Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Have the Wolf by the Ear

Somehow "between a rock and a hard place" was not nearly as evocative as the synonym Wikipedia gave me, "to have the wolf by the ear". I definitely prefer the more colorful phrase.  :) 

Yeah, it's been since February that I posted. A long, long time. And a lot of changes in my life...some of which are still ongoing. So as August opens to more hot-hot-hot days in Georgia, I am feeling a bit caught in between, and probably will be for a while. I'll try to give you the nutshell version of why:

- I am no longer doing wholesale in any great way. I stopped doing wholesale shows after the utter disaster that was Baltimore last year. Too many years, too much money, too little profit. So I regrouped and left my ego on the wholesale floor. If this was playing with the big kids, I'd rather play in a smaller sandbox. Or another sandbox entirely.  :)

But even though I no longer have the wholesale show expenses, we're still in a recession, y'all, and revenues are not what they used to be. So the first order of business was to increase cash flow.  This meant that I took on more festivals this year. Where I usually begin the festival circuit in April, this year I began in February, traveling to Miami for my first show of the year. And I have added in more shows than I usually I have been either away from home more or busier than ever trying to keep up with production so that I have enough inventory for these events. Doing so has made me feel like I couldn't take a deep breath for most of 2011.

- I am still climbing the fabrication mountain. I persevered with fabrication classes at the Spruill Center through May, but with traveling to festivals, I missed a fair number of classes. And I didn't have any spare time to work on the projects at home, so I was constantly behind and couldn't keep up. I learned a lot and I do feel more confident about my skills, but after the Spring session, I needed a break, for two reasons. First I needed some downtime to really work on designing, not just fabricating projects that the instructor gave us, and second:

- I had major surgery in mid-June. Some of you know that I have been in braces since December 2009. The braces are not meant to straighten my teeth but to align my jaw (as much as possible) prior to having this surgery. If you're squeamish, maybe you should stop reading now...I won't bore you with all the gory details, but I had both jaws surgically broken and re-aligned. The upper jaw was not straight (it sloped to one side) so it was made level and also moved horizontally because it was not aligned evenly with the rest of my face. The lower jaw was pushed back because I had a fairly strong underbite. I'm skipping the details (honestly, most of them even *I* didn't - and don't - want to know) but essentially that's what occurred last month.

So now I'm in a bit of a waiting period...the bones will not be fully healed until mid-August, and then I can start physical therapy because all the facial muscles have been realigned too.And they are NOT happy about it. They want to go back to their original positioning, and they are stiff, sore, and really giving me grief. So in about a week, PT begins in earnest. I am not excited about it because I still have plenty of pain daily and I am not looking forward to adding more...but right now I still can't open my jaw wide enough to eat a sandwich, I can't really chew well, and I need to get the range of motion back at some point. Otherwise I am going to look pretty funny (and have limited food  choices) at restaurants for the rest of my life...

The additional problem with the surgery (and not being back on my regular diet) is that my energy is exceptionally low. I am tired all the time and I sleep a lot. And I don't feel rested when I wake. Some of that is pain, some I assume is lack of exercise (no exercise until the bones are healed), and some of course is that I am on a diet that is not really about eating healthy. It's not about eating un-healthy either, but I usually eat a lot of protein and fiber and for months now I've been having soft foods and carbs. So I feel very lethargic overall.

And the odyssey isn't over yet, kids! Next week I go back to the orthodontist to get rubber bands put on my braces. Why? Because my bite is still not aligned. Despite the 18 months in braces, AND the surgery, my back teeth still don't meet at all. This is partially normal for most jaw surgery patients, and partially an issue because I have a bridge on my upper jaw that is now obstructing the back teeth, since the jaws have been re-aligned. Eventually it will have to be removed and replaced with one that now fits my new the time this is all over I will have a $10,000 mouth. It had better be worth it! And I can't really say that it's worth it...not yet.

So that's the scoop on my 2011 so far! If anyone wants more details on why I had the jaw surgery in the first place, feel free to contact me directly or leave a comment and I'll answer back.  Otherwise, I am communing with my sketch book, working (at least on paper) on new designs, as part of this summer was intended for just that purpose. Unfortunately, the surgery recovery is much more involved than I first anticipated, but I'm doing what I can, when I can.  In the meantime, I leave you with something new (completed in my spring fab class):

A deeply patinated wrap ring with some fun elements on it! 

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