Friday, October 16, 2009

Off the Grid: Week 20-something

Here's something I know well: None of our unique feelings are all that unique. Every week I'm going to have one day when the image of life off the grid is so petrifying I can't think at all but just boing from bed (an hour later than on other days) to the kitchen, the studio, the path, the internet, the stores and make a couple of crappy decisions because I feel like a failure.

Worked three days at J. Jill, my first at what is not, must not, cannot be a career change but simply a stop gap until I find, manifest, land another real job. A job, or an assignment, that will allow me to spring for the $130 ticket Leonard Cohen's people are charging at the Fox next week.
(Although I must say, that's a hell of a price to pay for a concert, isn't it? It seems very high to me, but the guy's an old guy and something tells me I've long lost track of the price of things like concerts, ball games, etc.)

While at J. Jill, unpacking endless cartons with the other new part-timers, only one of whom was a proper shop girl, learning how to handle the steamer (I want one!), and fold sweaters like a midtown queen, the crusty inner dragon who wants me out of the house was sated. The inner sensible person, soooo nascent, nagged "Buying lunch at the food court will cost you an hour of work."

Yesterday, I learned my paperwork for the online job (I'll be teaching online soon for a college in the midwest, wearing Pure Jill yoga styles) was delayed because the identity proof I used (an old passport) had been expired too long. So I spent the morning sending off for a birth certificate and just for the hell of i,t and because I like self-immolation, I walked to the local social security office and sat for an hour with a lot of people who don't smell very good and don't know this season's J.Jill colors are amethyst, pearl and granite.

While there, a man with teeth the color and solidity of an antique library book, told me "They're trying to hang me!" So the fuck what, I thought. But said, politely (I thought) "That's nice." I mean, jeez, they don't hang in this state.
He was so offended I thought we were going to have a fuss.
"I thought you were kidding," I said. But it was too late, he moved his seat.
I gave his seat to my purse and no one came near me again. And I kept thinking, this is another example of impulse vs. inspiration. When I feel bad, I use my time foolishly by walking in the rain, sitting with people who are crawling with germs and not too shy about sharing them, and ranting inside when I didn't have to. I could have done this online, though you still have to show someone your proofs. I could have spared myself and that silly man a rudeness. I sat there thinking, why are you punishing yourself? What are you hoping to learn from being on the wrong end of a bureaucratic interchange? Maybe that I've lost that ranking we all have as members of the employed. I used to feel left out as a single person. All the marketing, after all, is targeted to those with nuclear families. Now I get to experience the thrilling anonymity of the unemployed or the one claiming benefits (though all I was doing was replacing a lost card.)

Some days, I just want to feel the muck and let it scare the crap out of me. It's a way to test my faith in myself and in what's now clear is a determination to keep making art during the day, not at night when I'm too tired to execute properly. Why I do this, I don't know. That's probably a lesson from another hour in another line.

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