In my fortunate life as a freelance artist there are some days that I don’t “work.” Except for a 30-minute violin lesson taught, today was one of those days. Here is what I did instead.

1. Meditated. It was my first time actually sitting my butt down to meditate since my visit to the Brooklyn Zen Center a few weeks back. I have stumbled on an interesting truth about my meditation practice, which is that for most of my two years of practice, I have been in extreme emotional turmoil. Now that I’m not in extreme emotional turmoil anymore (thanks, universe! thanks, love! thanks, friends!), I don’t exactly know how to have a meditation practice. I’m hoping that the nine-day silent New Year retreat I signed myself up for (back when I felt more confident about my practice) might help with this.

2. Wrote in my journal.

3. Went to the grocery store. I’ve gotten in the habit now of visiting Holzkopf’s Meat Market, the little butcher shop I’m fortunate to have a mere five minutes’ walk from our place, for meat purchases. (Today: three pounds of pork shoulder.) Then I visited Devon Market for the produce and spices and dry goods I needed to make my first-ever ramen soup. (The recipe is extremely fussy, so I’m adapting it some. Devon Market didn’t have “white miso,” but then again, who does?) By the end of these errands, I felt somewhat resentful of the time it had taken. It’s a messed-up world we live in when we begrudge ourselves the time to select and prepare the food we are going to eat. Like we should be doing something more important? What’s more important than food?! Over it.

4. Grieved. Grieving has been an important task for the past few days, although I didn’t realize it until today. For me, grief often starts happening before I am aware of it. But there are red flags: for example, calling my girlfriend in a state of agitation about fish sauce, hanging up the phone, and crying. Eventually I cry my eyes out about the correct thing, which is the fact that my mom is gone. Important things are happening in my life, and in my heart, and she is not here. It hurts like hell.

5. Cooked, while listening to podcasts. For me, podcasts and domestic tasks go hand in hand. I enjoyed browning my pork shoulder and pouring soy sauce into my ramen broth, while listening to David Lang talk about music. His insights on audiences seem especially resonant. (I also listened to Seth Godin, but turned it off halfway through. He seems an odd candidate for an On Being interview. His constant talk about products, profit, and industries seems an odd fit for a show about spiritual life, no matter how creative he may be. Am I alone in feeling that CEO’s, impoverished textile workers, and app developers are perhaps not “all artists”? Not to demean their work at all, but I think of art differently than this.)

6. Wrote this.

Later tonight: finish cooking dinner, spend the evening with Susan, and continue taking baby steps towards a NewMusicBox response to the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Stay tuned for that.

Being a low-income freelance musician has its perks, for sure. Sometimes the most important “work” gets done on the days I don’t work. I try not to feel guilty or unproductive about this time, but rather consider that these are the slow-going days that help balance the busy times.

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