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Laura

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The Awkward Money Dance [02 Jun 2011|01:53pm]
It’s during a phone call with my dad that I blurt out what it is that’s been driving me mad for the past few months. It seems that talking to him and having him ask about what’s on my mind lately sparks a stream of consciousness aimed in no particular direction of everything that’s been slowing grinding away at me. At this point I really need to apologize for using him this way all this time. A muffin basket doesn’t seem like it would suffice.

Money is an ugly word. To an artist, it’s the word that makes us recoil more than anything else. It makes every conversation instantly awkward. It turns friends into competition and family into judges and bailiffs.

What’s been on my mind lately? Not just money, but the act of selling oneself short. They tell you all along the way in art school not to sell yourself short. It’s a warning phrased out again and again until it sounds like a beautiful song when they sing it to you across long grey tables in a classroom. And to you, the art student, sitting amongst your peers of art school, to you it sounds great. You think, “Yeah! Hell yeah! I am never going to undersell myself! I am worth a lot! The work I do is so valuable people are going to have to pay real money to get it from me!”

But the problem with that whole scenario is that you forget about how powerful the position you’re in when you hear those words is. You are hearing it from teachers who are being paid to sit there and listen to you, paid to instruct you to the best of their ability and give you feedback. Similarly you are sitting in a crowd of other people who have all paid to be there, paid as much as you have, and are paying to be interested in your work with the hopes that you’ll be as interested in theirs and together you’ll all grow as artists. There is a lot of money going into the performance of that warning song, and so many people with so much money wound up in the whole art school situation that you forget that outside of this institution these people chanting with you probably wouldn’t give your work two glances for all the Tracey Emin monoprints in the world.

What’s missing from this situation? The real world. You know, the one where money makes things run (like your rent for your apartment or your studio, or the food you put in your face, you probably want them to keep running). This same unforgiving real world that doesn’t actually care about the work you do, that doesn’t actually need what it is you’re doing because there’s quite a few other people doing almost, but not exactly, the same thing as you. And if you try and get what you perceive to be your worth from this real world, well, you’re likely going to find out that the real world is just a bunch of other people who are trying to run off their money and really want to hold on to as much of it as possible. Just like you. Enter: the Awkward Money Dance known as bargaining and estimates.

That Awkward Money Dance has the capability of turning even your best friends into people who harbor resentment, or into the kind of people that you hold onto a little bit of that ugly dark hate too. It also does the same thing to people you’ve just met, only faster. Like, a hundred thousand times faster.

That’s the real world, and those people you’ve just met are potential clients, and bringing them into your life so that they might exchange money for services rendered, maybe so they’re so satisfied they continue to do so year after year. The big catch with all these people is that Money Dance. Because if you take one step in the wrong direction, rather than correct your or step with you the majority of the time they’ll just drop you and find someone else, and most certainly it’ll be someone w ho can’t dance nearly half as well as you can but who will follow their steps so closely that these people you were just dancing with will deny that they can even notice a difference. Money and loyalty are strange bedfellows.

So there is my poor dad, sitting there in his kitchen, on his cordless phone, 5000km away from me listening to me go on about how I continue to undersell myself to try and raise money for art projects and residencies and life (in that order apparently) and all the while I am sitting in my kitchen, yelling into my cell phone while really just yelling at myself. This is a relatively inexpensive therapy which brings me to the roots of what’s really on my mind a lot faster than most other things in life. I wonder how much a muffin basket costs, anyway?
2 cries + shhhh..

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale [03 Sep 2010|10:09am]
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is a system used to keep a tally of stressful, life-changing events which happen to an individual, it assigns a numerical value to events and the final score gives an indication of how that sum may affect someone’s health. On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, under the ‘Non-Adult’ section, the death of a parent measures 100 ‘Life Change Units,’ which is to say, the most points for any one event that could happen in the life of a kid.

It is hard for me to deny that I have an unyielding interest in death. What manifests as adolescent curiosity didn’t come from violent movies or angry music. It started many years earlier. The only section of the library at my elementary school which ever interested me in the slightest was the surprisingly well stocked shelves on all topics of death and the paranormal.

Ghosts, voodoo, witchcraft, corpses, hauntings, séances, grave-robbers, ghastly fatal accidents, poltergeists, you name the spooky subject and my ten year old self had read every single book about it in both the school and public libraries of Sidney. I had an appetite that couldn’t be filled. There was a very special thrill to reading about death which I was likely addicted to. The taboo of death excited me, it was something everyone went through but no one ever talked about and as a kid I felt like the bona fide expert on the subject – in both personal experience and reference material.

And when I became a teenager and made poor fashion choices and had black hair and more earrings than would allow me to sleep comfortably on a pillow each night it became very common – and therefore very uncool – to have such interests. There were too many movies about it, too many graphic novels and loud tuneless music that all talked about something that had previously been my private sanctuary, and so in my early twenties I felt I had no choice but to relent from my love of that genre. Peer pressure makes us do some ugly things when we are younger and more impressionable.

It’s only now, at almost twenty-six and inches from the finish line of an undergraduate, that I am once again that ten year old who can endlessly sit in the corner of the library for hours and just read about the gooey and spooky parts of death. And really, that’s who I was all along.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that ages 15-23 are without unique and personality-alteringly dangerous obstacles.

But here I am at the point where I must try to understand where this obsession comes from, because it is not a desire to shock and awe, or offend or stand out which drives me. If anything it is an intense desire to relate, to reach out to everyone I’ll ever meet who has ever experienced the same events but has gone without ever understanding their own feelings about it. I am compelled to do is find others who live amongst the remains of the dead, who cling to objects and memories and the past the way I do and to understand them in order to ultimately try to understand myself.

What is likely is I am simply too afraid to approach myself in this way, that I have reached a standoff with my own understanding of who I am and why it is I do the things I do, so I desire to look for it in other people and through them learn more about myself. These unnamed people I wish so deeply to meet – people who I know exist out there around me but who I will have to struggle to find – these people may be my mirror to the stressful events which shaped me, the mirror that lets me see the impression that’s really been left behind.

It will be my challenge over the next months to learn ways to find people, to adapt more tact than I can possibly poses within me to approach such a delicate subject. I want to understand people. I don’t mind if it means crying in the company of others, learning about what it is which affects them and how it is part of what drives me.


Every artist has a deal. Has their routine. Their song and dance. My deal is that my family is mostly dead. Might as well milk it for what it’s worth.
9 cries + shhhh..

[13 Dec 2009|05:34am]


Life is awful. I wish I were dead.
2 cries + shhhh..

[02 Dec 2009|01:21pm]
You can't trust anyone. Don't own anything of value that other people can take. Don't invest yourself in anything that can be ruined by other people. It's not worth it.
1 cry + shhhh..

[28 Aug 2009|09:11pm]


My mother's parents were pretty darn fine looking. If I do say so myself.

I miss you, Nana.
5 cries + shhhh..

[03 Aug 2009|11:46pm]


Last summer we had barbecues. This year we break fast.
shhhh..

[27 Jul 2009|11:26pm]


Still a few kinks to work out in the new apartment.
shhhh..

[22 Jul 2009|10:10pm]


When we lived together our collections were always stronger, but apart we're both finally able to breathe. Passing ships in the night no longer, big brother.
2 cries + shhhh..

[15 Jul 2009|10:27am]


Atwater market is actually overpriced and disappointing. Got up early to bike over for fresh fruit and bread but it cost much more than I'd expected and nothing was fresh enough despite me being there before anything officially opened.

I will begin my search for the best bread in the area.
3 cries + shhhh..

[14 Jul 2009|11:28pm]


It's been a pretty good week.
shhhh..

[09 Jul 2009|09:44am]


I don't care what anyone says I love my new bed more than life itself. I am tempted to spend weeks at a time in that bed.



Observe my one broken handle on the drawer because the wood is so messed up the screw won't go in.



I call is "Barbie's Dream Kitchen" because the off white I wanted for the cupboards and trim ended up pink. Just pink.



Plant corner!



And my bathroom? Sorry about that. It's really too small to embody the way it feels anyway.
9 cries + shhhh..

[03 Jul 2009|09:55pm]


It doesn’t smell like my apartment when I come home in the evening. It doesn’t ever smell like somewhere I live. I can’t identify that smell specifically, it’s certainly not me, but here somehow lacks anything personal in non-specific ways.

I struggle with the keys every time I come back, for at least five minutes each time. I still can’t remember which side of me the toilet paper is on. I haven’t unpacked because with each new box comes something I remember I shouldn’t have held on to. I turn the taps the wrong way, and still have no idea which is cold or hot in the bathroom. I have no salt or pots or remote for my DVD player. I lack a bath mat, blinds for a single window in the apartment, or a mop, and the overwhelming smell in the bathroom, the mixture of cigarettes and cleaning products, makes me light-headed.

There was a mix-up at the hardware store and somehow my off-white wall paint for my kitchen became a pink and now I live in Barbie’s Dream Kitchen. More pictures to follow.



Tonight gave way to a two hundred dollar drink and dinner and desert bill at one of those astoundingly fancy restaurants in the old port which I couldn’t afford, didn’t pay a dime for, and barely left enough for the custom designed drinks (at $15 a piece) as a tip. They all tasted like washing-up liquid anyway.

Insects in the city are so very different than those in the suburbs I used to haunt.
2 cries + shhhh..

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