Sunday mornings are, hands down, my favourite time of the week. I get up when I want to get up. I listen to the Sunday Report on CBC Radio. And I usually meander into town to visit one of my favourite places, the Gluten Free Epicurean. Trying to live dairy free and gluten free means treats (well, compliant treats anyway) are hard to find, but GFE always has many (too many). It's a small cozy space, with just a few tables and chairs, thrift store finds painted white, with a few succulent plants and colourful mismatched china used to add some colour. Despite being in the centre of Hipster Vancouver, it's cheerful and unpretentious, and there are often families with young children sitting around the tables when I arrive. I like to sit down for breakfast and write, and leisurely pick at breakfast, occasionally looking up from my page to watch the cars speed by on Kingsway. I have no set time that I have to arrive, and no set time to leave. I could sit here all day if I wanted to.
The theme of this year seems to be re-learning lessons - feeling like I have made progress on something, only to backslide and feel like I need to climb all over again. Balancing work and home life, for example. Putting my health first, for another. This week, I am feeling the all-too-familiar strain of feeling over scheduled.
In the next nine days, in addition to the mundane ad mandatory calendar-fillers such as work and doctors' appointments, I have two burlesque shows, five rehearsals, a crafting party to finish costumes for one of the burlesque shows, a work video to learn choreography for (add another two rehearsals to the calendar) record vocals for, and film (in a day-long shoot), a friend's Christmas concert to attend, and two holiday get-togethers with people I care about. These activities are, in theory, meant to be fun, but today seem like chores, and I feel resentful that they are taking "time away" from things. What those "things are", though? I don't know. I'm an artist. I want to perform. So, shouldn't rehearsals and performances and costume meetings seem like fun? Shouldn't get-togethers with friends seem like fun, especially since I was the one that organized them?
The answer is yes, of course they should seem like fun. The fact that they aren't is raising a whole lot of questions in my always-busy-anyway mind. Do I not like burlesque? Is that why I don't want to do it? If I'm not excited to hang out with friends, why is that? It would be easy to understand if the things that are "taking away" from my happiness right now were just plain old unpleasant or exhausting activities. If there was some obvious alternative passion that I was nurturing that I was being distracted from. For instance, "Damn you burlesque, what I really want to be doing is working on my Jane Austen re-enactment Regency-inspired costumes!" or "I really wish I could be at home finishing that 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle right about now." But, art? And friends? Those are things that I am (or at least, have been for the past 37 years) passionate about.
A few possible answers are beginning to bubble in my brain. One is that, perhaps burlesque isn't pushing the right buttons for me artistically. I originally began learning about and performing this art form mostly to prove that I could - to myself and to others who don't necessarily picture a size 16, just-over-5-feet, almost-middle-aged woman when they think of the word "showgirl." Maybe, now that I've proven I can do it, I'm not getting as much out of it? Maybe I'm only doing it because it's important to my idea of myself, or the self that I like to show to other people, maybe I like saying I do burlesque more than I like doing burlesque. Another issue is that the DIY culture of burlesque in Vancouver expects performers to not only devise their own performances, but their own costumes, which requires a level of sewing/crafting literacy that I just do not have. Certainly that has been a huge stressor for me. Maybe while I like the performance aspect, this "putting it together" aspect, which I know is a huge source of entertainment and interest for a lot of performers - almost more than the performance itself - is more trouble than it's worth for me.
The friend issue is more complicated. Of course I love having friends, and enjoy being social and going out (although I enjoy it a lot less than people think, given my outgoing exterior - but that's another post for another time). So why the anger and frustration around that piece?