Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, Virginia, You DO Need A Room Of Your Own

I have a stomach ache from unbridled overeating today after 3 months of careful diet and exercise*, so this is going to be short and bitter, but here goes:

When I was a snotty undergrad, I took a Women In Lit course that mostly left me cold but did introduce me to a long essay by Virginia Woolf called A Room Of One's Own. In brief, Virginia's position was that compared to men, women are behind the 8-ball in terms of great artistic output because they have all the caring, cooking, cleaning, wife-ing and mothering to do first. In order for a woman to be a successful artist, she needs an income and a space of her own in which to work undisturbed.

Girlfriend was right.

My job is an uneven mix of completely fascinating and mind-numbingly dull. Unfortunately, with the economy tanking, the dull part is taking the lead. So every day, while I'm sitting in my cubicle, trying to stay focused on achieving at least some of my goals, part of my brain is skipping through the meadow called "If I Was At Home, What Would I Be Doing Right Now?", merrily picking the flowers called "Printmaking" and "Sewing" and joyously harvesting the fruit of the "Stuff I'd Like To Make And Sell At The One-of-a-Kind-Show" tree. A million projects come to mind, all eminently do-able and potentially so very satisfying.

These thoughts are the bright light that get me through, that help me tick away the moments that make up a dull day (thank you Pink Floyd), and the ambition to get started on one if not all (in my head, I'm a fabulous multi-tasker) lasts through the end of day goodbyes, the walk to the parking lot, the drive home, right up until the moment I turn the key in the door and walk in the house.

And then, poof, it's gone. I get home and our beloved, if slightly insane, dog (border collie mix, hence the neuroses) needs to be walked, like, NOW. Then the cats, who will poop in the dining room if not fed exactly on time, need to be catered to. Then dinner needs to be made, which is a pleasure as cooking is my primary creative outlet these days, but takes some thought as it needs to fit my weight-loss program and be vegetarian-friendly for the husband (pasta, our default dinner for years, is the reason I need to lose that 100 lbs). Then there's some form of housework to do, whether it's laundry or vacuuming (a major undertaking in this house of multiple pets and oriental rugs) or ironing, or it's a night that I need to get to the gym.

So, by the time I can even turn my thoughts back to all that stuff I wanted to do, it's time to go to bed and another day goes by without actually creating or making anything other than our meals. And it's not that I mind any of this stuff, I love our little furry children, I love our little home (even if I am a poor house-keeper) and God knows I love to cook and iron. But it doesn't leave a whole lot of time for creative pursuits.

Of course, Woolf was talking about great artists like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, and I have no need to be a great artist. I just need to do something, make something, create SOMETHING, possiby because it's in my blood (let me introduce you to my mother, the woman who can make ANYTHING), possibly because I need to create something to leave a mark on the world, possibly because I just need something that will exercise my brain and hands in a way that my day-job simply can't.

What I need to do, in the absence of Woolf's suggested private income and space, is get organized and just shut up and do it. But first, let me go empty the dryer.


*I've lost 30 lbs since January 19 and it's been remarkably easy. The next 70 lbs is going to be tough, for a number of reasons, but mainly because the screw-it switch has somehow been flipped in my brain and I've been combatting boredom with food for the last two days. In my defense, I didn't know that the "medium" soup at the Vietnamese place was going to be the size of a washtub, but I really didn't need to follow that up with fistfuls of fruit gummis all afternoon. Sigh.

** Whoa, I'm watching t.v. as I write this and I just saw LL Cool J shill for Old Spice. Oh my. Ladies do NOT love Cool James when he smells like the Captain. Not good.


marymac said...

Kara- your blog is super coolio, and I just want to say that I am BEYOND HUMBLED to have Pajamas & Coffee appear below jennsylvania- I am going to her book signing in a few weeks and am a huge worshiper. So THANKS and YAY and if you're on Facebook friend me at Mary Baschoff McCarthy. Cheers!!

Drea said...

Kara Congratulations on your weight loss!! That's awesome Keep at it.
Where would one locate a screw it switch? It seems someone has flipped mine too.

Sam Moulton said...

Kara -- I enjoyed this blog immensely and can relate to it wholeheartedly, much to my dismay.... @SamMoulton