Posted by Christine On July 10, 2016
Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. – Sophia Loren
The flaws, the mistakes I make- that’s the real me. -Nas
When things go wrong, eat chocolate. – Me
Sometimes, (most of the time) the image I have in my head isn’t what plays out in reality. This goes for my career, my house, parenting skills, my body, OK- everything. I am fortunate to have been blessed with an optimistic attitude but it gets me in trouble. I make strange leaps of courage only to have them dashed- often. Cases-in-point: dining room color choice and career choice. The paint choice is obviously low-risk. Selling a book upon which rests your career: high risk. Not, perhaps as high a risk as extreme skiing, and yet it feels like it.
So you’re only a paragraph in, and you’re on to me: I’m not just writing about a design choice gone astray, something easily fixed, but the fear of having made a risky career choice. Something much harder to correct.
The dining room the day after I moved in last October. Before I took the grungy drapes down I had to remove the chandelier: Early American Apple.
So- the career thing. Before I embarked on my relatively new career as a writer and writing teacher I had a pretty great career as a soft-furnishings seamstress. I worked hard at my craft, got to work with the finest fabrics and materials, installed work in some gorgeous homes, and had loyal clients. But something was missing. The simplest way to put it is that I said all I could with fabric and I wanted to say something else.
I jokingly said to a friend that I wanted my new old house to be like a “sexy farmhouse.” I suppose this meant A sparkly chandelier and a farm table.
I’d like to tell you that I have it all figured out. That I knew when I closed my sewing business and embarked on an MFA (hello student debt), wrote a memoir that I still must query to an agent (and may never be published), and throwing myself into impassioned readings of my work, that I knew I’d be a success. Of course I can’t say that, because it hasn’t happened. I really want to say that I put all my money on a long shot and it paid off. I want to show my children how they should go after their dreams but in my peripheral vision is a mini me saying “What the F have you done? Are you INSANE?
Home remodeling is like life: expensive, often irritating, and unbelievably messy.
There is the high possibility (when does a possibility tip toward probability?) that I am nuts. That I have drunk the NewAgeOptimismOprah Kool-Aid and now believe I can do anything.
When the ceiling has water damage because one of my sons left the bathroom faucet running or the chandelier came in a thousand no-extra pieces (and I broke three), and when I picked a gray for the walls and it dried purple, and I went on painting anyway… yeah, I went on painting anyway, as if more of a bad choice would somehow turn it around- it isn’t a big leap for me to start looking for parallels.
sometimes it’s just better to quit when you’re so far ahead you’re behind
I know what you’re thinking: it’s just paint. Except it isn’t just paint. It’s time and while I’m not elderly, I’m not a spring chicken either. I’m kind of set in my ways. There’s only one thing to do, really, for a woman like me. I have to keep drinking the Kool-Aid. I’ve developed a taste for it. And when I make a mistake, obvious or not, I need to repeat the optimistic mantra that it will all work out.
I fell in love with writing like i fell in love with this wallpaper.
So it’s all or nothing. I re-painted the damn dining room in the color I really wanted. I even changed the hinges on the door and re-hung it by myself. I ordered replacement parts for the chandelier. And the book-in-progress, the thing that I have hinged my new career on? I’m going to send it out into the world and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll do what I’ve always done: try again.
Posted by Christine On April 17, 2016
The house shelters daydreaming,
the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.
-Gaston Bachelard, from The Poetics of Space
I find that I am home more than I am away. Even though I travel to both teach and perform my work, and although I engage in no small number of social events, for me, like so many of you, everything begins and ends at home.
Besides creating a nurturing environment to live in, for myself as well as my family, I try to create a nurturing environment to write in.
As a writer, daydreaming is not an indulgence but a necessity. Just as necessary as cooking dinner, dusting the bookshelves, organizing the pantry, and paying the electric bill.
I freely admit to sometimes feeling that daydreaming is indulgent. How unproductive it can seem to be reading something poignant and put the book down for what I believed to be a few seconds only to discover I have been staring at a wall for ten minutes. But I know this: I am a better writer when I daydream, when I slip out of measurable time and into something else. I don’t know what that someplace is called, only that I need it. Like dinner, like dust-free books, like a stocked pantry, and especially like electricity.
Despite my determination it can be all too easy to abandon the practice of daydreaming and make lists in my head. Cut back the dead wood on the lilacs and forsythia, buy olive oil, breakdown that cardboard to fit in the recycling bin. It’s no surprise I am distracted now, in spring- the season of action.
So with my propensity for action but with the necessity of a good daydreaming practice in mind, I set out to quiet down the sitting room in my house. I quieted it by making roman shades.
This is not the place to look for a tutorial on roman shades and I am not going to tell you how to make the best sitting room for daydreaming. Hardly. Your house is distinctly yours- and I believe that your house has a personality and will tell you what is necessary. You just have to listen.
Instead, this is the place where I show my daydream place. Even if it just looks like a designer’s visual work, it’s also a writer’s interior work to somehow explain the transference of energy in a lived-in space- one that had full light in the daytime and windows of black holes at night to one that encourages the filtering of light for interior reflection- of all kinds.