Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Uncharacteristically warm days.

It's been beautiful out lately. It's warm, and the sun is out. It's warmer than it would usually be this time of year, people seem in great spirits because of it. In denial maybe, of the upcoming winter. Last winter was so brutal here, it's as if we've all agreed to collective denial.

This past weekend we moved the clocks back an hour, doing our best to save some daylight. Usually I don't really have much to say on the matter, but this year it's made a difference for me. Maybe it's because I'm more aware of how much daylight affects my mood and my sleeping so I take greater care to get sunlight and to sleep at-least 8 hours (I need 9-10) or maybe it's because my higher dosage and vitamin regimen are taking effect, whichever the affecting party, it's been helping my mood.

I ended up waking up on Sunday and just getting a load of stuff done. I felt productive, and was happy with myself. I cleaned. I put tons of clothes away. I folded up clothes that are one and two sizes smaller than what I wear now, and stored them in a large moving bin. It's the plight of a woman with weight struggles, having a closet filled with a variety of sizes in it. There's always that pair of pants that's just too small. So, I put it all away. If I lose weight again, I'll have clothes to start me off. If not, at least those clothes won't be a lie I tell myself. This unhealthy inspiration, that's really just flagellation through fashion.

It's as if, after over a decade of living as someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, and disordered thinking, I can't think about the word diet, or certain marketing "health" terms anymore. They just make my angry. But beyond that, really, they don't register with me anymore. I just hear sick bullshit. Total garbage.

I still have a lot of stuff to work through in regards to my physical health, but I'm getting there, slowly.

I cooked a lot. I made (and ate) the best lasagna I've ever had in my life. Being able to cook on Sundays usually means having access to healthier lunches and meals during the week. This week I made a Gruyere, spinach and turkey meat sauce lasagna, with a vegetable potage of leaks, sweet potatoes and peppers, and some chicken salad.

I guess this helps get me off on the right foot for the week. I don't feel like a useless bum. I also spend less money going out, and eat more balanced meals.

I just finished reading M Train by Patti Smith. I'd read Just Kids, and loved it. It's an interesting read. She's a phenomenal writer, and is really gifted with language and in describing her own creative process. That's what I liked so much about Just Kids, the talking about the daily life of a creative person, in a way that's almost mundane. The ritual of it. It's just the way she is, it's a priority in her life, she still lives that mythic beat of being an artist in the romantic sense. The way it's represented in a film taking place in the 60's, with a hero that is barely unkempt, slender and androgynous, who moves slowly from place to place, with no wrist-watch and no seeming embodiment of pressure.

I read Smith's stories. Her traveling. Her reading. Her writing. Her adventures. She's seemingly unimpressed by herself, but there is no mention of money ever, no worry about money. This is where she loses me.

I would have, years ago, dismissed my own criticism by citing my age. When I'm older, I'll be making money (because we get older, and we support ourselves, naturally), things just seem difficult now because I'm a student. Or because I just started working. Or because I'm still paying off my debts. 

There seems to be so much privilege in writing. In taking the time to really imbibe someone else's art. In being able to travel in a way that isn't offensive, that isn't privileged horse-shit. In a way that's honest.

As I'm looking toward 2016, I can't help but think of this series of warm days, and my own lived experience of creativity. I am not Patti Smith. I do not have decades of work behind me. I am not a recognized artist. I struggle, often, to even identify as a creative. And on these warm days, more seems possible. Opportunity doesn't seem as exterior to myself.

If I want to dedicate time and energy to creative pursuits, what does that mean for me? Working less to have more free time? Seeing a 9 to 5 as a means to an end? Will I be "working-poor" for the rest of my life? Can I accept that as a reality? Is choosing a creative life, choosing poverty?

What does living on less look like? Smith survives on coffee and brown toast. I already live paycheck to paycheck. No financial safety net. Is a financial safety net a luxury of the 1%?

Am I unable to be original at times, because what plagues me is wholly unoriginal? Are the ghosts around me, ghosts of habit? Not only my habits, but the habits of this place, and my generation, and of my gender? Are these ghosts in my blood? Am I haunted by not only my regrets, but the regrets of my ancestors? If that my depression? Are these my anxieties?

There's something about being so near a large decision. This purchase of a home. A place to live. Something that would be mine and mine alone. This responsibility. This financial burden. All of a sudden money means something concrete. It's now a limit. It represents what I can and cannot afford. Where I can and cannot go. These numbers represent the way in which I will live my life. Spend too much and I will be shamed, I will be chained to payments that will suffocate me. Do too little, and then there's the voice of the "positive friend" saying you'll regret your choice, you'll eventually meet someone, you'll want more room, you'll eventually get a raise, you will make more money.

But I am the working-poor. If my little amount of savings can grant me land ownership, is that not an achievement? It is to me. To be near-dead for so long, and to then own something for myself and of myself,                        that                           is                    something.

All of it is noise. To a certain extent, so is Smith's representation of creativity. Just another barometer against which to measure myself.

There is something around all of this that circles around the notion of being established.

An established creative. Someone whose creativity matters. Is recognized. Is quantified.

An established person. Someone with a home. A space. Roots.

I would have something. Something in my name.

And though in the past I often felt this would tie me down, now I see it as a refuge. A safe space. My money leaves me regardless, at least this way I pay into something being mine. Even if it's just for a short while.

Sometimes all of this just seems like a question of luck and talent. Smith has talent. Some people have luck. Being born gorgeous. Being born rich. Being born convinced of your worth, and of the value of your production. These are things I was not born with. I get bursts of hard-work, book-ended by just doing my best.

Something Smith's book did bring home for me though, it how much longer I might have to figure all of this out. Smith is 68. I am 31. I could write, and try, for a very long time.

That is exciting but it also makes me tired.

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