Friday, May 1, 2015

Self-care & the working artist

Like you, I grew up with working class parents who instilled in me the following:
No one else is going to do your work, so suck it up & get it done.
It's an admirable value. This value has powered me thru 8 years of (occasionally profitable) self-employment. It's what has enabled me to come back into making art full-time even tho I have a full-time illness as well. However, I sometimes wonder if this "work will make you free" idea doesn't backfire a little on us working-class schlubs. Or maybe that's just a little too political for an art blog*.

My caretakers
But, as a person with a chronic illness, I have to have a pretty regimented self-care routine. Well, I say regimented**, but it doesn't look terribly planned & Prussian from the outside. My body is a war zone half the time - inflammation is attacking different areas (usually my skin & nerves, sometimes muscles), & making my life hell. If I come into contact with a little bit of soy sauce in my curry (because someone had to cheat at Thai food), I'm down for an entire week wishing my insides would just hurry up & get outside.

Being an artist is often difficult to reconcile with a strong work ethic until & unless you're established to the point where you always have some idea of what's going on next. Like any normal person, we have this drive to keep producing; to shut out the world & fill up the page. But add a debilitating condition to that mix & you get restlessness so powerful it might try to invade Poland.

So, I have to stick to a sort of plan. This week that meant sleeping a lot & binge-watching the X-Files. With sufficient injections of caffeine, I was able to churn out a couple pages for the FSH book, but not much else. When the brain is fogged by pain meds, there's not much you can do - altho that shaming "you better get this done or else" tape seems to be completely unaffected by the psychotropic affects of my pain management routine.

What I'm trying to say here, is that there isn't an update this week because I've been sick. But I wanted to write something so you wouldn't miss my ramblings. You know, because I'm an artist & my ego assumes that you want to have some access to the inside of my head.

*After my father died, I decided to finally let him be right about something & became a communist. If you didn't know that already, we probably haven't actually met.
**Chaotic neutral

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