master of none

photo by derek lobley

photo by derek lobley

Last week our band, Bath Salts, had an awesome show in the basement of this huge house near USM.  I was pretty psyched, because it was the first time I played in front of people when my fingers didn’t feel like they were little shaky sausages (it’s true, that happens).  I’d like to think it’s because we practiced, or that we’ve had a half dozen shows already, or that the basement was filled with really enthusiastic people… but it was probably.. most likely.. the fifth of scotch I’d tucked away in the front pocket of the guitar case before we left.

The whole thing got me thinking about the tremendous amount of extra things I’ve got heaped up on my plate.  If life was a buffet I’d be the dude with the Close-Encounters-of-the-Third-Kind-Potato-Mountain and I wouldn’t stop there.  I’d have mountains of all kinds of food, and keep going back for more.  Ok, metaphor over, since the ‘food’ is actually:  playing in a band, knitting, crafting with bottle caps and photographs, wedding photography, styling, creative photography, blogging, maintaining an etsy shop, maintaining a day job, picking up 5-20 hours a week at a performing arts/community center, promoting shows, experimenting with cooking, etc.

It all sounds pretty enriching when it’s right there in black and white, but the day to day manifestation of it is pretty hectic.  Being a jack of all trades and a master of none can be challenging and exciting, but it can also split your head open and leave a lady really unfulfilled at the end of the day.  I know a lot of crafters, artists and musicians who are like me and can’t seem to stop glomming on to this project or that.  It’s awesome.  The alternative is boring.  But at some point you gotta know when your plate is about to buckle under the weight of all those food mountains.  (Metaphor’s back!)

Lately, the balance has been off.  When I finally get to do the thing I’ve been thinking about all day at work (knitting, finishing up a bottle cap order, going to photograph a rock show… and on and on) I’m not excited.  Sometimes I’m even a little resentful at first, even though I always end up enjoying myself.  What gives?  It could be the inevitable motivation drain we here in the North East experience most every Feb/March.  It could be that I have little time to just be with friends without having to be doing something else at the same time.  Ultimately, it could be that by casting the net wide I’m not actually doing my best at anything and not succeeding as well as I should in any of those things.

All of this is fine when I breathe my way through it.  Fact of the matter is, I feel like I’m a good knitter, a unique photographer, a competent worker, and a ..er.. dedicated musician.  But it’s when I start to think of the list of all the things I’ve got to do, would like to do, am supposed to do, that I get this feeling of being trapped in my skin.  Maybe not quite as big as an anxiety attack, but on its way.

What is all this about, anyways?  Maybe I realized it in my sleep, I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately… or I could have known it all along.  Or more likely it’s that I’ve been reading the lives of contemporaries, via perfectly edited blogs made to look like all of life is the moment food is brought to the table, or when children’s hair catches the light just so, or the last stitch on a month-long project.  And then I look around the living room and there are three unfinished knitting projects draped over the back of the sofa, the coffee table is covered in unwashed tea mugs and cocktail glasses, and the cat, the older one, is hiding in the closet with about half of her fur missing off her back and underside.

This is probably a weird, frustrated extension of my new year’s resolution to simplify.  I think the end result of this diatribe will be to a) more accurately reflect real life as opposed to idealized in this webspace and b) pick one thing (or two or three?) to put on the shelf so my world isn’t so fuzzy and wild.

thanks for listening..

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