I'm sitting in the Windsor Terrace library tinkering with my budget, and thinking about how odd it is that I am just learning this skill in 2016, almost 30 years into my life. Because in the past, though I kept up with what I was spending and what I was making, I just wasn't including the totality of every single transaction, in and out. Which is the only way to budget successfully. This is painfully obvious upon writing. But I'm doing it! And though I failed miserably in September, my October budget is looking very much in the green with only one week to go. Savings account, I'm already very proud of you, but one day soon, if I can stick to this thing, I imagine you'll grow into quite the heartthrob.
I'm attempting to take a cold hard look at my life. I got the incredible gift of a year off from my life. And though it's been trying to retransition into life here, the arms length I feel from my friends and family has given me a second opportunity not to be sucked full-force into the animal-brain-style panicked living I was performing before my panic attacks and subsequent homeward bounding. And so, a once and for real look at my ACTUAL finances. And as best as I can, a body scan of the sensations of my actual body in the moment. An attempt to admit to myself how I feel in any given minute without apologizing, or judging, or immediately explaining. Simply a greater attempt at being the awareness inside of myself and saying "this too."
The great news is, through all this soul searching and honest exploration I have found Shipwreck again. Yes! This very site which has for the last year solely been a place for me to comb out my brain tangles. If you look through the galleries, I have added some photos I took in my friend's apartment in Austin, and I will be adding some of the lightbox photos I had taken a long time ago. The bookmarks will be up soon on the site and are being cut the next few weeks in time for my trip home for a week to huff glue in mom's garage. I feel connected to Shipwreck in a strong, organic, non-guilty way for the first time, since my Kickstarter campaign. My plan to do a craft show in the spring seems very likely, for once and doesn't fill me with (overwhelming) fear. I'm learning Inkscape and GIMP to replace my very costly need for photoshop and illustrator. I got a planner I really like, and I'm ready to do things!
I have had so much time to break apart my life with a jackhammer powered by painful gut feelings. I have over and over given up on Shipwreck as an impractical dream. An unfeasible and distracting hobby. A pet project that would only siphon money I desperately need to survive and be happy and be able to afford to go on dates that I promise to one day have.
And then I had this idea when I was riding my bike to one of my many day-job shifts. I thought about how wonderful deadlines are, and how often I used to have ideas for projects when I was in the early days of all this paper art business. One of which was Shipwreck itself! That's right, when trying to sell larger pieces wasn't working out, I culled through my million ideas until I landed on one that really connected with me emotionally. The idea of making cards and beautiful things to write beautiful messages on. Something I had decided really suited my tastes of literature (where so many of my favorite writers were as brilliant in their correspondence as in their novels) and of making beautiful things (care packages come to mind as an opportunity for nice homemade creativity sent in the form of a hug). For the past long while, I've funneled every idea I have had either into Shipwreck (does this work as a card or something involving mail?) or into the I'll give that a try when I'm done focussing on Shipwreck pile. Which is a kind of defeatist way of dedicating yourself to something.
And I thought on my bike, about my roommate who is always working on things for friends and clients alike (show posters, illustrations for the internet, package design), often for free, just to have another project and something to do. Because she genuinely loves it. And so without funneling it into my project or my pile, I thought about who I could do a show poster for, before the face of my dear friend Chris in Austin popped up. I finally got to see him and reconnect with him this summer which kept my from my previously growing doubt about my friendships formed there. After all, I hadn't seen these people for 3 years, and though we were incredibly close, my current feelings were that Austin was a happy dream and hard to prove real. But being in Austin this summer only confirmed how real those friendships were, and Chris most of all.
So I decided right there in the bike lane, I should do a show poster for Chris. It will be a new skill to have, and maybe it will lead to cover art and merchandise and all sorts of cool projects that will reconnect me with the fun of creation. The exact kind of projects that will help make my life feel real again. Engage the creative, playful part of my brain that excites and enlivens me so. In a sense, not to mythicize a time in my life, while railing against the present but instead to live my Austin life here in New York.
And wouldn't you know it, when you follow your passion, sometimes you get immediate validation. Chris got back to me with a lovely email not just about how excited he is to work with me, but giving some perspective on his journey to be self-sustaining in his creative endeavors. After all, he hasn't had a serving job for a couple years now. And it hit me that I haven't been using him as an outlet for valuable information and as a pillar on which to lean and learn, I have been thinking of him as "other" as someone who made it work in his field in a way I don't seem to be able to. I went back into negative stories about myself. And with one little email he reminded me, people want me to succeed in the same way I have been rooting for Chris since the day I met him. And that though we're doing different things, we can be linked in beautiful ways for the rest of our lives. After all I used his song on my Kickstarter video. Why shouldn't I also make him a show poster, and continue to work together whenever it makes sense for perpetuity.
His kind words were a magnificent catalyst, and once I had another project on the queue, I knew that the only things holding up Shipwreck was some sort of mental block about "have to." And that the seemingly depressing phrase that popped into my head this month wasn't a death sentence to my little baby in a bassinet Shipwreck Business, but actually the freedom to embrace it once again, this time without telling myself what it is all the time. Without brow-beating myself into associating it with guilt and failure. Without convincing myself of all the things that won't work before I've really tried. And now I'm excited again. Excited to take back some control over the things I can actually change. Not to feel scared that there's a tension in my chest. But to feel the fear and tension and simply say, "this too."
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