Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

Keeping the Dream Alive January 8, 2011

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 5:08 am
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So….. I had an interview today. And it’s awful, truly awful because: I REALLY WANT THIS.

Goals are fantastic, as are dreams. But wanting things really, really badly? That’s a double edged sword, mes amis. On the one side, having a great drive and passion toward something gives you courage and pushes you to be your best in order to attain that something you want. On the other, you have to be prepared for the worst (i.e. not attaining it). Not getting the “Snack Bar Attendant” position at your local country club is easily laughed off. Not getting something you really want can scratch even the thickest skin.

You might recall a certain girl who had a certain tryst with a certain online reviewing community (cough, cough… Yelp!… cough) about a year ago. You also might recall how she rose through the ranks from out-of-town underdog to 4th-interview finalist for a community manager position in Raleigh. What you won’t recall, however (because I breezed right over this part), was that same girl getting some very bad news on Christmas Eve and crying into her parents’ guest room pillows because she didn’t want them to know how destroyed she was. (And if you’re new here and don’t know what in god’s name I’m talking about, here’s a refresher: https://curiouserx2.wordpress.com/2009/12.)

This time I’m doing my best to take a different approach to things, or at least to get myself in a slightly more shatterproof mindset. If nothing else, I’m starting to get a much better handle now on a professional direction for myself. This position (which will remain nameless… sorry) bears a striking resemblance to Yelp’s community manager. Between these two I’m drawing the lines and connecting the dots, and they’re creating an image of “My Dream Job.” It’s one thing to know what you’re good at (I write, I take great photos, I dig meeting new people, I dig people in general, I love fashion, I like to work out, I love good food…) and quite another to figure out how all of these piece of you can be amalgamated into a career. A good place to start is keeping a mental list of all the times you REALLY WANTED SOMETHING. Or even the times you got remotely excited about an opportunity. Or, for that matter, to make a list of the companies you love and respect and to start looking into how your unique blend of talents might be put to good use to further their missions. Maybe you’ll have to go out on a limb. Maybe there’s a move in your future. Maybe you need to do something that scares you a little.

Maybe (and I’m stealing this idea, but I *love* it) , you should do one thing that scares you every day.

I did my thing today. Did you?

 

In Which I Return to Reality January 3, 2011

Happy 2011, everyone!

Tis I, your favorite unemployed writer/photographer/adventurer extraordinaire returned from the jungles of our nation’s capital and beyond. After three weeks of fairly solid R&R (my definition of which is admittedly a bit wonky and includes exploring the frigid streets of New York and Washington, learning to run hills because northern Virginia’s Escheresque laws of physics cause streets to only run on a steep, perpetual incline, and holiday activities such as taking our car to the mechanic twice and baking 657 cookies that I couldn’t eat  due to my Christmas-crushing wheat allergy….), I’m returning to reality with superhuman motivation.

Par example: In three weeks’ time, the cats had transformed our cozy little apartment into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION. It was like a feline Lord of the Flies – reduced to their primal instincts in order to survive (never mind we have automatic feeders and a friend was checking on them every other day…), they’d removed two-thirds of the Christmas ornaments from our tree and hid them strategically (or not) around the house, dragged the faux moss from one of our houseplants into their litter box and somehow managed to track litter into *every* corner of the house.

But, with the precision of two seasoned cat owners, Jeff and I tackled the wreckage in a matter of a couple of hours (eat your heart out, FEMA). Then it was on to more important matters – namely, that I am still jobless. And yet, somehow I’ve managed to rack up a To Do list longer than Bernie Sanders’ filibuster. The common thread among the items on this list? The shared goal of putting my talents (besides my ability to balances sixteen water glasses on a single tray) to work. Granted, I can see that if I don’t act fast to get myself some kind of temporary back-up, I’ll be running into an old friend I like to call Financial Ruin. But even if I’m stocking quilted duvets at Bed Bath & Beyond or (god forbid) waiting a table or two again, at least I’ve got The Machine whirring away in the background. The gears have been greased. My list of Things and Stuff is rolling. I feel like I’ve been playing the role of starving artist ever since college and that maybe all I really need to do is push it just a notch harder, work just a little smarter, shrug this idea off my shoulders that creativity is for the privileged few, and make. it. work.

I may be getting a little redundant with this line of thinking, but if it’s a pep talk I need, then that’s what you all get as well 🙂

Now – off to finish designing my business cards (finally finished my Photoshop tutorials *AND* got PS5 for Christmas!!) Oh – and today’s photo features Skipper, my canine companion in D.C., looking rather fearless, which I found apropos of today’s post. Also, he rocks a fauxhawk like nobody’s business and that alone makes it worth a look.

 

Job Markets in Neverland November 5, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,photography,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 5:18 pm
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Last night, while driving home from work, it occurred to me that I am still not a full-blown “grownup” and in all likelihood, I never will be.

Exhibit A: I happen to know from experience that pinot gris pairs well with Chex cereal (but only the cinnammon kind – accept no substitutions).

Exhibit B: I left for work yesterday wearing a black dress, heather grey tights and (wait for it…) galoshes emblazoned with smiley-faced blue whales (and it took quite some self-coaxing to change into my black ballet flats when I got there).

Exhibit C: I still take playing dress-up quite seriously (see here)

Not that I necessarily find this to be a flaw. On the contrary, plenty of people have found ways to capitalize on their refusal to grow up: comic book writers, video game creators, Betsey Johnson, Amanda Palmer, Tony Hawk … Peter Pan.

So it’s possible, but I haven’t exactly got the hang of it yet – which makes me slightly envious of those who have some sort of built-in shut-off device for all of their “childish” leanings. Their desires to explore and adventure and create and play were shut down at a crucial time by some innate “Override,” allowing them to smoothly transition into an office, a company car, a nice salary with benefits and football and beer on the weekends and not too many questions asked. (Or the other type – the rocket scientist or mathematician who’s greatest love translated into a cozy career).

Well someone forgot to install my switch, so it’s up to me now to use my remnant love of bubbles, dirt and sparkly things as an asset rather than a handicap.

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this quest. I found out last night that my Fedex delivery guy moonlights as an upright bass player in one hell of a jazz trio. One of my bartenders not-so-secretly dreams of making a living off her designer hair flare and I recently had my hair done by a local stylist who’s not so far from making it as a bigtime hair and makeup artist. One friend of mine even quit her lame customer service job to start a handmade decor business and, after a slow and scary start, is making it work. I’m sure that all of us have, at one point or another, been told to get serious or at the very least to focus our efforts on getting a “real job,” to relegate our “hobbies” to the weekends.

Our talents may be considered fluff to some, but blended with a lot of hard work, innovation and drive, I think any of them can be transformed into successful careers. So here’s to discovering the perfect combination of creative genius and business savvy and here’s a big, fat raspberry for all the naysayers.

Cheers!

 

Well That Was Fun… October 25, 2010

I return to you, dear readers, on the eve of my leaving yet another job. I know you’re asking yourselves why I only seem to be interested in blogging when I’m on the verge or in the midst of unemployment, but I swear it’s purely coincidence. To be completely candid with you, I’ve missed you. It’s not that I don’t get a good dose of writing every day when I update my 365. That’s nice and all, but there’s much more to life than photography (understatement of the year) and I don’t think any of that’s been getting properly addressed.

Par example: My ever-lengthening list of  “Jobs I’ve Quit Despite the Shite Economy.” Just thrown another shrimp on the barbie, giving my notice at the tapas bar I’ve been managing. It seems it’s not just particular restaurants (although the hibachi definitely took the prize for unhealthiest workplace ever), but the entire industry that I’m not particularly in line or in love with. And yes, I’d worked my way through the ranks very quickly in this latest endeavor and I’d finally paddled hard enough to get my chin up above the poverty line, but in the end I found myself working harder than ever, earning less than ever, and forever feeling like a fish out of water. To say I’m not the most polished person in the world is to put it kindly. The reality of it was I didn’t have enough money to dress the part, and it was becoming too difficult to act like I liked every one of my my guests and loved being there.

Especially the nightclub. Watching people with more money than you (whether they earned it or not) blow said money and act like complete assclowns to the same, mind-numbingly awful 40 songs (it’s amazing how slightly altering the order fools people into thinking they’re having a different experience each week…), cleaning up after them when they dribble red wine all over the women’s restroom (or worse), helping them find the lost camel jacket (worth more than my entire wardrobe) that they left on the dance floor, getting the really wasted ones into cabs at the night’s end whether they like it or not (or, in one case, getting shoved aside by a grown man who insisted he was fine even as he stumbled to his car), returning their wallets – complete with credit cards and $700 in cash – to them when they return in their limo later and graciously accepting the $15 reward they offer you for doing so (wow. thanks.), and eventually crawling into bed (literally – because have you ever worn heels for 10 hours straight??) at 3 or 4 a.m. with your ears ringing loud enough to make it hard to sleep.

Awesome.

Who wouldn’t want this job?

Strangely enough, there are people who aspire to such things. I am, conclusively, not one of them. And, as if I needed another reason to quit, the night schedule had me missing out on far to much life. Having a schedule quite the opposite of Jeff’s had us literally missing each other. He’d be up and off to teach just shortly after I’d gone to bed, and I’d come home long after he’d hit the sack. Even my days off didn’t align. While it’s totally sweet to be able to run your errands or hit the gym or find parking at the beach while the rest of the world is working, the cost is resigning yourself to doing all of these things alone. Lesson learned: I don’t need as much “Me Time” as I once thought I did.

So what will I do? A very good question. I’ve got a few applications in at the university already and I’ll be taking some Windex to my resume and sending it out. Wilmington’s not exactly the Land of Opportunity, but if I gleaned anything from my managing job, it was the art of networking. It is a small town – and you can cry about it, or you can use it. I’ve met enough people now that (god willing) when word gets out that I’m leaving, I can at least get some advice or leads on where to start.

If nothing else, I plan to use the time off to work on 1201. I’m starting to do pro-level work now (granted, there’s a vast spectrum of “Pro” photography out there and I’m still hanging out in the middle somewhere with plenty of room for improvement), and if I’m going to ask for payment for my work, the business had better look like a business. Obviously, I can’t sink a lot of money into it right now, but the website needs a little spit shine and I’m in desperate need of a good business card (and thanks to work, I know a guy who knows a guy).

I realize that I’m in the same boat (it’s got to be like an ark or a cruise ship by now) as so many other people my age, creative people, intelligent people, extremely capable people who are stuck finding a way to make a living doing what they’re best at. Plenty ahead of us have figured it out. Maybe we’re late bloomers, or maybe the shuffle board and Mai Tais are keeping us on that cruise ship a little to long. As for me, the game’s over and I just got cut off, so I’m jumping ship and swimming to shore with every hope that land is close.

And not inhabited by cannibals.

(And –  just because – a little something from My New Favorite Web Comic: Hyperbole and a Half )

 

When I Grow Up February 2, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 9:39 pm
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Still playing dress-up

When you’re 8 years old, precocious, imaginative, terrible at math but “gifted and talented,” as likely to spend your play time choreographing modern dance performances in your bedroom as videotaping your latest episode of “Tiffy and Stacey” (in which your 6-year-old brother plays endearing fashionista/valley girl Tiffy), never for one moment do you think that at the age of 28 you’ll be between waiting jobs, down to your last 25 dollars and asking your parents to help you make it through the next week or two.

No. You thought you’d be an actress on Broadway (or at least just Off-) or a movie director or a magazine editor or a creative director or an author. Or at least you knew you’d be something extraordinary. It was expected. So the moment you admit to yourself that your current situation doesn’t even amount to ordinary is both a breakthrough and a horrible concession.

The bad news is your original path was leading you away from all of the other things that are important to you (stability, comfort, family). The good news it, you don’t have to scrap it entirely. While your instinct is to admit defeat, it’s possible that your game plan just needs a serious reality check and some major alterations.

Jeff and I had a long talk the other night (the f@#$-up scene from “Away We Go” comes to mind – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a great favor and check it out) and took a good hard look at our priorities. The next few years are going to happen very quickly, and how we handle them will impact the direction of the rest of our lives. But, you know, no pressure.

What does all of this mean? It means I can still have an affair with my Nikon, but I can’t put it on a pedestal and act as though it’s my answer to financial salvation. This is not to say I still couldn’t make a career of it someday, but I’ve been creatively experimenting since the day I graduated from college and at some point the time has come to sideline your creativity into an extracurricular activity and push yourself in a more responsible direction. I’m not prepared to take sides with the creative life if it means giving up things like – well, children. At this point we’re so broke we can’t even think about getting married.

I won’t ever be a nine-to-five, cubicle dwelling girl. I know this. But there are plenty of positions that, while I never wanted to take them seriously in the past, I can do and probably do well. I’ve spent the good part of 6 years in a restaurant. For the right establishment, I’m sure I’d make a great manager. Hell, I’m strangely good at hospitality in general and I live in a tourist town. There’s no reason I shouldn’t seriously consider these things.

No reason besides my pride. And pride can turn you into a 30-year-old waitress with a shallow bank account and never-ending credit card debt without batting a lash.

For me, for Jeff and for our future, I choose reality. It may be sobering, but it’s only dismal if you make it so.

 

Here We Go Again… January 22, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,photography,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 10:06 pm
The days off aren't hurting either...

365-7 (Self-portrait while driving)

Not getting my “dream job” and quitting the hibachi has done strange and wondrous things to my life. The rapidfire sequence of these two events combined with the arrival of a beautiful piece of camera has set the gears of my mind reeling in such a random, new and intriguing direction that I can’t help but feel the most motivated and energized I’ve felt in a long time.

And frankly, I think it’s thrown Jeff for a bit of a loop, but I’ve already apologized and told him to bear with me.

Suddenly my life has been consumed by the camera, Lightroom and Flickr. By books on professional digital photography, post-production software, starting your own business. By logos and business cards, blogs and web sites. In short, I want something more than I’ve wanted something in a long time. More, quite possibly, than I wanted the job with Yelp (and if this all pans out, I’ll be thanking a certain regional manager for passing on me).

As I’ve tended in the past to throw myself into many a field of interest, I fully expected my parents, Jeff, hell – everyone I know, to be a little dubious my new foray. Surprisingly, though, my mom seemed unfazed, Jeff (after the initial shock) is on board – as much as a full-time grad student can be – and supportive and my sister’s volunteered (after some coercion) to be my next model (my portfolios admittedly thin and the next couple of months will mostly be spent fattening that puppy up).

Meanwhile, there’s a lot riding on this new job at the tapas bar. It has to be my bread and butter through all this (not only supporting me, but creating some capital as well), and I have no idea how lucrative it’s going to be.

In the meantime, though, it’s full steam ahead. Suppose I got tired of watching other people make a living doing something I told myself I loved but could never make a living at. You never know if you don’t try, and while I do plenty of wondering about what my life would be like if I’d taken the safe route, safe just never was for me. I’d like to go out someday knowing I spent my life doing what I loved.

 

How Not to be a Rockstar September 14, 2009

9631_536941278496_28501299_31826005_6709213_n…  Jeff’s proposed title of the compelling bestseller he proposes I write. Not a bad idea, really, for a girl who spent a good 6 years pursuing a career in music, only to realize the pursuit had made her into something she was not. Into someone she did not envy or admire. And thus, she walked away from it all.

Not to say I was anywhere close to infamy. But those years did produce some pretty great stories of experiences both hysterical and terrible, both bittersweet and just plain bitter. SO maybe this is the new direction of my masters thesis… for the grad program I haven’t been accepted to yet…. because I’m still working on the application…. and because I can’t decided if it’s the right thing to do.

Which brings me to my next point.

Today is one of those thankfully rare days when, never mind all the a##-busting and name-taking you’ve been doing, you feel like you’re just not doing enough with your life. In fact, you can’t figure out what exactly you are doing, and why any of it hasn’t gotten you somewhere beyond serving shrimp teriyaki to college kids.

((Oh- great story – today, an elderly woman of questionable sanity walks in and tells the hostess that a friend recommended our sushi restaurant to her. For seafood. She is also allergic to shellfish. So when we settle on the seafood tempura, with only red snapper and salmon, I think it might just work out. I even bring her ketchup in lieu of cocktail sauce (Cocktail sauce. In an Asian restaurant. Seriously?). She looks pleased, but when I glance over a while later, she’s calling me over. “Honey… I’m sorry, but I just don’t taste any fee-ish in theya anywaya,” she says. She has eaten all the salmon, but the red snapper is there untouched. “I know it’s hard to see it with the batter, but these are the white fish,” I explain, pointing out all the fish she hasn’t eaten. “Well, I know forah fact they’s onions theya,” she says, pointing to the one white thing on her plate that, true, is not fish. Soon, I convince her to open up one of the “potatoes” so that she’ll see it is, in fact fish. She puts a small piece in her mouth. “Well that don’t taste like no fee-ish I evah had; try it,” she adds, actually offering me a piece of fish. I tell her that’s really okay, that I believe that she is unsatisfied with the fish and will see what I can do. I’m able to comp half of the price of her meal, tell her so, hand her the bill and get back to my other tables. Moments later, the hostess comes walks over and tells me the woman is at the front desk trying to get her bill decreased. I take a huge breath, trying to summon whatever patience I might have left. And to not drop my tray and run screaming for the hills. (Did I mention there is NO MANAGER ON DUTY??) Once again, I try to explain to her that we’ve already given her a huge discount on her meal. Somehow (and I’m a little foggy on the details here; I may have blacked out in order to save my head from exploding), I get her to pay 7 of the $7.51 she owed me. Victory? I’m still not sure.))

Clearly, my life is not glamorous.

But I don’t need it to be. The years in which I sought musical stardom (in one form or another) were some of my most exciting but undeniably my loneliest as well. I’ve traded it all in order to be true to myself, and was rewarded by meeting a most amazing partner. Together we traveled to a more happy latitude, and finally I live by the sea.

It’s like working on a puzzle, and your down to your last few missing pieces. But as soon as you find one that fits, you realize another has gone missing, and this continues until you feel like you’ll never get the damn thing together.

But if history repeats itself (and clearly it does) I know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed will only last so long, that tomorrow I’ll wake up with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism. Happens every time.

‘Til then I’m summoning my patience, not running for the hills.