Process 5: Vulnerability

Last night I sat down and wrote about feeling extraordinarily vulnerable at the moment with everything that I create, even if it’s something that doesn’t have any significant emotional heft. There have been times when I’ve been very confident in my work, the last two years or so are not those times. Pride is different than confidence I think, and I always feel a sense of pride when I finish something or when it gets good feedback, but I don’t really feel confident in what I’m making.

I have written about this before, probably more than a few times in different iterations, and odds are I will write about this again many times because it feels like the big question in my work. I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what is too much and what is not enough. I fear people not connecting to what I do, I also fear leaving too much of myself out there, both are really prevalent fears in my personal life as well. I am not afraid of a lot of things but anxiety and a healthy imagination about other people’s perception of me have given me those two big ones in excess.

That’s what these process writings are supposed to answer for me eventually, where is my balance, why am I so frozen all the time, and when I’m going to really do something about it. I am realizing that luckily I am not low on ideas, I am low on energy. Honestly, I don’t know which one is harder to fix.

Anyway, there are no answers today, and to be honest I could close my eyes right now and go to sleep at 8:36 pm. I won’t, I’m going to paint for a bit, but I could.

Until next time

bri

If You Build It

I had a shit week last week, just truly awful. There are external things that happened that probably encouraged it, but often a shit week is kind of out of my control brain wise, that spiral is hard to stop once it starts. There are often a lot of mysteries when it comes to my brain, but how I handle the situation is in my control. This time it went better than it usually does, a little bit because I’ve become less stubborn and more attached to my life recently, but mostly because I have a small army of people who don’t look away when it gets really ugly, who answer the phone, who make sure I eat, who check up on me when I disappear. For that I am beyond grateful. For that I am still here.

I say all this because I have been thinking intensely about community since I moved into the Pronoia House, for those of you who don’t know, that is where I am living now, a community of people who are very different from each other, but who also care deeply and fiercely about each other. Of course it’s not just the housemates, it seems to be everyone who passes through here. I’m not going to pretend any of it is easy, with five different personalities and all of their friends it is sometimes really really hard, but the overall consensus is that we really love each other.

Sunday was our first house concert, and I’m still kind of on top of the world, and I’m going to break some tradition here at my blog and just talk about the day. It was probably one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, and the idea that I can do it again has renewed some of my long forgotten energy. Afra Loskor opened, and she was really wonderful, I am so excited to see what she does next, she’s so talented. Carolann Solebello and Joe Iandaza were the main act, the amount of respect that I have for the two of them is special. They get it, they get why it’s important to have a space like this, and they know how powerful community is. I could probably write a novel on the kindness and generosity that we were shown, but I’m going to spare you that sappy piece, maybe in my memoir. After the show the housemates and our guests jammed for hours. Josh put on a fire spinning performance, Nick led the band, people got up to sing and play. Friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time came together, new friends met old friends.

Before the end of the night someone asked me if I played music, and I said no, and the follow up was so you create a space for people to get to just be? I answered yes, and to be honest it’s one of the more flattering things ever said to me. I think part of that is being a photographer and writer, I think my art directly influences that fact. I really like to watch people. Mostly I really like to watch people loving what they are doing. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than photographing or writing about genuine emotion, and why not have that emotion be joy? I am not the happiest person on this earth, nor am I the most positive, in fact I usually have a pretty bleak outlook on society as a whole and more than usually I have a pretty bleak outlook on myself. I’m working pretty hard on the latter, society has to earn it back though.

Despite the fact that I’m kind of a grouch, I have been shown the power of community over and over and over again. I have been shown how important it is to be able to make a phone call or show up at your parents place somewhat unannounced or receive a text that brings a little clarity to a very foggy mind. I think trying to bring all of that into something with the potential for so much more growth and adjustment is where I should be. While I’m never sure of where I’m going to land or how my brain might be treating me a year from now or even a week from now, I can be sure that what we are building here is something so much bigger than we can anticipate.

It is special and scary, and of course I don’t trust it, but I think that’s mostly the grouch talking.

until next time,
bri

untitled

There have been times where I’ve been called cold and unapproachable, where an effort of protection was made into this steely exterior that made me hard. I was good at isolation because I was a good liar, people believed me because I have an honest face and I’m good with words. It’s only recently I’ve started being truly vulnerable with other people in my life and it is a lot. My energy level is pretty low in comparison to other people my age, and that’s fine. I’m starting to learn that people aren’t going to run from me, at least the people I have in my life now. I can get really really scary and still know that the people who love me will still love me. This has been important this week, and I’m breaking my process mold for this piece because I think it’s important. I had one of the best weeks of my life being injured, I made so much art, I experienced so much community that I feel refreshed and renewed and hopeful that someday I’ll be able to put that much time into making work again. Yet, I had some scary dark moments this week, that didn’t make sense with what was going on externally. but it still happened. It taught me I could handle them, it taught me that I can write about them, and it taught me that I have people in my life I trust enough not to run when it gets scary with me. I have more trust in my life than I have ever before and its equally terrifying and exhilarating. I’m going to try to keep trusting, and learning more from the beautiful people around me. It’s been a wild scary ride this time around. but it taught me some important lessons.

Process 4

What a weird freedom not having to work for a few days, I’ve made more art than I have in a long time. I think I have more of an idea of what I want. It’s strange to know that a little forced vacation can turn a whole process on its head. For one thing I’m genuinely interested in being social, and therefore making work has become more of a social experience, even creating alone with community around you makes a huge difference. I’ve been making decisions without thinking for these watercolor pieces I’m doing, just grabbing what I instinctually go towards, I like the challenge, I like the lack of control. I do so many things with such exactness and purpose, why not experiment with something a little looser, a little less controlled.

Writing on the other hand has me stumped, I am in a weird place, as my life on the outside is good, but I’ve got a little dark cloud following me around. Much of it is pushed away through talking or writing or making art but it is exhausting. I think part of it is knowing I won’t be as productive once I go back to being full time. I love making things, and I want the energy to make things no matter what I’ve been up to. This house has some of that, I think I need to feel it a little bit more. Spend a bit more time sitting in the quiet.

I go back to work soon, I am sore and bruised but okay, here’s to never doing this again!

-bri

most days

some days i feel the weight of myself
a burden to be lifted from those i love
most days, days like today, when the rain
brings the green out so overwhelmingly
the clouds protect my paper skin
from the sun, the breeze protects my
easily overheated body from its rays
it’s days like these that are made for me
when i’m reminded that I’m hurt
but no longer hurting
reminding me that the world bends towards me sometimes
or the world bends away from me
and i can catch up
some days i wish the weight of myself
was not too much, but somedays it is
most days i am grateful for being a little too much

Judgement Days

I’ve been thinking a lot, and talking a lot about judging. Specifically judging myself. I often make decisions on how people will see me long before I have an interaction of significance with them. I do a lot of catering to people, I say the things that I know want to be heard or have to be said in order to keep their opinion on me. I also am well aware that much of that is irrational thought, but people run. They run when you are too much, they run when something you do scares them, hell I run. It’s easier.

I’m wondering if looking in a little bit and not judging ourselves so harshly would prevent the sometimes inevitable sprint in the opposite direction. Of course sometimes we are too much. I am often too much, and I’m trying to learn how to both balance and embrace that. Fear is such a powerful emotion, and it can be triggered by the smallest thing. I am stubborn and set in my ways, often I know exactly what is best for me and I very stubbornly do not want to do the thing. No matter how passionately the voice on the other side might ask for you to do so. Some days I think I am in trouble, other days I feel like I can conquer the world.

I want to allow myself the room to not judge things that I’ve done that I feel aren’t there to be forgiven. Maybe I need to forgive myself. Authenticity is so important but is it safe for the artist? Is it safe for the audience?

until next time

-bri

More Art and Ethcs

I’m having a day, one of those days where I feel completely stuck art practice wise, it’s coming more and more frequently the longer I work in a corporate type place where the money is the goal. I’ve had a few days off and I’ve been able to make more art and plan more things that I have in a while, but I’m also feeling incredibly lost, lonely, and frustrated. Then there’s the guilt, I shouldn’t be lonely, I live with really wonderful people and I have friends who will be there at the drop of a hat. Frustration is hard to get over but my energy level is so low most of the time that it’s hard to get out of bed when I do have the rare day off. There’s an incredible amount in healing in having a few days off, despite the pain, because we’re all burned out by our jobs.

I feel like I’m never going to break through that barrier of being as behind as I am financially. It’s the reality of most of my generation, we are exhausted, we work too much at jobs in which we don’t want to work. It’s really difficult to write about process when the words I write in my private journal are sometimes too painful for me to even explore. Saying them out loud to someone might help, but I as most humans are afraid of showing their dark sides to people. I always fear because of my history there will be overreactions or lectures.

I am presenting a different person to the world, but the process I’m going through now in my notebooks shows a different side of me that part of me relishes, I love the darkness, I love living there, but it also presents a very different person than most of you have grown to at least tolerate. I am afraid of speaking some of those words out loud for fear of judgement, and I’m afraid of not speaking those words out loud for fear of it eating me alive.

Maybe as artists we are meant to share more of ourselves than the general population, that’s why people tell us things. They see themselves in our work, but how do we protect ourselves especially when my style is often as blunt and honest as I can manage without completely ripping my heart out. It’s scary, it’s opening us up to having the world know we are as broken as they are, we just channel it differently. Sometimes things feel unforgivable. I always wish to share with at least another soul before putting it out there, but I also fear the potential damage of that trusted person.

Empathy and politeness are so engrained in me, I am blunt when I need to be, but when it comes to needing to share a secret I suck.

Hopefully next entry will be less of a bummer, I’d like to point out that I’m pretty happy, just digging stuff up that I wasn’t expecting to hit me as hard as it has.

much love

-bri

Labor and Art Practice

there is an end coming, but we make it the most wholesome and inviting environment, leading by example; even though the world is burning.

I never know when to trust a burst of creative energy, it is a gift to me, which is a frustrating feeling as an artist, it’s odd, part of me is really grateful for this injury, though I feel very guilty for leaving my coworkers the amount of work I left them, I am free to create things, all day, with very little to do other than make things and relax. We live in a society that makes me grateful to be pretty badly injured, and that injury happened at work, so I am not losing money. That’s incredibly twisted and wrong. We should be able to take time off multiple times a year to help us relax and be more productive. Working fourty hours a week all year and only getting a weeks vacation a year is what leads to burn out, or miserable employees. I should not be grateful to be injured; with an injury that’s probably going to affect me the rest of my life, since once you roll an ankle there’s no going back.

The labor laws in this country have to change, working full time and not being able to pay the bills is unfair, it creates a permanent caste system that’s almost impossible to get out of unless you get really lucky. At my current job, which I really enjoy doing, I come home feeling so drained that I don’t even really want to socialize with my awesome roommates. It’s sad and frustrating. We are all so terrified of losing our jobs that we don’t dare ask for more, mostly for fear that others will not join us and that we will end up leading a lonely ineffective way. I think workers and laborers need to start talking to each other, especially retail workers. Many people have no clue the kind of energy and patience needed to avoid getting in trouble with both supervisors and customers. They don’t know the amount of verbal abuse we take every day, or the subtle or not so subtle sexism.

But creative energy can’t be built out of any of that, anger is an emotion that needs additional add ons in order to use it to create good art, but working in retail with the public the only thing you feel at the end of the day is exhaustion, frustration and anger. Nothing worth making work out of. Maybe with distance, maybe not.

A peek at my process post, today I wrote about the happiness I feel a little free from my job, and the creative energy to go along with it, the pieces are closer to each other today.

I think what I’m getting at is we need to find a better way to make it work, because the earth is better with beauty and conscious in it.

Process 4: Balance

Process does not always mean laying out an intensive plan, sometimes it just means writing until you cannot write anymore. I was speaking to one of my housemates and something came up that I didn’t expect. We were talking about old work and the balance between protecting ourselves and looking back on the garbage that we had written before. I like reading the old stuff, which by my standards are not great art, but I love the growth. I love the way that I can map my progress with the words that I have written in the past. I like growth, I like being able track my progress. None of us are ever going to make the first thing perfect, or the second thing or even the third thing. It takes time, and being about to read back on the embarrassing pieces makes me hopeful because I am improving. That’s what this process project is all about, writing the completely raw things for no one to see, in hopes that I can process it better once I am further removed and feeling less vulnerable about what I am posting.

Part of the problem is I feel like I cannot be completely honest without scaring people, In no way am I a danger to myself, but I still fear that words that I write on this page are ones that may unintentionally hurt people. I always proud myself in being completely honest, but at the same time it is emotionally draining to share the rawness. I share enough to be honest while protecting myself, but recently it has not been enough.

I’m going to share a little bit about which I am writing at the moment, which is going to be very rare in these process posts. At the moment I’m dealing with potential, when I was a bit younger I had a fire in me that got stuff done, I was unstoppable, even in college I created things that are risks and vulnerable for me, when I was in high school I created a coffeehouse type music venue. At the moment my full time job is completely draining, it pays the bills, but I always feel like I’ve gotten hit by a truck towards the end of the day, it’s physical, it’s eight hours a day of just pure exhaustion, physical backbreaking work sprinkled with dealing with difficult customers, and working the floor. It’s too much work for too little pay. I saw myself as a young person making art consistently and doing my dream, Now all I worry about is bills and health insurance. It’s frustrating. I’ve got a lot of ideas, just no energy to follow through. I’m hoping things are looking up very soon.

The good thing is I’m surrounded by other motivated people, so making work and writing a lot has helped. I miss being a visual artist, and I’m starting to think that the wait period between making a series and trying to plan one should be shorter, I need a new job or two part time jobs in order to make this happen. I figure I stay at my full time job long enough to save up to do this, which I can do. I’ve suffered through worse, but in order to complete any sort of dream I’ve got to be able to save. I wonder how many more artists would be able to make things work if they didn’t have to worry about insurance, skyrocketing rents (this is something I’m grateful for, my landlord is amazing and charges us such reasonable rates.).

Community building is so essential and the process of doing so creates a lot of creative energy and beautiful energy in the house. I’ve never lived with a group of people that are so passionate about sharing their energy and life with each other.

The balance comes in when we’re learning our boundaries as an artist, learning what is okay and what isn’t okay to share. Not because I am considering my audience, which was the excuse I lived with for a long time. IT is me that still needs protection. It is me that needs to prevent ripping my heart out every time I write something on here. I am protecting myself, and I hope that changes, because honesty is the best policy, but my health comes first.

Here I am explaining myself again to try to soften the subtle blows that I have no choice without concerning people. It’s the horrible thing of the more you insist you are sane when you have documented your illness, the less people believe you.

More came out in this blog than I intended it to be, but I think it was needed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write a poem or an absurd retail job post, Lighten things up a little.

process 3: by the time you read this

Maybe by the time I’ve gotten the guts to write this for the world, this will have changed, and I will be at peace with it.

I am wondering today about how much honesty I am holding back for fear of having to hold myself accountable. I write in this grey notebook the really hard stuff. I doodle on the backs to make it easier on myself. However I’ve been thinking a lot about personal accountability lately, and how I, will allow an opinion or history of myself to become more true because I feel it’s easier on the people around me. I know there are some of you that will completely understand and not judge, but I am also confident there are others who just won’t get it. Which is fine, I feel very little responsibility towards those who will not understand, but I still feel some.

I am really good at holding myself accountable for the things that I want to see, but almost always I am terrible at doing the same thing to parts of myself that I do not want to accept are there. There is a beautiful amount of self-awareness in my life, but with the good kind of self-awareness comes the painful kind, the kind that sees the accident happening and still is like, nah I’m going to let it keep going because this feels good. So I pick and choose, like any human would. Hold yourself accountable or let the action feel good, and I am, like many things in my life, split down the middle on that one. I know what I believe, it’s just placing it into action.

This one was hard to write, not because of the subject matter but because I truly don’t want you all to know what the other entry was about in my little grey book. I think this was kind of a breakthrough to me though, because now I know what the harder parts of this whole thing is and it’s the subject that I attempted a piece on today. I think realizing the small bits and pieces that are going to be more difficult in the long term process is important early on, I think anticipating them but not dreading them is super important. I also think decision making as to when in the process you as an artist wants to tackle the emotionally difficult parts of the process.

As always

talk to you soon

-bri

Process: 2

Today Goose our house cat is keeping my company as I write my process post, he is warm and cuddly and is very particular about who touches him and where. I am much like a cat.

Today I am considering how to write about death, specifically watching it. I felt a strong memory today of my grandmother and I think it was reminding me to do something. I wrote the other piece and it’s graphic, and I wonder how to escape the cliches that come with describing someone who is dying. How do I write the scene as it was, not how I want to remember it. Peace is a lie in those last days, no matter what anyone tells you.

So I wonder how to write in depth about that, how to conquer memories that are so recent and so raw that I can’t separate myself from them, so I can’t worry about what the reader thinks. I don’t know what I think. I do know that the safety I feel here in this place, with my housemates and Goose are making it easier to write these raw pieces that are not ready to see the light of day, but they are real and tangible. They are honest and scary and they make me feel powerful, even if I’m not ready to share them yet.

Creating in a place of hopelessness or codependency or danger is harmful to me, I’m realizing that I can much better bring an artistic vision to life now that I am safe than I could in other more harmful situations. I can make work in those places, but it isn’t as good, the pain and the lessons are fine, but only when I have a minute to breathe. I finally have a minute to breathe. Life is always going to be painful, but the power of home and community lessen that pain more than anything in the world. The fact that I could call my friend up yesterday, say I’m having an art crisis, and just talk it out is really beautiful. Did we come up with an answer? absolutely not, but to have a community both in proximity and a phone call away is so essential.

I enjoy writing about process, because it feels more real even though I’m not spelling out what I’m referring to. If there’s anything I know a lot about it’s good and bad places to make art out of and from.

Anyway

Until next time

-bri

House Cat: Goose

House Cat: Goose

Death is for the Living

It’s been a year since Grandma died, I wrote a post on my facebook page on the actual date, but here I’d like to explore how complicated it is to grieve someone who was as beautiful, passionate and difficult as she was. We tend to romanticize the dead, we tend to forget any of the hardships that were caused by that person. My grandmother was a beautifully generous human but she was also stubborn, and extremely particular, which is something that I definitely inherited from her. She was hard to live with, she had rules that didn’t make sense to me, but I would walk through hot coals for her. Pat was what you’d consider a difficult person to her family but the most wonderful person to the people around her, memories shared by friends are so different from the dark parts that we saw even before she got sick.. She was an excellent teacher, many remember her as an extremely strict teacher, she was also an incredibly creative educator, who’s students learned a lot from her. One of them is a brain surgeon now, she taught him how to read, up until she got very sick, he still wrote to her, he still sent her a calendar of his photography from travels that you can only take when you are a brain surgeon or and equivalent. Humans are so multifaceted that boiling it down to only the good things is doing a disservice to their memory.

These conflicting emotions are something that after a person has gone from this earth we are not supposed to explore, however isn’t healthier to remember the person as they were and not exclusively the wonderful things that they contributed to their family and friends. We are all complete people with very dark and very light parts of our personality, when I go I don’t want to be remembered only by the good things I do, I want to be remembered as feisty, stubborn, creative and a little bit of an ass. Maybe growing up Irish Catholic I was taught to suppress anything that bordered on emotion, and it’s easier to smooth out the edges of a person who died because we are so afraid to speak ill of the dead. I have no interest in speaking ill of my grandmother, but I would like her to be remembered as she was, tough as nails, loving, but withholding to everyone except her grandchildren.

I think in order to become better at dealing with grief in death we need to tell all of those stories, we need to accept that everyone is imperfect, especially when it’s someone so close to you, someone you lived with for almost eight years. The processing of the complete person would make it easier to move on, if one of the stages of grief is anger why don’t we as a society choose to process that emotion along with the other ones, the denial, the depression, and the eventual acceptance. Anger is so frowned upon in our society, it’s a valid emotion and it’s so important when used productively, righteous controlled productive anger is so essential to making change in the world, but that is a different entry.

As a society we need to get better at processing death, we need to look at the person who has passed as a complete person and not the romantic version especially for those of us closest to that person. Thinking of a human in one dimension is a disservice to their memory, I at least want to be remembered as more than just the good parts of my life. Mistakes I’m positive that is how she would want to be remembered as well, she was proud of her stubbornness, she was proud of being the strict teacher and the strict mother, she was even more proud of being the doting grandmother.

I know that this post may anger family members, if it does, I’m not sure how well you knew her. She was a beautiful generous person who had wonderful flaws that made her what we all are, human.

It is possible to love someone without reservations, but to also remember them as they were. Generous, obsessive, creative, particular, and complicated. Humans are complicated and they don’t stop being so once they are gone.

Hold on to the good, hold tighter to the great, but remember we are all three dimensional people and should remembered as so.

I miss you Grandma, you were a beautiful part of my life, and continue to influence me to this day, I love you more than I can express, and even with the regrets I have about not being honest with you or not holding on to your lessons as tightly as I should have, I still think about you every day, I still wonder what life would have brought you if you had not been taken by dementia and cancer maybe we would have shed the Irish Catholic guilt and shared more of ourselves with each other.

Today I am stronger because of you, not only because of the wonderful wisdom and lessons that you taught me but also because of the imperfection that you showed me, that it was okay, that we could still be strong people despite all of that.

As always

With love

-bri

Community Building: Say Yes

I’m coming up on a year since I started this writing project, I’m also coming up on a year since my grandmother died. If I look back on the past year the transformation has been unreal, and I suppose on the actual anniversary of those two events I will write about those things but I want to write about the big lessons this year. In all honesty the really hard parts of this year set me up for the change that came within the last month and a half, it’s not often that I feel at peace, it’s even less often that I feel completely comfortable and safe, and for the first time since college I feel both of those things.

I was speaking to a friend yesterday about the post college slump in creating things, and how long it’s taken me to start wanting to make stuff again. I graduated a long time ago, and I have no series to show for it, I have a lot of images, I have a lot of individual work, but I feel like there should be more. This friend is going through the same thing that I was, but they are a little younger so I am a little bit further along on this extremely frustrating journey of wanting to create but not being in the right environment or headspace to do so. This conversation reminded me that I have to approach the people I love with as much compassion as been shown to me, and it also reminded me that sometimes I can be a dick, and sometimes I do not listen to other’s pain when there is pain in my life. I love this friend unconditionally, and I’m glad that despite my being a bit of a dick, we can hug it out and be fine. That’s community.

It’s taken me years to realize that as long as I’m creating something (anything) I’m on the right path, and that sometimes it takes artists years in between creating things to do something else. It’s time to stop making excuses though, I am surrounded by passionate, creative, and wonderful people which feeds my creativity in a way that the art school environment did. Without deadlines holding each other accountable has done wonders even if it’s indirectly, just being around creative people makes it easier to create.

I don’t think we are meant to do any of this alone, I’m really good at isolating myself, but judging by the amount of work I’ve put out since graduating that’s certainly not working. Community building is a reignited passion for me, when I was in high school I started a small music venue, I never felt better bringing people together to share a passion, and now I get to do that again, this time with a group of people that feel it’s just as important as I feel it is.

We live in houses with closed doors and fences and walls between us, we say hello to our neighbors, but how often do we get to know them? Do we still bring them fresh tomatoes from our garden? Do we still host events at our house that create community? This new home that I’m in we do, and I cannot speak for the housemates or the people who come and feel comfortable here, but it has changed me. It has changed me into a more conscientious person, I feel more like a child and more like an adult all at once. I am amazed sitting on the deck each day watching the trees change and light shift. I am delighted by putting my hands in soil and will be even more delighted when we have food that we’ve grown ourselves. It is incredible to have a group of people who say yes to things and follow through.

Passion makes the world go ‘round, and maintaining that passion is so difficult in a world that really just wants to beat you down. Having a healthy thriving community changes that. So the goal for the next year is to keep fostering that community, keep making this place incredible, keep combining our talents and skills to continue making this a place where we all feel at peace and safe.

So say yes, and follow through. It’s an improv rule, and when used correctly it can make something magical.

With love

-bri

Live

This is a post that is incredibly important to me, and is very terrifying to post on the internet, but I think it’s important, and I hope that someone might be able to get something out of this. I am feeling vulnerable and scared about how raw this is.

Also, Not everyone in my life can see this post, I would appreciate it if you can read it to keep the comments on this post and not attempt to share this anywhere else.

CW: suicide, mental illness

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I tried to die last month. The reasons why are long gone from my memory, as if my brain reset itself the second I realized the consequences of my actions and that it was too shocking to hold on to.  When you are in crisis permanence is unimaginable, and after that crisis is over, you realize that your reasons weren’t rational or that the pain will eventually pass. I don’t use this as an excuse, it has hard to fight a battle with no real words to describe it, I am glad to be alive, I have been doing well. I have been creating things that I value, and that I think have value to other people. I have tried to take my life once before. That is all I will speak of on that part.

 

I am often trying to come up with words to help people understand what it’s like to have everything going pretty well on one level, terrible on another, and terrifying on the other. There are so many good things in my life right now. New people and experiences that make me feel grateful for how much I don’t know and how much I’m going to learn. I am making things, I feel loved and I love.  Which brings me to the point that a person could have everything going for them and still be depressed. Check in on your friends. There is so much more happenin, and I think mental illness sneaks up on you like this, I make it no secret that the past year of my life has been chaotic to say the least, but I rose to every challenge, I did what I needed to. Still I suffered. So there is pride for getting through the sludge, but there is resentment for continued suffering. I gained some of the most valuable relationships and cut some very toxic people out of my life, but still I suffered. I am working on letting it go, I’m working on being a little better at breathing and a little worse at letting all the stress get to me. When you are sick, there is so much you have to do to take care of yourself, and when you do not take care of yourself you end up in danger.

 

That is what happened, I neglected a part of myself I knew better than to neglect, and in a way it felt good. Not to be on top of it, it felt good. Giving in to your darkest thoughts feels good, like you’re pulling one over on the world and on yourself. When in reality you’re just lying. Lying by not reaching out, lying by not practicing self-care, lying feels good for a moment, but it hurts in the long run.

 

Having bipolar disorder is hard, because one minute you are completely even-keel, medications are working, everything is roses. Then there’s the thing where your illness adapts because you’re not being quite as diligent at keeping up with staying healthy mentally, you stop checking in with yourself, or your doctors, and you start telling lies to the people who would push you in the right direction if given the chance. You want to be fine without all of the extra work, because you’re tired, and the extra work makes you even more tired, and if given the choice you’d probably stay in bed so much more than is healthy.

I speak about this because honesty from people who have the same illness as me, who have similar experiences, would have made a huge difference when I was younger. People who glorify mental illness have not experienced or are in denial about the truly dark parts.

 

The other thing that I value so much is frankness, talking about the feelings immediately before and after, and how always I have felt relief that I did not go too far. I always want to live even if it takes a little while before my survival instinct kicks in. I have always regretted the action, and I have never regretted waking up. Always. I will point out that suicide hotlines are bullshit and if you’re feeling that way please get yourself to an ER. This time I chose not to because of traumatic experiences in psychiatric wards before. Because of that decision, I scared a very good friend of mine, who stayed on the phone with me until I was definitely okay.  I can’t express how grateful I am, I don’t think I will ever be able to express how grateful I am to her.

 

Guilt is useless, but it does not mean I do not feel it intensely, I am working on that.

 

Hopefully, for me this is a “scared straight” moment, I never want to make that kind of permanent decision ever again. I never want to make another person feel the way that I made my friend feel that night. Unfortunately mental illness is unpredictable. There are so many promises I wish I could make, but I do not want to be responsible for breaking those promises unintentionally. I know how hurtful my actions were and I’m even a little bit sorry for posting this blog, but I want this to allow for some healing on my part, and maybe someone relates to what I say enough to go get help.

 

I am okay though, I know for some they will need further proof or more reassurances. There is not even a tiny part of me that wants to die, and I’m getting the help that I need, and I am getting better. Healing is not linear, and sometimes it goes up consistently for a very long time and then takes a nosedive, sometimes it goes backwards, sometimes it drops fast and corrects itself faster.

 

Talk about stuff. Love each other. Don’t choose to be alone.

 

love,


bri

"Bad Art"

My day job is framing, I enjoy it for the most part, I get to look at art all day, I work with my hands, and I don’t have constant interaction with the public like I have had in the past. People are still exhausting, retail is a wild ride, I’m sometimes kind of a jerk but I’ve got it pretty good. I adore the good pieces, and working with people who love the good pieces. I’ve seen some cool stuff. Originals are the most fun, because then I get to pick another artist’s brain while I design for them, especially when it’s done in a medium in which I have no experience. Then I’d say it’s seeing artwork from all over the world and hearing the stories about those pieces and where they were collected. Seeing artwork with names I recognize is also pretty cool, I framed a Banksy once, it was a road sign from Britain with one of his monkeys on it. I looked it up, it was worth more than I will make in my lifetime. No pressure.

I learn the most about art from the badpieces though. There’s something that switched in my brain about three months into starting this job. At first when I saw an “objectively bad art piece” my art school brain went into critique mode, thinking about things I would have done differently, or things that would have been pointed out in critique as formal no-no’s. Things that would have gotten not great grades in my courses at school. Also note that I’m not talking about poorly executed art here, I’m talking about conceptually weak pieces with strong technique. Art done by beginners or people who are learning their technique is a very different thing, and most definitely should be framed nicely at least once during one’s artistic journey.

The current shop I work in I physically frame 10-20 pieces a day, as well as taking the orders of anywhere from 20-100 clients each week, and it has made me think differently about how I see critique. I still think it is the most valuable tool an artist has to get better on an individual level, but I don’t think it should ever be used to judge people’s taste in work. Having to work with work that I don’t appreciate has been an awesome challenge, because having to design something nice for a piece I don’t like has taught me a lot about making work myself. I often fall flat, much like I do in my art practice, but when I nail it it feels really good. It’s slowed my judgement because it doesn’t matter what I think about it, I still have to make it work. It’s made me realize that I might feel a little bit gate-keeper-y about the art world and I should work on that, because I don’t believe in doing that when it comes to politics or any other intellectual pursuits so I should check my privilege on that one.

Mostly the “bad art” has made me kinder, don’t get me wrong I still raise my eyebrows every now and again, we once framed a 30x40 inch spring break themed porn poster signed by the actresses. I also recently framed a knife that had definitely seen some shit. There’s a lot of weird weird images that I can never unsee. I’m nicer in my head about it all now and that makes my day much better. I think we learn more about art from accepting a thing that we don’t like than we do from enhancing a thing that we do. Both are valuable, but as a human I think I learn more from the former.

Anyway

until next time

-bri