A Brain for Art and Science

Henna hand art
Painting flowers, and coning henna, the lavendar essential oil in the henna helps with the relaxation, too!

I think some of you know that I’m taking an intensive Chemistry class this summer, to finish up General Chem and prepare to take Organic Chemistry this fall. It’s nothing super complicated, the last chapter was boiling point elevation, freezing point depression, vapor pressure… this chapter we will finish tomorrow and then an exam for both of Friday is the effect on a reaction of temperature, concentration, and time.

Sometimes I really enjoy that mental Eureka! moment of grasping the hidden truths behind a concept, and other times I struggle with misplacing a decimal point and persistently reading a problem wrong, and my lab partner patiently waiting (or not so patiently pointing out the answer) while I methodically process my math. I’m slow at math. This last year has me doubting if I can really do this, but I’m not going to give up. I want this degree, for a lot of reasons.

If I didn’t do the science, what would I be left with? I have this crazy disorganized artist brain, I’ve learned over the years. I can sort of keep it under control with learned organization tricks, and discovering over the years that there is a compromise between perfection and sloppy: something called good enough, or ‘it will get the job done.’ I used to feel guilty that I couldn’t attain perfection, I’m not at all OCD, and I don’t stress the little details when there is a time-crunch that means they aren’t just so when the work must be handed over to another.

But there are times that imperfections are part of life. If I got hung up on picking at them, looking down and back at mistakes, I wouldn’t be able to keep going forward. Not that I ignore them, I try to take a lesson from them, and keep going. One of the things I’ve learned recently is to try not to get too tired. I didn’t come home from the trip to LibertyCon and get con crud, I came home to class, and a late-night party, and more class, and… I’m really tired.

A couple of things happen to me when I’m tired, and observation has shown me that these are common reactions in others as well. I get the blues (I’ve been depressed. This isn’t depressed, although someone who hadn’t ever been in the pits of despair might think so) and I start having trouble sleeping. It doesn’t help that early this week I was under attack for a minor thing, one which wouldn’t have bothered me at any other time, but the effort of responding to it left me discouraged and drained. Times like this I contemplate (again) becoming a recluse.

digital roses
Digital art, continuing the flower theme, as a final relax and sleep exercise.

It’s important when you feel your fatigue and stress overwhelming you, to stop and find a way to refuel. Sleeping like I wanted was right out: I had class and lab yesterday, then it was too late for a nap lest I disrupt my routines. So I pulled out the art supplies.

Okay, to be fair: I cleaned off my office table, first, and then the art. I find that when I’m tired, I let the clutter piles get big. Then they stress me and distract me. So I cleaned for a while, which helped on several levels. And then the art. For whatever reason, doing this lets me stop thinking about all the imperfections, and relax into the process of creation. I know it won’t work for everyone, but it allowed me to take an hour or two last night, and sleep much more soundly once it was time for bed.

Today I have a day off. I also have homework, an online quiz, paperwork for business, a chapter to edit for the other work, and… LOL Yeah, it’s not really a day off. Just a day I don’t report to a classroom. I still think it will help, and I look forward to it.

After another cup of coffee.