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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Category Archives: having babies

[ from a. addair who is listening to Empire of the Sun (Walking on a Dream) ]

The following is an excerpt from an entry I wrote about 6 weeks ago but never got around to posting:

“That’s the big news.  We’re tickled pink or blue.  I’m feeling so excited, happy, awestruck, grateful, full of love and totally unprepared with panicky moments sliding into every 100 breaths.  It feels similar to the way we fumbled through our engagement: really joyful but slightly disturbed because I knew we we’re walking into a dramatic reworking of life in utter idiocy and delight.

the apple of my eye (twas a good thing to get married even if it didn't make sense)

There are a zillion things to be afraid about and excited for.  My mind jumps straight to my future engorged body, then to wondering how I will paint, then to a pair of sweet little baby boots this embryo has already acquired;  then I  wonder how close the baby will be born to Christmas and  fret over folic acid intake.  In short, I can’t focus on anything.”

We are now at 11 weeks and our little embryo has graduated to a fetus.  The part where I can’t focus on anything remains though now it isn’t so much giddy fun for me.  Between the bouts of nausea and fatigue I’m pretty well missing my old energy.

Turns out being pregnant has taken me deeper into my let-it-go training.  I think I was making good progress before, but when your body tells you to stop, you really have to listen; it’s such a basic reminder that life is much bigger than my agenda.   I’ve had to slow way way down and be much more flexible and gentle with myself than I had ever imagined I could be.

the sort of things I've been working on (since painting makes me nauseous)

I recently started reading The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, in it he says that members of the creative class, “work at times when we are supposed to be off and play when we are supposed to be working.  This is because creativity cannot be switched on and off at predetermined times, and is itself an odd mixture of work and play.  Writing a book, producing a work of art or developing new software requires long periods of intense concentration, punctuated by the need to relax, incubate ideas and recharge.”  I love to read someone else’s articulate expression which has only been a misty idea-vapor in my own brain.  Seeing it there on a crisp, published page gives clarity and a sense of validation to the thought process I’ve been swimming in.  Florida’s statement gave me peace about departing from an imposed daily work structure.

baby banner for someone else's tiny human addition (detail)

I know that the life I’ve chosen doesn’t have tidy, defined compartments.  And I’m already beginning to understand that having a tiny human addition will make the lines between work, leisure, family and craft even blurrier.

tiny human addition

 

I don’t have a conclusion.  I’m still splashing around in murky waters but I can report growth:  both in girth and in spirit.  I don’t think its accurate to say that I’m swimming in this metaphorical ocean but I am learning to float on my back which is mostly about trust.

 

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They just left my house after doing a home appraisal.  We got up early and scrubbed for hours.  It was one year ago tomorrow that we moved back home.

I just sat here a very long time.  It feels like I should recap or talk a lot.  Nope, the insight is a short one:  Explore deliberately and stick.  Stick just as deliberately.

It’s a gritty place, on a 93 degree day last day of May, and my sweaty jeans lay heavy over the arm of a chair.  New screens keep the bugs out.

Ashley is cleaning brushes and eating string cheese, about to go to sleep.  There are onesies laying on my studio chair and a book, “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?”

This is the most reckless, life out of the trunk, yellow stripe smash the dashboard adventure I need at the moment.

Don’t just stick deliberately, have the same expectancy to be amazed.

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Ashley is in front of a canvas this morning and that is no simple accomplishment.  Nausea, once it comes once, seems to associate with the same situation.  Our house makes her nauseous.  I make her nauseous.  She told me the other day that the only way she could consider working was if I built her a new studio out in the yard, in the garden and away from the house.  I told her that the first trimester would be over in two weeks and she’d feel better. I couldn’t pour a footer faster than that.

Emotions will be high in today’s work.

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A month ago I was preaching about taxes and organization.  (Our Qualified Joint Venture blog) Ashley and I have a very complicated tax situation, nobody wants me to drag it out and explain it, but I emphasize that it’s very complicated.  Thats why I bought the army file cabinet and promised not to fill it with shoe boxes, but use folders rather, and intermittently affix staples and paper clips.

That’s not all it took.  The local bank has been easy enough to let Ashley and I conduct our regular business through our alter-identities: those being the fake names Levon Walker and Ashley Addair.  Truth is, there are no such legal persons.  Maybe you know my real name, which indicates our relationship predates 2008 when I adopted the name Levon from the 1971 Elton John hit song “Levon” from the Madman Across the Water album.

(note: “Levon” like “Levi’s.”  Say it: LEEEEEEE, not leVon.  end of note).

As for Ashley, well, she took “Walker” back in the summer of 2004.  Addair is maiden.  Dawn is the given middle.  We go to the local bank I where I used to work, nobody bothers us about it.   I’m getting to my point, after this one.

An artist is a small business like any other self employed entity in the great city of Knoxville, the county of Knox, the state of Tennessee, and the U.S. of America where the artist may be regulated and taxed at each level by its respective authority.  That being the case, and in the spirit of owning a large, green file cabinet, we finally decided to organize.

We opened a small business entitled “Ashley Dawn Addair and Levon Walker,” obtained the city and county business licenses, applied for the state sales tax I.D. number and finally opened a commercial bank account.  Our fake names exist now as a legal entity, although the owners remain the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. R Walker.

All of this babble has not been coffee shop conversation.  I thought it worth sharing in part because having just gone through it, I’d be glad to assist the steps of another fellow who needs to get it done.

Also, for the story begun in this blog, it’s important to note the full circle.  I’m back to the days of walking away from the desk (actually several of them) and classifying it all as “that stuff.”    “That stuff” doesn’t go away just because you want to be a songwriter.  True, if one stays broke they aren’t forced to look at much of it.  Unfortunately, ignorance is prohibiting.

Business principles aren’t the first thing I think of when focusing creative energy.  I think of Jack Donaghy.  No seriously, when I’m squandering I don’t do good work, or at least I can’t get it to stick.  It takes an organized effort.

Especially when taking the last, tender step away from part time jobs and trying to stay off them.

I’m going to be a dad soon, and at times I think about going back to what some would call security.  What I’ve learned most clearly in the last couple rambling years is that security exists, but it has nothing to do with the external.  You can be secure in yourself and that is all.  Beyond that you need faith, and when you can’t find faith, look for hope.

When I worry about it, I remember what David Johnson told me recently, “If it’s good for you, it’s good for your kid.”

Ashley and I are going to do this.  Life is going to change, oh yes.  But it won’t change to anything that doesn’t align with where we are now.  And, we have a file cabinet to tell us where that is.

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People, I got in trouble for making this video.  The inclination came to make it and I just did, but didn’t clean the house or anything.  Man, you got a warn a lady before you just walk through the place with a camera, especially if she’s in the state that Ashley is (and by that I mean nothing, dear). When she came home she said,

“Well…. it’s a little long, entertaining, but I can’t believe you’re going to show that.”

That means she doesn’t like it.  But I think when you videoblog you’re only allowed one take.  This ain’t cable.

Shoulder of the Road Revisited  

I chased you down the road for an interstate goodbye

standing there on the shoulder with your head on mind

said, “Honey it won’t be long, don’t you worry, don’t you cry,”

then waved you down the road for another try

     How could we wait for love, knowing right where it went?

     I watched you drive away and said I wouldn’t again

     We got married in the flood, we were then so young

     had an early start just to mess it up

Those early days we won’t forget, fighting for our lives

coming home to walls we didn’t recognize

I learned that fighting you was something I could stand to lose

drag enough cold inside, what you gonna do?

     So I learned to make a few men of myself, brought em all home to you

     said, “Honey here’s the new me, and what I’m gonna do”

     she said, “If you see my husband tell him I could use a hand,

     these men keep coming over eating off his land.”

You took me once on a promise to be true

I been making good on that to you

One thing I didn’t know was who I was those years ago

All I knew is I was holding on to you

and the shoulder of the road

music available at   http://levonwalker.bandcamp.com/

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We were walking yesterday to our neighborhood Food For All when I decided to document the pregnant lady, 8 weeks to the day.  She got totally emotional about it, but then it passed.

People ask me how she’s doing.  I lie to them.  “Fine,” I say.  But by “fine” I mean normal for the first trimester, which implies covered with blankets and asking for food then pushing it away, running over to the wastebasket to throw up and never getting to, and being upset about what I consider the least of our concerns.  That’s what I mean by fine.

We’re going to Food For All at the Fergusons’.  Lentil soup and cheese bread they said, and I’m grateful because it got her moving.  Tonight FFA is at our house and we’re making pizzas.  20 people will come pick it up, we each cook once a week in pairs of couples.

I said, “Ashley come with me.  The cheese bread will be cold by the time I get home.”

She came forth.

I don’t know how this shot got in here.

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I waited until I heard the birds to get up.  This is the part where I write out everything wrestling in my mind and then either hit publish or delete.  On the file cabinet across the room is a completed packet to give DHS and sign up for Tenn Care.  We’ve already met and are finely qualified.  I wish we weren’t.

So before taking the family’s next step on welfare, I’m asking a good question:  “If I turn this in, what am I doing?”

It’s a complicated argument and a morning’s blog entry won’t get everything right.  The DHS packet is already completed for a few reasons.  For one, my child has never decided that struggling for an ideal is something they’re interested in.  Secondly, health care is messed up and anyone trying to pay on their own can’t do it.  Society’s problem, and mine too.

Two weeks ago we sold our car for principled reasons.  If we didn’t do that “pre parent,” we never would try.  Now there is some cash in the asset column and we could use it.

The DHS question becomes one of ethics and strategy.  Options:

a. Take the welfare, invest the car money in business and work hard to get off the welfare.  One day pay it back.

b. Pay some medical expenses in cash and borrow the rest.  Remain independent from assistance.  Cover future health care with our continued artist incomes as they are.

c. Seek an employer that provides benefits.  Probably buy another car.

The options have complications, but lets not blog too far.  Instead, I give you possible responses to my  future child:

a. Honey, when we started out we needed some help.  But one day Daddy made a hit record and Mommy sold a painting to MoMA.  We started a trust fund for other starving artists who wanted families.

b. Well son, just as you came into this world, your mother and I decided to reduce our dependance on foreign oil with its dire toll on the environment, while at the same moment we proved that expensive social programs are unnecessary if everyone would take responsibility for themselves.    And health care, don’t get me started on health care.

c.

We pause here because it started to rain. I looked up to see the umbrella and Ashley’s rain jacket lying by the door.  Hopping on my bike and sprinting for Belle Morris Elementary on this foggy, rainy morning, I was reminded that some choices, like being intentionally car-less, require a fresh assertion of values.

And suddenly I was hit by a Honda Civic.  It pulled out and didn’t see me.  My handlebars wadded up and the chain was knocked loose.  Otherwise, the front side panel is a bruise of a landing and not a bloody one.  The umbrella was in the right lane of N. Broadway and I was sure it would be my only casualty.  But I saved it.  The guy felt awful.  I told him I was trying to take my wife her umbrella where she was a crossing guard.  He was near tears.  I offered that he could drive me to the school and he’d be doing me a favor, we’d call it even.

“Are you sure?  What about your bike?”

I inspected my bike and chained it to the stop sign (just before the antique shop by Fellini Kroger).  I could fix it.  My knee was sore but not bleeding.  There was no need to play any cards this morning, I just needed the ride.

He had a car seat in the back and a Bible in the passenger seat.  We sat there until he could dart the car back onto Broadway.

He said, “You know I always try to be careful and considerate.  That’s what I get for being late… I just dropped off my kid and was rushing to work.  I didn’t even see you.”

The irony of everything I’ve just been thinking about: children, work, not having a car, Ashley’s part time job, people needing to catch a break.  An unfinished blog at home which I was supposed to finish so that I’d discover what to do.

I don’t know.

Another story about how dangerous it is for me that Ashley is a crossing guard…

Last Thursday I was walking with her to school in the afternoon when an elderly man was sitting on a porch and murmured to us about something. There are crazies around here and we didn’t understand a word he said. After walking on I asked myself, what was the hurry; he’d seemingly been on his own porch.  I told Ashley I’d meet her later, we both thought I should go back and check on him.  He mumbled that he couldn’t walk and that he needed his dog to be brought in.

A chihuahua was leashed to a chair in the lawn beside the house and I guessed it looked harmless.  As I reached for the leash, it bit me twice on the wrist.  Still, I brought the dog to the man and realized that my initial instinct had been correct.  He was probably 80, but he was pissed drunk.  Urine all over his jeans.  He said he’d broken a rib and had been lying on the porch all morning.  I breathed sadly, but knew I had to lift him, no matter how disgusting.  By the time I’d helped him into his dark, vomitous house and moved enough greasy paper plates with stale chicken so that he could fall on the couch, I headed for the door.  The chihuahua was still on the leash and I hung it from a pile of unmemorable junk sitting in my guess of what was a chair.

“He’s a mean little sucker.”

“Have a nice day.”

I’d forgotten about the biting until I walked out into the bright sun and it had already began to swell.  Instead of walking to the school, I went to the CVS Pharmacy on the provincial nearby corner.  I asked the pharmacist,

“What do you recommend for a dog bite?”

“Did you know the dog?”

“No, it was just over there.”

“Go to the doctor.  Now.”

“I don’t have health insurance.”

“I’m sorry, but dog mouths are filthy and he could have rabies.  Seriously, go to the doctor.”

I looked at the swelling and remembered the soiled house.  I thought about our upcoming medical bills.  Then I walked over to the antiseptic cream and she yelled after me that it wouldn’t do it any good.  It would make me feel better, like I’d done something.  Like give a guy a freakin’ break.

I was furious for the rest of the day.  I kept the bite clean and maybe it’s fine, that was last week.  Everybody gets a little jittery when they’re going to be parents.  Right now, I feel like I must have got hit by a car this morning.

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