It has been quite a while since I’ve deigned to post in these parts, has it not? I’m quite sorry. Writing has taken over my life, much as I always wanted it to, and writing/editing fiction plus keeping up with social networking and a thriving community over at emmiemears.com has kept me hopping like someone put hot coals in my sandals.
But here I am, and there are a few things I’ve been up to that are more worthy of this blog than my writing world. 🙂 Consider this my moment to decompress.
Newlywed life with two jobs is rough, especially when one of those jobs doesn’t send a paycheck. (Actually, neither of them do, but in one of them I get tips.) I sell stuff for a living, and I end up making sort of enough money to get by. Barely.
For the last couple months, I’ve felt like something had to give. I’ve just finished a new novel (which I wrote in six weeks!) and I’m about to start editing it. I’m working out regularly and drinking a lot of water. I spend a decent amount of time chasing the puppy and kitten around the house with the vacuum so their fur doesn’t send me into asthmatic shock.
Breathing is sort of a hobby of mine.
So in the spirit of something giving, last night I went to a Mary Kay party.
I know. Non sequitur much?
I grew up with a friend whose mum sold Mary Kay. I used to mow her lawn to earn gifts for my mum’s birthday et cetera, and I never really thought much about it that Monica had earned a car through her business in Tinytown, Montana.
My financial situation has been very bad for quite some time now. And by quite some time I mean approximately 28 years. I was born in 1984. You do the math.
The party I went to last night was the launch of a new Mary Kay consultant, who happens to be a friend of mine from work. And one of the things they do at those parties is let you know that you can become a consultant as well. The woman who hosted the party is a national sales director who has earned fifteen cars in her thirty years selling Mary Kay. While that is not something I have written in blood at the top of my list, financial independence is.
I’m 28 with a penchant for leather, weapons, and tribal music. Until last night, when I thought of Mary Kay, all I thought of was pink.
But then I had a sort of epiphany.
I want to write. I am doing what I love and I am so thankful for the 1000+ followers I have on my other blog and the enormous amount of friendly, amazing people I have met through writing. I’ve learned so much about the business and the process and the craft that my fiction has improved tremendously.
Unfortunately, my bills really don’t give a shit about any of that.
As much as I love to do what I do, I need to make sure my husband and I (and the little four-legged furballs who depend on us) are taken care of. And I’m getting quite tired of waiting on tables and hoping people will decide that tipping 15% is behind the times.
In case you’re wondering, 18-20% for good service in the US is what is customary, and if your server is awesome, throw her an extra dollar or two. You don’t have to drop her a twenty on a fifty dollar check, but if you really think she did a great job, show it by compensating her.
Every time someone throws me $8 on $35 or $10 on $40, I feel great because I feel like my hard work is recognized. Of course, if you have the funds and want to make your server’s day, dropping a twenty on any check between $10 and $90 will endear you to the serving gods. Believe me when I say I remember those people. I got $45 on $80 once, and I can still picture their faces. When they come back, they will be recognized and thanked yet again.
Server wage in Maryland is $3.63. I do not receive paychecks at all — all my hourly wage goes to taxes. This is the case for the vast majority of servers. We pay our bills with what you decide to give us for the time we spend serving you. If we do a crappy job, that’s one thing, but if we do a great job, make sure your tip is representative.
But yeah. I’m tired of depending on the whims of others for my bills — and the whims of business as well. Monday night was my only scheduled night shift (read: money shift) this week, and we were so slow that I only had five tables. That put a stress on the rest of the week.
So I’ve decided to join the Mary Kay family. Which sounds strange to my ears. It’s not official yet, but it’s in the wings.
Back to that epiphany I had.
Mary Kay can look like whatever you want it to. Sure, the products come in pink tubes sometimes, but you can be as edgy as you want to be. The beauty of Mary Kay is that you make it your own.
This is what I hope to accomplish:
- Pay off my debt.
- Travel with my husband around the world.
- Have more time for writing.
- Leave the restaurant industry.
I could do some of those things working a traditional 9-5, but if I could get my business going with Mary Kay, I would have the ability to travel. That is something that means a lot to me and always has.
So I’ll leave you with a question: what’s preventing you from doing what you truly desire?
- Mary Kay Aims to Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence (bellasugar.com)
- Mary Kay gets innovative with new mobile app (mysocialagency.com)
- In a Bad Economy, The Avon Lady is Calling (bellasugar.com)
- Deals: Mary Kay Paints a Private Face (time.com)
It brings some glorious good news. For one, cheaper phone bills. Also, a trip to Bethany Beach this weekend with some awesome people, Splice comes out next week, there are only four weeks left of school, and perhaps best of all:
The Room is coming to Silver Spring, and Tommy Wiseau himself will be there. “You’re tearin’ me apart, Lisa!” This will be epic. I can see the awesomeness hurtling toward me like a football thrown from four feet away. Public drunkenness and sanctioned spoon-throwing, here we come.
If you haven’t seen this film (and if you have any appreciation for things so bad they actually turn around on the spectrum and end up in “awesome”), you must. You won’t regret it. Or you might, but don’t blame me for that. I’m just the messenger.
You know what else is awesome? I’m going to Montana in four short weeks. And I finally get to show John my home. After knowing him for two years and knowing his family for just as long, as well as all his friends in three states, it’s high time he got to see my world. So I’m pumped. Also? MacKenzie River Pizza Co. is in Montana, and I could pee my pants jump for joy with excitement about that little adventure. The Athenian, with spinach, fresh basil, tomatoes, olive oil, feta, and mozzarella? Yes, please. The Thai Pie with its peanut sauce base, grilled chicken, mandarin orange slices, and more peanuts? Heaven. Lodgepole bread sticks so wonderful they once made my mom burst into tears? (Okay, she’d just had a hysterectomy and wasn’t on hormone replacement…but it makes it sound awesome.) Glorious. Add to that Montana microbrews and you have yourself one solid, savory meal that could make the gods weep into their ambrosia.
I’m making myself drool, but I can’t stop. So…much…food…in my future.
Nap’s Grill has one pound burgers. My friends and I used to use our free periods once a week to send someone to Nap’s to order us all lunch using these “buy one, get one free” that they printed in the Ravalli Republic every day for a while — we raided everyone’s newspapers. Pretty sure the restaurant hated us, but we couldn’t say no to those juicy, juicy burgers. Medium rare with pepper jack cheese and a veritable bucket of shoestring fries? To be honest, it puts Five Guys to shame, and I usually would never speak such a heresy.
In addition to food, there is also the glory of the Bitteroot Mountains, with the Sapphire range to the east. Lake Como and Trapper Peak, Lost Trail Hot Springs, the Sula wilderness, Painted Rocks. Not to mention that we’re taking a trip to Glacier National Park — last time I went there, I met a bear. Well, that’s an exaggeration. He was busy digging for pikas in the side of the hill, but I did see him.
This summer is going to rule.
I’ll leave you with these quotes from today:
Ms. English to me: “You walk like a tiger.”
Dr. Phil (my chiro) to John: “You know, you really remind me of someone.”
That is the length of time standing between me and freedom.
In 36 days, I will paint myself blue and run through the mountains of Montana with a claymore (or, barring that, a butcher knife) screaming, “FREEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOM!”
In 36 days, I will be done with this year, with this job. I will embark on two months without work, three vacations, and a lot of writing. I will regain some of my precious sanity, which for now I don’t have the energy to go off and corral, and it’s ignoring me when I call for it. Dammit.
This year has been a lesson in many things. The first of which is that I ought to have learned by now to trust my gut. I should have trusted my gut a year ago when I received that tantalizing email offering me this job. It was $15,000 a year more than I had ever made. So, I rationalized, I would handle the godawful early mornings. I would handle the 60-80 hour weeks. I would grin and bear it for two years.
And then my health fell into the shitter, my sanity started pouncing leaves off on the funny farm, I went for months on about three hours of sleep per night, and some idiot (four idiots, actually) ran their vehicles into mine, the most recent and spectacular of which resulted in a substantially serious neck injury that I am still feeling six weeks later. And after all these little hints from the universe, I got it. I should have trusted my instincts last year when they warned me that this wasn’t for me.
For years people would hear that I studied history in college and would ask, “Oh, so you’re going to teach?” to which I would reply, “No. Never. Never ever ever. I want to write. Or possibly become a hermit.”
So why on earth did I ever think this would be a good idea? I knew it was a horrible idea for me, the introvert, hermit-like, paperwork-hating, nocturnal writer to take a job where I would be surrounded by people constantly, forced to do mountains of absolutely pointless paperwork, and get out of bed three hours after my body clock likes to go to bed? What on earth possessed me to do this to myself?
In the end, I think it was money. I’ve never been financially stable. My family is way below the poverty line. To my family, the poverty line is on top of the Empire State Building, and they’re in the lobby looking at their reflections in the polished floor. And the elevator’s busted. And my mom’s disabled and can’t get up the damn stairs.
This is what I get for greed. Especially because I’m no better off really than I was a year ago. Imagine that; salary goes up, expenses go up. Well, the latter bit is mainly because I had to buy a car. But I digress. Anyway.
Maybe “roof” isn’t the right word, but I surely woke up to the rain.
It’s 5:45 AM. I never see the day dawning from this side–If I see 5:45 AM, I’m always looking at it from the other side, from the staying up all night side. It’s a bit odd being awake right now.
I’m not entirely certain why I woke up. The rain is sort of loud. But it’s pleasant. It’s been sunny and hot lately, and I was due for some rain. All in all, I’m not overly impressed with Tennessee’s weather so far. I hate being hot. I’m quite happy to wake up to the rain this morning.
The sound of rain always contents me. I’ve always been a water person. Whether hearing droplets fall from sky to earth or simply washing my hands, I always pay attention to it. When I was younger, I always used to play with the hose out in the sunshine in Montana and watch the sparkling fat drops glitter like diamonds as the rays hit them over the backdrop of the Northern Rockies. I’ve never seen the point behind buying diamond rings when you have water.
I wanted more.
Things never work out the way you expect them to. I certainly didn’t expect to wake up so early this morning. I was exhausted when I went to bed at 12:30 AM, mainly because I rarely make it to bed before 1 or 2 on weeknights, and around 3 – 4 on weekends, if not later. Night owls are always condemned to less sleep than their daywalking counterparts–I’ve become accustomed, if not resigned, to that fact.
Waking up to the rain is pleasant, however. It made me want to write. Pretty soon, I wil have to get up and go to work, but for now I’m here. My bed is that perfect warm, the cool outside air and the breeze from the fan have placed me into a coccoon of gentle morning bliss here sandwiched between my nest of pillows and my down comforter. There are worse ways to wake up.
How do you ask for what you want if asking comes at the possible expense of losing it? How do you know what you want, even?
I hate playing games. There is always this balance game, this highwire act that women and men play together when they are unsure where they stand. Are they on the platform, safe? Or are they perched precariously on the edge of a line, suspended over nothing with no net to catch them if they fall? I kind of feel like the latter.
It’s self-preservation at its best. Don’t put yourself out there. You’ll get slapped against the pavement, dropped from the heights of your hopes and/or expectations.
I was told last night by a good friend that I am too cynical. Am I? She was being fatalistic to an extreme, and I’ve never done well when people tell me things will work out if they are meant to be. I think that’s a cop out answer because people don’t want to admit that things rarely work out. Meant to be. I see more sense in the thought that relationships are the Elephant Dance.
This is a concept that I came up with at a songwriters’ group here in Nashville a few months back. Someone threw out the title “The Elephant Dance,” and the songwriter there, Kirsti Manning, asked us what that song would be about. Some people thought literal. I thought about couples.
We meet. We either click or don’t. You’re either attracted to someone or you’re not. Sometimes there’s enough there to make you at least curious. More rarely, there’s an instant zing, and within days or hours you find yourself plunked directly into a new life. But then comes the problem. People are terrified of getting hurt. Because all of us have a lot of pain that we carry around with us like we are some sort of pachyderm. Two people trying to interact with all that baggage is like an elephant dance.
How do we do it? Put out your trunk, poke at them a little bit. If their trunk meets yours, you might move a little closer to them. If they slap it away or stomp on it, you run away.
I’m the last person who could explain why sometimes it works. Why two people meet and click and bam, find themselves drawn to one another. That lil spark. Most people seem to go about their lives–this is my thought based on interactions with friends, etc.–content without that spark. They find the vaguely curious and pat them with their trunk until the other elephant pats them back. Then they try to be together. Those usually don’t work. In fact, they have a tendency to fall apart rather spectacularly.
It’s the inexplicable connections that have the most potential. But they are scary as hell, and more often than not are met with remarkable obstacles and barriers, so people just let them go. With risk comes the possibility for great gain, but when do you decide how worth it is?
I sure as hell don’t know. It’s a gamble that could pay off, but dancing with elephants is a good way to be trampled.
The last time it happened to me, I ended up…well. Heartbroken. In the meantime between then and now, I’ve tried the other way. Some spluttering miniscule spark that both people try to fan because they’re just so damn lonely, even when their elephants can barely fit in the same room with one another. The Elephant Dance has caused my world to be wrecked–two giant pachyderms can cause a hell of a lot of destruction when they’re not careful.
So when you do find a spark that doesn’t seem to splutter but grows itself larger, that feeds even on distance and time and blossoms into a warm blaze when given even half a chance, what do you do? First of all, you better hope it’s mutual. That’s the scariest part…but if it is, then what? Because those ones have mandatory roadblocks, and sometimes the price is just too high. Even if you can see some of their baggage and have some idea what you’ll have to dance with, even if you saw it and want nothing more than to help heal it, to fix it, to remove that haunted look and tone–even then, they might not want you to.
This is a “what now?” sort of week. A lot of things from the past few months came to fruition in a variety of different ways. But even though I’ve resolved some if-onlies and watched hard work pay off in huge and historic proportions, I’m now left sitting and writing at 6:20 on a Friday morning, listening to a harmony of rain in key with some truly great music, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do now.
There are a lot of options, and none of them seem safe.
I think I will write that song after all.