Five years ago before Brandon and I were married, he asked what I wanted for my birthday. I told him I wanted a good ol’ classic mix tape (CD). So, he delivered on the request with not just one, but two albums full of music for me. He did such a good job that I haven’t relinquished my request each time my birthday rolls around. “What do you want for your birthday this year?” he’ll ask. “Will you make me a CD?” I reply. Then he patiently retreats into the bedroom with the laptop and headphones and spends a few hours searching and scanning songs for just the perfect mix of music for his lyrics-obsessed and overly analytical wife to listen to and disect for the next year.
This year marked my fifth birthday CD. Each year there is usually some cute theme (last year was “in the Company of Birthday Folk” and contained some fantastic folk music), and this year B totally surprised me by the playlist title–Studio Hero. He explained to me that it was an art making mix for the studio.
It’s no secret that I’m still kind of struggling to find the balance between motherhood and art making. With baby #2 on the way, I’ve noticed that my most notable pregnancy symptom is this feeling that I need to make a whole new body of work before my due date. I figure art time will be non-existent for the next year as I sacrifice my body to breastfeeding, nurturing, and focusing on a newborn baby along with entertaining, teaching, and loving my toddler. I have already accepted that starting now, I will not sleep a solid 8 hours for the next year. Yes, that “crap, it’s 2AM and I have to pee” stage has already arrived in this pregnancy, and I know that in a few month a new baby + breastfeeding means no sleeping longer than a few hours at a time for at least the first six months of baby’s life. That totals for about a year of sleeping no longer than a few hours at a time. This time around, I am just embracing it. But I’m feeling frantic about the reduction of creative time, even though I’m still not spending as much time making art as I wish I was. I worry that art is like a radioactive isotope that has some ridiculous half life when separated from my soul–if I isolate it from my heart for a few years, what if there is nothing to come back to? Or what if by the time I ‘have time’ to make art again, I’m into happy little cottages and have no desire to engage in a contemporary dialogue at all?
Well, you remember that Studio Hero CD Brandon made me? With a good supportive husband like that, you’d figure I’d be listening to that mix every night while I bust out the bags of clay under my bed and let the juice start flowing, right? I wish. It’s taken me the past year and a half just to figure out how to do dishes every day. That has been my major accomplishment. I can do dishes daily. My kitchen is semi clean by 9 PM. Go Katie. Oh, and I learned how to laundry once a week when the bins are full in my house. So that’s good, too, I guess.
But not much art making has happened.
I was listening to the “Studio Hero” mix tonight (while making dinner and bathing my baby girl), and I was struck by the lyrics of “Happiness Loves Company” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I know Brandon very purposefully chose this song to be on the CD, and not because the RHCP are my favorite band (poor Erika, how many times did I make you listen to the By the Way album while in the OHHS clay studio?), I just never picked up on the subliminal message he wanted me to get until tonight. Check out these lyrics:
Make time for love and your happiness.
The mothers of invention are the best.
We all learn and struggle with some loneliness.
A tender mess for everyone I guess.
I’m reminded how to find myself
Nickel and dime I think,
It’s time to play some musical chairs.
Dirty laundry, what a wandering,
Ask her if she cares.
I’ll be yours and more,
Better than ever like never before!
Most of the time, my spiritual moments are from reading the Bible or the Book of Mormon (or just pondering things on my own while I’m being creative or just sitting still), but hey, if they decide to come during a Red Hot Chili Peppers Song, I’ll take that, too.
I recently taught a class about ceramics/art to the teenage girls in our congreation at church. After my lesson, a number of people made comments out how they had “no idea” I was into art or pottery or anything. I was totally shocked. Something that was so much a part of my life for almost the past 10 years is totally absent in the way people in New Jersey view me–after knowing me for two years. It’s bizarre.
A day or two after I gave that presentation, I was playing PlayDoh with little D. My not-quite-two-year-old was entertained by PlayDoh for an hour. This shocked me since this kid barely has the attention span of 5 minutes. And then I realized that D doesn’t know me as a an artist. That was even stranger than the church presentation since I spend every minute of every day with her, and she has never seen my throw pots (even when she was little, I’d leave her at home sleeping when I’d go make stuff). I don’t want my kids to grow up saying, “yeah, my mom was kind of an artist, but she stopped making stuff when she had kids and never really got serious about it”.
I feel like I have so much to think about. But at the same time, I think that ‘thinking’ is the problem. I never seem to have time to make art, but I have plenty of time to complain that I’m not making art, write about how I’m not making art, and search Craiglsist for possible solutions to the kiln dilemma. I’ve even tried suggesting that we just drop a few hundred thousand Gs on a house so I can have a basement with space for a studio and a kiln (thankfully Brandon talked me down from that impulse buy). I don’t get nesting pregnancy crazy, I just get studio crazy.
On the very first CD Brandon ever made me, he included the Elvis song “A Little Less Conversation (A Little More Action)”. (We were dating at the time and I think he partially put it on there just to make me blush). I think what I need now is to listen to the message from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to “Make time for love and your happiness/The mothers of invention are the best” and then follow Elvis’ advice and just get busy.
Wow, I just reread that last sentence and realized that I am speaking from the pulpit in church in a few weeks. I don’t think the congregation knows what they just got themselves into.
Anyway, hopefully I’ll have some new images of work in progress to post soon. Wish me luck.