This place is a fucking mess. Not just this site ~for now~ but the actual storefront where I’m typing this. Messy, yet less of a mess than usual, and a huge improvement to how I’ve been in previous years. I knew I hoarded but I didn’t know I was a hoarder until Briana came to visit a few months ago, in March. Before I tattooed the elephant on her, she made me put my cluttering furniture on the street. Things that only an old friend who really knows you can do. It was so hard for me, we went back and forth over it, but I felt way better after clearing the area. Essentials aside, the empty space of cleanliness is far more valuable than most things you could fill it with. It’s the fresh air that feng shui is made of. It’s the feel of sage smoke. It provides a crisp jolt of possibility.
Last time we spoke, I told her since she left it’s gotten messy and clean and messy and clean but now I think of her when I throw away something meaningful. It’s easier for me to let go of material things now. The fear of loss that binds me to the unnecessary has lessened. The way my mind works, I want to hold on to things that may be useful one day. I’m going to use this for something one day. I want to work on this project, build this thing and I’m going to need this, one day. Yet that “one day” stays far away because the clutter ruins today and the other days it takes to get to that one day, some day. Plus, whenever I clean, I’ll stop to make something, the discarding-organizing process turns creative and I won’t finish putting things away because most of the stuff I’m organizing is art supplies. I create and destroy, not put away. It’s easier for me to stop and make something than clean thoroughly.
Last week I started shopping around for housekeepers, looking to hire someone to come in once every two weeks. I’ve been doing temp work part time for a month now so I’m proud of myself for adjusting to a different lifestyle for some structure and stability, eager to outsource the cleaning that I’m convinced I’m just bad at. My boy owns a cleaning company and I asked if I could hire one of his workers. He said it sounds like I need a personal assistant because how will they know what to throw away or what to keep? How can anyone else beside myself know what I intend to keep things for?
Right after we had that conversation, a client recommends me this book (Hi Trihn!). It caught my eye years ago but I couldn’t get it then although I felt like I needed it. I found the audiobook on youtube immediately.
I’ve been messy most of my life, I’ve accepted that’s how I am but this book is changing my mindset. “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” relies on a method in which you discard, then organize. If you organize everything without eliminating the inessential, it quickly becomes disorganized again. This book is written to provide trusted techniques to lessen cleaning time, while keeping areas permanently tidy. The author says that putting your home in order is something that you should only do once, sparingly, thoroughly and from then on, everything is placed back as soon as you’re done using it. Also, keeping your home in order is something only you can do because it involves the very personal choice of determining what to keep in your life.
I have a lot of stuff and I work on a lot of stuff and I start making other stuff before I finish that stuff and it just ends up being a lot of different stuff everywhere. On the easel I have an unfinished painting for the tailor across the street: a canvas print of poppies with the word “Peace” painted across it in different languages and fonts. “pacem” in a lowercase lime green serif. “Paix” in a fancy lavender script. “pax” in a lowercase red cursive type outlined in white border. I could honestly finish it in a day, it’s just taking me forever because it’s so easy and it’s a barter with no deadline. Cases of lip balm that need labels on them, a sheet of rubber I been meaning to laser cut into stamps for candle packaging, plastic jars of sage blends, to-do lists. It’s not as all-over-the-place as it looks. I’m on the brink of something and I can feel it; things can wait no longer, I’m finishing tasks that I’ve put off for months and the tidying is becoming natural, unconscious, permanent.
I feel like there is always cleaning to do and getting everything spotless feels impossible because there are so many different sections of the studio that all need varying attention. I don’t know how, but I’m improving. Moving around over the years, reducing my possessions down to a suitcase helped a lot. My apartment on Court Street used to look like those I Spy books, with so much random stuff on the floor and shelves in no particular order. Not dirty, just disorganized. Something in me was mentally disconnected from my surroundings then, I didn’t see or feel the mess, I was a part of it, a random thing, a consequence and reflection of my chaotic mind state. Back then, I couldn’t manage my emotions well either.
Keeping this blog up will help me keep my place presentable and productive, because I will be consistently posting photos of the space, as well as what I’m working on here. Plus, I need a new, more customizable, engaging way to share thoughts and multimedia online again. To lessen my internal mess which manifests as physical clutter.
Anyone who has studied Hermeticism understands the concept of “as above, so below”. That the micro reflects the macro, the earth reflects the heavens, the physical is a manifestation of the nonmaterial. Something internally in me is ready to eliminate and elevate.
DISCIPLINE = FREEDOM.
MORE DISCIPLINE = MORE FREEDOM.
NO DISCIPLINE = NO FREEDOM.
IF YOU WANT WHAT YOU’VE NEVER HAD,
YOU MUST DO WHAT YOU’VE NEVER DONE.
NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES.
Although heartbreak and tragedy can make for compelling art, I don’t want to create from chaos or confusion or dysfunction or desperation or lack of options or obligation or even impulse anymore. I literally cannot afford to. Life happens, much is uncertain, I cannot depend on drama, I get my fair share of it anyway. Routine turns goals into accomplishments. Habit is more reliable than passion so you have to build good habits around your passion.
tidying up is life-changing magic. the life changing magic of tidying up is trickling down my life into all other areas. it’s needed. i’m ready. change is constant. evolution is essential. i’m not who i once was, or what i was even before that and so forth. i don’t operate the same as my old me, and i needed some years to disintegrate and reintegrate myself, my vision, the world i live in and how i see myself in it. it’s been a lot of work and it only gets harder and i only get stronger. i’m itching to snap creatively again. if i don’t, it’ll manifest as anxiety and self-loathing and suicidal ideation but i know i don’t want to off myself. it’s a sense of dissatisfaction towards myself i feel. if i can pinpoint and harness it, i can wield the dissatisfaction as a tool to carve the life i want, not beat myself up.
the last piece i’ve painted that i impressed myself with was “The Reconciliation of Atlantis” done in Wake Up Star Studio in Wynwood, Miami, at the end of 2014.
After that, I wrote and illustrated Drones Don’t Dream, I self-published it the following year after moving to Miami. It’s currently going through final stages in the proofing process before it’s available for purchase. Before I was printing, selling, shipping them on my own and wasn’t making any profit off costs although I did sell a lot of copies on my own. It was costing me $10 to print a book, the same company who prints some of my custom merch. It was designed and processed as a custom photo book. I got an email today from another publishing company I’m working with, they’re charging me an extra $285 because the hardcover size I planned for is not available, and also saying the paperback and ebook will not be available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. I’m dealing with frustration on multiple levels, treading water in a sea of projects at varying levels of completion. These are projects I surrendered to, made space to weave out of the air and bleed into, uncertain of outcome, determined to complete and producing results that surpassed my expectation. The high you get from doing something you thought you couldn’t do is incomparable and that’s the high I am hungry to chase again. Not just the triumph over self-doubt, but the trance-like state of flow that occurs when you submit fully to the craft.
A tender drop in an ocean of mercy, the will of the water carries me.