Friday, January 30, 2015

Business Not So Usual

    I have been officially unemployed now for 30 days. Holy shit! Really? Time flies when you don't have a routine. It has been weird, not having to set my alarm and spend the bulk of my day away from home toiling for someone else. I can't say I am making the most of it though, I have been sleeping more than I should, and spending far too much time goofing around online. Some of the goofing is actually market research for my self-employment. The past few evenings I have been working on my business proposal to the State to get hooked up with their Self Employment Assistance Program. I have hit a bit of a snag. Well, a conundrum actually. Originally I had planned on using my "vanilla" business idea of repurposing and refinishing furniture as the ideal plan to lob at the State. I don't doubt that I could make okay money at this, but it would be labor intensive, and the cost of bare materials could be high. But as I have been delving into the market research for my other, totally not vanilla, business idea, I have realized that it has the potential to be a decent money maker with minimal actual upfront costs. The idea? Fetish gear. Yes, hand tooled leather bondage gear. I have ample experience with leather work and leather tooling, and have been keenly searching for a line of marketable items, as well as a reasonably untapped market. What did I find? The thriving, underground Kink communities around the world. There is an entire world out there that most people are basically unaware of. I knew it was there, and have been wading the shallow end of the pool for a bit. It was a chance outing in Portland, and the last minute walk up Burnside and past Spartacus (a fetish wear store) that made the lightbulb go off in my brain. I had wanted to do tooled leather corsets but knew just how costly and time consuming they would be, so had shelved that idea. Walking past Spartacus I suddenly thought of hand tooled leather manacles, collars, ankle restraints, matched sets, the combinations are endless. It sent my mind into that frenzy of design that hits when I come up with an idea. I set things in motion, found an online community to start getting my name out there, doing market research, testing the waters so to speak. It took a while to finish the first prototype wrist restraints, and they are lovely. I need to perfect my technique a bit, streamline the process, tweak and tune. I posted pictures and have been getting amazing feedback, including a number of people wanting to know if I make them for sale. So far so good. Now comes the tough part, selling the idea to the State without it sounding quite so kinky. It is a fairly untapped market, the responses I have received are proving that to me. But how to tone it down? Make it a bit more "vanilla?" I will sleep on it. Hopefully it will come to me in a dream. But I think I am on the cusp of something rather awesome.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Journal

    Today was the family gathering to celebrate the life, and mourn the passing of my maternal Grandmother. She was an amazing woman, and I could tell you hundreds of stories, and the thousands of people who's lives she touched could tell you thousands more stories of how she was a beacon of creativity, love, and acceptance. I could tell these stories, but instead I just want to tell one. It is about what I found, today, by sheer happenstance.
    The big, wonderful, artistic house was filled to the brim with family. Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren. It was a hoard. I admit, we are a tall, handsome, witty, intelligent brood. A creative, artistic, eclectic, eccentric bunch of square pegs in round holes.
    After a few hours of mingling, hugging, reminiscing, catching up, and laughing I was feeling a bit worn out. We introverts can only handle so much socializing before we must sneak away for solitude to recharge. I slipped away, up the stairs to the second floor that had been my Grandma's space. At one time it was her studio and gallery, as well as bedroom, and living space. The walls are hung with a dozen of her paintings, a small sample of her vast work. She was a prolific and talented painter. I had the place to myself.
    Feeling almost sacrilegious, I sat in her chair and let the tension ebb away. I glanced down and saw the corner of her address book peeking out from beneath a box of tissue. I recognized this little book, the cover painted with a bold, colorful, graphic, abstract design. I remembered seeing this book at my Grandma's elbow for nearly as long as I could remember. It was so familiar, and yet I don't think I had ever touched it. I picked it up to get a closer look at the art she had painted on its cover. Several pages from a small notepad fell out. Pages with names and phone numbers, just as you might expect from an address book that was over 30 years old. I opened the book to replace the smaller pages. My eyes lit on the page covered with cursive writing:
    "2/13-3/2  '87  I am on this thing called a vacation. The idea is to lay in the California sun and rest. Reality sets in. Traveled thousands of miles. Almost got in a snowstorm. 3 days of flooded streets and nightmare driving in Scottsdale Arizona. Saw some art and not such a beautiful landscape as seen in Arizona Hwys. I loved every minute of it--wouldn't change a thing."
    The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. This was not an address book, it was a journal. My Grandma's journal, that no one, and I mean No One knew was a journal. All these years it had been in plain sight, kept close at hand, and none of us knew what it was. In reality, why should we know? A journal is a private thing. We were all better off thinking it was merely and address book.
    I page through, reading excerpts. Some of it was reminisces of her childhood, of her father, of the Indians that visited them on their farm in Pocatello. Some of it was free flowing writing. Some was of her struggles to get her paintings into galleries, to get her name known as an artist. Some of it is so private that no one needs know, except maybe the women who are her descendants.
    "$150,000 isn't hay. Who needs that much? Me! If I had it I could promote my paintings and get in some galleries. I'd hire Andy to be my bookkeeper and Randy to be my agent. Henry's Dark Private Reserve."
    This was written in 1987. A time when I know her life was in some turmoil. Her kids were grown and gone, and she was striving to make a name for herself in the art world. It was a chaotic time for her. Someone suggested that there must be other journals. This one is small, and does not have many pages. I think that maybe this is a one off. One of a kind. Her one and only. Her writing to come to grips with all that was transpiring mentally, physically, professionally, emotionally. And it was in my hands.
    I read excerpts aloud to some chosen few, and promised to transcribe it word for word and get copies to the few who should see it all. I am going to read it cover to cover. I think I stumbled onto a true treasure. A glimpse into the mind and heart of this amazing woman when she was on a vendetta to make the world sit up and take notice of her talent. This is one thing I will cherish.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hit The Wall

    I admit, I have hit a wall today. I am sure it is the cumulative effect of weeks of long days at a job I knew was ending, the strain of the holidays, the death of my grandmother a few days ago, the actual ending of my job, the cold weather, and an uncertain future. The downside of being borderline manic/depressive is the crash that comes after riding mania for weeks on end. It is abrupt and often brutal. Fortunately I am still able to look ahead at the exciting possibilities, and to know that they are a breath away from being reality. I am weepy and lethargic, but not curled into a fetal position crying uncontrollably. One advantage of having spent endless days in the abyss is the ability to recognize it from a distance and make heroic efforts to prevent a fall. It is easy to fall on the platitude that we all deserve to take a day off now and then, take some down time, relax, be lazy. That is for normal people. I am not normal.
    For the better part of the month of December I was able to fixate on the light at the end of the tunnel. Work kept me frenetically busy up until just about a week ago, and then there was still much to do to close up shop, and fill final orders. It was a busy month. Then yesterday, finishing up with inventory, closing up my office space, deleting cookies and browsing history, packing up the last of my things, then Exit, Stage Left, No Fanfare. It was freeing and exciting, and somehow a letdown. Now that it is done I feel a bit adrift, for today at least. I had a friend over for the afternoon, and it was so great to have someone to talk to. Then when she left the house seemed so quiet. Yes, I love my solitude and the quiet, but over the last few months I had grown accustomed to having children in the house, and other adults to talk to. At work I had friends to talk to, vent to, tell my wild ideas, and laugh. I find that I miss it. It will take some adjusting.
    I know that I need to work up a sweat, get in a solid workout, but I can't seem to find my motivation today. If you know me at all then you know that this is definitely not the norm. My workouts are like my religion, and I am devout. To skip a workout makes me feel ashamed and a bit dirty, as if I have indeed sinned against myself. here it is, 8:30 at night, and I am wrapped in my giant bathrobe to ward off the bitter cold of the winter night. Deep inside is a voice shouting to me to get moving, sweat, exhaust my body, but the voice is being muffled by the shadows that seem eager to draw me into their midst. I know better, know that I need to fight against the darkness or it will win. Some days though, it is a tough battle. Days like today.