Semi-Annual Identity Crisis
It seems to be that time again. The season of self-doubt. The half-year hemming and hawing. The ominous questioning of everything I do. Being an artist. Being single. A mother. A former Taiko player of questionable skill.
Let’s examine these issues one at a time in the hopes that some revelation will spring forth. But I’m warning you, I’m feeling dark and twisty, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Being an artist. I love being an artist. I love the lifestyle, I love keeping my own hours, following my inspiration, working with my hands, or in my pajamas if I want to. I am my own boss. But it is hard. It’s physically demanding and financially challenging. Because I am my own boss. There is no corporate structure to support bonuses, promotions, paid vacations, or give me new ideas. No underling to carry 25-lb bags of clay for me.
In addition to making art, right now I have a part-time job at a non-profit, which provides me with some of that kind of support (still looking for the underling), and I am grateful. It’s a business environment complete with officey things such as composite wood-grain surfaces and a shared refrigerator, but at least I get to do the occasional creative thing. For example, this project in 2010. I was asked to come up with the name, logo, and tag line for a new daycare center we were sponsoring. My shining moment in branding and ID.
Being an artist, or making a living as an artist, has become a little more difficult lately. Why? Because the lamenuts at Etsy suddenly shut down one of my online stores, Paper Turtle (linked to our new store on WePay), where for two years I sold the papier-mache sculptures made by my partners in Haiti. Why? Good question. Because they are upcycled underpants-wearing idiots. A 25-email exchange with a member of Etsy’s “Integrity Team” has generated no useful information.
Apparently, Etsy can close a shop for any reason, at any time, without justification or explanation, for violation of phantom ToU. I don’t think that’s even legal. It’s entirely random and discriminatory. So, while this shop and this and hundreds like them continue to flourish, our handmade sculpture has been banned. Beware artists, this could happen to you. And our shop is not only closed to the public, but I’m locked out, too–unable to access my customers, images, or written content. Two years of hard work, and one of my reliable income streams, cut off at the knees. Thanks, Etsy. You suck.
Being single. It’s hard to meet people while working alone in a studio all day, or making snake art in an office. How about online dating? I always get stuck on the Profile questions.
Am I Slender? Or Average? Athletic? Happy? Compared to what?
Why would a man post a picture of himself in his underwear, even if he is holding a big fish? The fact that he is holding a big fish in his living room in his underwear does not make it any better.
Does excessive use of LOL and smiley faces by people over the age of 25 point to infantile tendencies?
Should screen names containing the words Lonely, Lonesome, RejectMeNot, Desperado, etc., be automatically deleted?
I don’t have the patience for online dating because I can’t get past the questions.
The season of the Semi-Annual Identity Crisis is also occasion for me to reconsider the notion of going Victorian: marrying for financial/social stability. Our repressed forebears’ brilliant strategy for maintaining the cultural fabric and family structure of their time. Affairs were expected. My friends frown on this alternative and I’m not thoroughly convinced, either. So I wait.
Being a mother. Isabella needs me less and less these days. I can feel it. I guess this should make me happy–she’s maturing, making good choices, ready for independence–but it also scares me. The thought of her driving. Having boyfriends. Inhabiting the world without me by her side to save her from the lessons I know she needs to learn, swat away bad friends and indifferent lovers, walk the coals so she doesn’t have to. I know she’s feeling the impending loss, too, not of each other, but of our life as it’s been for 14 years.
Last month she completely cleaned out and re-arranged her room, to “cleanse my life of middle school.” I think she’s creating room in her room (and life) for things un-mom. Un-childhood. It makes us both a little sad. So, we argue. We hike. We watch bad movies and get on each other’s nerves, trying not to think about the great undoing of the Frick & Frack that we are.
Unrealized Career. You may be surprised to learn that four years ago, I enjoyed a brief but illustrious membership in a local Taiko (Japanese drumming) group. It was more fun that I can even describe. Giant drums, body-penetrating sound, a great workout in what’s considered the lowest of the martial arts. I had no choice but to quit when the group broke in two, my friends scattered, and only the creepy members of the group remained. But the experience left a permanent impression on me. Professional Taiko Player is my fantasy career, the thing I would have tried had art not claimed me first. A different passion with different people, different place, maybe I would have been good enough. What if…
I don’t have a picture of me playing Taiko, so instead, I’ll end with one of my favorite pictures from Haiti. These fishermen in their colorful boat, happy on the endless grey-blue water.
Sometimes I’m in that boat. And other times, I’m back on the beach.