I am a practitioner of the can-I-have-its, a collector of things. I am the sort who walks through antique shops touching everything, wondering what place these objects could hold in my life. I flip through the ikea catalog and salivate, just a little. I am, indeed, firmly ensconced in the material culture. As a result, I have a lot of stuff, a LOT of stuff. And as an artist, it's worse, because there is always some potential use somewhere down the road for that quirky rusty, something-or-other. In the last months I have been exploring the place of the gift in our culture, and the relationship between faith and fear and abundance and scarcity. I believe that the structure of artificial scarcity is not only self-perpetuating, but in fact, self-catalyzing. What happens when we believe that there is enough? What happens when we act on that belief? So in the spirit of the gift, I am embarking upon a mission to give away the things that I do not need. It is a practice of faith, and an act of rebellion against dominant capitalist culture. Is it a little crazy? Probably. Is it going to be hard? Absolutely. But here I go.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Trepidatiously Entering the Kitchen
As a result (or so I tell myself), my kitchen is way overstocked. Anything that's rarely (or never used) is mentally filed into the I'll use it on Thanksgiving folder. There are things that will (at least for now) stay in that file: The big platter for the turkey, the roasting pan, the gravy boat. I'm fine with that. These are things that actually contribute to joy in my life, contribute to something meaningful. But, I opened the 'baking cabinet' the other day. (If you've ever visited me, you know it as the one under the microwave that, when opened, causes a crashing cascade to the floor.) What a sight.
Now I may be able to convince myself that I need to keep that gravy boat, but 9(!) pie pans and cake tins. At even my most highly-attended thanksgiving I'm sure I never made more than 4 pies.
Ooh, and look at this lovely souffle dish. (That is what this is, right?)
And how many souffles have I made in my 31 years on this planet? Exactly none. But, for the ten years, plus or minus, that this has lived in my cabinet, it has waited with baited breath on that familiar precipice of but I might. (To be fair, it has been known to house stuffing or sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Still.)
And these pretty shiny French something-or-others.
Tiny cheesecake pans? Little flute-edged tart pans? I'm sure there is a fancy name for them. I'm sure in my fantasy life I'd use them all the time. But... I don't.
I'll admit, even, with a little shame that I have never used my flour sifter. I've thought of repurposing it to sift rosin onto a copper plate for making aquatints, but it's never had a use in my kitchen. I hear mothers everywhere (not mine, mind you, but that sort of ubiquitous stereotypical mother that almost no-one I know has) groaning. Maybe they're not mothers; maybe they're pastry chefs. Anyway. No, I don't sift my flour. Never have. A perfect me might, but once you can't use wheat flour anymore, even the hope for an absolutely perfect baked good is as good as gone. That ship has sailed.
I can't help but begin to wonder, am I stockpiling for a life that I don't have? A future life where every detail is attended to, and every thing has its perfect place? Have I been hoarding supplies for a fantasy?
It reminds me of what my boss at my first real grown-up job used to say. We've all heard it. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I know she meant sharp and conservative: black pencil skirts and simple black heels, blazers and understated jewelry... and I wore it, but I often thought of how surprised she would have been if I'd shown up dressed for the job I really wanted--jeans covered in ink and messy apron. The classic artist's uniform. My desires have shifted a lot since then, artistic genius and solitary studio life losing much of its romantic appeal, but that image within an image, the memory of my projected fantasy remains strong and clear. I wonder if I've perhaps been dressing my kitchen in much the same way.