Well, I certainly didn't expect this...
Although, of course, I should have done. Because, doesn't it always happen like this?
I have the artwork to make. I have a deadline. I spend as much time as I can, between beginning the work, and the deadline, wasting as much time as I can, between beginning the work, and the deadline. While also living as though this work is the most important thing I have to do, which gives me the excuse to ignore everything else, except the few other things I feel like doing. Laundry, for instance.
And then, the deadline finally arrives. The drama of installation ratchets up the tension. I was once completing the assembly of a work, in a group show at a very influential New York City glass gallery, and felt totally at home while I arranged the glass just so, just fifteen minutes before the doors were to open for the reception guests. I asked the gallery's co-owner, who seemed just a little worried at how long I was taking, if he'd ever known anyone to be even later than I was. He laughed, and as I began packing up my tool kit, he told me about an artist who actually showed up, to install his work in an invitational exhibit, after the opening had already begun. And then took the awaited artwork downstairs to the workroom to unpack it, and then dropped it on the floor. Which is never a good thing to do with a piece of glass work.
Of course, in meeting my most recent deadline, just yesterday, there was nothing like this level of drama. and I was even able to drive myself back home in time to take my afternoon antidepressants. I intended to more or less lie about for the rest of the evening -- John had his usual Thursday night rehearsal, and wouldn't be home until 11 pm at the earliest -- and then I had a full list of activities planned for today. I was especially eager to get to the gym again -- finally -- after more than a week away from my routine.
But the much-ballyhooed storm of the century actually did brush past us in the night, leaving an appreciable, if not exactly overwhelming coating of snow everywhere. Picturesque, but also demanding of much clearing of automobiles, and preliminary shoveling of sidewalks, and, finally, clearing the driveway, so John could more easily drive in, after the funeral he'd played this morning. This proved to be so much more work than I'd anticipated, that I decided that a trip to the gym would be a matter of overkill.
The shoveling wasn't really the main issue, though. I'd been feeling kind of blue since early in the morning -- aimless and restless and grumpy. The snow only gave me a plausible excuse for not venturing to Summit to raise my heart rate. I did manage to get some rudimentary shopping done, but just wanted to come home again, so I could be gloomy by myself.
And it was while I was glooming (and gathering the laundry -- something I seem capable of doing, no matter what else is happening), and looking with despair, again, at all the enormous heaps of messiness I seem fated to create, whenever I sit anywhere for more than ten minutes in a row, that I understood, both that I was now without the focus of making art work -- which focus I allow to free me of nearly every other concern or obligation -- and that I was now... facing those enormous heaps of messiness.
Now, it's odd -- when I'm working in the glass hot shop, I'm fastidious. In the theater (I've been doing some acting recently, I may have mentioned), I like to keep my dressing room neat, and sometimes, if I can, enjoy sweeping the stage before a performance, as a kind of meditative act, and a service to the rest of the cast and crew.
It's when I'm at home, or in my own studio, that I seem incapable of maintaining order. That I seem, as I've said before, somehow determined to undermine and sabotage whatever efforts I think I want to make -- whether it's drawing or painting or making something three-dimensional, I have this unconscious knack for losing the tools I'll most need, while piling any amount of random stuff right in front of the place where I'll be working. I was thinking, today, that it would be interesting, in a kind of horrific way, for someone to document how I work -- I think most people would develop hives, confronted with the sea of confusion on top of which I try to keep track of a wrench, or a power drill, or a box of machine screws and matching washers and nuts. I don't think I ever want to know how much time I've wasted, either looking for a box knife (while cursing at the top of my lungs), or driving to the nearest tool spot, to buy the forty-seventh box cutter in my enormous, but fugitive collection.
This habit, of insisting on living in a kind of genteel dishevelledness, is why I feel like a disease, instead of a human being. And why my recent realization that I may have reached the practical limit of the creative work I can make, has thrown me into such despair. Because now there's no evasion of this compulsion to create disorder, and I have nothing to do but to look at it, and to try to make at least some of it go away. Somehow.
© 2013 Walter Zimmerman