Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eye Walk LA*

I just decided to start blogging again.

(I think I'm fairly safe in doing this as it's been so long, maybe no one's reading this any more.)

I also decided to get a mohawk again. Because when times get tough I usually do one of two things: shave my head or get a tattoo.

But my tattoo artist is in Chicago and I'm in LA

And I'm trying to grow my hair out for a new hairstyle that may result in failure and a newly shaved head anyway.

I just downloaded the Ellie Goulding album "Lights" and I've been listening to it all night. Plucking my eyebrows (perhaps inadvisably) and holding my hair back in mohawness and working on a smokey eye and drinking copious amounts of white zin.

You see I've had a day.

I work in "retail," but it's a specialized form. I am an optician and, goddamn, do I love it. I combine math and figuring out prescriptions and all the details of that, with styling a face. Finding the right frame to match the entire facial structure of a customer. I'm also a little bit of a seer in that I need to read the mood of the person. What I'm doing is helping them find their new face and that takes a certain view into who this person is. I imagine them in their day-to-day. I imagine them wanting to feel empowered or wanting to feel invisible--like the glasses don't obstruct them in any way. It's not something I take lightly, in fact, I study it. I read about it and study my calculations in my spare time.

Some days, people come into the shop and they get it. They get that what I'm doing is for their good. I want them to be happy.

Other days, I am treated like I'm low. Like I'm some shopgirl who failed at life and now, here I am, obviously dumber than the greater population because I'm working in retail.

The other day, a friend of mine, in trying to defend my choice in career, said she was upset when people put it down. But it felt kind of hollow. Maybe it's me, maybe it's my interpretation of things. But it seemed like she was just trying to say it was okay for me to settle.

Today, a friend of mine was talking about her career as an actress and how she had moved to LA as a next step and she had watched so many people "settle" for small town acting.
I told her that, maybe to them, it wasn't settling. Maybe they honestly didn't want the next step. Maybe they're happy. And she nodded politely.

Some people don't understand that if you're not reaching for the stars, you're happy. They will always look at you with a little bit of a thought that you're settling. That you could do more if you just put your mind to it. Shortly after I won the Rose Metal Chapbook competition, my friend (while we were walking fairly drunk together) told me that I needed to find some discipline in my writing. When I scoffed, he said, "oh, you have a chapbook coming out! yay!" in a way that was very much like congratulating a 14 year-old on being able to ride a bike. Nice work, but it's a little too little too late.

So, for career, I will say that I am superbly happy in my current job. The good days far outnumber the bad. And the good customers far outweigh the bad. And, most days, I am fulfilled at work.

And for writing, I will say that I always wrote as a way of communication. As an extremely lonely child/adolescent/adult, I write as a way of talking to some invisible entity. My goal never was and never has been to publish a big, fancy book, to be famous, to have name recognition, to be popular, or any of that shit. And when the expectation of all that shit was put in my face, I closed off. I stopped writing. I shut off. And I moved away to a new city. Because what I loved about writing was being pulled away from me, by people who were always asking me why I wasn't shooting for the next goal. Why wasn't I shooting for the stars? It was being pulled away by people who were so consumed with their own ideas of success they had dismissed me as a flame-out.

I've just now started writing again with any kind of joy. With any kind of feeling like I'm communicating again. I'm slowly beginning to find myself again in doing what I loved with writing, which is to do some kind of origami with feelings. To hide them behind a story and to look for that person to recognize what I'm saying.

My friend who was trying to defend my choice to work in retail, I love her. It is a friendship I hope not to fuck up like I have so many others. But what I couldn't say to her is that my life today, my life yesterday, my life for almost 30 years has had some element of letting the water roll off my back. Has been putting up with people who look at me like I'm less than them. Because I'm working in retail. Because I'm a short story writer. Because I haven't yet and I'm not going to write a fucking novel. The eyes of those who have low expectations of you are not hiding any truths.

So that's it. That's me saying I love my job and I'm fucking good at my job if you let me be good. And I'm a fucking good writer if you let me be in my own way.

Fuck novels.

*This post is called "Eye walk LA" because 1-Eye=I'm an optician, duh. and 2-I'm a carless pedestrian in LA by choice because I love walking places, not because I'm a flunky who doesn't understand cars. Let's compare carbon footprints and see who wins in that game of achievement.