When I was little, my Aunt Pat gave me a a teddy bear dressed in a nurse’s uniform. I looked at it and saw some kind of future. I don’t mean that I explicitly thought I would become a teddy bear nurse or even a nurse, but that for some reason, i felt like a stuffed animal in an employer uniform was a weird hint. Aunt Pat was the only woman in my family who had a job. My mom, Aunt Chris, and Aunt Ruth were all homemakers. Aunt Jo was a nun, and that just felt like she was a different gender than the rest of the world, and that that was a job, and that job meant having short grey hair, singing way louder than other people at church, and joyously playing Kings In The Corner with me and Granddad on Thanksgiving.
When you’re a kid, people want to know what you want to be when you grow up. Given my options, I obviously wanted to be a nun.
(I think it’s important to note that a subletter in my apartment who does a lot of coke is doing what sounds like filing his nails really really fast in the room next door to mine.)
I’m not a nun. And I’m grown up. I’m an artist who accidentally took the vow of poverty.
The difference between taking the vow of poverty as a clergy member and accidentally taking the vow of poverty as an artist, is that, as a clergy member, you get to make up a meager budget that covers all of your basic needs. Rome pays for it. Nothing extravagant. Shelter. Medical. Food. Utilities. Car. Gas. Stuff like that. You work related to what you specialized in, medical, administrative, etc. in the context of your spiritual practice.
Rome doesn’t pay for my art.
But here I am dressed as an elderly teddy bear. Reading a monologue at an art party. a few years ago.