Wednesday, August 04, 2004


came in a couple of Saturdays ago, and maybe brought a miracle with her. I don't know. Don't know which of my dreams are precognitive either, or just ambiguous dreck, or wishful thinking. I wonder what good they are, then? Sometimes I think all of it is just carrots on sticks, saying maybe, maybe, don't give up just yet.

Things with my now ex-boyfriend have been mainly horrible. First he didn't speak to me at all for weeks, then he said things were OVER, GOT IT?!!! and threw me out of my beautiful beautiful gallery as of the end of August. Then he called to apologize for being cruel. As if. One of my clients told me, "I slept with this guy last night by accident, it wasn't anything, and this morning he wanted to explain that he didn't want me getting ideas. I said, "kiss me good-bye. I don't have to listen to this shit." All together, now. AS IF.

So I spent obsessive hours job-hunting on the web, and grant-hunting, and round about midnight on a Friday I thought, "okay, now that all is lost, what do I REALLY want?" And the answer came--"I want to live in a spiritual community with a lot of serious artists and writers and scientists and healers." Not a monastery where everybody meditates all the time and gets in touch with their "inner artist" in the ceramics studio on weekends. Not a graduate school with politics and competition and precious dysfunctions taken for genius. I want to be around a lot of people who are looking seriously for the light, and coping gracefully with darkness.

About thirteen hours later, Grace walked in. Usually I don't tell clients my troubles; that is definitely not what they pay me for. I don't know why I broke this rule, except that it was a piece of relevant practical information; "I may not be in this space much longer." Grace did not immediately recoil from failure and bad energy, strangely enough. We got to talking; I told her my vision; she said, "That's my vision too!"

We got together on Wednesday. I have had a picture floating in my head for months now, of how my gallery would be when it was all grown up. She said, "Draw it." As I drew, I realized how clear the structure was; high ceilings, high windows, white with silk jewel tones, flooded with light. Galleries to the left, café to the right, healing offices on the right mezzanine, studio spaces on the left. Large multi-use event space to the back. "That's exactly what I see," said Grace. "My door is a bit different."

Grace likes to do publicity and financing; she plans big events and is part-owner of a bar. Grace lives in a live/work loft three blocks away from my soon-to-be-former gallery, full of artists and healers, a Pilates studio, a dance company, a furniture maker. Her roommate is leaving at the end of August. She said maybe I could move in.

Meanwhile all the résumés and cover letters I have been obsessively sending out might as well have been flushed into outer space, for all the response I've gotten. Meanwhile I had sixteen massage clients in one week, all sixteen of whom enthusiastically signed my mailing list, so I can let them know where I end up after August. If I move in with Grace, I can keep my clients and have a studio in the same space. I can roll out of bed, go to yoga up the street, breakfast in the Read café, book a few clients, go home to massage and paint, go out to openings, go home without moving my car. I can keep my community and build on all the energy I have nurtured over the last two years. If I don't move in with Grace, I will probably end up checking out books at the Queens Public Library for nine dollars an hour, or moving to Jersey City.

It's not fun to want something so badly from someone you hardly know.

I have been dragging myself out to openings, parties and events, whenever someone invites me and I'm not totally exhausted from job-hunting and massaging and portfolio building and painting. Which is not too often but happens now and then. I got invited to an opening at an obscure gallery in Red Hook by two different people, one of them an awful poet who I have been steadily snubbing for two years and who does not take the hint, but continues writing awful poems about all my paintings and telling me he loves me. The other was a promising artist who will now never have a show at my gallery.

I figured I'd better show up. When I did I found I was a minor celebrity. People I didn't know had heard of me, and babbled drunkenly about how I inspired them. I was feeling like the old sponge that gets used to clean cat vomit off the kitchen floor, and was baffled. A beautiful blonde girl started talking and talking about how we are all one in spirit, everything happens for a reason, there is no harm, there is nothing to fear, love is all there is, we just try to let it flow, we do not understand why, we must trust, we have faith...and I kept saying "uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah, right, you're absolutely right, I agree," and this did not help at all, in fact it got boring and annoying really quickly. Particularly since she was too drunk to listen, or to impart illustrative details.

I discussed this problem with my sister--the fact that even though I believe in the mystical unity of the universe, I do not generally enjoy hanging out with people who talk constantly about the mystical unity of the universe. She said, "I think that's the purpose of great art--to communicate things that are incredibly banal when expressed in words." Thus my sister got to the nub of Why I Paint, and I was grateful. She also pointed out that talking about the mystical unity of the universe, when someone you don't know very well is suffering, is not necessarily apt or kind. "I'm so sorry" is more polite.

Last weekend I went to another party, given by someone I know slightly, to celebrate the completion of her five-years'-overdue MFA thesis. Unlike the people at some other parties I've been to, her friends were kind and unpretentious and interested in meeting people. They said simple things like "Hi, I'm Beverly, how do you know Harriet?" Banal as this sort of conversation may be, it can lead to infinitely interesting places. I stayed till 1 AM, and could have stayed longer. One of the guests was a classics professor at an obscure college in Indiana; he was passionately interested in, and informed about, the Greek play that Harriet wants to direct. She was thrilled to have met him, and he was thrilled to be a surprise celebrity at a party in New York. I said, "Wait, you teach at Wabash College? Do you know Stephen Forsythe?" "Yeah, Stephen Forsythe interviewed me for my job." Stephen Forsythe was one of my intimate friends in college. Six degrees of separation, my foot.

Late in the evening, on the terrace strung with Christmas lights and ringed with planters, we got to asking the married people how they'd met.

"We were volunteering for Nader. I mentioned I'd written my thesis about Samuel Beckett."

"You wrote a thesis about Samuel Beckett?!!!! *I* wrote my thesis about Samuel Beckett!! Oh my God, I don't talk like that, he must think I'm a dork..."

"Our wedding celebration was a week long. She's worth it."

"I was running the lights for an obscure theatre production at Intersection for the Arts. Every Tuesday through Saturday, for six weeks, I lit her spotlight while she did her monologue. We became friends. It's funny, how humans mate."

My ex-boyfriend thinks that commitment is the worst horror imaginable. He thinks that independence and separation are goals for which to sacrifice everything. I didn't cry among strangers. I didn't have any more wine, and went home soon afterward. I rode my bicycle in my white sundress through the dark city, and it was cooler after midnight.

1 comment:

Liz said...

oh, so lovely!