The Phibes formerly known as artist
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "The Phibes formerly known as artist" journal:
[<< Previous 10 entries]
I'm like a bad operating system:|
As soon as there are too many things open on my desktop, I crash.
I was trying to get my work-work done by February so I could spend February getting rid of crap and making my place look nice. This has not happened thus far. It seems that in my enthusiasm to get the year rolling and make more money, I did what I SHOULD do, which is get in touch with the people I already work with to set a game plan for doing new work. Unfortunately, this took me from having ONE easily ignorable project on my plate, to having THREE projects on my plate, which seems to be the magic number of projects at which I shut down and am incapable of doing any of them.
Honestly, I've done scarcely a lick of work on any of them in two weeks. The only one I'm even taking baby steps is this contract I'm trying to work out. I've got two people wanting to license the same category and I have to choose one. One person I've worked with for years and am therefore comfortable working with, the other is new. the new person is offering me a sweeter financial deal. I want to work with the people I know, but I'm trying to finagle a better percentage out of them. They are selling hard, but won't seem to budge more than 5%, which still puts the other offer 15% ahead of them. Meantime, until the deal gets settled, I am postponing the flow of sweet, delicious money.
Haha...remember when my journal used to entertaining? When I just wrote about dudes I wanted to have sex with? What is this 15% crap? Who even has any idea what the hell my job actually IS?
The other project I think I'm having trouble with because it's the work that, in the past, I always would have Mike do, so I think there's this part of my brain saying "what the hell? This isn't MY job...where's Mike?"
Nevertheless, in spite of my current freeze-up, I feel like I have business on the upswing again. That's a nice thing about my business: I can just ignore it for months and then pick it back up again in a couple of weeks. I guess this is the other thing that makes me waffle on whether I want to switch to a business that requires daily attention.
Also, I found out that I'll FINALLY have stuff in Target this year, which I've only been trying to do for like 5 damn years. that's a reassuring development.
Rich Kid, Poor Kid|
Being as I'm in a stable long-term relationship with someone who wants to have babies someday, I have to consider having babies someday in my gameplans. I wonder if I'll be one of those horrible insane parents, and what variety I'll be. I think I can probably hold it together well enough not to beat my kids with wire hangers, but I can see the danger of being one of those overachiever parents. Maybe not quite to the extent that I'll be freaking out when my kid doesn't get into the ivy-league prep pre-school when they're four, but I've already got all these notions about how my kids will learn to play musical instruments and speak three languages and know how to play the stock market and be black-belts in karate before they're out of elementary school.
Richard was telling me about some thing he read in a magazine about the difference between how rich people raise their kids and how poor people raise their kids (It seems that I was raised a poor kid, but have entirely rich person parenting notions.) So the theory set forth is that poor people raise kids with the idea that childhood is the only time you have to be happy and free before you're shackled to a life of toil. Rich people, on the other hand, regard childhood as the time to rigorously prepare for your adulthood when all the important and rewarding things in your life will happen.
I definitely recall a childhood of being yelled at to "go outside and play!" and getting a clear subtextual message that children are something that happens to you that makes your life harder and the best you can hope for is that they stay out of your hair and make it through adolescence without getting knocked up, hooked on drugs, or going to juvie. For the record, my sister got hooked on meth and my brother got sent to juvie for car theft and knocked someone up when he was 17. I get on my Mom's case when she keeps holding me up as proof of her good parenting because 33% IS AN F!
I don't think I'm a "poor kid who made good" or someone who "class climbed" as much as I just grew up thinking there must have been some clerical error in heaven that I just had to sort out and correct because that environment just didn't make any sense to me. Also, because I have a few wealthy relatives, nobody buys the "poor" thing anyway...especially since all middle-class hipsters like to front like they're "street." I'm like "no! seriously! My Mom was on welfare! My brother is a blue-collar redneck! A REAL one!" And none of that really makes me "street." The streets have always made me uneasy.
So, basically, I don't think I'm going to be yelling at my kids to "go outside and play" because I don't want them out there playing those poor kid games like "break stuff at the junk-heap," "kill the small animal with scrap lumber," or "try to make the retarded kid eat gravel." They're going to be getting stuffed with practical knowledge so they can get rich and retire early...then they can play all they want.
Dreams and the people who live them|
So, I'm very much a believer in the possibilities of life and that people shouldn't shut themselves off to them. Most things are easier than most people think if they decide to pursue them. While some things are, admittedly, hard, I'll occasionally run across someone pining to do something simple as though it were the hardest thing in the world. People acting like a vacation to an adjacent state or getting a different job is a grand life ambition/impossible dream and things like that.
But then, I've noticed this pattern where there seem to be three types of people: People who think and don't do. People who think and do. And people who do without thinking.
Let's say, for example, that the dream is to move to Paris. You say to the people, "well, you'll probably have to learn to speak some french and get a visa..."
Person one says: "oh...that's too complicated. Well, I guess it'll never happen. *sigh*"
Person two says: "Well, I guess I'd better start taking french lessons and look into this visa thing."
Person three says: "Oh, I'm sure that will work itself out...I'm just going to go right now!" Then they call you up a month later from Paris saying "I hate it here! Everyone speaks French! And people keep expecting me to have a visa!"
I like to think I'm the second type of person, but I feel like I know a lot of the third type of person. On one hand, I admire their courage to jump into things and go forth boldly, on the other, I'm often shaking my head in exasperation when they refuse to acknowledge obstacles and get bit in the ass later.
Case in point, a couple I know recently moved to a small town, bought the local diner and decided they could start on a shoestring and run everything with just the two of them and occasional help from a family member. A month later, I get an email saying "Never open a restaurant! All you do is work!" to which I wanted to reply "duh...you never thought of that?"
On the heels of that, I was with a friend when one of their friends was going off excitedly about how she wanted to buy a neighborhood restaurant that had gone out of business and re-open it. I started warning her about costs and setbacks and how it's harder and more expensive to open and run a restaurant that she thinks and how there's tons of paperwork and you need a bajillion permits. She seemed to dismiss every cost thing I threw out with the ol' "oh, I can do that...or my friends can help me!" and after awhile I just had to quit because she was looking at me like I was a naysaying asshole. I really hope she doesn't do it, because I can already see running into her in a few months and hearing "Never open a restaurant! It's expensive and all you do is work..."
And so it is that I come to realize why most restaurants fail: Because they are one of those "dream" things that is so often done by optimistic do-without-thinking types...and if you don't know (or refuse to acknowledge) what your obstacles are, it sounds really easy and fun. You just slap some paint on the wall, invent some tasty sandwiches, make a menu and throw open the doors to prosperity and personal fulfillment...easy! And what's weird is that MOST PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK THIS. Like when I say that I might like to open a restaurant someday this is the model in people's heads. So they're totally baffled as to why I'm projecting quarter-million-dollar startup costs or overly concerned with establishing systems and growth infrastructure and a viable exit strategy instead of things like recipes and what color I'm going to paint the walls.
In fact, most people assume that I intend to do the cooking, which I have to keep assuring them I don't. I don't think making burritos for 12 hours a day in perpetuity would be ANYONE's dream...if they thought about it first.
The new year|
I always find it strange how, psychologically, it's so easy for me to "start fresh" as soon as december is over and january begins. I mean, theoretically I could do it at any time, but it never seems as effective as at the onset of the new year.
The last few months of 2006 just felt lost in a jumble of trips and parents visiting and classes and events and holidays and so forth. I didn't see my friends much and I always felt harried. Now, time feels like this smooth expanse in front of me that I can shape to my liking.
I quit the restaurant hostess job on New Year's day because they insisted that I waitress despite my protests and it was a TOTAL NIGHTMARE. There was only one other waitress and we were short a busboy and the manager (who seemed incapable of helping us) kept seating people until we were in far far over our heads. It ended with me breaking down crying and the restaurant having to be closed early. Since I have a strict life rule of quitting any job that makes me cry, I had to quit after that. It was a little sad because I was just starting to feel like I was part of the crew and be friendly with the rest of the staff. Outside of that incident, I had really liked the job.
Thus far this year, in spite of being sick most of this week, I've actually felt like I've done something productive every day instead of the usual running in place. This feeling has come mostly from totally ignoring the two drawing projects I unfortunately commited to before promising myself that I would never commit to drawing projects ever again. This thing with me and drawing is a pathology that goes beyond mere procrastination. When I have something I need to draw, it's like this shackle around my neck that ruins everything else and makes me not want to wake up in the morning. I had first assumed this was a new development, but once I thought about it, it goes back almost as far as I remember.
The first incident I recall was when I was about 3 years old. My Mom had made me and my brother these little books with cardboard covers and blank paper inside for us to draw in. When she gave me mine, she said "you can draw the Hobbit!" I'm sure it was just a harmless suggestion, based on the fact that I liked the Hobbit cartoon, but I took it as meaning that the book was given to me with the expectation that I had to draw the hobbit...and I knew good and well that drawing the Hobbit was beyond my capabilities. So the book not only remained blank, but filled me with anxiety every time I looked at it. The same thing happened in 3rd grade when I got the only "F" I ever got in elementary school...in art. I got the F because I didn't do any of the assignments. They would say "draw a thanksgiving picture" and I'd have this vision of a pilgrim feast that I knew I couldn't pull off, so I just wouldn't do it.
So fast forward 20 years and I'm still hiding under my covers afraid to draw pictures because they might turn out bad. My life is a tragicomedy.
So anyway, by totally ignoring my obligations, I've been able to work on getting my home and office organized and work on some of my hobby projects, like the gardening and my big tamale-making project. I'm getting surprisingly obsessive about the gardening. I just planted my first group of seeds and I keep checking them multiple times a day even though they probably won't sprout for two weeks.
Anyway, so far, so good!
There seems to be no catch|
So I went in to work my restaurant hostess job on Friday and saturday night and sunday brunch. The only catch seemed to be that they'd lost about 5 employees all at once and needed quick replacements. The new waitresses that I talked to said that they, too, had been hired on the spot with little consideration of their credentials and with little detail given. At least one of them corroborated my opinion that that was strange, saying "I'd always thought it was hard to get restaurant jobs in New York...I've applied places where they expected you to provide headshots with your resume." I tried to feel out the other staff with the "how long have you worked here? How do you like it?" questions. The rundown the bartender gave me was that most people either work there for a week or work there for years. "It's not as much money as some people are used to and they usually figure that out pretty quick."
I could see how it could be pretty disappointing for the servers working for tips...even on Friday and Saturday night people were trickling in at maybe an average of one table per 15 minutes and there were 4 servers on. At one point almost 40 minutes passed without a single person coming through the front door. The only busy time seemed to be Sunday Brunch, although compared to the last restaurant I was a hostess at, it was still a cakewalk. And there's a funny thing. I have not been a restaurant hostess for 8 years and yet I picked it back up like I never stopped...I just had to memorize new names and table numbers. I even found, when my first party came in, that after I asked how many people, my automatic next question was "smoking or non?" I caught myself before I said it (there is no smoking indoors in New York), and just kind of paused awkwardly like "s....uh...right this way." I guess if you repeat something a couple thousand times, time does not erase it from your vocabulary.
Often I have these fantasies of traveling back in time. Not physically, but that I can somehow transport my mind with all my present knowledge back into my body at a different time in my life and totally turn around situations that I struggled with then. My first day, I kind of felt a little like I was in one of those fantasies...that my mind had traveled back to 8 years ago with all it's current information. 8 years ago, I didn't really grasp what my job was, but this time I know. I've said before that I never understood what a work ethic was until I worked for myself. I always saw jobs as simply doing what you're told for a designated number of hours for a designated amount of money. I never really got that my job was to fulfill a function within an organization toward an overarching goal. If you asked me eight years what my job was, I would have said "Sitting people at tables, giving them menus and answering the phone." Now I'd say "to make customers feel welcomed and taken care of and, where possible, to facilitate the jobs of the servers with the overarching goal of satisfying the customers so they'll continue to patronize the establishment." I have fun working by pretending that the restaurant is mine. Even on day one, I was starting to muse on how hard or easy it might be to maneuver myself into management.
But there's another interesting quirk. The serious asian guy who hired me, I'm still not sure if he's an owner or a manager, but either way, his management style seems to be extremely laissez-faire. Half the time I was working, he wasn't even there and I had no earthly idea who was in charge when he was gone. I figure objective one is simply to insinuate myself into the team, then I can start nosing into heirarchies. From what I gathered, though, the people who worked there for a long time seemed to be there because they enjoyed the laid back-ness. When it was slow and half the staff was just hanging around the bar reading the Onion, the manager would come by and just shrug like "whatever..." instead of hustling them off to do work. The rest of the staff seems nice. I was really anxious before I went in on the first day because I knew that I was going to have to try to make nice with a whole new group of strange people. The fact that I was anxious, though, was all the more reason I thought I needed this job. I've only been getting more isolated and socially awkward, so something had to be done. Still, I find that when I'm chatting with co-workers, I don't want to disclose any information that might lead anyone to believe that I might be interesting. I don't know if this is my new defense mechanism or what. Maybe because boring people don't provoke any strong emotions, so boring people don't get mixed up in drama.
Anyway, it's kind of hard to explain that this no-brainer job that pays fifty bucks a shift is making me really weirdly happy. That doing simple, active work that doesn't fill me with soul-crushing depression is really satisfying. It's nice to feel tired and have my feet hurt so that when I go home and take off my shoes and get in bed, it feels like a reward. I suppose I might get sick of it, but I think I'll stick with it for awhile.
That was weird|
Okay, okay, I have posts about europe (great!) and cooking class (retarded!) pending. Right now, though, I would like to talk about the weirdness of jobs right now.
I guess one new piece of advice I have for the youth of america is that trying to figure out what to do with your life by doing nothing is not the soundest strategy. While new opportunities have come along, I am nonetheless heading toward full-fledged financial crisis by January. New opportunity #1
is that starting January I will be the staff designer for a startup company in which I will be paid entirely in company shares. I actually orchestrated this arrangement myself since I am fairly confident it will pay off in spades in two to three years. In the meantime, however, it pays nothing. And so I opened up craigslist, went to"jobs: restaurants & hospitality: williamsburg" and decided to go apply for the only waitress job posted in the last week that I thought I could get. (Even though I have 5 years restaurant experience, it's all from 8 years ago.)
So I walk into said restaurant and ask to speak to a manager about the server position. The manager, a very serious asian guy, comes out, sits down with me and says "did you see the ad in craigslist?" I told him yes.
He then says "I just hired two girls, but I have to see how they work out. I'll probably need two more people in January. Do you know how to use one of those?" He points to the touch-screen POS thing. I tell him yes.
Then he says "If you want to be a hostess you can start tomorrow night. Then if a server position opens, you can move to that."
I said "...okay...so what time should I come in tomorrow?"
He says "Five."
And that was kind of that. Please note that he never asked for my experience or qualifications. So of course now I'm highly suspicious of what's up with this job that they'll hire anyone who comes through the door. I mean, the pay for the hostess position is pretty low, but it's also all in cash under the table, so that's a big plus on my tax-burdened self. It also seems like they want people for weekend nights, which is a social-life killer, so maybe that's it? Truth be told, hostessing is my far preferrable job, but I'd rather have waitress money.
Either way, it kills multiple birds with one stone: I get extra money, I get to get off my ass and out of my damn house and associate with other people, I get restaurant experience, I get free sandwiches.
So tonight I get to find out what the catch is.
periodic life crises or "I hate having to draw shit"|
"This life is a hospital in which every patient is possessed with a desire to change beds." -- Charles Baudelaire
I'm coming to think that the concept of the "mid-life crisis" is dated. It's an anachronism dating back to a time when everyone got jobs, got married and started popping out kids right off the bat, and were so preoccupied with all of that that it took them until they were in their 30's or 40's to realize that they didn't know who they were or what they were doing with their life. Nowadays, we, the generation raised by the mid-life-crisis-havers, got pushed to express ourselves and find ourselves and explore our options early. What I theorize is that this has lead to figuring out much sooner that you don't know who you are or what you're doing with your life. Now we have post-college crises, mid-20's crises, turning 30 crises, and so forth. I feel like I've been having a mid-life crisis every two to three years since I was 21.
The thing I've been dealing with this year is that I really want to change careers. I've got an okay thing going here, but I feel like I've hit a wall. Firstly, I have trouble mustering enthusiasm for anything I'm doing and thus have trouble mustering anyone else's enthusiasm. Secondly, I hate drawing and get overwhelmed with depression every time I have to do it. And so, since indicators show that my career will be dying a slow death due of these factors, now would be a good time to jump ship. I just haven't figured out which other ship I can jump to. Do I want to start a different business? Do I want to work for someone else now that I have actual experience and specialized skills? Also, now that I know that I'm going to get Glaucoma eventually, I feel like I need to come up with something that won't leave me high and dry if I start losing my sight.
The thing about my career is that even though I'm alternately apathetic and depressed about DOING it, I love the flexibility and I love the money. LOVE the money. I want to turn the money into a person just so I could make love to it. I don't want to stop making money. I might need that money to buy bionic eyes someday. NICE bionic eyes. Ones that shoot lasers and have Gucci logos on them. No fucking around. But seriously, I've been dicking around all summer trying to figure things out and I'm still not much closer to any better options.
The summer hasn't felt like the summer until now. It began with me being too involved in moving to be involved in much else. Then it was too ungodly hot to leave the house. Then I was obliged to deal with family unpleasantries. Now, I finally feel like I can enjoy the summer as I intended to.
When I got back from Florida, Richard planned us a "food adventure" where we went to sunset park to find a little Vietnamese bakery that served avocado shakes and pork sandwiches for next to nothing. I also got a packaged "Aloe Vera dessert" which we still haven't eaten. In further food adventuring, I went to the Sunburnt Cow (australian food) with labrujah
and company for the $5.00 dinner special and got to eat kangaroo sausage.
Richard and I had a surprise visit from one of Richard's jet-setting pals who brought his Finnish lady friend with him. Pal shortly left for portland, but Finnish Lady Friend has been staying with us all week. On Tuesday, after play rehearsal (an new gem entitled "Jungle Woman of the Jungle" in which I play a mangy cat person) some more Finns came over for barbecue and we grilled salmon and other barbecue-ables. The esteemed ravenface
and his best girl also dropped by.
Last night I went out for Mai Tais and a Pu-Pu platter at Marions with lady_i
and friend to discuss the latest Miss Hollywood Breast Cancer Benefit which I need to work on posters, invites and website for lest I be beaten with a stick. Today, however, I am having tea with suedeness
in the afternoon, then I have a porkchop date with Richard. On Saturday, I'm doing a Pyrate Sisters gig in Connecticut.
I guess I'm so glad that it's bearable enough outside to go out that I want to go out all the time now.
Since wednesday (and until next wednesday) I'm up in Maine enjoying the clean beach and tasty lobsters with Richard's family. Two days after I return, I have to go to Florida to deal with my own family, which I am not looking forward to at all.
Although I'm on vacation, I can't say I haven't been on vacation all summer. I've been trying to "clean out" my job and separate the necessities from the random, unneccessary flotsam. It's actually worked, because now that I've stopped making any new work for myself, I find that work still comes to me and that's the work that pays off. It simplifies the process. I have my laptop with me here, so I've still been doing work, but it feels more relaxing, nonetheless.
Recently I discovered the site 43things.com
(a site that makes you list 43 things you'd like to do with your life) through ratchick
's journal and then, through that, the site 43places.com
(where you list 43 places you'd like to go) which I'm kind of addicted to. I only have 31 places so far and I've been trying to list everywhere I've been, which I realize is a lot of places. It's giving me the itch to do more traveling.
Richard: You're going to have to hold me tonight, because I just read an H.P. Lovecraft story and I'm scared.
Me: Are you still afraid of Lovecraftian fungus aliens?
Richard: No, I've been listening to Sondheim, so now I'm afraid of people from uptown.
[<< Previous 10 entries]