Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

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As you’ve heard me say before, I am usually over-caffeinated and impatient. I imagined that once I had declared my intention to leave my job, served out my notice, packed my duffel bag and buckled myself into the Virgin America seat, the rest would be smooth sailing. I’d scarcely be off the plane before I’d be happily and successfully doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing.

Two months later, I am in the garage. I am surrounded by piles of drawings, library books, art supplies, paint-spattered Ikea furniture and two dogs with dead geranium heads in their fur. I have most of my manuscript done, I have all of my presentations for Amsterdam polished and rehearsed, I have several large and more or less finished paintings leaning against the wall, my redesigned website is launched, and I have pages and pages of some sort of ideas scribbled in ink, sweat, and mustard (homemade sandwiches sustain me through most of my days, these days).

My journey, however, is not completed. I am still at that point in the ride when your feet are off the ground, you are whimpering/screaming, and glued into your seat by some magical force I forget to pay attention to in Mr Kriben’s physics class. I have clearly left the last station. It is two months in the rear view. I no longer dream about conference calls and I am starting to forget the names of people I nodded to everyday in the hall.

But my instruments however are wildly fluctuating. Let me up my metaphor. If you’ve seen Gravity([spoiler alert], you’ll know that I have passed the point where I thought I was going to suffer George’s Clooney’s fate and drift off endlessly into the void and am more or less in Sandra Bullock’s place through most of the movie, somewhere between the exhilaration of an adventurous dream come true and trying to decipher Chinese instrument panels as the flames shoot past the windows.

In short, I’m not sure where I’m going exactly but I think I’m headed in the right direction. I don’t have much better advice for myself than hang on, stay loose, and enjoy the ride.

There are days that are heaven. Listening to NPR, dogs slumbering on the studio floor, barefoot, making stuff, working till the moths activate the motion detectors to turn on the lights. I am an artist.

And there have been nights when I have awoken to the shrill monkey’s voice: “What are you doing? Where is this going? Who cares about this crap? Why’d you walk away?” I am a loser.

The good thing is the nights are short and the days, even though it’s mid-November, are still lovely and long.

So I am still vulnerable and gelatinous some of the time — but that time is lessening.  I am seeing more clearly through the clouds and am excited about the landscape coming up. I finally have a sense of what it I want to do and be (you have no idea how hard it is, even for a man of my advanced years, to figure out what you want to be when you grow up). I think I have finally gone through at least 720 degrees of torment and figured out how to make an online class that seems right. I think I know how I feel about teaching workshops and what to do about that. I know what book I want to do after this one. And I am itching to make some videos again.

But most importantly I am getting clearer about the okayness of not being clear, that fuzziness and ambiguity are an inevitable part of change and of the creative process. In the end, that’s probably the best indication I have that I am doing things right and really metamorphosing, the fact that I am shaken up, that nothing is familiar or solid ground.

I don’t regret this trip for a minute, but I sure could use some Dramamine.

Best of added

Hey, if you’d like to see what I think are the best of my 558 blogposts from the past decade or so, check out the new “Best of” link I have added to the menu at the top of this page. If you haven’t been reading this blog since the primeval days, you might find a choice nugget or two in this list that you overlooked. I found a coupla doosies, I’d plum forgotten about. Like this one. Oh, and this ‘un. Dang.

The Lapins hop over.

Louise Lapin drawing in my living room.

Louise Lapin drawing in my living room.

I love Lapin’s work and was so excited when he agreed to contribute to An Illustrated Journey.  We became pals over email, then got to know each other better over Skype. Maybe you remember this interview we did recently:

Last week Lapin, Lapinette and baby Louise came over from Barcelona to visit us in New York and brought Veronica Lawlor (another genius contributor to the book).  We had  a lovely evening of chatting, drawing, sharing sketchbooks and guzzling vin.  Here are some of the highlights:

Veronica, Lapin and JJ share sketchbooks.

Veronica, Lapin and JJ share sketchbooks.

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From Lapin’s sketchbook: Louise and other subway riders.

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We joked that one of Lapin’s eye’s is a fisheye. It might be the left one.

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I recognized some drawing buddies and contributors to An Illustrated Life in Lapin’s sketchbook. This is France Belleville, the car loving genius.

It was fairly intense being drawn by Lapin. He sat super close to me and insisted I look him in the eye the whole time. I felt we should have gotten married after.

It was fairly intense being drawn by Lapin. He sat super close to me and insisted I look him in the eye the whole time. I felt we should have gotten married after.

Veronica drew Lapin drawing me. I love her loose style.

Veronica drew Lapin drawing me. I love her loose style.

Veronica works so spontaneously she was able to knock out two amazing drawings while Lapin was still drawing every zit on my nose.

Veronica works so spontaneously she was able to knock out two amazing drawings while Lapin was still drawing every zit on my nose.

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Lapin kept drawing while we talked. Here are JJ, Veronica and me well into our third bottle of wine.

It's only right that a Lapin is drawn to my jackalope.

It’s only right that a Lapin is drawn to my jackalope.

She's learning from the best.

She’s learning from the best.

I have never seen a two year old work so intently on a drawing.

I have never seen a two-year old work so intently on a drawing.

There's more than one artist in this family.

There’s more than one artist in this family.

A creative collaboration.
A creative collaboration.