Not alone

I have been having a tough time, friends. The Tubbs fire that ate up half my hometown is now listed as the most destructive wildfire in California history. It’s jarring and heartbreaking to see my hometown as a statistic in the news. I’m not used to looking at The New York Times, for example, and finding a map of my hometown, complete with the names of everyone who died.

I feel so lucky that my parents and our house are okay. But I also feel horror for the people who lost everything. And for the people who went to bed on Sunday night and then died less than 12 hours later. My town will never be the same. I have no idea what to do with all of that. As I go through my daily activities, I get stopped by random memories popping up in my head. And then I have to stop and think: is that structure still there? And then I have to shake it all away and try to remember what I was doing.

On top of that, I have some other stuff going on (such as: “OK Potassium, you really need to figure out what you want to be when you grow up…”) that’s been gnawing at me and keeping me up at night.

But this weekend, two things happened that gave me a break from all of the insanity. First of all, Cobalt and I went to Portland.

Cobalt helped our friend F move to Portland on Thursday. I followed them after work on Friday. I drove by myself through the Columbia Gorge. It was super windy at first, then kind of rainy, and then the clouds cleared and I was driving into a gorgeous orange sunset, complete with tufts of fluffy clouds rising off the top of the gorge. Plus the fall colors scattered around all the evergreens made a stark contrast to all the gray. I almost had to pull the car over because I was that stunned by the beauty.

Somehow I made it to Portland and Cobalt and I spent the evening with our friends M and P. We had Korean BBQ for dinner. Then we drank a glass of wine and watched The Shining in the dark while M’s and P’s cat purred loudly on the back of the couch. I found myself breathing deeper and snuggling into my blanket. For the first time in weeks, I felt at peace.

The other thing that happened is that I got a group text message from two of my childhood friends. We’ve been group texting since the day of the fire. But I realized on Sunday how amazing it is that I’ve had these friends my whole life and that we can be honest about what’s going on for each of us. It reminded me that despite feeling anxious about everything going on in my life, I am not alone.

About the picture: I have been doing Inktober on Twitter. That means I have to draw a picture in ink every day of the month of October. This picture was from Mental Health Awareness Day and it’s called “You are not alone.” I like it because the shark on the side is kind of nebulous. Maybe it’s not even a shark? I think that’s often how I feel when I feel depressed and anxious: all my anxiety is so clear to me that it’s hard for me to see past it to bring anything else into focus.

One last thing. This blog is 7 years old this week. WAAAAAAT. Oh and also I defended my PhD thesis 3 years ago today. Geez…

Horses and Painting

Potassium, A, and C on their respective horses (Misty, Max, and Andy) after a lovely morning of horseback riding…

Even though it’s been crazy snowy during the weeks here (apparently we’ve gotten over 35 inches of snow over the month of April), it’s been absolutely beautiful and warm on the weekends (Colorado is weird…). A few weekends ago, A and I went to our friend C’s family’s ranch, called the Fifth Element Ranch, to ride horses! They have four horses on the ranch that C’s mom (T) uses for horse therapy workshops during the week but this weekend was all about fun. C, T, A, and I all got to ride together. Seeing as I was the least experienced in horseback riding (I have ridden horses a few times but they were all a long time ago…), I got to ride their mare Misty. I was really nervous at first but T was awesome at teaching me how to work with and interact with Misty. After Misty realized she was going to have to listen to what I wanted us to do we got along pretty well. It turned out to be a really fun day and the weather was awesome! I can’t wait to go back and ride more!

Some more pictures (Thanks to T for the photos!)…

Potassium and A explore the ranch…
Potassium and Misty

In the evening, A and I headed to our friend J’s house to have art night with J and our other friend L. It tured out to be a fine ending to a neat day. First we had pizza for dinner and then we spent the rest of the evening drinking wine and doing art. J, A, and I painted while L went through fashion magazines for a project she’s been intent on starting. At one point, L found all of our horoscopes in Italian and cut them out for us! I decided to incorporate mine into my painting and I think it looks pretty neat. Check it out below!

Materials used in this painting: Japanese paintbrush and ink, acrylics, and magazine cuttings. I wasn’t really sure where it was going at the beginning but I actually really like the way it turned out…

So I have to admit that I am kind of stalling about telling you guys about something super exciting that Cobalt and I have been planning recently. Partially it’s because I want to talk about the fun that happened on these past few weekends first and part of it is that it’s hard for me to believe that it’s actually happening. So I’m going to end today’s and Thursday’s posts this week with little hints and then we’ll get to the excitingness NEXT WEEK.

Today’s hint: It partially has to do with my work (and no I’m not graduating… but this could possibly help me graduate sooner than later…).

Now it’s your turn. Is there anything about your work that you’re excited about right now? What do you think of horseback riding? Awesome? Scary? Finally, is it spring there yet? I’m so sick of snow. I have been telling myself that it will lead to a beautiful summer but I am getting really impatient for that summer!

Dragons and Whales

With some of my Christmas money, I bought myself some Japanese ink wash painting brushes to allow myself to continue acquiring fun arts and crafts tools and learn how to use them. I got this sweet set of two brushes, an ink stone (a suzuri), and an ink stick from Amazon – perfect for a beginning artist. It arrived on Friday so I stayed up waaaaaaaaay too late painting on newsprint. In a high school art class, we learned how to paint dragons using this technique so I used my 10 year old memories and had fun. It turned out that painting with these brushes and then using my pen and ink set to add in small details worked out pretty well. Above and below and some fun pictures of my art. I like it. Can’t wait to spend more time improving my skills!

Do you like doing arts and crafts? What projects are you currently working on? Are you like me and you are too ADD to just have one project going at once? What is your favorite medium to work with? Apparently my answer to that question is all of them because I am currently jumping around between drawing, photography, using my Wacom drawing tablet, painting, sewing (I got this awesome book for Christmas with all these cute patterns…), crocheting (still have my top secret crocheting project…), etc. That’s the life of a grad student – you are so busy every day that you have to find something to help you relax. I am finding that doing random creative projects like these really help me! :)