Wednesday, March 30, 2011

they tell me it's spring

I've been living in California for 23 years, and drought conditions are pretty much the default setting for life here. Which, frankly, is one of the reasons I live in California. I like sun-- I have the skin damage to prove it-- I like picnics in January, I like having a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation and not worrying about getting wet or cold. However, it's been raining pretty much constantly for over a month, which sent me into a mildly depressive state that plays itself out in bitchiness and insomnia. How my husband keeps himself from hitting me over the head with a shovel and then quietly burying me in the backyard is a question for the ages.

Then, I finally hired someone to replace Ruth at the studio, which gave me a spark of hope that maybe I could start getting things done in a timely way again. This someone lasted exactly two weeks before quitting. The strange thing was, I felt this incredible sense of relief. As much as I hate running around my studio like a crazy person pumping out production stuff, I relish being alone all day. It is my preferred mode of being in general. Rather than getting all caught up in hiring the next person on my list-- over 15 people were interviewed for this job-- I called up a few people and asked if they would like to come in on an ad-hoc basis and just lend a hand when I start getting overwhelmed, or better yet, right before I start getting overwhelmed. This seems to be totally working out for the moment because these people are super excited to come in, work with me, and earn some extra money, so shit gets done. The two weeks I spent training the other person was incredibly draining-- it's clear to me now I didn't hire the right person to begin with-- and I just can't face starting that all over again right now.

So, I'm feeling perkier now. The hardest thing about depression is how useless everything feels. I've never been so depressed that I can't get out of bed, what's the point when you are just going to get back in at the end of the day kind of depression. My depression manifests itself in discontent with my work, the feeling that making pottery is the most useless thing in the world to pursue. You're just making and making, and for what? Where does it lead, where does it take you? Okay, so it's beautiful-- so what? It's not like you are saving lives. Though, sometimes, even saving lives feels especially useless. And then, I have an (almost) perfect firing, the sun comes out, and I think I'm ready to fight for another day of making pottery.

9 comments:

  1. I am totally with you on this. I've been making little dishes for about 6 years now and some days it seems like it's been forever. The thought of continuing to make them is painful, but then I open the kiln up and the glaze is perfect and dishes look beautiful. I wrap them all up and the checks come in and I'm happy. It sure beats the hell out of any other day job I've had.

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  2. Please know that as a satisfied customer who has used your pottery as gifts that delight the recipient, and who has your wonderful objects in my own home, your talent is amazing. Your finished product adds joy to our lives and beauty to our homes. They are indeed beautiful pieces and are treasured. Keep up the good work -it is truly appreciated.

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  3. I'm back at college taking a short course and had this same conversation with a fellow student who is just coming out of 'depression' brought on by not being accepted for an exhibition... why do we choose ceramics as our medium???? The new glaze doesn't work or the shelves colapse etc etc.. we must be mad. Boy it's good when it all comes together though! :)

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  4. BTW gorgeous photo of your work. The glazes are beautiful and the little birds such fun :)

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  5. I am right there with you on this one. Sometimes you eat the bar and, well, sometimes it eats you, right? And then you have those moments when everything comes together and you realize why you're doing what you're doing. It's just nice to know we all go through that.

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  6. precisely how i am feeling....montana in march can be tortuous. 35 and pouring rain today. i find it much more difficult to get going in the shop when it is so gray and bleak. bring on april. i hope the new 'assistant' system works out well for you. enjoy!

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  7. I've had those can't get out of bed days... they are awful but you know you're really freakin' depressed when that happens. The thing about those melancholy days when you question the work your doing is that you never really think, Oh I'm just really freakin' depressed right now. In those moments it feels like your world is crumbling, which can be worse than not getting out of bed. Thank goodness for daffodils at Trader Joes and this last week of sunshine!

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  8. Sad to hear your assistant didn't work out, I trained someone once in one of my old jobs. She lasted four weeks after I'd been doing the same job for six months!

    You work is really beautiful, hope you feel more contented soon.

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  9. Some day just pouring the milk into yourt ea from a beautiful jug with a yellow bird on the handle...could save yur life.
    Keep making beautiful stuff Whitney, it's doing important work out there.

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