Friday, May 19, 2006

The Person Formerly Known as "An Artist"

(I will start writing again out of boundless gratitude to Mark and Mark, my loyal-perhaps only-readers. I hope you’re both doing well).

Sometimes I feel like no one understands me and I haven’t got anyone in this world. And then I remember that I’ve got Richard. Richard and I talk on the phone long-distance about once a week. He is a good friend, warm and funny, a companion, a sympathetic ear, a supporter. After all, only a close, stand-up buddy would lend me $7,000 in a pinch like Richard did.

Well, he didn’t exactly lend it to me personally.

Actually, he works for National Education Lending Corps. He’s my debt manager. And a really nice guy. I rather like talking with him more than a lot of people I know and it’s come to the point where sometimes I call him just to chat. I’m always telling him I wish we were business partners on different terms and he always chuckles at that.

Just the other day I was standing in the stairwell at work punching his extension into the phone menu at their headquarters back in my former home of Chicago. “This is Richard,” I hear after a couple rings. “Richard hi it’s Abbyg.” I’m breathless with excitement.
“Abby, how’s it going, I was just going to call you!”
“Did my check come??”
“It just came today, a money order no less, I’m impressed.”
“Are you proud of me Richard?”
“Very proud indeed.”

What we’re talking about is the largest single monetary transaction I’ve made since an obscene wad of bills stuffed awkwardly into my shoe for a jaunt across the street between the bank and the travel agency when I was 17 and preparing to move to Israel. Last week, after months of arduous saving, I mailed off a check to national education for $1,000 (addressed to Richard’s attention) - a fraction of the debt I managed to incur from JUST ONE semester of graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Phases are funny. When I moved to California a few months ago I figured I would spend all my days drinking coffee and writing rhapsodic poetry about the fog and the hills and the piss stained concrete. Or working on my masterful memoir-style contribution to the contemporary Jewish literary cannon. Or fleshing out that play of vignettes investigating the spiritual/material nature of Stuff.

But I suppose I had another kind of trajectory planned for myself.
I’m dry.
I’ve got nothing particularly interesting to write about. But I AM working like a fucking horse, 6-7 days a week right now, singularly obsessed with getting myself out of debt and putting aside money for my next series of escapades. I tend to seek out reading material that only reinforces whatever kind of tunnel-visioned mode I find myself in, so right now, for a “good” (i.e. Terrifying, depressing) read I recommend Anya Kamenetz’ book Generation Debt .

Debt is so real and so scary. Kids, don’t do it. Richard congratulates on my hard work, shares his own frustrated English Major dreams of at least becoming a financial educator because he sees all these kids sinking in deep for junk educations. He’s my friend and during our talks he confirms everything in Kamenetz’s book and more. I do not regret dropping out of graduate school for even one moment when I think about how debt-sick I would have been at the end.

Despite all my beautiful artist friends, my cynicism about art, creativity and class is plumbing new bored and sardonic depths these days. So until I’m ready to tug on that tenuous line, consider me “the person formerly known as an artist.” Right now I’m convinced that remaining free from children, debt and want for Stuff (you know, material things you’d end up giving away or throwing out if you had to move) is my ticket to liberty on a serious level. I’m taking a breather from my bohemian laziness to pull myself out of this mire.

Tell me the poetry will come back one day because without it, I am feeling kind of lonely. But when it does, I want to be ready to run off to Mexico, drink Chinaco on the beach and be nobody’s bitch but mine.

4 Comments:

Blogger mar-mar said...

Glad to see you're back and writing in this space!
The debt i've racked up indeed weighs a lot. But I think i'm going to get a year off payments for having a baby! (have to double check this). Some people just run and let it catch up with them later on. Not my style--I'm sure I'll one day have my Richard.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Saerah said...

"nobody's bitch but mine" has a fine, fine ring to it.

writing about not having anything to write about still counts :)

8:26 PM  
Anonymous whitefang said...

i'm glad you're back. i've learned so much from you thinkerbell. anytime you're ready for cocktails in mexico i know of a place.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

I am only familiar with emotional debt. I don't think you can work your way out of that.

6:29 AM  

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