Thursday, December 27, 2012

To Do Today

I've been feeling so much better since my surgery, and I have so much more energy. What a wonderful thing! All those days of being exhausted during art school, and my handwork was only partly to blame! Now, even if I get a crappy night's sleep, I still feel ready to make art for the next 15 hours at least. But I'm supposed to take it easy for awhile. Before the surgery, even walking or standing for too long would aggravate the pain. So to make sure that doesn't happen, I have to have smaller adventures for awhile. As much as I'd love to explore the forest in my backyard and enjoy this beautiful sunny weather, I think I'll have to do that from my porch. This is what I'm up to today. Making things and spending time with Fergie (my cat). When I see lists like this, I really am grateful I'm an artist. It's really wonderful everyday, even with all the self-loathing that comes with it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Michaela's Airport Misadventures

Here I am, back in [currently] sunny South Carolina, enjoying the barefoot, porch-sitting weather. I spent a lovely [green] Christmas with Nicholas and am enjoying all this time watching our [my] favorite movies together. Although there was a bit of time where I was stranded in the airport, convinced I would never make it home in time for the holidays. Why's that? Well, let's recap Thursday evening, where I hugged my family tight and said see-you-laters and left my house at 4:15 pm for my flight that was scheduled for 7:10pm. Plenty of time. Right? No.

I have to say, I was totally anticipating holiday chaos, but I checked my bags without waiting and cruised through security. Almost. My dad, who brought me to the airport, stayed on the other side until he knew I made it through safely. And so I kept looking over to see his head, towering above most, laughing at all my blunders. (At least this time, when I went through the magic x-ray machine, it didn't say I was smuggling something in the side of my leg and my skull, resulting in a very disgruntled airport employee smacking the side of my head and me laughing and saying I wasn't even wearing bobby pins so this was further proof I was magnetic. Don't tell them that. They don't like to hear that.)

Michaela: Do you still hand check bags?
TSA Guy: Ummmmmm...
Michaela: I have some film that I'd like to have hand checked, just to be on the safe side.
TSA Guy: Uhhh, yeahhhhh, ummm, let me find someoneeeeeee...
Magic X-ray Machine Guy: Do you know what ISO it is?
Michaela: It's instant film, so it just makes me really nervous. I feel like it might break the ISO rules. And I really can't afford to have it ruined.

After successfully walking thought the magic x-ray machine:

TSA Man: Whose is this?
Michaela: Oh, that's mine! Ohhhh, I forgot to take my laptop out, sorry.
TSA Man: Just a laptop? Is that all ya got in here?
Michaela: Well, I also have a tablet.
TSA Man: A what?
Michaela: A tablet.
TSA Man: Like an iPad?
Michaela: No, like a Wacom tablet, that you use to draw on the computer. And that's a bunch of colored pencils. And that's a seam ripper. I'm an artist. That's a bottle opener, but they told me it was ok to fly with last time. That's an Xacto knife, but I remembered to take the blade out this time. I'll just stand over here.
TSA Woman: Whose is this?
Michaela: Oh, that's my film!
TSA Woman: Stand right there.
Michaela: You can take it out of the bag if you need to. I just figured that'd be easier for you guys.
TSA Woman: Stand right there, ma'am.
Michaela: Oh, I was just going to grab my other suitcase and laptop and tablet.
TSA Woman: Your what?
Michaela's Dad on the Phone: What's going on?
Michaela: I set everything off again.
Michaela's Dad: I guess you really are magnetic.
Michaela: That's why Mom wanted to get me tested. At least my hair didn't go off this time.

(This went on for awhile.)

And this doesn't even get into the massively-delayed-almost-cancelled flight-nightmare that ensued.
In the end, my 7:10 flight left sometime after 10pm, but instead of waiting for a connecting flight in the morning, I was picked up by Nicholas, who drove all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina, even though he had to work the next day. What a great guy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I have a 6 year old sister.

I also tend to have high anxiety and extreme sympathy. What this means is, I don't watch the news. The only time I ever did was in the mornings before school, as we were all getting ready. I would catch snippets here and there, and occasionally get wrapped up in a story about some rescued animal or teenage hoodlum. But after one of those days you write numerous essays about, I came home from 6th grade and called my mom to ask about the numerous flags at half-mast that we passed driving back from school. She said one simple sentence and told me to turn on the news, and to not let my sister McKenna, who was at that time 5, see any footage. Ciara, then 8, and I watched footage of dusty firefighters and demolished buildings in a city I always dreamed of living in one day.

Things have changed in the last 11 years. I don't want to live in New York. People stopped saying "God Bless America." And I refuse to watch the news. If something's that important, people will be talking about it, and I'm bound to hear it from my friends or family or Facebook. Maybe this makes me ignorant. But when I hear about things that interest me, or when I need to vote on issues, I do my homework and read the necessary articles. But I avoid news clips like the plague. 

Maybe it runs in my family. We often joke that my grandma will cry [tears of joy] when they open a new Wal-Mart. And Nicholas often teases me for crying while browsing Netflix. (Ok, guys, it's not that bad.) For whatever reason, when I see a person crying, either a friend face-to-face or an actor on a tv show, I'm bound to tear up. And trust me, I've spent years trying to master the art of wiping the corners of my eyes with a cardigan or blaming it on my allergies or simply blinking the tears away, but I still fail. And I might as well give up at this point. Let's face it: you're talking to the girl who gets sympathy nerves for everyone else's BFA defense (yet somehow I was completely calm for my own). Those humiliating moments that awkward freshmen experience in high school--I always felt embarrassed for them (and completely fine with my own blunders). Maybe some kind of doctor would tell me there's something totally wrong with me or I'm projecting my own blah blah blah, but really, it's not such a bad thing in the end. Too many people don't care enough. I just make up for them.

On Friday morning, the posts and links about Connecticut made the rounds on Facebook. I read article after article about people looking for answers and speculating this and that. And even though I take just about everything nowadays with a grain of salt, there were some facts that were consistent: that in some charming New England town that everything thought was as safe as could be, 27 people were killed in a shooting at an elementary school, and among those 27, 20 of them were first graders, just 6 and 7 years old.

Mia is in first grade. She's 6 and a half.

And immediately, as I read the headlines (obviously crying), I thought about the other children in that school: the ones who watched their best friends die, the ones that witnessed their teachers murder, the ones that heard the shots that they would learn killed their siblings. I thought about the first responders that will probably find it hard to sleep and impossible to forget such a scene. I thought about the parents, unsure about their children's safety. And I thought about the people in Oregon who, earlier that same week, experienced a shooting at a mall. Their community gets shaken up, and just 3 days later they have to relive it again.

Really, I tend to hate politics for the same reason I tend to hate the news: both leave me incredibly depressed and hopeless. So I'm not going to lecture about what should or shouldn't be done, because honestly, I don't know anymore. Let's face it: I'm an artist. I can't design safer schools. I can't push legislation. I can't do a lot of things, and I don't even know what I would do if I could. So situations like these leave me feeling pretty helpless. But besides being an artist, I'm also a Catholic--the kind that still goes to church on Sundays and holy days and celebrates Jesus' birth and feels guilty about just about everything. So I can pray. And maybe that sounds like nothing. A lot of days it feels like it, too. When you're in chronic pain, the last thing you want to hear from your mom is, "Well, say a rosary." But whether or not you know God is real, prayer tends to help you re-focus. Like every other kid, I know I've prayed that Santa would bring me my favorite toy, or that Jesus would help me *magically* do well on a test I didn't study for in the least. But at some point, your list of requests starts to sound selfish, and your pleases turn to thank-yous. Maybe our culture needs more thank-yous. Maybe it's as simple as that. But probably not.

So I'll tell you what I do, and what I did, on days like this. I prayed for everyone that needed it. And they'll probably never know that some weird art girl in the midwest who cries over everything prayed for them. But that's one more person in the world letting God in, keeping evil out, and thinking about someone besides herself for just a little while. And none of that is really a bad thing. And when Mia came home from school safely I hugged her perfectly safe little body. And when she overheard someone talking and asked about the other first graders who were hurt, I kissed her perfectly safe forehead and told her that sometimes people need extra prayers.