Okay, my biology is currently waging war against my Higher Self. There is no good reason for me to be mad at the poor hapless French girl. She would be mortified if she knew. If I met her in person I am sure I could never be so mad at her. She just misunderstood me. She's going through a rough time, too. This is an opportunity for me to practice loving others as myself. I am not mad at her. I am mad at myself. I am making a mistake, I am not seeing things clearly, I am projecting, externalizing my inner split, projecting the conflict in my inner self onto an apparent Other who is really me.
I was just thinking, this afternoon, as I left my apartment for the first time in three days, having been moping around with a low-level respiratory infection all weekend, that I should make Libby a CD of her show at my gallery. I have about 80 high-resolution JPEGs of her fabulous installation, and she ought to have them to make into slides. I was thinking this because when I checked the mail on the way out the door, I discovered my slides and rejection form letter from the Smack Mellon residency program, the one that Libby was applying for last year, during her show. According to the letter, there were 430 applications for six studios, so neither I nor Libby should feel too bad about not getting one. I felt bad anyway. But it occurred to me that if Libby had some really high-definition slides of that installation, she might have better luck, next year.
Lest you think that I am some sort of psycho creepette with the inability to distinguish where Self ends and Other begins, let me hasten to add that Libby is about the only artist who showed at my gallery on behalf of whose career I would still cheerfully put in dozens of hours of unpaid labor. Libby, bless her, deserves it. All the others can go to hell--the ones who didn't hang their show by the deadline or pick it up when it was over, the one who spurned a Really Good Offer because she thought her piece was worth five times as much (it wasn't), the ones who showed me engaging, vibrant work in their studios and then brought lame, unprepossessing crap into the gallery, the ones who assumed I'd promised them a show because I was polite and actually looked at their portfolios, the ones who never even got as far as SHOWING me a portfolio but STILL expected a show, the ones who still owe me money.
Oh yes, I'm touchy, I admit it. Just because I can empathize with gallerists and college professors who are horribly rude to art students and ex-art students who want everything for nothing, doesn't mean I espouse rudeness, though. It hurts my feelings when gallerists and college professors snap at me or worse, completely ignore me, and I try not to behave this way toward other people. So when friends of friends write to me, telling me the Story of their Life, and wanting me to look at their Art, I say thank you, how lovely of you to write, send me some images, how nice. The hapless French girl, a friend of a friend, wrote to me half a year ago, and I wrote back to this effect.
I didn't hear back from her until today, when she wrote to ask if my offer to post her art on my website was still open. Huh? What art? What offer?
The proper response to this was, of course--I'm terribly sorry, my memory, dreadful, must be approaching decrepitude, but--who are you, exactly, again? No reason to be profoundly enraged. She just misunderstood me. It's a language problem, nothing more.
I know that the fact that I felt like someone had just injected essence of habanero chile into my carotid artery was just a symptom of stress. It is stressful when strangers pressure you to give them what you cannot give yourself. Earlier in the week I got a phone call from a guy who seemed to be under the impression that I was still running a gallery; he asked me how my "new shop" was going. "I don't have a shop, I'm working out of my apartment," I told him. "Oh, have you got room for art exhibitions, then?" he asked. Huh? "It's my apartment. I don't have a gallery. I don't intend to have another gallery, I'm working on my own art," I said, to be explicit. He went on to explain that he had plenty of galleries lined up to show his work, he just needed to schedule a show with one of them, only he hadn't, quite, yet. There was a hair salon in Jersey City that prominently displayed his portrait of the owner, though.
Compassion. That's the ticket. I need to feel compassion, we are all struggling, I need to focus on my blessings. The copy of Dante's Inferno that arrived as a surprise gift from friends in California, the other morning, blessing! Blessing! The friends even more than the Dante! The supportive family, the warm apartment, the new dishwasher that actually arrived the day after I gently teased Phil the Neanderthal about it! (I seem, bizarrely enough, to have gotten under Phil's skin--he actually behaves as though he likes me and wants me to be happy. Miracles never cease.)
I'm just going through a Phase. A phase of misanthropy, guilt, and self-doubt, one symptom being--putting an ad on Nerve.com with the headline, "Courtesan seeks Patron. Wastrels need not apply." Obviously I'm not ready to date, yet. But still I must wreak my wrath on strangers.
Why do I DO these things? Why can't I just be content, and accepting, and not totally fall to pieces when I discover that somehow I managed to assemble a 4' x 5' canvas stretcher with two corners at right angles and the two opposing corners about two degrees off, and did not discover this fact until the glue was dry, the canvas stretched AND gesso'd, and it was completely impossible to rectify, so that now the masterpiece that was to win the Onassis competition looks as though it is about to lurch precipitately off the wall? And thus completely lose my will to continue?
My dear friend Caroline returned from her spiritual retreat all glowing. She finally understood that reality as we perceive it is an illusion, created by madness. She keeps urging me to access the bliss of eternal oneness. This week I haven't managed this, quite. I'm still struggling with my imaginary boundaries, trying to gently correct the lines without totally flipping out.
I wrote to the French girl, "I encourage you to create your own website; it's not difficult or expensive. There are probably a lot of people in your town who would help. At the moment I'm not designing pages for other artists. Please send me the URL of yours when you get it posted, and I look forward to seeing it!" Was this harsh? I hope this wasn't harsh.