Monday, December 27, 2010

Take Your Pants Off / And Make it Happen

The prompt for Reverb10 was: "what is the wisest thing you did this year?"

Considering this resulted from my own foolish decision to take the fucking job in the first place, I'm really not sure this can qualify, but the wisest thing I did all year was to quit my job. I had been out of work for almost a year - on a kind of sabbatical, sort of, if losing it and going on indefinite leave counts as a sabbatical - and had decided to take another PR agency job to pay the bills while I figured out a real plan for what was next. I knew from the get go that it wasn't an ideal job. It was a rung or so below the last agency job I'd held, and at a smaller, less prestigious agency, and I was making considerably less money. But I was worried I wasn't going to employable anymore if I didn't get back to work, and I knew it was a job I could do, so I took it with the full intention of phoning it in. 

It was fine at first - we had clients, and they were sort of low maintenance and dumb enough to not require any real effort. We had a couple of actually interesting clients in the pipeline. But my boss, whoa-hoh, my boss. I knew going in that he was a Manhattan Beach frat boy/permanent child type who was a douche and sort of a joke, but his stated goal was sales, and the deal we struck was that I would lead all the account work, and he'd stick to administrative functions and new business development. This was fine with me because I don't particularly like sales, and anyway, I knew he'd be easy to manipulate.

What I didn't know was what an epic clown this guy turned out to be. First of all, I discovered he had a ridiculous nickname that I can't put in here, but that was along the lines of something like "Skip" or "Styles" - pure California cheese. And then there was his irritating habit of listening to bad 80s music on Pandora. All day, every day, if we let him get away with it. It was a small office, maybe 15' x 8', and if we didn't have music playing it was too weirdly quiet to work comfortably, so every day was a race to get good music on first before he could come soil us with Mister Mister and the like. Which he hated, but, to his credit, tolerated, because he was a good enough guy that he genuinely wanted to be a good boss and let the underlings have it their way. One time I had on Radiohead and he exploded with frenzied laughter that suggested he'd been biting his tongue all morning and said, "Jesus, do you just want to kill yourself, or what?" The answer to that question was debatable, given that remark, but my co-worker and I laughed it off. 

Anyway, that kind of idiocy was readily apparent in his work style too. He was embarrassing to me in his transparency - not knowing what he was doing, he pretty much never had any actual good advice for clients - and mostly he wanted to talk about partying and getting drunk. (He is 39.) One day I was at a client lunch and all he could talk about was how awesome his old client's party at E3, a videogame tradeshow, was, and how they spent a million dollars on an event that contained strippers dancing around a pole. He also once told a female colleague to never use the word "swallow" in an email, because no man would ever be able to take it seriously. (!)

But I think the true breaking point for me was when we were working one morning and the song "What a Feeling" by Irene Cara came on the radio. It was 8:30 am on a Tuesday, and none of us were in a good mood. He started singing, and then stopped to tell us about a lyric he'd misinterpreted. "Guys," he said, addressing me and my 28 year old female colleague and our very naive 19 year old female intern, "when I was little, I used to think the part where she says 'take your passion/and make it happen' was 'take your pants off/and make it happen!! Isn't that hilarious?!!"

That was pretty much when I knew I would no longer be able to work for that agency. I quit within a couple of weeks, and since have landed a couple of freelance gigs that pay OK and are keeping me going for now. Next month, who knows, but I'm still getting by. 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I did not see something nasty in the woodshed, but I did see a wood chipper in action

I'm staying at my parents' house in suburban Atlanta for the holidays. They live in a 70s colonial-style house on the north side of Atlanta that is very typical for this era and area, brick with white shutters on the windows, all neutral colors and knick knacks and throw blankets.

This morning I awoke to massive thudding noises that sounded like an earthquake or signs of the apocalypse, but really it was just the sounds of massive logs hitting the ground and being fed to a wood chipper. I looked the window and there were tree trimming creatures from north Georgia all swarming the yard - Carhartts and cigarettes and beards and desert camouflage in full effect. My dad called my cell and told me to come see this guy wielding a chainsaw 60 feet up with one arm, cutting off tree branches that weighed 500 pounds. 

So I went down with coffee to watch - this is as good as any entertainment suburban Georgia affords - and my thought process went something like this. 

A wood chipper, huh?

Wood chippers are often kept in a woodshed. 

Woodsheds are places where sometimes you can find hedgehogs.

And then I went back inside for another cup of coffee. The internet has addled my brain. 

Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letting Go of Being a Hater - Is it Possible?

My mother never said "if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all." 
Mostly my mother talked tremendous amounts of shit about everyone, even (especially?) family members when they weren't around. Opinions on behavior, parenting skills, choice of pastimes, company kept, footwear, hair color, eating habits, spending habits, and on and on. Everything and everyone was game. Still is, in fact. I can't have a conversation with her, or my dad for that matter, without it turning to the judging of others. 
On the one hand, it's fun. It's interesting to hear their takes on other people, especially if you agree with the assessments. On the other hand, it's brutal. You can imagine yourself being similarly verbally abused in conversations with other siblings. I used to engage in it, but I find the older I get, I can't. It has the effect of shutting me down.
Not that this stops me from being a hater in my own right - it's pretty deeply ingrained. So often when I feel compelled to write (or tweet, which is sort of embarrassing, this compulsion I have to tweet, but that's for another post), it's to vent about something that pisses me off. And this bothers me. It bothers me that what bubbles up most often in my consciousness is venom. It's directed at everyone - myself, my co-workers, Facebook people, people I follow on Twitter (sorry), musicians, celebrities, politicians, basically anyone I feel is being a loser at any time. 
I'm trying very hard to let go of these thoughts, but how do you stop your natural response to something? If you let it fester, it sticks around. It festers. But then if you talk about it, you're spewing negativity. And what do I know anyway? Who am I to judge anyone? It's a fucked up cycle and I'm trying to leave it behind, but it's not easy. I'm working on it.
And if you have any suggestions for how to cure this cancer, please let me know. 
p.s. This was written in response to this prompt for #Reverb10
p.p.s. On the non-hating side of things, I really love the vocal harmonies in this song. It's sung by sisters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Enemy is Within

Today for Reverb10 I'm supposed to blog about one thing I do every day that doesn't contribute to my writing. This topic annoyed me, at least in the way it was written. Fuck, there are a ton of things I do every day that don't contribute to my writing. Eating, sleeping, showering, cooking, exercising, working for a living, answering the phone, answering emails, I don't know. Come on. 

But OK, fine, the biggest reason I don't write everyday is because I am deeply conflicted. I'm conflicted about why I write, and why I want to write. I'm conflicted about what I want to write about, because a lot of the time it seems silly and I can't imagine why anyone would care to read it. I'm conflicted about being really, truly honest about what I feel, because some of that is so shot through with anger that it kind of scares me. I'm conflicted because I sometimes don't know if I have the balls to write, and then I come back to asking myself why I even want to in the first place, and whether it's worth it. It's a compulsion, I think, but it's blocked and complex and under so many layers of neuroses and defenses and coping mechanisms and plain old self-doubt that it sometimes seems ridiculous to even try. It's a combination of factors that shuts me down on a lot of days. 

So I'm trying to work through that. Just not worry about all those things and write anyway and see what happens. It's a process.

p.s. The title of the post is a lyric from an Elliott Smith song, "Stupidity Tries" - a great song about inner conflict.




Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Describing 2010 in one word


The word is flux. I didn't encapsulate last year in one word, but it would likely have been "upheaval". This year had its own share of ups and downs, but last year - leaving my job without really having a backup plan, taking an extended period of time off, breaking up with the guy I'd been dating, going through tons of therapy to try to get my shit together - was the watershed moment.

This year was a year of constant change. Travel - two trips comprising four weeks in Atlanta, a trip to Japan, a trip to Kentucky, a trip to NYC, a trip to Portland. Work - starting a business with a good friend, taking a screenwriting course and doing some exploration of film/tv writing as a potential career, taking a job in PR and quitting it in less than six weeks when it turned out to be a shit show, eventually grabbing some good freelance PR gigs and exploring broader media consulting. Home - moving apartments, getting a roommate again, making a huge (and still tentative) decision to move back across the country. Dating - dating a pretty fair amount (exhausting enough in its own right).

All of it's just been about trying to keep trying things, hoping that something will feel right and lead to a path I feel good about pursuing. And I am making progress - no on the screenwriting front, thank you - but it's actually really scary to be constantly in flux. I haven't been able to say for sure where I'll be more than a few weeks out in a long time. Sometimes I love that - it's exciting, it's liberating, it feels great to be free - but then sometimes all those options being up in the air completely paralyze me. So much on the table, so much that can be changed, so little in my life that is truly permanent. It's exhausting. 

So I hope that next year is the year things start to be less all over the place and more about digging my heels in, in one way or another. I hope next year's word is "settling". Because I'm ready. Maybe for the first time ever. I need some stability.

p.s. By the way, I am doing #Reverb10, which is, in their words "an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next." It will require me to post once a day for the entire month of December. Sounds a little new age-y, maybe, but I'm a little new age-y, and I had actually set out to do this in November, but only eeked out 11 posts. My most prolific month ever, but well short of my goal. And the Reverb people will send me prompts! Yay prompts!

p.p.s Speaking of Flux, the guy who writes Fluxblog, the oldest mp3 blog on the Internets (or so he claims - and it actually was the first one I started reading, round about 2004), just posted an amazing 10.5 hour mix of his favorite songs from 2010. ROCK. 

p.p.p.s. I use a lot of parentheticals. Is this annoying?


Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over