||[Jul. 4th, 2008|09:17 pm]
|||||galaxie 500: jerome||]|
Each transition is different. I am not so naïve that this is news to me. However the element of transition which leaves the strongest impression is that confusing alchemy of pain, painful surprises, i.e. the grit and grime of the unknown, and, if you’re lucky, happy surprises. Most of life is one transition after another, even if it’s just a transition from the bathtub to the bedroom, from non-fat to 1 %, from sleep to consciousness, but normally we are referring to something more irregular. The ‘transitions’ of my life in the last few years have all been somewhat monumental, though I never thought of them that way at the time. I have been told I don’t do things by halves, although I am unsure about the accuracy of this statement, I do know that at times I have not had a choice to do things half-assedly. Sometimes the transition, or the decision which led to the transition, chose me. Dean Wareham notes this in his excellent and articulate memoir Black Postcards, when discussing quitting Galaxie 500: ‘The bottom line is I quit because I couldn’t stop thinking about quitting. I thought about it when I went to sleep at night and then when I woke up in the morning. That’s when you know you have to make a change in your life-when the matter consumes you. The decision makes itself.’
As far as leaving London was concerned, the thought of future prospects at home became too great to ignore, and so, I left. After about a year at home, the thought of perhaps finally enjoying some peace and quiet, uninterrupted creative time in my own space paid for by myself, became too great to ignore, so I had to leave ye olde Madera, and with a great big sniff & a tear, my good friends Silvia & Garrett, and also my parents.
For the last year I have felt locked in some kind of quagmire. The weight I felt in London was not about to leave anytime soon. Creative frustrations primarily concerning productivity and quality brought me much pain. Although I got the wheels turning much faster than they could have ever done while continuing the London grind, my frustrations surrounding productivity brought me much pain. It made me reconsider my choice, despite my lack of ability to do anything about it. While it never reached a state of ‘regret’ I still had questions. I still wondered. Thinking about all I’d left behind in London, friends, co-workers, the life and times I had there, any potential opportunities I might have had if I’d stayed (such as UK residency-but only after SEVERAL more years), brought me pain, and often still does. It’s not unlike the feeling you get when you realize your college days are done and finally over. Part of you is exceedingly happy you don’t have to think about papers, exams, or overweight geriatric priest-professors in their speedos at the university pool ever again. But part of you is sad that you’ll never live in such close quarters with your closest friends ever again, you will never do Chinese fire drills with them again, or get lost in Rome together. You will run away, change locations, meet people, get married, have children, or float off into the unknown on some kind of erratic quest…..
The painful surprises always produced a cocktail of emotion, sometimes shaken, less often stirred. More often than not, they surfaced as part and parcel of the continuing melancholy I had hoped to leave behind in London. What exactly caused/causes this is a mystery of the worst kind, the kind where you are the only possible detective who could solve it, and also the kind where you are never assured that you are destined to solve it. A scent, smell, or sound can bring back a myriad of memories, some of which only occurred a few months ago, while others should be ancient history.
Memories are the ultimate tease. They seem the most tangible of yesterdays, while remaining tantalizingly ungraspable to even the most talented dreamer. It isn’t always the memories though. I hadn’t expected to be brought to tears watching news exposes of America’s ‘health care’ non/anti-system. I hadn’t expected to return to a country where the richest 1% of the population are richer than 90% of our population. I hadn’t fully considered the stress and frustration of living in a country without reliable nationwide public transportation, or the detriment this would do to my bank account whether paying for gas or availing myself of the rare and unreliable services of our monopoly-run rail system. I had forgotten how spoiled I had been to have received 4 weeks of paid vacation and free national health care. I was not unconcerned about these things when my decision ‘consumed’ me last year, but at the time they seemed minimal compared to being allowed to work anywhere in the country, thus having more travel flexibility, and being closer to my family. Concerns are always more minimal when we the services or conditions in question are still within reach.
The grit and grime of the unknown is primarily a problem of the present, meditating on the lack of substantial evidence for any kind of ‘reliable’ future. Without any desire to acquire training for or commit to a ‘reliable’ profession or career, this makes any kind of future planning difficult. The upside of this is that I have no concrete commitments, which are not attractive to me at this point in time. The downside is that I have no concrete idea of how to potentially pay for or plan for any changes in any routine into which I may finally submit myself, in order to hopefully pay for a future change or transition of commitments. I somehow have to pay for my preferably uncommitted and ‘unknown’ future as well as support myself in the present time, this essentially requires a submission to the grit and grime of working full-time which I have previously found detrimental to my creative output. Since I found mother detrimental to my creative output, I have no choice but to once again support myself, and I am glad, very glad, of that.
The happy surprises are exactly what they say on the tin, happy surprises, and I’ve been lucky to have a few of them in the last couple of weeks. I had not anticipated ever wanting to live with ‘strangers’ or ‘new people,’ again, nor wanting to work for a living ever, ever again-such was the extent of my ‘professional’ burnout. I had not anticipated experiencing a renaissance of personal creativity and newfound thoughtful freedom upon returning home and spending a year in my hometown. Thank you Silvia. I had not predicted on so much local inspiration. I had forgotten how nice it is to be so close to family. I had not counted on working on a bookstore in Madera. After so many painfully boring, frustrating, unbelievably cinematic job interviews in San Francisco, I was unbelievably grateful to finally receive employment at a favorite and respected bookstore in the city. I certainly had not anticipated a positive response to a months-old advertisement on craigslist, and I definitely had not figured on clicking with co-workers anywhere as I had in London. The rent I have paid for the sublet has proved worth its weight in gold, and I have not yet lived here for a full week. I underestimated the power of having a room of one’s own. I also had not counted on getting along with my flatmates, both male, both of whom are interesting if not fascinating, intelligent, fun, and amiable. I am happy to be reminded of the fact that not all ‘strangers’ are awful, rent-dodging liars and cheats, and sometimes may even do nice things for you, like invite you out to a show and introduce you to new people.
This is my traditionally long-winded way of saying that things are going ok, and I hope they will continue to do that, and perhaps be more than ok. If I can keep a tight tight wrap on my budget, perhaps I can afford to pay for those things I love so much after all. Perhaps I will finally produce something I deem worthy of a publisher’s eyes, and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll make a few friends, whether at work, on the street, at a show, or with the jazz musicians on the corner.