Time is Not On My Side

Yesterday I was sewing batten pockets for sails. I had my headphones on. I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before cuz I was up trying to create an online newsletter for the Sun's school, and I hadn't quite finished my thermos of Bustelo.

Between being tired and having too much time to think (it IS factory work, after all) I was suddenly gripped with fear.

The financial situation is critical. And I really have no solutions.

I got into it the other day with the Professor (and it's over... I'm not mad--just recounting) cuz she would say things like "get a job". But that doesn't take into consideration a number of things:

Time vs. Money
  • The way I see it, as a freelance designer I ask between $50 and $75 an hour depending on what I'm doing, or I'll ask for a set package fee based on my estimate of time and materials needed to complete a job. And that's cheap. Art directors and GDs who have been in the game a long time get $100 or more an hour, on average. And it may seem like a lot, but there are times when you're NOT working so then you make nothing.
  • If I work per Diem or contract for someone, or even a full time gig at this point I'm worth about $25-$35 per hour.
But nobody's really hiring GD's right now, and it's not like I'm not applying cuz I am. I even apply for stuff that's beneath me. But nobody's even answering. So that means I'd have to look outside my field:
  • Retail pays between $7-14 an hour, depending on experience and the store. Most retail places don't do commission, but if they do, that means pay is about $7. And you usually are required to work a weekend. I never work a job on Saturdays--it IS Sabbath, afterall, so that means having to work a Sunday. And in some retail stores (especially the one I worked in while I was at Pratt) working on Sunday means "closing". And you can't leave the store till it's clean. Sundays are my least favorite day of the week even when I'm home, cuz I always feel like I'm running out of time to get things ready for the week. If I HAVE to, I'll work Sundays, but the thought of having even less time to get my kid ready for the school week is very frightening to me.
  • IT/Tech probably pays more, but I haven't worked a techie job in hmmmm....8 years, and I've forgotten more than I ever knew.
  • As an administrative assistant or something I'd probably make between $15-$20 per hour.
  • Da Factory pays $10.
But here's the catch... when you're working for someone else, you're not working for yourself. No canvassing for business. No answering emails. No combing Craig's List. No hitting up former clients. And certainly no working on your own stuff. So I bring in steady "cheap" money, but in doing so I give up the prospect of more "valuable" money. I also give up the time it would take me to develop the million other ideas and projects I have or want to start or want to finish. There IS stuff I can do. But I feel like I'm trading chasing the cheap money because I have to, vs. trying to snag the big money. However... an advantage to being paid small money when I'm not working for myself is that I'm paid like clockwork, vs. the time spent sending invoices and trying to get people to pay me the big money I'm owed. Right this second the hospital owes me at least $600... and I've been trying to get it since the summer. It's a major pain in the ass.

Blogging
  • People in real life tell me I spend too much time blogging. But I need to write, much like I need to breathe. It's cheaper and more readily available to me than therapy, and I'm not sold on the idea of prescription meds. I think I am MUCH saner in the year and a half blogging than I have been in a long, long, time. The Voices used to scream at me all the time, and lately, they really don't. Except for early yesterday when they were so loud I thought I was going to lose it. But generally we have pretty decent conversations, now. If I hadn't been able to write my way through August (easily the worst, scariest mental health month of my life--and I can say that now cuz I'm oh, so much better. But I realized last night how scared I was of myself even though I didn't tell anybody, cuz I know I won't be re-reading or revisiting that time period any time soon) I think, well... it wouldna been pretty. I'll leave it at that.

  • In the past year and a half, I've had about 20,000 hits here on this blog. If you weed out the thousand or so that are family/myself from different computers, that's still 19,000. Now suppose everytime I got a hit I earned a dollar? And don't think I don't think like that... I have been watching my stats and who reads me and for how long. So there is still the possibility that something could happen for me because of this... you never know. I'm still trying to figure out how. And blogging could figure into my project with my friend Faca, so I have spent a year learning this skill and how it works, and the potential...
My Low Tolerance for Bullshit
  • Seriously, it's a problem. It's always been a problem. I remember being 4 and going to school in Jamaica where they had corporeal punishment in the schools. My parents rarely, if ever, spanked me, and when they did it was cuz I did something dangerous or stupid. So to have a teacher smack my palm with a ruler because I was a "chatterbox" really pissed me off, and I told her so and that I would tell my parents. She laughed at me; Jamaican children were used to this sort of thing and were pretty meek. Me? I was furious. And I never forgot her or forgave her for that, either. And I never grew out of that. I look back at memos and emails I've written bosses and am amazed I wasn't fired more often for insubordination. It's not that I was rude or anything... but my language and attitude were far, far above my "station" in life. Definitely "uppity". In one instance it did outright cost me a job and I'm pretty sure it's why I was one of the first to be "let go" when the hospital "restructured marketing". Uh yeah, fire that snappy bitch. She has to go.

    I don't take shit from co-workers either. I lock my drawers and password protect my computer even if that sort of thing is frowned upon. I won't take the fall in the name of "teamwork". Stupid procedures and outdated technology really rattle me.

    I always start out promising myself I'll keep my big mouth shut and my temper on lockdown, but it's hard. People and low-level politics and ploys for power really piss me off, so that weeds out a lot of jobs. Like, generally I can't do retail. I can do it in a store that makes people happy, like a housewares store, or maybe a grocery store, but no place where people would be super picky like say Macy's or a shoe store where people don't want to admit their true size. I worked at the Gap once a long time ago. I quit quickly.

    To tell myself I can just work "anywhere" would be lying to myself. And I struggle with this, I do. I try to be a team player. Hell, I worked for a long long time and at one point was pretty good at the whole thing. But I can't now. I know I can't. The thought of forcing myself to do it seriously distresses me.
My Kid Matters The Most to Me
  • I know everybody says that, and everybody means i,t too. But I guess most folk are conditioned to going off to work and their kids going off to school or daycare or the babysitter. Me, both my parents were home full time until I was out of the house, practically. I don't think my mom started working a "real" job until I was in my '20's. Poppy always either wrote or taught somewhere part time. So to me, staying home with the kid is like breathing. Leaving him to go to work when he was a toddler felt like dying. I did it though, until he was three. And when I worked at the hospital a year and a half ago, the situation worked cuz guess what; his school was very close to my job. I could pop over and see him at lunch, which I did frequently. But more importantly there are things I want to keep up with him, like his violin and his karate. If I work full time, I give a lot of that stuff up. Especially karate cuz of the logistics. And also, his father now lives cross country. There's just me. I want to be active in his life and I hate jobs that get in the way of that. The minute an employer/boss looks cross-eyed at me cuz I have to go to a PA meeting or a parent/teacher, I get really annoyed. My kid comes first, and don't question me about that.
So I look at all this written out, and I'm honest with myself. I am. I suck. I have issues. I know Shoefly in particular and the Professor also--who fully believe in the concept of working--will have a multitude of things to say about this. That I'm making excuses, that I need to get over my issues, etc. But I am my father's child. I'm also my mother's child. Neither of them works full time for anybody, and Poppy in particular grumbles about all the administrative stuff he has to do in relationship to his teaching.

And then there's another issue... I do apply for things and obviously my resume is not working for me... but I can't have a chronological resume because my experience and skills are all over the map. So I have a functional resume, and a pretty good one, I think. But something is off. The end result now is that I'm pretty depressed about the whole thing and the thought of applying for stuff fills me with dread. Cuz I hate not hearing anything. I also really really hate interviewing, particularly "cold" interviews. I'm just not good at it. I'm not "bubbly". My philosophy is... I can do anything. Unless I can't do it, in which case I'll tell you I can't but it won't take me long at all to learn. I can learn anything. (Hell, I've learned to make batten pockets for sails recently. And I'm pretty good at it, too, so I've heard. I heard through the grapevine I'm fast and neat. Who knew?) So just give me the damn job already. Teach me, and leave me alone. But apparently interviewing and job-seeking doesn't work that way.

I'm a mess.

And I need to kickstart something REALLY FAST or I'm in a heap of trouble.

Although I did say that when I first got canned... and I've now been "unemployed" over a year. But now it's for real for real. I need cashflow. I'm running out of time.

Comments

How about applying as a substitute teacher? They make $100 a day in a lot of big cities. Or applying as a temp? I knew an artistic guy who winged a nice job at an art institute as a temp. If you know much about the internal workings of a computer, maybe the Geek Squad at Best Buy has something for you. Or maybe there's an opening at a Michaels Art store for a manager. I don't know... I wish you luck.
The Bear Maiden said…
NY has requirements for subbing, and plus there's a hiring freeze right now. I'm signed up with a few temp agencies but nothing's moving and when they do there's a queue, but at FatLady's suggestion I need to apply to more.

I hate computers now :) I used to do tech but really don't want to do that anymore.

The other stupid limitation is I don't drive... so stores like Michaels have be within the realm of public transportation. And in NY every starving artist is already working at Pearl or DickBlick... those places don't even have online apps anymore.

But thanks for the luck.I need it.
Fat Lady said…
First, your resume. Specialize it. Have two resumes, or three if need be. Right now your resume is too broad. It reeks of multiple personalities - employers don't like that. We'll talk about it.

I understand most of your reasons for not getting wedged into a traditional job - since I share some of them. As far as I'm concerned just eliminate retail from your thinking - you don't make enough for it to be worth the time and aggravation. Retail is for young people without many bills, or retired people who need something to do. If you have kids and responsibilities retail will just make you poorer and crazier.

I think temp work is a good answer for you - you just have to hit on the right temp agency. When I did temp work I signed up with a bunch of places and there was always one or two who would send me out for lots of work - and nothing from any of the others. But you have to sign up with a lot of them to find the one that's going to connect and get work for you.

Temping means you don't get invested in the place you work and by the time the people really get on your nerves, you're gone. It also means that if they get on your nerves too bad on day one, you can finish that day up and not go back. Good temp agencies would rather have you be honest and tell them you're not a good fit than have a situation blow up.

But, more than anything, you need to keep putting the artwork out there. You, my friend, are an artist. That's your biggest problem and even though you recognize it now, you're still fighting it more than working with it. When you stop fighting and start flowing things are going to get better for you.

Get your ass to the Foundation Center and start looking for grants. Me too - I know. We just have to make a date to go. Period. There's money out there now, but there might not be for long. So, now is the time.
Sista GP said…
Hi! Your post hit home. After 9/11, my post-maternity leave contract was cancelled. I could not find work for over a year. It seemed like the bottom fell out of the IT industry. I almost became an insurance agent. The "drop-dead" date to signup for the course was on a Wednesday. On the preceding Monday, I received a call from a business I had sent a cover letter and resume two weeks prior. An interview was set for the upcoming Friday.
Dilemma: guaranteed position as ins agent or possible position in field with steady income.
Decision: passed on ins. agent training and went to interview. I was offered the job on the spot and now 6 years later, I am still employed with the company. Not as independent as I would like, but it is steady employment

found you from professor's site
I just found you via KIT, you sound a lot like me. My resume is all over the place and for every up year professionally and financially there are two down ones.

Hang in there.

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