Last Updated On September 11, 2015

 

Let's get lost Fingers crossed It is an ordinary evening I am broadcasting are you receiving -Dresden Dolls

 

 

The other night I sat on my new toilet lid, taking in my freshly renovated bathroom. I had held off sharing pictures until every detail was finished, which was in itself, a motivation to finish every detail. I led my mother, sister, and friend Marisa through a photo tour via text accompanied by my entertaining commentary. It was so much fun. Not only sharing something with people I love but also recognizing and appreciating every little aspect of my new bathroom, and feeling big gratitude to my father who put so much work into the project. I love taking it all in and truly feeling ownership. I think thats why I enjoy painting so much. I like to contact every wall, every crevice, every seam. I enjoy the intimacy of it, and the gratification because everything looks better with a coat of paint even if its not perfect. Anyway, I wanted to do it again- tell stories through pictures of my environment and experience that intimacy through more writing and more skillful pictures. So I turn my eye to my studio/office. Thank you Robert Snyder for helping me with these photos. I feel joy just reviewing them and the warmth and recognition of the things that inspire me and a space that I created and continues to evolve.

NoraOffice-002

 

Its a “hole picture”. Get it? The whole picture!
I love antique stores but only the kind where they let you touch stuff. There is a string of antique stores on Clinton St in Binghamton where I got a stack of stereoscope cards. My son, husband, and I sorted through big piles and took what we thought were the best ones. I really liked seeing which ones spoke to them. I love the idea of a stereoscope for its simplicity and its mechanical, old-time appeal. I loved my viewmaster as a kid, looking through the binoculars and having a private view facilitated so much pleasure and imagination. I hope that at some point my husband will add an old coin operated stereoscope to his “future arcade” collection of machines. Have I “done” anything with these cards? Not yet. I guess it was a pretty impulsive purchase but my favorite card is this one because it seems like it must have a weird backstory. The geography in the picture seems like it could be somewhere local. Ithaca rocks are the best rocks. They are perfect and sculptural and healing and historical and surrounded by amazing waterways. Crawling under a rock does NOT have negative connotations to me. I feel like I can identify with this dude as I sit at my desk in my little writer’s hole, enjoying the graffiti, hanging out, not being terribly productive… I mean, he could totally get out of that hole if he chose to.

NoraOffice-015

 

Foul-mouth Buddha! Give it to me straight. Don’t be all measured and non-violent in your communication. I ain’t got time for that. There’s a picture of Erica’s family because I love them. And there’s a conch shell for convenient ocean listening.

NoraOffice-006

This corner of my desk is where some of my favorite things reside, including a beautiful handmade bowl from my friend Erica with a quote from Mary Oliver, “Ten times a day something happens to me like this- some strengthening throb of amazement, some good sweet empathetic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest, and wisest thing I know; that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” I remember at Erica’s fortieth birthday party, I got her aside and thanked her. I said something rambling like “I have this magic inside me. I’m not saying I’m magic. I mean there’s this stuff in me that is magic and it went unexpressed until I met you. You are the only one who gets it and I wasn’t even sure it was real until I met you.You, YOU are magic. And I’m not sure I would’ve ever been me, truly me, without having met you. Thank you.” I know that ping and swell and throb well. Its real and I let it lead me creatively. Finding space and medium for those tendencies has been life changing. That bowl grounds me. Just like my pelvic bowl grounds me. It reminds me of that zone where the audience and the technicalities don’t matter, where its all about creation. About taking all those thoughts and images and connections and truths and knitting a throb/ping/swell sweater! For the absolute joy and ecstatic release of it! It reminds me that I have a responsibility to myself, to remain attentive to my own magic. Accompanying the bowl is my Fiji bottle because Fiji, and a fake flower because cats. And my little blank baby books that I’m looking forward to finding a use for. Also my favorite pen gifted by my writer friend Aryeal and a paperweight I picked up at an estate sale. I really like the aesthetic of seeing things inside of other things- like jewelry with stuff floating in glycerin or snow globes or terrariums. I am Horton hearing whos.

FullSizeRender-6

 

These are my hand figits. I share this affinity with my son. We love sinking our hands into a bunch of little stuff. There must be a german word for this!

NoraOffice-017

 

I am a school supply, general office supply, and paper product fiend. I buy twice as many school supplies for myself than for my four kids combined. My favorite store is a paper store, or a “paperie” if you’re fancy (check out Mockingbird Paperie on the Ithaca Commons if you share my proclivities). There’s nothing like the smell and the limitless potential of a newly cracked notebook, gives me the chills. I lean toward spirals and legal pads, especially those that flip from the top because of my left-handedness. I also don’t like to be intimidated by my materials. If it seems too precious or you can’t tear off a page…I don’t know, thats a lot of pressure. I’m also working on a star chart because we’ve been doing fire pits at night and we have an amazing view of the stars. I ordered an unfinished bowl from a local ceramics place because when you look up into the night sky in our backyard, it looks bowl shaped. I want a bowl who’s inside looks like that. Pelvic bowls, star bowls, Mary Oliver bowls- I’m into it.

FullSizeRender-7

This is where I meditate. I never fall asleep reading with the cats. Ever. The stone with the IF logo was given to me by Marisa. Just because. She’s the best. She knows I like rocks.

FullSizeRender-8

 

This has been an ongoing project of mine for awhile. The goal is creating customized bedding with the lyrics of my favorite David Bowie songs. Operation Bowie Bed is more complicated than one would think. I’ve been trying various thicknesses and colors and brands of pens to see how they apply and wash. Bowie Bed has supported my office supply habit nicely! Surprisingly- actual fabric markers are the WORST in terms of bleeding, Sharpies win. I am partial to the metallic gold ones, although it would be fun to emphasize certain words with pops of other colors.. I like having a variety of projects in motion, I don’t mind if it takes a long time and I don’t mind starting something new before I finish something else. Actually, these are not great habits for a blogger. But I am who I am and having many outlets for my creative flow actually makes me more productive overall. For some reason I find it more authentic to not strictly label myself as a writer even though that is mostly what I do. I feel a sense of freedom and possibility when I leave the door open for other forms of expression, regardless of skill level or experience. When I have this mindset, I am more in touch with the source material, what I want to say, the connections I want to express, rather than getting hung up on the form. I also do less comparing myself to other writers which is a huge waste of energy. I enjoy coming back to Bowie Bed, its quiet and meditative, not particularly challenging, I like my handwriting AND I love Bowie’s lyrics. Long live Bowie Bed!

NoraOffice-042

 

This is sweet Neko. Look at those whiskers. Awww!! Neko also has a penchant for deconstruction.

NoraOffice-010

 

I try to use online visual organizers like evernote and pinterest but I always find myself coming back to an arts n crafts approach to organizing thoughts and project planning. Storyboards rock. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, I can picture the storyboard in my head and I actually prefer the storyboard! I like getting my hands dirty and cutting shit up. I’m highly visual and sometimes having something in my field of vision is enough to create a breakthrough. I find this approach especially helpful if I am working on a piece that my instincts say “this is all one story” but there are so many diverse threads that I am having trouble with flow and organization. My friend Aryeal encouraged me to try this way initially. I had a really lengthy piece that I was very attached to. It was long and lean, but too long for online reading. Taking scissors to that first paragraph was a little scary but she was absolutely right. I was easily able to reconfigure two pieces from my one and smooth it out. Aryeal is super smart and a very skilled writer herself but I don’t think thats what she drew from with her advice. Aryeal knows me and how I think. She knows that deconstruction is a strength for me and she knows I am a visual, hands-on learner. She also knows that in order to get unstuck, I need a physical and emotional shift. I’m not good at beating my head against a wall, I get very discouraged. Ironically, the longer I work at something in the same way, the LESS likely it is that I will make progress. I need a lot of switching around, trying different angles. I am so lucky to have the counsel of people who know me specifically, not just about writing or blogging, but ME. I think this is an important consideration when asking others for advice. Don’t worry, I’m not asking everyone to throw away their Brene’ Brown quotes! Obviously there is value to being inspired and instructed by experts but there is also tremendous value in consulting your closest people, whether they are writers or plumbers. They know you and they care about your success, don’t discount their input. Right now (spoiler alert!) on the storyboard is a piece about hummingbirds. I am matching the spiritual, mythical aspects of the archetype with actual biological facts about the bird. It was too big, I couldn’t keep it all in my head and as I slowly research and build the story around these aspects, I add to the board. I don’t want to lose a morsel.

NoraOffice-028NoraOffice-032NoraOffice-039

 

Here’s a view of my shelves. My daughter recently perused them and was like, “Vagina, Full Catastrophe Living, and Butterfly Alphabet?”. Yup. That about says it all. That painting is my daughter’s work, I love it and she doesn’t care about it. Funny how that works.

NoraOffice-012

 

So this is funny. I found this bumper sticker on the inside of a cabinet door in my grandfather’s garage. We were cleaning out the house to sell, so my dad or husband kindly took the whole door off so I could keep it. I am tickled by where we found it, all surreptitious, and I never knew my grandfather to swear..  I too am keeping it in my not-so-secret secret place and if somebody doesn’t like my sign? They can leave! Cleaning out the house was emotional and grueling, finding this treasure was one of the highlights. I like to think he left it for me to find. Hanging from the corner is a bracelet made for me by my friend Laura. It has a superhero theme, made with shrinkydinks (!!!). She made it for me while I was working on Versus about Batman vs Superman. I love that she did this. I love that she listens to me. I love that she reads my work. I can’t even express how good this feels. I don’t sell stuff so nobody can buy my things and of course it feels amazing when people comment or share my work online but there is something about this very specific type of acknowledgement that is so powerful. “I like what you do, it makes me want to create something too!”- POW!

NoraOffice-040

 

This is my friend Jennifer’s work! She kindly has provided lots of illustrations on Illuminous Flux. Working with her and getting to know her has been so great. Over the summer we submitted her drawings and my stories to an upcoming Finger Lakes Anthology of local writers. I’m using this wall to manifest an acceptance letter in October. Wish us luck! The hardest part about sending in an adult like submission is the biography. Ugh. I hate doing things that aren’t fun but are required. I’m such a baby about stuff like that.

FullSizeRender-9

 

Crying happens in here. I mean, its not usually sorrowful or even out of frustration. When I am building up a post that is particularly personal or powerful, I have to reach a level of overflow in order to have the momentum and the clarity to express myself. Usually its in the slow cooker for a long time. But by the time I am in my chair, things are moving and being felt. There are certain activities that help me keep that processing time churning, I don’t want stagnation or worse lose the thread entirely. Many people I know take notes, even use voice recorders but I have never gravitated toward that. Meditation, walking, and exposure to water does it for me. Although I am discovering new ways all the time- coloring is a new one and dishwashing (but at what cost?). Its such a strange calibration, to reach a level of flow where I am thinking “next to” the thing, not thinking directly about it, not smothering it. Just keeping a light awareness. Staying loose. Letting it come to me. I know this sounds kind of passive, lazy. And I know I would be hopeless at meeting deadlines and creating a high volume but I don’t care. I want what I want. And my process actually requires a lot of restraint and attention. I’m very intentional with my work.

One thing that I did not expect as I embarked on my studio tour was the voices of self-doubt that kept presenting themselves. I forgot that a bathroom does not carry the weight of a person’s place of work. I had expectations I didn’t even know I had. Is this good enough? Staged enough? Important enough? Is it too weird? Too imperfect? And who am I to even do this? Does anyone even care? Am I for real? I’ve found that the best way to address these fears is not to. One can’t grapple with illusion. I don’t bother arguing with crazy. Instead I view them as a signal to revisit why I am doing what I am doing and count all the blessings therein. I remember the words of encouragement my daughter gave me when I first started Illuminous Flux, “This is all yours mom, what do you like? What does it say about you?”. I am doing this for art. I am doing this for fun. I am doing this for connection. And I hope this post encourages at least one other person to throw open their doors and share their treasures and feel real.

 

Last Updated On September 11, 2015

 

Let's get lost Fingers crossed It is an ordinary evening I am broadcasting are you receiving -Dresden Dolls

 

The other night I sat on my new toilet lid, taking in my freshly renovated bathroom. I had held off sharing pictures until every detail was finished, which was in itself, a motivation to finish every detail. I led my mother, sister, and friend Marisa through a photo tour via text accompanied by my entertaining commentary. It was so much fun. Not only sharing something with people I love but also recognizing and appreciating every little aspect of my new bathroom, and feeling big gratitude to my father who put so much work into the project. I love taking it all in and truly feeling ownership. I think thats why I enjoy painting so much. I like to contact every wall, every crevice, every seam. I enjoy the intimacy of it, and the gratification because everything looks better with a coat of paint even if its not perfect. Anyway, I wanted to do it again- tell stories through pictures of my environment and experience that intimacy through more writing and more skillful pictures. So I turn my eye to my studio/office. Thank you Robert Snyder for helping me with these photos. I feel joy just reviewing them and the warmth and recognition of the things that inspire me and a space that I created and continues to evolve.

NoraOffice-002

 

Its a “hole picture”. Get it? The whole picture!
I love antique stores but only the kind where they let you touch stuff. There is a string of antique stores on Clinton St in Binghamton where I got a stack of stereoscope cards. My son, husband, and I sorted through big piles and took what we thought were the best ones. I really liked seeing which ones spoke to them. I love the idea of a stereoscope for its simplicity and its mechanical, old-time appeal. I loved my viewmaster as a kid, looking through the binoculars and having a private view facilitated so much pleasure and imagination. I hope that at some point my husband will add an old coin operated stereoscope to his “future arcade” collection of machines. Have I “done” anything with these cards? Not yet. I guess it was a pretty impulsive purchase but my favorite card is this one because it seems like it must have a weird backstory. The geography in the picture seems like it could be somewhere local. Ithaca rocks are the best rocks. They are perfect and sculptural and healing and historical and surrounded by amazing waterways. Crawling under a rock does NOT have negative connotations to me. I feel like I can identify with this dude as I sit at my desk in my little writer’s hole, enjoying the graffiti, hanging out, not being terribly productive… I mean, he could totally get out of that hole if he chose to.

NoraOffice-015

 

Foul-mouth Buddha! Give it to me straight. Don’t be all measured and non-violent in your communication. I ain’t got time for that. There’s a picture of Erica’s family because I love them. And there’s a conch shell for convenient ocean listening.

NoraOffice-006

This corner of my desk is where some of my favorite things reside, including a beautiful handmade bowl from my friend Erica with a quote from Mary Oliver, “Ten times a day something happens to me like this- some strengthening throb of amazement, some good sweet empathetic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest, and wisest thing I know; that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” I remember at Erica’s fortieth birthday party, I got her aside and thanked her. I said something rambling like “I have this magic inside me. I’m not saying I’m magic. I mean there’s this stuff in me that is magic and it went unexpressed until I met you. You are the only one who gets it and I wasn’t even sure it was real until I met you.You, YOU are magic. And I’m not sure I would’ve ever been me, truly me, without having met you. Thank you.” I know that ping and swell and throb well. Its real and I let it lead me creatively. Finding space and medium for those tendencies has been life changing. That bowl grounds me. Just like my pelvic bowl grounds me. It reminds me of that zone where the audience and the technicalities don’t matter, where its all about creation. About taking all those thoughts and images and connections and truths and knitting a throb/ping/swell sweater! For the absolute joy and ecstatic release of it! It reminds me that I have a responsibility to myself, to remain attentive to my own magic. Accompanying the bowl is my Fiji bottle because Fiji, and a fake flower because cats. And my little blank baby books that I’m looking forward to finding a use for. Also my favorite pen gifted by my writer friend Aryeal and a paperweight I picked up at an estate sale. I really like the aesthetic of seeing things inside of other things- like jewelry with stuff floating in glycerin or snow globes or terrariums. I am Horton hearing whos.

FullSizeRender-6

 

These are my hand figits. I share this affinity with my son. We love sinking our hands into a bunch of little stuff. There must be a german word for this!

NoraOffice-017

 

I am a school supply, general office supply, and paper product fiend. I buy twice as many school supplies for myself than for my four kids combined. My favorite store is a paper store, or a “paperie” if you’re fancy (check out Mockingbird Paperie on the Ithaca Commons if you share my proclivities). There’s nothing like the smell and the limitless potential of a newly cracked notebook, gives me the chills. I lean toward spirals and legal pads, especially those that flip from the top because of my left-handedness. I also don’t like to be intimidated by my materials. If it seems too precious or you can’t tear off a page…I don’t know, thats a lot of pressure. I’m also working on a star chart because we’ve been doing fire pits at night and we have an amazing view of the stars. I ordered an unfinished bowl from a local ceramics place because when you look up into the night sky in our backyard, it looks bowl shaped. I want a bowl who’s inside looks like that. Pelvic bowls, star bowls, Mary Oliver bowls- I’m into it.

FullSizeRender-7

This is where I meditate. I never fall asleep reading with the cats. Ever. The stone with the IF logo was given to me by Marisa. Just because. She’s the best. She knows I like rocks.

FullSizeRender-8

 

This has been an ongoing project of mine for awhile. The goal is creating customized bedding with the lyrics of my favorite David Bowie songs. Operation Bowie Bed is more complicated than one would think. I’ve been trying various thicknesses and colors and brands of pens to see how they apply and wash. Bowie Bed has supported my office supply habit nicely! Surprisingly- actual fabric markers are the WORST in terms of bleeding, Sharpies win. I am partial to the metallic gold ones, although it would be fun to emphasize certain words with pops of other colors.. I like having a variety of projects in motion, I don’t mind if it takes a long time and I don’t mind starting something new before I finish something else. Actually, these are not great habits for a blogger. But I am who I am and having many outlets for my creative flow actually makes me more productive overall. For some reason I find it more authentic to not strictly label myself as a writer even though that is mostly what I do. I feel a sense of freedom and possibility when I leave the door open for other forms of expression, regardless of skill level or experience. When I have this mindset, I am more in touch with the source material, what I want to say, the connections I want to express, rather than getting hung up on the form. I also do less comparing myself to other writers which is a huge waste of energy. I enjoy coming back to Bowie Bed, its quiet and meditative, not particularly challenging, I like my handwriting AND I love Bowie’s lyrics. Long live Bowie Bed!

NoraOffice-042

 

This is sweet Neko. Look at those whiskers. Awww!! Neko also has a penchant for deconstruction.

NoraOffice-010

 

I try to use online visual organizers like evernote and pinterest but I always find myself coming back to an arts n crafts approach to organizing thoughts and project planning. Storyboards rock. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, I can picture the storyboard in my head and I actually prefer the storyboard! I like getting my hands dirty and cutting shit up. I’m highly visual and sometimes having something in my field of vision is enough to create a breakthrough. I find this approach especially helpful if I am working on a piece that my instincts say “this is all one story” but there are so many diverse threads that I am having trouble with flow and organization. My friend Aryeal encouraged me to try this way initially. I had a really lengthy piece that I was very attached to. It was long and lean, but too long for online reading. Taking scissors to that first paragraph was a little scary but she was absolutely right. I was easily able to reconfigure two pieces from my one and smooth it out. Aryeal is super smart and a very skilled writer herself but I don’t think thats what she drew from with her advice. Aryeal knows me and how I think. She knows that deconstruction is a strength for me and she knows I am a visual, hands-on learner. She also knows that in order to get unstuck, I need a physical and emotional shift. I’m not good at beating my head against a wall, I get very discouraged. Ironically, the longer I work at something in the same way, the LESS likely it is that I will make progress. I need a lot of switching around, trying different angles. I am so lucky to have the counsel of people who know me specifically, not just about writing or blogging, but ME. I think this is an important consideration when asking others for advice. Don’t worry, I’m not asking everyone to throw away their Brene’ Brown quotes! Obviously there is value to being inspired and instructed by experts but there is also tremendous value in consulting your closest people, whether they are writers or plumbers. They know you and they care about your success, don’t discount their input. Right now (spoiler alert!) on the storyboard is a piece about hummingbirds. I am matching the spiritual, mythical aspects of the archetype with actual biological facts about the bird. It was too big, I couldn’t keep it all in my head and as I slowly research and build the story around these aspects, I add to the board. I don’t want to lose a morsel.

NoraOffice-028NoraOffice-032NoraOffice-039

 

Here’s a view of my shelves. My daughter recently perused them and was like, “Vagina, Full Catastrophe Living, and Butterfly Alphabet?”. Yup. That about says it all. That painting is my daughter’s work, I love it and she doesn’t care about it. Funny how that works.

NoraOffice-012

 

So this is funny. I found this bumper sticker on the inside of a cabinet door in my grandfather’s garage. We were cleaning out the house to sell, so my dad or husband kindly took the whole door off so I could keep it. I am tickled by where we found it, all surreptitious, and I never knew my grandfather to swear..  I too am keeping it in my not-so-secret secret place and if somebody doesn’t like my sign? They can leave! Cleaning out the house was emotional and grueling, finding this treasure was one of the highlights. I like to think he left it for me to find. Hanging from the corner is a bracelet made for me by my friend Laura. It has a superhero theme, made with shrinkydinks (!!!). She made it for me while I was working on Versus about Batman vs Superman. I love that she did this. I love that she listens to me. I love that she reads my work. I can’t even express how good this feels. I don’t sell stuff so nobody can buy my things and of course it feels amazing when people comment or share my work online but there is something about this very specific type of acknowledgement that is so powerful. “I like what you do, it makes me want to create something too!”- POW!

NoraOffice-040

 

This is my friend Jennifer’s work! She kindly has provided lots of illustrations on Illuminous Flux. Working with her and getting to know her has been so great. Over the summer we submitted her drawings and my stories to an upcoming Finger Lakes Anthology of local writers. I’m using this wall to manifest an acceptance letter in October. Wish us luck! The hardest part about sending in an adult like submission is the biography. Ugh. I hate doing things that aren’t fun but are required. I’m such a baby about stuff like that.

FullSizeRender-9

 

Crying happens in here. I mean, its not usually sorrowful or even out of frustration. When I am building up a post that is particularly personal or powerful, I have to reach a level of overflow in order to have the momentum and the clarity to express myself. Usually its in the slow cooker for a long time. But by the time I am in my chair, things are moving and being felt. There are certain activities that help me keep that processing time churning, I don’t want stagnation or worse lose the thread entirely. Many people I know take notes, even use voice recorders but I have never gravitated toward that. Meditation, walking, and exposure to water does it for me. Although I am discovering new ways all the time- coloring is a new one and dishwashing (but at what cost?). Its such a strange calibration, to reach a level of flow where I am thinking “next to” the thing, not thinking directly about it, not smothering it. Just keeping a light awareness. Staying loose. Letting it come to me. I know this sounds kind of passive, lazy. And I know I would be hopeless at meeting deadlines and creating a high volume but I don’t care. I want what I want. And my process actually requires a lot of restraint and attention. I’m very intentional with my work.

One thing that I did not expect as I embarked on my studio tour was the voices of self-doubt that kept presenting themselves. I forgot that a bathroom does not carry the weight of a person’s place of work. I had expectations I didn’t even know I had. Is this good enough? Staged enough? Important enough? Is it too weird? Too imperfect? And who am I to even do this? Does anyone even care? Am I for real? I’ve found that the best way to address these fears is not to. One can’t grapple with illusion. I don’t bother arguing with crazy. Instead I view them as a signal to revisit why I am doing what I am doing and count all the blessings therein. I remember the words of encouragement my daughter gave me when I first started Illuminous Flux, “This is all yours mom, what do you like? What does it say about you?”. I am doing this for art. I am doing this for fun. I am doing this for connection. And I hope this post encourages at least one other person to throw open their doors and share their treasures and feel real.

Last Updated On September 11, 2015

Let's get lost Fingers crossed It is an ordinary evening I am broadcasting are you receiving -Dresden Dolls

The other night I sat on my new toilet lid, taking in my freshly renovated bathroom. I had held off sharing pictures until every detail was finished, which was in itself, a motivation to finish every detail. I led my mother, sister, and friend Marisa through a photo tour via text accompanied by my entertaining commentary. It was so much fun. Not only sharing something with people I love but also recognizing and appreciating every little aspect of my new bathroom, and feeling big gratitude to my father who put so much work into the project. I love taking it all in and truly feeling ownership. I think thats why I enjoy painting so much. I like to contact every wall, every crevice, every seam. I enjoy the intimacy of it, and the gratification because everything looks better with a coat of paint even if its not perfect. Anyway, I wanted to do it again- tell stories through pictures of my environment and experience that intimacy through more writing and more skillful pictures. So I turn my eye to my studio/office. Thank you Robert Snyder for helping me with these photos. I feel joy just reviewing them and the warmth and recognition of the things that inspire me and a space that I created and continues to evolve.

NoraOffice-002

 

Its a “hole picture”. Get it? The whole picture!
I love antique stores but only the kind where they let you touch stuff. There is a string of antique stores on Clinton St in Binghamton where I got a stack of stereoscope cards. My son, husband, and I sorted through big piles and took what we thought were the best ones. I really liked seeing which ones spoke to them. I love the idea of a stereoscope for its simplicity and its mechanical, old-time appeal. I loved my viewmaster as a kid, looking through the binoculars and having a private view facilitated so much pleasure and imagination. I hope that at some point my husband will add an old coin operated stereoscope to his “future arcade” collection of machines. Have I “done” anything with these cards? Not yet. I guess it was a pretty impulsive purchase but my favorite card is this one because it seems like it must have a weird backstory. The geography in the picture seems like it could be somewhere local. Ithaca rocks are the best rocks. They are perfect and sculptural and healing and historical and surrounded by amazing waterways. Crawling under a rock does NOT have negative connotations to me. I feel like I can identify with this dude as I sit at my desk in my little writer’s hole, enjoying the graffiti, hanging out, not being terribly productive… I mean, he could totally get out of that hole if he chose to.

NoraOffice-015

 

Foul-mouth Buddha! Give it to me straight. Don’t be all measured and non-violent in your communication. I ain’t got time for that. There’s a picture of Erica’s family because I love them. And there’s a conch shell for convenient ocean listening.

NoraOffice-006

This corner of my desk is where some of my favorite things reside, including a beautiful handmade bowl from my friend Erica with a quote from Mary Oliver, “Ten times a day something happens to me like this- some strengthening throb of amazement, some good sweet empathetic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest, and wisest thing I know; that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” I remember at Erica’s fortieth birthday party, I got her aside and thanked her. I said something rambling like “I have this magic inside me. I’m not saying I’m magic. I mean there’s this stuff in me that is magic and it went unexpressed until I met you. You are the only one who gets it and I wasn’t even sure it was real until I met you.You, YOU are magic. And I’m not sure I would’ve ever been me, truly me, without having met you. Thank you.” I know that ping and swell and throb well. Its real and I let it lead me creatively. Finding space and medium for those tendencies has been life changing. That bowl grounds me. Just like my pelvic bowl grounds me. It reminds me of that zone where the audience and the technicalities don’t matter, where its all about creation. About taking all those thoughts and images and connections and truths and knitting a throb/ping/swell sweater! For the absolute joy and ecstatic release of it! It reminds me that I have a responsibility to myself, to remain attentive to my own magic. Accompanying the bowl is my Fiji bottle because Fiji, and a fake flower because cats. And my little blank baby books that I’m looking forward to finding a use for. Also my favorite pen gifted by my writer friend Aryeal and a paperweight I picked up at an estate sale. I really like the aesthetic of seeing things inside of other things- like jewelry with stuff floating in glycerin or snow globes or terrariums. I am Horton hearing whos.

FullSizeRender-6

 

These are my hand figits. I share this affinity with my son. We love sinking our hands into a bunch of little stuff. There must be a german word for this!

NoraOffice-017

 

I am a school supply, general office supply, and paper product fiend. I buy twice as many school supplies for myself than for my four kids combined. My favorite store is a paper store, or a “paperie” if you’re fancy (check out Mockingbird Paperie on the Ithaca Commons if you share my proclivities). There’s nothing like the smell and the limitless potential of a newly cracked notebook, gives me the chills. I lean toward spirals and legal pads, especially those that flip from the top because of my left-handedness. I also don’t like to be intimidated by my materials. If it seems too precious or you can’t tear off a page…I don’t know, thats a lot of pressure. I’m also working on a star chart because we’ve been doing fire pits at night and we have an amazing view of the stars. I ordered an unfinished bowl from a local ceramics place because when you look up into the night sky in our backyard, it looks bowl shaped. I want a bowl who’s inside looks like that. Pelvic bowls, star bowls, Mary Oliver bowls- I’m into it.

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This is where I meditate. I never fall asleep reading with the cats. Ever. The stone with the IF logo was given to me by Marisa. Just because. She’s the best. She knows I like rocks.

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This has been an ongoing project of mine for awhile. The goal is creating customized bedding with the lyrics of my favorite David Bowie songs. Operation Bowie Bed is more complicated than one would think. I’ve been trying various thicknesses and colors and brands of pens to see how they apply and wash. Bowie Bed has supported my office supply habit nicely! Surprisingly- actual fabric markers are the WORST in terms of bleeding, Sharpies win. I am partial to the metallic gold ones, although it would be fun to emphasize certain words with pops of other colors.. I like having a variety of projects in motion, I don’t mind if it takes a long time and I don’t mind starting something new before I finish something else. Actually, these are not great habits for a blogger. But I am who I am and having many outlets for my creative flow actually makes me more productive overall. For some reason I find it more authentic to not strictly label myself as a writer even though that is mostly what I do. I feel a sense of freedom and possibility when I leave the door open for other forms of expression, regardless of skill level or experience. When I have this mindset, I am more in touch with the source material, what I want to say, the connections I want to express, rather than getting hung up on the form. I also do less comparing myself to other writers which is a huge waste of energy. I enjoy coming back to Bowie Bed, its quiet and meditative, not particularly challenging, I like my handwriting AND I love Bowie’s lyrics. Long live Bowie Bed!

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This is sweet Neko. Look at those whiskers. Awww!! Neko also has a penchant for deconstruction.

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I try to use online visual organizers like evernote and pinterest but I always find myself coming back to an arts n crafts approach to organizing thoughts and project planning. Storyboards rock. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, I can picture the storyboard in my head and I actually prefer the storyboard! I like getting my hands dirty and cutting shit up. I’m highly visual and sometimes having something in my field of vision is enough to create a breakthrough. I find this approach especially helpful if I am working on a piece that my instincts say “this is all one story” but there are so many diverse threads that I am having trouble with flow and organization. My friend Aryeal encouraged me to try this way initially. I had a really lengthy piece that I was very attached to. It was long and lean, but too long for online reading. Taking scissors to that first paragraph was a little scary but she was absolutely right. I was easily able to reconfigure two pieces from my one and smooth it out. Aryeal is super smart and a very skilled writer herself but I don’t think thats what she drew from with her advice. Aryeal knows me and how I think. She knows that deconstruction is a strength for me and she knows I am a visual, hands-on learner. She also knows that in order to get unstuck, I need a physical and emotional shift. I’m not good at beating my head against a wall, I get very discouraged. Ironically, the longer I work at something in the same way, the LESS likely it is that I will make progress. I need a lot of switching around, trying different angles. I am so lucky to have the counsel of people who know me specifically, not just about writing or blogging, but ME. I think this is an important consideration when asking others for advice. Don’t worry, I’m not asking everyone to throw away their Brene’ Brown quotes! Obviously there is value to being inspired and instructed by experts but there is also tremendous value in consulting your closest people, whether they are writers or plumbers. They know you and they care about your success, don’t discount their input. Right now (spoiler alert!) on the storyboard is a piece about hummingbirds. I am matching the spiritual, mythical aspects of the archetype with actual biological facts about the bird. It was too big, I couldn’t keep it all in my head and as I slowly research and build the story around these aspects, I add to the board. I don’t want to lose a morsel.

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Here’s a view of my shelves. My daughter recently perused them and was like, “Vagina, Full Catastrophe Living, and Butterfly Alphabet?”. Yup. That about says it all. That painting is my daughter’s work, I love it and she doesn’t care about it. Funny how that works.

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So this is funny. I found this bumper sticker on the inside of a cabinet door in my grandfather’s garage. We were cleaning out the house to sell, so my dad or husband kindly took the whole door off so I could keep it. I am tickled by where we found it, all surreptitious, and I never knew my grandfather to swear..  I too am keeping it in my not-so-secret secret place and if somebody doesn’t like my sign? They can leave! Cleaning out the house was emotional and grueling, finding this treasure was one of the highlights. I like to think he left it for me to find. Hanging from the corner is a bracelet made for me by my friend Laura. It has a superhero theme, made with shrinkydinks (!!!). She made it for me while I was working on Versus about Batman vs Superman. I love that she did this. I love that she listens to me. I love that she reads my work. I can’t even express how good this feels. I don’t sell stuff so nobody can buy my things and of course it feels amazing when people comment or share my work online but there is something about this very specific type of acknowledgement that is so powerful. “I like what you do, it makes me want to create something too!”- POW!

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This is my friend Jennifer’s work! She kindly has provided lots of illustrations on Illuminous Flux. Working with her and getting to know her has been so great. Over the summer we submitted her drawings and my stories to an upcoming Finger Lakes Anthology of local writers. I’m using this wall to manifest an acceptance letter in October. Wish us luck! The hardest part about sending in an adult like submission is the biography. Ugh. I hate doing things that aren’t fun but are required. I’m such a baby about stuff like that.

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Crying happens in here. I mean, its not usually sorrowful or even out of frustration. When I am building up a post that is particularly personal or powerful, I have to reach a level of overflow in order to have the momentum and the clarity to express myself. Usually its in the slow cooker for a long time. But by the time I am in my chair, things are moving and being felt. There are certain activities that help me keep that processing time churning, I don’t want stagnation or worse lose the thread entirely. Many people I know take notes, even use voice recorders but I have never gravitated toward that. Meditation, walking, and exposure to water does it for me. Although I am discovering new ways all the time- coloring is a new one and dishwashing (but at what cost?). Its such a strange calibration, to reach a level of flow where I am thinking “next to” the thing, not thinking directly about it, not smothering it. Just keeping a light awareness. Staying loose. Letting it come to me. I know this sounds kind of passive, lazy. And I know I would be hopeless at meeting deadlines and creating a high volume but I don’t care. I want what I want. And my process actually requires a lot of restraint and attention. I’m very intentional with my work.

One thing that I did not expect as I embarked on my studio tour was the voices of self-doubt that kept presenting themselves. I forgot that a bathroom does not carry the weight of a person’s place of work. I had expectations I didn’t even know I had. Is this good enough? Staged enough? Important enough? Is it too weird? Too imperfect? And who am I to even do this? Does anyone even care? Am I for real? I’ve found that the best way to address these fears is not to. One can’t grapple with illusion. I don’t bother arguing with crazy. Instead I view them as a signal to revisit why I am doing what I am doing and count all the blessings therein. I remember the words of encouragement my daughter gave me when I first started Illuminous Flux, “This is all yours mom, what do you like? What does it say about you?”. I am doing this for art. I am doing this for fun. I am doing this for connection. And I hope this post encourages at least one other person to throw open their doors and share their treasures and feel real.

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