Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stepping OUT of my comfort zone!

They were cheering at us. The screams were deafening at times. They waved rainbow flags in the HOT sun. I'm talking about this year's Chicago Pride Parade....and I was in it!

The city department I work for was marching in this year's gay pride parade and I signed up to take part this past weekend. Me! ME!

I didn't want fear to keep me from getting out there and quite honestly who knows if I'll even be alive next year so I wanted to try while I had the chance. Not many can say they were actually IN the parade. So to have such special access was too tempting to pass up.

Before the event kicked off that day, I walked through Boystown to get a feel for what I was getting myself into. It was unusual being outside the barricades watching people reserve their spots when later on I'd be on the inside instead.

The parade route was over 1 1/2 hours of walking and when it finally began at noon I was in total survival mode.

You have to understand that I have major issues with crowds and I loathe sunny weather. Well there were people EVERYWHERE and the sun was out! But I did it anyway (with help from my sunblock spf 100).

It was so hard for me being around so many people but as my department walked through the procession I made it a point to wave and smile and make eye contact with everyone I could.

Thankfully out of the 25 of us, five were really outgoing and got the crowd revved up as we went by so it made it easier to engage the spectators when they so openly engaged us.

My anxiety levels were through the roof but overall this unique experience was more exciting than depressing.

I was quite disappointed I didn't meet anyone though. Everybody was either already paired up or part of a group. If I can't even meet ONE person at an event with hundreds of thousands of gays what chance do I have in my everyday, boring life? I fear I may be doomed to be alone and unloved forever.

But I understand. I would pass myself up too. Many times over. And it's difficult when you don't have any friends outside of work and have to do these types of things solo.

After my coworkers reached the end of the parade and slowly dispersed, I just wanted to go home, rest up, and cry a bit. It had been such a long day. Sensory overload for sure.

Would I have liked for things to turn out differently? Sure. Could I have been more outgoing with the crowd? Yes.

But I keep telling myself that I did really good this past Sunday. I stepped out of my comfort zone big-time and made it through intact. And maybe that's a good place to start.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I had sent her love.

It was a couple months after he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. His health was still good at that point.

We were watching TV together when the topic of love came up.

"Love comes in many forms," my uncle said, a bit distracted by the television, "but that's okay because they're all TRUE."

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my uncle's death and I know it'll be on my aunt's mind.

After my uncle passed, I continued helping my aunt as often as I could. But shortly thereafter I got hired at the arts-and-crafts store and was recalled by my city job after that.

I went from spending the night once a week, seeing my aunt most of the time, to maybe seeing her once a month, if that, when my work schedules would allow.

Thankfully my brothers and mom have kept her busy. Perhaps it's for the best because I think I remind my aunt of all the chemo visits, bloodwork, doctor's appointments, etc. that the three of us went through (a role the rest of the family never really experienced).

Even still, I'm sure this day will bring my aunt down so I wanted to send something colorful to cheer her up. Some Mail Art to lift her spirits and support her on this difficult day.

This is what I mailed.....

Speciality papers on archival backing board - 4 3/4" x 5 1/2" (NFS)

Similar to the hearts I sent out to bloggers last year, this one is slightly bigger in scale.

Backing board was cut into the shape of a heart (I was inspired by the one I saw two weeks ago). Next, decorative papers were cut into a variety of widths, glued down, then trimmed revealing the heart shape again.

Finally, the entire edge was lined with shimmering red glitter! Why not, I say!

The address side!

I'm happy to report that my aunt has been adjusting well this past year (or at least appears to be) though I'm certain she still misses my uncle terribly.

I feel bad not being there for her as much as I did in the past. And yet, even though I won't get to see my aunt today, I smiled, for through my Mail Art I had sent her love.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There will be other days.....

After a bout of terribly sunny, warm weather here in Chicago, today was right up my alley:. upper 60's, storm clouds everywhere, and occasional light rain.

But I did NOT go out to enjoy it. It's been a very draining week for me mentally and physically--feeling very alone, sad, worn out, and disappointed.

I just wanted to stay in on my day off and hide from the world....and I do think that is okay.

At least I got some rest and a couple art projects done since the house finally cooled down.

Later this evening I stepped out into the backyard for several minutes just to see what I had missed.

Tonight's impressive scene from the yard

I watched sky blues unsuccessfully try to overtake deep grays while cool winds tickled treetops.

It was just enough. I don't think I could've enjoyed anymore right now if I tried.

I keep telling myself there will be other days, Dean. There will be other days.....

Monday, June 20, 2011

(Photo) Postcard mania!

Recently I read about taking your 4" x 6" photographs and adhering them to an adhesive backing, making them sturdier and mailable....essentially turning them into one-of-a-kind postcards!


So I went ahead and bought some blank postcard backings online to try it for myself!

I mailed out all of these!

The nice thing is the postcard backings have preprinted lines on the address-side as well as a divider space for a personalized message. Very professional looking.

All the work is done for you. Just peel off the covering to expose the adhesive side, stick it onto the back of your photo, trim the excess, and --poof!-- instant postcards!

It was so much fun using pictures I had taken around Chicago these past couple months. Some of my favorites include:

The horse sculpture in front of The Chicago Stock Exchange

Fountain of the Great Lakes (next to the Art Institute)

Tulips blooming early last month along Michigan Avenue

Random reds!

Garbage cans near Congress and Columbus Drive (love that blue!)

Originally I thought I'd just do several of these. So far 25 have been mailed out! I loved these so much I'm going to order 100 more blank backings!

The photo-postcards were given to some of the people who've sent things to my P.O. Box.

If you'd like to possibly receive something from me just send ANYTHING(!) my way:

Dean Grey
P.O. Box 804602
Chicago, IL. 60680-4602

Now time to take some more pictures!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Buying myself flowers....again!

There's still no special someone in my life to get them for me so it looks like I'll have to do the job myself....again.

I shopped for flowers after work yesterday.

Among the peonies, roses, and lilies, I decided on some bold-colored gerber daisies.


Gorgeous reds, warm oranges, sunny yellows, soft pinks, and delicate creams.

Two dozen full blooms with a peppery fragrance.


Love that deep red!

How could you not like these?

And while walking through the underground terminal to catch my train home, I spotted this heart scrawled in permanent marker.

*heavy sigh*

I needed these flowers in the worst way right now.

(((HUGS))) to me.....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Leopard ACEO

Pen and ink on bristol paper - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (NFS)

I haven't done one of these in about a year-and-a-half.

This leopard ACEO was finished a couple months ago but being unsure what to do with it I just stored it away.

And then recently I decided it'd make a nice giveaway to one of those who've sent something to my P.O. Box.

Out of all the bloggers who've mailed me things it seemed appropriate to give to Nikki.

The leopard looks determined, focused, and a person of faith. And I know God is an important part of Nikki's life.

Nikki not only started basic training earlier this week but both her parents are experiencing medical issues too. Perhaps this little art card could be taken along wherever military life may lead, reminding her that there's an online community rooting for her.

So please keep this young lady and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Godspeed Nikki!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Take a chance on me.

It nervously backtracked, desperately scaling every inch of glass but finding no way out.

Helpless, confused, trapped, alone.

I could very much relate to that.

While getting ready for work this morning, I saw a flying ant stuck in between the front room windows. It must've gotten in the house, flew to the screens, and wandered deep up the window frame.

I could've easily just let it die and I did not want to miss my train for an ant. An ant of all things!

But as I watched it flounder, not knowing which way to go, I saw myself in its plight.

So I removed my many houseplants from the windowsill, carefully slid off the screen, and proceeded taking out the storm windows one by one, making a big enough gap for the flying ant to escape.

Who knows what will happen to that ant after gaining freedom, flying from the windows toward the backyard, but at least I gave it a chance.

Now if only someone would take a chance on me.....