The first time our lips groped each other in gentle awkwardness a tidal wave overcame my body drowning my brain in the dizzying waves. You touched my face in that loving way we had whispered to each other about as kids. Except you weren’t the tuxedo mask or Kurt Cobain of our fantasies. You had soft hands that smelt like vanilla body spray and truth or dare perspiration. You pulled away while I was still struggling to catch my breath and laughed in my face. You said that its no big deal to kiss after all it was just a game. Even though I had tried to say to you many nights in the dark that I could fall in love with any gender, but what I didn’t say was that I was falling in love with you. I think of all those times we would practice our make up and try to find the right angle to make our barely there breasts seem most appealing in the mirror before lying together on the bed legs entwined talking about our futures. You said that we had to practice doing it for the boys, to attract a husband that we would wow with our nubile yoga bodies, and cook fancy meals for on special occasions. But I knew no boy would appreciate you like I do. He would be intimidated by your Amazonian figure, and fierce intellect. He wouldn’t know the hours you devoted to becoming your best self. He wouldn’t know the way your dad sometimes scared you, but you still loved him. He wouldn’t know that you think carnations are tacky as gifts. But I knew. I had watched you growing up all these years, blooming into not a woman but a force of nature. And I was the one reminding you that you were beautiful, and that shared your anxieties about sex and love and romance. I couldn’t say to you though that I was falling in love with you. You were my best friend, and if our parents found out no more sleep overs, no more friendship, no more innocence. Besides we agreed that we weren’t ready to have sex yet anyways. You wanted to wait for marriage, and I wanted to wait for more body hair. But then you kissed me on a dare at your birthday party while your parents were out in front of all of our friends and shipwrecked my timid heart. In that moment as my lips parted to your infinite wetness letting it wash away all my fear of being seen when I too felt like I might be a goddess of the sea, you laughed at me. You told me that it meant nothing. You could kiss me anytime that you wanted, and it wouldn’t mean anything to you because you are not gay. I am just your friend. And sometimes friends kiss because boys like it when they do, and you, my friend, really want a boyfriend for your birthday, and I am never going to be that boyfriend because I can’t hide how soft my lips are, or how smooth my cheek is, or how tiny my hands are. My tiny hands that could never encircle your waist in the strong titanic embrace that you dream of. I wouldn’t even know how to love you if I could. We hadn’t been practicing for this moment. The moment I would dissolve into your lips. I buried those feelings like a treasure closely guarded. Kept under lock & key, but always just below the surface. I had seen the ocean in your grey eyes, and I tried to swim back there everyday, but you were always looking somewhere else.
Winter can’t decide if it’s thawing or freezing, but I’m ready to hibernate for another three months. 2017 started with a bang with Alt Alt DIY Fest which was such a huge success on so many levels that I could not have anticipated. However it left me feeling quite emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually drained for most of January and the better part of February. I’ve been in denial about how much that event took out of me because it was so truly obviously worth it, but living in denial is not the start to being able to adequately replenish myself.
Now that it is nearly March, and new projects are on the horizon, I am taking time to reflect on what it is I need to move forward. Burn out is a luxury I am afforded as a single person with good support networks and steady employment with health benefits. I can work myself to the bone for my community then collapse inwardly because no one is counting on me for their 24/7 sustenance, and because I know there are people around me who will catch me if I fall too deeply into depression or self loathing. It is truly a privileged position that I feel blessed to occupy, but this is not how I want to create in my career. Periods of intense creation, and intense seclusion will always be necessary to my practice, but neither state should be so extreme that it put such unnecessary strain on my day to day ability to live my life.
A huge part of the burn out taking two months is that I need to work 35 hours a week in addition to the 20-30 hours of creative & community work required by projects of this scale in order to support myself. It is hard for me currently to imagine a point when that level of work would not be required in order to stay a float, however I recognize that is a limitation in my belief structure rather than a hard fact. The question then becomes how to move beyond that bias in order to start to look at ways to become more self sufficient.
This is a powerful lesson to take from Alt Alt, the gift that keeps on giving, and now that I’ve identified what I want to avoid I need to set my imagination to work to find a new way. How can I create a practice that allows for projects of this scale without sacrificing my well-being?
It’s Pisces season, and spring is just around the corner which I feel is a good time to reflect on this question. I’m asking for creative vision to guide me in the next month as I look inwards to recenter. This is a time for tinkering, for dreaming, for meditating, for empathy, for love, for reflection. Planting seeds this month to harvest come June.
If you have experience or resources relating to managing burn out as a creative, or transitioning out of the work force let me know in the comments.
I am happy
I am searching
I am scared
I am scintillating
I am heart broken
I am heart strong
I am loving
I am loved
I am a witch
I am a leader
I am a artist
I am a storyteller
I am a mother
I am a daughter
I am a sister
I am a flirt
I am a lover
I am a fighter
I am a loser
I am a winner
I am a seashell
I am a shaft of wheat
I am a mountain
I am a wisp of silver fog
I am a baby goat
I am twins
I am many
I am me
I am just trying to get by
I am getting by as best I can
I am caring for those around me
I am learning all the time
I am feeling inadequate
I am looking for a better way
I am dreaming of a better way
I am listening
I am hoping
I am praying
I am breathing
I am here.
I would like to help. I don’t know where to begin. Tell me where does it hurt? It’s ok you can trust me. I’ve been hurt before too. In fact I’m hurting right now. I know it’s not always easy to say. Take your time. Let me help you. How can I sooth your pain? There is nothing too small or too large you could ask me for. I would love to help you. Can you point to where it hurts? Perhaps we can just sit a while. Tell me what is on your mind. The questions that pull at your heart. We can try to answer them together. Because when I see your pain I feel mine too. I would like to help make it better. Even if it’s only for a little while. Even if it’s imperfect & flawed. Even if you don’t think it matters. It matters to me. To see you happy & cared for. Because the love that we share heals me too. The parts of me that hurt feel better knowing you are safe & content. It might be a long journey, and it won’t always be easy work. But I will not turn away when I see you are in pain. All that pain hurts me too. I am also scared. I dont know where to begin. There is no place I would rather be than right here with your pain. For as long as you are hurting I am hurting too. I can only see with my two eyes, listen with my two ears, work with my two hands, and love with my big heart. But I am here in your service. Please tell me my love, where do you hurt?
My heart is at home in the wet flakes that coat the black city in dreamy slumber.
Ice cold winds sting the cheeks like bitter promises too sweet to keep.
There is a familiar resonance to as winter makes her grand entrance. She doesn’t play for keeps, this is just a taste of her white wonderland. Tomorrow will be grey slush & tepid salutations.
In the middle of the night everything hangs perfectly crystal serene. As home settles into my heart for the year. My bones welcome the aches & chill if only for the thrill of being alive trying to start a fire in such a frigid place.
Count snowflakes on the glass. Each one a wish. Longing for those long silent nights walking arms crossed following a single star calling with my name on it.
Holy in her transience.
Melting stars on my tongue.
Wishing on light passing.
The snow will be gone by morning.
September hung heavy on my shoulder. All long grey feathers & stench of rot in the earth. Too long to be comforting, too steady to be hostile. Pressing shoulder blades like tectonic plates, slow & steady, grinding along the surface. A dull ache behind my temple as my two eyes blinked through the darkness holding them hostage. I felt a sudden longing to be free of this earthly drudge & glide among the stars as bubbling laughter or careless whispers. No light & airy thing ruffled these feathers tonight. Instead, solemnly holding my limbs in suspended slumber, weighted by this uncomfortable pressure shifting just out of reach to my blind gape. Then, to my surprise, from the darkest depths there began to spring a crack. A clear red slit of fire. Blood red smile. Taunting me against the bleakness. It grew to a tall gash releasing flighty embers that burned into my retinas like stars. As the crack grew, burbling molten suffering as it went, I began to see that this was the door that I had been searching for all along.
Most of my writing has sprung from the fertile black soil of depression, but my creativity does not bloom in the darkness of the soul. Longer nights & greyer days. I struggle to keep pace in the changing seasons. I long for solitude, silence, and long autumn walks. Instead it is a ghastly busy season filled with errands of the daily grind I would rather leave undone.
Would these bleak hours feel more hospitable if I were master over my own time to whittle away the dwindling days in my cabin amongst the falling leaves? Or am I cursed to count these mortal hours listlessly in the waning of the year as the darkest hour of the soul?
I am tired. Barely energy to get through the day. I crave rest. A peace of mind I have not known in many a moon.
Medicating to stay a float I find that I’m faced with the rot that has accumulated in the corners of my mind. No longer concealed by the reeling of my thoughts. Regulated interactions make me question. It’s a long road to better off than the poor old soul in the casket. Don’t we all crave the sweet release of death? And yet here we are busy with the business of living, but to what end?
My depression does not stoke the fires of my creativity rather it sucks me dry, but it’s such an old friend I would be lost with out it. Am I depressed because I ask too much of life? Or is life too much for me because I am depressed? I wish my brain would get on with the business of living already. Everything around me is dying & it is so awfully dull.