When I’m not making art…
Well, yes, sometimes I am trolling the news channels, to see what next is going on in this country at the federal government level. Just to keep myself always frightened and angry. To keep my nerves on edge, and my blood pressure slightly elevated. Because I feel that being aware – here on this little island in the middle of Lake Michigan – might somehow make a difference in how things play out.
Not since the Watergate era, when the war in Viet Nam was sending classmates home in boxes, and everyone in power seemed to be disregarding the people they served, has my attendance seemed so necessary. Then, I sat for hours with my baby on my lap, with my eyes glued to the television set as unfamiliar names became ordinary, and the characters took on roles of scapegoat, criminal, watchdog and hero. Now, I check the news a dozen or more times each day. Obsessively.
Sometimes, fed up with the spin on every single bit of information, I retreat to the realm of time-wasters. There is the book of crossword puzzles that my sister gave me; there is always a book or magazine to page through. There is on-line Scrabble, and that other word game that, I think, was designed for children but that I’m amazingly good at, and a matching game.
Often, when I’m not making art, I am working at one of my three jobs. And when I’m not doing that, I am often embroiled in the dozens of menial tasks that keep this household running along. Normal cooking and cleaning and laundry can easily take over any bits and pieces of spare time.
This week, though, I have a project! It actually started as one small thing. My desk, which is two 5-foot-long planks of wood stretched between two file cabinets, takes up too much space in my small dining room. I have to squeeze past the table in one direction to sit at the desk; I have to ease around it from the other side to let the dogs out. On top of that, the only thing I use the desk for is working on the computer. Room for a glass of water or a cup of coffee, and for the small laptop is all that I need. The rest of the long stretch of horizontal surface holds two small succulents and one begonia plant, three fat jars filled with pencils and pens, two scented candles, a decorative paper holder, and three medicine bottles. It has become a repository for papers to be dealt with, projects-in-progress, and other nonsense.
I decided to create a – much smaller – desk space on the other side of the room, in the little cubby under the stairs. One small project. Except for telephone and computer lines that have to be untangled and twined across the room. Except that the corner cabinet that was hiding in that cubby had to be moved out, along with all of the stuff I had piled on top of it. Which meant the living room had to be rearranged to make room for the corner cabinet, bookshelves had to be altered to free-up the deep brackets I need to support the desk top, and the kitchen shelves had to be edited to make room for the file cavbinets underneath.
I am embroiled in a massive overhaul. The table is mounded with stuff that is in transit. The little under-the-stairs desk space is, right now, filled with stacks of papers and books. The desk has not yet budged from its original location. However…I have hauled away several boxes of books for donation. My kitchen shelves are now in good order. I kept only the cookbooks and garden books that I truly read, use and enjoy. Everything is bright and clean. In the living room, the shallower shelves seem to open up the space. I like the new furniture arrangement. I have a master plan in place, and am working steadily through the rest of the project. There is progress! And, though it’s not art, it’s the most creative undertaking I’ve been involved in, at home, in quite some time.
Sometimes there’s time for art…and sometimes life is art.