I just got off the phone with my aunt and we were discussing this blog. She was telling me how happy and proud she was that I was doing this and that she was really enjoying it. I was explaining to her that the entire process makes me a bit nervous. That’s right folks, even Lynn MacDonald gets nervous occasionally although I would never let you know that. (Hmmm…while proofing this I realize that I JUST DID LET YOU KNOW)
You see, there have been plenty of opportunities in the past for me to “make something of myself” but I’ve always chosen not to. Even though my kids think I’m incapable of being successful at anything, the fact is that’s always been a choice of mine. I had a job when I lived in New York and I managed to work successfully as a consultant as well so I am capable of doing work.
When I was at International Paper Company, I would go into these long drawn out meetings that would last for hours. I would doodle all over the notes and whatever agenda was handed to me. Eventually, somebody said to me “Why don’t you bring in nicer paper and doodle on that?” So, I did. The doodles were amazing and I actually liked them so much that I framed them and have them to this day. For years, there was an entire display down the staircase at my home. At this point, it was suggested that I start taking classes down at Parsons School of Design down in the Village so I did that as well. I took drawing (which I did not like), watercolor (which I did like but wasn’t particularly good at), 3D modeling (which I loved), computer graphics (which was fun) but I found my true calling in sculpture. The first class I took was a plaster class where you built the frame out of chicken wire and then put plaster, which you mixed up yourself, over it. You used a rasp, sandpaper, all sorts of fun and useful tools. I actually had one of the sculptures cast in bronze. However, it was during this sculpture class that I finally found my Mecca: marble sculpting. I saw the class and fell in love. I HAD TO DO THAT!!
I loved everything about sculpting in marble. It was hands on, dirty, physical and yet the simple feeling of discovering a form out of a rock was incredible. The first sculpture I made was in a Pink Portuguese marble and to this day, it is my finest work. When I sent it in to a “polisher” I was offered $3000 for the sculpture. Of course, being me, I turned the person down because it was my first sculpture and I wanted to keep it. When I think back on how my life could have changed dramatically if I had just sold the damn thing, I am astounded at how young and stupid I was.
But reflecting on it all, I realize that it is “typical” of me. Although part of me yearns for “success,” the larger part of me is an intensely private person who likes to keep to herself. Although I talk about “fame” all the time, the reality of it would drive me crazy. I like to do what I like to do with no one bothering me. I dress how I dress and I don’t give a shit what the social conventions say. I act like me no matter what the cost. None of these things jive with other people’s expectations of who and what I am.
The same thing happened when I moved down here and began painting. I have paintings all over the house which I, and many other people love. I get asked, “Why aren’t you pursuing that?” The short answer is that I’m bipolar and I paint and do creative stuff when I want, not when I HAVE to. The more complicated answer is that although I enjoy being good at stuff, I am simply uncomfortable with the expectations that people place on success. I don’t usually need other people’s feedback to help with my self-esteem. As a matter of fact, the more positive feedback I get, the more I panic. At that point, I usually quit. So where does that leave me with this blog?
It started, once again, as me threatening to write a book. Then this blog was suggested and since a blog is more of a “bite sized chunk” I thought, “why the hell not?” Now it’s going pretty well, I have an editor who is very encouraging and even my shrink thinks its all good. But now people are enjoying it, which means they expect it to continue, which means ... What exactly?
Am I now at the mercy of expectations? Something I spend my life avoiding? I don’t really have an answer as I’m in uncharted territory. Yesterday I said to my shrink, “don’t you think it’s ironic that now, at age 51, I would finally do something about success but I wouldn’t, and couldn’t when I was younger?” He said, “you couldn’t have done this when you were younger. You didn’t have the life experience, you didn’t have the perspective.”
That’s all true. Although I haven’t yet addressed any of it, I have been through some remarkably tough things in my life. It’s these experiences that have formed the backbone of my personality. I probably couldn’t have done this when I was younger. So, what now? I know I’ve been rambling on with absolutely no point but that’s what I do. I was just musing on where we go from here.
Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to keep writing and although I’ve said it before, I need to keep repeating it to myself I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone. I may yet have a complete and total nervous breakdown or I could have a huge psychological breakthrough. I don’t yet know. But you, my readers, need to keep in mind that I am bipolar which means at some point, I will lose my funny. Not forever, but at random times. So this blog might have some serious days, but the fun times are likely to outweigh those. So just hang in there and take this roller coaster ride with me.
Consider this your fair warning!