Tuesday, July 15, 2008

channeling david

I had to bolster my confidence via writer David Sedaris today. He is a master of the single chapter vignette, the magician who turns painfully ordinary lives and events into literary gold. His subject is human frailty on display-not in a cruel way as though he were an uninvolved critic, though cruel is an adjective used to describe the world and its inhabitants, and he is not above pulling back the curtain. Even the worst, most ignorant characters drawn from life somehow come off in a compassionate or at least understandable context, making me exclaim in my mind as I read, "That reminds me of this....our family was just like them...I knew someone like that...oh, yeah, I remember doing the same thing, wore something as utterly stupid, embarrassed myself in an equivalent fashion." He paints himself gray and colors the world around him.

Well, he helped me today when I feel myself going gray in so many ways. I had to make a phone call to our community college to find out how to enroll my daughter...and myself. I did the same in 1993, though under a much more glamorous pretext. I was going to fulfill a dream, to get a degree in the visual arts. And I did, and in ways it was as glamorous as I'd hoped. I'm not sorry. And some people think me every bit the bohemian as the job description suggests, art all over my brilliantly painted walls, an upstairs studio, a resume of shows and awards, life drawing classes, private jobs, everything on my own terms. Well, not exactly. While the creative love of my life will always be a part of that life, I find I crave some structure, medical insurance, a paycheck, a place of employment-a "real" job. Needing food and shelter can truly cramp one's gypsy lifestyle. As can children. Especially in college. I'm sort of tired of trying to prove my worth with every piece of art I produce. I know I don't need to, but really in a way, I do. It's ok. I guess this all really got to me through an acquaintance and colleague in the art world who is an engineer with a steady job, has a beautiful fiance who just became his "mrs." and is his muse and the subject of all his stunning drawings and who has ellipsed me artistically in every possible fashion. I really had to ask myself, "If he can do it, why can't I?" But that isn't the reason I do.

So I'm trying to reach down into the self that has to be content with a learning curve. Shoot, that has to be content, period, with being an aging person not where I'd hoped at this point in life. I went back to the gym for that reason, to establish some order in my unstructured life and revive some sense of empowerment. I can now go into the establishment by myself and look reasonably confident, even among muscle-bound men who leave the weight stacks at 90 pounds and force me to dink the metal pin on ten...and grimace to boot. Or ask them to help me reach a cable that has flown into the stratosphere above the weights. (Nothing worse than dragging a chair over to reach anything-mortifying in a gym in front of picture window size mirrors). Humility is the order of the day. I'm mortal, completely so, thank you David, for reminding me. And that's not a bad thing. I rather like the intimacy of it all, the ridiculous, the still small voices and the vignettes of my unique life. I'm in search of more.


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