So, we are coming up to the one month anniversary of the day my husband got laid off from his job. More on that misadventure later. It's not about him, even if he has taken over the place. The focus has to be on me now. I am on the eve of a trip to LA to attend an ASCAP musical composers workshop in LA with notables including Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). I am excited to be included in this opportunity. It is on the Disney studio lot. BIG TIME. I get to feel small in a really big way. I also get to feel big in a small way just by being there. I remember in previous years walking that lot feeling the ghosts of artists past calling to me. I was feeling overawed by the talent at the workshop and so the ghosts that were calling to me were saying, "he rejected my sketches, again!" "I am just a cog in the wheel!" "Where is my name in the credits?" This year I doubt I will hear from those loser ghosts. I won't be listening for them.
(Since my husband has been laid off I have had some time to think about things in a new way, and in a new location - hiding from my husband in my bathroom. My husband is a very driven type "A" kind of guy. I had to schedule my epiphany between his paradigm shift and attitude adjustment. But at least I did get it in and this is not going to be about him. He has no right to try to keep sneaking in this blog. It may be the ONE space I can still claim as MINE)!
In preparation for a new chapter in our marriage, one in which I am bringing in some more money or at least getting some business cards typed up, after an initial burst of adrenaline and courage, I found that I had not risen but barely slouched to the occasion. Not surprising to anyone but my inner motivational speaker, I faced this challenge with chinese food, carbs, and other forbidden foods. I don't know why, but when the going gets tough the tough gets doughing. Or at least that's what the Jillsbury doughgirl does. While sitting in the corner punching myself in the mouth with carbs I have an alibi for not being in the ring with my fear, the real opponent. Of course fear waits for me in the darkened ally of my room later that night to pummel me with insecurity left hooks (ironically the most effective ones have to do with my doughy center for some reason) but by then I can go online and type my fear into submission or sleep it off till the next day. But I have been offline and since I am not inclined to call people in the middle of the night, I am sorry to say I was in a bit of a "rope-a-dope" with the bitch in my head "Mohhamed Jillee" pummeling me into inactivity.
Lucky for me I have so many awesome realtime friends who were available during reasonable hours to help me be reasonable about all this. In addition to reminding me that it is probably not reasonable to expect that after 20 years of not being in the job market in any serious way, I can use this 2 months to become the sole bread winner, they also helped me to take apart my doubts and defeats and re-frame them into choices and championship bouts. In the battles of life, I won a few, I lost a few so far. For a writer it doesn't get any better than that. If for whatever reason someone were to lock me in a sterile cage with nothing but blank walls to look at and a pen and inexhaustible supply of paper, (please don't get any ideas) I would have enough material to write forever. What looked like a detour was actually field research.
Also, I have spent a lot of wasted time thinking about all the great opportunities I have had in my life that I missed or did not risk getting because I was too busy kicking my butt for some stupid reason or doing something equally unimpressive at the time. My wonderful friends pointed this fact out to me with a sweet "get over yourself" slap to the ego. They reminded me of the many great opportunities I still have and the great family, friends, and life I have even if I decide to never do anything greater than enjoy my life as it is.
That's when it hit me (right hook this time): in my youth I was motivated by a fierce hunger and ambition because I had something to prove. The hunger never left me, though my motivation has changed. I no longer have anything to prove, instead, I have something to share. That's a better place to be I think. Unlike the first stance with something to prove, where I have the tough job of convincing a world that may not want to accept me; with something to share, I am required only to say what I have to say to anyone willing to accept it. It's not about me, really, what a relief. Plus, I already do share. Too much. Expect more of the same. There has to be someone somewhere willing to pay for this stuff eventually, I just need to take the time to find out who.
But whether I am on the Disney studio lot or at the Disney store a lot, I will be the same me doing the same things I have always been doing, talking too much and trying to make people laugh. This week, when I am on the Disney studio lot, if I hear voices of artists of the past, I expect they'll probably be a lot more fun to hang around with, cause they'll be too busy being artists to notice what kind of artists they are or if anyone notices.
P.s. I don't really hear voices or believe in ghosts. It's just more colorful to say it this way than the way it really went down: "One year when I went to the workshop, no one sat with me and I felt untalented and insignificant. At the break I went for a walk on the empty Disney Studio lot at night. I wondered how many other artists felt the way I did on this same lot having had their ideas over looked." Yawn.