Three Things

“The Land of Counterpane” by Jessie Wilcox Smith

I didn’t work this weekend. On Saturday I posted my usual facebook mantra of “coffee . . . work . . .”, but only accomplished hauling the reference books I need for my next book upstairs to my bed from couch island. I am out of half-and-half and for the last couple of days, have been flavoring my coffee with caramel flavored Bailey’s Irish Cream. For a person who doesn’t drink with any regularity, this is an egregious act of laziness on my part (I could walk to the store, but I won’t) and makes me raise a red flag on my emotional well being. My only additional victories of the day were finishing my binge stream of Mad Men, washing dishes, and blow drying my hair.  Don’t worry, it makes sense to me. I usually go into a dormant state after finishing a long project. It’s a sort of post project depression. Any other melancholy occurrence only exacerbates it. Trying to force myself into working at times like this is pretty futile. It is a time for dreaming, reflecting, and taking in ideas. I do need to lay off the Bailey’s though. . .

On Sunday, I booked a zipcar to go and pay my respects to the family of my next door neighbors, who also happen to be my landlords. The husband, Paul, passed away on Tuesday after being diagnosed with a lung illness early in the summer. I knew he would pass away soon, and he even spoke tearfully to me about it directly one afternoon. It was still a surprise to get the message on my voicemail last week. Sunday afternoon, I walked down to the car deck and checked my e-mail for the address only to realize that the ceremony was on Saturday…not Sunday. I felt like a useless idiot.

Earlier in the week I had made plans to have dinner with friends later in the day. We met at my favorite restaurant, Alchemy on 36th, and enjoyed great conversation and a beautiful meal. As the evening wore on conversation turned a bit more philosophical. We discussed recent losses and ideas that shape our future. At one point I asked everyone what happiness was to them. It is always interesting to hear just how differently we see the world and what our needs are. That led to listing three things we absolutely need to be happy…in order of importance.

Happiness to me is knowing that I am able to be an artist and live life the way that I want to. It is knowing that I will continue to make work and get better and better as an artist along with experiencing many more adventures. It is personal growth, evolution, and change.

The three things I need to be happy are financial security, my work, and friends. Why not family? Interestingly enough, I don’t feel as connected to many of my family members as I do to my friends. The family that I am closest to are those that I consider friends first, and the friends that I share large portions of myself with, I consider parts of my family. Is that a cop out? I don’t think so. As my mother’s only child, I have a great sense of responsibility when it comes to her well being. I know that I am the only person who will take care of her when she can’t do for herself. Without a secure financial future, my relationship with her may become a source of stress and guilt for me instead of happiness. My work directly affects my financial security, and my friends are the ones who support me without any bias or judgement. In my experience, relationships with family come with many more expectations & obligations.

This blog post is also a bit of procrastination. I really want to go back into my bedroom, crawl into bed, and stay there all day. But, I am here in the studio with my coffee and my work (secretly hoping to catch a short cold to warrant a few days in bed) waiting for the muse to show up.