What to do with non-art

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about my own stuff a lot lately, mainly because I have to consider what I’m going to have room for in my undoubtedly smaller apartment next year (since I clearly can’t afford this place by myself and I will die before I have a roommate). I have SO much old artwork. I always feel weird about calling it art, because it really isn’t. It’s basically a bunch of junk from my art school days — old assignments, unfinished pieces that never went anywhere, sketchbook after sketchbook after sketchbook. I’ll never hang it up and I rarely even look at any of it. So why do I hold onto it? There seems to be some kind of sacred aura around the mass of work, protecting it from the trash can and the gesso brush. I don’t even want to gesso over reallyreallyreally old, terrible paintings just to reuse the canvas. For some reason, I just can’t make myself do anything with them. In class we always hear about the tragedy of artists destroying their own works. Big bonfires of the stuff, burning away. And Michelangelo’s doodles are far better than anything that’s ever come out of my hand, that’s for sure. So why can’t I bring myself to get rid of my own work? Actual artists rework and repaint their own stuff too. Why can’t I even bring myself to do that? It’s more like improving on something than covering it up, isn’t it?

Funny story. Last year, in the shit hole apartment, one of our closets flooded because of some kind of water/pipe issue on the floor above us. Naturally, it was the closet with all my art in it. It wasn’t particularly clear how much water went where, so we didn’t want to take everything out of the closet. When it came time to reorganize the closet (I do this every few months), I realized that there was a lot of water damage, and some pieces were thoroughly destroyed. Some that weren’t destroyed by water, were covered in mold. Needless to say, I *had* to throw out some of my work. So I used alec’s camera to take pictures of them all before the trash truck took them, so I could remember them, have evidence that they existed. Unknowingly, alec deleted all the photos on his camera, assuming I had already copied them onto my computer. Gone forever. It was heartbreaking for me, absolutely heartbreaking. I even bagged up some of the moldy pieces because I couldn’t bear to throw them out, so now I have somewhat moldy works in a giant plastic wrapping in my closet. Totally useless, yet I can’t bear to give them up.

I’ve done a lot of irrational things, but this is one that I just can’t explain away. There is no reason to hold onto a painting I did for my 8th grade painting class. There is no reason to hold onto half-completed paintings, or my failed attempts at printmaking. I should get rid of them. But I just can’t. It’s frustrating being irrational. It’s frustrating being irrationally emotional. And it’s frustrating trying to find places in a small apartment for a lot of old crapola.

Growing Pains

November 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

There are so many break up songs out there. I’ve been trying to focus on the more upbeat ones, like “I Will Survive” and “Single Ladies,” but the sad ones speak a little more truer to the situation for me. There just isn’t an easy way to end a 4+ year relationship. I’ve been with alec since I was 19. that sounds so strange to say, sounds so long ago. While sometimes I get down on myself, saying I’ve wasted years of my life with someone who I knew was never going to give me all I wanted, I know myself well enough to know I would have had huge regrets had I bailed out any earlier. I would have regretted quitting before I’d exhausted every avenue, before I’d begged and pleaded and screamed to try and get him to be what I want him to be. So I think it’s for the best, that I tried my hardest, so I can walk away from this without regrets. I did my best, but sometimes things aren’t meant to be, isn’t that what they say? They who know all. They who have that wonderful hindsight.

There’s a lot of things that really scare me about breaking up, moving out. I haven’t been alone in a long time and living with someone in a non-roommate-only capacity really changes the relationship. It brings your together in ways you don’t expect and maybe even won’t realize until they’re gone. Not having him in my life is certainly the scariest part. Out of all the people I’ve been with, alec has been the closest to figuring me out, to knowing “me.” Most guys see me as some untamable spirit, spitting fire and taking no prisoners. alec sees me for what I really am, just a scared, insecure little girl who constantly lashes out at those closest to her like a wounded animal. alec knows my sense of humor better than anyone, and it will be hard to give up those laughs. It will be so hard to live a life without laughter.

Besides living alone, I’m scared I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I’ve heard all the reassurances, “you’ll find someone else,” “there’s someone out there for everyone,” etc. And when I look at all the people who have gotten married in the last year or two since I’ve been out of college, I almost believe it. People I never thought would get married have found someone they at least think they want to spend the rest of their life with. But then I look around my office, full of single women, and my hopes fall. Granted, most of us are still young enough to say we’re still looking for Mr. Right, but it worries me. My boss especially, who is quite dear to me, gives me the most realistic image of where I’ll be in ten years. She’s beautiful, sharp as a whip, has a great sense of humor and is totally self-motivated. But she’s in her 30’s and she’s still single. After a pity-party happy hour with our coworkers, she and I rode the train home together (she only lives a few blocks from me, coincidentally, which is funny because at our old apartment, we lived just a few blocks from alec’s boss) and she got pretty honest with me, let down her walls and told me flat out that she thought we would always be single because we’re just too much. We’re too smart, too motivated, too independent. We’re just too complicated for someone to want to stick around til death do us part. I didn’t know what to say to her at the time, but I got that feeling in my stomach that that was the cold, hard truth. Granted my dad found someone, but my mother is an absolute saint. And honestly, I don’t want a saint. alec is pretty darn close to one, and I’ve realized being sweet and accepting and placid isn’t really the way to my heart, even though it does make life easier sometimes. It’s just hard to stay positive when I look around my office and see women who deserve to find that special someone, but instead are single and despite their facades of being fine with it, it comes out that deep down, they’re heartbroken and lonely. and it is so fucking unfair. They deserve the best.

I’m taking a class on Paris in the 19th century. Really fantastic class, but I bring it up at this point because of a term I learned. After the invention of the railroad and the making way for trains in Paris, the city grew dramatically in population. People deemed the city attitude “blase,” which I’ve always known the meaning of but had never applied it to my own attitude in the city. Really, I think my blase attitude towards the world started in art school, where people were always not-quite-ordinary. Kids ran around in capes and invented new languages, at any point in time some kind of over-sexualized work was being produced in the art studios, and guys ran around in make-up. Part of fitting in at my high-school was embracing the “random” and the strange. Even if you weren’t particularly (or openly) strange yourself, there was still a prevailing need to openly accept the weirdness of other people. So when I got to college, that “blase” (sorry, I can’t convince wordpress to do the accent. boo.) attitude really stuck with me. When everyone else was freaking out because “OMG so-and-so just did THIS,” I just kind of shrugged and moved on. It’s pretty hard to shock or surprise me, anyway, and my experience in DC, the “big city,” has certainly added to that. I have the good timing (at least in comparison to alec) of always seeing people getting arrested or the aftermath of wrecks. People don’t really stand and stare here, you just kind of take note that someone tried to run their truck into that house on the corner and keep walking. Or that guy is peeing in a fountain, so what? Crazy people talking to themselves, yeah that happens too. Move on. Everything is a big shrug and I’m too busy trying to get where I’m going to stop and make a scene about it. This is the attitude I hope to apply to my post-break-up mentality. Relationships end every day. People are heartbroken every day. People move on. People put themselves back together as best they can, and they move on. I am not a lot of things, but one thing I am is a survivor. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last year and I am resourceful and I adapt quickly to change. With my blase attitude, hopefully I can hold myself together.

There’s always that worry though. That’s he’s really the only one who can put up with me for an extended period of time, and that I’m throwing away something great because I wanted too much from him. Adele’s “Someone Like You” tends to turn on my water works these days because I have that secret little fear that he’ll find someone else, someone he will want to marry and have kids with, someone he’ll compliment, someone he’ll say “I love you” to. I can only hope he’s grown during our time together, figuring out himself as well as what he wants (and doesn’t want) in a partner. Maybe he’ll be ready for the next level of relationships with the next girl he finds. He’ll be ready to get serious about her, to get honest with her, to commit to her. I’ve always pictured him with someone wholly nice, wholly not like me. Someone really sweet to him, who doesn’t put any demands on him, who will take care of him without complaining or asking for anything in return. I guess someone more like my mom. And poor alec, he got stuck with me, and I’m much more like my dad. He definitely deserves someone better, someone sweeter. And someone who won’t demand from him everything, and immediately.

I heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl and you’re married now.
I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess she gave you things I didn’t give to you.

Nothing compares
No worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes
They are memories made.
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

I worry too, though, that maybe it’s the reverse, and that alec won’t find anyone else who will understand him like I do. What I want most in this world is for him to be happy, for him to really know and feel what love is, for him to know that despite all he’s been through, he deserves to be loved. I don’t want him to be alone, even though I think at this point in his life, it would be really good for him. Give him some time to stand on his own feet, figure out his life for himself. alec’s never really been on his own, and I think it will be good for him. People can grow up, grow into their own selves, so quickly in the right circumstances. I wish I could be there to see him grow into a man, a mature, independent adult. But I want too much and I want it all now. He deserves better than that.

Yeah, there’s another side to all this. Don’t I deserve what I want too? Don’t I deserve to feel beautiful and special and a little less crazy? Don’t I deserve to have a man fight for me, hold his own in the relationship? Don’t I deserve to be told “I love you” every damn day? And by someone who means it? I could have punched alec the one and only time he said to me, because it was so painfully obvious how much he didn’t mean it. Kind of like when someone sneezes on the train, and someone says “bless you,” but it’s a totally meaningless and emotionless exchange. I know why he is the way he is, but it doesn’t make it any easier to give up the things I want and need because he is unable to give them to me. I deserve to be with someone who is as crazy about me as I am about them, someone who loves me in the good ol’ romantic sense of not wanting to spend a minute away from me. I honestly used to have trouble breathing when I was away from alec, if we were in the same city but not together. He probably didn’t even notice I wasn’t there. I deserve better. We both deserve better.

So, what do I want in a man, now that I’ve learned “so much” about myself after this relationship? I’ve got that funny habit of thinking I know exactly what I want, then I get it and I’m disillusioned. My main wants in a man are pretty petty right now. I want a man who will drink coffee with me in the mornings, wine with me at dinner, champagne with me on new year’s, and beer with me at bars. Someone who likes non-american food. Someone who likes fruits and vegetables raw as well as cooked. Someone who will notice when I get a haircut and will tell me I’m beautiful when I’ve had a bad day. Someone who will tell me what I mean to him. Someone who is as honest as I am. Gee, I’m not asking for a lot, right? I don’t even know where I’m supposed to meet people. Everyone in my office is female and everyone in my grad program is female. Beyond the issue of simply meeting a guy, there’s still the issue of trust, too. How do you trust someone totally new? I keep trying to think back, to when I met new guys, but I think I was just naive in my trusting everyone. So many things could have gone wrong, that naivety could have ruined my life. So now I’m suspicious and skeptical and cynical. Really screams “date me,” doesn’t it. I don’t why I’m even worried about this since I realize after being with a guy for five years, it’s not like I’ll be jumping into the dating ring any time soon. I’ll need time to be alone, to grieve the loss of alec and the failure of our relationship, to build myself back up and convince myself that I’m worth something, that I deserve to be happy. There may not be a formula for fixing a relationship, but there for damn sure is a formula for how to go through a break up. I’ll start eating better, I’ll go to the gym, I’ll lose weight and get a dramatic haircut. I’ll watch sappy movies and over and over to convince myself that there are happy endings. Break ups suck, but people go through them all the time. People go through them and come out okay. People go through them and come out more mature. Sometimes trying and failing is just part of growing up.

Where Am I?

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