I'm sitting at a car dealership in Van Nuys. It's March and this March is mine.
I feel like I'm on vacation. Palm trees sway and the wind is blowing. In the distance I see hills. Not a cloud in the sky. It's warm but I'm in the shade so it’s alright. I’d even say it’s nice.
The car dealership men make me feel so gross but I'm away from them now.
The car’s getting an oil change.
I work in The Valley, further north of where I sit now, and I'm usually not out-and-about and especially not at a car dealership at three pm on a weekday. It feels good. It feels like L.A., like that Sheryl crow song. The one where she talks about drinking a beer on Tuesday but without the beer.
That fantasy I used to have about this town. The fantasy that went away with the day-to-day of a nine-to-five and those two years I lived without a car.
I have a car now though, hence the oil change, and it makes me feel kind of romantic about Los Angeles again. (Sometimes.)
This town is all I seem to write about.
The air of what Los Angeles or Hollywood is or how I’ve perceived it. How it now exhausts me. Or maybe it always exhausted me and my mind was in such a way that I just couldn’t figure out why I was so tired and over-done.
I’m tired now, and I'm not a part of it, this town, not the way I imagine the world sees it, but I am a part of it. More so than I ever was when I first moved here, twelve years ago. I’m here as a worker and a servant to those whose faces, bodies and pocketbooks fit the bill. The Youth, and those who worship them no matter how silly it is to worship The Youth. I’m an aging drone and a ghost with no material power, but I bet everyone who’s not completely deluded feels that way no matter what they do or where they live or what age they are. At least sometimes.
My sweetheart, Kenny, the one I now share life with, produces and remixes and plays music for people to dance to.
We are both creative people, but we use different mediums to communicate. (Is communicating what we’re doing?)
What that should be or mean to us individually, and at our age, after all of these years of plowing away with little compromise to our creative integrity…
(It’s something we have in common.)
And living a holy life. I read a blog post by a mystic who said that we have to live a holy life and I liked that, as long as “holy” means to integrate stillness and care and discipline and whole-hearted gestures (right or wrong) and trees and the weather, and the ocean and moments with coffee writing in laptops and trusting that sometimes being really mad and unsure and confused and messy is purposeful, into my sense of existing.
Being a teacher helps me with that. Teaching art to teenagers has helped me. It does help me. They are sometimes really mad and usually unsure and confused and messy and I can see that their existence serves distinct purposes, whether they ever figure that out for themselves...
I refuse to make that entirely what I do though. I can’t make that entirely who I am. (At least I say that now.)
I teach because of my creative work. Without my own investigations or “communications” that are sifted through my act of making, there would be nothing to give: to The Youth, or anyone else. I teach also because it’s how I share.
Kenny shares his music and makes its way into the world. He performs to a crowd and when he does that he listens and makes adjustments for him. He’s good at it, and people get a lot out of it. I see it happen and I see its value. I don’t know if he ever tries to categorize elements of his work and life the way I'm doing here, or if he has the need to. I don’t know if he has the same questions about living that I do.
I always feel like I’m jumping rope. I’m in the ropes- two of them moving alternately. Inward and outward. Double Dutch, and I’m jumping repeatedly inside of there. I’m working as authentically as I can. I’m sharing. I’m doing my best to hold tight to my own form of mystical harmony and faith while also doing what has to be done in order to pay the bills and I don’t let go of my identity as an artist; the power within me that is the egotist this town is made out of, like the worms that make up the Oogie Boogie Man from Tim Burton’s, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The lie we can convince others of regarding our own power and value. That’s a part of why I’m still here. I guess that’s my holy life. The holy life I’m trying to live in Los Angeles. It’s not pretty or as sparkly and magical as I once needed to believe it would be, and I guess that’s fine for now.
At least I can afford a car.
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My name is Linda Lay and I'm an artist, a writer and a teacher.