I've always felt a bit uncomfortable with my job title, 'Arts Officer'. I think it sounds like I should be wearing a Garda/traffic warden style uniform, going around inspecting Crimes Against Culture. There are many such CAC atrocities, e.g. dodgy murals featuring Bart Simpson, knitted landscapes crafted in cheap wool, displayed alongside artworks from Ireland's finest visual artists and well meaning Tidy Towns groups 'decorating' a piece of public sculpture with a sea of bedding plants.
That is not to say that I am the world's leading expert on Culture. Far from it. In my current role of the last 14 years, I've been working alongside professional artists. Although I studied art in college for many years, it is only now that I would actually feel comfortable saying that I 'make art', because I do, having recently re immersed myself in it. For years I called myself a 'lapsed artist'. With a glass of wine for courage, I may even go so far as to say that I AM an artist. Going by the Visual Artists of Ireland guidelines, I've no business considering myself a professional artist. In fact, if an artists presented an application for grant aid to me, I wouldn't give myself a grant. I would turn me down nicely though. I'd be encouraging and say that my work was 'worthy of merit', or words to that effect.
I was a bit morto recently when I updated my profile on Linkedin. I never really use it, but again, I was thinking that I should use it to promote some of our key projects at work. So I added that I had worked as 'Producer and Location Manager' on 'All about Eva', a film project. Except that I did uploaded it wrong and Linkedin sent an email to the whole of the WWW telling them that I had a new job. I tried to undo it, but it was too late. People are still congratulating me on my new job. Proud and all as I am of the film, I had that cringey feeling - 'yer wan works on one film and thinks she is a producer' !
All of these identity crises are a walk in the park when I think back to when I became a mother, almost 7 years ago. Overnight I went from career woman to Stay At Home Mom. The lack of grown up company was tough. I spent most of that first winter on my own. Day time television did my head in. I loved my children. I missed the challenges of work. I tried to dress the way I did BC (before children). You never know when visitors would come .... But heels are a bit impractical when you are wrestling with two infants on the floor. I had to alter my day wear, but I NEVER resorted to the dreaded tracksuits. In my opinion, tracksuits could be added to the list of Crimes Against Culture list, which should only be worn for exercise, or cleaning drains. Track suits have brought about the decline of the much coveted 'Yummy Mummy'. If I had advice to new mums, I would say, squeeze yourself into the jeans, C section stitches n all. Your waist line will thank you later. When my babies were 9 months old, I headed back to work. (Did my best to be)Yummy Mummy became Working Momma. I felt a bit guilty, but to be honest, not that guilty.
I was diagnosed with MS four years ago. I hate when people say that I 'suffer' from MS, because that suggests I am a 'sufferer'. What a horrible description for any illness. 'Sick Chick' doesn't suit me. I'd prefer to say that I get on with it, battle it, stick two fingers up at it - All fighting talk. I was delighted to be ask to write/talk about MS in the media. I've embraced my new role as 'Citizen Journalist', drawing attention to and creating awareness around the illness. My only worry about that though, is that I could get absorbed with the illness, or defined by it.
Despite my frequent posts and stories on Facebook, I've resisted writing a blog-proper for a long time. I was afraid that I jinx it and would run out of things to say. But I found that I was loosing track of my writings on Facebook and gave it a go, as a way to archive my ramblings. I'm comfortable saying that I am a Blogger, but could not say that I am a writer. That is more scary than saying I am an artist.
And now I'm 40. It's Fabulous being Forty apparently. I am in my 40's. How the hell did that happen ??? Truth is though, it does feel fabulous, even it I don't look it. I've got the confidence to do so many things, to embrace them to. To 'go public' as an artist and a blogger. The tattoo, nose piercing and dramatic haircut are looking more likely. Now to master Twitter. BRING IT ON