just stretching my fingers

Has it been two months? Oops. The excuse this time is simultaneously pathetic and wonderful. I lost myself in my work (work-work, y’know) and abandoned all semblance of time management in my personal/creative life…but I secured the job! They’re going to keep me as a full-time hire, so I will no longer be an outside contractor. Have I finished reading a book since September? No! I don’t care. Honestly. If I had to use all of my tentacles to desperately clutch only one thing for the past few months, this was the right choice.

I’m attempting to reintroduce balance going into 2020. We know I love a list, but my 2020 list (which is not yet complete) features more broad intentions this year that I think will lead me to develop some new and improved habits. Sure, there’s a dash of the classic “go to the gym!” and “make more art!” but the approach is a bit different this time. There’s less rigidity this year. I don’t want to fall into any “all or nothing” traps that I’ve set for myself, so I’m not setting them. With regard to my personal projects, I’m keeping some Austin Kleon quotes (from “Show Your Work!”) in mind:

  • “You don’t find an audience for your work – they find you.”
  • “Think about your work as a never-ending process.”
  • “Amateur – an enthusiast who encourages her work in the spirit of love.”
  • “Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts.”
  • “Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism on your sleeve.”
  • “Be a documentarian of what you do.”
  • “Focus on days.”
  • “Don’t let sharing your work take precedence over actually doing your work.”

So I should document and share what I do, but not let sharing overshadow the doing. Which means establishing some discipline in my art life – not in what’s being done, but just that I do it…at all…

…I think this is the right time to tell you that (at the time of writing) I’m the only person in this coffee shop at 10:00am on the Saturday before New Year’s, and the managers are 100% looking at me from around the corner with expressions that say “how nice that we’re remaining open for this one chick to sip a latte for an hour and stare at a wall.”

There will undoubtedly be some changes coming with this website and ideally with my engagement with others on it, as well. I’m excited. I’m still mapping out what I want to achieve, but it’s a very ongoing variety of work and in the meantime I just wanted to pop in and say hello, I’m still here.

One other timely thing I wanted to bring up: it’s that time of year when Instagram encourages you to share your “Top 9” (top nine most liked posts) from the year as sort of a “these were my best moments of 2019” tribute. Instagram’s algorithm allowed me to notice that Nina Agdal, a professional model with over 1 million followers, posted the following on the subject:

“I’m not gonna let Instagram tell me what my top 9 of 2019 is gonna be cus i know it would just be pics of my tits and ass so i made my own.” – @ninaagdal

Nina then included a self-made picture collage featuring shots of her holding her new nephew, a screenshot of a personal best on a run, and a selfie after getting her driver’s license, among others.

…I love this idea? I don’t know if she originated it, but big shout-out to you, Nina. I really doubt anyone’s most-liked posts truly reflect who they are and the most special moments of their year. Unless…no, I can’t come up with an exemption. So here’s my top 9 of 2019! Safe celebrating to all and to all a hopeful, fresh start. 🙂

2019 featuring a very well-executed surprise birthday party, my first sloth experience, moving in with Sean and starting our garden, exposing my blog on Instagram and being blown away by the response, acting alongside some of my favorite actors and TV characters, publicly posting poetry despite being terrified, getting my current job and 24/7 access to free coffee, standing up for a cause I love, and wrapping it all up at home & with family (and delightfully ugly sweaters).

“of course I’m proficient at Excel” and other slight exaggerations

I love how every time I come back, I start with “I didn’t mean to not write for the past two weeks orhoweverlongwhatever” and then give you some weak excuse for my absence.

Anyway, I’m going to do that again. But this time, the excuse is very what the heck.

In my defense, I thought I had a job. Twice. As far as I know, I do have a job right now. But do I? Let’s investigate.

Job #1: Dogwalker

Being that I’ve owned multiple dogs, have professionally cared for dogs other than my own, have a clean record and common sense, you would think that I could pull off the task of getting hired as a dog walker…and technically, I did. I went through two interviews for a dog walking position: one with an office manager and one with the owner of the company. Then I had a whole 5-hour shadow day that involved meeting dogs and going on walks, learning how pickup and drop-offs work, and learning how to use the company’s app. It went really well, and I’m not just saying that because I have inflated confidence. The dogs liked me, the staff seemed to like me, and my shadow-ee even assured me that I’d get a good review. Not too sure about “shadow-ee” as a word, but I’m going to press on.

The night after my shadow experience, I received the “congratulations you’re hired!” email and was instructed to fill out some paperwork and send it back to the office. I went to my local library the next morning to print everything (cost me $2, mind you) and had all of it filled out and sent back within a few hours.

Just over an hour after I sent everything back to the office, I received a response from the woman with whom I had my first interview and had been emailing this entire time. This email stated rather abruptly that something “came up” and therefore they had to rescind the offer. Good luck, though.

…okay. These things happen. It could’ve easily been something weird on their end, like realizing that they had overcommitted to hiring new people and ran into a financial problem. And yet. Despite having a clean record and no weirdness to even turn up during a background check, the paranoid part of me became fully convinced that something sketchy and awful did come up to lead these people to think that I wasn’t suitable for this job.

I asked, very politely and with a disclaimer that I fully respect the company’s decision, if I could have any more information about this sudden change. I mentioned, per the advice of one of my lawyer friends (thank you, love you) that I had shared quite a bit of personally identifiable information with the company, which gave me good cause to be concerned about the sudden change of plans.

Alas, I received no response. This still seems a bit weird to me, but I did see with my own two eyes that the place is a real business, and I have no money for anyone to steal from me even if they wanted to…so what is there to worry about, I suppose.

To the dogs I met that day, it was a true honor. To the dogs I’ll never meet…I still love all of you.

Job #2: General retail!

I’ve never worked a “traditional” retail position, since my preferred method of self-inflicted torture is food service. I have worked in sales – I’ve sold liquor and art and decorative bobbles and sandwiches, but all of those sales experiences took place in nontraditional retail spaces. For example, I managed a food stand at the US Open, once upon a time. That was a three week gig. Everything else, I sold in markets – Union Square, Rockefeller Plaza, other…parks, y’know. Just me and someone else’s iPad and card reader passing the days away under a tent.

However, there’s a store near my home that’s been hiring for a while, and I happen to like the brand and love the atmosphere of the store itself. I applied last week and after a pretty low-stress interview, was hired on Friday. I was told that I’d be hearing from someone about a group new-hire orientation that would take place once the manager got back from vacation.

I don’t know, guys. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything at all. What’s the story, here?

Part of me is convinced that the second I post this, that’s when I’ll get a phone call or email, and I know I should be rooting for that to happen. It’s well past time I get a bit of regularity back into my work schedule.

At the same time, I’m anxious, just as I always am when I’m about to start a new commitment. Part of my brain screams “their silence is a sign!! Keep looking for something else, quickly! Before they orientate you and you’ll feel too guilty to ever leave!”

I’m really trying to nurture a more reasonable part of my brain lately, the part that quietly suggests that I have to stop running away from everything the second things get real. It doesn’t help that two days ago I received a whole seperate email asking if I was still interested in a position I applied to three months ago. I said yes, because I’m chaotic! So now on top of not knowing what’s going on with the job I agreed to, I’m actually hoping to hear back from a job I originally went after three months ago.

It’s funny how much guilt ends up playing a role in this job search process. I’m blessed to have more than a few people in my life who have offered to help me find something within some office or another, or have advised me to pursue a certain industry over something else based on their own struggles and experience. Again, I’m so lucky to have people willing to gift me all of this advice and assistance. It just…feels really bad when I say “thank you” and then proceed to (mostly) not do any of the things I was advised.

See, I’m walking a very thin, confused line between being quite picky…and desperation.

Here’s the thing: Unless I find a fantastic contract/short-term job that pays well and offers a nice chunk of consistent work for a while, I’m looking for a job that I can stick with.

I don’t even mean as a “career,” necessarily. I don’t think I’m there yet, unless again, I get really lucky. It can be a survival job again, I’m okay with that. BUT if it’s a survival job, it cannot take up every waking hour of my life, preventing me from pursing anything else.

Let me add, I fully recognize my privilege in being able to say that. At the moment, I have financial support and I don’t have any dependents. This is in no way meant to shame anyone whose survival job(s) do take up every waking hour of their life, because they do not have a choice. That is a very real situation, one that surrounds me every day, and my awareness of that reality is part of why I’m so anxious to start myself down a road I want to be on as soon as possible.

The dog walking job wasn’t meant to be forever, just a source of some income while I carried on looking for something else. The retail job is a bit better – doesn’t pay much, but would be enough, and would still leave me some breathing time to piece together a long term plan. That job from three months ago would be a big commitment, but only for three months as it’s a contract position…and the pay would be worth it.

Positive side-note: it sure is nice to get back into reading lots of books in my downtime! AND I’ve successfully forced myself back into yoga! Yay! Something funky is going on with the circulation in my left leg and I’ve noticed that those left thigh veins are getting darker (and more painful??) so I’m trying to stretch myself out and flip myself upside down and whatnot more often. I’m holding myself to doing at least 2 out of these 4 things every day: yoga, writing, working out, and finishing a book. It’s going well. Small challenges, y’know?

Whatever happens with work, happens. It can’t get me down. This is my favorite time of year. It always feels like rebirth – the chaotic party marathon that is summer coming to an end, the change in the air and the comfort of settling into something fresh with new intentions.*

I hope you’re feeling good. Don’t forget to slow down. Use your library card. Flip yourself upside down. Walk someone else’s dog. Follow your dreams. Etc.

x

*Most blogger-y thing I’ve ever written, dear God. Sorry.

The end of August in pictures 🙂

helpful things I learned from the worst book I’ve ever read (no, I’m not telling you the book)

Be a good representative of your community.

No matter which hat of my many hats is most prominent on my head at any given time, I want to represent that hat in an honest way. It’s not about proving why I’m right as the only American in the room, or only feminist, or only Penguins fan, whatever – it’s about being a positive representative of that group and acknowledging, not making excuses for, fellow group members behaving badly.

Don’t present your opinions as facts.

In your heart of hearts, you know if a strong opinion is really just that: an opinion. Even if it’s a core value of yours. You can express that idea if you need to, but to paint it as a fact is irresponsible. It’s not even so much about the people you offend, but the people you mislead.

Don’t tell half truths.

You’re misrepresenting yourself by doing this, and people will notice. If you’re presenting yourself as something, be that something. Do the thing, even if it’s ugly or embarrassing. Don’t do a “version” of it. Do it for real.

Check your privilege.

Please. Especially if you’re up on a soapbox telling people to live a certain way. Acknowledge such things as systemic barriers, whether it’s to do with racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, allllll of it…before you go off on someone about what they’re doing wrong and what they should just *poof!* go off and change about their lives. PS: If you goof up, (I’m already questioning if “systemic” was the right word to use – I think so?) own it! Let people teach you. Make an effort to learn. Grow.

If you used to be an apple and became an orange, your former apple-ness is no excuse for you to shame other apples into also becoming oranges.

Yeah…no. “I used to be lost, too” is not something to say to someone who is living their truth and harming no one. If you used have…let’s say, “a similar lifestyle” to someone you’re preaching to, that doesn’t make it okay! What in the world! You could have been a literal sex worker and changed careers, that doesn’t give you any more of a right to slut shame anyone. Dang, people. I’m getting angry again.

Do your research.

Just because you think you are sharing a humorous, uncommon, groundbreaking secret does not mean that the rest of the world is on the same page. “Everyone, I have a big secret. I [insert pretty tame and normal grooming habit]. I know, I know! This information makes me quirky and bold and real. Please clap.” Maybe try talking to people, or reading articles or books by people on similar subjects, and then don’t publish something that makes women think “am I supposed to feel weird about this?”

Anyone can write a book.

Biggest takeaway. So go for it! Follow your dreams! If you can help it, try not to write something that makes people cringe (unless it’s in the Stephen King spooky-cringe sort of way) but otherwise just have at it. Heck, try to get it published. I can just about promise that whatever you write, as long as you write from a place of truth, will be 1000000x better than something it seems too many people have read.

🙂

if I get one more recruiter email for a vague marketing position I swe-

Hello! It’s Wednesday, so according to my boss (who is me) I must share something today.

How about a recap?! This past week, I:

…went jet skiing for the first time (as a passenger, anyway). Séan loves being on the water and I believe this is his favorite way to be on the water. Mine is kayaking. Or a pool float. But it was pretty cool to see the Statue of Liberty from an unfamiliar angle and to fly past the piers & under the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus it was my own Hitch moment, minus getting kicked in the face. And Will Smith.

…tested out the newly-tidied back patio with a couple of friends. We startled the most precious tiny skunk family by intruding on what is rightfully their space late into the night. I also didn’t realize the wifi wasn’t reaching out back and used all my phone data playing a lively “BBQ playlist” whilst outside. Good.

…sampled beautiful Chinese food at brand new restaurant that I don’t believe has opened officially, yet. Also, took a gamble on a Mexican restaurant in Hoboken and a bar/bistro in Jersey City, both of which were new to the two of us. Everything was delicious, and I’m not even hungry right now so you can trust my judgement. (I don’t love going out to eat while unemployed but I only fight Séan on the subject when it’s getting to be a lot. I’m trying to stop being the brat who takes enjoyment away from him. I’m a very cheap date, anyway, and obviously great company so come on.)

…found a coffee place nearby that brings out my productivity!! This is huge for me. I moved here in April and it took me this long to start exploring…but hey, it’s happening. Not to “not appreciate the now” and all that, but I’m looking forward to the weather cooling down even more now that I’ve discovered this cafe. It’s a long enough walk away, but it will be such a beautiful walk in the fall and coffee will be even more enticing when it’s not 9000 degrees out plus humidity.

…had a nice 14.5 hour workday on the set of a project I know very well, and got to watch my favorite actors play my favorite characters. I don’t usually act in anything I watch, or vice versa, but this was the most perfect exception.

…applied to so many jobs! I’m finally zeroing in on jobs I truly want to do, which I’ve found requires looking outside my usual sources. Which makes sense – those websites haven’t served me well thus far (except Craigslist, I ❤ Craigslist) so I was due for a change in approach. I’m now on just about every job-search platform in existence, and have learned a very valuable lesson: TURN OFF THE THING THAT LETS RECRUITERS REACH OUT TO YOU.

…posted some of my writing (the stylized, poetry-type variety) on Instagram for everyone to see. That’s a scary new thing I’m doing. I stand by my man Austin Kleon though, and his insistence on sharing your work throughout the process. It won’t serve me well to wait until I’ve been confidently writing and editing for years and then start sharing. You just gotta do. And be imperfect. And get there eventually.

My body has been a little funky and achey, but nothing I can’t manage. Séan and I did a lot of walking around on the Fourth of July, which was a very hot and sunny day here. I’m usually good with long walks, but I’ve learned that the hotter it is, the less my body can cope. Not that anyone feels good after a lengthy walk in oppressive heat, but my bod is pretty dramatic about it. My left side gets all worked up, my face gets super flushed, and the headache comes on strong. (I always wonder if my light sensitivity is a leftover concussion factor. Remind me to look into that.)

I forced us to head home before restarting the day and took a nap so deep I may have been dead. I knew I needed it, and I was able to bounce back because of it. I’m in the endless process of trying to pace myself a bit more and not be the “hell yeah let’s do it” girl I want to be, at least not all the time. I have to parent myself a bit more, but I’m getting there. I have a tendency to carry the “lost” moments (or the things I said no to) with me, but looking at that list of things I did do last week, I can take a deep breath and smile.

I’ve been reading a lot of good things lately but I also keep discovering more and more artists to fall in love with: would y’all prefer a list of independent artists who make weird/awesome things and could use some support, or a what-I’m-reading-lately type post next time? I realize no one will answer this question, like when beauty bloggers say “hiiiiii guys, SO MANY of you have been asking for me to do a (blank) video-” and literally no one asked. But just in case anyone has an opinion, please bless me with it. Thank you.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and chins up, you’ve got half the week left. Do something good with it.