Beth Meadows

"deep thoughts"

Narcissism brings us together

"deep thoughts", "web", "women"B5 Comments
I read this this morning, courtesy of my pregnant friend's Facebook page.

It got me thinking more about something I've been thinking about for a while.

I read another article recently about how more and more women are beginning to share their labor, in real time, via social media.

I want to give my generation (late 20s/early 30s) the benefit of the doubt here. I want to believe most of my peers are appalled at such a thing. I am. Mortified, really.

Then I think about younger generations, the ones that have known very little life without social media. By the time they are having children, will it be commonplace to update your status while pushing? What will become of our culture?

To be clear, I think it's an incredible thing for a woman to carry around a tiny growing person in her stomach. Even more, as I personally know more and more women taking this task on, it gives me a joy that I've never experienced before.

With that being said, I admit, however, that I'm tired (oh, so tired) of seeing baby bump photos on Facebook. Add ultrasound photos to that list as well.

I've been wondering why I've felt this way. Am I being cynical, as is my natural tendency? Maybe. Am I jealous? No, I'm really not.

So I've come to the conclusion that what bothers me about it is how we can so easily cheapen joyous, awe-inspiring occasions by turning them into advertisements for ourselves. We take private, magical moments and publicize them so publicly*, and ask others to affirm us, to assure us we are on the right track.

Though I've never had the opportunity to consider posting baby bump pictures, I'm guilty of the same thing when I post updates and photos of my travels, social gatherings, and accomplishments. We put the best versions of ourselves forward in an effort to garner some amount of praise, some bit of validation from others while simultaneously living in reality, which we know has it's fair share of failures and disappointments.

(No one reads this blog, but) In the off chance you are sitting there thinking, "My baby bump pictures were not about me but my baby!" consider yourself a saint and stay exactly the way you are. But if you're anything like me, you know the struggle of which I speak.

Ok, enough beating up on pregnant women (poor choice of words?). What about the most narcissistic group of all: Artists.

We are a self-absorbed people asked to promote and defend the work we make knowing it does not serve a purpose in the grand scheme of human survival. Yet, we create because there is a mysterious force inside us that tells us that if we don't, we will spiral into a dark depression and our spirit will surely die**. We possess an ability to communicate on a level other people can't, to make money throwing paint on a canvas or fashioning a sculpture out of paper clips and, as a result, we place ourselves above those who can't. Or something like that.

As I force myself to be more comfortable promoting myself as an artist (lest I never make a living doing what I love), I can't shake the feeling that I'm not supposed to function this way. I haven't come to a place in regard to self-promotion where I've felt like my motives were right; it always feels like bragging.

So I guess what I'm asking is, how can I trick others into thinking I'm humble and noble when I talk about how great I am in order to attain more wealth?

While you ponder this, I'm going to go post some pics on Facebook of a hike I went on the other day. It was the best day ever!

* I've always wondered why an email to 20 or 30 of your closest friends and family with your ultrasound photos attached wouldn't suffice. Everyone can go bonkers via an exuberant and intimate email thread.

** This might just be me.

I sound my fettered YAWP over the internets

"art", "dating", "deep thoughts", "film", "friends", "writing"B2 Comments
I'm supposed to write an article for a magazine, due tomorrow. It's for work, not art work, but salvage work. Instead I am here.

Writing, like making art, is one of very few things I've liked for as long as I can remember and still practice. I've written consistently in a journal since I learned to use a pencil and have all these filled diaries, hand-bound books, and journals friends have given me, placed in an old suitcase. With all the social networking going on today, it's enchanting to be able to write a thought privately.

Would I mind if someone read all of those books one day? No, not if it were the right person.

When I was a senior in high school, I let the right person read the journal I kept then. The combination of my ability to trust and his unflinching courage to know something deep about someone else was enough for us to fall in love, at least for a time.

***

The first time I wrote online was for a collaborative blog a few years ago. I fell in love with writing that way, knowing thoughts I formed were being read by others. Sadly, that blog seems to have run its course, or maybe I have run my course with it.

***

My thoughts often formulate as if I am writing a paper or writing to someone. They come together with a proper introduction and a body in which different points are expounded upon.

Although this is how I think, I couldn't sit down and write for myself when it came to anything outside of what I expressed in a personal journal. I had to write somewhere where I knew someone, if they wanted, could read it. It wasn't worth it to me to sit down and write if it was going to be in a book that no one would ever see but me. That's why I began this blog.

I like it but resent it too. Most of what I think about goes unwritten because someone could actually read it. I could write anonymously, but that seems very similar to writing in a journal no one will ever see. The point for me (for bloggers) is to express and for that expression to be received. Isn't that what everyone wants? Isn't that why Facebook and Twitter are what they are?

I still hinder myself, and maybe that's ok for now, but I'm beginning to ask myself why I do, and if it's worth it.

***

When I was younger, I was so shy, it hurt. I had a teacher tell me to yell in front of my whole class, trying to cure me of being so soft-spoken. I was like Todd Anderson standing in front of Mr. Keating's classroom in Dead Poet's Society. But real life is never like the movies. I could not YAWP there in front of my class.

That teacher was an idiot, by the way.

Writing (and painting) has helped ease a frustrating inability to express myself verbally. My YAWPs have been few and far between.

***

When I was in high school, I read a poem I wrote in front of my English class. I read it quickly but with vigor. I didn't look up until it was done, and when I did, the faces of my classmates were delighted, speechless. My face was flushed when I walked back to my seat. I was embarrassed but really happy.

***

I am really thankful for the ability to write. I don't mean to write well, but to have the capability and the desire to.

This gratitude is shaping into letter writing for me. I've recently bought stationery, postcards, even stamps to make my own. I also bought a pack of No. 2 pencils.

It's felt a little strange to sit down and write to someone that I don't need to thank for giving me a gift. In the first ones I've sent, I've felt the need to explain that I'm beginning to write letters. I assume the recipient, my friend, would wonder why I felt inclined to sit down and hand-write about the movie I just watched or the walk I just went on. I don't really know why I am, but I am.

I'm looking forward to the second round of letters I send, the ones where I won't have to explain what I'm doing, I can just go for it.

The elusivity of sleep and dreams

"deep thoughts", "sleep"BComment
Almost every morning around 7am, my neighbor spends thirty seconds starting his car. Once it's started, he revs his engine for another 20 seconds or so.

Simultaneously, I lie in bed awake, fuming.

***

Most mornings in between 3am and 5am, I wake up and can't fall back asleep until about an hour before my alarm goes off or the revving of the engine starts outside my window, whichever comes first.

I eventually fall asleep, deeply, so when my alarm finally goes off, I often hit snooze for thirty minutes to an hour.

Putting my alarm across the room so that when it goes off, I have to get out of bed to turn it off, hasn't cured my snooze addiction. All it means is that I walk back and forth between my phone and bed for about thirty minutes, in five minute intervals.

It's completely masochistic, insane, bewildering.

***

One early morning while it was still dark, I woke up from a dream that I realized has been recurring, in theme, for a long time. The scenario changes, but the feeling is the same.

Basically, there is a problem to be solved or task to be completed- I have to find someone, gather something in boxes, prepare for an event, or take an exam. I work to accomplish the goal, but the end result is unreachable. In all my might and effort, I can't complete what I set out to do.

I see the person I'm trying to find, but they disappear. The things I put in boxes keep falling out. I gather what I need to for an event, but they keep escaping me. I go from room to room on my high school campus, unable to find where I'm supposed to take the exam.

The tension and frustration is palpable, as everything I want or need becomes elusive. I wake up, relieved it was a dream, and by the time I'm fully coherent, I forget the dream altogether.

***

Although reality grants me the ability to accomplish small tasks throughout the day, there are still the White Stags in my life, ever-elusive goals I can't fulfill.

I'll hunt them down with time.

***

I know one thing. The impending reaction to my neighbor and his revving engine is becoming less and less elusive.

When Hairy Met Sally-Don't-Care

"deep thoughts", "food", "friends"B6 Comments
The other night, I was with some friends at an establishment that I frequent. I had had a drink or two when I ordered a small plate of food to share.

When it came out, I picked up a morsel only to find a hair stuck to the side of it. Without giving it much thought, I removed the foreign object, consumed the food, and moved on with my life.

The people I was with would not touch the food and brought up "the hair" a few times throughout the rest of the night. Though the whole situation didn't bother me in the moment, it woke me up last night, and put me in such deep thought, I couldn't go back to sleep.

***

As the hair tainted the food that I decided to eat, did I taint the thoughts my friends have of me because of my decision? Have they concluded that I'm repulsive or lacking in proper dining etiquette? What about my life experience made me make a decision like this? What do normal people do in these situations?

And so, I pondered.

The night of the incident, without a doubt, I was a little buzzed, and so full-on rational thinking was out the window, but I was NOT devoid of thought. No, my thoughts were quick, like lighting, and they were these:

1. I come to this place a lot. I know the people behind the bar well enough, and I'm just going to take care of the situation and move on without causing a scene.

2. I used to wait tables. Hair on food happens. We all wish it didn't, but it does, and it's not the end of the world.

3. Because I worked in a restaurant, I know what it's like to be on the other side of the table. No matter what the situation, when someone sends their food back, it's awkward. Even if the customer is the nicest person on the planet about it, the server plus everyone back in the kitchen knows that, "lady at seat 1, table 22" was upset enough about something so much that she complained and sent her food back. And now the whole dining experience is uncomfortable for everyone- server, manager, table. I'm not saying NEVER send back food, but I'm saying to ask if it's worth it first.

4. You can't complain at a restaurant discreetly. You have to do it in front of everyone around you, and that is something a server (like me) couldn't recover from. But say you don't complain. Are you going to sulk throughout the whole meal?

It's no fun to eat out with someone who gets upset easily. It should be a time of enjoyment, and if the people you're with are high maintenance or hard on servers, it can ruin a whole evening.

5. Sending back food worries me. You don't want to piss off chefs. They are an angry people with the perfect amount of control and distance from the situation to taint your food worse without you knowing. In other words, I don't send back food unless there's a thumb or something in it (this has never happened, but would make a GREAT blog post), and if it's fast food (this has never happened either), I throw it away because I got what I paid for.

***

Sometimes I wish someone would pay me to research and conduct polls about scenarios like this, to find "the norm." I would ask things like:

If you are dining out and find a hair on your food in a restaurant, would you:

a) chew the server out and ask for a full refund
b) chew the server out and then order something else
c) chew the server out and then order the same dish
d) politely ask for the plate to be removed and for a refund
e) politely ask for the plate to be removed and order something else
f) politely ask for the plate to be removed and order the same dish
g) not say anything and not eat the food
h) remove the hair, not say anything, and eat it begrudgingly
i) remove the hair, not say anything, and eat it without caring

 The answer to this question can speak volumes about a person. It could speak volumes about a whole social class. There is an understanding that can be found through the answer to this question.

***

In a way, I feel like a martyr. I chose to eat the tainted food the other night because I quickly decided I could suck it up enough not to cause a scene or create awkwardness with the employees there. This is all well and good, but I'm pretty certain I permanently grossed out the people I was with and this makes me self-conscious. It bothers me to have reasons for my actions that others may not understand. And the thing is, I understand their decision not to partake. I see their side that it was gross, certainly.

***

I've concluded that my answer to the above poll question next time will be e) or f) and only i) if I can remove the hair without anyone noticing.

What are you going to do?

***

Some people (mostly old boyfriends) have told me I think too much. I tell them it's because I'm compensating for their lack of thought. No, I've never said that, but it sure as heck feels like I'm compensating for something.

If those buildings could talk/ Art as a coping mechanism

"art", "deep thoughts", "depression", "drawing", "exhibit", "funny", "historic preservation", "knox heritage", "sad", "salvage", "simple"B2 Comments
I've had an art show up in downtown Knoxville this month that I'm taking down next week. It's at Kate Moore Creative and Jennie Andrews Photography studios at 123 South Gay Street. You may still be able to pop in there to see it during normal weekday business hours Monday through Wednesday of next week.

The final product of this show was really surprising to me, as I had a different idea for it, even a week before the opening. Changing my mind right before a show, however, is nothing new. I intended to make simple graphite drawings of buildings, but the idea to make multiple xeroxes of those drawings didn't come until about 4 days before I hung the show.

The originals- graphite drawings

I still didn't know what the outcome would be when I began hanging it. It took me about 7 hours to install, maybe 2 to 3 hours physical and 4-5 hours mental (because I am A} mentally inept or B} a creative genius. The jury's still out on that one)

So I made these small graphite drawings of buildings which was a welcome relief to me. Through them, I fell more deeply in love with this mysterious thing called art, which has all ready cast a spell on me. Graphite on paper is the equivalent to young autumnal* love. I became lost in the simplicity, the honesty, the vulnerability of it.



I drew buildings on the Knox Heritage and East Tennessee Preservation Alliance endangered lists- beautiful dilapidated buildings, schoolhouses, and homes. I wanted to "give them a voice," so to speak, so I put speech bubbles above them.

I decided to leave the originals blank, being satisfied with them visually and conceptually (you can see one of them here), but I also wanted to add text, so I decided to make multiple copies of them at Kinko's.



***

Over the past few years, I've been recuperating from an emotional low that hit me right after college. (I mention it a lot. I apologize if it becomes annoying) It had been building up for years before then, and so it makes sense that it would take years to heal from. In an effort to reclaim a sense of emotional well-being, I have filled journals with thoughts, read numerous books, talked to generous and loving people, and even researched online how to cope with pain, suffering, and stress...

***

I decided to put these two things together- the dilapidated buildings and the research I found online, statements or words people can say to help them cope with pain or suffering. From there, I began looking up quotes from famous people on the subject of pain. I filled in the speech bubbles with these words on the xeroxed pieces.



***

It might be presumptuous of me to assume what a building would say if it could speak, but I soon realized this was more for me than the buildings. Making these was a way for me to cope with the fact that there's nothing I can do to help these buildings. I have no money, no power, but I can draw, that's it.



Also, I hate to even say this as I hope people would realize it on their own, but it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Everyone knows it sucks admitting you have a problem with anything, but when you come out of it, (it might take some time, but) you can finally laugh at how desperate you once were. And it's funny because I find the websites on coping to be just as depressing as being depressed (Here is an example). It's all just too much...



So anyway, here is my artist statement and more photos of the show. And thank you, thank you for going to see it if you did. You are the bomb.org.









Of course, there were mason jars ;)

*Autumn love is far more romantic than summer love, at least in my book.

Time to breathe

"art", "deep thoughts", "friends", "knox heritage", "men", "simple", "thankful"BComment
I worked a lot last week for Knox Heritage (my part time job), as we had our biggest fundraising event of the year on Saturday night. I'm thankful it's over, and even more thankful I get to take time off this week for working so much last week.

I'm either going to be extremely productive in the realm of art and salvage with all this free time, or I'm going to lie on my couch a lot. (I spent this morning watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) Hopefully I will find a good balance of both.

I'd also like to swim a lot this week. I've been going to the YWCA for the past month or so. It's in the basement of a beautiful old building (see photo below) and membership is only $40 a year. It's my new favorite way to decompress and exercise. My only complaint is that when I'm the only one there, I'm self-conscious about swimming in front of the life guard, who stares at me as I go back and forth. It's something I'm getting used to.



***

Money has been hard to come by these days, but the past couple of weeks, I've been selling more mason jar paintings, via Yee-Haw, my etsy shop, the Farmers' Market, an art show...






















I was going to stop at 100, but if I'm not tired of making them, I'd like to keep going. They're a good side project- fun, simple, and as my hands make them more easily as time goes on, I like them more and more. I think I'll know when to stop when the time comes.

***

Money looks different when you are (pseudo) self-employed, trying to "make it." When I sell artwork or salvage now, I'm so grateful. It's amazing not to have any clue if money will come, and then see it come- difficult, but thrilling.

***

I'm thinking about this fundraiser we had on Saturday. It was a big event. I was nervous and overwhelmed, but thankful to have a role in making it come together. All of our staff had to work so hard.

It can be tricky to put on a big event for so many people. Some made my evening extremely difficult, but then some, the ones with golden souls, would make me stop and look them in the eyes and they would say, "Thank you so much for all the work you've done," and it made up for the shortcomings of their less empathetic peers.

***

When I am extremely wealthy, you have right to slap me across the face if I'm rude to someone in the service industry, non-profit realm, anyone. Money or no money, we can all act entitled to certain things from time to time. It's easy, especially in hectic situations, to forget to breathe and be kind. I'm just as bad as the next person.

I realized Saturday night though, that when you feel like you're getting the crap kicked out of you by an impatient person, to take a deep breath and say, "I want to help you. Please help me understand what you need, and I'll do my best to help." Most people just want someone to listen to them, and when they realize you are, you can see their muscles loosen and their brow unfurrow; it's like magic. Unfortunately, this doesn't work with everyone.

***

I put three mason jar paintings in the auction that night, and the winning bidder hugged me when she found out I made them. Granted, she may have had a lot of wine that night, I don't know, but it was genuine, and she helped settle my nerves that had been wound so tight.

***

I've been hanging out with an old friend lately. After years of not seeing one another, it's strange to be spending time together again and surprising to both of us how much we enjoy one another. We go on bike rides at night and it makes me feel like I'm in college again, which is a feeling I always like, especially now that fall is here.



***

Life is not like the movies where relationships are mended overnight or even in a month. People change slowly, and sometimes it takes years to have what you wanted all along or to let go of things that don't matter that much. At least that has been true in my life.

***

Tomorrow I'm going to write about some art.

Sensible Communication

"dating", "deep thoughts", "film", "friends", "men", "simple"BComment
Yesterday, I watched the entirety of Sense and Sensibility on my lunch break. This is among the perils of being pseudo-self-employed- unforeseen, but welcome distractions. (It's ok, though. I worked late to make up for it.)



Anyway, I love Jane Austen movies (I can't say books since I haven't read any. Disappointing, I know.) That time period is so intriguing to me, how men and women conversed, all the expectations different people had, the importance of marrying well.

It's funny to admit, but I think watching Jane Austen movies has made me ponder over the virtue of patience more than anything else has. I always think about how long and drawn out everything had to be when there were only horses and messengers and letters. On top of that, how Austen portrays her characters, so reserved in their interactions with one another, how they wait so long to share their feelings with one another because of outsiders' opinions. The dialogue is so fascinating.

***

Today, we are able to communicate with people anywhere, at any time, with the touch of a few buttons, and though I don't necessarily wish to go back to letter writing, comparing the two makes me curious about certain things.

Like, do we take enough time to process our thoughts before we send them out there to someone else?  Could our ability to communicate quickly make us take friendships/ relationships for granted? Because of the nature of technology, are we more prone to expect, even demand, quick responses? Is it too easy to keep certain relationships going, ones that are not worth it?

If Elinor was able, would she have texted Edward to ask him what was going on? If she did, would he have responded?

***

There is something deeply romantic and genuine about how the relationships slowly unfold in Austen's stories. I think that is so much a part of their allure.

***

On a different note:

It's one thing to be patient because we distance ourselves from others and don't have any expectations of anyone. It's another to be patient with people while being fully engaged, fully committed, fully a friend to them. I am working on the latter.

To be honest

"art business", "art", "deep thoughts", "friends", "sad", "thankful"B2 Comments
A friend of mine and fellow blogger called me out last night for not blogging last week, thus breaking one of the rules I set out for this blog in the beginning. I appreciated it very much and found his prodding encouraging, as I still don't know what to think about this whole blogging thing anyway.

I began this as a way to stretch myself as an artist, to talk about the artwork I'm making, etc., but the problem is that most of the time, the things I want to write about have nothing to do with art. I hesitate to treat this like some sort of diary or a place to push my agenda about things.

I'd like it to be more like those happy, cute, sun-shiney design blogs out there, where everything posted is sleek and beautiful and makes readers feel like crap because their life will never look or be like that.

But the truth of the matter is that that's probably not going to happen, and what I and any artist knows is that writing about life is writing about art. Everything that passes through my life is reflected in what I make; making things processes all the information going in.

I'm scared, though, to be too honest here. I like the fact that people read this blog, even if they are just being nice to me, and I don't want to scare anyone off with things that aren't sun-shiney and bright.

The stupid thing is, if you know me, you know that I don't really have a filter for the things that I say, and also, that I am melancholy by nature. So why have a blog that is the opposite of my actual demeanor? To tell the truth, I've been trying the bullshit theory- that even if things aren't going well, project to people that they are, and they'll believe, and through the art of deceit, you will gain success. Or something along those lines.

***

I've been beginning a lot of sentences with the phrase "To be honest" recently. In seeking out and fighting for the life that I want to live, I have to catch myself lying all of the time, I have to go back to people and say, "You know when I said this, well, I actually meant that," or "You know when I didn't say anything then, I wish I had said this." In trying to be more truthful in real life, I want to do that here as well, so I hope you'll bear with me as I try this with some amount of grace, because to be honest, I'd like to let some f-bombs fly, which I know most people wouldn't mind, but I know many that would.

***

So when my friend called me out for not writing last week, what I really wanted to say was, "You know, last week was pretty terrible, and if I wrote about it, it wouldn't have been sun-shiney and bright, and does anyone want to read about me hitting a low point anyway?"

And as those words leave my fingertips, I'll get into it, because maybe it will help things get a little better. Maybe.

So the truth is, last week was rough for several reasons. For one, a deep friendship has become severed because of a disagreement, and I don't know what to do. It's painful and has made me hermit-ish and quiet. But I went out last night and enjoyed spending time with people I would like to know better, and as a result, feel more like a human being.

Two, my wrists and hands are in pain, so much so that if I don't take several advil a day, I can't sleep or do any work, and I'm really scared that the pain won't go away and am worried because I don't have any time to lose as I prepare for an art show in November. But it's making me slow down and think about changing things/ ideas which is good.

And, I saw a man that I've been pining over for quite some time holding another woman's hand. And instead of running the other way like I wanted to do, I shook her hand and said, "It's nice to meet you." And even though I like him very much, I've known all along he wouldn't be good for me. So it's fine in the grand scheme of things, but it hurts a little. Ok, more than a little.

And, I've been working 12 hour days and weekend nights, which is hard, but good, because if I "fail" at pursuing art, I have to know that I tried as hard as I could. And I'm realizing, in the end, I may have to give it up, but not yet. I'm still crazy (or stupid) enough to keep going with it. I'm going as fast as I can (which seems like a snail's pace) moving forward, and I get pangs of "What the h am I doing?!" but I beat the crap out of those thoughts because I've learned you have to be ruthless when pursuing a dream.

And there's more, but I'll stop there.

To be honest, I don't know if I feel any better, but the good news for today is, (besides this post) I'm not working, and that will be hard, but very very good.