Friday, October 13, 2006

Life, Apparently, Goes On

Well, it has been two weeks since my vigil with Mother. The house is empty, all the relatives have left, the Will has been read, and I'm left alone to sort out the remains and residue of two very long and productive lives. Along the way, I'm expected to sort out my own life.

Knitting content: I finished the first sock, which was too large. I did some calculations, knit a second sock on smaller needles, and finished it after Mother died. Michael's was having a sale on the SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) so I splurged and got enough for several more socks. I started another one on even smaller aluminum needles. Ick. Yesterday I invested in three sets of bamboo DPNs in sizes 5, 4 and 3. Much happier now. Pictures to follow.

Non-Knitting Content Continued...Being rendered an orphan at 43 is tough enough without also adding unemployment and lack of direction to the mix. I've also never married and have no children to speak of, other than the furry and hoofed ones. So, where do I go from here?

Last year at this time, I was taking classes at my alma mater, Bowling Green State University. I was toying with the idea of getting an MBA "because it made sense". I have a degree in Graphic Design. Following that up with an MBA, especially with a self-made cognate in Entrepreneurship (BGSU offers a minor), meant I might be better-equipped to run my own design firm or be a creative director.

IF that was what I wanted to do.

Trouble is, it isn't what I want to do. I'm not really sure what I want to be now that I've been forced to grow up, ha ha, but I know that my stint in the commercial art world is not something I wish to repeat... unless I have to.

My college career began in Graphic Design. I wanted to major in Art, but also wanted to be employable. :-) My Mother was a gifted watercolorist who had a degree in Art Education; my sister paints but chose to pursue psychology; my elder niece is a phenomenal ceramicist with two Masters (Fine Art and Art Ed) married to an equally-talented painter (with a Masters and currently on the faculty at a major university in Indiana). For years I heard stories that lead me to believe that if one majors in Art, one will surely starve unless one is lucky enough to snag one of the few-and-far-between college faculty positions or has capabilities in other areas (such as shoe repair, in my niece's case) or, even less likely, manages to marry well (as my Mother did).

So I took the safe road, sold out and went commercial.

Make no mistake—I enjoy the creative process and I'm computer friendly, but the deadlines, the stress, the 80-hour mandatory work weeks, the impossibility of making the clients happy... that I can do without. I hate wearing business clothes, I don't fit the profile of the hip young black rimmed clunky heels designer, and I can't stand being strapped to a computer 24/7 without sunlight or fresh air. Plus it saddens me to think that I could pour my heart and soul into a design, knowing that when the brochure or direct mailer arrives in the hands of the recipient, it will receive a perfunctory glance before being tossed in the wastebasket, headed for its ultimate destination: the landfill or, if really lucky, the recycling plant.

I started out as a Design major. We had to take art electives. I chose painting, drawing and fibers. I LOVED FIBERS. I fell in love with weaving. I spent hours on the weekends weaving far more scarves than the course required. I was lost in bliss tie-dyeing and handpainting silk. I re-declared my major as fibers.

My parents were "over-joyed" (thank you, Van Halen).

I was happily pursuing my bliss when my family stopped me in my tracks, asking me, "well, gee that's nice, but... what can you DO with a fibers degree?"

Er.... open a yarn store? Teach? ...(starve?)

After more tales of the difficulty my relatives were having making ends meet as artists, I panicked, and changed my major back to design.

So. Here I am. Orphaned, re-evaluating my life, longing for the soft whoosh and clank of the beater; yearning for the hypnotic rhythm of pressing the treadle... throwing the heddle... pulling the beater... repeat...; aching to put brush to silk and watch miracles happen; catching myself dreaming of a little farm in the country with a huge room filled with yarn, fabric, dye pots, a 48-inch floor loom, a spinning wheel, a sewing machine, a pasture full of llamas, sheep, angora goats and of course my two horses...

I love the academic atmosphere of the college campus, the spirited conversations, the urge to learn, the new ideas... maybe if I'm passionate about it, I would enjoy teaching at the college level. I warm to the idea—then like ice-cold water being thrown on me, the fear rises: "...but it's impossible to find a teaching position, you'll have to work at Wendy's to support yourself!"

But now IS the time. The only blessing in my parents' deaths is that they have left me with a solid foundation and a starting point. There is enough money to seed my dreams—if only I can figure out WHAT the dreams are!

And so, as I work on ribbing yet another sock top, I ponder. With each stitch, I'm sorting through my yearnings, past and present, comparing and contrasting, trying to visualize The Rest Of My Life—which began the day my Mother left me forever.

I knit, I purl, I ponder. Repeat as established.

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