Coming up for air

….Hi guys.

It’s, ah, it’s been a while. You look good! I know, I know, I never call, I never write. Life’s been busy as shit lately, 95% of it for the right reasons. I’ve been swept up in work and various career-related pursuits. I went to my first museum-related conference, I presented my own research at a conference for the first time, and I’m quickly becoming proficient in setting up and running tents at booze festivals, as well as orchestrating cider sales, drink in hand. It’s very stressful. Constantly thrust into a situation where I don’t innately know how to do something, constantly having to wing it until I get the hang of *insert random task here*… but it’s good. Despite the occasional frustrations, and the wavering confidence in the face of novice-hood, it’s good. All of these instances are like little building blocks, and I’m slowly constructing a valuable skill set. And even though I often feel like an idiot, I’m trying to remind myself that soon, I won’t.

So… obvi the job front has stabilized… I now have 3, count ’em, 3 gigs. The museum is the bulk of my time and energy. Oh how I wish the cold card cashola would rain down as much as the career experience, but thems the breaks. Luckily, living in a small town means (apparently) that word-of-mouth is actually a thing. My director got me in touch with the campus box office, and our education and public outreach guy directed me toward a local cider bar. Much like a Millet-ian gleaner, I’m trying to cobble together enough work to make ends meet, and slowly whittle away at the mountain of debt I’ve incurred since graduate school. The cider bar is a particularly fun extra: I’m back in the food and beverage industry (which I missed!), I get to tend bar, learn about making cider (which I like exponentially more, now), and simultaneously work and enjoy area food and drink festivals. At the last one, I made friends with some like minded punks at three beards brewing, and orchestrated a sale/collaboration with Rusty Rail! BOOM!  L’s is crushin’ it!!

Overall, I’d rather be busy than not, but of course having my hand in so many fires… pots… how does that expression go? No time to Google – soldier on! – can be at least confusing, at worst exhausting.  I’ve always been on the scatterbrained side of the mental organization spectrum. That predilection only intensifies as more balls come into my court (Jeez, I’m all over the place with those spinning phrases today – ha, see what I did there?). Ergo, keeping focus on the task at hand is difficult when half of my attention is trickling onto the next 5 things on my to-do list. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of a short attention span seem to be affecting my writing most of all. Not only do I feel as though I have no time to write, but any time I do carve out, well, case in point: I’m trying to write this post while in the back of my mind I’m considering what to make for dinner, when to go to the gym, the million little projects for the museum, finances, and whether I can swing subleasing my apartment to move in with a buddy to further gain a foothold over the aforementioned monies.

I guess that’s everyone’s life. We’re all constantly being pulled in a million different directions. It bothers me so much, though, because of a seemingly innocuous assumption that strangers make when they meet me and find out what I do:

Person A: *sips cocktail* “So what do you do?”

Me: “Oh I work at an art museum as a curatorial fellow at the moment, I want to be a curator.”

Person A: “Oh, so you’re an artist?”

Me: *ashamed* <– (but why??) “Oh, no, haha. I can’t draw or paint well or anything.”

Person A: ……

Me: *takes big ol’ slurp of cocktail* “I mean, I like to write, that’s my main creative pursuit.”

….Are you pickin up what I’m puttin down? I know that part of that assumption stems from people who don’t have an intricate understanding of what curators do, but it’s still not all that far from the truth. Most curators I’ve met started as visual artists in some form or another, and their careers evolved as such. It makes me feel like a bit of an impostor that I’ve never been very artistically inclined (that gift fell to my sister). That I enjoy writing is not a stretch, either. I like to tell stories, whether I’m crafting a post, surrounded by friends at the bar, or creating an exhibit. I like to verbally explore the nuances of our humanity and how they inform the intricate nature of our relationships to each other. But…. when I don’t feel like I have time to devote my chosen craft, or I can’t maintain my attention to it when I do make the time… well, then can I honestly say that when someone asks? Plus, I take intense pride in whatever it is I choose to do; whatever it is, I want to be good at it. I’m not that a great of a writer at this point, but the only way I’ll improve is to keep plugging… and yet it’s become clear that I’m not determined to keep it a priority… so what does that mean??

I was particularly distressed by that brain train the past few weeks (incidentally, during that giant gap you’ll notice between this post and my previous one). Luckily, my friend group in this town has quite the creative bent, be it visual art, film, acting, music, etc etc. I finally admitted my fraudulent feelings to the University’s resident print-making TA. Thank goodness, she knew exactly what I was talking about! “Think of it like writer’s block,” she said. “Sometimes you have to step away and funnel those creative juices into something else for a little bit. That’s totally normal, don’t worry.” As I pondered her much appreciated words of wisdom, their relevance rang truer and truer. Maybe the writing has taken a backseat, but I’m still creating! I’m learning guitar (finally!), I’m cooking so much more than I have in years (the fruits of my labor to follow soon, perhaps, gentle readers). I’m even crafting a teensy bit, in an effort to live on the cheap as creatively as possible. And, um, DUH – my job, my chosen profession, is about as creative as you can get. I guess that’s a transition I haven’t acclimated to yet, but when I finally realized that, I got kind of excited. My storytelling will most certainly continue, I’ve merely adopted a new medium! Eeek – perhaps, in a way, I am an artist (of sorts)!

Another ego bruise of the interpersonal variety came nipping at the heels of the dip in my professional confidence. The short version is, I snagged attentions from someone who was utterly and hilariously out of my league for a hot minute, there. It had no long term potential, and so pragmatically I knew the situation would run its course. Well, it did. The severance was perfectly amiable, but it was still a form of rejection, if a mild sauce, baby kinda one.

I will always have shaky self-esteem, I think. I’m a real sensitive gal who constantly needs reminding of her worth to the world. So I was a little bummed (Plus, the lower half of my mug looks like it’s eating itself right now; thanks perioral dermatitis, argh. C’mon, Face! You’re not helping!). However, I handled it as I initially intended to handle it. Calmly. While 2012-2014 L’s would have flown off the handle or self-destructively wallowed, 2015 L’s retreated a bit, licked her wound, slapped a band aid on that bitch, and got over it. My emotional sea refused to form a tempest… and that… that was an immense relief.

For the past few years I felt out of control of myself, completely at the mercy of the external world, that harsh mistress, that sadist. But these days? I feel…. I feel normal again. It almost chokes me up when I think about it, because I was so afraid that I would never, ever feel that way again. I thought that’s just how I would be, and I hated myself because of that expectation. I now know from personal experience that self-hatred viciously affects how we handle, well, everything. The negativity becomes cyclical: we hate ourselves, which in turns influences a string of crappy choices, and then we hate ourselves even more when we reflect on those choices. I wish I knew how to break that cycle. I’m not sure what changed for me… I guess I just had to dig through some crazy, and eventually break through to the other side. I don’t miss it, but I don’t think I’d go back and change it, even if I could. All those little things that happen to us build who we are. We’re all just walking parfaits, chock full of sweet and savory, and perhaps some salty, layers.

Anyways, to top off this all-over-the-place post, I finally had a day off yesterday!! I rolled over at noon, jumped out of bed in my birthday suit and shouted, “Today, I am beholden to NO ONE!!” I took a luxuriously long time to leave my apartment. I painted my toes (who cares if they’ll be hidden beneath boots for the foreseeable future!), listened to the latest episode of my new favorite podcast Lore (it’s perfect for a pre-Halloween atmosphere, go listen to it! go now, I’ll wait!), I scoured Target’s clearance rack for lacy underthings (these days I can only justify a purchase of a *new* clothing item if it falls in the underwear category). I found my favorite seasonal brew at Weis, and spent the afternoon in the company of new friends on a sunlit porch.

And now? Here I sit, finally putting in some quality time with you, gentle readers. No, I suppose things aren’t that bad, at all. ❤

Current Jam: “Bad Blood” Ryan Adams cover of T-Swift. I have been listening to this entire album since it came out… had I gotten off my ass and posted something sooner, this wouldn’t seem so behind-the-pulse. Oh well.

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