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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

i am where i am

studio balcony

i thought in the beginning i wouldn't mention my job here. but today, as i was downloading some photos to flickr that i had taken at work i thought about sets and thought "studio" was the natural place to put them. but then that warranted an explanation that it is not my studio. but the studio i am at monday thru friday and sometimes on the weekends as an artists' assistant. i work for a fairly well known artist - whose name i do not feel comfortable sharing as i am sure you can understand. he is wonderful. generous. kind. not at all the egotistical, maniacal artist stereotype. although i think he fit this bill in his younger days. he seems to have mellowed with age. his ego does still need the occasional stroke. (which yes, is part of my job description) but for the most part he spends the days painting beautiful pictures, while i work on his catalogue raisonne, shipping paperwork, reproduction requests, correspondence and the like. it is a great job. but one i never expected to have. it is great because he is great. he loves the girls as his own granddaughters and knows that my "position" as a mom is first and foremost. and we love him.

i studied for 7 years at university. first with the dream of being an artist. then with the plan of being an art conservator. i never followed through with the first after graduating with a BFA in painting. but moved right on to the second. (after a year struggling to fulfill the dreaded organic chemistry requirement.) i love(d) art conservation. but jobs are few and far between. i worked as an assistant conservator in toronto for a while. then came to los angeles on a graduate internship. it was in conservation. but not hands-on. rather in the theory and investigation of the problems surrounding contemporary art. while i was scheduled to stay only one year. i was renewed for another two. then left when administration changed and i was offered my present position. which i took instead of returning to conservation in toronto because i was in love. and wanted to stay. (one husband and two kids later...)

out of my graduating class, only one of my circle is still in the art con field. and she has recently decided to try something new. (art conservation is a romantic - but not at all lucrative business!)

anyway. too much information maybe. my point is my path hasn't been at all what i expected. and i often wonder what comes next. i am getting older(!) and still dream of new careers. (i loved mav's post on this topic sometime ago.) designing schoolyards. reggio amelia atelierista. printmaker. and while i love to dream i can't imagine really doing anything else. than being a mom. and this job lets me do it. i don't love my job. but i love what it allows me. we talk about buying a house here. or here - where everyone we know seems to want to be! about slowing down. doing some consulting. being able to work from home. to be at home. who knows.

i wonder about others' journeys. compromises. i think this is so relevant to women of "my" generation. caught between career and children and realizing you want to be the best mom perhaps more than have the best career. (and some do both so beautifully! loved kath of red current's look at this) are you where you thought you would be? are you on your way to someplace new?

i am happy where i am now. but curious about where else i may go...

cad.red

13 comments:

tracie said...

It sounds like you have such a lovely job. The path that you have taken sounds so (for want of a better word) exotic. I'm know I'm not where I am meant to be, career wise, but I really think having children has opened up the creative side of myself. Having more time and energy pehaps to contemplate other things. Wishing you well on your journey.

Alicia A. said...

Hmmmmm... you've got me wondering who "he" is...

Sounds like an interesting path you're on. You seem to have found a nice spot for now and you have a great attitude about it.

I'm still thinking about mapping out my path too. Right now, I'm in no hurry.

lisa said...

oh, to be surrounded by art all day long!! i envy you. aren't paths interesting?? i have no artistic training at all and here i am all of a sudden at age 38. who knew. it's never to late to take up something new.

stephanie said...

it's really interesting to hear your journey. i am also happy now, but curious about where i am going.

i have never been good at picking a path and sticking to it, being a stay-at-home mom for the last 6 years has been the one thing to which i've been able to dedicate myself. i thought i was headed to arhitecture school (after studying anthropology and film as an undergrad and then dabbling in other things for years), but i unexpectedly became pregnant with my daughter and everything was put on hold. now that my children are older and more independent, i am contemplating a change, but i could never parent the way that i want to and attend design school. i'm okay with it, but i do feel like i'm ready to stretch my wings a bit. dedicate myself to being a craftsperson? write a book? become a teacher of small children? give more time and energy to working with my husband (doing interiors for his clients and getting my architecture training through him)? open a store or gallery? who knows.

melissa f. said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've realized that it comes down to a few *certain* things (starting with falling in love. first my husband, then my son. looking after myself.). The rest of life so far has followed a path that does the least harm to the *certain*... I realize this is not so much of a "plan" and I'm feeling an increasing need to work on some of the details :).

Tracy said...

thanks for sharing. i am loving reading these...

tracie - i love that being a busy mom has given you more energy! and your creativity is obviously soaring!

alicia - "he" is a mystery! there really isn't a hurry is there. my mom received her Masters degree a year after I received mine. throughout my childhood (at least from age about 10 on) i recall her taking night courses. instilling the idea in me that i can do anything - anytime!

lisa - that is the one thing i am sure of - that i want to be around art as much as possible. it is very important to me. and the artistic process too. i love and admire your work. and your dedication to your art.

steph - the possibilites are exciting aren't they! (i have actually thought to myself - i wish stephanie would write a book! i'd like to read more by her...)

melissa - i love the journey. and with 2 you love with you you are sure to go to great places.

this single spark said...

Even though I knew all that about you (and was part of it in some ways... the early stuff at least) I loved reading your current perspective on it.

Am I happy where I am? Weirdly, yes. I say weirdly because I've spent a lot of time being stressed out and bitching about stuff lately.

I had a teary moment on the weekend. I was pruning my rose bush and realized that I probably won't be in my house to see it reach its full beauty. After 16 years of moving constantly (apartments, cities, jobs) I want to stay settled for a while. It makes me very sad to think of what I'll leave behind in two short years.

I'm looking forward to doing my Masters in some ways, but I've been questioning it a bit lately. Maybe I'd rather do this?!http://www.gaiacollege.ca

And everything is up in the air with O. Will he stay in Wpg? Will he move? Where will he move? Will I follow?

I used to thrive on contant change and I liked uncertainty. I think that is because I was very uncertain about myself. I don't feel like that anymore... I think I have a good handle on me. And now that I don't have to run from myself anymore, I want to stay put and enjoy where (and who) I am.

{m} said...

thanks for this. i love what you wrote and the comments here. being there for the kids is the path i followed too. i didn't expect so much self-discovery this comes with, even potential to reinvent one's self.

samlamb said...

Tracy - like everyone has said, what an excellent topic. You really got me thinking.

I took my BFA too and somehow got a job in televsion right out of school. It's creative, it changes every day and I am not even close to being tired of it 8 years later. The only compromise I've made is that I can't spend as much time with Sadie as I'd like. My husband's art career has taken hold of his world and that leaves me to work full-time to keep our family afloat. Of course I'm jealous of the time he gets with Sadie (he is home all day with her) but I also wouldn't choose to leave my job where I get to be creative every day. Life is just a series of compromises and I tell myself Sadie will benefit greatly from having her Dad be a big part of her life - and somehow, luckily, Mom is always her first choice when it counts. Now if I could just find more time to keep making things at home...

Thanks for the great entries, each and every one is inspiring.

Tracy said...

c- i hear you. i also know whereever you go - and whatever you do - you will be amazing!

maia - i love the notion that we can reinvent ourselves. it is so liberating! and i find the potiential releaves a lot of my stress! my dad used to always tell me that it isn't getting from a to b that really matters - but the journey from point a to wherever you end up...

sam - sounds like you are in a great place. your daughter is so lucky to have it all!

i love this! wish we could all get together and share a cup of something. i think this is why i blog. you all inspire me.

Shari said...

hi tracy
i am thinking of the same things. i have taught preschool for 12 years (and now work at a reggio inspired school in nc). however, i am feeling a need to explore something else. i love and am inspired by art but have no training or artistic skills. i would love to open a shop of handmade items and art though. not sure of my next path but it sure is fun to think about. take care, shari

angelique said...

I am a bit late chiming in on this (behind on my blog reading)... but I have to comment because this topic has been so much on my mind lately too.

I work four (long) days a week in my chosen field which, like yours, does not have a lot of job opportunities, and, well, let's just say I'm not in it for the money. But I care about the work -- fundamentally a good thing, but it also can be emotionally draining at times and I wish I had more left over at the end of the day. Of time and of myself.

I just turned down a big promotion and settled for a smaller one because the big one would have demanded more, and I feel I am already giving all I can. That was my compromise. But my office has compromised too, giving me a four-day week, and I am so so grateful for it.

My situation is similar to samlamb's in that my job provides most of our family's income, not to mention health-insurance, since my husband has become a freelancer. I support his choice and do not wish to leave work myself completely, but hope for a path to open sometime while my daughter is still young which will be a little more relaxed.

This balancing and compromising is such a strong theme in the lives of the women with children that I know... I too wish we could all get together and talk.

Tracy said...

thanks for reading angelique - it is a tough one...