I told my husband that this past September was as difficult for me as the final month of my first pregnancy which ended in an emergency cesarian and five days in the NIC unit. We were new to Anchorage at the time, and Walt had to leave to go back to work on a tugboat far away in the Prince William Sound for six weeks just hours after we brought our first son home. I had no support, and no idea what I was doing. But I survived.
And I survived this September too.
Or maybe I should compare it to the February when I had two solo shows.
Molly Shannon always comes to mind when I think about that experience–it felt victorious, but looked ridiculous.
It is all about the deadline. I love deadlines because they push me to get things done, to produce new work, to make it all happen.
I hate deadlines because I–in a kind of real way–am killing myself in the process.
My elbows are inflamed from the quilting. My hands are claws from the handwork.
My left eye twitches and twitches from the hours of concentration, from focused starting, from following the line of stitch for hours upon hours.
My body is falling apart to produce the work I love.
Part of me is ashamed that I cannot properly pace myself. And part of me feels like quite the cry baby for even mentioning it.
WAH. You had to produce work for a solo show.
I need to do a better job of pacing myself. This is true.
And I need to maintain a sense of balance in my life.
I have gotten into a very bad cycle of pushing myself to the point of a breakdown, and then I participate in my favorite form of collapse which could be called a read-a-thon knit-cation.
I have done this enough times to KNOW how long it takes for me to quilt something. I can stitch a nine inch by nine square in a hour. That means a large piece–four feet by four feet–will take at least 25 hours behind the long arm.
There is no going around these numbers. I can really only work four-six hours a day stitching before my body begins to protest.
This means that four feet by four feet quilt is going to take at least five days. Still, my brain convinces my body that is is TOTALLY do-able in two days, maybe even one.
With this last show, I did a better job of triaging than I have in the past. As the final days slipped away in a stitched fog, I managed to concede certain quilts–to let them go until next time.
But then this week, I forced myself to rally, to ignore my body’s whimpering about its wounds, to stitch some more. I see and am surprised with the disconnect between my artistic aspirations and my body’s limits.
A while back, I wrote a post about how I truly feel art should contain head-hands-and heart. (I hope you will take a moment to read it–it is one of my favorite posts.) But the head, with its ability to think in language, often bullies the heart and the hands with words, tells them what to do.
I see this happening. I see this happening. Now, what to do?