Today’s Challenge: positive prose.
Why? Yes, Thanksgiving filled my heart with warm family love, joyous play with nephews, and serious culinary creativity. My sweet husband however fell into a depression this morning that stained the day with doubt for our future. He has his reasons.
After dropping me off at my brother’s house in Appleton Wednesday night, 30 minutes into his drive to Door County, the ball joint on the front driver’s side broke, as well as the axle, and the wheel cranked perpendicular to the others at 65 miles per hour. Somehow he safely brought the car to a stop on the right side of the highway in a construction zone, in heavy Green Bay traffic. Yes, that was a bummer, but the bad news came from the mechanic. Sure, it’s highly suggested that the car get fixed, but for a tune of up to $2,000. We still have a $5,000 bill to pay for our dog’s critical surgery! This of course sent him worrying all Thanksgiving about our financial situation, which is nothing to dismiss, of course.
Yet, even after all this headache, last night we watched the Westminster Dog Show, group by group on Hulu. This inspired him with all kinds of great artistic endeavors for the two of us. All night long he popped up with new exciting ideas that I agreed were fabulous and necessary for our sanity. So when did the depression set in?
This afternoon we visited the gallery where his paintings have been hung all month and none of them sold. Well, the tiny one sold for $150 at the art opening, but not one since. The kicker is that A) these are dog paintings we hung to raise funds to help pay the $5,000 surgery bill, and B) they are the lowest prices he’s put on his paintings ever in his art career. Back in Door County he would have had paintings two and three times this size selling for $1,200 or more a piece and come away from a show with a few mortgage payments worth of sales.
What do I do? What can I say? Much less find a positive message for this blog?
I mention that we have overcome so much so far, and how luxurious that we can complain about our finances instead of spending Thanksgiving in the hospital…
But he feels like no matter how hard we work we never seem to get out ahead. Something always happens that sets us back again. No argument there.
I remind him that his name in Madison as an artist still needs to be established. This is going to take time. And because we have been working so hard at day jobs, he truthfully has only been showing every year and a half, and only at one gallery. It takes time to create enough work to put together a show, especially when working so hard at another job. We are fortunate that he has been able to make art at all and have a place to hang when the work is ready.
But that’s just it- is he ever going to have enough time to make the name for himself and allow the work to stand on their own and pay for themselves. He can’t afford a studio space outside the home. He can’t go on making art in the basement if winter work requires that space for the money-making jobs. If no work sells, how can he justify buying more supplies? And then there is the vehicle issue… I simply do not have a good answer besides, “Eventually it will all work out.”
This is where I wish I were his Sugar Mama. I wish I brought in six figures so he could just be the painter he needs to be, fulfilling his passion and utilizing his talent all day long. But I simply am not. And frankly, every time I threaten to be the sole provider so he can be a full time artist he refuses. He wants to contribute. And in situations like we are in right now, I don’t blame him.
So here we go again, in this never-ending artistic cycle from bare threads to new jeans back to bare threads. We strive to put a decent roof over our heads, good food on the table, and yet still afford simple outdoor activities with our dogs in a life sprinkled with paintings, drawings, and writing. The “Work hard to play hard” motto sounds exhausting and false today.
So the best thing I came up with today was to pack up Dave and the dogs in the minivan we are borrowing from my dad until the Honda CR-V is fixed, and go to the dog park. Iggy Pup is our only success story right now and he made us laugh, invited other humans and dogs to join us in ear tickling grins and Mickey Mouse-toned cheers. For a good stretch, I believe the dark storm cloud over our heads lifted enough that we could truly feel happiness.
The final touch was a family-sized pepperoni pizza and chocolate ice cream. For tonight we don’t have cholesterol issues. For tonight we don’t have heavy bills sitting on our chest like an old over-sized corn fed rat. For tonight it is as I had been trying to say all day. Tonight, everything is alright. Everything is going to be OK. Tomorrow I just hope I believe it again.
Today’s Challenge: positive prose.