“I thought someone would notice, I thought somebody would say something, if I was missing — can you see me? – Counting Crows
I almost don’t even know who this person is anymore. So many repetitions of that Swift lyric about wanting to be my old self again but still trying to find it, then I find it and it’s like: who the fuck is this person?
It’s crazy: waking up before six each morning, raring to go. Ideas for the blog, pots on the brain, genuine anticipation of something coming up in the day that I’m looking forward to. Then going back out to the studio several nights a week, say from eight to nine fifteen, to bash up scraps in the evening’s cool, or finish adding deco to the forms finished hours earlier, in the afternoon heat; or pip out pips and divot out divots and tidy up bats and clean off tools and think about prepping for the next day, because I’m actually kind of looking forward to the next day.
I’m sure some of that is due to the clay switch. It was a long time since I was last in porcelain, and I was probably overdue to make the change. It’s like a Selective Porcelaneous Reuptake Inhibitor or something. I’d forgotten, in that span of a year and a half or so, a little bit of how seductive and magical and wonderfully alien it can seem. For all its myriad flaws, caveats, frustrations and opportunities for straight up disaster, as a material it’s just something special; as a potter, it’d be a real shame to miss it.
This persona change is similarly ridiculous to that mustache that I threatened to wear for a whole week, after dispelling away the beard part.*
(* Ends up The Admiral is an even worse negotiator than “Amnesty Don”. She said I could keep the mustache for a week if I’d shave the beard, probably thinking there’s no way in hell I’d actually leave the house looking like Cop #3 from an 80’s movie. And she was right — I wouldn’t and I didn’t, because I’m still a vain coward who definitely doesn’t want that much attention. But making the threat for a few days (while ensconced at the pottery compound) was worth it, just to see my family squirm. Ha. You gotta take your fun where you can find it.)
Now that I’ve shaved it all off, it’s strange to just have a ‘civilized’ face again; to reach up and not feel it there. To catch myself in a mirror and think there’s something missing. (Maybe the whole thing was a semi-subconscious symbolic ritual thing?) This — the status of my facial hair — is an absurdly small thing to care about or pay attention to, and yet… I spend so much time deliberating over hairline trails of throwing slip, the placement and character of each dot or stray mark of a brush — that kind of trained sensitivity and patterns of observation just naturally bleed over into other things. How far off center the pre-cut line in my bagel was made my some unseen machine. When one line in an email is in a different font. How the wind just shifted from the west to the south for a moment. Amongst the millions of other daily inputs that I completely miss — because, of course, our consciousness is so subjective and so astonishingly narrow — all these things register and get time on my mainframe; grinding, calculating, error checking, outputting. I can’t just turn it off because I step away from the studio. It’s seeped into to interface layer between software and hardware at this point; arguably, it now is the soul of the new machine. And so the feel of my fingertips on my chin, or food going into my mouth past bare lips, or sun on uncovered skin are as noticeable now as an S-crack in a base or a popped bubble in a coating of slip.
I guess it’s a good reminder that I’m still alive; that I can be both me now and me then without needing to step into the same river twice; that there are sensations worth lingering over that don’t come down the too-familiar path of pain receptors and frustration.
“Which one am I again?”
Oh dear. After a solid, virtually uninterrupted four day week of flying high and free, it’s gonna be hard to cram my Raven back into his cage. Not sure if that temporary freedom is worth the painful transition, but I guess you could say that about life in general. It’s cages within cages, arbitrary degrees of relative freedom, mostly illusion, probably just a simulation.
So, there’s that.
“C’mon gimme your white skin, c’mon gimme your white skin, c’mon gimme your white skin.”