Thursday, April 24, 2008

(re)group.

well. ok. i've been basically holding my life in limbo for an internship that i'm not getting. it was a somewhat stupid thing to do letting it dominate my theoretical future the way i did, and i could run through all the details of why i approached it that way and reason and rationalize why it actually does make some sense... but i won't. it's not worth the time.

what i actually need to do is figure out what i'm doing. like, now. now that i know that nothing concrete and fixed looms in my future, particularly, other than three to four nights a week at a coffee shop.

so... what am i doing?

first priority should be to get ready for the open studio event. there are a lot of paintings that i have planned, that i'd like to have painted by mid may. which is just not that long from now. and what does this mean? well i suppose it means i need to go and paint! and project, and sketch, and lay out, etcetera, and so forth. there are dozens of hours of work that can happily be done there - and a good thing too, because i think what i most need in my life now is dozens of hours of happy work.

i also need to work on Bright stuff, for when painting gets too tedious. that will perhaps be my focus after the open studio has happened. and to continue my food research and writing, of course, as always. (which reminds me that i wanted to give ol' Michael Pollan a good talking to. but that's for another post.) i also need to make more detailed plans for when both sets of parents will be in town. and theoretically, by the end of may, i'll have a whole 'nother project to work on. i can't talk about that one yet, but when the time comes i will talk, believe you me... copiously to the point of aggravating all who love me for months and months on end. grand, just grand.

see? i have things to do. because, you know, you needed convincing.

i've decided to let myself be jobless (apart from the coffee shop) until after the parents leave, as i'm pretty sure that adventure will take all the strength i can muster. after that, nose back to the rejection-a-go-go grindstone. and if nothing that i actually want to do has crawled out from under a rock to show me its soft white belly by the end of june, well then i'll start looking for something i don't actually want to do but that will pay me. that i think i could make happen; there's always the glorious option of turning to headhunters and temp agencies. whatever. i'll suck it up. this is what i knew i was facing when i walked away from 44k and full health benefits, wasn't it? yes, it was.

day by day, i will schedule and plan and then not follow either the schedule or the plan. and somehow i'll get everything done that i set out to accomplish, plus some other things that just occur to me along the way. that's how i operate; it always has been, even when i've wanted to believe that i live an orderly existence. i take chaos and i make it work. because if i hadn't learned to do that, i'd surely be dead by now.

i'm not dead yet, and i still have plenty of paint. so i'm going to go ahead and assume that i'm doing something right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

sometimes i hate being right.

well, i didn't get it. the internship, that is, the one i haven't been talking about lest i jinx it. well, i could have talked about it all i wanted apparently. after waiting for a week and a half, i finally sent an email asking if any decisions had been made. i don't think that was inappropriate, since the internship was to start a week from tomorrow. it was reaching need to know status. well i got a reply email two hours later, and it went like this:


Dear Melissa:

We would like to thank you for your interest in an internship position with The New Press. The quality of the applicants who responded to our posting made the selection process extremely difficult. While we were very impressed with your qualifications, after careful consideration we have chosen a candidate whose prior experience and background fit more closely with our internship program.

We appreciate the time you have taken to explore an internship possibility with The New Press, and wish you success in your endeavors.



rather form-letter-ish, no? i don't think i would have heard from them at all if i hadn't written. i guess they were just going to wait until the start date of the internship and let me figure it out on my own. a little harsh, says i.

am i disappointed? yes. do i feel like i've been punched in the stomach at least six times? yes. but there's naught to be done about it. i was not chosen, and i have to move on, and do my best not to wonder what i did or did not do to make me not good enough.

i have other things to do, lots of them. i have open studios coming up! certainly that needs more of my time and energy; it's less than a month away now. i need to paint. i need to recreate my studio space so that it more resembles a show space. i have a whole new series of paintings to start. i have things to write.

and besides, i knew, didn't i? apparently it wasn't the right opportunity for me. or some crap like that.

i have to get out of the house now, before i fall into the tar pit of depression and end up late for work.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

still waiting for the punchline.

well, i interviewed. that was over a week ago. still waiting to hear. i've pretty much decided that i'm not getting it; that if they wanted me they would have let me know by now. i have no reason to believe this, outside of the nasty depression that i seem to be slipping into. but that sort of thing is persuasive.

yesterday i pretty much didn't get out of bed. i did, technically, eventually. at about 12:30. but i couldn't find a convincing enough reason to stay out of bed, so i got back in. tried getting out again at about 4, and again found the non-bed world sorely disappointing. so back in i went, and stayed, until my boyfriend came home at 6pm.

he seemed to think it maybe wasn't the healthiest thing for me to lay in bed and be upset and not leave the house all day. and he has a way of convincing me to do things; i don't know, i tend to believe that he has my best interests at heart and knows how to take care of me, even when (and perhaps especially when) i'm really down and out.

so i got up for him, put on shoes for him, left the house for him. and we walked. and walked and walked, places i've never walked before in the neighborhood. and at some point i realized that if we just turned toward the river, according to the map in my head, we'd land smack in the middle of astoria park. lo and behold, we did. and it's beautiful. with the bridges, and the sun just so casting redgold shadows, and the water of the hellgate swirling and daring small vessels to tempt its currents.

i was still sad, but that is a very nice park.

we ended up on ditmars, and being hungry and knowing the area a little, we called up my best friend (who lives up there) and all had dinner together at wave thai. it was a satisfying resolution to a day that had seemed to hold little promise. not that everything was suddenly wonderful; just that with the help of my boyfriend i was able to feel a little bit alive, a little less buried, at least for a few hours that evening.

a huge and heavy weight is still laying on my chest; i can't name it or get my hands around it. i don't want to go to work tonight, or tomorrow night. i don't want to do anything, really, other than get back in bed. but i'm forcing myself to stay up. i got up at 11am today, which was ridiculous seeing as that i spent all day yesterday in bed and then went to bed again at 11pm. of course i couldn't sleep; i spent hours half awake and half dreaming, terrible stress dreams about unsuccessful art shows and coffee shops with no espresso beans. i don't know. it's an exhaustion i can't shake.

but i got up at 11... and then got back in bed. a little before 1 i dragged myself back up, and i'm determined not to lose today like i did yesterday. i only have five hours before work; any more bed time and there won't be anything else for me to do.

so i'm up. i need to go get coffee. i need to go to the studio and work on some paintings. and i need to go to work and not be running late, because that's too stressful a way to start a night shift. i wish that i didn't have to go, but it's probably best that i do.

i just... i'm not going to last long like this. i don't put enough weight on my own endeavors to make them enough to base my life around. which is really a shame, considering how much i have to do, if i would only convince myself that it's worthwhile to do it. i know how much i want to do these things when i don't have the time to touch them; it's only now that i have all the time in the world that i lose sight of my own worth. maybe, deep down, i've actually been convinced that if it doesn't make money it's not "valuable". maybe they did get every little last piece of my soul.

i don't know.

you tell me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

the v word.

In the Way of Introduction:

hello. my name is melissa bastian. i am one of the co-founders of blank the plague, and i am vegan. in the culmination of a lifetime of being overly picky about meat and dabbling in various levels of vegetarianism, i was thunderstruck one evening on my way to make groceries: if it makes me uncomfortable to eat animal products, then i just won't eat them! the simplicity of the solution almost knocked me down.

i've been vegan for two years now, and it's the best answer for me for a multitude of reasons. but not everyone involved in blank the plague is vegan. miss mid is mostly vegetarian and is careful about food sources; miss rosie is trying veganism but is essentially still vegetarian; my jonathan is vegan but for very different reasons than me. everyone has a different solution to the current food crisis that works best in their personal lives, because food is a very personal choice. it is literally what you decide to incorporate into your physical being.

so of all of the options out there, why have i chosen veganism? that one's easy. because eating animal-related items is too hard.

(wait, what? did she just say it's too hard to eat meat and animal products? thus indicating that it's easier to be vegan?) yes, yes i did. and we'll get to the explanation, don't you worry.

first, i'd like to talk about what are NOT the reasons that i'm vegan.

I Am Vegan, but NOT for the Following Reasons:

*this may surprise you, but i'm not vegan because i believe that it is inherently wrong to eat animals. i don't. if you want to, say, go fairly hunt one animal, get its blood on your hands, skin and eviscerate it, use every part of it and feed your family with it, i don't have a problem with that. granted, i don't want to watch and i don't want to eat any, thanks, but that's a valid way to get your dinner. i also have no problem if you can go shake hands with a neighborhood farmer, and he / she raises animals in a way that lets them be happy and free and act like animals for a decent time of life and with ecologically sustainable methods; and then at some point they are (actually!) humanely killed in a place where you're allowed to go and see it if you so choose - that would potentially be an acceptable way to get animal flesh in my mind. it would certainly be an acceptable way to have milk and eggs, and i might even consider eating those things again. but perhaps you're seeing the point. if an animal is allowed to live like it is supposed to, and is then killed in a non-gruesome way by a person who respects it for the living creature it is, i can handle that. unfortunately, this is not the process undergone to create your hamburger from mcdonalds...

*i'm not vegan because i don't like meat. granted, i've been quite picky about meat since i was a child. i remember the day, actually, that it became a problem. my mother always served my sister and i the two legs from the chicken. we didn't have a lot of money, so we ate a lot of chicken; two kids, two legs. all the math added up. well one night at dinner when i was maybe 7 years old my mother put that chicken leg down in front of me. i took one look at it, saw the skin and the tendons and the muscles and the bones for what they were - parts of an animal that used to be alive - and started to cry. from that day on if i ate chicken it had to be breast meat, removed from the bone, no skin, no veins, and especially not that chunk of tendon on the end. *shiver**. but i always loved, LOVED, seafood, and well into my 20's would enjoy a trim steak or a gourmet hamburger. my mom made awesome spaghetti and meatballs and her meatloaf kicked ass; my dad made beautiful fish dinners and an enormous turkey every thanksgiving - with oyster dressing. never went in for fast food; i wasn't raised that way frankly. but yeah, you're right. meat tasted good. (it doesn't any more; now that it's out of my system, on the occasion that i sample a soup without realizing it was made with chicken stock (or something) it tastes greasy and heavy. not good at all. ) point being, palette preference is not what turned me away. no, i just reached a point of no return in knowledge. knowledge of what? we're getting to that.

*i'm not vegan to control my caloric intake. i've known people who have gone vegan as a sort of diet plan, or as part of an anorexic regimen. while it may work to an extent, it is not at all healthy - you need to pay attention to what you're eating on any diet, including a vegan one. people who become vegan for this reason may lose weight, but don't stay healthy and don't stay vegan. being vegan is no guarantee of being skinny either. as i said, i've been vegan for two years, and i'm still about 15 pounds over my ideal weight. (thank you tofutti, vegan treats, and my massive sweet tooth.)

*i'm not vegan because animals are cute. these people that get all "animals are people too" and "look how sweet and innocent they are" are usually young, usually just jumping on some bandwagon, and often don't stay vegan either. they've also obviously not visited a farm, friendly or otherwise, or spent much time around animals at all other than their pet poodles. a piglet might be cute, but i gotta tell ya - a goat is not cute. pretty damn cool and useful for eating tin cans, sure, but not cute. a turkey is downright ugly. does that mean you can eat it? not necessarily - some of my neighbors are ugly too. but this is precisely why the "cute" argument doesn't cut it. and a full-grown cow? oh jesus. up close, cute is about the furthest thing from your mind, especially when an unpenned unhappy adult bull is stalking you. trust me on this one.

*i'm not vegan because it's cool. in fact, there are still very few people in my life who are vegan, or who even fully understand my veganity. it's not some sort of elitist status symbol; it's just one of the things i need to do to feel comfortable with the food i eat and with the life i lead.

so, like, aren't those the only reasons to be vegan? if only, if only. i truly wish there was no more to be said.

I AM Vegan for the Following Reasons:

let's talk about why i AM vegan, and may possibly be for the rest of my life.

the predominant reason for my dietary reactionism is that the modern food industry and its products disgust me. Paul Rozin has defined disgust as the fear of incorporating offending substances into one's body; "offending substances" doesn't even begin to cover what i feel about the modern methods of the handling of food animals. the mass processing of animals is not terribly new; just read The Jungle to know that animals have been being treated like "production units" instead of living beings for at least a hundred years, at least when it comes to slaughtering. but extending that mindset to entrap the entire lifespan of livestock is a fairly new phenomenon, going back really only to the 1950's. for ten thousand years, give or take, humans have engaged in agriculture on a measurable scale. for fifty years they've been doing it like this. and yet if questioned, they'll tell you that there is no other answer, that these methods are absolutely necessary to "feed our hungry planet".

let's tackle that ridiculous rationalization in two parts, shall we? first, we'll talk about what i mean by "these methods". we'll use the rearing of cows as a case study. we'll have a tour guide; let's call him Jim.

says jim: alright, now listen up. we're gonna start by taking a whole lot of grassland that used to be used for pasturing - that is, letting animals hang out in the grass and eat what they actually eat. the grassland is full of hundreds of species of plants, animals, insects, fungi, what have you. but we're gonna tear all that out, losing lots of biodiversity (not to mention topsoil) in the process. why? to grow corn of course! after all, ever since Earl Butz undid the new deal in the 70's and switched to a system of direct payouts instead of loans to farmers, the government will pay us for as many bushels as we can throw at 'em! bushels per acre, eyes on the prize son.
now to support our monoculture of corn, we're gonna need fertilizer and plenty of it. there's no nearby farm anymore - the animals are packed away by the thousands into the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations several hundred miles from here - so there's really no manure available. i guess we'll just use the fertilizer that we make from petrochemicals. yeah, that's the one - that non-renewable resource everyone's so excited about these days. the factories that used to make explosives for the war still have plenty of ammonium nitrate; it works just fine for making fertilizer. we're gonna spread a little extra on too, for "insurance" - so what if it runs off the land the next time it rains? it'll just end up in the mississippi and then in the gulf of mexico, where it causes tremendous algal blooms creating a hypoxic zone of immeasurable proportions and growing every day. that's not a problem for anyone is it?
woowee, look at all that corn. fencerow to fencerow indeed. let's harvest! more bushels per acre than we ever thought possible thanks to brilliant genetic engineering. of course they're all genetically identical, so if they ever become susceptible to any insect or disease they'll all die overnight... but we don't worry about little things like that. we'll just add thousands of gallons of pesticides, also made from petrochemicals. who needs natural selection and hundreds of thousands of years of genetic adaptations when you've got monsanto, and dow, the wonderful company that brought us agent orange? now dump all that corn into the trucks- what's that? you thought we were gonna eat the corn? ha! no silly! this corn isn't human grade corn - it's for the livestock! eat the corn... ah, you kids crack me up... ok, so dump it into the trucks; it's gotta go to the CAFOs.
boy, look at all those cows. i hear there's more cows than people now. you wouldn't think they'd be able to live so many all together would you? yeah, i know, i could smell it from miles away too. come to think of it, the USDA says that about 335 million tons of manure "dry matter" are produced by U.S. livestock each year, along with as many as 100 million tons of the greenhouse gas methane. yeah, i don't know what the hell "dry matter" is supposed to mean either. yes, yes, cows are supposed to eat grass. yes, that's true too - eating the corn does make them sick. but we'll give 'em plenty of drugs for tha- what drugs? Oh, lemme think, Rumensin to buffer the acidity in the rumen (which on grass is neutral), and Tylosin to try to keep them from getting infections on the livers (though most of them do even with the antibiotics). oh, about 50 to 70% according to some sources. do you always ask so many questions? we feed them the corn because it's cheap! and it makes them big fast! and it makes them fatter, as in containing more fat - look at that marbling. that's fat right there within the muscle, and it SELLS! eyes on the prize son, keep focused. of course it's not just corn; we mix it with protein from the chicken wastes and fats like beef tallow. yeah, i said beef tallow. sure, i guess we are making herbivores go cannibal; ain't that somethin'. anyway, we're only gonna feed 'em that for about 150 days; that's all it takes for them to get up to market weight, and any longer they'd probly die from the diet. so stop worrying so much.
alright, our steers are up to market weight - let's process. load 'em into the truck so that they can go to the processing facility a few hundred miles from here - ok, fine, i'll call it a slaughterhouse. will that make you feel better? alright, here we are. now get 'em all lined up on this ramp so that they can go through that door up there. what happens on the other side of the door? well that's the kill floor! well i don't know what happens there exactly; they won't let me in for reasons of "food security". but they tell me it's perfectly humane and safe. this is a state of the art system, designed by temple grandin himself! oh yes, they're very efficient - 400 animals per hour at this plant alone. a lot of workers quit or get hurt though seems like; i don't know if any of the workers even last a year around here. i don't get it; OSHA must take care of 'em like they do everybody else. anyway, our part's done. ya hungry? (many thanks jim, but i think i'll be having a salad.)

and that's just cows. think i'm exaggerating? think again. i'm actually leaving out a whole lot of unpleasantry. then there's all the other things: the battery cages that laying hens are kept in, the docking of pigs' tails, the Bovine Growth Hormone, the veal crates - the list never ends as far as the brutality upon the animals. and that's just one factor. there's the environmental destruction, the economic instability, the indentured servant style abused workforce.

at this point you might be thinking, but what about seafood? certainly fish, shrimp, or crabs have nothing to do with this industrial system. oh how i wish that were true! ever hear of farm raised salmon? think it's some kind of euphemism? seafood is just as industrial as all other animal agriculture these days. yes, fishing still goes on - and mostly for the worst. overfishing is endangering populations of every species that we eat, and the methods that we use are destroying reefs and other ecosystems, thereby killing not only our food animals but also all of the other creatures involved in their habitats. and of course there's the issue of pollution - we've dumped so much waste into our oceans that food fish species often carry dangerous levels of heavy metals in their flesh. it's called bioaccumulation, and it is not your friend. (it also occurs with the pesticides being eaten by the meat animals.) for several years i wanted seafood to be ok, but sadly it just isn't anymore. some of it is better and some is worse; this guide may help you if you really want to continue eating it.

ahh, and i promised you a second part, discussing the food industry's deep commitment to "feeding a hungry world". um, yeah, sure. is that why in the richest country in the world people still starve to death, while the government buys excess milk from dairy producers (who shoot up their cows with hormones that make them produce even more milk) to keep prices artificially high, and then powders and stores it in limestone caves until it goes bad? sounds like science fiction, right? but it's absolutely true, and it's just a drop in the bucket of the ridiculous practices of waste that goes on. the fact is that it's entirely unnecessary to create animal flesh and products on this scale. sure, these methods might be necessary to produce this quantity of meat, milk, and eggs. but we don't need this quantity! half of the food that we produce in this country gets thrown away for god's sake, and we're still dying of overconsumption. people are eating meat three (or more) meals a day, and what is the result? strong, healthy people? um, no. huge increases in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses are more like it. but of course, there's money. very powerful people are making a whole lot of money off of destroying the earth, torturing animals (and their workers), and making the population fat and sick. eyes on the prize, son.

Me and my Shadow - or Footprint, if you so choose.

this is not something that i can be part of or give my money to, and definitely not something that i can incorporate into my physical being and my everyday life. doing so was making me unhappy; i didn't want to ignore it like many people do. so i don't do it at all. if i tried very, very, very hard i could get animal products from sources that don't behave this way. milk from cows that are pastured and not artificially inseminated or shot with hormones, that are milked by people and not machines. eggs from birds that scratch insects out of the grass for themselves and nest in a spacious comfortable coop. but i live in new york city, and i also live in a modern age where it's perfectly feasible to eat a healthy, well balanced, and very enjoyable vegan diet. i have to be careful of who i buy food from - i shop at locally owned groceries, which is easy since there's one across the street that's owned by a neighbor and is completely vegetarian. and when i do buy processed foods i try to get them from companies that don't also participate in the meat industry.

see, this is what i mean by it being easier to be vegan: i don't have to worry about whether my tofu was humanely slaughtered and schedule a visit to the farm to make sure. i can go to the farmer's market on saturdays to get locally grown organic vegetables. and all i have to do if i want processed foods is spend 5 minutes on the computer to find out that, for example, Turtle Island Foods (who makes tofurkey products) is a small independently owned business, whereas Morningstar Farms is owned by Kellogg, and LightLife (makers of smart deli, etc.) is owned by Con Agra, one of the biggest processed food companies in the world. ta da! choice made, tofurkey it is, and lucky me they make awesome vegan sausages. thankfully i can have also have desert - tofutti is a company i can be proud to support. infinitely easier than, say, visiting an abattoir or skinning a boar, don't you think?

And, In Conclusion:

i'm vegan because i need to be, so as not to be in conflict with my ethics and morals, and so as not to support a system that i know is unnecessarily brutal, wasteful, and unsustainable. it also makes me healthier. in short, it helps me without infringing upon anyone else, and that is very much my style. i do other things to uphold my beliefs; for example, when the time comes to buy an engagement ring, yes i want a diamond, but you damn well better believe that it will be lab created. i only buy coffee that's organic, fair trade, shade grown, and bird friendly. when i lived in new orleans i walked or rode my bike as much as possible instead of driving; now that i'm in new york i don't even own a car. oddly enough though, i don't need to make diamond buying decisions four or five times a day, and my coffee consumption is about one pound per four weeks. and believe it or not, your daily lunch choice might have a bigger effect on the planet than what kind of car you drive (or how much you drive it). that's the thing about food - it's very much a part of our everyday lives in a way that many other consequential actions aren't, simply due to the fact that there are very few other things that we purchase or use several times per day, every day, in large quantities.

so yes, my dietary choice is a reaction. a reaction to what? to the people that tell me that beef is what's for dinner, that milk does a body good, that eggs are incredible and edible - and damn the consequences to the animals, to the earth, to anyone and anything but profit; to the corporations that are laughing all the way to the bank. and what is my reaction to them, in sum? fuck you, i'll take tofu.

veganism isn't about personal purity - accidental ingestion happens and i'm not a lesser person for it. (making a huge scene when the restaurant put cheese on your salad and you asked them not to just makes people think that vegans are self-important assholes. push the cheese aside and get on with your day. vegan outreach published a great essay by matt ball on this topic.) maybe veganism is the right choice for you and maybe it isn't. but i encourage everyone i encounter to do this: consider your food choices. not just how they impact you as you bring your fork to your mouth, but how the process of that food being grown and shipped to you interacted with the world, how it will affect your body eating it day after day, year after year, and who your money really goes to after you hand it over at the supermarket. don't be blind to something so important as what your body is literally made of. every person really does have a choice; it is not exclusive to the rich or the hyper-educated. all you need is a desire to know that the choice exists, and the will to make it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

and on the third day of the second week, she discovered the secret of the bob's redmill six grain cereal... and it was good.

yesterday was the most productive day ever. i want to say that unemployment doldrums are officially at an end, but i would probably only be jinxing myself, so i'll say that i believe i've sidestepped them for now. it's no coincidence, i think, that this week is beautiful and sunny and warmer whereas last week was rainy and gray and cold. today it's going up to 65! it's like actual springtime! i have to figure out what to do with my day. but first i'll do this. whatever. it's early.

(my man's in a funk. trying not to let it get me in a funk. not the easiest thing to do.)

anyway, yesterday. i spent like six hours on myspace, which doesn't seem productive at all right? except that i spent it doing two important things. one, i re-wrote the "about me" portion of the main one for my "organization" so that it actually explains why i'm so damn upset about food (sort of) and what i'd like to do about it. it even gives a beginners reading guide in the books section. so i'm excited about that.

two, i've finally established a separate identity for the craftiness - the stuff i make and sell like journals and envelopes and 1" pins. it really just doesn't belong in the same place where i rant about bovine growth hormone. it's all part of the same greater whole, but it needed to have a name and a face all its own. i've known this for a long time, but it's taken me a while (five years? six?) to make it happen. i then spent forever and a day sending friend requests to appropriate parties. i'm still not nearly done with that. man, networking takes some effort. but all in all, i call that a productive six hours.

after that, and it was still mid-afternoon because i got up early, i went to my studio. sadly it was for the first time in like eight days. this was evidenced by my half dead wilting plants. hopefully they'll spring back like the did the last two times... but the important part is that i went to my studio and painted, painted for the first time since unemployment. that's right, i'm back on the horse people. i finished two small paintings that have been started for i don't even know how long. with those two done, i now have seven completed in a series of 13 that i'm working on. or rather, that i've been working on since 2006. but never mind that shall we? oh whatever. i work at my own pace and i always have and i always will, and the only person who gives a rat's ass is me anyway so i should probably just accept it. right? right.

i am rather interested in getting some paintings finished right now though, because in mid-may my studio will be part of an all-of-long-island-city open studios event. i'll be opening my door to the world, or at least anyone in the world who'd like to come and look. so i'd like to have something for them to look at. and to have something for them to look at, i'll have to have something to put paint on... which is why i've decided in the past five minutes that my first mission of the day will be to go to my favorite art supply store, who happens to be having a sale right now, to pick up some canvasses. painting is expensive, you know.

so yes, i'm satisfied with yesterday, and the light this morning tells me that today holds great promise. in other news, i've lined up an interview for said aforementioned promising opportunity, the one i'm still not talking about lest i jinx myself. but i'll tell you all about it once it's safely in the bag or blown, as the case may be. i started my coffee shop job monday night - aarg, coffee shops are hard work. i hadn't forgotten exactly, but my body is definitely not used to that kind of abuse any more. hey you! stand in one place for six hours while smiling and being nice to people and touching lots of filthy money and listing to really really really loud music! tiring. it didn't help that we didn't finish until after 1:30 a.m. - there's lots of new kids on the crew right now, so we're slow. it should get better. i go back friday, and even that should be markedly better than monday was just by virtue of having a couple of hours under my belt.

anyway, enough lollygagging. time to get out into the bright blue sunshine.

see you suckers later.

oh, and the secret to bob? really, really, REALLY big bowl.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

it's still awesome, even if they did cut down the trees.

so, i have a job. or something like it at least. it's a job when you're 20; whether it's a job when you're 30 is up for debate, but it's something. what all of this rambling amounts to is that i'm now going to be working at think, probably three nights a week. yay income! yay fair trade! yay being able to dress like a weirdo hipster artist at work... and getting free coffee! hopefully it will work out well. i need some structure; after one week of "free time" i was sinking, and fast.

i also came home to a very promising email after my day of sulking on friday. but i'm not going to talk about that in detail yet, lest i jinx myself.

see? i'm learning.

Friday, April 4, 2008

the trifecta of my failure.

i don't have successful parents. maybe this is the seed of my careerlessness; there was no family business to learn, no parental behavioral pattern to emulate, no path to follow at all really other than financial folly and unstable living situations. is it a wonder, then, that i have not blazed a trail in any particular field and have instead dabbled? jack of, well, some trades, but master of none? it seems the natural outcome of a haphazard childhood and an undirected adolescence.

thus far in my "professional" life, i have: worked in a petstore, a library, a victoria's secret (as a sales person), a major city aquarium, a victoria's secret again (as a stock person), a stationery / gift shop, a toy store, and a furniture store; worked as an artisan applying faux finishes to sconces and mirrors and armoirs and wiring chandeliers; done door-to-door canvassing for an environmental non-profit; worked at a book store where i managed the cafe, and at another cafe that was inside of a hair salon; and finally worked at a law firm as a paralegal / legal assistant for the past two plus years. and to think, my degree is in geography.

the trouble, of course, is that no one cares about my haphazard childhood or undirected adolescence. i am now an adult, and however frustratingly or unfairly, my achievements (or lack thereof) are judged outside the context of my provided opportunities or supports. i am graded by the same criteria as people whose mothers did not battle cancer, whose fathers are not alcoholics. who were encouraged to participate in extracurriculars, rather than being scolded for asking. who were guided in the choice of the right college... and applied to more than one. who looked to a preexisting fund rather than loans and an exhausting minimum wage job to cover tuition, the rent, the food the electric - if they even thought of these costs at all. who graduated in four years, and didn't deal with a chronic illness throughout. who had the help of parents and parents' friends and professors in landing that first job in the chosen field.

together, these people and i are held up to the light side by side, rotated. and me? i come up lacking. in specific skills, in applicable experience, in social grace. i am deficient, and i am passed over. the perception, of course, is that since i am now an adult i should have made up for whatever advantages i was not given earlier with my own means. (which is a very easy thing to imagine doing, i suppose, so long as you're one of the people who never had to think about doing it for yourself.)

at this point, i can hear my therapist asking me, who is it that is judging you? and i answer: potential employers, educators, family, friends, friends of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, classmates. and yes, granted, myself. the real question is, who isn't judging me. people judge. not because they are particularly judgmental, but because they are people, and people like quantification. it helps us to understand things. for the same reasons that science and philosophy and religion exist, i am ranked by each person that meets me on my various qualities. it is human nature to dissect and label and arrange along a linear scale, however generalizing it may be.

and so, the immutable points remain: 1) i have had less opportunity and support than some, and due to my ambitious nature i can often look at the people surrounding me and bump that "some" up to "most". 2) no one cares, and i am judged in a vacuum. 3) until a miracle occurs in bold strokes i will remain a jobless wonder.

ignore me; i'm having a wallowing kind of day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

jobless, day two.

this is the sound of my cell phone, not ringing. it is all i can hear.

this is the sight of my inbox, devoid of new messages. it is all i can see.

i am not having the best day. i got up this morning, and even made it into the city. i was out front of my favorite bookstore when they unlocked the doors at 10am. i settled in with my herbal tea and my notebooks; i had plans for some work to get done. but before 11 i was chased out. i was sitting right next to the back door for the cafe, and for some damn reason they kept propping it open. i couldn't handle it. i can't really explain; it just felt very hostile to have to hear and smell the hustle of the street. so i left. walking away, i caught my foot on a lip of concrete and tripped a little; i think i may have sprained my foot ever so slightly. it hurts.

i went to my favorite coffee shop, but it was already packed to the gills. i'm pretty sure it's like that every day by about 8:30am whenever NYU is in session. so that was a no go.

i decided to head to the west village, which for some reason i've been haunting lately, to visit a coffee shop i've just discovered on west 10th street called jack's. but as i reached macdougal, i realized that just a short block south was the "tea spot", a cozy place with a terrible name and a wonderful selection of, well, teas. so i ordered my second herbal tea of the day, bringing my expenditures already up to $8. i sat for a while there, contemplating paper colors and not really getting anything done. but at least it was empty.

deciding that a banana, herbal tea, and some hazelnuts were no longer sufficient nutrition, i went over to sacred chow and spent way too much money on a small but good lunch. that short sliver of afternoon was alright, except that she had her door open too for some reason, so i was freezing the whole time. it's 58 degrees out people. that's not warm. warmer, maybe, but not warm.

that was about all the city held for me, i decided, so i grabbed some coffee for my man at portorico and then jumped on the E train and headed to my studio. i got there and found that i really couldn't get anything done; the new paper swatches go fine with the old ones. wonderful. superb. my mind turned once again to budget, and i tried to write it all out. (for some reason that is beyond me, this is the moment that i realized my annual payment on my p.o. box is overdue.) i could only come up with expenses of $1000 a month. could that be right? what was i missing? maybe i wasn't missing anything. suddenly, i was filled with great hope. i headed out, wanting to go home and crunch some more numbers, come up with some plans.

and then, as i was walking away from the studio, it hit me: the studio is what i was missing. the crazy large sum i spend so that i can have what is essentially a glorified storage space is what was left out of my calculations. so no, there is no miracle waiting around the corner to solve my financial woes. it's as bad as i think.

i got home and discovered that i did, indeed, have some emails. the first one told me that the showing of A Chorus Line that i'd bought tickets to for when the parents are in town has been canceled. the second told me that i did not, repeat N-O-T, make it into the coveted Bust springcraftacular craft fair. not that i'm surprised. i guess i was just hopeful. it would have been nice to have someone think that i was good enough for something.

the constant rejection of job hunting has begun to wear on me i think.

i can't help thinking that this is a terrible mistake. but no, it isn't. or it won't be, as long as i don't let it be. i need to be more motivated. but i'm being pulled in, pulled down, and it's hard to fight.

i'll work it out. i always work things out. or at least things change somehow, and become more workable. things are just hard right now. i guess i knew they would be, though i think i was thinkingi'd be more excited about my freedom. and in my cliched little mind, i hear "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."