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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Tag Archives: Work

[ 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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I’m about to go off script.

Up to this point, I’ve managed my seasons and hours by periodically getting quiet to evaluate my values and priorities.  I made outlines of how my days would look.  Early on, it was detailed to the point of half hour intervals; more recently it has evolved toward general designated time blocks.  Being a self-employed, new adult is a lot to manage and this systematic approach has helped me to learn dedication, responsibility, and focus.  I made schedules because I didn’t trust myself to daily align with my priorities.  For years this structure has worked for me.  But lately I’m feeling a creeping sense of dissatisfaction; it slips through the cracks of my schedule as fatigue and anxiety.

 

weary and anxious

 

 

And so, it is time to get quiet again and reevaluate.  But, this time has to be different.  My former methods of micro-scheduling and planning are no longer useful tools because I’ve given them too much power.  Like wayward robots in a sci-fi, they dominate rather than assist.

I am guilty of getting too far ahead, of taking on the burden of the unknown and attempting to carry it as if it can fit on my back.  And, not surprisingly, I feel weary.  I’ve got a rather petite, human-sized frame for trying to haul an almighty-sized mystery.

This vain approach to planning has produced habits of working long hours and soldiering through no matter how I’m feeling.  Admittedly, I admire this tenacity in myself and I’m proud to be a working artist.  I’m afraid of letting these things go, but I must.  This perspective and my habits are not sustainable.

 

tenacious face

 

 

I think a large part of my ambition to work as long and hard and structured as I do is about money.  I want to be certain that I can pay the bills and I assume a reasonable response to this desire is hard work capped with a helmet of anxiety.

I’m reminded of an Andrew Bird song about the way we educate our children: “put your backpack on your shoulder, be the good little soldier it’s no different when you’re older”

I think much of my angst stems from an expectation that our culture lashes  to us: boot straps and hard work and so on.  I didn’t mean to accept this ideology and subsequent identity, but I have.  And it isn’t a good fit. I’m waking up this morning and surrendering.  I don’t want to soldier up and trudge through.

{ this is a tangent:  War imagery sucks anyway.  I’ve been noticing lately that much of our language about lifestyle and religion is combative.  I think that’s unfortunately suitable for our society but inappropriate to the existence I hope to live.}

I’m beginning to understand that provision does not equal business skills and long hours do not equal goodness or value.  I’m realizing that, unless I change my approach, I will never feel like I accomplished all that I need to in a day.  I will always pack fear about financial needs, no matter how much money flows; I will be forever tired.

I am thirsty for liberation; I want to be receptive and giving and greet each day with open arms, but I’m afraid.

I’m fearful of wasting, grumbling , and grinding my time into an apathetic powder that will float away into meaninglessness.  But even as I type this, I am pricked by the irony.  As if I can avoid any of it by using the powers of my finite reasoning and banal scheduling skills.

 

peace be with you (and me)

 

 

I know something needs to change but I don’t know what.  I am painfully aware that I do not know what is best for me.  That I don’t know how to effectively manage this gift of life.  This place that I’m in is scary because I’m being asked to swim in a jumbo ocean of uncertainty.

I’m asking for something bigger and so I have to rely on something big.  I yearn to rely on and get in alignment with the mystery that operates outside of time.  I am unclenching my fists and recognizing that I do not control the universe.

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[ from a. addair who is listening to Zee Avi (Zee Avi) ]

“The passage into mystery always refreshes.  If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies.  We are lightened when our gifts rise from pools we cannot fathom. Then we know they are not solitary egotism and they are inexhaustible.  Anything contained within a boundary must contain as well its own exhaustion.”

–Lewis Hyde

 

 

The piece is much less about declaring a vision for the chapel and much more a simple marking of breath.

The aim then is not for anyone to align with or even share my conception of the human experience, rather, it is an invitation to delight in the mystery of God and the loving openness our little family pours out to its members and the city.

 

It is an exhalation that hopes to give space.  It is a record of a labor for authenticity, permeability, vulnerability, and an acknowledgement of interdependence.  My hope is that it gives permission for others to struggle and delight in labors of their own.

 

In this way, these paintings are images from personal experience (I don’t feel qualified to offer more than this) that are for and about the collective.

“I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

 

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love”

 

–Walt Whitman

 

I am learning that the spirit swells even though, or maybe because, the body dissolves.  I am learning to acknowledge my participation and live in harmony with the cycles of nature.  I am learning that the boundaries dividing the biological, social, and spiritual are fluid.  I am learning to give and to love freely because the giving of these things assures their plenty.  I am learning to let go of ambition and the desire to control.  I am learning to participate in momentum.  I am learning to be a part of a community whose paradigm is one of gift exchange.  I am learning to acknowledge a flow that is out of my hands and cannot be managed in the scheduled, quantitative system of our culture.

 

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[ from a. addair who is listening to The Flaming Lips (At War With The Mystics) ]

Wondering how I would spend my time differently if I didn’t need to get paid for the things that I do.  It is pretty likely that I’ll never actually need to/get to answer this question.  But still, it gets to the heart of some real confusion for me.

I keep thinking of Thoreau when he wrote, “A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting bread.”

I’m struggling with the way art (and the artist who lives from his art) functions justly in our culture and economic system.

why am i showing you this painting? because i want to share it? because i hope you'll like it and maybe buy art from me? slimy.

I don’t want to be a part of the hype.  I don’t want it to be all about me.  I don’t want to be a propagate consumerism.

I’m not certain that how I’m currently operating (even keeping this blog) is good and pure, but I feel stuck.

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[ from a. addair who is listening to Levon Walker (New York City Spanks Levon Walker) ]

”]Last week I dropped off some of my work to the Blowfish Emporium in downtown Bristol, TN/VA.  If you’re in the area I recommend stopping in; in their own words it is “an eclectic collaboration of local and regional art”.  The space is beautiful with a funky mountain hippy flair.  The owner, Bethany Wilson, is a fresh and innovative spirit for her community.

The paintings that I dropped off were painted this spring.  My time and space is so disorganized lately that I let paintings be a pure outlet.  Most mornings when I got to my Dad’s shop/my improvised studio, my mind was too cluttered for anything but playing in colorful mud.  I tried to lower my editing-filter and just let images and marks march straight from wherever it is they come from to the plywood.

now hanging at the blowfish emporium. go see it.

It helped me to keep my balance and I hope the excercise will allow me to be freeer, even during my more structured periods (if that time ever comes).

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DSCN0060(from Levon)

I wish I could always put my best energy where I want it.  Back when I held the idea that I could do one thing on the side of another, I had this problem. Now that life is a runonsentence of chaotic motion in all directions, I have still have this problem.  Maybe it’s a matter of prioritizing and organization.  Survival can be a convincing priority.

Hopefully we find work to be something more than our 40 hours gone in exchange for 128 to be acceptable.  Work is often an identity to be and then not be.  Some attempt for just one identity, and aim their energy to assuming that identity.  I long for work to reflect its value more accurately.  I long for working one job to be enough.

 

DSCN0072

my shared warehouse studio

DSCN0071

There will be days, and long strings of those days, where we show up and hang on while we kick with both feet.  Countless daily activities will one day be recalled as maybe one or two things that got done, because we afforded ourselves to do them.  Maybe we’ll be closer to our work emerging as we aspire.  We work to work.  Or we work at working, need work to make work, deal with work to love work: these things I tell myself as I push a machine across grass or wash 300 wedding cake plates.  I’m joyfully (more or less) getting closer to work feeling like work, and less like an expense of energy to leave me as a left-over tupperware box of casserole.

DSCN0066

last one standing

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Living in a place where things are so much different has got me thinking about what I know.  Thats not very much, but maybe my set of beliefs is what I’m getting at.  The 14 square miles of Manhattan is the most populated and diverse place on earth, so in case I didn’t know by now, people are different.  I’m a small town Kentucky boy at the heart of things and my goggles, while wider than some, are more narrow than others.  What I consider to be absolute truth may be the butt of another’s joke.  Still, I’m a radical to someone else.  

I have never been more proud of my roots than I am now, having had them only in my head to see their existence.  I’ve looked at them a lot in their stark contrasts to the places I’ve been, where things change by the block according to class, ethnicity and religion.  They are strong enough to bring me back, understanding why they are important because I see how they give me any make up or character at all.

Despite my southern roots, I’ve done something not very traditional by breaking up home and living with other people in my pursuit of artistic endeavors.  This doesn’t mean I shun a 40 hour work week, a traditional career track, or pursuing a passion on the side of something else that’s manageable and gets one by.  The underlying idea is that it is a sacrifice to reach a certain end.  Ashley and I are self employed entrepreneurs who must develop niche markets and grow them like any other business, if you want to look at it like that.  Or we are crazy idealists that have lost our grip on responsibility and reality.  

The same job could be a perfect noble choice for one and a complete shame for another, if the second guy is afraid of sticking his neck out for something more suited for him.  The real shame is that he is holding a slot that might be great for someone else.  See the mess that fear and insecurity makes?  When I drag desk jobs through the dirt, I’m wrong for doing so.  I was the guy who was never supposed to be there, and if he was, he should have done a better job more consistently if he was going to accept the paycheck.  I’m sorry for that, its not a principle I picked up from anyone where I come from.  Now I’m true to myself, yes, but I’ve sacrificed any vapor of stability.  I understand the realities of give and take very much, and I had to go this way.  Its okay to choose the other.  There is no bad or lame job, only bad or lame motives.

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