Monday, October 26, 2009

Undone

I had to take some time off to get my life back on the rails.
I have worked nearly 18 hours a day, every day, for the past six months, ensuring a slow but steady output from both my studios. I haven't had any time for myself. A week ago, I realised that I was living in the sort of squalor you read about in those stories where the neighbours notify the police of a 'strange smell' coming from the house next door and they discover a long-dead bag lady buried under piles of decaying rubbish in the living room.
It wasn't just 'artistic' mess – discarded paper, tubes of glue, empty paint pots, hardened brushes, and broken segments of pencil or charcoal – although there was plenty of that. There were layers of grime, dried salt spray, food particles, and drink stains on every surface atop which were strewn unwashed clothes, stale underwear and even a handful of lube-sticky tissues. In between were skewed piles of reference books, unpaid bills and other papers, and tipped-over cardboard file boxes spilling their contents under chairs, the daybed, coffee table and desk.
The physical disarray underscored just how far I had let tiredness deteriorate into an increasingly disordered mental state. Exhaustion had overwhelmed my working and living spaces just as it had my health. I decided to stop working for a week. It was only then I recognised the bad shape I was in. For a few days, it was all I could do to stop crying and catch up on lost sleep. When I woke this morning, I was calm for the first time in a month.
The long, slow process of cleaning my house is penance – I can't afford to let myself slip into this state again. It also gives me time to figure out how I'm going to do things differently.

12 comments:

Remittance Girl said...

As much as I understand that, once you realise you're living in that kind of mess, you need to do something about it, I still enjoyed the juxtaposition of your individual domestic crimes. It's a vivid landscape.

Zom said...

Routine can be a great friend to creative people.

Dave said...

Now it sounds like a nice vacation is in order! Away from home, away from work, just away.

mondotrasho said...

My test is usually, 'can I have people over for dinner?,' or are the early signs of my mental deterioration too obvious. On the otherhand maybe you just need someone to come in and clean up once a week or so.
~m

Frank said...

In art, as in therapy, the first person you need to take care of is yourself. Your talent will not diminish because you take a break, but your ability to execute might, if you don't. Return fresher and stronger!

andrea pratt said...

You seem to be really good about finding help for your work life. How about hiring some domestic help, too?

A Good Husband said...

It's tough to maintain a balance. Know that we're with you and wishing you well!

Alena fresquet said...

Hazel,
delegate house chores, hire a maid at least to go by twice a month. At your level of success time is money this is a necessary expense.. Nonetheless, Good for you!! You are always inspiring, thank you,
Alena

Ashley Handlin said...

i get like that too - but out of a combination of being too busy or too lazy/tired. your hard work lifestyle reminded me of my own, i am constantly hard at work creating new designs and artwork. on my journal over at deviantart i wrote about my work and a friend of mine commented to relax, followed with a link to this video: http://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off.html#at

the video is of stefan sagemeister (the famous graphic designer based in NY) explaining why he closes his studio for a full year, every seven years around this time. perhaps that would interest you... perhaps not. he of course says that taking sabbaticals is not for everyone but its works well for him and gives him a renewed sense of creativity.

Catherine said...

Yup. This will pass.

Susan Buret said...

Bah! There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Every artist needs a good PA. We should be able to get a grant to cover the expense.

Wallflower said...

That whole post just made me feel so.much.better. It's the kind of mess that makes you want to move. And yet you don't quite understand why you deserve that kind of mess, when, really, you were just doing your job!