Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

The bane of existence is too much crap to deal with. I get really stressed out by having more to do than I can do. So, let me tell you about a problem I’ve been living with for a few years that is the result of a great idea becoming so overwhelming it calcified into total execution paralysis with a heaping helping of hoarding. If you’ve read my last few posts you know I am not one for excess stuff so what exactly went wrong?

While walking the dogs I collect things that might be useful for making sidewalk faces. Even though I pick up very little on any given day, over time it adds up. It might take me a few months to notice but at some point, while rifling through a tornado of plastic poop bags for that blue marble I’m sure is in there somewhere, I come to realize the bag is full to the brim with disintegrating plant matter, bits of plastic headed towards a terrible end our ancestors will curse us for, sharp sticks and rusty nails (thank goodness for tetanus shots I tell myself when I put yet another rusty garden staple into the bag. I do worry I’ll forget it’s there and puncture my skin, but they make such great noses!).

For example: Below are the contents of my bag from November 2017. That doesn’t seem like much stuff to me now but it’s enough junk to make locating any specific item difficult.

Three years ago I do a simple act and dump the contents of this messy satchel onto a white table for sorting. No big deal. Easy peasy. Being the type of artist I am, I make a face. Then several faces. It was really fun because there was so much to work with. I posted some photos to Instagram stories and thought maybe I’ll make this a regular part of the practice.

Did you spot the big paralyzing idea? In addition to making multiple faces a week, color correcting, writing up captions, sharing on Instagram and occasionally blogging about it, I will now also never ever clean out a sidewalk face/dog walk bag without making a whole bunch of new faces and sharing them on social media. Honestly it seemed like a good idea at the time. It is a good idea. But it’s also an idea that necessitates a ton of work. It’s not a thing you can just dash off.

I did it again four months later, felt good about the results and kept stuffing my bag with items.

For a while the bag was filled with wonderfully useful material all organized into easy access containers such as the little Altoid boxes above. But some things resist being contained such as a four foot long bicycle chain. Surely that would make an awesome face outline, right? It’s pretty heavy, should we pick it up? You bet! It’s greasy, should we put it in the bag? Pop it in a poop bag first! Just do it! You’ll be glad you did.

With this type of positive attitude the bag quickly came to weigh 7 lbs and I was growing tired of lugging it around. The pleasure of abundance was feeling more and more like obligation. I desperately wanted to thin out the contents but…do you see where this is going?…I would have to make a whole day of it. I would have to film the process and make art and do stuff I theoretically want to do but don’t actually want to do. The bag got heavier and heavier.

I don’t know exactly when, because who marks on a calendar, today’s the day I give up, I left the heavy-laden bag at home and grabbed an empty one. I have two beautiful handmade leather satchels and I started using the 2nd one. I used her until she filled up. Then I started using a fabric bag that’s older than my 16 year old son. When that one was growing obese I started to worry. My storage closet floor was home to these two hibernating bags of crap and they were crowding out the vacuum cleaner. It’s not like there is another place I can put the vacuum cleaner. But the bags couldn’t be properly put away because they were full of stuff that needed to be dealt with. Artistically dealt with. What the what?! There is a dark side to having good ideas.

In Bags of Crap Part 2 I will show you how I recently got out from under this crushing conundrum. I did what I said I would do. I cleaned out the bags and made faces. In Bags of Crap Part 3 you will get to see a giant face made from a rusty bicycle chain, one made from a broken car mirror and one made from a Prada business card. Are you trembling in anticipation! Was it all worth it? Stay tuned! Part two coming next Tuesday October 19th.

Strike While the Iron is Hot

hand logo for word

It’s been in my head for quite some time to write a post with this title. Since I now have time to work on it, I am wondering just what it was I was wanted to say. Looks like I Waited Until the Iron Got Cold. Ha! Serves me right for not taking my own advice. Oh well, failure is just as illustrative as success. I shall carry on.

Okay, now that I have pondered it a bit, I can see that a lot of my ideas start with a word or phrase, something meaningful I can riff on. For example, a few years ago I was walking around an abandoned home in the desert of 29 Palms ruminating about how everything eventually goes out of existence when I thought, I should make a video called Extinct. Since I had a video camera with me, I filmed for about an hour, edited soon thereafter and now I have a short film on vimeo and youtube called Extinct.

As I look at my creative output, I can see that the things I have accomplished are the things I acted on very quickly after having the idea. Thinking about projects is never a good omen for me. Leaping before looking works best creatively.

I am wondering what allows me to act impulsively, in a creative sense, and what throws up a road block.

Time is number one. I have to have at least a little of it. It’s hard to make that first move when work needs to come first. But if I have already made that first move, I can often fit the second, third, and fourth moves into the little crannies of space that open up throughout the day. I love when that happens. So why doesn’t it happen more? Because most of the heavy lifting does need time. Not a smidge or dab but a swath, some substantial amount to maneuver in. Magic doesn’t happen while multitasking.

Next is definition. To do something I have to know what I am doing. To create a video I need to shoot footage, edit footage, edit some more then post it. I’ve done it enough times to know what the process is and to keep going. But if the parameters change, indecision can paralyze the whole project. I think this is where I get stuck the most. For instance, I have finished a video, a piece I worked on for years and now it sits in a password protected vimeo site doing nothing. What’s the point of that? I want to share it but I told some people I was going to submit it to festivals first. So I have to figure out which festivals and how much money I want to spend applying, blah, blah, blah. Why do I have to submit it to festivals anyway? I really don’t know. Because it means I am serious? Am I serious? Are festivals serious?  Which festivals are serious? Trying to answer that question leads me to asking what the purpose is, an existential quagmire that never leads to anything except a bad mood. I guess to know what I am doing it helps to have a handy why. And when I can’t find one, I stop moving forward.

That leads to the third obstacle, fear. Fear is imagining a bad outcome. I have a giant project that I got very hopped up about and did a ton of work on and then just up and quit. I didn’t even do myself the curtsey of telling myself I quit. But what else do you call it when you have done nothing in 2 years? In this case I did strike while the iron was hot. I struck a lot. But I didn’t Finish Before it Turns to Rust.

However, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, as in the whole point of the title, because I at least started that project, I could, if I wanted to, pick it back up. Once something comes into existence, however neglected and ill tended, it can be brought back to health and possibly grow to maturity. But if it never even exists, well, it never even exists. It won’t even get to go extinct. I did myself the service of starting a blog post with this title 8 months ago. There wasn’t much there but there was something. There were this sentence:

After years of evidence showing me which ideas went from attraction to intercourse to baby and which ones miscarried and which one never even kissed, I can conclude that for myself, if I don’t get to it right away, I am not going to get to it at all.

The password protected video I mentioned above has now been submitted to several festivals. In fact I interrupted the writing of this to finish that task as it was causing me too much cognitive dissonance not too – thank you blogging.