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Re: Earlobe Calming — Transcript

Welcome to Earlobe Calming a collection of desperate, vulnerable, collaborative acts.

For the sake of vulnerability and desperation as well I just want to say I’m so tired. I’ve been trying to put episode this together for over a month, intending to write and record it every weekend and coming around each Monday empty handed.

I want this episode to be a re-introduction, recapping all the little things I’ve been able to create to both show where we’ve gone through this project and to give future listeners and collaborators an idea of what I’m capable of and where Earlobe Calming could go.

But I’m not excited by the idea of making something retrospective because even if I don’t frame it as an end it still feels like an ending. I don’t want to make something that I’m not excited by because it won’t be exciting to listen to. I don’t have the drive to put this project in a neat little box, do the numbers, and move on to the next chapter of my life and this project. So instead I’m going to do what I’ve learned to do in this project and present a collection of desperate, vulnerable, and collaborative thoughts from my tired, anxious, and burnt out mind.

  1. Success and failure: Has earlobe calming been successful?
    1. Yes: I’ve had interesting conversations because of it, gotten lots of things off my chest, made a whole mess of things that have been both satisfying to make and listen back to and useful in expanding my portfolio in applying for other kinds of funding.
    2. No: I’ve made i don’t know around $500 total through this project, most of it from one project. That money went to student loans which was really helpful when I had it, but Earlobe Calming hasn’t in any way been a reliable source of income the way I imagined it could have been. I’m also entirely aware that projects were entirely proposed by people I know directly, folks who wanted to support me and my work who I’m very thankful for but, as the recent months of inactivity and lack of participation in The Guestbook demonstrate, that pool of people runs out really fast and I wasn’t able to build the sort of greater audience participation that would allow the project to keep going and grow.
  2. What has changed since starting the project?
    1. Well I’m paying my rent at least. The biggest reason for this is that my parents have started transferring $300/mo to my US bank account so I can pay student loan and credit card payments without dipping into my stipend. I’ve also been finding little pockets of cash here and there — this past month I attended a summer school in the Netherlands that included free food and lodging and flights payed by my program, I won some money running a race and I’ve worked some shifts at a friend’s cafe, despite my public disavowal of coffee jobs. Things remain tight, I expect they will continue to even if I work myself down to the bone with side gigs and grant applications but I’m coming to realize that creative work, when done with the express purpose of filling your belly, can be just as bone-scraping. The saving grace of Earlobe Calming is that it has been collaborative and mostly on my own terms: its not a commission, there’s that excitement of working with someone else that keeps me excited.
  3. Is it just money?
    1. I’ve been thinking about what I’m doing with my life and what life is doing to me. Money was certainly a primary issue for me when I started this project and has often been an encompassing issue for other things I dealing with. I still don’t know what I want to be doing with my life, and trying to push myself into the career role of an academic just triggers this crisis of identity where I become convinced that I actually don’t want to do these things even though I know they give me joy. I come back to the feeling of being tired so often because I really just feel as if I’m doing so much and that I’ve been doing so much my entire life and I don’t want to stop doing things but its just hard to maintain like this. The financial focus of this project has helped me realize that it isn’t just about money, as cliche as that is to say, but money and capital weaves through it all. I get depressed and anxious and distracted often these days but never in the form of a medical condition, just in a way that makes me a bad capitalist, an unproductive university laborer, an undisciplined art worker. Its not that I want to be making more money, its that I want to feel that I am enough, and the difficulty I have in surviving financially without chipping away pieces of my soul is just another way I feel I’m told that I’m not enough. I haven’t been doing much productive research work this past month because my brain has been focused on finding supplementary income through art grants and even trying to do that I end up falling into an hours long youtube hole some days and I feel really bad on so many counts for being to tired and distracted and nervous to do these things I love to do. I keep coming back to this point I made a while back in Earlobe Calming that being a mediocre artist or researcher or cook shouldn’t mean you aren’t entitled to survival and comfort if that’s what you want to commit your time to. My brain circles around and around the climate crisis, that we are in the midst of a species ending catastrophe and to make it through it we we all need to be a little less productive, little less rise and grind jet set bucket list follow for follow lean in ladder climby. But we can’t settle into that sustainable unproductive mediocrity if our society is set up to put us in the ground if we’re not either bootstrappers or born wealthy.
  4. Where do we go from here?
    1. I’m going to keep Earlobe Calming alive of course. I’ll probably delete the Instagram app off my phone because it bothers me but the posts I’ve made and the website and this feed will stay up. If there is interest in contributing to the Money Talks, Projects, or Guestbook I would love to work with people and put more things in the feed but if that doesn’t happen that is okay, this is enough if this is all the feed gets to be. I’m going to try to shop around the idea of a live version, either via radio or theater, to a few organizations so stay tuned about that. But I’m going to keep doing things as I find time and energy to do them and I’m certainly going to keep struggling to make ends meet. If you’ve listened through every episode of this or if you’re just tuning in now I really have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and your eyes and ears and for all of your help.

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