By Corinne Flax
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July 5, 2005
So this weekend was the Fourth of July, but for me it all really started on Thursday, the 30th of June. I was invited to an art opening in Brooklyn. This invite was from someone who I met through a friend, someone who I didn't know before this year. I went happily, almost giddily in fact. Deep in my heart I harbored hopes of making a new connection, with the possibility for more in the future, at the very least I wanted to make a good impression. I tend towards feeling rampantly hopeful or completely hopeless, and on Thursday I was edging towards hopeful.
The gallery was small and intimate, with mirrored walls and empty glass cases. All the work was displayed in the windows outside the gallery, which seemed like a neat trick to me. While I'm not sure whether or not that part of the evening was a success (time will tell) I did receive one business card, which must mean something. Business cards are so concrete and solid. When I was handed this card I instantly felt as if the person giving it to me was suddenly worth slightly more then they were previously.
For actual business people these cards are necessities, the tools of their trade. Until recently I had never thought of myself ever having a card, but lately I think about it more and more. Even though I don't exactly have a business, freelance or not, I am completely enamored with the idea of possessing cards. I imagine myself deftly reaching into my purse and pulling out a small silver container with my initials embossed on it in black. "Here," I'll say, "let me give you my card, and you get in touch with me when you need to." Such is the stuff dreams are made of, but I digress.
After the show I went with a friend to a small beer garden nearby, we invited others to come along but they had to clean up the show. At the time I was a little disapointed they didn't come but now I'm grateful. I'd been to the beer garden many times before, but now there was a new manager, the new manager happened to be my friend's old boss, from a different restaurant. He was excited to see her again, and we ended up sitting at the bar for hours talking with him. Several hours and quite a few free beers later and we were ready to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Everything seemed sweet and ripe with promise. It was the last day of June, and the air was warm and soft. We started walking towards the bridge when I, perhaps caught up in heady thoughts of business cards, tripped over my own feet. I was launched through the air and across the sidewalk. In my mind I see myself skipping along the pavement like a flat rock coasting on the surface of a calm pond.
Sadly my reaction time was not what it should have been and I came to a crunching stop on my left shoulder, which popped neatly out of its socket. With some difficulty I got up, and swearing with pain, pushed my shoulder back where it normally goes. Intelligently we called a cab and went home, to sleep and recuperate. In the morning my friend (who is good enough to let me crash at her place,) went to work and I went to Beth Israel on sixteenth street. I spent an entire morning sitting in Urgent Care reading Stephen Kings "Needful Things" a book that is about 200 pages longer then it needs to be. My weekend goes on from this point, but for now, this is all I care to write.
June 27, 2005
The Deer Tic
Last Friday I opened the Starbucks I work at, this entails getting to work at 445 AM, which means getting up at 4 in order to be on time. I was throwing a party that night so after work I went to the gym, made a whole mess of phone calls, shopped for about three hours, took a nap, and threw a party. Since I live with my parents, and they live in a neighborhood with a beach, I have a beach. Beaches are perfect for barbeques, and if I do say so myself it was a good party. I had Saturday off and after doing various things around the house I went to a much better planned party in Manhattan. It was a potluck slide-show, with everyone bringing food or liquor and watching five minute presentations by different artists. After the show I took the last train home with a bunch of friends who'd been doing different things in the city.
Even though I hadn't really done anything super productive I felt good about how I'd spent Friday and Saturday. Throwing a party is something I adore doing, even if it makes me tense and spastic. Just about everyone I had invited came, even though it was completely spur of the moment, and that made me feel great. Going to the potluck made me feel as if I was part of something bigger then myself, some world of art and culture that has always fascinated and intrigued me. Even more important I made plans with a friend to help write grant proposals for an exhibition space in Yonkers. Even cooler then going to a potluck slide-show would be throwing one of my own, or at least helping to organize and throw one.
After such a hectic and fun few days Sunday was a day made up entirely of work. After getting home the night before at 3am I got up at 9am and worked from 10am till 7pm. I was thoroughly exhausted before I even got to the store, and by seven all I wanted was to go home, take my shoes off, drink some wine, eat some food, and go to sleep. This was a good thing, because today (Monday) I had to open the store again, and at least it was easy to go to bed last night. When I woke up this morning I was able to congratulate myself on getting over six hours of sleep for the first time in days. As I stretched and contemplated brushing my teeth I noticed a small scab on my hip.
Since I'm totally disgusting I decided to see if I could pull off the scab. Once the scab was pulled off I decided to continue with my gross ways and check it out. This was when I noticed that the scab had legs; tiny moving ones. Ergo, the scab was a tick, and since it was so small I realized it had to be a deer tick. Ticks happen to be one of my phobias, and I have to admit that I was very close to just going crazy as I looked at those tiny little twitching legs. Even worse deer ticks carry lyme disease, and I was fairly sure as I looked at the parasitic little blood sucker writhing between my fingernails that I was completely infected.
In the end I put the tick between two pieces of tape, left a note saying what it was and went to work. Despite not being in a particularly sunny mood I had an adequate day at work and of course contacted my doctor. Currently the tick is on its way to wherever they test ticks for lyme disease, and I am taking large blue pills that make my skin sensitive to direct sunlight and (hopefully) will prevent any possibility of my contracting lyme disease. There is a tiny red welt where the tick was lodged in my skin, but otherwise I remain intact and (for the time being,) healthy.
I'm not telling this story in order to illicit sympathy, although if you want to give me some I'll probably take it. My point is actually somewhat more devious then that; I'm getting ready to illustrate a point. This point won't be that life is complicated and unpredictable, even though this is the case, and it won't be to check yourself for ticks after playing in the woods. The point is this; bad things happen and you can't let them slow you down. I am a master procrastinator, and I can always think of something that I should do today which can be put off until tomorrow. My pursuit of grad school is a good example of this tendency. By all accounts I've now been putting that off for two years, and have fully committed to waiting for one more year to go by before I will be attending school again.
Whatever my reasons for holding off on things I know the world isn't going to wait around for me to get over myself and join in the game. I'm not saying this tick bite was some sort of catalyst towards action or a call to arms. There will be no 'a bite on the hip, a kick in the ass analogies', however I will say this, I've got the next two days off from work and I'm not going to be able to bitch about being to tired to do any work on planning my future. If I don't make some progress in the next forty-eight hours I'm not going to be angry, I'm just going to be exactly where I am now, and that's not where I want to be.
June 25, 2005
What do you have to do to be successful? That's a question I ask myself fairly often. "Corinne," I'll say, "what do you think you have to do to make sure that you're life works out the way you want it to." Of course before even attempting to answer that question you've got to know what you want to do, but that's a given. Now in my case I want to go to grad school for education, write on a professional level and see my work published, and move to New York City to live with my sister. These are very specific personal goals, applicable primarily to me, but they could be bent to be more broad.
So insert whatever it is that you want to do right here, in this space _________________
Ok? Good. Now what do you have to do to achieve that goal? There will probably be a lot of paper work between you and success. A lot of busy work for your hands, a whole bunch of sitting in front of computers, talking to people, tests will be taken, you'll have to ask for favors. The one thing that will allow you to achieve your goal is going to be persistence, and this can be a whole lot harder then you would think.
For example this blog that you're reading right now, it is an example of persistence. What do I mean by this? Funny you should ask, because I'm about to tell you. Here's how this blog got here. My sister (who is 19 and goes to NYU) met Evan Bailyn, I'm not even sure exactly how, but she met him and knows him. I was telling my sister about my desire to have some kind of intellectually stimulating job, something other then Starbucks. She suggested I contact Evan and try to get a job with The Penn Group. First she wrote him, then I did, and then he and I started exchanging emails. My college application essay went up on the website, more emails were exchanged, but no job seemed to materialize and Evan stopped emailing me.
I was crushed. It seemed like corroborating proof of what I had always known, that I was going to fail at being anything other then a failure. Doomed to mediocrity and a life of almosts I knew I would never be able to make anything of myself and would die alone at the age of 53 with two pet cats and an asthmatic overweight fluffy white dog in a small apartment in some suburban hell hole. Worse then the feeling of failure was my general acceptance of the situation. It's not as if I've really failed at all that much in life, but it also isn't as if I've tried all that hard either.
Then I went to Israel, and while I was gone my sister ran into Evan at a party. He told her that I should call him and call him and call him until I heard from him. That I shouldn't stop until he got back to me, because he was interested in seeing what I could do. So I did what I was told, and I called him until I got through. He asked me to write something, I did, he liked it, and he asked me to write a blog. I wrote the first entry and sent it off to him, and heard nothing. For a whole week I waited, and still I heard nothing. Somehow I forgot all about him telling me to harass him, and I fell directly back into my assumption about the dying alone in a suburban hell hole. Finally, out of a feeling of absolute desperation, I wrote him a brief email asking if the first entry was total crap. I was filled with fear. I was sure he'd hated my entry, realized I wasn't even a mediocre writer and that was that. It was honestly worse then waiting for college acceptance letters.
Before I get to the end of this story, which I assume you've already guessed since you're reading what I'm assuming will be the second entry in my blog, I want to point something out. Even though I'd at this point given up at least twice, I kept on writing Evan new emails. Why? Why go on when you're already sure you're a failure? For me the impetus to keep up was my feeling of desperation. If I didn't keep on emailing then nothing would ever happen, I wouldn't even get a rejection, there would just be silence. Silence for me is fairly close to death. I couldn't just let this go, I had to be tenacious and persistent regardless of my self doubts, and it worked. And if tenacity worked in this case, I believe it can work in many others.
From now on I'm not going to act like I'm trying to get a date when I'm trying to get a job. It might work to play it coy and mysterious when you're trying to get someone interested in taking you out to dinner, but it's not going to get you work. While the guidelines for freelance writing are certainly blurrier and more unknown then those for applying to colleges or trying to get a job at a law firm I believe that biting down and hanging in can only work in one's advantage. Of course there's the overwhelming desire to not seem desperate, to act as if you've already made it and that whatever it is you're working for makes little difference to you. Enthusiasm makes anything look more enticing and excitement adds spice to everything.
June 22, 2005 *Flagship Entry*
Every day you wake up and make a choice, left side of the bed or right side of the bed, unless your bed is pressed up against a wall or lofted. So maybe that wasn't the best analogy I've ever come up with, or the most original. The point remains the same; life is all about making choices. Once you're out of bed there are options in front of you that you rarely even see as choices; do you need to use the bathroom? Should you look out the window? How about turning on the radio?
Things get tougher once you get yourself out of bed, and I'm not talking about choosing a breakfast cereal or a pair of shoes. What about the big things, the important/scary life choices that can affect the rest of you life, how do you decide what to do if you don't have a clue what the outcome is going to be? When faced with one of my biggest choices thus far in life, declaring a major, I chose the path of least resistance, the path of pleasure.
I chose Art History knowing I would probably never be an art historian or a museum curator. In fact I actually used to boast that I was never going to have a job when I graduated, that I would never make any money, and that my choice of major was a dead end professionally. While it would be nice to say that I was wrong, that my job at the Museum of Modern Art is rewarding not only in the spiritual sense but also in the economic, I would be lying through my teeth as there is no such job. I had already decided I was going nowhere with my choices, and predictions like that are self fulfilling.
Some would say that I have made the poor decisions, that I should have shown more foresight and done things differently. After all I'm 23, I work at a Starbucks and babysit for extra money, I'm single, live at home with my parents and can only make an omelet that folds right 50% of the time. I meet people my age who have apartments, mortgages, fifty thousand dollar plus a year jobs, business clothes, engagement rings, personal gyms, etc. and I feel small and weak.
On another level I am pleased with myself. It took me my entire four years at Drew and the past two years to work out a value system for myself, rather then just allowing myself to absorb the values of those around me. Now, two years after graduation and many boring secretarial jobs gone by I finally feel ready to go back to school. This time I won't be going for forms sake, I'll be going for the education. It would have been nice to be able to know what I wanted to do/be two years ago, in fact it would have been great to know six years ago, but I didn't. Honestly I don't think I even knew how to stand up on my own back then.
This is all well and good, and I'm sure very uplifting. So great, I've chosen a path (finally) and I'm happy and attempting in my own backwards way to pursue it. Of course deciding which way you want to go and actually going that way are completely different experiences. Having given, perhaps exhaustively, a little back history on me, I'm going to try and tell the stories of my friends and acquaintances, and the different choices they've made, and where they've gone. If there's one thing you get a chance to do if you take two years off from being on the career/school tract it's meet new people. Everyone in the world is trying to make something of their lives, and everyone has a different approach and goal. Looking at others is how most of us learn about the different options available to us.
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