Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's because this is the moon.

Dear Patrick,

It is time to talk. It's time to talk about what is really happening here. And what's really happening here is everything good hitting at once.

Last month I got one very important and very shocking/exciting/scary/heart-in-my-throat phone call that went like this:
"Hello, Adrienne, it's Karen Kunc from Nebraska..."
And that's about all I can clearly recall. For those of you in a similar world as mine, you will understand the temporary amnesia I experienced. For those of you in any other world, Karen Kunc is the current crowned queen of printmaking.  Luckily for all parties involved, I successfully made it through the phone call without nervously throwing up.  And amidst all the blur, this part was clear: there may be a spot for me (yep, me) in her graduate program. It was far from a set thing but she was working to make it happen.

The days that followed were filled with emotional highs and lows as I put my heart into a hodge-podgey, pieced together application and portfolio while I tried to allow my mind to shift toward accepting the possibilities hanging in the balance.  Is this what I want? Is this where I should be? Am I ready to go? Can I do it? With little information and little certainty, I was hesitant to talk to anyone about it.  I did counsel with the people closest to me, and thank goodness I did. They always know jsut how to get the tiniest bit of sanity into me when I'm the headless chicken running around. My best friend, Matt, asked how it all was going/if I had heard anything one night. I said I still didn't have much information but it did seem like Karen wanted me there, so at least there was that. He said, "Yeah, but do you want you there?" And that was it. That was the idea I had to hold onto. It was just exactly that simple. Did I want me there? Forget the personal pressures, the obvious inadequacies, the decisions beyond my control.  When it all boiled down, I did want me there. And what a relief it was once that decision was made.

Just 5 short longest-days-of-my-existence later, Karen Kunc called again. She said, "Hello, Adrienne, it's Karen Kunc from Nebraska.  I have good news for you.  We have accepted your application and offered you an assistantship..." And the temporary amnesia set in again.

And so it is, the way it goes. The minute you make a decision to move to Seattle and start a business, Karen Kunc will call and offer you the moon. The minute you come to accept your limitations, the minute those limitations are thrown promptly out the window. The minute you truly believe you have things figured out is the minute you put your cat in the car again and tell her she's going to love Nebraska just as much this time as she did last time she visited. And you tell yourself that, too. Because you will. Because I will. Because this is the moon.

 On another note, here is my latest and greatest.

Always yours,

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's because habits turn us evil.

Dear Patrick,

Recently I've been reading a book about habits. And, like every book of this nature, it consumes my thoughts. I love these boring sciencey books. It has been explaining the basics of how a habit forms. It starts with a cue that causes a routine and ends with a reward before causing you to repeat the process. The book has diagram after diagram to really illustrate their point. So of course I've been thinking about my own habits and what they'd look like as one of their diagrams. Let's look at how one of my habits start, shall we?

1: Cue. I am not great in the morning. Morning is the worst part of my life. Every night before I go to bed I think, "I'm going to set my alarm for 7:30. I can't get up any later than that if I want to get the things done." And in the morning, 7:30 rolls around. Then 8. Then 8:30 and I still can't get out of bed. No discipline. And so I am often running around crazy trying to get out of the house on time. But that doesn't ever happen. Not ever.

2: Routine. Because I am short on time, I cut corners and eat toaster strudels as I run around the house. I once left the toaster out on the counter because I forgot. And who really cares that much about a toaster on the counter, right?

3. Reward. I have one passive-aggressive/OCD roommate. She is never slow to remind us of this. If anything is on the counter, we are all rewarded with post-it notes that try to stab at our souls. I get a fair amount of joy out of these love notes. Or, and this is my favorite, the item out of place gets put some place else that will defy all logic and reason. A roll on the counter will be put in a frying pan. A stack of paper? With the shoes in the hall closet. It is a treasure hunt to make your head explode.

In the book, it explains how a habit will only become a habit if your brain begins to crave the reward before the cycle restarts with the cue. My brain has begun to crave the tension that hangs in the air and the twitching behind her eyes that happens soon after the notes emerge. So the habit moves forward. I started small, leaving just a pen or a fork on the counter at a time. Then moved on to larger things all the time knowing that the reward is too great to correct my bad habits. The completed diagram looks something like this:

I get such a rush from the moral degradation her notes bring that I fear the poor girl will never be safe. Does this mean my heart is cold and black? I think it does. Oh well.

Love, Adrienne