Showing My Hand

I’m quite the secretive person to an extent. There are lots of things that go on in my head and in my life that only people I carefully select are allowed to know. I’m an organized person and that includes compartmentalizing my life and the people in it.

This month I’ve taken measures to come clean, so to speak, with my family and friends, the people who know me in flesh and blood, not just on the Internet. See, the people on Twitter and Livejournal and this blog, I can tell them anything. I don’t hold back with them. They know I’m a writer. They know I sell jewelry. They know the true status of my gardening gig. They know I sell t-shirts. They know the crap I’m hocking on eBay. They know just how successful (or unsuccessful, depending on the way you look at it) I am.

The people I know in physical life don’t know any of that. Oh, I share when I’ve had some kind of writing success, because most of them know about my writing “career”. But they don’t know the extent of my cash making schemes. They don’t know exactly what I’m doing.

Unless they’re reading this.

In an effort to drum up some popularity, I made a page for myself on Facebook. And I posted the link on my personal Facebook to see if anyone would be interesting in liking me.

This is a big step.

You see, there are two big reasons why I’ve left my family and most of my friends out of this. First of all, I don’t want to think about them judging me harshly. I imagine most of them do anyway from what they know about my life, but this, in my paranoid mind, is just adding fuel to the fire. In my head, they won’t see this as me trying to build my own career and life, scraping together something workable with what I’ve got. I’m afraid they’ll see me as a failure. I’m afraid they ALREADY see me as a failure and they’ll just view this as confirmation.

Two things I’ve never wanted to be was a failure and a disappointment and I imagine that to some people I’m both.

The second big reason is that I was afraid to confirm what I’ve known most of my life: I am not popular. Not even with my own friends and family, not even for the two seconds it takes to click a link and click a like button, am I popular. This translates in my head as not being worthy of attention or support, something else that’s nagged at me most of my life.

The page, for those who dare to like it, will contain updates of all kinds. New t-shirt designs, new jewelry, breaking writing news, and, yes, a link to this blog, something I’ve only provided before on Twitter for fear of the flesh and blood people finding out about it.

But you know what? I can’t be held back by those fears anymore. I can’t care what they think of me. If anyone wants to back me on this life adventure, then dammit, I’m going to make it worth their while and I appreciate their support. And if they don’t? Their loss. This wagon train will be moving on without them because I don’t have the energy to drag them along.

When it comes to some things, I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. When it comes to other subjects, I do care. I care a great deal. But I’ve got to be more selective about WHOSE opinions I care about. Some people I just can’t worry about anymore. They’re not worth my time.

So, if you think I’m a failure and a disappointment, then you’re just reading this blog to watch me fail and disappoint. I’m sure you’ll be quite pleased with what you find here.

But, if you’re here reading this because you want to watch me fight to succeed, then you’ll be quite pleased, too.

It’s all in how you look at it, I suppose.

So here’s my whole card, gringo. What do you see?

Voice of an Angel; Motives of a Big Girl

This past week the Chicago Cubs have been accepting applications for PA announcer. It was an open audition of sorts, as they invited fans to submit vidoes of themeselves reciting three scripts in an attempt to maybe, possibly, perhaps win a Cubs fan’s dream job.

I’m one of the many that applied.

If you’re anything like my roommate, then you’re first thought is probably, “But you already have a job!”

To you I say, you’ve got keen powers of observation. I do have a job. And I don’t see what that has to do with anything.

The reason why I’m doing this doesn’t have anything to do with getting a new job, though I wouldn’t turn it down if they offered it to me. It’s the idea behind the absolutely remote chance that I’d even make it on the finalist list, let alone get the gig, that made me do it.

Think about it.

If by some miracle of miracles I got the job, my life would be turned upside down. There’d be a mad scramble for me to quit my old job, find a place to live in Chicago, find a car that could actually make it to Chicago, move, get settled, get to know my new surroundings, and get set in my new gig. It would be crazy. It’s a big move. It’s a bold move.

It might be just be the move I need to make.

Most people do this sort of thing when they’re young, usually college. They move out and find out what it’s like to be on their own. They establish their own security and their own place in the world.

For too long I’ve relied on the security of someone else and for the past couple of years, it hasn’t been so secure. I’m long overdue to leave the nest and I know it. It worked out well enough when I was younger. I got to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I had all of the typical grown-up bills to pay.

Now it’s time to take that last grown-up step. It’s a hard one considering I never wanted to grow up in the first place and paying for things like rent offends my penny-pinching sensibilities. Not to mention it’s a scarier prospect because now I’m actually old enough to know better. When you’re 18 or 20, you don’t think about failing. When you’re 30 bonus year like me, it’s called risk assessment. Failure is a real thing. At my age, you can’t go home again.

I’m using this as a tentative baby step to get used to the idea of turning my world upside down and shaking things up. This is the springboard to get me used to the idea, to make it exciting and challenging and thrilling like it should be, instead of overwhelming and scary and foreboding like I want to make it (and kind of have been making it for the past couple of years).

I’m better with change if I can ease myself into it. Now the scenario I described about getting the PA job wouldn’t be easing into it. But thinking about what I’d have to do to make that work is. It’s giving my brain the heads up. It’s telling myself that it’s time to switch gears. It’s time to get out of this complacent rut I’ve been in for far too long and start working towards something new. By the time I’m in the position financially to make that happen comfortably, I’ll be in the position mentally and emotionally to make it happen comfortably, too.

I’m all about my own comfort. That’s part of the reason why I’m still here and not…out there.

I know it makes me sound like a bit of wimp wanting to take this time to get used to the idea of doing something I should have done a long time ago, but I do believe we discussed that I’m cursed as a late bloomer. I also wasn’t exactly well prepared to make that transition to adulthood. So, yeah, I’m doing it on my own terms and at my own pace.

And if in the process of doing things my way I happen to score a gig with the Cubs and do end up turning my life upside down a lot sooner and faster than I planned, well, that’s okay, too.

Maybe I never wanted to grow up, but I did learn how to catch what life throws at me.

Stick in the Mud: Cha-Ching!

My friends will tell you that sometimes I am just no fun. I’m not big on shopping or seeing movies or hitting up the bars. I’m not overly social, don’t mind being alone, and can go days without feeling the urge to leave the house. I’m a homebody, to be sure.

But there is no time I am more unfun than when I’m broke.

What going out I will do becomes non-existent and whatever money I do have goes directly to bills. Do not pass go, do not have a good time.

This frustrates my friends and some of my family to no end, particularly around holidays and my birthday in which I might receive cash as a gift. They get money as a gift and they use it that way. They buy themselves something fun, something they really want.

I get  money, I pay bills. Period.

This sort of practical, responsible behavior drives some people nuts but it makes perfect sense to me. I haven’t had a regular income in nearly three years. Writing hasn’t been half as lucretive as I’d hoped it’d be, and I didn’t think it’d be that lucretive to begin with. I’ve been living off of savings and a credit card. When the savings started to dry up, I turned to selling things on eBay (this is also serves the dual purpose of allowing me to purge some of my stuff as I have a tendency to be a packrat). I’ve had to ask my dad for monetary help several times this past year, several times more than I wanted to ask him. I keep track of all the money I’ve had to borrow off of him or tabs he’s covered for me. Trust me when I say that it’s a lot and I have every intention to completely pay him back. And trust me when I say that my credit card dangerously close to being maxed out, something I never thought would happen. I’ve been looking for work this past year, but haven’t had much luck. The only job I got an interview for turned out to be a bust.

I am broke. Every dollar counts. Every cent I have, I earn, I receive goes to paying bills.

And yet it still baffles people that I don’t spend the money I get as a Christmas gift or a birthday present on something for myself.

First of all, I can’t justify it. When my mom gave me money for tickets to a Cubs game, I only bought the tickets (the cheapest bleacher seats I could get on StubHub) after I made sure I could pay my bills for that month. I admit, I splurged on a twenty dollar shirt for the game. Again, the bills were paid before I did, but I know I could have put it toward the next month’s bills. I did feel guilty about that, but I figured I’d deserved a little something extra since I’d spent so little on the actual tickets. I chalked it up to being part of the gift from my mom.

It’d been months since I’d splurged quite like that and then do you know what I bought? Lunch at McDonald’s. Yep. When a value meal from a fast food joint is considered extravagant, you’re broke.

Secondly, those shiny things I could buy would be nice, but the relief I feel knowing that my bills are paid for another month, that I’ve bought myself some more time to scrape up the money for the next month, that I’ve got some more time to come up with a new plan, sell some more stuff, apply for some more jobs is so much better than any shiny new thing.

I know it’s just money. Eventually (hopefully sooner than later), I’ll be making more of it on a regular basis. I’m not kept from getting something I want for long. I will find a way. I will get my debt paid off and I won’t have to worry about getting my bills paid every month. I’ll return to being my semi-reclusive, frugal self rather than the totally reclusive, miserly self I am right now.

Until then, so long as my friends and family give me money as gifts, I’m going to continue to disappoint them by putting obligation before pleasure.

A Mess of My Own Making

I have no problem admitting that the mess I currently find myself in is all my own fault. Of course it’s my fault.  To say otherwise would be to say that other people have been controlling me and that’s the last thing I’ll admit.

Okay, so it’s entirely possible that other people may have influenced the decisions that I made that led me to be in this mess. I know that I don’t operate in a vacuum. I know that I affect other people and they affect me. But the idea of blaming my life on my parents, or my family, or my friends, or the cruel, cruel Universe doesn’t appeal to me. I prefer to take the blame and the responsibility for my actions.

Ah, responsibility. For some people, money is the root of their problems (to be fair, money is a big part of mine right now, but that’s another post); for me it’s responsibility. It’s the root of my mess. Not that I don’t take responsibility for myself, but because I end up taking responsibilites that aren’t mine. Astrologers say that’s the lot of a Capricorn’s life. Well, it’s the bog of mine.

When my parents split when I was fifteen, I became responsible for myself in an adult sense for the first time in my life, which I admit was a rough transition for a late bloomer like me that had been somewhat sheltered from the grown-up world. I went from kid to adult in less than a month. What’s worse was that I found myself been put in the middle of my parents’ divorce as an adult, being made privvy to their bile and venom for each other like I was a friend to vent to and not the result of their combined DNA. It was also the beginning of my unpaid career as a messenger.

When my sister got pregnant the first time, it became my responsibility to see that my niece made it to family functions on my father’s side. My grandpa never emailed or tried to get a hold of my sister; he always got a hold of me and told me to bring the baby down. This doubled with the birth of my second niece and tripled with the birth of my third. Never once was it laid on my sister’s head to ferry her children down to see the family; it was me. And when my mom adopted the girls, I was held even more responsible for them in that way because my sister was off the hook. She removed herself from the responsibility pond entirely when she moved to Texas. 

My sister never had to hear about it from my father or his side of the family for her mistakes. I heard it all. My mother is spared the rants I have to endure from my father when it comes to the girls. I’m the one who bears the brunt of the disappointment from my grandfather when my nieces can’t make it to a family get together for whatever reason.

Honestly, all of THIS responsibility put me off of taking any grown-up responsibility for myself. I still live with my dad (and now a roommate) because the idea of moving out and trapping myself in a job that I hate just to make ends meet just so I could say that I was out on my own didn’t flip my skirt. Why would I want to take on all of THAT when I was already dealing with all of THIS? Then I quit my job and decided to become a writer and now I can’t move out even though now I want to because I’m flat broke because the only part of the starving artist stereotype I’ve mastered is the starving part (my bank account is definitely starving). So, once again I’m looking at taking a crap job to make money, which will require me adjusting my writing schedule to accomidate it and I’ll still end up stuck in this house and the only headway I’ll make is the satisfaction in not having to ask my dad for money.

That’s if I can get hired somewhere. The job hunt has not been positive up to this point.

So I’m broke, living at home, and struggling to turn an unsuccessful writing career into a successful one.

I take responsibility for that. I take credit for it. I had choices to make, I made them, and it led me to this point.

Now I have new choices to make. And I only hope I can make the right ones that get me out of this mess.

I’m ready to take responsibility for some victories now.