The world is a much different place than when I sat down to look ahead for the month of February. The situation in Ukraine has been devastating and terrifying, and I've been glued to the news for developments while feeling heartbroken and powerless. When I wake up for the day, it's evening in Ukraine and I worry about what's happened since the last time I checked, and worry for their long night ahead as firefights and shelling seem to intensify after dark. In the evening, I cheer the hope that comes with a new day and wish for rest and respite for the brave resistance, a David to Russia's Goliath.
I'm often brought to tears when reading coverage, but I feel that I cannot turn away, as if I would be abandoning the people of Ukraine by doing so. Never could I have imagined that I would legitimately fear the outbreak of a world war in my lifetime. It can feel wrong and frivolous to focus on anything else during a time of acute crisis such as this. And yet, the immediate demands of my own life do not subside. I remind myself that it's still worth searching for meaning, joy, and fulfillment in the everyday.
So as always, I'm checking in at the beginning of a new month. This time, I'm trying a new format, moving from a handful of targeted to-dos to updates and goals for various facets of my life. For March, these include: At Home, Out & About, Pottery, Musings, and a Photo Diary of recents from my camera roll. When I began monthly lists, they were a way to share my personal goals and perhaps sometimes touch on considerations that could be applicable to others, such as gathering tax documentation in January or taking mental health breaks during the holiday season. In this new format, I plan on sharing more of my behind the scenes life as well as provide a window into what's happening right now in addition to what my hopes for the near future are.
Let's dive in.
I've switched from being home a great majority of the time to being in the office 3 days a week. It makes me really appreciate the safe space that this little house is for me. I don't love the disruption of this sudden change to my routine, but I swear the couch feels a little more cozy now when I curl up in it after twelve hours outside the home.
March means I can plan my spring garden and soon, start seeds from my small but growing collection. After the ground thaws from the last frost, I'll need to dig up last summer's bell pepper plant and make decisions about where this season's seedlings will go. My modest hope is to be slightly more successful this year at hardening off and transplanting seedlings. I want to get incrementally better at.. all of this really, because I enjoy tending my garden but don't actually know what the heck I'm doing.
Along with herbs on the patio and veggies in the backyard, I dream of growing flowers in our front and side yard areas. I'll be on the lookout for my tulips and the pink tips of our peony root, a variety called All That Jazz - of course I was drawn to the name. It seems like just yesterday that I planted them (it was November). I'll also bury some ranunculus corms into large outdoor pots that I can move around as needed. I'd sown them directly in the ground last year and though they sprouted, they weren't able to establish themselves beyond their first few leaves before (what I believe were) squirrels dug them up, corm and all.
Out & About
The 3 days a week in the office I mentioned started last month, after my new job shifted from fully remote to a hybrid schedule. I've been commuting regularly for the past few weeks, and there's a marked difference from what it was like pre-Covid. Most significantly, I'm fearful now. There have been several violent incidents in the subways lately, many of them on the lines that I take. Every few rides, there's a moment when I find myself on high alert, questioning whether I should bolt from the train car at the next station, my body's stress response activated and my heart-rate climbing.
The MTA has been a part of my routine since I was 12 years old, commuting (alone) each way to Hunter College High School on the Upper East Side from Queens. Over the years, I rode feeling generally safe as long as I exercised common sense. I even napped sometimes. The threat of violence or harassment was rarely top of mind. What a loss to have a part of your environment that you rely on, that you once trusted implicitly, become a place you have to steel yourself to enter.
On a brighter note (literally), the beginning of Daylight Savings Time later this month will bring welcome sunlight to my evenings. It represents one step closer to spring and warmer weather. We've decided as a household that should the state of the pandemic remain relatively stable, we will begin to introduce Jazzy to more of the city and more new experiences. However I will say that I'm quite unhappy about Mayor Adams's decision to drop the vaccine mandate for indoor activities, and am hoping that this decision does not cause the infection rates to rise.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally wrapped up the last, i.e. the 207th, Cactus Ring Dish that was ordered as part of the holiday rush in 2021. I'm so relieved to have fulfilled these commitments, and recognize that I could have spared myself some undue stress had I better planned and managed. Through these growing pains, I learned what is realistic when it comes to how much and how quickly my studio can fire pieces for me, and I learned that I needed to invest in my own kiln. I also came away with a better mechanism for tracking production as well as lived experience about the benefits of proactive customer communication.
With that whirlwind behind me, I'm allowing myself a break from sculpting Cactus Ring Dishes for at least a few weeks. I'll instead prioritize making restocks for my shop as well as fulfilling wholesale orders. Designs that will be restocked next include coffee scoops and mugs, as well as a few Bamboo Brush items that are currently in the last steps of production.
It recently occurred to me that the last time I'd cradle Jazzy like a baby had come and gone without my noticing, and I cried at the realization. There are so many joys that come with each giant leap, each new development, but real grief is mixed in there too.
Now that I'm on the potter's wheel only once a week, I've given myself the occasional manicure that I can enjoy for several days before it gets messed up. I've found that my preferred nail polish palette reflects the shades of clay that I use. Go figure.
My new office is by the water, and from the window next to my seat I get to see reflections of the East River off of the blue glass facade of the building across the street.