Defining My NEXT

It has been awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. Or read a lot of blogs.

My focus went internal, into that closed off little world inside my head where major decisions are made in silence after much contemplation and analysis. In other words, I was thinking.

What about, pray tell?

Everything.  Past, present, and future.  About the fact that there IS a future, a NEXT yet to be determined.  Or to be precise, determining what that NEXT shall be.

Disability changed my life in 2007.  Beyond the physical, there are psychological ramifications.  We define who we are by what we do.  When you meet someone new, one of the first things asked is, “What do you do?”  And the answer is usually given in terms of occupation.   Our identity is so wrapped up in our jobs that when you lose the ability to work, you lose a sense of who you are.   So for seven years,  I have been trying to redefine who I am without an occupation while learning to cope within the limitations of my disability.  Art has been a godsend, not only as something I still can do, but it has proven to be the best diversion.  When I hurt, I can zone into making art and take my mind to imaginary places so I don’t dwell on the pain.   When mobility issues have me stuck for awhile, art gives me something to do.  Still, I feel like I am in limbo.  This is my life, it is not going to change, and I’m just passing time waiting to die.  That is how I feel without a NEXT, as if I am living a life without a future.   Everything – reading, blogging, whatever – is just something to do to pass the time.

That’s why I need a NEXT.

Earlier this month, I attended an “Art is Business” workshop on writing business plans.   I have a hard time thinking of art as a business venture because I don’t think of art as a product to sell.   Beyond the reasons stated above, I make art because there is something deep inside of me that says I have to, it is not a choice.  Well, everything is a choice.  But, it does not feel like a choice.  Ignoring it does not make it go away.  Choosing other occupations does not make it stop.  It does not matter if my art sucks, if no one in their right mind would ever want to buy it, I still have to make it.  That might not make a lot of sense, but that’s just how it is.

Am I being down on myself or just being realistic?

I am never going to be an exceptional artist capable of netting $75,000 a year (the five year goal of the fictional fresh out of college visual artist who paints unique abstracts in acrylics used as the example in the business plan workshop), but I could tailor a business plan in line with my own artistic potential and physical limitations.  In other words, I need something else going on.

That’s what I’ve been doing… researching that something else.

Tell you how my mind works:  first question I asked myself was, “What could you do if you lost your disability check and ended up homeless living in a handicap accessible cardboard box?”   Answer:  become an itinerant retailer.  Yes, a street vendor.  So, I researched the city ordinances pertaining to itinerant retailers, which is how I know that they are called itinerant retailers.  (I also learned how to spell itinerant.)  But, that was my launch point.  Next question?  What would I sell?  Art, trinkets, handmade things… but would I earn enough to move out of that hypothetical cardboard box?   No, need something else… a money maker, something that people actually want or will buy on impulse.  I have been racking my brain and researching options trying to decide what that will be.

Not should be.  Will be.  I picked a something.

If I let myself dream out loud, I would open a store… sell art and trinkets and handmade things, hire people to do what I can’t do (one way to wiggle around physical limitations), and this “something” would be the bread and butter money maker that keeps it all afloat.   Of course, I would have to hit the lottery first as it requires a serious investment.  Well, as they say, there is more than one way to get somewhere once you have set your sights on NEXT.

OH… couple FYI’s.

1.   The mosaic guitar is finally DONE.  (I will give it it’s own post, with photos, as this is getting awfully long.)

2.  BeesATC (my other blog) is participating in the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge” this year.  It is proving to be exactly what I needed to get back into drawing daily.

3.  If you live near Youngstown, Ohio, stop by the Mocha House in Boardman sometime within the next month or so.  They have good coffee, a full menu that never disappoints, and cheesecake to die for.  And right now,  you can see my art there.  Below is a sneak peek, a cell phone photo shot on hanging day.  Arrangement was limited to existing nails within my assigned section.  If you go see in person, please let me know what you think!  Thanks!

My art on wall at Mocha House in Boardman, Ohio.

My art on wall at Mocha House in Boardman, Ohio.





Those Guys

Some rockabilly band in Amsterdam stole my online identity.

Well, they didn’t really steal it, they just changed the name of their band to MY internet name sometime between August and December of 2012.

Now I can understand why they changed their name from “Lee and the hillbilly blues combo” to “BARNBEES” as that was quite a mouthful.  Even shortened to “Lee and the HBC” (as on the logo of their old website) is not as catchy or as cool for a band establishing an online presense, growing a fan base, or just plain ol’ being a band. 

I can understand WHY they picked “BARNBEES” as a good name for their band.  They come by it honestly.  Seems the last name of the man named Lee in the Lee and whatever happens to be Barnbee, so it makes perfect sense for Lee Barnbee to call his band BARNBEES.  It is a good name for a band, easy to remember, and googles up easy. 

That’s how I heard about this… I googled myself the other night and found them.

The polite thing for me to do would be to bow out gracefully.  As in quit using it, let them have it.

Afterall, they are a band and I’m just a person… if they hit it big in the music business, achieve global success, people will assume that I am using THEIR name regardless of the fact that I was using barnbees first.

I considered doing that…  then I realized what a pain it would be just trying to remember everywhere I set myself up as barnbees over the years. 

Then what would happen if I did pick a new name, google it out first to make sure no one else is using it before making all these changes and someone else comes along and takes THAT name?  Do it again?

What would you do?

If I do nothing, we will trip over each other. 

Part of me says let them trip, get the “name not available” messages if they want to set up as barnbees anywhere I already am… if they want me to give up barnbees, they can ASK me proper.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of rockabilly music being popular in the Netherlands.  Barnbees play that blend of country, rock, and blues that’s so American.  They play Johnny Cash.  It seems odd, about as unexpected as a Japanese Polka or an Irish group playing Mariachis.  But, what do I know?

To be fair, they do write some of their own songs.  Oh geez… speaking of which, I wonder if Lee Barnbee would be amused to know that the other “barnbees” on the internet just happens to be a woman twice his size.

Well, not quite anymore. 

I think a distraction is in order. I should get busy, take advantage of low humidity and give that mosaic guitar another coat of cement-less grout.  I love and hate that grout at the same time.  It is nice for big projects as work time is longer, but it takes so long to set up on humid days that it drips out anywhere that is not laid out flat.


I also need to think about what to put in the holes on the headstock once it is done grouted and those straw bits keeping the holes open are pulled out.  The tuners, bridge, and nut were salvaged as parts for making cigar box guitars. 

See? Old music never dies… worthless guitars become art, parts go on to make new musical instruments, and old Cash tunes land in the Netherlands.