the fear of change was finally smaller than the fear of staying the same.
my mother can tell you that i am an unbelievably anxious decision maker. as a small child, i would systematically allocate my allowance so carefully, so thoughtfully, long after my sister’s was gone. this – my natural and unstoppable constant stream of internal calculations – may not seem apparent on the street. a lot of people seem to think my life is whimsical. blowing in the wind. crazy bohemian burningman jetset freespiriting 24/7, unattached and unbound. but anyone who knows me, has seen me fret – and probably the people who read this blog with any regularity – know how untrue that is. how anxious i get, how i turn things over endlessly, how afraid i am to sign on dotted lines until everything has been weighed. calculated. and even then.
but while i calculate, weighing all the sides, fretting over the options, the what-ifs, the maybes, i am also waiting for things to reveal themselves, and i have belief in this - for something to emerge out of the cloud as an answer to all those complex quantum equations of love and life and spirit and soul and truth and justice, with their endless strings of if-then variables. and when that answer is shown – that is where my impulse is revealed, and the part that people see. when that is when i book the flight, buy the ticket, take the ride. because after all the calculation, i trust the answer when it appears and i feel it.
and so with that, i will tell you all now that after several months of anxiety and confusion, prefaced by several years of existential angst, endless calculations and nothing ever quite making itself known, i (we) have made a Big Decision.
my interest in both social movements/social theory and the arts is deep and personal, but as sort of a shadower/reflective type and not a doer or maker or activist. even though i never really studied the arts (except concert band) or dance as a child, i have always been moved by the arts in a really visceral way (i cry at music) and i have always wanted to be an artist not because i felt a talent inside me but because i loved other art so much. i tried all sorts of things, but i just never really found my own art. i am not an especially talented illustrator, painter, sculptor, dancer, fashion designer, musician, singer, photographer, poet or writer.
we moved to the Bay 14 years ago (1998!), and then my connection got even deeper when i went to Burning Man for the first time (2004) and saw art as a participatory experience that EVERYONE can have, not just something to be seen/heard/consumed. and then i met False Profit which put me into an active crew of People who Make Stuff Happen, and then even deeper when i started doing countercultural fashion/performance art (2006) with Miranda and BadUnklSista and all the other amazing artists and designers who i’ve been lucky to work with and who have allowed me to be part of their projects since. i still don’t consider myself an artist. but i’m OK with that because there are still so many ways to meaningfully support and interact with art.
still, i’ve been feeling the past couple of years that i’ve sort of plateaued with my intellectual understanding (or my ability to self-motivate to seek deeper understanding) of the complexities of the art movements i see around me as a lay-participant, and so a year or so ago while i was mostly unemployed i started looking around at opportunities and programs that could expand my subject interests in a broader, historical, more global and beyond-the-Bay-Area-Bubble sense. but not just theory – not just history. what is going on now? what can be done now?
and then #occupy happened…..
if nothing else, #occupy has taught me a lot about what i assumed i knew about social movements, but it has taught me more what i don’t know, and where i am weak in that regard, in terms of understanding the current dynamics of law, justice and politics and also of art and the creation of meaning and meaningful experiences. how so much of it is nonintuitive if you’re using the language of the dominant culture to define things. we get sold values and the definitions of what things are or should be of just as much as you are sold a can of Coca Cola. and it’s no wonder we find ourselves confused, because these definitions usually don’t add up to what is really going on.
i won’t repeat myself about that too much here – see my #occupy posts - but it suffices to say that it only made me feel even more lost, and then inspired, and then lost, and then inspired. to know and do more.
most academic program descriptions i read in the realm of sociology-art-policy-philosophy are blahblahblah esoterica, but last summer i stumbled upon the Critical Theory and the Arts graduate school program description at the School of Visual Arts in NYC (http://cta.sva.edu), and i was more than a little piqued:
The program in Critical Theory and the Arts is an intensive yearlong study for students with an edgy involvement in the problems and questions of making art today—in what art has become, and is becoming—and who are no less engaged in wanting to understand what is at stake in the relation of these questions to contemporary social conflict and reality.
this program is SPECIFICALLY about what i have been into for a long time (the intersection of art and social movements) and what i would very much like to study on a deeper, focused, more intensive level, and fits perfectly into everything i noted above that i have been thinking about and wanting more tools, more answers for, for so long.
so after a lot of hemming and hawing and talking to people, i decided to try. i visited the school in December, applied in January (written essay excerpt was posted here icymi), and then in April i found out…. I GOT IN.
then the really tough part, the part that was driving me sleepless: deciding whether to accept, whether i actually can/should afford to go or whether this is a ridiculously extravagant thing to do when i *could* try go out and try to forage for my own new connections and education, edupunk stylie. people say that the student loan is the next bubble to burst. that it’s overvalued, overfinanced, and underperforming. should i be investing in traditional higher education?
many many emails, conversations, phone calls – getting all my ducks lined up, financially and logistically, to prepare for a move to New York. to move *us* to New York. to leave the Bay Area. to take on student loan debt. to jump into the deep end of graduated thinking and deeply embedded living.
but the thing about regret is …. the majority of regret is about things that you didn’t do, not those you did (PDF). and i think in this case that calculation was very clear – there is a very much greater chance of regret of not doing.
SO. without much further ado – ladies and gentlemen who have read this far, barring any unforseen circumstances or dramatic change(s) of heart(s), we are moving to New York City in August and i am going to study Critical Theory and the Arts. (critical theory being social philosophy; art being…art).
yeah. some time in mid-July, after Priceless, we’ll be packing up, and just like we did together in 1998 (oh how young we were then…), we’ll load up a car and drive across the country to the other shore.
it’s a little hard to believe.
but we are really excited.
for a new adventure. and for NYC!
(short details: the MA program is one academic year. jay will continue to work for Solar City and telecommute from NYC. yes we are looking for an apt in NYC. and yes we do intend to return to SF in the fall of 2013.)
this has taken me over a month to write/post since i accepted admission because it’s so huge and overwhelming and i wasn’t ready to share it with the whole internet. but the time is coming up fast and so it’s time to let the cat out of the bag, and so there you go. that is the Big News about our Impending Enormous Life Transition.
thank you again to everyone who i reached out to in the last 6 months who supported me, gave me feedback, sent me links or contacts of people to talk to, who shared their own experiences positive and negative with making a decision like this. i am especially thankful to Sahar, Miranda, and Anastazia, who wrote me the most amazing recommendation letters that made me actually believe I could do this, that I should do this, and I will hold dear to my heart forever, no matter what happens;’ and to my mother, who supported my decision instantly, without question.
Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
– Stephen Colbert commencement address, 2006 (reposted)
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