“Sie werden rechtzeitig informiert” must be one of the most infuriating sentences in the language, and somehow, so very Swiss. What if I’m not informed in good time? What if the letter isn’t delivered? What counts as “in good time”: at what point do I need to start chasing? What if the payment hasn’t been allocated properly, or the school report didn’t arrive? Why can’t I check these things online, if you won’t send confirmation? I already have a login, you have a database, surely it’s not that hard to connect them? These are the questions keeping me awake at night, two weeks before my daughter’s Gymi exam. She’s been working her adorable butt off since September, Gymi is the thing she wants most in the entire world (I realise this isn’t entirely normal for an 11yo but just picture her as a slightly cheekier Rory Gilmore), and I do not trust The System. Not at all. It is not failproof. And if it fails, I will be responsible, and THAT WILL NOT STAND.
Anyway. I wrote that earlier last week. Then I thought of checking in with other moms, and heard that the letters were only due by early this week, and indeed it did arrive on Friday, so all is well, but I still think it’s a shit system.
Meanwhile I’ve been reading a book that’s supposed to be “inspiring” and finding it mostly irritating. There’s an astonishing lack of diversity, and an enormous amount of unacknowledged privilege. Certainly some of the makers are from hard-scratch backgrounds and living modest lives (and certainly there’s no reason they have to be starving artists), but mostly, well… a lot of their stories are a bit eyebrow raising. Like, if you tell a story about how your dad built his own house “because he had no money, so he had to”, but you went on to study at Yale, and then in London, and then you floated around for a few years dithering about Finding Your Art, look dude, I have questions. If your dream business came about after you quit a high-powered career where you built a lot of connections in the industry, and you run it from between your two homes in extremely expensive locations, that’s lovely, but it doesn’t really make me feel like I can take the same leap of faith. If you as the writer reference a subject visiting her grandmother’s home in Bel Air, “at the time a cozy LA neighbourhood” – and this was in the Nineties – then, babe, I think you’ve lost all perspective. It’s all the more disappointing because I did find Falick’s earlier book on a similar theme genuinely, though very vaguely, inspiring. But really the best in the genre remains In the Company of Women – which is rich with diversity, and with really meaty, thought-provoking insights on running a creative business and living your values, and speaking of values, look at those notes about the profit share and rotating cover shots. Now that’s inspiring.
Anyway so this read has been the opposite of inspiring. It’s been despiring. Outspiring. It makes me feel like I really don’t have it in me to start anything… okay probably that can’t all be blamed on the book, but the book Doesn’t Help. It’s quite alienating. It makes me feel like my dreams and my actual values are in conflict. Write about how these people fuel their creativity with extensive travels, and I think about how I always wanted to travel, never have (moving to new countries isn’t remotely the same as actual exploration), and feel increasingly constrained by environmental concerns – though maybe that’s just an excuse. Write about their highly styled lives, and I think about how I’m trying to simplify everything (and not in a “white everything” way, in a way that’s actually practical). Write about how they’re seeking their “inner imperative” and I think about how I just want to make stuff that’s useful and looks nice. Well, there you go. I’m definitely not an artist.
(Am I supposed to be? Definitely not. Am I looking for inspiration for a creative business? Eh, only kinda. If a Proper Job isn’t on offer then I should probably make serious moves in the direction of opening a yarn shop, which in theory is The Dream and of course I have form there, but I’m not really feeling it.)
You know what though. It’s FINE. I don’t need to start a business, at least not right away. Everything is okay for a little bit longer. And I am finally getting in the groove of “enjoying this free time” like everyone always tells me to do. Obviously it’s ridiculous that I learn this tricksy skill just a few months before the unemployment money runs out, but hey, at least I learn it? I’m getting the hang of sewing at last. Having a dedicated space to be set up and keep all my stuff organised and accessible and floor space to cut out and all – yeah, makes all the difference. I’ve even finally made friends with my machine, enough to name her. (Etta Handy. I’ll never be a sewing Wonder Woman but I can still have a trusty sidekick. Overlocker isn’t quite my friend yet but when she stops snarling, she can have a name too.)