Wednesday, June 25, 2008

If there was an onomotopoeic word for the noise my brain was making...

I'd use it. But there isn't. I have a bit too much energy it would seem.

Surprise surprise.

This is a frequent occurrence with me. The stars align, the cosmos conspire with the tides and the next thing you know, I'm bouncing off the walls.

Or it might be the five hours of painting and the hour of bellydancing I did tonight. There is something so completely intoxicating and infusing about spending time with creative people. My friend and I got together today at the local coffeeshop for some canvas manipulation. I played with oils for the first time. I like them. Let me rephrase that...I Loooooove them. I can paint and paint and paint and paint and it just keeps blending and then, guess what? I can cut more light spots into the paint and repeat the whole process!

It's amazing. I also bought this really whacky and chunky matte medium gel stuff and made one of the loudest paintings ever...I love it. It looks like a rusty wall or something with this crazy aqua blue green patina. It's really fun and I'm amused. I did it with acrylics cause I'm impatient and I wanted to create something on the fly.

Tomorrow I am going to be taking some photographs of my friend who is pregnant. She's due in 7 weeks and she wants to get some good photos done. It is a sensitive subject for me for various reasons and I'm really looking forward to digging into some great photos with her. We are going to be heading down to Westport, which is the grungy, arty, bohemian-esque, local coffee shop beat out StarBucks part of town (you know, where the art kids and the homeless people hang out together). They have some really great graffitied walls and some funky places mixed with park settings that I think would be really nice.

not that I'm a professional photographer but I can take a decent photo. I'm even going to do it with the dirty F word (film. film!) which I prefer for certain things like this. Anything that gets me more into the process I'm good with.

I've been doing a lot of thinking. I should be doing a lot of reading, jewelry making and cleaning but instead I've been doing a little of those and lots of pondering. Which is both a blessing and a curse. It can spur action as much as it can completely stop me in my tracks.

I am twenty five. I have always been of the mindset that people can do whatever they want, when they want. If you are fifty and want to change careers, I'm tempted to say you can do it if you have the right mindset and attitude. However, I am not in the popular thinking stream with this. I'm ok with all that but it's frustrating. I feel like my walls of "Do anything anytime" are slowly closing in around me, or worse, dissipating into the muggy humidity of the Midwest. I don't like the term "biological clock" or "becoming more career focused" What if I'm not concerned with having kids before I'm 30 or landing that sweet spot job that makes me a bunch of money?

More power to me right? So why do I feel sometimes like instead of being bolstered forward into my bright and shiny future without limits I'm just getting sat on and slowly squashed down by the monster of Reality?

It's a bit dramatic but it sucks. I know, in my heart, that I can live a creative life. Whatever that
means. I also know that eventually I am going to have to focus my energy on something. Whether that's my painting, my jewelry design, my interior design stuff, wedding specialty projects, playing guitar, going to a good grad school and becoming an art historian, traveling the world, etc. etc. etc.

you see my point? I'm like a synapse in an ADHD brain with too much caffeine. Boing. Boing. Boing. It's not that I don't stick with things either...I just tend to do them all at the same time. It makes for some really messy guitar strings and some really colorful art history pages.

I like the weird kinetic energy that I seem to thrive on-I know that's all that matters. I also like having lots of stuff to do so I can take a moment away from certain things without being left without a creative outlet.

I don't like being told that I'm getting too old to do this or being accused of being a freeloader (I'm really not. I'm just borrowing a bedroom with my dad for 2 months. First time in five years I haven't been paying rent, working, dealing with a car, extra curricular lessons and making art. so poo on him).

I wish there was a way of transmitting mental zen to other people so they could be happy living their lives and just as happy to let me live mine the way I want to.

I will eventually get a retirement fund. I will eventually find a "career". I will move back to the states, for an undisclosed amount of time, and focus my energy on all those important things I keep hearing about....painting, drawing, making music. I, bills, student loans and the GRE test books.

When are some times you have felt pressure from others to change your life or your aspirations and refused to give in? It's not that all the pressures I'm getting are negative, they're just clueless. Have you encountered the same thing before? What was your response?

And lastly, since this is my blog and not twenty questions, did you find a way to make them understand or did you just find new friends?


Lisa said...

Have you read Steve Malley's 10 year post yet? If not -- go read it now before you finish reading my comment.


Done? Did you notice he's always had a creative life?

Screw anybody who is pressuring you to embrace responsibility, career, money, stuff you don't want or need -- all of that.

When I was 19 I joined the military because (ok, now picture me channeling Richard Gere in "officer and a gentleman" -- I had noplace else to go!). I was technically a foster kid and I wanted to go to college, but I didn't have anybody helping me to figure out how to make it happen financially and so I freaked out and joined the military. I literally just wanted something that would be better than working for minimum wage. It wasn't what I pictured myself ever doing. My whole life I imagined I'd be a writer and live in some Woody Allen looking NYC or Boston apartment and then I was too afraid and too dumb to figure out how to make it happen.

Once I was into a 4 year enlistment, all my decisions were made for me and I didn't have any choices. They trained me for a job that was nothing like I wanted to do, gave me money to live, told me where I'd live and when and where I'd move. Four years later, I still didn't know what to do and I kept hanging around. By the time I got out, I'd gotten married and divorced (twice) and I owned a house, had a mortgage payment and needed to do whatever would keep me making the same amount of money or more -- which was what they'd trained me to do.

Now I'm almost 47 and I'm back to wanting what I always did, only at this end of my life, I now have to think about paying medical expenses and income to retire, no matter how modestly I plan to live (I could break a hip!).

I'm doing it because I'm at the top of my wage earning years, and by the schedule I'm on, I should have my house paid off in less than two years.

Then I can quit the day job and I hear Starbucks pays part timers benefits.

Do I have regrets? No, not really. I wish I'd been braver and that I'd gone on to live the life I wanted to, but I don't feel like it's too late for me at all. Christ, with the life expectancy getting longer and longer, I worry I'll live too long!

You do what you want to do and don't listen to a thing other people tell you about what you "should" be doing. It all comes down to how important being creative is to you and how important money is. If money's not important, you're golden as long as you don't tie yourself down.

okay -- my old lady rant is finished. Create on, my child ;)

Riss said...

LOL. Way to rock the Officer and A Gentleman line. Indeed. (c:

Yes..I did read Steve's post. I told him he was my hero hehe. I'm not disagreeing with you. I just want to give a giant one finger salute to all of the buttheads who are using their own lack of guts or motivation or creativity or whatever to make me feel like a schmuck.

And yeah...I have friends older than you so don't go using the O word around me. I agree, by the time I'm your age (I tried to take the sting out of that...) I'm sure I'll have all the answers to my problems and I won't doubt myself or my ambitions. Hehe. or I will, I just won't be 25 anymore :D

Thanks though, I really do think you've got the right idea about things. I love and totally respect the fact that you're out there, doing what you want to do. That you got back to what your roots were to begin with. It does nothing more than prove my point...there is never a time where anyone can truthfully say they can't do (insert woeful, moaning voice longing for the good old days when they wished they had learned to play the guitar) anymore.

I just read an article about an 82 year old sixth degree tae kwan do black belt. She's going for her 7th, which involves climbing a 5k mountain. She could kick my ass.

So yeah-I raise a glass to telling everyone who wants me to get a Roth IRA, a "real job", "focus" or any of that BS to go play in traffic. Or just play. It might do them good.

Riss said...

YAAAY. that figured out. ;)

Steve Malley said...

Two things about a creative life: Okay, three:

1) There's no manual. Want to be an accountant, auto mechanic or vet? There's a clearly lined path to follow. But if you want to be an artist/writer/dancer/etc., you're going to have to make it up as you go along.

You'll probably find your choices make sense in retrospect, but in the moment you're clueless as.

2) Friends and Family. Normal folks will. not. understand. If a normal career is like being a soldier, with a highly specific role to fill in the grand strategy, you're like a commando, dropped behind enemy lines with a knife in your teeth and a LOT of room to maneuver.

It doesn't make it easier that the most heartfelt concerns and bad advice come from those who love us most. Or that we ourselves have no clue what we're doing. (At least, I didn't. All I wanted was to draw and paint,etc.)

3) Career Trajectory. We art-types tend to struggle in our twenties. There's a lot of flailing and doubt. One of this life's cruel ironies is that the point where you most need reassurance is the point where you find yourself most alone.

Stay strong. Have faith. Serve your art.

Everything else is just... everything else.

Steve Malley said...

Oh! And oil paints *are* cool, aren't they?!

Henry Miller once said, "To paint is to fall in love again."

Riss said...

I have read that quote by Henry Miller and I really got the meaning behind it as of yesterday. I attempted my first "look out the window and paint" session with was interesting. I have the bones of something that could work. hehe. maybe. (c:

Thanks for the comments. I am a stubborn person and I am both exhilerated and terrified by the idea that I can just make my life up as I go along. I've done improv, I can do this!

And yes, it is ironic. The people who are *supposed* to "get it" just. really. don't. But I have fun tormenting them with my latest scheming.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one out there. (c:

steve said...

Riss--I just finished reading Suze Rotolo's book, "A Freewheelin' Time," about the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early Sixties and her love affair with Bob Dylan. (She's the woman on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.") In those days you could live in the Village, or in Chicago's Old Town, or Venice West in L.A. for next to nothing. Today you have to have to be independently wealthy to live in such places.

I'm lucky to have found this online community of creative people. Like Lisa, I have regular job and a mortgage. Ive also got three children and a mountain of debt, thanks to Luther and Knox Colleges. (Our son Jim managed to get a great deal at Hanover, so we won't be saddled with more debt.)

Strangely enough, I wanted to work for the railroad first and only later decided to write. Anyway, I'm glad to read that you have creative people to socialize with. Our online community is wonderful, but sometimes we need assurance that other creative people are there in the flesh.

Riss said...

Hey Steve, thanks for dropping by. (c: It helps. A lot. It's really easy to become tied up in what we define as our universe and to forget that other people are out there. I think the web is great for that but I agree, person to person is still a really wonderful thing. I'm paying off my own share of student loans...they are not very pleasant. I'm looking into getting more of them as I murk my way through to Grad school. (c:

cs harris said...

Just bounced over here from Steve Malley's blog, and since you asked, I'll give you my opinion...

At the age of 24, I was traveling the world and wanted to write books, but I also kept feeling like I needed to "get on with my life." So I went back to the States, went to grad school, got a job... and hated it. Now all these years later I'm finally writing books, and I did my share of traveling in my later twenties and thirties, but not as much as I'd have liked. Now, I hardly have the time to go anywhere, and I tell my daughters to spend their twenties exploring life, not "getting on with it." Once you stick your nose to the grindstone, get a career, and have kids, it's really, really hard to turn away. I don't regret my years traveling. What I regret is getting "serious" about life so soon.