We Deserve to Live Well

As I write this, a wriggling 8 month old is trying to see how far my bottom lip stretches. The 3yo has a cape on. My son is shooting nerf arrows onto the roof. I see no reason to interfere.

In this time of global crisis, the school-aged children are home for the foreseeable future.  They’ve turned to me, I who am disheveled, pajamaed and anxious, to run their school day. Ha! This is what streaming content is for. Don’t want to do your math today? Fine.

Productivity. I define myself in terms of my creative output. Being an artist and a writer is like being a sponge: I am either wrung out or brimming. I can’t expect my children to work diligently if I myself cannot even muster the will to plan a project.

I’ve realized that I need to think differently. What is productivity, right now? Closures of schools and workplaces, cancellations of events: it all feels dark and very scary. But, what is happening is a collective social sacrifice. Solidarity. We are coming together in our isolation from one another, oddly, in order to give our medical workers and institutions a fighting chance. We are saving the lives of our fellow citizens.

That is worth doing.

Why does that feel strange? I don’t think we like working, but we’re afraid not to. Capitalism is not amenable to a collective slowdown. I make money for no one when I decide to bake bread and paint or read a story to my children. Previously I’ve had to decide whether or not I deserved those activities. Did I get enough done in any given day to justify slowing down at the end of it?

What I hope we all realize is this: we’ve always deserved to rest, to eat well, and to enrich ourselves with the development of domestic skills. We are owed this, to be treated with dignity and to live well. Currently the necessities of life are acquired through wage slavery: I cannot eat, live, or receive medical care unless I work. If I cannot work, I suffer. Is it foolish to wonder if this crisis will force us to re-imagine the way we live?

I will continue to let my children play whenever they want. The guilt I feel has been planted there by the greed of a collapsing system, and I will instead try to live in a way that upends it.

In Anticipation of Reluctant Spring

So I hear it’s March. I’m still writing “2018” on checks and school permission slips and paperwork at doctor’s offices, even thought I know intellectually that it has been 2019 for several  months.

I am tired.

March solidifies everyone in amber. Time stops. Normal life seems inadequate. “Never make life decisions in March,” an old friend once told me. Wait it out. I understand that now. This time of year makes me impatient. I feel burdened by my lack of progress, my goals far outpacing my actual abilities.

I know it’s not just me. My Latin students forget their declensions. They look at ut clauses and offer feeble interpretations, and mix up all the ablative uses because really, there are too many of them. They are smart, and they do good work, my students. They are merely tired. I announced no homework over the weekend, and the collective sighs of relief confirmed I’d made the right call.

I feel kinship with them. I finished revisions on a novel draft of 100k words  last month. I feel as if the life has been sucked out of my bones. I now stare at that blinking cursor in Word, and will myself to write anything before closing the laptop an hour later. My art studies have hit a similar wall. I’m working in charcoal, and there’s no rushing it. I spent weeks on a color study that should have, by my standards for myself, taken an evening.

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There’s nothing to do but wait. Replenish. Shovel the snow even when the sun is out, even when it feels like winter has overstayed its welcome. Clean the house again. Make some tea. Read a book for fun, for pure indulgence. We Catholics started Lent this past Wednesday, and so I’ve imposed upon myself a routine of prayer and reflection that I find regenerative.

I am learning to give myself a break. To wait for spring with hope instead of frustrated dissatisfaction.

You should too.

Art and Writing and Latin, Oh My!

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“After the Bacchanal” 9 x 12 Oil on linen

I’m prepping for an eventful summer full of painting, writing, and Latin translation!

I finished a still life (pictured above) in oils this week, hit 30k on the Fantasy novel (planning for 100k), and secured a Latin teaching position starting this fall that I’ll be prepping for.

Fiction writing is a slow business, but I have some good news to report on that front. I recently signed a contract with The Daily Science Fiction, and have a piece forthcoming this year. Every other story I’ve sent out is being held for consideration, so here I sit. Nothing to do but research for the novel and add to the word count! Wait, write another story, you say? HA!

I’m still reviewing short fiction for Tangent Online, and this May I reviewed Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ May 10th and May 24th stories. That magazine is one of my favorites. I envy people who can weave pretty prose.

I’m still painting, and the gallery is updated with recent works. I’m thinking about selling prints soon, and it’s turning out to be a rather complicated pursuit. This July I will be painting my first full size portrait under the tutelage of an artist who studied in Florence. I am intimidated but eager for the challenge. Excelsior!

In personal news, my children are growing like weeds. I gave them no such permission, the curs. My youngest turned 2 this month, and now I fight a trembling lip whenever I see her baby pictures. I was in a car crash yesterday, and while unhurt, I’m reminded keenly of my mortality.

It all goes by so quickly. Onward in virtue.