May 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve been waiting to write this entry, not because of the subject matter, but because I honestly couldn’t think of the word I needed to encapsulate the core concept. “Contentment” is not a word I’ve ever used in reference to my daily life or my intellectual and emotional existences. Contentment is foreign and abstract, something that only other people experience like homosexuality or drug addiction or not having to worry about money. There are things I’ll never know the feeling of and up until a couple weeks ago, I thought contentment was on that list.
My brain runs in overdrive all the time. I never stop thinking. It’s not just that I never stop thinking, it’s that my brain mulls over at least five issues all at once, every second of every day. There is no rest, ever. When I sleep, my brain continues to barrel forward at 100mph, filling my dreams with endless tasks, problems, catastrophes that I must run to try to address, fix, rectify. My brain never rests.
But I have experienced a moment of contentment. For the first time in what I can remember of my life until this point, my brain was quiet. I was in the moment. Relaxing in a jacuzzi tub with a man resting between my legs, his head tilted back on my chest as I stroked his hair. A candle flickering on the side of the tub, casting dancing shadows on the wall. The summer breeze gently caressing our skin exposed above the churning bubbles. Two people, too smart for their own good and too often on the defensive with each other, like objects in orbit, colliding spectacularly and disastrously, periodically for eight years. For that one hour, at the same moment, we both melted into each other and felt our minds turn off. There was silence. There was peace. My mind emptied of thoughts and I drifted into a haze of wine and heat and relaxation and companionship. I was quiet.
That feeling, as I have learned after a week or two of trying to identify it, is called contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction. That I could achieve such a state is worth a celebration, but that I reached it simultaneously with that man is worth fireworks or perhaps a national moment of silence and recognition. We are so incredibly different and yet cut from the same cloth. Always trying to figure the other one out but doing so by peeking over the fortress walls we’ve built around and between ourselves, sky-high stone walls over which we yell to communicate simple thoughts or toss tokens intended to mean a certain thing yet the meaning is lost as we panic, trying to catch the falling object while wondering if our interpretation of it is even close to what the thrower intended. Despite our walls, despite our distrust, despite our long and muddled history, this man and I shared a moment of contentment. It was astounding.
His fine auburn-colored hair, his freckled skin, his body made up completely of muscle. That moment of contentment. A girl could see a life with that, could see a life composed of that hair, that skin, that body, that contentment. But girls can be silly, bodies deteriorate, and moments are fleeting, aren’t they.
Things are going well for me. I’m volunteering on a weekly basis, staying surprisingly busy for an unemployed person, and dating as much as I can stand though so far that man hasn’t found his voice to describe or define what he wants with me and no one else has come close to holding my interest. I’m always looking for new options, new possibilities to pursue in my search for contentment, my search for happiness and love and satisfaction. I have a date tomorrow that is quite promising but unsurprisingly, I’m reserving too much excitement and judgment until I meet the man, shake his hand, look up into his eyes. I don’t know him and I don’t know what sparks we may or may not have within those crucial first three seconds when I meet him for the first time, that moment when I decide whether I want to be with him or not. My three-second intuition has never been wrong, though many people shame me for being “judgmental” or putting too much on first impressions. Lest you forget, we are animals and our attraction is primarily determined by a chemical process, an exchange of pheromones. My chemistry is specific, exact, and rigid. By no choice of my own, mind you. I was born this way, baby, and I know within the second I meet someone if I’ll be interested in them in any emotional, physical, or intellectual way relating to romance, sex, or friendship. That impression has never changed; my chemistry is that specific and my awareness of it is that attuned.
But I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m imagining evenings cuddled on the couch as I read and he writes and our dogs sleep on the floor. It’s important to have hope and for the first time in my life, I do. I have hope and I feel that it’s realistic, that it’s grounded. Good things are coming my way and perhaps, for once, I deserve them.
Contentment sounds so passive, so subtle, but it’s something worth pursuing. For those of us who never have a moment of quiet, of silence, of peace in our own minds as our inner voices shout over one another, trying to gain the most attention for their thoughts or feelings or questions, we *crave* to an extreme effect the perceived passivity and subtlety of contentment. I want my mind to quiet and I want my heart to be satisfied.
What an amazing feeling, however brief, and shared with a man who is as much my lover as my enemy. Imagine the level of contentment I could achieve with a man I love, trust, and truly can be myself with.
May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
Well, time flies when you’re volunteering an ass-ton at least. Which I am. And I’m trying to go to all the events in Birmingham, which is pretty much impossible, but I think trying is still respectable. Here’s what I’ve been up to (which should explain why I haven’t posted in a while):
- Volunteered two days (total of about 23 hours) at the Magic City Art Connection. Was too busy volunteering that I didn’t actually get to see any of the art, so next year I’ll be more intentional about taking time to walk around. Was asked to be on the MCAC Board next year. BALLER!
- Volunteered at the Birmingham AIDS Outreach Arty Party, one of their big annual fundraisers. Attended said party and did not bid on any art, which was super dumb, because my artistic tastes are so different from everyone else’s that the pieces I liked didn’t have a single bid on them at the end! I could have gotten them for $20/each. Was asked to be on the Arty Party Committee next year. BALLER!
- I’ll be volunteering for the Girls on the Run race this weekend and for Do Dah Day in two weeks as well. Next month, I’ll be volunteering at the Magic City Brewfest! Would be more exciting if I could drink on the job… JUST KIDDING (no I’m not).
I’ve also got some other things brewing in my little pot of opportunities:
- I’m spending the summer like I did last summer — working in the studio of a local artist through a program designed by the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York. It’s just part-time though, so don’t get too excited.
- I’m teaching a monthly art workshop this summer with the newly-founded Magic City Acceptance Center, part of Birmingham AIDS Outreach. I’m soooo excited about working with the students. They’re all LGBTQ teenagers who can use all the support, enthusiasm, and optimism that they can get because growing up in Alabama can be super tough for that group.
- I’m working with Space One Eleven, a local gallery and art center, to revamp their mentorship program which runs during the school year to help students develop portfolios and college applications. One item on today’s to-do list is to type up all of my ideas for the Education Coordinator so she can see my vision for the program.
- My photographs and writings are being published a dear friend of mine’s new magazine, which is very exciting for everyone involved! I think the magazine will appeal to a large group of people, so I have no doubt it’s going to be successful. Plus the world needs more arts magazines. You can never have too many!
I still need to get my ass back in the gym and start eating more healthily (I’m completely broke and living entirely off a new credit card so I try to buy as little food as possible. I think I have some humus and a can of soup right now.) but I have made leaps and bounds as far as cleaning my apartment is concerned. Only two loads of laundry left! And they’re little loads. I need to get more serious about making art too, but I’m having difficulty sitting down and Just Do[ing] It, Nike style.
I think I’m actually getting better, too. I don’t know if the new med cocktail is actually working or if it’s just a change in attitude, but I’ve had not one, not two, not THREE, but FOUR of my supervisors thank me for my positive, can-do attitude and reassuring, calm presence in the face of stress. And they’re talking about ME. HOW. WEIRD. IS. THAT. This year is finally turning around, me thinks!
Looking forward to a mini-vacation in Chattanooga this week with an old friend of mine. Should be a good trip, though I imagine it will feel too short. Plus the hotel we got is gorgeous and historic, and it’s downtown so we can just walk everywhere instead of worrying about driving, parking, etc. When we get back, my parents will be in town! And there’s a digital art festival this weekend! All good things. Plus the weather has been absolutely gorgeous over the last few days, which makes me super happy as well.
I should be hearing back either this week or next week about a job I interviewed for at a local museum here. Fingers crossed! It would be a great fit for me, I think. I’ve got another interview tomorrow which I think I’m mostly qualified for but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up museums yet. With all this volunteering and so many art events lately, I’m really feeling how much I fucking love art. Lordy. It’s ridiculous. It’s such a part of me, I think it always will be no matter where I end up or what I end up doing.
So all in all, things are going great! All I need is a job. 🙂