.
  • When my dad died a part of me was relieved and glad he was gone.
  • I always feel a small amount of stress and anxiety before publishing a post on my blog (yes, even this one!).
  • I got 2nd place in my fourth grade spelling bee, losing to my other classmate, Kelly Z.
  • I'm the youngest of two older brothers....which means I'm the favorite!
  • Recently I've been watching late-night reruns of He-Man and She-Ra (I haven't seen those cartoons since childhood!). While walking to work in the morning, I'll hum the theme song and say in my head, "For the honor of Grayskull....I am She-Ra!"

Well, that's about it. If there's anything you'd like to know about me just ask and it might be in the next installment of "Dean Facts!"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm honored and I'm grateful.

When I saw the sudden surge of new followers I thought, I guess a lot of people are passionate about Martha Stewart!

And then three words made it joyously clear what had happened:

Jumping up and down like a school girl, a smile spread across my face.

Last Friday my blog was given the prestigious honor of being included among the Blogs of Note! What exciting news!! I almost couldn't believe it!

Me! ME!!!

Oh my God.

Wait....let me express that a bit more adequately.

****Oh my fucking God!! Weeeeeheeeeee!!!****

At first I thought they made a mistake.

Why me? Why MY blog?

Blogging has allowed me to connect with some amazing people. I couldn't do any of it without all of you so I'm sharing this honor with EVERYONE, from the one-time visitors to the loyal supporters.

There were times where I thought life was going to swallow me whole. This blog gave me an outlet to express my pain and frustration and discoveries along the way. It has saved me on more than one occasion and I'm certain it will continue to do so.

When the world seems lonely and cruel, you all help me more than you know....and for that I'm honored and I'm grateful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I didn't cry.

My emotional defenses were wearing thin. I kept telling myself, "Please don't cry, Dean. Please don't cry. Just a little more and I'll be out of here."

Today was the annual potluck Christmas party at my city job. Among the festivities, everyone in my department brings a dish (or two) and just plays games and eats for several hours.

The first Christmas party a few years back left me in tears because I felt so out of place. I CANNOT handle social situations! I swore never to do it again. And these are people I actually know and like. That's the sad part.

I dread it every year. There's never enough seats or anywhere to eat. Everybody just grabs whatever office chair they can find, eating at cluttered desks. But I wanted to at least make an attempt this time.

After swiping in today, I went into the back where the party was already in full swing.

As I put my things away, one of my coworkers affectionally said in front of everybody, "There's Dean the baker and pasta maker." (I brought two cakes and pasta salad as my contribution). That was all it took to make me uncomfortable enough to leave.

I quietly exited to use the bathroom and never went back to the party! I just stayed out on the floor and finished things up front....preoccupying myself with work.

A part of me felt defeated, like I failed, but I'm tired of trying to be something I'm not.

I'm awkward, boring, quiet. I don't do well at small talk and groups of people make me anxious, make me shut down. Maybe I should just accept that.

And when I went to the back to use the bathroom a couple hours later, I could hear the laughter and boisterous activity through the office doors. That's just not me, I thought.

At that point I felt very alone and sad yet that seemed normal and comfortable to me.

I must've checked my watch a hundred times. It seemed like the LONGEST four hours. I just wanted the workday to be over with.

And finally I was on the train home. I closed my eyes and sighed because I got through the day....and I didn't cry.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Martha Stewart, aliens, and rust.

We were standing in a picked-over aisle at the arts-and-crafts store. Just Martha Stewart and me. She was clearly distraught, apparently because of a fight she had with her daughter, Alexis.

I pointed to the empty shelves and said, "I know you're upset but we've got to stock these shelves with new merchandise. Customers won't be able to buy your products unless the items are available on the sales floor. Let's try focusing on that right now."

And then Martha, still teary-eyed, turned toward me and smiled.....

That was the dream I had last night.

You know the arts-and-crafts job is getting to me when it infiltrates my precious sleep!


Obviously it was a LONG day yesterday. I had to work in the early morning at the crafts store and then the late-night shift at my city job. With about five hours to kill in between both jobs, I decided to spend some quality time on myself.

So I went to the Shedd Aquarium for several hours, just watching and observing the plethora of fish and aquatic life on display there. There were times where it felt rather lonely being the only one among the hand-holding couples and raucous families that littered the area.

But before this blogpost goes on yet another tangent, let me address what I really wanted to get to!

While walking from the aquarium, I spotted these things along the lakefront.....

What in the world?

A grouping of about 60 of them all huddled together.

Thick, heavy chains secured to disk-like blocks of cement and metal. They almost reminded me of UFO's....with an alien, nautical feel to them. So unique and mysterious!

Your guess is as good as mine!

Maybe these are anchors pulled out of Lake Michigan for the coming winter? Does anyone reading this know?

I adore that wave pattern along the edge!

Equally as eye-catching was the deep-orange rust slowly overtaking each one, making them that much more special.

Surely they'd be transported elsewhere soon so I felt compelled to document them with my camera even though I had no idea what they were.

Maybe Martha will tell me the next time we meet in dreamland!