At the American Gothic House Center I’m in contact with volunteers daily: somebody scheduled to help out for a few hours in the gift shop or just checking in. Most of the time, these people are on their way to volunteering somewhere else. They’re retired and busier than ever, committed to restoring historic sites, developing programs for the community like SHARE or senior meals, visiting friends who can’t leave home or headed to a meeting of committee X Y or Z.
One eight hour day later, I get in my car and plug in my iPod. I turn the volume up as high as I can stand it and hope the good people of Eldon don’t judge what they see—eyes squinted nearly shut, mouth open wide, singing and dancing around in the front seat like a maniac on my way out of town.
I turn off the car, unlock my back door, and am greeted by those two nuisances. I feed them again. I open my computer and make dinner for myself—probably spinach salad with almonds, craisins and tomato basil feta. Maybe salmon or mandarin oranges on top if I’m feeling frisky. I read while I eat.
Then, I have the choices. Practice yoga? Do something to further my artistic career? Rest my brain in front of a screen, clean my apartment, go for a walk, keep in touch with friends and family. If I’m lucky, I might do two of those things with my 4 free hours before bed. Am I attending committee meetings? Not unless I’m on the clock. Do I mow lawn or shovel sidewalks? Nope. What, exactly, am I handing back to the communities I live and work in?
I feel guilty that I’m being paid to further a cause which so many people (about 30, as it turns out) are willing to give away their time for. And I certainly don’t give my free time away. I use it up on myself. I am alone in my apartment, making paintings no one has seen or will see for months. It is a completely selfish act.
And this one, becoming a plaid washing machine with a seashell inside—what good are all these colors and marks doing for the world?
I started writing here with the hope that maybe the right person will read my words and find relevance to their own life. I made a website so that someone, anyone, might see what I’m doing and might hear it speak. In the mean time, I guess I’m just painting because it makes me happy. That’s going to have to be good enough.