Monday, January 26, 2015

Working For The Weekend

When I was growing up, it seemed that most of the adults I knew toiled away at their jobs during the week just so they could relax and enjoy their life during those two days known as The Weekend.  My father was a carpenter, and my mother also worked outside the home from the time I was about 8 years old.   I remember her being tired and harried most of the week, having to look after a family after working at a job that was not particularly fulfilling in any way except that it paid the bills.  I was determined to not be one of those people whose "real life" was restricted to Saturday and Sunday.  In  my 20's, I worked in a series of low-paying retail jobs and found I could pursue things I enjoyed like writing, dancing, and photography during the work week.  I could wear pretty much whatever I wanted to work (most often it was army boots, skinny black jeans, and over-sized men's jackets);  I could go dancing on Monday night til 1:00 am, and still make it to work on Tuesday by 10 am.  I had my own weekly show on the local university radio station, and was able to plan my theme for the week while working my shifts in a local record store.  There was no great divide between my work life and my non-work life.  It didn't seem to bother me that much that I had no money, benefits, or plans for the future.

That all changed when I finally got a "real job" - one with a decent salary and benefits that required more of me than just ringing in customer purchases and keeping an eye out for shoplifters.  Suddenly, I found I couldn't stay out late during the week and function well at work the next day, and working a 9 - 5 schedule meant that evenings during the week were set aside for  errands and laundry.  The activities that gave me joy were set aside for weekends and holidays, and for many years, I would mourn the fact that I hadn't found my "dream job", which would allow me to get paid for doing the things I was passionate about.  I finally came to terms with the fact that things I love to do don't pay very well, and realized there was nothing wrong with working at a job that wasn't particularly exciting, or inspiring, as long as it was a means to an end.   I try to make the most of every weekend, savouring those precious 48 hours during which I can set my own schedule (you can see why I didn't have children), see and do things I enjoy, and work on projects that feed my soul instead of my bank account.

So what did I get up to this weekend?

After a trip to the market with Heather, followed by a coffee and chat, I stopped at one of my neighbourhood thrift stores where I saw this....

This would be Miss Kitty, lounging in a pile of purses at Silk Road.  She and Smoke, the other store cat, pretty much run the place.  They have not, however, learned how to operate the cash register (yet)

I scored a $5 skirt that inspired an impromptu photo session with my friend Sylvie, who I had planned to meet for a cocktail and a gab later that afternoon.

Sylvie had told me she would be wearing a marvelous hat for our get-together, and she most certainly was.  She was also wearing a beautiful fur and leather vintage coat she found at Value Village.   As we were both looking rather spiffy,  I suggested we do a quick detour to a parking lot in my hood and take a few photographs while there was still a bit of light.  

So there was a bit of this

and some of this....

....and then we headed off to a local pub for some wine and conversation. 

Yep, those are jellyfish.  Soft, sparkly, sequined jellyfish

On Sunday I went to Museum London to see a film (more on that in a minute).  The film was tied in with one of their current exhibits titled "Nature's Handmade" (until April 15th), which features  works by contemporary Canadian artists who use a variety of materials and found objects to create non-traditional representations of nature.  My favourite piece in the exhibit is created by Conan Masterson, and titled "Sea Dab Jig".  The piece depicts a bloom (the term for a large number of jellyfish swarming together) of jellyfish made from fabric and yarn.

             From the artist's statement: 
                          "Jellyfish are like weeds.  Though brainless and boneless, these gelatinous 
                          creatures are resilient, adaptable, and great at surviving.  Overfishing, climate
                          change, and pollution only fuel their spread.   In environmental hotspots across 
                          the globe, certain species of jellyfish are now destroying other aquatic species, 
                         and in absence of competition are quickly becoming the top predator of our waters.
                         Sea Dab is an old Newfoundland term for a variety of jellyfish.  The installation
                         Sea Dab Jig creates a bloom of fabricated jellyfish invading Museum London."

Some of the other pieces in the exhibit were quite striking, such as this large quilted garden by Joyce Wieland.  The piece is between seven and eight feet in height.

Clockwise from top left:  Another large piece entitled Plankton, created by Reinhard Reitzenstein from welded steel;  detail of Plankton;  Ovo and Claw Entablature (Fragment) by Spring Hurlbut.
I had gone to the gallery for a free showing of the 2013 documentary "Spring & Arnaud".  The film is an intelligent and intimate love story between two well-respected Canadian artists, Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs.  I remembered meeting Hurlbut here in London in the early 1980's, which sparked my interest in seeing the film.  The couple met when Hurlbut was 35 and Maggs was 60, and they were together for 25 years until Magg's death in 2012.   The filmmakers follow the couple at their cottage in France and their home and studios in Toronto as they discuss their relationship and respective art practices during the last year and a half of Magg's life.  The film is beautifully shot, and received very good press when it debuted at the Toronto Hot Docs Festival in 2013.    It was unfortunate only about a half dozen people came to see it this weekend.  You can watch the trailer below.

And now, back to work!


  1. Interesting post. You've touched on so many things that I ponder quite often - my parents' example of work, my own working life, what I'd rather be doing than working, and how death will occur for my husband and I at different times (most likely). Funny, I haven't been thinking about jellyfish at all, but I'm sure I will now.

  2. I forgot to comment on you and Sylvie! You are both the epitome of funky chic, or chic-y funk. Love the skirt and the hats!

  3. Your new skirt is WOW, and looks like a blast to wear. I appreciate your writing about "work life" and one's own time. As a recent retiree i am ever more aware of how fast it all flies by. xox

  4. I love the coats that both of you are wearing!

    I too used to live for the weekend. I found it soul crushing. I've been fortunate enough durning the last 10 years to run my own business. Since that closed I've just been dabbling in different things. Lucky for me I don't feel the financial pressure to go back to living for the weekend. At least not yet. I don't think I would do well with it after living so long being my own boss.

    That film seems amazing. I've seen quite a bit of his work but not so much of hers which looks even more interesting.

    I just hate jellyfish. They are beautiful to look at, but can be so deadly.

    Interesting eclectic post! Just like you : )


  5. You both look fantastic, but that skirt is gorgeous! What a fun exhibit. I love the jellyfish and quilted garden.

  6. That skirt is so you and will fit in your closet effortlessly. So graphic. And cat approved too. How will your fuzzy critters feel about that?
    Yes, yes, yes, the big balance of working and living, doing and having. We all come up with our ways. I ended up finding I could work part-time and do just fine. From typing (remember typing?) to teaching art classes to doing art therapy. Sure I had 2 masters degrees, but I loved all my jobs and was able to get benefits with part-time work and support myself. Into my 60s, now that's no longer true - the benefits and supporting myself part. Is it my age, the economy? But savings is a life saver for sure. Congratulations to you Shelley, for figuring out your way.

  7. I loooove that skirt! Miss Kitty reminds me of the store we have here that I call "the cat thrift store" because its a thrift/cat rescue. The rescued cats, all who are up for adoption, wander the store. A nightmare for someone who is allergic to cats, I imagine, but I think its heaven :)

  8. I'm lucky i can afford to work 4 days a week, so grateful i kid you not
    You girls are looking fantastic, love the angle of your shot Shelley, awesome



  9. Score! Your skirt is fabulous, as is your entire ensemble. And I'm lusting after Sylvie's hat! Love your poses and background!

    Your analysis of work life was intriguing. Priorities change over one's life span, and right now I'm still figuring it out. Feeding one's soul, as you say, is right up there for me after health and relationships. Or maybe they are one and the same.

    I would love to see the documentary that you reviewed, so will be watching for it here in Denver.

  10. You and Sylvie look fantastic - the fur coats, the hats, your awesome skirt!
    I wish my charity shop had a cat...
    Yes, it's tricky to figure out the whole work/joy conundrum, isn't it? People who genuinely love their jobs, who can make a living from doing what they love, are lucky. Most people live for the weekend, I'm sure, and see the day job as the necessary evil that pays for the fun times. I'm in the rather odd position of loving what I do, but not getting paid a bean for it - ahh, maybe one day...I think as long as you can tolerate your job and it doesn't utterly destroy either your soul or your health, then it's probably bearable.
    And you've reminded me of all those years when I used to go out drinking and dancing and staying up way past my bedtime on a work night... How the bloody hell did I ever manage that?! xxx

  11. I love jellyfish, although they sting, as I found out swimming once in the South China Sea. I have seen trailers of the documentary and didn't realize this couple had such close Canada connections, which piques my interest even more. I'm glad you and Sylvia got to photo play. You both look gawjus, and I have to say, I really love those bold black and white prints on you.
    The work thing, yes, well... Oddly, working madly foments my best creative projects for my "free" time. I enjoyed your interview with Maureen and it's too bad I missed out on your radio show days. But I'm glad that you have work with benefits, etc.

  12. both of you look fabulous, dear ladies, lovely hats, lovely fur coats and lots of attitude!, you rock!!
    I think the one and only reason I decided to look for a work as a bureaucrat was the timetable! (obviously, also the money, insurance and pension were important, I was in a blind alley). My job is not dreary nor extenuating, sometimes it's even funny, and it lets me with lots of free time to make whatever I like. What else?
    So I understand you enjoy your free time with joy and have lots of interesting things to do!!

  13. Good for you for bringing up the subject of work. While I don't mind working, I mind the inequity in pay and I really mind that too many of us are paid for doing things we find personally unrewarding in the name of money. And the trend is not even chasing after big money but huffing and puffing just to get enough to live on. What will happen if everyone works on Wall Street and no grads become teachers?

    On another note, sooo intrigued that you had a radio show. You need another one. Bet you'd be the best show in a 1000 mile radius!

  14. Shelley, I read this post days ago,,during a late- night feed, and didn't respond then, but I must say: LOVE the skirt. The jellyfish from that exhibit freak me out (!) but the quilted garden is so so very special. I followed my passion and stayed in a near-poverty paying job that I loved for years - and I worked on weekends too! I'm not sure I would go the journalism route again, but it was what it was, and I had a great time. I used to believe that I needed to have a seamlessness between my job and my self. I think you are more wise! Xoxo