Monday, March 07, 2005

futz, futz, yarrrrrgh

Okay, the problem is that this painting is just Not Working, it is fundamentally structurally unsound, and I am going to have to completely re-invent it, without scraping it down because you can't scrape down linen the way you can scrape plywood or even canvas. To avoid arriving at this moment of realization today I have:

*attended Pilates class
*gone to Tea Lounge for tea and bagel and art reviews in Brooklyn Rail
*mentally composed scathing letter to Brooklyn Rail, re: ridiculously pretentious review of Tim Hawkinson exhibit at Whitney--who READS this shit, anyway?!!?
*driven to Liza's and given her a 1 1/2 hour massage
*gone to Terrace Bagels to get more bagels for lunch
*decided to buy flowers in honor of spring, and changed my mind, for financial reasons and also for some vague undefined emotional malaise reasons
*returned home for lunch
*talked business tactics with O, agreeing that if this is going to be a drawn-out process of grantwriting, we need a dedicated person on team with strong financial skills
*sorted laundry (but did not get as far as taking it to laundromat)
*surfed Web
*assembled new stretcher bars
*formatted, uploaded and ordered slides of latest finished painting, with view toward applying for yet another goddamn residency, deadline in one week
*updated credit card information on earthlink account
*heated up dinner
*broke a glass
*stared at painting, closed eyes, tried to intuitively divine the way painting is supposed to look and how to get there
*decided to blog instead.

When I get to this point in a painting, the point where I realize that I have worked for weeks on Entirely The Wrong Premises, and there's nothing to do but re-draw the composition on top of all those fiddling details I shouldn't have wasted my time on, it's freakin' annoying. I feel like I should have known it all along, and indeed, some part of me did know it all along, but on I stumbled, hoping to pull it together by getting more and more obsessed with fiddling details. And now I'm not sure I can pull it off even by completely re-doing the concept. Yarrrgh.

Yesterday I procrastinated by attending the monthly Sunday at Sunny's reading, which I've been going to nearly every month since I discovered it. The readers are always GREAT and it's at a cozy little dive bar in Red Hook with Christmas lights up year round. It amazes me how many incredible, cool, published authors are living in my actual neighborhood and are free to give readings in dive bars on Sundays, and chat about it afterward. For $3 suggested donation and free coffee and pastries, it's a starving artist no-brainer entertainment venue.

However, yesterday my vague irritation and emotional malaise seemed to crystallize, and I actually left before the third reader went on, even though I had a good seat and no particular plans. For the fact is, Sunday at Sunny's readings make me uncomfortable. I don't think it's me. Twice I've brought good-looking, literary male friends with me, and both times the two of us have suddenly been unable to think of anything to say to one another, once seated on barstools and waiting for the reading to begin. Twice I've gone by myself, decently attired, with a friendly but not desperate attitude.

AND NOBODY WILL FUCKIN' TALK TO ME. I feel like I'm in high school, perched on my barstool, awkwardly munching half a cream puff, looking around the room, trying to appear content. People stand around me, talking literarily. The month before last I emailed the moderator, because a friend of mine said she knew him, and introduced myself in person. He terminated the conversation midpoint and did not resume it, nor did he indicate that he recognized me when I smiled at him yesterday. Once I got into conversation with the guy who writes "The Financial Page" for the New Yorker, asking him intelligent questions about his new book, but still he answered me politely and then made a coffee date with the short, serious, bespectacled JAP girl instead of me.

What is this about? Am I old, ugly and negligible? Am I in the wrong venue, again and still? Because I've finally figured it out about the hipster scene; I know I should absolutely Not Bother. Last Thursday I made the mistake, again, of accepting one of M.'s perpetual invitations to totally inappropriate and horrendous events, this one being the opening of a Czech filmmaker's retrospective in Chelsea. Predictably, I entered a jam-packed room full of people drinking red wine, half of them declaiming loudly to their intimates, half gazing arrogantly into the middle distance or pointing cameras at nothing, none returning smiles or eye contact. It was unbearably noisy and chaotic and they were out of cups. The exhibit consisted of about fifty video monitors displaying grimy, noisy footage of nothing in particular. I saw exactly one familiar face--the guy who lived in the apartment directly above my ex-gallery, who never once dropped in to say hello, get a massage or attend an opening, but who gave me some random book on "psychic phenomena" for an inaugural gift, which I suspect may have been an insult. He nodded but didn't stop to chat. After twenty minutes of wandering around, looking for some interesting art or an interesting person to talk to and failing, I decided I didn't need to be there and went home. M. called a couple of days later--'I got to the opening really late, don't know if you made it, hope you had fun!' Fun? How is this possible?

But I really thought people who publish interesting books in Brooklyn and do readings in dive bars would not be like this. I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm still just reeking of loss, sadness and economic uncertainty.

Because this year has probably been the most stressful year of my life to date, and the more I recover from it, the more I realize just how bad it has been. The hardest part has been having to invent each individual day from scratch, with no form, no structure, no companionship, and no income. God bless my little cat, who waits at the foot of the bed until he sees me stirring every morning, and then comes up and kneads my armpit. This is frequently the only reason I get out of bed at all. Sometimes I snarfle him, drag him under the covers and we play Indian cave for half an hour. He puts up with me.

Last Monday I had a run-in with a random yoga instructor, who substitute-taught the Wednesday Hot Power Yoga class, and offered us all free holistic health counselling sessions. We all said yes, and gave him our phone numbers. On Thursday he called and wanted to make an appointment. I told him, "I go to Pilates from 9:15-10:15 at the 7th Avenue Fitness Collective, then go to the Tea Lounge on 7th afterward. I can meet you then."

"No, I'm picking someone up at the airport. What about Monday?"

I told him that I attended the same Pilates class on Mondays, and could meet him at 10:30. He said he had to get his calendar. He called back. I said, "I can meet you at the Tea Lounge on 7th, after my class, at 10:30 or 11." He agreed to this, presumably writing it down.

On Monday morning I was too sick to go to Pilates. The yoga instructor called at 9:30. "I'm confirming our meeting at 10."

"No, 10:30 or 11," I said. I didn't explain that I would have been at Pilates, except that I was sick, because he didn't let me.

"Oh, glad I called," he said, and hung up. I went to the Tea Lounge at 10:30. He did not arrive. At 12:30 I went home, to a message on my machine. "This is me, I'm at the Tea Lounge on the left side," he said. That is, the Tea Lounge on Union St., where I suspected he'd probably gone.

I called back. "I was at the Tea Lounge on 7th ave., like I told you twice," I said.

"Yeah, the Tea Lounge between 6th and 7th," he said.

"No, the Tea Lounge on 7th Ave. and 10th, right next to the 7th Ave. Fitness Collective, where I go to class, like I also told you TWICE," I said. "I'm sorry if I sound angry, but to be a good counselor you have to LISTEN to people. I don't think I want to reschedule this appointment. Goodbye," I said, and hung up.

He called back. "You don't have to apologize for being angry. I'm sorry about the miscommunication," he said. I let the answering machine handle it. I do not need to get into any issues at all with someone who tunes out 85% of the words that come out of my mouth, the first three times we converse.

But I was way more bent out of shape than I should have been. Not-being-listened-to is now a hair-trigger issue for me. This is definitely and directly related to my ex-relationship with ex-boyfriend, who never let me finish a sentence when I was talking about something of crucial importance to me, such as sex, spirituality, art, economics or commitment. He would seriously investigate the outlandish claims of his diagnosably schizophrenic ex-girlfriend, the one who claimed to be married to John Mayer; he made a thorough search of the John Mayer website before regretfully admitting that there was no public evidence that John Mayer had secretly married a schizophrenic woman fifteen years his senior in Minneapolis. But I don't think he ever looked at a copy of Course in Miracles, or even Googled it, before screaming at me that I was in some kind of CULT that wanted to lobotomize him and induce him to sacrifice his life in the army of a Chinese emperor. I would listen and listen and listen to paranoid rant after paranoid rant, assuming that at some point he would realize how ridiculous he sounded, shut up and let me say something. It never happened. He continued ranting until he ranted himself right out of the relationship, never once asking for my point of view. I'm sure he doesn't read this blog.

So, you say, why the hell were you with this person in the first place? Good riddance.

But the fact is that I loved him, enough so that it's probably a blessing that he dumped me, because I wouldn't have given up, not until he'd wasted the last of my potential child-bearing years, destroyed my career, ruined me financially and dumped me anyway. And as nice as it is to study the Course without someone ranting in my ear, and pushing me to stock groceries for a living, and show my paintings in dingy bars and coffee shops because of course GALLERIES wouldn't want to, and move to a dingy, anonymous apartment in Staten Island because he didn't want to live with me, I was happier. I was happier when I was with him because I loved him, and when he walked through the door I'd light up like a sparkler and go to hug him, always.

So on Monday I ended up writing myself a letter, the letter that my ex-boyfriend's Higher Self would have written to me if he'd been at all in touch, which he never was. I apologized to myself for not listening, insulting my figure, belittling my feelings, treating me like a crazy person, dismissing my spirituality, trying to control my behavior instead of genuinely being a partner to me. I held onto it for a couple of days, then decided to mail it. Once I'd dropped it into the mailbox I realized I'd forgotten to stamp it. Oh well. He wouldn't have listened anyway. Just another schizophrenic ex-girlfriend.

1 comment:

k said...

I can't imagine anyone not listening to you. Tuning out any of what you say.

It boggles my mind.