July 9, 2019
Look. I don’t know. I spent one year making more money at my business than before, but it wasn’t enough. Then I spent another year making not quite as much as the first year, and it definitely wasn’t enough. I got a part time job and it still wasn’t enough.
My boss helpfully increased my hours. The cruise ship market began to pick up. And now it’s too much and I can’t get out of either and I’m so very tired. I love it (mostly) but oh, so tired. I spent at least a year in recovery from That Job, mostly by sleeping. And now I need to work 6 days a week again and there are no more naps and there is nowhere near enough time to do all the things I want to do. Again. But when I had the time, all I could do is sleep. When I tried to work for myself alone, my motivation wasn’t enough.
If I knew for sure that the market would bring me cash enough, I’d reduce my hours at the shop. If I knew the shop could provide enough hours without exhausting me, I’d quit the market. But nothing is for sure and so instead I’m doubled up on part-time and where, oh where do I find the time to make, to explore, to experiment? What experiments are even going to work? Sales are down, sales are down, sales are down.
And who can blame anyone? With the world on fire and drowning simultaneously, why does jewellery matter? Why, on this doomed earth, do we even care about money itself? Capitalism destroyed us, capitalism is still here. How can I reconcile the two? I need to eat, and in order to eat I need to buy groceries because I sure don’t live on a farm. And so I need money. And in the absence of enough money for groceries, I used plastic credit money and now they want it all back and I haven’t got enough for that, either.
So here I am, googling bankruptcy and settling on a consumer proposal. My debt will be gone but my credit will be trash, but who cares? It’s going to trash anyway, along with the planet.
March 12, 2020
Opened up my journalling app to try and process some information and found the draft above, proving I’ve been struggling with some of this for a while now. The consumer proposal is in place. I have a different part-time job, working at home at my desk. It hurt until I bought a new chair and now I am pretty happy with the employment thing. I love going to the shop, and I love the flexibility of having a mid day nap when I’m at home. I have money in the bank again, and that feels good.
But before that… the cruise ship market broke my heart. One hundred and seventy-five thousand people came through that port this summer, and while I averaged “enough” sales to have called it a tentative success, it came in a way that was emotionally very painful. I might make several hundred dollars one day; then zero for the next three. Have you ever tried to engage someone into liking your art, and failed? Or had people like it but still not buy it? And then had that same interaction a few hundred more times a day? It’s demoralizing. It’s different than selling, I don’t know, any other retail thing. It’s like people were rejecting me.
While I sat there, I couldn’t innovate or create anything beyond what I could pack up at the end of the day, so while I did make a lot of things to stave off boredom, it felt like regressing as it was merely beads and wire. It was stifling. And since the market closed, I haven’t made a single thing. When I tore down the setup that last day – hell, for weeks before then – I didn’t want to see any of my work ever again. I felt like throwing it in a heap and setting it on fire. Instead, I closed the door on the second studio and plugged up the draft, letting whatever was in there just rot in the cold of an unheated space over an exceptionally frigid winter. I haven’t unpacked properly from the market. I haven’t cleaned the chaos. I leave the part of the studio I walk through to get to my desk for work, in the dark, so I don’t have to look at it, and I’ve gotten good at ignoring the visual disorder, the reminder of the thing I can’t think about. I haven’t been able to talk about making jewellery, much less actually make any.
I sealed it all up in my house and I pushed the key away in my head, hoping that time would quietly let me heal. One day I saw what might be a new technique, which used to be the best part of creativity, instead caused anxiety and panic. So I snoozed all my jewellery-making groups on social media – not yet ready to quit, not at all prepared to see it go on without me. Aside from some halfhearted attempts at watercolour paintings, I haven’t made a single piece of art in … five months? More? And I don’t foresee a time when I will want to.
Why would I make anything? I have boxes of jewellery I’ve already made that nobody wants.
What’s the fucking point?
This week, spring is looking like it might arrive. The sun is out, some of the snow is disappearing. The squirrels are warring with the woodpeckers on our back deck. I got my yearly twinge of wanting to fling open all the windows and doors, which coincided with my yearly wish to push a bulldozer through this house I’ve overcrowded with stuff and leave everything in a heap outside. I feel bad for making my husband live like this. I debate searching for hoarding help, although I don’t think it’s truly that bad. I’ve googled hazmat cleanup.
When I mentioned that I was starting to notice the mess and hating it, my helpful husband suggested we pack up everything currently in the studio and put it in storage, leaving the incredibly, unbearably cluttered space empty. The anxiety that idea caused was worse than imagining a new method for colouring clay, and I had to rudely make him stop talking in a panic.
I have a friend we have started to pay to come in and routinely clean our bathrooms and floors so we aren’t in dirt, at least. She offered to help me clean these spaces. I’m not ready.
And so here I am. Not ready to make anything, not ready to give it up. I don’t know what would help. I don’t know if I want anything to help. Nobody wants what I make. I can’t get past the feeling that making pretty things to only be pretty is useless. But I don’t know how to make anything functional. And I am feeling trauma at the idea of trying to find out.
Meantime I’m struggling to do basic things – outside of work, I can’t make myself do laundry or go for a walk, or even get up and do jumping jacks so my muscles don’t seize. It’s like I only respond to external motivation. And it’s not like… weight loss, which is a future reward for today’s efforts, which I know is an impossible thing for my brain to give a shit about. No, I know, without a doubt, that if I continue to lie on the couch, I will be in pain immediately. Not future Gayle, but me, today, will have aching, stabbing hips and legs. Today Gayle will not be able to sleep if she doesn’t get enough movement in. Today Gayle’s hands will start to be useless and painful if she doesn’t stop playing video games. But even spending hours thinking about the consequences that are actively happening – feeling the ache build, knowing the result is inevitable – doesn’t make me get up and do anything about it.
Is it the fibromyalgia? Should I finally get tested for ADHD? Is it SAD? Am I simply a sack of shit? A bit of research reveals that this lack of internal motivation might be any of those but could also be a thyroid issue or, quite simply, depression. I’m not sad – I love my husband and my cats and my friends and my jobs and I love being comfortable on my couch and I love my podcasts and my books and my netflix and my video games – but I can’t. DO. ANYTHING.
The state of the house is depressing. Husband is killing himself to make it nice, but I have this problem with continually buying stuff and also with leaving it everywhere. He says it’s both of us being messy but I know it’s me. I also know I can’t do anything about it. Like I know how to fix it but I can’t figure out how to do it. It makes no sense until you remember that executive dysfunction is a thing (which I can’t always remember).
I get up, I work, I lie on the couch, I go to sleep. I’m in an endless loop and I can’t get out. Even when I identify a thing I want to do or need to do or feel it’s important to do, I don’t do it.
And here’s what’s worse. If I do manage get myself in gear to do a thing, it often ends up in what can only be described as an idiotic injury. I finally folded laundry last week (it had been sitting there, clean, for I don’t know how long) and then couldn’t use my elbow for two days because somehow I hurt it. Where’s the justice in that?
What’s the fucking point.
What’s the fucking point.