Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Taking stock

Hey people.  Yeah, I'm still around.  I've just been busy catching up on some stuff, and, to be honest, have been noticing I just feel different about some things now and have been taking stock a bit, reassessing.  I used to blog ALL THE TIME (as some of you know).  Now, not so much.  I'm not even really interested in the same stuff, and don't ~feel~ how I did a couple years ago.  That pent-up, spinning clockwork, capped hydrant energy has kind of dissipated, and it doesn't feel horrible and lifeless like I was worried it might if that ever went away.  I'm not depressed or bored, just not climbing the walls anymore.

I went to the arboretum last week with my parents.  They were having an orchid show.  One thing that hasn't, and probably never will change, is that I am fascinated by nature.  Recently I've become more interested than ever in natural color combinations-- especially bold or unexpected ones. 

I feel like this can inform my artwork in new ways if I pay close enough attention.  Look at these tones and the way they blend-- amazing.

I've learned more about pacing I guess too.  I used to have a bit of a hard time with activities like this, feeling antsy and like a freak who couldn't just be mellow and enjoy something at a slow pace.  Now I have less anxiety and focus on just enjoying ~the moment~ more.  This is something I've always known was good to do, but was difficult in the past, an effort.

My relationship with my folks has changed a bit too.  I've decided I need to have 3 relationships with them, one with mom, one with dad, and one with them both together, and they are all distinct.  Also I've come to appreciate them a bit more as individuals I think.

My nephew sent me "Flat Stanley".  For those who are unfamiliar:  it's an elementary school thing where this cutout of a boy is shipped all around the country (and world) to have adventures he then reports back to the class in the form of pictures and a *journal* (written by the recipient).  Flat Stanley has been spending a heck of a lot of time outside.  That is something constant-- I need my outdoors fix.

I've been resuming my computer graphics classes.  Remember about a year ago when I attempted to draw a heart and it took hours and came out like this?

Those blue squares are called anchor points, and are what the program uses to draw.  There is nothing about this that resembles normal drawing on paper in any way, and I feel like the world's biggest idiot on a daily basis, but I am learning a ton-- slowly, but a ton.  Here's my latest heart, which yes, is kind of pukey, but the important point is that I can now manipulate all those anchor points to do basically what i want, and although these colors are pretty barf--- look-- there are 3 of them!  (This laughable example will hopefully soon be surpassed by light years.)

As for metal artwork-- this was the first spring in years I didn't do a show, and was it ever nice.  I've come to a pretty solid conclusion about that work:  I am sick to death of making essentially "product", trying to keep that whole deal afloat.  I was out with a friend earlier this week and we went to a bunch of places looking at stuff, and this one fancy garden center had a bunch of metal *art*, and it practically made me barf.

I love making things that interest me, are unique, and make me excited to be doing them.  The act of making them is joyful.  I love the feeling of having an idea no one's had before, and making it out of nothing, of creating things that people respond to and make me feel ~*charged*~ with that specific current.  There is a commission I'm applying for right now that I've been pretty interested in getting.  I'm competitive, and from a professional standpoint this would be very good for me, so I have been actively developing my ideas about it for several months now.

But now, something flipped the other day, some switch.  I now want it BAD, like, this is what I want to spend the next 9 to 12 months of my time on-- making something so mind-blowingly, freaking COOL and amazing for these people, many of whom are only about 3' tall currently (for a school), that this has a good chance of being the coolest thing I ever have made or will make evarrrr.

Get it?  I want to work for that release of passion.  Not just because I have to make x-number of _____ (whatever) for my next show.  So I'm going to concentrate on getting that, and making things for the galleries, and hopefully people will continue to support me and my art and it will all work out financially.  I'm not going to think much about that end of it, and just make what fires me up.

Riding continues to loom large.  I started a group to encourage women to get out there and ride, and to provide a way for women riders to link up and gain more riding buddies.  So far it has been really fun.  I'm riding more than ever and have more company than I've ever had.  Also, I've been around enough now that whenever I show up at either of the trails I ride at, it's a given at least a few people will know me and say hi.  That is a very nice feeling--- like I am welcome and thought of as a good egg I guess.

As far as my own riding goes-- I'm beginning to understand I'm not actually as crappy as I thought.  I think because it is so challenging for me, and I've had to work pretty hard at it I assumed most people were just way better at it than me.  Also, my trail pals, my good buds, are racers who completely annihilate, so, I ludicrously compare myself to them.  But I am actually pretty okay at it, for someone like me.  :)

I psychotically still try to improve my speed, even though I decided racing isn't for me.  I'm still driven to try to keep improving all the time, skills and speed.  This will be known as the spring I figured out how to use my inside knee. 

I'm pretty intentional about all this.  It's part of why I like it, that there is this much stuff to figure out about it.  I began noticing some of the really fast guys doing this---- hanging their inside knee out on turns.  It seems counter-intuitive-- your bike is already leaning that way, why would you risk making it go even lower?  But decided to try it.  All these guys can't be wrong.

I can't say i really understand the mechanics of it, but this does counterbalance you somehow.  I'm able to go into corners without scrubbing as much speed off, not using the brake so much, and can exit much faster.  I'm still getting back in shape, but I think I stand a good chance to get faster this year, and I thought with my age and stage I may have already *peaked*, (sadly), so that is pretty motivating for me.

Wow-- are you still reading??  Sorry this was so long.  Some things never change huh?  ;)

Monday, April 9, 2012


Hey people.  It's spring and I've been sprung.  Today is my official 6 week point, so I'm calling it good, even though I still don't feel 100% normal yet.  I feel pretty dang good though.  Hey you guys-- it's spring!  Check out the radishes.  Doesn't it make you feel like eating differently, and being outside, and finding your groove thang again???

Things are sprouting, coming to life, and so am I.

Yesterday I went on my first mountain bike ride of the year.  First things first.  When I was down and it was super nice I couldn't ride, but I could shop.  Check out the rad new shoes I got for riding.  The entire top is ventilated, and they match the new shorts I got-- black with red and white trim.

The shorts could not be captured on film because my legs are so blindingly white they flared-out the camera, but here is one of my cool new jerseys.  I'm not saying I won't still be caught riding in my usual get up of cotton cargo shorts and a tee, but I figured it was time for some more sporty duds, and hey, who doesn't like clearance deals? 

So, fashion crisis handled, I hit the trail with faithful hubby Dan, camera in tow.

He was going to shoot a lot of video of me riding, but if you've ever watched mtb vids, you know the most exciting ones are of big crashes, or people riding really amazing stuff and doing stunts etc.  Most footage of me is sort of like this:  (which is why this is about 10 seconds long)

Yes. Trail conditions yesterday? "Watch for excessive amounts of ham and cheese on the trail anywhere in the vicinity of Sue."

But seriously, it went pretty well.  I wondered how I'd feel the first time out, mentally.  I think this is my third season riding.  The biggest obstacle for me is always fear.  Last year I lost a lot of it, but dialed back my ambition too.  This year when I first rode up the trailhead entrance, it felt very natural.  I didn't even really think at all, and it didn't feel scary either.

I started out feeling pretty good, and felt like going fast.  It became quickly apparent that I haven't done anything strenuous for months.  The bottom half of my lungs felt full of cobwebs.  I rode pretty fast and zipped up the first big climb sort of surprised it didn't feel harder, but it caught up with me. 

I began not making a couple little no brainer climbs, which was humbling, and partway through the second section, I'd already had to take about 3 water breaks.  Normally I could ride the first two sections in about 15 minutes and not take a break.  Time to take it down a notch and pace myself, just work on my skills and have fun.

I didn't make everything, and there are about 4 things I used to ride that have gotten washed-out and I'm psyched-out about now, so to reduce my stress I've just taken them off the menu.  My first ride was a good benchmark of where I'm beginning this year, in worse shape than usual, and rusty.  But the skills I've gained over the last couple of seasons are kicking in.  It's not "do or die" on many things now that I can balance better.  I can hesitate and not put a foot down, and ride sketchy terrain in control as opposed to just bombing down and hoping to not die.

For now I have to just be patient with myself and remember a few things.
-I'm not *too good* for granny gear, not right now.  I tend to ride like a single speeder.  Shifting is not defeat.
-If I'm not having fun, I'm doing it wrong.  Expect dirty rides.  Expect to be challenged and not make everything every time.  That's the deal, and is not failure.
-This year- ride social.  I'm leading a bunch of all-girl rides in an effort to get more gals on the trail.  I now know tons more of the guy riders too, and have discovered I really like the social aspect of riding, despite my introverted tendencies.

It feels good to be getting back to ~normal~ (or something, heh heh).  It felt really good to ride along and just feel the trail and bike rather than think so much like I have in the past as I've been learning.

It caught me off guard at times, riding along going, "Oh yeah, my shoulder dips right... HERE to avoid this one tree" as it happened, and, to find myself just doing it rather than thinking "Yeah, stay left of that rock, get your face over the bars, keep your butt on the seat and don't quit pedaling" (running down a mental checklist) to get up a difficult climb or whatever.  :)