Happiness

Wanna know a secret that most everyone knows? Well friends and family anyways – so MY everyones. I am a Facebook addict. Yup. I love it. I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. Or cheese. Cheese is so much better than bread right? Mmmmm….cheese…..Oh, where was I? Right. Facebook. Love the connection. Love making friends, finding old ones, keeping in touch, reading the news. I. Just. Love. It. And I am ok with that. I do not need any 12 step programs. It is a good addiction.

I post a few times a day. I often post pictures. I love to let people know what is going on in my life. I am just open like that. I even posted my engagement as it happened, much to the horror of some that thought it was inappropriate. Oh well. I don’t care. It is my life and I live it how I want.

Many people have commented to me offline that my life is ridiculous. It is TOO happy. TOO sugary. Too GOOD. And I admit, it does seem that way. But only because it TOTALLY is that way. I mean, bad stuff happens. Of course it does. But I don’t focus on that, instead I choose to see the good. I like to truly relish in the good, so that when the bad happens, as it will, and it WILL, I can say, “Well, this is truly dreadful. But the good times will come again and until then, I will wallow just a bit, then find some happy in this big, giant, mess of bad/sad/grumpy/chaos.” And you know what? That  works! For reals! And the more you do it, the less the wallow time, until suddenly, everyone is super annoyed at your sunshiney happy life and they accuse you of being full of it. And you will enjoy it. On account of you know the truth. Your life truly IS that good. And don’t we all like to irritate others with our blissful happiness? Oh, you do too. Liar.

So lemme tell you about yesterday. I have a point. Really. Stick with me a lil’ bit longer. First I posted a really cute painting of my dogs. That drive me nuts. Here, let me show you:

See? Did I lie? Totally cute. And they are totally evil. Really. In the actual incident the paint was green, but I had painted the floor green already, so I changed it to red – artistic license and all that. We came home that night and it looked like a leprechaun massacre had happened. White carpet. Not lying. My dogs=Evil. Moving on.

Ok, then later, I got a rejection from a publisher via my agent. Now, after how many rejections I have had, the sting is gone. Dozens and dozens and dozens of rejections give  you a thick skin. (and dozens) On occasion there is one that sucks a bit more than another – usually due to PMS or a bad day at work or you came home to your dogs having eaten the couch. On those days? Well, it is nothing a good stiff, dirty martini can’t fix. And yesterday was NOT one of those days. I saw my agent’s email, sighed and braced myself, then read it. There were very nice things said, “We love her art, super charming, love it, but….” So. Many. Buts. And I moved on. But I thought it would make a funny Facebook status. On account of I love Facebook. (see how I have brought it full circle? I am clever like that.) And so, I posted this:

I love rejection letters from publishers. They build character. They make you really appreciate other things in life. Like chocolate. And vodka. And…. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

And lots of people rallied around me. Because they are awesome. People are awesome. And I love them. They are my lovelies. And they saw me fall down and within moments, MOMENTS so many put out a hand to pick me back up. See why I love Facebook? Because of stuff like that. So I assured everyone I really was ok, and that life is just dandy and thank you so much for being so supportive. Love. Those. Friends. 🙂

But the story does not end there. (geeze, I should really update more regularly so these entries are not so looong.) So I am all happy and feeling good and decide a chocolatey mocha from Starbucks will make life just dandy on my way to Ronald McDonald House (RMH). I volunteer there once a week to paint with the the kids in treatment and their parents. It puts life in perspective LICKITY SPLIT. So I have my lovely coffee drink and am on my way and call my husband. And husband tells me how he just got his official commission letter into the Naval Reserves.

Lemme digress a moment. Oh my hunny. Oh can this man not do anything??** He amazes me on a daily basis. See, he got into the Naval Academy as an 18 year old, but did not go. A decision that would haunt him and he would regret forever. A while back, before meeting me, he decided he wanted to go into the Naval Reserves. Still fulfill his dream in a different level. He had to do many things to be ready. And he did them all – some before he met me, some after. And of course once I met him and he shared this dream (with a DREAMER) I encouraged him all the way! I would be lying if I didn’t freak once or twice over the thought of him being deployed, but well, he is serving his country and well, it is his dream. And he is going to be doing top secret computer-y stuff that is all classified and IS THAT NOT SUPER SEXY??? Anyway, it is all official now since Congress has approved him and he is only one of a handful of people chosen to be able to do this and in the next days he will take his oath and OH MY GOODNESS did I mention the sexy that that he is?? And he is HAPPY and I am HAPPY and life is just SO GOOD.

And he says to me, “Baby, your time is coming, I feel it.” And I say, “Baby, my time is now. Now is so good. Life is so good. And I don’t need a book deal to feel like life is going right for me, it already is right. It is all good. I love the process. But…I do feel like something good is going to happen soon too. Even with today’s rejection.” And I told him I would call him on my way home and I would get Taco Bell because it sounded yummy and I had done a 45 minute workout the day before. Ahem. Sometimes you gotta splurge on junk.

So in the parking lot of RMH, I check my email. And I see 2 emails from my agent. Lordee, ok, I am being positive, but let’s not test my limits, mmm’kay? I read the first one. It is a submission. Okee dokee. So the second one must be the super quick rejection. Great. (I joke with a friend of mine that writess YA novels and how it takes so long for her to get feedback and  sure, I get feedback quicker than her. They only need 5 minutes to read MY books and reject them. YA’s take time.) I almost don’t look at the email on account of I had no vodka in the car. But I click anyways and see this from the publisher:

Okay, have to tell you – we REALLY like this!
Any idea when [the companion book] might be available?

HOT DAMN. No SH*T. REALLY?? And my agent is all, “Well????!!!! Do you?!?!?!” So I write back, YES! I will have the text to you tomorrow and can have a dummy by Monday! HELLO!

So this morning I got out my sketchbooks and found the blurbs and notes here and there for the text to the companion book that goes with the book they REALLY like – did you note the ALL CAPS? I did not do that, the publisher did. She all capped REALLY. 😀 – and write the text.

And about 2 hours ago I emailed the second book text to my agent and am working on the sketches. And I am doing the happy dance! All over the place!!

And in the publishing world, this only means that a publisher liked my book. A lot. But that does not mean anything else. Even with the companion book. And I know that. But this is the closest I have gotten so far and I am going to relish it, enjoy it, swim in it and soak in it. Because ultimately it could be a no, and if that happens, I will at least know that I truly, madly, deeply enjoyed the part right before that. And it is SO GOOD.

**Husband just got a book deal last week and signed his contract with his publisher. It is a computer-y book. See? The man can do ANYTHING. Sexy.

About that first day…

Ok, so I have been  looking forward to going part time ALL SUMMER. I had hoped it would happen quicker and I could might enjoy some time by the pool with my kids or a margarita, you know, whichever was available at the time. But no…….nothing moves fast when you work for a state run institution. There must be job postings and resumes to be read and interviews and second interviews and even though the person IN THE NEXT CUBE got my old position which seemed like kind of a NO BRAINER to me, it still took almost 3 months for me to get to my first week as a part-timer. Which would be this week.

I now work just 3 days a week for the college. Mon-Wed to be exact and I LOVE IT. I took the strict 19 hours a week position.(You DO REALIZE it it s strict 19 hours and we CANNOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allow you to work MORE THAN 19 hours, do you UNDERSTAND???**) Yes, yes I do. That is what I want!! I want two whole days in a row to devote to my art that can fantastically spill over into the weekend. Oh my. Four days in a row of writing, painting, drawing, creating? Hellooooo happiness!!!

So. Ahem. Cut to Scene: Yesterday, just got back from dropping the middle schooler off (hubbie is now taking the high schooler on his way to work) and I pour my little old happy self a cup of coffee. Time to be honest. I am not happy. I am FREAKING out. And have been for weeks now. I have been promising the hubbie, “I will make money! I will make up the income that I will lose. People will buy my art, my pet portraits, I will sell a book, NAY THREE BOOKS I bet! Don’t worry my love! I will be a SUCCESS!!!”

And so. My face breaks out. Terribly. I can’t sleep. I wake up all through the night for the past few weeks, pure panic running through me. What if I fail!  And now, here I am all jittery and hopped up on caffiene. Time to put up or shut up. Oh lordee. Where to start? Update my website? With what? New art? I don’t have new art. Work on some new designs for notecards? Do I sell them on etsy? On my own? Try to get them in stores? Push my coloring books? Begin calling all the groomers and pet stores to carry them? Wouldn’t it be great if I had notecards to offer too? Yes, I should work on notecards. Or send out an html email to let people know I will take orders for pet portraits for Christmas this year? Update my pet portrait page? Paint small paintings to sell? Work on the thumbnails so I can put my new book into a dummy to send to my agent? I want her to see this new book, but I need the imagery. How do I want to illustrate it? Full bleed with full, colorful scenes? Charming, whimsical vignettes a la Polly Dunbar? Um, um, uh….ARGHHHH!!! Hyper…venta….lating…. Must…Calm….Down……

I know. Do something fun. With no agenda. None at all. Art for art’s sake and all that. Yes, that will work! I will be CREATIVE. This is what us artists types do! Hooray! A plan! What time is it? 9:15am? Clearly too early for wine. Ok, um…. Clay! I know! My Dog and Mouse character from my other book. Yes! They need to be born today! Perfect! Ah, finally. A decision. (you should actually hear the dialogue in my head if you think this is troubling just to read.)

I get out the sculpy clay. I look at the sketch of my beloved Dog and Mouse and let my fingers begin turning the clay into three dimensional characters. I do not know how it happens, but my fingers do. And I let them. I look at the drawing, I barely look at the clay. Soon my little guys are in front of me. Oh my goodness. Such pure JOY. Such pure HAPPINESS. I could live on this feeling – even over food – not wine probably, I do need my wine, can’t be crazy, right? It fills me up so completely. Oh I can hardly wait to put them in the oven to harden and get them painted. Truly bring them to life, to live with me. Out of my head and right here in front of me! I love them. I close the oven door (ignoring how horrific that I just put my beloveds in the oven!) And go sit at my computer. Pure. Bliss. Then I look at the time. 11:02 a. m.

OH. MY. BLEEPING. GOD. Did I just spend two hours making a dog and mouse out of clay??? WTH?? I can see it now: The loving, supportive husband comes home, opens the door and “Hey baby! How was your first day? What did you do??” he says smiling. “Um, er, uh. I made Dog. And Mouse. And painted them.” I mumble.

A clay mouse and dog, however cute won’t pay the bills! Won’t make money! Oh dear lord, what was I thinking???? No one is going to pay me to paint things that make me happy! I have clearly lost my mind, made a huge mistake and somehow suckered my poor husband into my demented reality that this is all ok.

And then I threw up.

Yup. For reals. I lost it. I let me head take over telling me what an idiot I am. My poor little heart was protesting, but to no avail. My three dopey dogs were watching all crooked-headed from the hallway confused as I lost it in the hall bathroom toilet.

Then, I felt better. And a little silly – just a little, I still had some thinking to do.

So I thought. “Ok, self. No one is going to expect you to make money right away. This is a process. You are an artist. It is not going to happen overnight. And you have to start somewhere. And if creating two little cute figures out of clay is your first order of business? Well, you have accomplished a very admirable goal. There is now just a little more cuteness in the world. More whimsy. More, ‘Awwww lookit that!’ And that? May not be money in the bank right now, but the world needs more happy, and cute and whimsy. Check out the news if you need a reminder.”

And then I calmed down. And started researching imagery for my next children’s book for my agent. And I painted Dog and Mouse. And  OH MY LAWRD HOW CUTE THEY TURNED OUT! And I got a lovely email from a past client that ordered 7 sets of my notecards. 6 sets of my When Pigs Fly, and one set of the pet portrait on them that she ordered 3 years ago for over her baby’s crip. Said child is scribbling now and she wants to have her draw on them and mail them out to family. AWWWW!!! (see? more cute!) And I told her I would had some extra in for her daughter’s set at no extra charge and I would mail them out today. And I did. And she signed her last email like this:

******************************
Thanks SO SO MUCH!

With warmest regards,

One of Your Biggest Fans (Jen)
******************************

And she paid me. And holy CRAP, did I just make money off my art on my first day??? Hot damn! How you like them apples???

And in closing, I will have other days where I freak out I am sure. But I will recover and let my heart speak louder than my brain to remind me that I am meant to be doing this and putting my art out there and sharing it with the world. Simply because I cannot NOT do it. And here are some of my newest family members (on the mantle next to family photos – right where they belong)

Left to right: Jonathan James, Whatif Monster, Mouse, Dog, Hippo and Turtle

**I already got a call asking if I could work more hours this weekend. Uh. Huh. real strict 19 hour gig, right? heh.

8 days and counting!

Hello lovely little blog! In just 8 short days I will be part time. PART TIME. Do you know what that means? Do you little spot in the world that makes me happy? Yes, that is right! Painting again! Writing again! Creating again! And making art more and more and more! I can’t wait to tell you all about SCBWI 2010 in LA. Yes! I know! LA! Me! The girl who couldn’t sleep for a week because she had never even gotten a cab by herself all alone in California! I am such a dork. But I made friends and felt like I was where I belonged for once! It was exactly right. Sigh… it was just perfect.

Ok, I need to go wake up my children to take them to their school open houses. 9th grade and 7th grade. When did that happen? Sigh…time is going so fast. It is more incentive than ever for me to start creating the life I want to be living everyday. As cliche as it is, life is truly too short to not to what you love. 🙂

Back SOON! 😀