Nina Gaby

Essays, art, and healthcare

And now a word from my sponsor….


Blog Valentine

Are we OK if I’m not funny today? Can I just be reflectively 64 years old? Overwhelmed and possibly inarticulate? Valentine’s full of alternative meanings?

Did anyone notice these articles:

“Sponsored by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from” 1-25-15

“This Writer is Sponsored by Herself” Brevity Non-Fiction blog 1-29-15

They are kinda revolutionary. Should be causing mayhem. Because we don’t talk about this stuff. Even I don’t, with my big mouth about everything else.

They sure caught my eye as I pulled off my hoody and pulled on my Spanx getting ready for work the other morning. Said work is my day job and requires grooming, a long commute, lots of regulated paperwork. Mascara.

I snorted as I read the articles, with one eye on the screen and the other on my makeup mirror, snorting both out of the breathless discomfort that pulling on restrictive undergarments causes, as well as in an attempt to rid my mind of what life with “sponsorship” might be like. Another snort masqueraded as a sharp cleansing breath to rebalance my cognitive dissonance. Nothing helped.

(And NPR was on in the background reminding us of how many millions were anticipated this weekend for Shades of Grey or some other ridiculous corporate sponsored all-American event.)

I have always been a career-oriented feminist, equal life-burden-sharing with my husband who would secretly love to be able to “take care of his creative wife” but we do not discuss that. How can I ever be honest about how, just maybe, I have been jealous of all those “sponsored” women I have known in my life as a “hard-working artist and writer and mother who also has always had a responsible day job?” Just watching myself write this makes it seem like I’m spitting out the words. What would it feel like if I were to actually question where I might be today if I had more time? Less pressure? Am I the only one who worries I might lose my mind if I reviewed my life with any real scrutiny?

This is my self-talk: “You are so lucky to have your job. You help people. You are so much happier aka sanctimonious than if you were languishing in your studio just making stuff or writing stuff. You just do it all. Girl. Awesome.” Still not helping.

Later that morning I closed my office door and collapsed into a teary heap on my desk. Simultaneously trying to see patients, get to meetings, answer e-mails, promote my book, monitor Facebook, call the bank, call the vet, the guy to rake the two feet of ice off the roof, forgetting my lunch, haven’t exercised, feeling guilty for not paying closer attention to it all, beating back anxiety. A midday pity party interrupted by a million things that I didn’t want to deal with. Like those articles describing lives of privilege. Feeling really angry that some people in this world can just focus on their writing, their art, their exercise routines, their own mental health.

This is dangerous terrain. And luckily it lasted less than a minute.

Fast forward to this morning. A Valentine from my “sponsor.” Three crisp bills in a very cool card from my husband to “help” me promote my book, or at least find something fabulous to wear while I’m doing it. Now that’s privilege.

6 thoughts on “And now a word from my sponsor….

  1. I think it’s very dangerous and presumptuous for any of us to judge other lives. Whatever path we choose or take by necessity involves trade offs, sacrifices, advantages, pleasures, disappointments, rewards, and so much more. The important things, I think, are to keep our minds open to potential options, to do the best we can with the time, money, environment, obligations, and advantages we do have, to support our sisters (and brothers) who walk the creative path with us, and to try to keep envy, which seems to be inevitable, at bay. Good post, Nina, and much food for reflection.

    • Thanks Sheila….I have to monitor myself and remember, in the words of the famous, deceased family therapist Virginia Satir “Everyone is doing the best they can. The very best.”

  2. On some level, we all feel deprived of an easier life…even as we espouse how grateful we should be. Some days are just hard.

  3. I read both those commentaries and shook my head at the self-importance, the posturing, the trite self-confessed guilt of wealth, the waste of time about who’s up, who’s down, what’s fair, who’s hurt. It’s not rocket science to follow an author’s bio and figure out “from whence they came.” There’s no big secret revealed.

    Even on my hardest days, I wouldn’t give in to envy or jealousy for those ‘seemingly’ more privileged than I. Privileged how? Financially? So what if her husband earns enough that she doesn’t need a paying job. So what if that gives her more time for non-work pursuits? So what if she thinks that gives her some advantage in the publishing world and (gasp) she writes about it because it makes her feel guilty?

    That has nothing to do with me, my path, my success or my happiness. It’s a sorry day when I choose to suffer because someone else is richer than I or gets a leg up that I don’t. I wasn’t raised to measure life that way. My life is what I make it, privilege or not!

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