By straight I mean sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, and working 9 to 5. (Cue Dolly Parton.)
At first I wasn’t certain how I felt about the opportunity. I wasn’t clear on my role. My body hurt from sitting. My creativity suffered.
And then I hit my stride.
I appreciated having a place to come to – a single place, as opposed to the many I traverse to and from as a massage therapist and Weight Watchers leader. I appreciated earning a consistent paycheck. I loved working in a team toward a common good – and that I got to spend five days a week with one of my best girlfriends while doing it.
I even enjoyed the sometimes hour-long commute down Lakeshore Drive, listening to NPR.
And before I knew it, it was over.
I was recently telling my friend Gene about this while catching him up on my days.
I mentioned that had I missed several weeks of Artist Dates. And that when I went on one last Saturday – number 78 – I still hadn’t blogged about it a week later.
“Sounds like you are living life rather than writing about it,” he said.
Ideally, I would do both.
However, his comment reminded me of a conversation I had a few months earlier with my friend Nithin. He had gone to a concert the night before and noticed the number of people watching the performance through camera phones – recording, photographing and uploading to Facebook. Documenting rather than experiencing. At least to his eyes.
I wondered if I had been doing the same. Living with an eye on writing.
The Saturday before last, two days after my contract job ended, I said no to a sweat lodge in Michigan and to a birthday party across town, and called it self-care.
Instead, I rode my bike, ate ice cream from Jenni’s on Southport (Bangkok Peanut with coconut and dark chocolate) and napped naked under a ceiling fan, wrapped in crisp gray sheets.
And when I woke, I headed across town for a long-overdue Artist Date, the first in weeks – a reading at Quimby’s books, celebrating and promoting the publication on my friend Mike’s book Heavy Metal Movies.
He’d been working on it for years. And I could not be more delighted for him.
Mike took the stage in a blue, fuzzy hat with horns – think Fred Flintstone and the Royal Order of Water Buffalos – and then shared it with his wife and a host of friends who gave voice to their own stories on what Mike referred to as “heavy metal, hard movies, and the torrid, torpid twain where both doth meet from a pantheon of ferociously funny, horrifically hilarious headbanging crackpots, visionaries, and mirth.”
I’m not a heavy-metal girl. And at least one of the readings more than verged on the grotesque. And yet, none of that mattered.
Each had moved beyond ego, to share their words and their work. Work that came from their own passions, their own living. Their presence onstage served as a reminder of possibilities — that there is, in fact, room for each of our voices at the table, and on stage — and also an invitation to do my own work, from my own living. In sweat lodges and in bookstores. On my bike and in my bed. Fully awake and sometimes napping.
Writing AND Living. Both, And.