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Personal Economy #4

Three years ago I quit my job of seven years and left my apartment. The one bedroom apartment in Humboldt Park (a somewhat affordable Chicago neighborhood) and the full time job at The Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago were dependent on one another. I spent a lot of my time at work concentrating on my own art, corresponding, writing, researching, and various other digital tasks. Among my immediate co-workers there was a conspiracy to maintain a level of autonomy in the office by helping each other get the job done, keeping the department in good standing with the rest of the museum, so we would all be able to spend more time working on our own projects. I sometimes regret that I took advantage of this situation, forcing my co-workers to take up my slack. In part I had to leave the job because I was being an asshole. But I also understood that this apartment and this job would be just fine with out me. A question burned in my mind, how fine will I be without them?

Since then I have lived itinerantly, continued working on art, moving around to work on projects, learn some of the different ways people live, and begin to understand the varied cultural landscape of the Midwestern U.S. beyond just the cultural elite of the big cities. In the mean time I have expended the surplus money I had stored up. This was not money I had saved prudently, but money given to me by my parents and grandparents. This money still comes in occasionally, and it is a wonderful privilege and blessing. But the sense of security I got from having a couple thousand dollars in the bank, as well as the cash in my pocket has dissipated along with that money. That sense of security comes from somewhere else now.

I am not financially self-sufficient and I wonder if I ever will be. A big part of me hopes to become more and more self-sufficient in that sense. I guess there are some good reasons to do so. The main one I am hung up on right now is the fact that my dependence makes my parents anxious. I love them and don’t like to make them anxious. Even though I often feel emotionally insecure about it I think there is legitimacy in the way I live. And I think it is not uncommon, it is just seldom spoken about. Privilege is not something we choose, it’s just there. The question is what do we do with it? Do we hide it and feel ashamed of it? Do we attempt to share it or divest it? Do we attempt to make autonomy or democracy or health out of it? Alchemy.

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