February 20, 2019

censuring the mirror

In the early 1980s, every seven-year-old girl's favorite color was purple.  This was mandatory.  At age ten, it switched to green for the sake of preserving coolness and exuding maturity.  We rose above purple.

At thirteen, sitting in Ellen Huffines' English class the day that she explained the difference between left-brain and right-brain functions, every girl desired to be right-brained and found reasons to classify herself as such.

Art and emotion were superior to math and logic.  To be right-brained was to be worth more.

I told Mrs. Huffines the next day, "I'm right-brained."  She tilted her head to the side and thought for a second, and said, "No, you're left-brained, maybe left tending toward whole, but definitely left."

She didn't know at the time that I was struggling with my first episode of depression, and had been for over a year and a half, and that she had just deflated me.  (She knew this later, when she was the Adult I chose to confide in; no matter how brutal, there was a fundamental trust in her honesty.)

Ten years later, the results of a Myers-Briggs test declared me an ISFJ.

I remember all of these things, but what I cannot put my finger on is what led me to come to shun the words "artist" and "creative".

I like artists.  I believe they exist and I've met a few and I've seen and heard their work.  But they perplex me.  I am intimidated by them.  I cannot be them.  They got there first.

"Creative" makes me recoil because it lives in a land where I cannot go.  I feel like a failure just hearing the word.  Left-brained Lille is not creative.  She majored in math.  She works on computers.  She shows people how to use Microsoft Excel.

Putting them together, there is an anger, a mental repelling, something stronger than distaste.  Somewhere along the way, I set up a value judgment as a defense mechanism.  Creative, artistic people are not useful, it says.  They are not productive in society.  They're hanging out up in the frivolous, breezy tree house of Maslow's hierarchy.  It's a luxury.  They're selfish.  They're self-obsessed.  Art is stupid.  I might as well be flinging toys in a sandbox, the way I fight the words.

Yesterday, Therapist Gumby used both of these words to describe me, in response to what I told him.  He's lucky that I didn't take his head off and then crawl under the sofa and hide behind the dust bunnies.  Don't call me that! I said emphatically.  Three times.  Writers aren't artists, I told him, if I even am a writer.  I can't create, can't fabricate, I explained.  All I do is take things that are already lying around and put them together.

He told me about the artist Lonnie Holley.  I told him he looks shitty in Smug.

My identity is being turned upside-down and inside-out and shaken for loose change.  Following my laundry-sink epiphany last week, an idea walked in through the back door it opened, so quickly that it must have been sitting in the lobby, waiting to be called.  I didn't have to create anything.  I just realized that there are pieces lying around that I want to put together.

It's such a left-brained way to write.

And I'm terrified.


  1. AAAA I'm excited for you! Write your little heart out and please let me read it!
    I have a friend who writes maybe how you write. He can't fabricate very much. He just tells stories from his past in an order.

  2. Lille,
    Well, that explains that! Mona