Celebrating American Independence with an Iron

Yesterday, I ironed. For like 5 hours. So shockingly, I got significant portions of this beast done…because that’s what it takes, standing in front of an ironing board for 5 hours. In case you were wondering about my process. Yes, it’s mostly crazy. Trying to explain it to non-art people, they mostly just nod their heads carefully, like people do when they think you’re crazy, and then they say something about how they could NEVER do that, because they’re not creative.

OK, well, I disagree with that. You obviously don’t have the fucked-up, obsessive mind that I do, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing at the moment. Me and my mind have not been getting along. I started by working on the ribcage. The uterus was ironed separately, to be placed properly later.

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Sometimes it’s just easier to do it that way…I can’t see through fabric once it’s ironed on. And this whole central torso is pretty complicated…

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There’s lungs and a heart and two hands and that uterus…I still do the whole thing while watching X Files…finally made it to Season 6.

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I started ironing in the morning, then continued during the afternoon in between sanding plaster and filling holes and waiting for them to dry and washing walls and then starting all over again, although not in that order. There’s more of that happening today. Ugh. Tired of remodeling. Can’t really stop now, though. Not motivated. Until I walk into the room and realize I can’t stand the mess. It’s easier to hide in my studio/office/room at the end of the hall where all the animals congregate.

I have the same problem with ironing…if I get to a really hard bit, a complicated section, it takes will power to keep myself standing at the ironing board and working. It’s easier to walk away and come up with something else to do. You saw how many books I read earlier this week…total avoidance of ALL things, art, house, etc. Just make it all stop. I’m doing better with it right now, but that’s also because I got through the really hard bit yesterday with a whole lot of bitchy persistence.

Sometimes I don’t know where that comes from. Sometimes I know it’s genetic. Sometimes it’s just the drive in my head, the artist finally coming out of the cave where she’s been hanging out with depressoid brain. She hasn’t been around lately. She claims she was tired, that the end of the school year and boychild graduating and all the shit that came with that…she couldn’t deal. And that often happens at the end of the school year.

I’ll give her a break, as long as she doesn’t wander off again. She needs to be here. She’s got a lot of stuff to do. No excuses.

I posted these on Instagram/FB last night to see if anyone could tell what they were…

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I often iron all the bits and pieces (lungs, heart, etc.) off to the side and then assemble them all into the big picture in one go, because otherwise this is overwhelming, trying to fit everything in there with limited view of the drawing below.

Here’s the heart…I cooked dinner somewhere in between the last picture and this one…or maybe I prepped it even before the last picture. I got halfway through the heart when the timer went, so I stopped and ate with the boychild, who actually stuck around at the table with me after he finished eating (oh my god, he DOES have manners) because the girlchild isn’t here and I guess he decided it would be rude or mean to leave me out there on the deck alone (we’ve been eating out there because the kitchen table is a disaster…I thought we would only have to do that once or twice. Yup. It’s been over a week. Whatever. I always underestimate home renovation time.). Then I realized we were leaving for fireworks in 20 minutes and I still needed to pack up water bags and find my hiking boots from yesterday (you’d think that would be easy), so I speedily finished ironing the heart together…

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Got some crazy colors in there. My hearts are never simple. Ironic that.

I had persuaded the boychild and ex to try a new firework experience. We’ve been going to the same park for the same display for the last 16 (15?) years, with a few years off to go to Lake Arrowhead’s display. Actually, we probably started going to this one after the divorce, when Arrowhead was no longer the family destination, so maybe 12 years. Anyway, I wanted to hike up a mountain to see fireworks, multiple displays. I liked the idea of working for your 4th of July. And they crazily agreed, so at 8 PM, we were at the bottom of the back side of Cowles Mountain (Barker Way entrance). I had mapped everything out trailwise and my ex had been up one of them with the boychild before, so we weren’t completely blind and stupid. Plus we weren’t the only people doing this…which is kinda cool, if you think about it.

It’s a 1000-foot gain no matter where you start.

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This is halfway up, looking back at El Cajon. It’s getting darker, but no need for flashlights yet.

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The sun definitely went down.


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All the local fireworks displays start at 9 (the big ones, anyway), so that’s what we were aiming for. There were a ton of people at the top, mostly facing west towards the bay. We decided to face east, towards what we usually see in El Cajon, plus we could see Santee, Poway, Mira Mesa, and some smaller ones as well, plus it must have been Viejas Casino (we are totally going there next year…not the casino, but somewhere nearby, because from what we could see behind the hill, theirs was freakin’ awesome).

Night pictures have their own weirdness.

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And it’s honestly not the same as being right under the big booms and cascading lights…

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And we wouldn’t have known that if we hadn’t tried…that’s the display we normally watch.

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Getting blurry. It was a good experience though. Burned 750 calories for the day, so you can’t argue with that. We got a little lost on the way back because we are a family who is easily irritated by other people, and the groups that were stretched all the way across the trail and giggling like drunken maniacs (really, carrying your drink in one hand down a steep slope while you carry your child on your hip? Whatever.) annoyed us, so we sort of kamikazed our way down. Saw two baby scorpions on the trail (don’t think I’ve ever seen those in the wild before, at least not since I was a kid). That was cool.

And when we got back, after 10 PM, I decided to keep going on the ironing. That might have been a bit crazy, but if you’ve been here for a while, the crazy will not surprise you. I got it to here before we left…

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All those bits and pieces ironed down, except for the Fallopian tube that lies over the hand on the left…it’s not attached yet because the hand goes under it…so when we got back, I did the hand and the stuff on the right shoulder/arm.

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We had closed Calli up in the girlchild’s room, because she freaks out over fireworks. The ones that went off the night before, apparently she hid under the computer desk and then tried to climb into the boychild’s lap. So when we got back, there was a lot of crying and neediness, and this is where she slept for the next 4 hours…

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RIGHT under my feet. A little annoying, but she was better afterwards…hard to concentrate on ironing, though, when you’re trying NOT to step on a dog.

Yes, I ironed for the next 4 hours. I was a little obsessive. I started on the face, which meant trying to find tiny little pieces in another box, because the face straddled two boxes.

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I eventually found all the parts and got the whole thing together.

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So now I have the whole bottom section ironed in one piece, then two side sections that sit on/in the water, then the entire torso is one piece from knees to clavicle. Then the head is separate. I’m about 17 hours in and I made it to the middle of the 1300s…it was a logical place to stop. Unfortunately, it was about 2 AM and then my brain wouldn’t shut down. It was fully in art mode, and although I was too tired to keep ironing, I couldn’t shut my brain down enough to go to sleep, so I read blogs for a while…but Ms. Needy was on my lap requiring attention.

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Could have been fireworks. Who knows. I gave her what she needed and eventually made it into bed before 3. Not good for today’s brain, but it needed to happen for yesterday’s brain. I’m trying to wake up enough now to handle the gym and more ironing and painting or texturing or something. Not sure of the order. One thing at a time. Another ironing day like today, though, and I could be done. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can pull off that level of focus today. We’ll see. It’s progress anyway, significant progress.

I found a list last night (ironically while trying to shut DOWN the creative brain) of 37 creative books to read…Here. I’ve read 7 of them. I don’t really need help with the creative brain. When it misbehaves, I know why and I know how to get it back, although it might take me a while. Those aren’t artists’ blocks or anything…it really is just a matter of what I can handle. You need times of fallow to counteract the times when the brain is going like gangbusters. It’s rest, just like sleep at night (which I also suck at doing properly). So. I might read some of these. I might not.

2 Responses to Celebrating American Independence with an Iron

  1. Thanks for the book list link. I’ve read carefully from 3 or 4 (or so), tried to read or skimmed and dismissed a couple others… But I’ll take another look, esp. for what I can borrow from e-library. Thanks.


  2. Tanya Brown says:

    Are you going to remodel/rejuvenate your studio? Could be neat/fraught.


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