Friday, November 17, 2006

Eating Cheaply and Well

Performed with Wing It! last night at an improv festival in San Francisco,with Phil, Cynthia, Melinda McLain, Elizabeth, Theron, Beth Hoch, and Penny Mann. We were one of three groups of improvisers. Great fun!

Phil did a rant about "deep pockets," and how artists are so smart but they don't know how to make money. Theron played his recorder, and that was beautiful. Melinda tried to play the piano, whose pedal was hanging by a thread. She tried for an hour unsuccessfully to get a screwdriver to fix it. I danced a lot, and honestly felt like a big dork, but that is the price you pay for this work: feeling like a dork, whether or not you actually look like one.

The audience loved us, judging by the enthusiastic comments/kisses/shout-outs of people as they left the space. Our theme was "Work and Play." I told the story G had told me, about the people standing on line for days to buy Playstation 3.

I think it's important in a blog about the creative life, to talk about surviuval issues: money, food, health, insurance, etc. I work free-lance. I have more free time than a person with a regular job, but earn less income. I also have champagne tastes on a beer budget--I like to go to the theatre, I love pretty clothes, I like going to Harbin (which is cheaper than Esalen, but still.) I like to take classes, and travel when I can.

I was lucky enough to receive some money in a divorce settlement ten years ago, and luckier still that at that same time a friend wanted to buy a house with me. We both put our lump sums together on a down payment on a big house, and I've been here ever since. She moved five years ago; I refinanced and bought her out and rent the other bedrooms, and that's one of the ways I afford life in the Bay Area.

I also get some help from my Dad, who has the philosophy that he'd rather give to his kids while he's alive than leave a bunch of money to the tax man. I'm confessing this because people reading this might be like me, and say "Why can't I do what she's doing?" which is something I tend to do whenever another artist is enjoying something I would like to have. I am privileged and it's not fair, and I'm grateful for the forces and factors that allow me not to have to work full-time right now.

That said, I also live fairly cheaply (but well.) This morning I had salmon burgers for breakfast: canned wild-caught Alaskan salmon, chopped onion, dark green leafy stir-fry mix from the farmer's market ($5.00 for two big bags which have lasted me two weeks,) and a diced carrot. Saute onion, carrot, and kale, chard, etc. Mix canned salmon in a bowl with one egg and a handfull of oatmeal (bought in bulk.) Form salmon into patties and fry up with the onions and greens mixed in. Mmm...

If I get sick, there's no workman's comp for me. I won't get paid for any classes I don't actually teach. Therefore, I try hard not to get sick. I eat my vegetables, drink water, and rest when I'm tired.

I'd rather buy canned salmon at Big Lots (a discount store) and save up for a trip to New York (or Haiti, or Malawi, or Romania, or) I buy too many clothes, but they are always on discount, or at a thrift store. I feed my addiction to magazines by going to Border's Books, sitting in an armchair, and reading them without buying any.

I don't care about my 13-year-old car, how it looks or anything, just that when I put the key in the ignition it turns over. I don't have a home decorating bug either--in fact I need prodding, support, help from friends and housemates to paint, or otherwise spruce the place up. I like having some space to do yoga in my living room, but the thought of spending a weekend going to Home Depot or doing house-y things makes me sad. I have never bought any real furniture; only a couple of rugs (which I love, and which were on deep discount,) a desk and some wooden file cabinets. The rest of what I have is donated/scrounged/left behind by housemates and friends who were moving.

Okay, I've procrastinated writing the ten pages for tonight's playwriting class long enough. Off to boot camp.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Alison! I loved this peek into your life! I read the other entry about the boot camp, too - boy, you have my admiration!

It is so good to catch up on what you are doing. You have a point that in some ways you are lucky to be able to live the life that you do, but don't belittle the fact that you have created much of what you have. Many people wouldn't have had the determination, creativity, and thrift to get where you have. My hat is off to you, from the security of a job with benefits, and the desire to have your freedom. I don't think I have the courage or perseverance. Horses for courses.

And you have my full agreement on the subject of Harbin!

Happy Thanksgiving to you - I am thankful for our connection.

Alison said...

Thank you, dear Vicky! My hat is off to you as well--mother, survivor, lover, worker!!