Tag Archives: artist

How to Not Go Crazy When You’re Broke, Flat Broke

30 Jun

I have like $3.68 in the bank. Yep. I’m broke. It’s hideous. I’m terrified. God help me. Now please.

Just a short while ago I had so much money I would laugh out loud. Laugh out loud. I had equity from a house I sold so I started doing art full-time and was able to fund my mental illness art ventures easily. Then poop hit the fan within a few years and here I am back at square one, only my square one never really looked like this. I mean, I at least could get a job easily back then, a so-called “real” job working in an office shuffling papers and making copies and sending faxes. I at least had a place to show up to and when the phone rang I could answer it and say, “Thanks for calling [insert evil company name]. This is [Doomed in Left Brain World].” I could at least have health insurance within a matter of weeks. But now? It’s just ug-lay. It’s been treacherous. Backwards. Sinister, even. I mean, who will hire an artist who’s been doing this foreign, odd thing called ART for the past five years?? On my resume when they see “freelance artist/writer” it’s as if I’ve inserted “leper/unicorn woman” or “freelance freakazoid/chronic slobber” in the space.

I used to hear stay-at-home moms lament on the difficulty they often experienced trying to re-enter the workforce because they’d been out raising their babies for a couple of years. Potential employers simply weren’t biting stating that they had “no (recent) experience.” 

WHAT ABOUT THOSE 10-20 YEARS BEFORE WE WERE STAY-AT-HOME MOMS/ARTISTS/FREELANCERS?? HUH? What about those years?! I mean, gosh, how hard is it to handle papers and tell your boss he has a call on line three? How difficult is it to make a goofy Excel chart or type a letter to another snarky company goon? How hard is it to show up and have someone ask you to make their coffee or schedule a meeting every day?

Gosh. Get over yourselves with this “experience” hoopla.

So here I am with my less than $4.00 in the bank selling art and waiting (less and less anxiously) to hear back from literary agents about a cool book I wrote.  Being broke causes weird thoughts and even weirder fantasies. Why, I could easily find myself daydreaming about a car that doesn’t have a stuck window or about eating out–I’m talking anything on the menu I desire. Anything. And the tip? No problem. I find myself wondering what it would be like to just go into the grocery store and just buy cherries that are not on sale regardless of weight. I hate to weigh my cherries. I fantasize about when I had a house and my stuff wasn’t in storage and I could just go into a room and put my hand on something and not have to search for it while stuff tumbles down on my back or thigh or head. I dream about just going to the tire shop and getting a new tire and not driving around with not one but two nails in one tire that (thank God) right now only needs continuous air to keep rolling. The immediate needs list that I have is even ridiculous and embarrassing:

vitamins,  car battery, air filter, new tennis shoes, dentist, fix 2 car windows, new tire, watchband…

I’m late on paying my storage. I’m late (again) on my credit card payment. I’m late on healing from my childhood demons.

Being physically displaced makes one more displaced mentally. It’s like spending your life trying to catch up but while most everyone else is just running freely you’re on an obstacle course but with the same finish line. We live and learn, yes. So in retrospect I would’ve just taken the equity and went back to work immediately when I moved to another state (even though their workforce was crappy at best and they didn’t smile upon hiring, ahem, “Yankees” as much as their “own.” But that’s another post.) It’s just that I always wanted to get away from The Office and be free and artsy and tap into my inherent talents and make a serious go at it. Well, that backfired big-time. To the tune of less than $4.00 in the bank and behind on my bills and nail biting and daily fretting and, well, complete loss of grounding.

Each day I go out there and make a go of it. I’ve heard all kinds of feedback. People act as if getting a job that pays more than minimum wage is so incredibly easy for everyone. For an artist. We’re special, dang-it. Real special. We are the people that employers later wish they had hired because we become Oprah Winfrey and Bono and Dierks Bentley and Rachel Ray. Problem is, they can’t see all that when you’re lowly and desperate to be hired with your five years of freelance artist/writer on your resume. You’re useless to them now. Useless.

It’s so bad I’ve been eating those cheap noodles I ate in college. The ones with the little silver packet of mysterious salty powder that you stir into the finally relaxed noodles that you had to unravel with hot, hot water. Those noodles. I had to tweeze some white hairs out of my scalp last week. The audacity of them to show up now when I’m in crisis, reminding me that a clock is ticking loudly on my very life.

I may put a dollar and change in my account just to bring the balance up to a whole $5.00.

I greatly digressed.

HOW does one NOT go crazy in such a situation as poverty?

Wellllll, you keep calm & carry on. You eat those awful noodles (just not too often). You fantasize to break the self-defeating thoughts & depression. You pretend you’re in the future better place. You take Vitamin B COMPLEX. You get enough sleep. You leave caffeine alone. You press on in the path you have chosen. You laugh at cubicle dwellers (even when you have a cavity that needs to be filled stat). You–you–you believe in yourself when you’re cracking inside.


Definitions of a Flitterer

14 Jun
flitter – a verb
to move back and forth very rapidly; “the candle flickered”
A less common word for flutter
move back and forth – move in one direction and then into the opposite direction.
flit·ter /v. [intr.] move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner: if only you would settle down instead of flittering around the countryside. • n. a fluttering movement: the flash and flitter of colored wings.  (in science fiction) a small personal aircraft.
I try to be focused. I really, really do. I write things down. I write more things down. I am the Notebook Queen. I love whiteboards and black dry erase markers. I have Post-It notes in my car right there on the front seat beside me. I plan, dang-it. I plan to do things, to stay motivated, to get them done. It’s June 14 and I still haven’t mosied my way to NYC to move art–cough–and fundraise. I am still down here in D.C. thrashing around trying to pay a dang bill that’s due TODAY and it looks grim. Another $40 late fee attached to the mountain I already owe The Man.
Talk about peddling backwards.
Note to self: Pull out old Tony Robbins literature. Read it. Memorize it.
Second note to self: Stop flittering. Make it happen. FORCE people to buy the art. If one place is slow; stay there. Don’t move on flitter to the next place in hopes that it will be swamped with art buyers rather than mere admirers.
If you see an artist selling wares on the street today, please, offer them a donation even if you don’t buy the art. No amount is insulting…Well, give at least a dollar, wouldya?
Inertia and temporary defeat suck.