Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Paint With All the Colors of the Wind, etc.

Sometime last year, I fell in love with paint by numbers.

My life was in a bit of tumult at the time. More than a bit. Lots o' stuffs in my head and a lot of tongue biting and lip chewing and figuring out what words and when and if and so on and so forth.

Just ignore that sentence if it made no sense.

So one day I was at Michael's......not a man's house, the craft store. Don't you get any salacious ideas about my after-school activities.

Relevant side note: I don't even go to school. A middle-aged man asked me recently if I go to school. I get asked that question about once a month. Probably because I have the face of a 17-year-old. When I had braces, 4 years ago, (for the second time), I got asked that question probably once a week. Except, they currently ask about college, and during Adult Braces Season they usually asked about high school. Well, I think they ask about college now. I haven't clarified. Maybe sometime I'll just say "yes" instead of "no, I work"....at which point they actually probably wonder if I dropped out to work at a fro yo shop or the local grocery store. Or, start a billion-dollar company with no degree because #SiliconValleyProblems. Teen dropouts, man.

Or maybe I work at Michael's. The craft store. Not a man's house. I do not work at a man's house. But I could hang out there. Because I am of age to date men. Except when I was 24 and had braces.

Michael's. I honestly can't remember what I was there for. Halloween costume stuff? That feels likely.

Anyway, I bought a paint-by-number. It was a wolf. And you know what? The finished piece looks like....a cheesy paint by number of a wolf. It is nothing fancy. In fact, it's tucked in a drawer and not hanging up anywhere because....well because it is clearly a paint-by-number. Or I don't know, maybe some deeper philosophical thing about "this hobby is for me and me alone, not the rest of the world to see!"

Which isn't true, because I'm showing it to you right now:

What I like most about this whole paint-by-number business is that it is incredibly...still...for me.

It's like meditation. You know when else I feel that way? Completely absorbed in what I'm doing, just focused and relaxed and kind of out-of-body all at once? Infrequently, is the answer. But one answer from the short list: when I play the piano. And as I discovered recently, when I'm doing a paint-by-number. (Is that damn word hyphenated? I can't decide. I-can't-decide. Eff.) (E-f-f.)

Few activities can make me single-task. It's like a blissful euphoria that is sort of an escape but sort of not, because I actually DO think about my real life during those times. I'm just...sorting through it calmly rather than fretting about it or anxiously tugging on my earlobe (hey there's an insight into my life – I tug on my earlobes when I'm anxious....what if they get really long and weird someday?) (oh wait that happens when you get old anyway. I'M JUST AHEAD OF MY TIME)

I'm capable of making very calm, rational decisions after both a long piano playing sesh and paint-by-numbering. I'm tired but rejuvenated, and just peaceful enough that I feel recklessly brave and diplomatic. That's a good state to be in for dealing with conflict. It helps me say things that need to be said in a very nice and straightforward way. I should probably start all my days with these activities. Piano playing and paint-by-numbering errrry morning! In my underwears! (Just tacking on extra life bonuses like "no pants" while I'm at it.)

Did you know I've played the piano since I was like....4? 5? Something in there. That's longer than I've done anything in my life other than being alive. And walking. And eating? OK let's not get technical. Anyway, I'll write more about the piano another day.

This post is about paint by numbers. Paint-by-numbers. paintbynumbersz3

I think what that silly wolf did for me, last fall, is best described as...centering. It made me feel centered. It opened my head like a little zen garden and raked all the sand up nice and put the mental little black rocks in a neat little row. I took it on a plane to my parents' house and started painting it in their living room in Arizona, then finished it back here in California. I'd sit and paint for hours until my body cramped from being in one position. This color in that spot, that color in that one. Law & Order or whatever rolling in the background. I'm not independently artistic (really – my little sisters paint theatre sets for their jobs and I'm over here like "how do you make a cow not look like a dog"), so I liked that this was simple for me to get right.

My next quest in life is to find paint-by-numberszsd43 that are actually pretty and not cheesy cottages with cheesy lawn chairs by a cheesy lake. (A lake made of cheese actually sounds like a grade-A idea. Someone find me one please kthx) I've yet to find many PBNs (see how hip I am with my abbreviations?) on the Internetsz that interest me. Actually, I'd like one of Florence because FLORENCE! And Iceland; be still my forever-homesick-for-Iceland soul. Or, I don't know, Andrew Garfield's face (with a beard). So if anyone knows of any. Perhaps. Maybe. Tell me.

The end.


Chantel said...

I love this! Love that you found an activity to take you to that flow state. Which is the happiest place to be. And no shame that its paint-by-numbers either. I think that rocks!! Mine is secretly scrapbooking. Haha! I think it's good to find that closet zen activity that is just ours and ours alone.

I think you're so fantastic. I just really admire you and LOVE when you write. Also about the earlobes - HAHA! That's funny!!

Kailei said...

Just did a little googling... http://www.amazon.com/oil-painting-Florence-amorous-feelings/dp/B00KQFO7IK

Not sure if it's what you're looking for, but it's pretty :)

Feisty Harriet said...

I started painting about 18 months ago as a way to turn my brain off and try and relax; it is one of my very favorite hobbies now. I LOVE this post!!


Emily said...

There is something so calming about having a hobby that doesn't require too much thinking (after a long day of thinking at work) but keeps your hands busy. Embroidery has been that for me lately, but it totally makes sense that paint-by-numbers would be too! The design is already there, you're just following instructions.

Also, I had an internship in college where one of my coworkers brought in a huge wolf puzzle. It was kind of awesome to take a break from working and work on the puzzle. It would have been lame EXCEPT it was a wolf, right?! And now I'm getting all sentimental after seeing your wolf friend and thinking about mine.

Kayla Moncur said...

"Or maybe I work at Michael's. The craft store. Not a man's house. I do not work at a man's house. But I could hang out there. Because I am of age to date men. Except when I was 24 and had braces."

I am snort laughing. Goodness I love you.


Budget Splurge Beauty said...

you know what lady that looks actually GOOD so bite me! I tried doing one a while back and I'm way too embarrassed to even show you how that attempt went. I gave up less than halfway through. I always said I would go back to it but seeing your wolf has solidified that my kittens will never look like actual kittens. :P

carla | insomeotherplace said...

hahaha, I just adore reading you!.. and Iceland, uh, oh. I am obsessed with Iceland because of this blog of yours! And a toast for wearing braces twice... seems like we'll share that same fate sometime soon.