I believed that the summer of 2007 would change everything.
The summer of 2007 is when I left my teaching job, and moved to Brooklyn with my boyfriend.
I moved with no job lined up, $45 in the bank, and had an onslaught of emotional and physical stuff to deal with that I just… couldn’t.
I had migraines regularly, terrible (and I mean terrible) periods, was exhausted, and couldn’t eat anything that didn’t upset my stomach. I had already gone down the route of multiple liver-cleanses at this point, and tried eating various diets, yet I was still a mess. I was also an emotional wreck but didn’t understand why.
After all, I left teaching at that school, why was I still feeling awful?
I was moving to a new place with my beloved!
After months of fruitless teaching interviews, I realized that I needed to go outside the teaching box… I started looking for work as an executive and personal assistant. One memorble interview was with an art collector who wanted me to give him “personal massages” (um, yeah, no thanks) and the other I ended up working at for several years.
The job description of my future “Executive and Personal Assistant” to the owner of a small company, with “light” cooking duties. I would be working from a home on the Upper East Side. I was eager to have ANY work, and so didn’t even think to negotiate my salary and benefits, so I accepted the offer on the spot.
I began work a couple of weeks later, with $14 in my bank account…
I lived in an old furniture factory building in Brooklyn, with two north-facing windows. And, a year-round black fly problem (GROSS). I never wanted to live in NYC. I never pictured myself living in NYC. Yet, here I was. Brooklyn, open-floor studio space, making the best of what I had to work with…
Living in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan and commuting via the subway was a harrowing experience for the first several years of being here. It was exhausting, it was unpredictable. And, I hated being squished next to strangers.
The sirens, the cars, the noises, the smells, the lights, all of it was just too much for me.
Even with the stressful teaching job in RI, I lived the quiet life of a home-body: I’d go to work, come home, have a snack then nap, cook, make art, listen to music, go for a walk with a friend sometimes, read, watch movies, and do it all over again the next day.
To say I was in culture shock was an understatement.
My nervous system was constantly on high-alert.
More shocking to my system was that nothing ever seemed good enough at my new job. The endlessly high standards amplified my insecurities. I was constantly told that I misunderstood instructions, or had done something wrong even after checking the instructions multiple times.
A consequence of this was that I started seriously doubting myself and my abilities.
That I couldn’t trust myself.
That I wasn’t smart enough or capable enough to get another job.
I thought, “This is a bad situation. I needed to get out!”
Then… the Great Recession hit, and I was plain-old grateful to have a job.
So I stayed.
And staying in a position like that only entrenches those feelings and thoughts ever deeper. (I don’t recommend it if you can avoid it!)
But, I was making art.
Which was such a blessing!!!
Glorious art of my internal landscape, influenced by my external world. It was beautiful work. Work that I still look at and admire today.
After I completed a particularly important body of work, some of it got into a couple of small group shows.
Something happened. I still don’t know what it was exactly.
I just… stopped making art.
My heart wasn’t in it.
I felt that I had nothing left to say.
I was exhausted and, worst of all: I lost my muse.
Back in art school, I could have won the award for most prolific creator in my department. I would make massive amounts of work in short periods of time.
To lose that inner drive was devastating.
This was NOT the change I signed up for.