Small talk by Marena Mitchell

Marena Mitchell SQjpgToday I went to the mall with my friend and when I asked her to help me think of something to write about, she didn’t really have an answer for me. All I can seem to think about is how much this weather is still killing me, how more snow is coming and how I’m about to jump ship and buy a plane ticket to Florida and never look back.

But I won’t put you all through a third rant about the weather, I know we’re all exhausted by it and harping on it won’t help.

But here’s the thing — I am in a rut.


A writing rut, an art rut, a relationship rut, a life rut. It seems to all be piling up at once and it’s leaving me completely sucked dry.

Adjusting to being what I often call a “functioning human” is a learning process. Being in school was something I was good at. I was good at doing homework, I was good at someone telling me explicitly what to do and then going and doing it by the time it was due.

School has trained me to be able to cope with only the exact opposite of what being an adult actually is.

I’ve slowly been realizing that no one gives you deadlines for projects that you create yourself (save for, you know, this column). No one is around to say, “Hey how’s that drawing coming? And what about that zine you’ve had sitting finished on your computer since September? When are you finally going to release that thing? Oh yeah, remember that graphic design book you bought? When are you going to put together a portfolio?”

Left to my own devices, I am a complete mess. Laziness is certainly a part of it, but I can’t completely use that as an excuse because I have been making work.

Somewhere along the line, I guess I just convinced myself that what I was making (writing, cooking, etc.) wasn’t all that important. Though, you wouldn’t know it by the obnoxious amount of photos I post of whatever I’m doing at any given second on my Instagram feed.

I had a friend tell me once that he really enjoyed my blog, but that I was too self-defeating and it turned him off a little bit to my writing. I took that to heart and have made a conscious effort to stop putting myself down, but lately I have genuinely been feeling this dark cloud that hangs over everything I do.

I suppose it’s the plight of many young artists who, like me, were trained in an academic setting and then cast forth into the world after a rigorous year-long marathon all leading up to one thesis show. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of creating a BFA or MFA thesis, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If you haven’t, let’s just say it’s something like staring down a very long tunnel. You move along at a good pace and just when you think you’re in the clear and you can see the opening at the other end, someone lights the entire tunnel on fire and you have to run as fast as you possibly can to avoid going up in flames.

Fun, right?

So this whole stressful event happens and then it’s just over. You graduate, you have the piece of paper and you’re exhausted. I didn’t make a piece of artwork for practically four months after my graduate thesis. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to create work without a studio space and I was completely lacking in inspiration.

So now here I sit, three months shy of a year being a post-graduate 20-something who isn’t utilizing her degree for anything beyond a hobby. I guess that gets to me a little bit. I’ve been trying to be stricter about setting goals for myself. I’m trying to write down deadlines and stick to them.

Here’s the thing about being an adult, though. My days are pretty much the same. I go to work, I come home and then I’m left to do practically whatever I want. “Practically whatever I want” can, for the most part, be translated into two things.

One, sitting on Tumblr for hours, reblogging images of Drake and all of the bulldogs I wish were my own pets. Two, sitting in front of my TV watching Undercover Boss while playing Candy Crush until I run out of lives.

I hope you see my problem.

I guess it all boils down to me having to decide to grow up a little bit more and dedicate myself to the things I know I should care about. I’m trying to navigate this lifestyle that requires me to be the one who is solely responsible for what I create and put out into the world.

It feels like a lot, maybe too much, responsibility for one neurotic young adult. Though, maybe it’s time I stepped up.

Marena Mitchell is a young artist and leisurely writer living in New Paltz. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an MFA in printmaking in 2013. You can find her other writings in her zines, on her blog