Conflict of Interests

January 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m not generally the kind of person who regrets.

This is not to say I don’t do and say regrettable things, but as a general rule my regrets tend to do with people I have interacted with, rather than life decisions I have made for myself. When it comes to my personal road more-or-less traveled, I always seem to find just as many irreplaceable experiences, lessons, and relationships that occurred because of what I chose as what I might have chosen. That said, I seem to have drawn myself to a fork in the ole life-road. I mentioned that I’ve been accepted at my dream-with-an-asterisk-cause-y’all-know-how-I-roll school, which also happens to reside across the country and be SUPER expensive. I’ve mentioned that I’m perpetually broke no matter what, and that I hate it. I may not have mentioned but you can probably surmise that I still kind of want to keep my education options open, because as much as I love Southern California and salivate at the idea of being back in a classroom, 12-23 months is a long time to leave my life, career, and loved ones.

The hardest part about this decision is, oddly, that I am confident that I will be happy no matter what. Like I said, I don’t generally spend a lot of time regretting*. If I go to L.A., I’ll be warm year-round, get to hang out with my brother and friends from middle school, meet awesome new people, and learn amazing things about my craft from a school that makes a habit of throwing you directly into the business. If I go to New York, I’ll be able to cross “lived in New York” off my life list, get to hang out with friends from high school, college, and the film I just finished, be only a 4 hour bus ride from Mr. B, make awesome new friends, and learn amazing things about my craft**. If I stay in DC, I’ll get to continue to live with Mr. B, hang out with my best friends in the world so who needs new friends, be close to my parents, and establish myself as a designer and a business. Not to mention the fact that DC is the only place of the three that has an actual owner of a design company who wants to hand her business over to me. The question there is whether going to school will help or hurt this endeavor.

So yeah there’s that. And so I’ve decided, in true B style, that I’m just going to work my ass off and let the cards fall where they may. I have landed three weekly part time jobs since I started this blog post over a week ago***, and I’m doing pretty well (IF-I-do-say-so-myself) at scheduling them properly so I don’t get all crazy and lose track of everything and never get anything actually done like last time (and this time, as long as we’re being honest here.) Doing this film, blowing all my money in California****, and getting into school really changed my perspective. I’m ready to move to the next step, and no matter what that step is, the first step is getting my finances in order.

I’m tired of being broke, y’all. RENT is a lie… you can’t be an awesome artist with no money (and imagine the medication bills!). That’s what I’ve learned in the three years of recession since graduating. You can’t be an awesome artist with no money… but you also can’t be an awesome artist with no time. I have no regrets about quitting my terrible tech writing job, because I never would have gotten the film, and I never would have pursued school so doggedly, and I never would have had the awesome revelation I’m laying out to you now.

I need money, and I want to go to school, so at this moment in time I’m putting my head down and slamming through this business we call freelancing. I officially have an unofficial financial advisor, who, as a freelancer herself and also one of my best friends, I find exactly qualified to explain to my poor little artist brain what a CD is and why I should have one. (Also, what savings are, because let’s get something straight right now. I am awesome in many ways, but I do not do math, and I do not deal well with money.) I have exactly the right amount of regular freelancing work, and good amount of promise for sporatic-but-well-paying work, to really think I can do this without 1) running myself into the ground or 2) killing Mr. B’s soul.

I’ll actually stick to my 2011 statement of not taking work that can’t pay for itself (ie. no $200 paychecks for two months’ worth of work… if you don’t work in theater, I’m sorry to shock you. If you do work in theater, represent! We deserve to be paid what we’re worth*****.) No big vacations until after everything is all said and done and I know what will be happening this fall, and exponentially fewer slips of the cash here and there for dinner, drinks, and the like. You know, all the really clear, obvious stuff that you probably already knew and maybe even told me about but I just figured out.

Most important though, I need to figure out how to do symbols other than asterisks, because five in a row-plus-sneaking-some-parenthetical-statements-in is just too many.

*Unless you count being embarrassed that I said or did something ridiculous or uncalled for in front of other humans. In that case I spend a lot of time regretting.
**Also, fabric stores out the hoo-ha!
***I know, I know, and I’m sorry. But it’s just something that is going to happen a lot.
****Did I tell you that’s where I went? I went to California immediately after Christmas, which was immediately after the film wrapped, to be the MOH in a wedding, hang out with some awesome old friends, and then hang out with my awesome brother and interview at The School In Question before coming back broke, jobless, and without a plan.
*****I know most companies have to sacrifice and scrape by in the beginning, but I just can’t afford to spend money to work anymore. Also I have yet to ever be rehired by the same company for more money; all my best paying jobs have been my best paying jobs from the start, so now try to tell my I just have to pay my dues.

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Oh Facebook, I Know It’s Not Your Fault

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

So here’s the thing.

I’ve been in a relationship with the most amazing man in the world (research pending) for 6+ years.  We’ve had our ups and downs but he’s the best and you don’t have to click far on Facebook to see that that is my feeling. And yet, for some reason, I seem to carry the reputation of a girl who is interested in just peacing out on her relationship to hook up with people who she is friends with on Facebook but hasn’t actually spoken to in real life since high school or early college.  I feel like it’s weird that this happens with somewhat regularity, but maybe it’s not.

The other night was an example of just such a situation.  A person, I will call him TDJ*, that Mr. B and I have known since high school, messaged me with overt intentions of and-I-use-this-term-loosely courtship. I politely declined, and he persisted. That part was not too strange, since he had tried this before through Facebook and the rumor mill (we come from a small town; people love gossip).  I felt bad for the guy for having such a bizarrely persistent crush on a girl that he didn’t even know anymore**, so I continued to try to be nice, but firm.  Then he insulted Mr. B in the most hurtful, high school way and insinuated that I am the kind of girl who would not only find insults toward my long term boyfriend a turn on, but who would also cheat on said boyfriend. I believe (some of) the exact words were “that doesnt mean anything to me that your [sic] taken..u aint married are you?”

I probably should not have gotten as riled as I did (and clearly still am) but I did, and told him on no uncertain terms that um beeteedubs it means a lot to ME that I’m taken, regardless of legal status. I even wish that I hadn’t been too flustered to say what I really thought, which was more along the lines of SCREW YOU DUDE MY LIFE IS AWESOME.  But alas,  you must know by now how words escape me in the heat of the moment.  Mr. B ultimately took over and politely*** requested that TDJ leave me alone, and while my feminist side had a (very) momentary roar at its cages, the rest of me was thrilled that he defended my honor in such a way.  Because seriously. Eff that guy.

If I dated a person like TDJ, my life would be completely different, and not in a good way.  Mr. B is smart, honest, kind, responsible, sensitive, and freaking hilarious, not to mention easy on the eyes (hey-o!)  TDJ is the kind of boy I was attracted to when I was younger: good looking but emotionally unattached and “funny” in that not funny at all but actually really mean way****.  So suffice it to say, I am so thankful that Mr. B found me before I permanently attached myself to one of them. Mr. B supports my goals and aspirations, even when they are jumbled and don’t make sense (ie. always,) and even when they don’t make rent (or birthdays…) on time.  He keeps me sane in an insane career path: he talks me down (or up) when I’m ready to fly off the handle because of something someone said, or something that happened at work, or my ever conflicted feelings about what I’m doing and where I’m going and why.

It’s been so long since I’ve been single that I can’t properly imagine the kinds of decisions I would have made given that situation, but I know for a fact that if I was still with any person I dated or was attracted to leading up to Mr. B, I would not have had the strength or support to leave my day job to pursue the arts full time, especially after crashing and burning so hard the first time.  I would not have had the financial or emotional support to continue living on my own, or doubtfully even with a roommate. The past two months have been hard but doable, often only because every night I could come home to reassurance that everything will be okay in the end.

So no, TDJ, I am not interested in your advances. I felt bad for you, and for some reason when I feel bad for a person I more readily allow them to abuse me, but now I pity you in a whole new way.  As long as you talk to girls the way you do, you will never be happy.  High school ended seven years ago and you never recovered, so, that sucks for you and all, but I just can’t be bothered with your plight. Facebook may have made it more complicated to defriend, but some bridges are worth burning.

*Token Dumb Jock. Every high school has at least one; you know yours did.
**and honestly, barely knew in high school
***j/k it wasn’t polite. It was AWESOME.
****And DUMB. Holy crap is this kid dumb.

A Thing That I’ve Been Thinking Today

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I think it’s important to note that I am incredibly fortunate. I know I am fortunate because I am surrounded by people who love, support, and encourage me to pursue my craft with the knowledge that if I fall, one or all of those people will catch me.

I was reminded of this today, when I got a terrible surprise at the bank, in the form of 90 more dollars than I possessed having been sent to Sallie Mae without my knowledge. It’s been that kind of month for me; unexpected expenses in sets of one and two hundred dollars each, with almost no new income for the duration of the month. A forgotten parking ticket, a phone that needed replacing, paying for this semester out of pocket, and so on and so forth, so it goes.

It’s not anything sob-worthy, most of it is my fault: oversight and such. But I’m remembering the days from the first time around, when my roommate would come home from her work at a crisis center with stories of people exactly like me, in exactly the same position, but minus the loved ones willing or able to provide a safety net.

This feels a bit like one of those 99% posts, and maybe it is a little. I just feel incredibly lucky to have the friends, family, boyfriend, and employers that I have, and today especially my heart breaks for people who don’t have that, for whatever reason that they don’t, and I take no issue with giving away some of my income to provide them a semblance of the safety net that I was blessed with, but did not earn and doubtfully deserve.

Bank Account Woes

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have spent WAY too much money this week. All on being social. Ram’s Head, Melting Pot, Public Bar, Guapo’s… those establishments should not be in such close proximity on my bank statement. And yet there they are. Mocking me. Reminding me of how much I DON’T regret hanging out and laughing with the people I love. But also how quickly the first comes every month.

I’ll admit it, I have forgotten how to be broke. When I was a tech writer, it was like a food and going-out bonanza all the time. We hate our jobs, let’s escape to lunch! Happy hour? Great idea! Already went out twice this week? We’re only young once! I know in my head that I can’t do that anymore, or at least not with the zeal and frequency as once before, but I don’t want to have to face it.

Last time I freelanced, I was so broke I was consistently one to two hundred dollars short on the rent. I never planned anything and ran out of money immediately, and when all our friends would go out, I would join them and do my best to not look hungry. Someone usually took pity on me and would buy me a drink or an appetizer, but that made me feel worse.*

The most important (and time-sensitive) lesson I need to learn is discipline. If I’m going to splurge, I have to know that that is my splurge for the month. If I’m going to sleep in, I need to know that that is my day to sleep in for the week. My self-induced structure is currently a house of cards, and that ain’t gonna fly come rent day.

*Though never bad enough to refuse it more than once. Mama’s not that proud.

things I’d like not to repeat

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

The last time I freelanced, I did a lot of things wrong.  These are the ones I least want to re-experience.

1 – I was so lonely, and so jealous of colorful tales from my roommates of coworkers and the mythical “happy hour,” that I called Kojo Nnamdi and Big Tig my “coworkers” and gave myself “business lunches” in which I would drink by myself at lunchtime.

2 – I left my hair in a towel for at least an hour a day.

3 – I accepted non-paying work. More than once.

4 – I only ate couscous.

why for and other unanswerables

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I graduated college with a Theater degree in August of 2008, pretty much exactly when our economic rug was janked right out from under us.  I was full of hope and zest and roses then; it was beautiful.  And then I fell down a flight of stairs.

Literally, I fell down a flight of stairs two months after I was unceremoniously kicked off my parents’ health insurance for turning 22, effectively ruining my knee for life and saddling myself with a whole shiz-ton of brand new medical bills. And figuratively, it was a bumpy, jarring road to the bottom of that year in which I limped along (literally, figuratively, etc.) from part-time gig to part-time gig, and often had to pay my dear, darling, ever-patient roommate rent in installments, even more often having to borrow from my dear, darling, overburdened parents to pay in full.

So when my friend called out of the blue almost exactly a year later and said, “I know it’s The Man and all, but do you want a day job?”  I cautiously asked if there was health insurance involved, and at the first glimmer of a “Y-” I was in like mother truckin flynn.   Even then I knew myself well enough to know that if I’m slightly comfortable I’ll stay forever, and so I told myself, two years.  I would take two years to get my ducks in a row, and then I would be out. The recession would surely be better by then, and I would be the picture of fiscal responsibility.

So I became a tech writer. With a regular paycheck. For the first six months, I felt like a legit billionaire.  Jumping several tax brackets from 6K to 30K a year will do that for you.  But the problem remained that I’m an artist. I can’t help it. Believe me, if I could I would.  And even more unfortunately, I’m an artist who has to work with others, on others’ schedules, in order to do my art.  But so it went.  I could suddenly afford things, and not even just rent!  I made fantastic friends at my new job. I could go on vacation. I. Had. HEALTH INSURANCE.  The first several months of my job all I did was joyously make doctor appointments. I am not kidding; it was my favorite thing.

But the longer I stayed, and the more comfortable I became with the paycheck, and the better friends I became with my coworkers, the more difficult it became to think about leaving.  So why DO you want to leave, you may be asking yourself.  Part of it is that, no matter how much I love my coworkers, my sweet commute, and the regular paycheck (though, two years later, it ain’t quite as sexy as it used to be), when it comes right down to it, I can’t stand my job, and have no desire to go any farther up the food chain in that particular area of business.  The other part, the biggest part, is that, while I no longer have the issue of not being able to afford my art money-wise, I now can’t afford it time-wise.  The nail(s) in the coffin were delivered this spring, when I took on WAY too many gigs related to my art, and ended up working 80 hour weeks for about two months straight; no weekends.  No, it was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  History will tell whether it was the dumbest (something tells me… I’ll do dumber).

But it made me realize that if I don’t take this leap and hope to everything holy that I won’t crash and burn (*cough*likelasttime*cough*), then I will be miserable forever. I will be one of Those People who is bitter and ugly (on the inside!), who drags herself to work where she bitches about her homelife, and then goes home where she bitches about her work life. I’m not trying to be dramatic; it’s a phenomenon we are all well acquainted with.

Basically, my current life goal is I’m just not tryna be That Guy.

So I’ma do it. Quit my day job in pursuit of art. In a recession, on purpose. And record it here. We’ll see how that goes.

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