I blinked … and lost a month and a half. I sat down to this journal tonight, thinking it hadn’t been so long … after all, it was 75 degrees last week. But no – it’s mid November. I didn’t write - in any way - for all of October, save a few slightly ironic postcards from quarantine: “Wish I wasn’t here.”
so, I made myself this postcard
I have been in an extremely bad mental state, the kind that doesn’t lend itself well to essay writing (the same way diary entries do not lend themselves well to songs). Even with writing that seems raw, emotions have been sifted free of the distracting particles, channeled and contextualized into something clean and clever, that shows you understand something about what you went through. The song is the museum exhibit of the war, but not the war itself. In October, I couldn’t compose a letter from the emotional front.
The written word also lacked the tactile and physically engaging qualities I needed. The last two days, with my depression especially aggressive, I turned to minor mendings. When I was younger, my coping mechanisms were full of self destruction, trading blood for a sense of control. At 40, as I felt that urge rise in me, I turned on my heels and went instead to the garage. There, I tinkered in the modest workshop I set up for myself last week, stripping wire and repairing the plug on a favorite 20s-era gooseneck lamp (I bought in a Rhode Island antique shop while we were on tour long ago). I also glued up a wooden toy, broken recently by one of the kids, and fashioned a new foot to re-level my step ladder. I imagined myself from the outside: Me in my denim overalls, alternating between holding pliers, wood glue and my second whiskey barrel stout … hiding from my family out in the shop. “Oh … THIS is why men do this,” I thought.
Tonight, I made dinner for everyone (incidentally, cooking doesn’t fulfill my tactile/comfort-project needs for some reason. I find it stressful, too many people and their opinions are involved, and there’s too much concern about wrecking or wasting the raw materials) before stealing away again to do whatever little thing might please me. I finally got around to hand-sewing my favorite pair of jeans back together where they were starting to come undone at their zippered pockets weeks ago. Then I made a necklace out of the little brass ball ends of my used guitar strings, wrapping wire and sealing jump rings like I often used to. My crafting and found-object stash hadn’t been touched in years, with the exception of a desperate-mental-health-micro-organizing spree at the beginning of quarantine. I liked the smell of the brass on my fingertips, but I don’t know if I like what I made. Creation didn’t give me the kind of joy I was looking for. There was even guilt I’d created something imperfect and needless.
Creation is a selfish, verging on arrogant, act. What follows is almost always “LOOK what I MADE,” be it a doodle, a ditty … or a baby. Very little creation is FOR its own sake; We either want to be acknowledged for it, think it better than what already exists, or need the catharsis of throwing it up and out of ourselves. And sometimes, despite what comfort that might give me … I cannot imagine cluttering up the world with a slightly different combination of the same chords and vowel sounds and feelings … or, worse yet, making something too insipid to see the light of day, a thing I couldn’t somehow sell or use to advertise myself. I am an “artist” … but my occupation is content creator. And THAT demand, in the absence of live shows, is higher than ever. In this quarantine culture, NOTHING can be needless. NOTHING can go to waste.
Necklaces are brass, silver, jasper. Used guitar ball ends and pieces of the original head of my djembe (that I once bled all over at SXSW)
Minor mendings are not about creation, but salvation. Glue and thread to seal the seams stronger than they started. The most symbolically straight forward kind of therapy:
It was broken, and I fixed it.
It was useless, and now its useful.
I was falling apart, and I saved it.
... I mean, it ... it was falling apart, and I saved it.