I'm reading between 3 books right now, maybe in an effort to (over)compensate for being in an iPhone k-hole for the last 6 years. I resisted getting an iPhone for a few years after they were the standard because I knew it would fuck up my brain, but here I am anyway -- on the verge of 37 with less of an attention span than I had when I was 3. Do you remember being 3? I have a pretty clear recall on what it felt like to be 3, and some sharp memories of that time. My brother learned how to read when he was only 3, and now he only reads on his phone.
There are so many books. In the world, and at thrift stores and in my apartment. It's embarrassing that I read boring, fake-deep Instagram posts instead of the pages of books that are teeming with insightful, properly spelled and grammatically correct paragraphs full of meaning that someone took years to think about before writing! You know what's weird: in all my years of reading books, I never felt my hand fall asleep. There were never inventions to prevent that from happening -- because there didn't need to be. Now, 10 years into everyone being sucked into the realm of "smart" phones, everyone needs a damn collapsable knob on the back of their electronic leash/spy box/selfie camera.
Things are getting weird. Things have always been weird. But let's be honest, okay?
Things ARE GETTING WEIRDER.
Sometimes by the hour.
In April it will be 9 years since I had a normal job. Wow, just writing that really blew my mind (haha do you know the song AKA MY MAYBE FAVORITE SONG BY MY MAYBE FAVORITE BAND *WAR* called "Spill The Wine"? OK, well when I say "that really blew my mind," I'm saying it like Eric Burdon does FYI. If you don't know that song, that's your answer to this question).
I've been self-employed to some degree or another since 5th grade. Even when I waited tables, making $2.13/hour with zero job security made me somewhat of a contractor. I've been trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life for a very long time. At first, I was just running on the intergenerational theme deeply encoded in my DNA of avoiding being told what to do/think/say/etc. When I was a teenager and I started "researching careers" I couldn't get past the following two ideas: clown OR sex therapist (in my ultimate imagination I would be combining these two things <spoiler alert> I've been doing both these jobs on an unpaid/freelance level for most of my adult life. While I've always been pretty good at having advanced insight into my future self/life, marketing+monetizing this insight or my specific unique skill set is a whole 'nutha story... but I digress).
When i was socially forced into going to college (twice), I felt sick at the thought of "choosing a career path". Not only could I not see myself in an office, or climbing levels of management, or working in any type of institution, or paying off many thousands of dollars in debt -- but the idea of having to wear real, structured, possibly polyester clothes and hard-soled shoes every day for the rest of my life made me want to die. Occasionally people would attempt to sell me some bullshit about how there were so many opportunities for "creating your own path" type stuff, but I knew it was lies. But like, why would I believe anyone who answers to 10 levels of institutional management and can't afford organic groceries and only gets paid at the whim of politics and budgets and school board decisions? If magical life opportunities were popping up like fungi after a rainstorm, why didn't any of the adults that were telling me to "dream big" have one of them? Were they just too conditioned by a cultural fear of mushrooms to even try? Or was this just a soft lie to get me to fall in line? (Heads up: the answer is always BOTH.)
And so, here I am. HERE I AM: in Pacifica, reading three books, still not knowing what I'm doing with my life. I'm the first woman in an endless line of women who isn't a mom. If you are a woman without children, you might know what I mean. If you are a woman with children -- especially if you had them young -- you can't possibly. If you fell in line and did what you were supposed to and got yourself a career and all that, maybe you are like "GURL WHAT IS YOU ON RN?" (BTW I'm on espresso and residual THC that may or may not even do anything to my natural state, the jury is out on this at the moment.)
For me, being the first woman in my matrilineal line not to procreate is a big deal -- not only does being The First make me a pioneer, but it also makes me The Last. I feel immense gravity and a strong sense of responsibility in this position. Responsibility to my distant ancestors, to grandmothers and mother, to myself, to the many other women who are part of this massive generational shift. The creative urge is still there when a woman doesn't create another human, I would even say perhaps it's amplified. Amplified and combined/multiplied by some need to prove to one's self/the greater world that some creative contribution is being added to the collective that's just as meaningful as a human being. Of course, this is impossible. But many women in history (and now!) have worn themselves to the bone/brink of madness teetering away at absolutely futile tasks.
The thing is: I like making things. I need to make things for my own sense of sanity and purpose. Other people sometimes like the things I make, and when I'm extra lucky, they want to buy them. But making things specifically for other people to buy is stifling and toxic to creativity. I imagine the parallel of comparing a woman who creates exclusively for money, to a woman who procreates exclusively for money and a deep shudder grabs me from the back of my throat to the back of my uterus. It ain't right either way! Both of these are unfortunately common occurrences, and cheapen the woman herself as well as the collective creative force of the human family. In the 15 years or so that I have been selling the things that I make, I have fallen into the trap of making things that are commercially viable more often than I wanted to. It's a deep rut that leaves me feeling bogus and stale.
Recently, like really recently (like actually just this past Tuesday), I realized that one of the things I create that feels most fulfilling, are connections to other people -- especially those that are kind of naturally on the fringes with the weirdos and chronically misunderstood and divergent dissenters like myself. This wasn't so much a lightning-bolt insight as much as a bubble that floated to the surface and finally popped into words. It may or may not have anything to do with the three books I'm currently reading:
- Waking Up: In The Age Of Creativity by Lois B. Robbins
- The Global Village by Marshall McLuhan and Bruce R. Powers
- Making is Connecting by David Gauntlett
I'm going to do my best to finish and digest and synthesize these books, and report back to you what insights I have gleaned that are worth passing on.