Friday, July 25, 2008


I always feel as though I should explain myself when its been more than a week between posts (I swear I'll be posting regularly again soon!).  An update on why I'm M.I.A.:

1. I just accepted a job with  I am super excited about this and will start on Aug. 4
2. I'm currently in Chicago.  The beauty of living with Nick is that Abbott is paying to move our stuff. Fantastico.

A formal update will follow soon..

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How did college fail you?

I'm working on a pretty exciting project with fellow Brazen Careerist writer Milena Thomas and my task, right now, is to figure out exactly what college didn't teach me about a life in the performing arts.  Re-read Milena's great analysis of what she got in college... and exactly what I got out of my dance major... here. At Northwestern University, where I got my B.S., they even instituted a 'Senior Seminar' to hopefully remedy some of what the typical curriculum lacks... but it was much less about networking and finances, and much more about honing your craft for the end of the year performance.  I feel that a real senior seminar, a sort of 'Grown-up 101' should be mandatory, but thats another blog post entirely.

I need to come up with a list of questions to ask people who've gone through performing arts training and have figured out how to navigate the actual performing life. Or those who are still struggling with it.

I was lucky enough to be in the 'professional world' during high school and college so that I was pretty well prepared to handle the transition from craft to career... but in the grand scheme of things I spent about eight months as an actual professional dancer (six of those rehabbing a knee injury) so I obviously don't know it all.  I need to put myself in the shoes of some undergrad Junior who has an hour or two with a seasoned professional.  What would I ask?

  • What do you feel was missing from your college education?
  • Were you aware of what was missing while you were in school, or did it not hit you until later?
  • What was most helpful about your college education?
  • Were you able to use college to build relationships that helped you get jobs?
Personal Finance
  • How did you figure out your personal finances? 
  • Did you have any problems?
  • If you teach/freelance, do you file as an independent contractor or have you incorporated yourself?
  • Do you have a retirement fund?
Getting Performance/Art work
  • Did networking come naturally to you, or did you have to work at it? Were you able to get additional gigs/jobs/etc. that you wouldn't have gotten through just an audition?
  • Did you/do you do any personal marketing? Do you have a blog, Facebook profile, Myspace profile, Linkedin profile, etc. to increase visibility of your work?
  • How has geography influenced your work load? Did you have to move to find more opportunities?
The All-Important Part-Time Job
  • What jobs have you held to pay the bills while performing?
  • What have been the best part-time jobs for you?
  • What have been the worst?
  • Do you think it is a good idea to work as a teacher in your field while performing?
Taking care of you
  • How do you solve the health insurance issue?
  • How do you stay organized?
  • Do you ever feel like you need to distance yourself from your art?
  • Have you ever felt like quitting? How did you cope with it?
  • Have you ever been unable to perform? What happened, and how did you cope?
  • If you have moved on from performing, how did you make the decision? Why did you make the decision? How did you move on? Are you still confident in your decision?
Have any of you out there graduated from college with a degree that helps you as little as a performing arts career? What would you have liked to know before you got out? Better yet, how would you improve the curriculum so that, when you get your diploma, you are ready to start working?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Go figure...

While drafting a letter to Google's head of HR, talking about the things wrong with their process, I get a phone call from them.  Apparently one of my two biggest issues with them is actually letting me back into the game.  Interview on campus (finally, no more video conferencing!) next week thanks to a cool kid named Jessie.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"I began to see that overplanning can be as pernicious as not planning at all.  There's an emotional lie to overplanning; it creates a security blanket that lets you assume you have things under control, that you are further along than you really are, that you're home free when you haven't even walked out the door yet."
-Twyla Tharp

Amen, sister.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bad moods are just fine with me

I haven't blogged in two weeks.  Why, you ask?  Did I find a fantastic full-time job with benefits and challenges and a San Francisco-worthy salary?  Did I figure out how to put Christine Hassler's fantastic advice into practice and conquer my demons? Did I finally go back to Chicago and load up all of my belongings on a moving truck to make my relocation final? Have I been out making friends? Exercising? Am I dead?


Basically, I've had nothing to say.  It's been a crappy couple of weeks full of mediocre interviews, disappointing work, and porn site data entry (yes, I somehow find myself doing data entry temp work for a porn site. Don't ask).  I'm feeling lonely and becoming acutely aware of the financial crunch in this new home of San Francisco.  Without anything positive, inspiring, or even interesting to write about, I figured I should just lay low until I can write the exciting 'How I got my dream job' or 'Why you should relocate right now' blog entry.  I hope you're not holding your breath, because I don't foresee these sorts of topics being discussed on Working + Wishing for at least a little while.

Yesterday I realized this: while society has hard-wired us to strive for and boast about our happiness and success, I think it is more than fine to be a Negative Nancy (or Negative Nick for you XY's out there) for an hour, a day, a couple of weeks if you want.  Sure, I've written about keeping your chin up before... but there's a big difference between living in pajamas, subsisting on Oreo's and what I'm talking about now, which is just being pretty damn disappointed with your own situation.

We talk about crises in our lives, we talk about trying to change them, and we talk about dealing with the change as these crises get rectified.  What seems to get forgotten is that after you've set the ball rolling to change things, there is this horrible middle ground where nothing seems to happen, and where you forget that something will eventually happen.  You've done all you can, and now you just sit and wait in your own mess.  A physical and psychological purgatory.   The place where I've been for a month in San Francisco, and a year in Chicago.

While this 'purgatory' sucks, I can't help but find that it serves a purpose.  When you wallow in your own self pity for a little bit, you find out a lot about yourself:

1. You learn your personal methods of keeping busy.  I, for one, take on projects to fill my time (though right now they are threatening to make me a full-time part-time-er).  An example on the opposite side of the spectrum is a friend who has become an expert Guitar Hero player because he doesn't feel he's ready for the working world yet.  I do not recommend his method, but I am sure there are even worse ways of keeping yourself occupied out there.

2. You learn what else in this world bothers you, other from the mess in your own personal sphere.  Several things (mostly crazy) have gotten me spitting mad in this time of limbo: the out of control use of plastic shopping bags in Chinatown, childhood obesity, complicated public transportation, how much a good bra costs... the list goes on.  What makes you mad without you even knowing it?  When you're already in a shitty mood, I guarantee you'll find out.

3. You will realize that, deep-down, you are a neat freak.  You will clean everything. You will organize everything.  You will have Excel spreadsheets that would make any tech nerd blush.

4. You will prioritize your time for your emotions.  Being upset is not allowed when your boyfriend just got home from work, but definitely okay while you're washing your hair or inputting the stage names for all the 'actors' in Midget Gangbang (once again, don't ask).

5. You will incorporate an even more finely developed sense of humor.  When everything gets bad, it somehow gets hilarious.  Case in point: instead of making me cry for Chicago, San Francisco's fireworks display on July 4th (nothing more than faint flashes of color lighting up a thick fog) made me laugh.  A full, belly aching, pee-in-my-pants laughing attack at something that would've opened the waterworks mere weeks ago.

6. You will write a stupid blog post like this that will make you realize that you're suddenly not in as morose a mood as you were half an hour ago.  Things aren't so bad... or maybe it's that it's okay that things are so bad.