Field Notes In/On Transition.
May Day and Other Stigmata
My life has been a-tumble recently, the video store game ain’t what it used to be. I’m having to work slightly shorter hours, which translates as a bit of a cut in pay: (maybe not so ironically the cut occurred on May Day!) Not that this was totally unexpected, either, I was the only staff who had yet to have hours cut. Still, it doesn’t help my life in any way, except as a reminder that this thing I have been doing to pay rent and keep myself in eyeliner the last 9 of 12 years is on like Siberian Tiger Level Extinction Watch.
I need to really start thinking hard and doing some concrete things to do yet another transition eventually. I really want to keep doing what I do now as long as It’s feasible, but then what? I had a tough couple of days with the whole pay cut thing, but after a great dinner, and drinks with my friend Leanne, I was feeling better. I woke Friday morning with a bit of TGIF! to be certain, but overall feeling good, like maybe I can figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life...
I put on my sensible shoes and my cutest “it’s just about spring” outfit, walked a little too quickly towards work, as I had to stop and get a sandwich, having forgot to pickup bread after work the night before. Lah di dah lah di dah.... Bam; I tripped over a rough patch of air, or something else equally elusive to see. Luckily (I guess) I was able to get my hands up, and didn’t faceplant, and it was on a quiet block of the journey, less immediate embarrassment, at least. I got up and sped to work, palms all stigmata filled with gravel. My leggings saved my knees from anything but a bit of scrapy scrape. We had some bandages at the store, so I cleaned up and bandaged up and worked almost my whole shift, the wrist really started to throb, so I ambled home early, planning to ice it.
I got home and got some FB advice. I tried to do a wrist bandage, I put it too tight and my Reynaud’s Syndrome kicked in, I lost circulation in my hands and started getting dizzy from shock. Lucky for me, I knew what to do and took off the wrapping, heated up my hands with friction, movement and a radiator. Pain gone, wrist fine now a day later.
Sheesh. I hate these little road blocks. But today, Saturday, I feel good, and am wearing maybe the girliest outfit I may ever have worn in public, mostly because we are having the warmest day this year in Vancouver today. I took a couple of long walks, to pick up some makeup and take some photos on my ramble to the London Drugs. I like to “Serpentine” the neighbourhood and find new flowers and other odd things to take photos of with my camera. I found an app that takes really great pics and lately have been posting every week to my facebook. I’m thinking of starting a tumblr, and/or uploading them to pinterest, something, maybe. I’m definitely going to get a projector for my reading in July, and have them playing on a wall/screen behind me when performing.
I’m getting a lot out of the neighbourhood photo taking, and editing. I feel really confident that I can take a unique photo more times out of ten than not. I’m toying with self publishing a photo book with some poems strewn throughout, maybe over certain of the pictures.
But that’s not going to pay my rent in x number of years when there are no video store manager jobs. I can have a conversation about almost anything with almost anyone, I can write, I can take an awesome photo. Somewhere in there is my future.
It has been a few days since I wrote all the above, the weather has been ridiculously good since then, and my scrapes and bruises are healing nicely. I went to the movies (Iron Man 3, which was light fun, a good “popcorn” movie) on Sunday, then went to Sephora afterwards. Jesus Christ! That place is crazy. I bought a couple of things I actually needed, but can’t really afford. Though with the pay cut I mentioned earlier, everything feels like something I can’t afford. The results of the stuff I bought has produced some well received “selfies” on facebook. Which really is all anyone wants, right?
Seriously though, I am in a bit of a funk despite having a good week aside from or despite the couple of crappy things that happened. I need to start meditating or finding some other ways of creating some positivity in my life, as I can’t seem to really believe in myself, or that I have any kind of work future beyond working in the last video store in the free world. Inevitably Hollywood and its greed will destroy us.
The movie industry doesn’t care whether they are making art or not. They don’t even care that a little shop buys a lot of their movies. They are more concerned with control of that product. Buy a DVD and work your way through all the overpackaging. Disney hides it’s films in “the Vault.” The people who come up with the scripts are the lowest on the totem pole. That’s why you see so many fairy tale movies/TV these days. It’s not “hip” it’s cheap to use public domain characters and pay a bunch of people to committee write a story using them.
But this rant belongs on a different blog. What I’m getting to is that my peripheral participation in the film industry, and my years of being a film scholar/critic (okay “scholar is overselling my Nietzsche quote filled papers written at the last minute papers from 2 decades ago) and more recently a hawker of good films to rent and or buy... seem to have come to nothing.
I’m not really that sure I know why I went this route career wise. I’ve done a number of interesting jobs, but almost all of them were supposedly “stop-gap” jobs, something to do while my vague plans for myself worked themselves out. I did not however have the fortitude or gumption to be the writer, artist, bon vivant that in my heart I really am. You need ambition as well as some scant gifts in your area of interest. All my ambition was tied up most of my life in wanting to transition.
I’ve always been timid sending out my writing to be rejected (and occasionally accepted) over and over again. As someone who never thought she deserved to be who she really was, it was an easy rationalization to make. If my core being is a failure, then it stands to reason that no one wants to read my whiny poetry about my failure to be the person “I was supposed to be.” Now, in my middle age I have come to see that nobody is “supposed” to be anything other than what they are at that point in their lives. My shy forays into self publishing even (I have dreams but little confidence) have been muted by my lack of hustle. Did I send these books out to be reviewed? Nope. Did I make much effort to get them in lots of stores? Well, my first chapbook, yes I did. I was even a “bestseller” (meaning I sold maybe 15 copies in a year) in a store now long since closed over in Kitsilano.
How can I sell myself when I hate myself? Or at the very least have no confidence in my so-called skill set. I can’t. I mostly don’t hate myself anymore, but most of my “hustle” is used daily, dealing with people who despite the pink lipstick, pantyhose and whatnot still think it’s more polite to call me “Sir” or that someone presenting as such would want to be called Sir.
I am constantly in awe of the many many people I know who have that hustle to be able to sell their art, to be able to work on it regularly, and improve and grow as an artist. Most of these folk are as poor as me, or poorer. But they are trying. I’m not. This is how I measure that kind of success. Making an actual living in the arts is akin to winning the lotto in terms of your chances of doing so.... I’m not a fan of the whole “There is no try” crowd, either. Yes, there is “try,” otherwise everyone would be successful. Failure is an integral part of success. Every successful artist, or business person will tell you they’ve had failures to go with their success. Trying is part of doing, as is failing.
The only thing in my entire life I feel successful at is my transition. The world could end tomorrow (and it’d be nicer than we deserve if it did) and I’d be content that I at least got started and haven’t given up on this, really the only dream, ambition of my many many dreams that really mattered to me. I’m presenting myself in the world the way I’ve always wanted to. Everyday I feel stronger in this resolve, but all that self loathing and fear is still there. I’m succeeding in transition on my own terms. I don’t really participate in the “community” nor do I feel a big need to do so. Maybe this is selfish, but it’s where I’m at. I have a million things that make me feel powerless and one thing that makes me feel if not powerful, at least in control of.
Maybe that’s the crux of wherever the hell I’m going with this post. Almost everything in the world makes me feel like I can’t do what I want to, so why try. Lame crybaby shit, I know, but I really do feel like the people who run the world long ago gave up any real ideology, except that of money, and that someone like me who has no money, also has no chance to make something out of life. I’m sure when the video store thing finally creeps to it’s death in a few/several (hopefully) years I will find some other job that pays even less, but that I will be glad to have. I will continue to take pretty pictures, and write if not my blog, maybe something else, but no one except a few friends will give a shit. I won’t have the moxie to find a way to make a living doing these few things that I really want to do/enjoying doing: reading, writing, talking.
Maybe my attitude will change, but most likely not. I see the future of the world as an authoritarian nightmare waiting to happen. Eventually the gun nuts, religious zealots, fascists will win. In many ways they already have. I hope they put me against the wall first. Get it over with.
Wow. I didn’t set out to be such a negative Nancy with this, but there you go. I’m really happy to have started transitioning and am even fine with not knowing my end point with it, the longer I do it, the more I realize I’m not doing anything, or trying, I’m being myself. But all the rest of life is bigger than just my bit of self actualization. Also that there is no “end point.” I am who I am in this moment. Despite this success, that I am (I think) justifiably proud of, I have nothing but fear and a sense that my future will continue to be tenuous in terms of being able to afford living, let alone transitioning.