The well-worn and tired motifs of:
- the drug/alcohol/addiction memoir
- the eating disorder/mental health memoir
- the portrait of the artist as a young whatever.
I find myself more and more committed to writing an illustrated book this summer. And, in effect, hiding behind these motifs while also revealing/honestly considering myself.
These motifs as cliques that now reveal nothing about the author.
They become their own style of fiction. There is nothing confessional about them.
And yet, as readers, we’re drawn to them because they supposedly lay bare a kind of “truth” we lack otherwise. And so, how do you hide behind the lie as a way of exposing the truth? Is such a thing even possible? Or is this just a descent down a rabbit hole of exchanging signs for meanings for signs for meanings, again and again? And if so, is it worthwhile to pursue?
Yesterday: up at 2:30am, leave the house by 3:15, head to Newark airport. 5am flight to Charlotte, then transfer to flight to San Francisco. Arrive 10:15am local time. Take BART train to 16th and Mission, meet nice woman driving me to campus. Fill out forms. Get key to place I’m staying at, luckily around the corner from school (very big perk, and a nice place, too). Try to lay down for a bit but my mind is going a million miles an hour. Kinda sorta sleep. Wake up, walk to the Mission District. I’m awed – it’s super cool, like a more intellectually honest NYC, which is to say small businesses, cafe-y and boutique-y places, and occasionally homeless people (in NYC, we’ve chased out the homeless and the small businesses. We still have the boutiques, though). Eat massive amounts of Vietnamese food. Go to yarn store that is a million times better than any yarn store we haVe on the east coast. Start to feel ripped off that I’ve spent the last X number of years slogging it out in NYC. Walk home. Crash.
Today: up at, I’m not really sure, different because the time change is what it is. Wander around aimlessly. Go to Whole Foods three times in an hour. Stare at weird architecture. Realize I’m tired. Drink too much tea and start to crash. Head over to school.
Talk about my work for an hour and fifteen minutes. More about my “career” than my “art” but I’m cool with that. Wonder if I’m scaring the students too much. Feel guilty because I suddenly remember two old friends of mine teach at this school or live nearby and I didn’t connect with them (awkward, yikes). Answer questions. Try to be honest bUt optimistic.
(what I want to say but somehow don’t: being an artist is really, really hard and scary and you’ll cry a lot, but it’s totally worth it. There’s no money but it’s ok – money sucks anyway. You have air to breathe and water to drink and thoughts to think. Fuck all the rest, you don’t need it.)
Go to studio visit after studio visit after studio visit. Meet students I know nothing about, and I have 45 minutes to tell them what I think they should do with their lives, like I even know what I’m doing with my life.
Stare at the stack of garbage cans at every turn. Is my garbage landfill, compostable, or recyclable? I have no idea San Francisco. I’m just tired. And yet, I have to confront this every time I go to throw something away. How very social justice-y of you.
Finish slaphappy and exhausted. Go to vegan restaurant (there’s a million of them here) where everything is drowned in cashew cheese and truffle oil. Feel sick. Go to a bar where they ask you if you want potato based or quinoa based vodka. Feel overwhelmed.