Thursday, March 26, 2009


Went for a walk yesterday and on the sidewalk met up with my step-daughter walking her dog. I think we dreaded hearing that she had started stripping. Instead we were told, briefly, because she was short on time, that she had a new job at Staples and that she had been bar tending. The Staples job has a management title equivalent to her current job and she told us that she would be earning equal pay. The bartender job is at a local place, several blocks away, that has an atmosphere of sadness and desperation about it. I don't particularly like bars so perhaps I exaggerate the negative atmosphere. It is a place where men go to be with men, not a gay bar, a good old boy's bar. She said that in one night she earned $500 tips. This I do not believe. I have noticed her caught in small and large lies in the past and her credibility is gone with me. I don't doubt that she earned an impressive amount of money but nobody that visits that bar is wealthy. I hope that she is getting the admiration of men that perhaps she hoped she would be getting as a stripper, or making what she perceives as easy money. I wonder how long she will be comfortable working two jobs. She may discover that she is not getting enough sleep or free time to herself. We have our monthly dinner with her next week, I'm certain that I will learn more.

It takes very little mischief to get oneself labeled a liar. Jennifer has not been living with us for perhaps two to three years, yet we sometimes still get her mail. Some of it is serious official mail, from the police, state, or the hospital. About a year ago I questioned her why we were getting the mail and she said she did not know, that she had made a mail change. So I told my husband that I was going to go down to the post office to find out if they were at error. My husband called his daughter to warn her that I was going to do this and then his daughter confessed that no, she had not made the mail change because it would necessitate getting the address changed on her license as well, some Vermont rule. Either this would cost money or it would be a nuisance. She had her reasons. When she confessed the lie she promised to make right with the post office. But it was a pretty big lie she was caught in.

More recently we were talking about the popular series of young adult books about vampires, the Twilight series. I mentioned that I had bought and read the first but was discouraged from reading more because half the series was only available in hardcover. London said that she had read the series. I said, "Did you buy them?" and she said no, she read them from the library. Then several weeks ago she blithely bragged that she bought the Twilight books and read them all in a very short time. Her roommate told her she was a "hottie with brains". I remembered my earlier conversation, and guessed that for some reason she felt compelled to not admit ignorance. Why lie over reading a book? It is such a small thing. But I do know that her father, as a young man, was a horrific liar. It is a personality trait that has undergone a massive transformation with time. Mike said that he lied to make himself look better, that it had its root in low self esteem and the vulnerability that the immature experience. Mike said that as a young girl she witnessed him lying freely, and I suppose, she picked up this bad habit. I think that if I catch her in a lie again I will say something, because it is so damaging to have others doubt the truth of what you say. Liars simply are not given as much respect nor taken as seriously.

My depression continues. Today I saw my therapist and she made me promise to make an appointment with my medication nurse next week to up my anti-depressant. I think that she is alarmed at the continuing trend of me talking about suicide. I do think about killing myself. I don't know how strong the impulse is. I haven't been painting. I just don't care. I feel worthless. Nobody will buy my paintings anyway. I can't do anything just for the love of doing it. That is, I believe, a character flaw. I want to see results from the effort I expend. Better if I were simple and foolish, making things for their own sake and beauty, content in the process of creation.

I read a lot and I really admire the intelligence and craft of the authors I read. One problem with painting is that it requires a lot of "dumb" time, where you aren't making intellectual or even creative decisions about the painting. Things can be repetitive, things can be simplistic. I suppose this is the fault of my style. It is so slow and laborious to obtain the results I seek. I do glazing, many thin layers of sometimes transparent paint. I know artists can do different, I see my classmates in art school painting very differently. Nobody, in art school, paints like me. I am, compared to them, the queen of careful.

Reading books has got me thinking about writing books. I did a writing exercise yesterday. It was the beginning of an essay about religion. Not any current religion. A fictitious religion which would play a central role in a fantasy novel. I was doing prep work for a new novel that I am thinking about writing. This would be my forth attempt at writing a book. Don't have a whole lot of ideas what the book would be about, I'm brainstorming. Got a name for my main character today. Couldn't find a last name, only the first name. I told my therapist that I'm very cautious about writing this book. I definitely want to finish all paintings that are being worked on and be an active participant in my art class until the class is finished. I've got two paintings under construction and a loose plan for a third that will probably be more firmly developed in class. Class lasts into late May.

But my caution isn't over leaving projects undone. My caution involves foreseeing that this novel may be a failure. I have a good amount of faith that this time the book will get finished, this is something that is under my control. Before I start writing I will have developed a beginning, middle and end and outlined chapters, I expect my preparation work to be extensive. Preparation work was what was lacking in the three previous novels I have attempted, in all of them I was in such a frenzy to start writing. But now I call myself experienced and wiser. I can hold myself back until my vision is as close to complete as I can make it. I don't think I will fail in this try in completing the book but I may fail in ever getting it published. An unpublished book is a nightmare that I have to confront before even starting the project. Because I know myself. If I am too disappointed I will want to kill myself.

I can't get my hopes up too high. When I dream I have to hold myself in restraint. Because for some reason I am so fragile that rejection makes me think about death. Last week went to visit family in Connecticut. Showed a painting to my sister and mother. They both expressed interest in buying the painting. I named a fair price. They debated over whether they could afford it. They both decided that maybe a year from now, if the economy improved, they would be in a position to spend money more freely. And so both said that right now they could not afford the painting. I got, for several minutes an intense feeling of failure and rejection. I wanted to die. It was bitterness and black despair. I had to retreat to an empty room and lie down. I didn't dare let my family know how I felt. To all appearances it must seem that buying my art or not buying my art was no big thing.

So if I write a book, which may take several years work, I have to go into it with no expectations about the outcome. I have to consider defeat before I start, and accept defeat as a possible consequence. The promise I make is that if the book is a failure I will survive. I won't allow all my hopes and dreams and opinions of myself to be attached to a work of literature. Yes, I desperately want to sell something I make and earn money. Yes I believe that I can be a good writer. Yes I believe that with the right approach I can actually finish a book that I start. I will allow the project to consume me creatively and put my all into it. But I have to view the entire project as a foolish thing thing. It will be a pair of earrings. It will be a silk scarf. It will be a tube of lipstick. Writing a book will not be essential to my existence. I will try to have fun with it. I will labor because I like to work. But I must preserve myself and barricade my soul with defenses against this book ever being too important to me. Because I know myself. I get addicted to having a purpose for living. I am desperate to have my existence vindicated. I put all my eggs in one basket. I like to work until I am sick with my illness, my head a thick swamp of dysfunction, because I know once I have reached this point it is proof that I gave everything I had to give. I can't give this book everything I have to give. I have to live beside it and independent from it.

Never has a book started with such inauspicious doubts.

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