“Sunlight is an Antiseptic” – Seth Godin (On Transparency)
My tooth is KILLING my other teeth. They’re all in a row screaming at me to help this one tooth that I have neither the insurance or money to do.
It’s been a week since I last blogged because — well — writing is an act of honesty, of transparency. For me, anyway. It’s hard to put on airs or keep up facades when I write. I mean the act is after all — Me in a silent room with my aunt’s borrowed iBook G4 computer. And, as the Cubans say, “presumiendo” makes me feel “tan fina como el trapo de la cosina.” That translates into: Presuming makes me feel as refined as a kitchen rag. It makes more sense in Spanish.
Anyway, WHAT I’m trying to get at is that I’d like to blog about something helpful, positive, face-saving, but the truth of the matter is that’s just my ego trying — yet again — to avoid vulnerability, shame, and outside judgment. It turns out I can’t help that I’m a flawed human creature thing, and my tooth hurts, and I don’t have any money for health insurance or a dentist right now.
Also, although I LOVE my art (writing and making movies), and doing it obsessively (non-stop until I pass out from physical exhaustion), the rest of my life feels beyond unmanageable.
My Part Time B Job (although I’m grateful for it) — well — hurts. Financially, I make enough money to put $30 in my gas tank per week, eat off the Jack’s $1 menu twice a day, and go see a play once a month. The rest of the little $$ Bling-Bling Cha-Ching I have left I always invest into my art materials — a hard drive, complimentary books (for reviewers), packaging materials, mailings, etc. Oh yeah, and rent.
I hustle for the rest — give a little here, take a little there — in an ethical spiritual way, of course. For instance, my aunt ROCKS and lets me use her iBook G4 laptop and I write kick arse letters on my aunt’s behalf and stay later at work to help her with her tax stuff. My friend Linda Marie helped with all the complex formatting/tech stuff for my book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive in order to submit it to my AMAZEDAWG (highly recommended) book distribution company Lightning Source, and I bought her dinz a bunch of times aka Ceviche Loco and paid her a bargain-price sum in small installments whenever I got paid. Also, I am ALWAYS there for her if she ever needs help on a project, which she knows. Etc, Etc … The poor man’s life in a capitalist system proves to be the only time communism actually works. Tribe Members helping each other — organically, fluidly, with an abundant spirit — realize their dreams.
I’m profoundly grateful for the blessed life I have, for the supportive, loving, brilliant, and generous group of people I am surrounded by, and privileged to call my family and friends.
That being said, I’m quite burnt out on living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, the hustle & bustle of keeping head above water …
SO, first step to changing this dynamic in my life is admitting to myself — very frankly — that it’s real and I need it to change.
What exactly needs to change? Well, I’m not exactly sure … These are the things I know for sure:
1) My sole purpose in life is to grow spiritually and make the art I love (movies & books).
2) Since I graduated college 7 years ago, I’ve tried to make money working full-time jobs and part-time jobs within the movie industry as a runner, receptionist, office & on-set PA, executive assistant, assistant editor, & editor in the mainstream studio system, the indie fiction world, and the documentary world (that def. being my fave). I’ve made up to $1500 a week, yet none of these jobs quelled the restless ball of barbed wire bouncing restlessly within my chest — hankering for something more. After 1 week at a gig (like clockwork) dissatisfaction & depression would kick in and I wanted out. Still, I’d muster up enough energy to stay between 3 months – 10 months. After all, rent is due!
Then I thought: WELL, maybe I’ll just cut the crap and admit to myself that the only career that could make me truly happy would be one centered around the films and books brewing in me cabeza & corazon — to work on my art and help my friends out with their art.
Case closed. Understood and accepted. I’d relentlessly and unabashedly work on my projects and my friends’ projects because really that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I understand that building a career as a writer & filmmaker is going to take time — no prob, let’s get to work 🙂
Still, I need money — for equipment, rent, food, gas, car … Hmmmm, well okay I’ll apply to grants! I know lots of artists, writers, and filmmakers living off grants! My first short fiction film in college was funded by a $5,000 McNamara Arts Grant and it was the first grant I ever applied to! In the meanwhile, I’ll work b-jobs I don’t have to take home with me: Sold packing tape, was a tutor, sold more packing tape, and then settled as a part-time executive assistant. Jobs that drain bones of their luster, but kept them fed. I applied to various grants over this 3 year period: Film Grants, Writing Grants, Minority Grants, Woman Grants … Grant Applications that usually took an entire Saturday & Sunday and probably most of Monday to do. 40 hours of work per application, thanks to that perfectionist watchdog a-hole — me. Nothing. Got no grants.
All right then — next plan …
Well, all of my film equipment is 7 years old by this point — hanging in there with me, my body hasn’t been checked out by a doctor in about a year and a half, and hospital/credit card/school loan debt grows interest by the day.
My book is getting good reviews, my feature screenplay is one draft from being its ultimate best, and by now it’s ready to start researching/approaching appropriate producers … Which is beyond RAD.
But I’m still broker than a stripper on crack.
SO, I applied to grad school for my master’s in film theory! I’d LOVE to teach film at a junior college while I continue making my art. The school loans will keep me alive while I go to school (I can also afford to upgrade some equipment & buy some more necessary materials), and once I graduate — the degree will get me a professor-pay job that I’ll most likely LOVE (since I love watching movies, discussing them, and writing about them more than drinking 40’s, eating tres-leches cakes, and making out with beautiful chicas, which = A LOT OF LOVE) AND the mula made there will help me invest in my art projects and pay off debt.
Woohoo! Now, there’s about 4 months until I hear if I was accepted by grad school and 6 months until grad school begins … Getting out of bed to make it to my exec assistant part-time job seems an almost impossible task by this point … for the barbed-wire ball is bouncing in my chest again and the money’s hella tight (close to non-existent). GAHHHH! This. way. isn’t. working. anymore.
Please baby jesus let me get into grad school and receive massive amounts of fafsa money and in the meanwhile — help me figure out what to do!
I must chuck my pride into the toilet and apply for an EBT card so that I can afford to shop at Trader Joe’s, which will stop the fast food industry from raping my cholesterol and blood sugar levels!
UM, so there you have it. Transparency. Godin’s right. Sunlight is an antiseptic. I feel better already. Doing the “I’m so fabulously together I blog about it” song & dance is FAR more humiliating and boring.
I’ll finish with a quick fun little story:
2 weeks ago I was honored to be invited by event sponsor Moet & Chandon
as a guest blogger to renowned spanish newspaper La Opinion’s esteemed Latina Leader Awards (Mujeres Destacadas Awards/Luncheon) at the beautiful Millenium Biltmore where 30 inspirational leaders of the Latina community were recognized for their priceless contributions to American society in 4 different categories: Leadership, Health, Arts & Culture, and Education.
After the valet parks my car (there was no street parking or affordable parking lot nearby), I rush to a stall in the women’s bathroom and text my mom this:
Mamushka, please transfer 50 bucks into my account. I have no money to pay for parking! Lol! I get out in 2-3 hours. That’s when I would need the money. This place is swanky!!! ;)”
The first half covered my Chase account overdraft, and the rest of it went to parking.
All that said & done, I’m comforted by the fact that Winona Ryder sorta went through something like this too. Even if only in a movie. One of the funnest movies EVER!: Reality Bites … It does sometimes, Winona. I agree.