Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Roads Diverged...

A funny thing happened on the way to my blog post about how we need to sharpen our brains because we rely too much on computers (we do)…

I got laid off from my job. Not fired (for cause or to be a cautionary tale. I’ve experienced  both of those). Laid off. Not enough work to keep all the workers going, so the force had to be reduced.
Fortunately, my friends have NOT asked, “Gee, Sue, what are you going to do?” or said, “Well, you’ve got to find another job.” (Really, Captain Obvious?) These are the common expressions of support in these circumstances (and sadly, a lot of people I know and people I don’t know have found themselves in this situation), but I need to figure out a few things before I’m willing to hear them.
I’m not in panic mode. I have ex-friends who have the “ex” status because they got pissed at me for NOT panicking (WTF?) in dire straits, including loss of job. 

I’ve consulted mental health professionals from time to time (Sometimes, people need help to deal with stress so that they do not do crazy, self-destructive shit or to STOP doing crazy, self-destructive shit). One of them gave me a priceless piece of advice when I was faced with an ugly situation and fighting the impulse to make a bad decision just to resolve the matter:

Don’t let fear drive the bus.

Panic and fear are not conducive to making good decisions (and there is a whole predatory financial industry set up to exploit people’s fear). Smelling the smoke of your hair on fire is toxic to a reasoned, sound thought process.

As stated in previous posts, comedian Marc Maron (of the “WTF” podcast) has stated that positivity is a coping mechanism. It works for me. With that in mind, I choose to look at my unexpected free time as having a whole world of possibility open to me.

So what do I WANT now?

One of the benefits of writing this blog has been that it has gotten me into the habit of writing (not every day as I started out). I enjoy thinking up stories and essays, but didn’t (notice the past tense) enjoy the mechanical process of converting them to a format that would be visible to others. “Why bother?” I thought, “If nobody else is going to read them.” Why, indeed?

Not anymore. The paid work I had involved writing, but it was essentially writing the same thing (or substantially the same thing) over and over. This blog is more fun.

Okay, so now we know what I WANT to do, but there I’m not getting offers to get paid for it right now (but that’s coming. You heard it here first).

I remember a couple of classes in eighth grade where the teacher was trying to get us to figure out what our values were. He’d read a story where the hero had a dilemma (not life and death, but a hard choice), then ask us what we thought the guy should do. The one that sticks in my memory was of a family man who was a skilled graphic artist working in an ad agency. He loved his work.  The man had a teen-aged son getting ready to go to college and while money wasn’t tight, it wasn’t flowing, either and college was going to add some strain. The ad agency offered him a promotion to a management position. There would be a lot more money, but the man wouldn’t be an artist anymore, the hours would be longer and since he would be management, the stress would increase, but he could easily afford to send his son to college. If he stayed with the current job, he’d have the job satisfaction, but not the money. The question was: what should he do?

Some of my heroes are people like Warren Buffett, Jimmy Buffett (yes. And he has some pretty sharp business sense) and Richard Branson. They love their work and it has loved them back. They took chances (and still take big gambles. Warren Buffett is playing Monopoly, the life-sized version), put their hearts and souls into what they were doing and it has paid handsome dividends (although not literally. Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t really pay divs). “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

I want that feeling. I deserve that feeling.

There is the school of thought (Law of Attraction, the Secret, etc.) that says you should decide what you want and “make a demand on the Universe” for it. The trick is figuring out what it is (in detail that you want). For instance, Sunday, I had “made a demand’ for $2,000 over and above my paycheck “free and clear” (meaning I hadn’t borrowed it. It was flat out mine). Guess how much the unused paid time off came to?

I should have been specific about “Oh and by the way, keep the income stream flowing.” Live and learn.

I’m getting leads on more of the mortgage underwriting work I’ve been doing. Either work at home or go to an office (I feel safe in saying I have a pretty good reputation in this industry).

Here’s the thing: at the back of my mind is a little voice saying, “You came to Los Angeles to pursue an acting dream. Other than the improv games at a party the other night, when was the last time you took a class, auditioned, did a stand-up set or came near it?”

Years. Been too busy earning a living and that has taken me on the road. I haven’t had my own home since 2005. I’ve been traveling to make the world safe for mortgage lending, so I wasn’t in L.A. for auditions, headshots, classes, any of it. I am now, but I need an actual home (the hotel has been okay for a year, but it’s time to move on). And I still need to support myself.

Here’s the downside to having a “fallback” position when you’re chasing something risky; you’re more likely to fall back. Due diligence audits: 40 hours a week (unless you’re working for a sweatshop type lender/servicer/audit firm and then 50 hours), solid pay and benefits. It’s a very comfortable tar pit to fall into.

I need to make some decisions, but in order to do it right, I need to be level-headed and clear about my priorities. No alcohol (otherwise, I may end up with a tattooed tush instead of a career path).

I’m preparing to make a demand on the Universe. The question is: what am I going to demand?

Postscript: I just saw the above picture when I was JUSTon Facebook after posting this bit about 5 minutes ago. The Universe is speaking...(?)


  1. Really interested to meet you thru this blog and would love to know what's been happening since this post. I got here via a link to the nasty Vogue biz. As an actor who's taken a couple steps forward recently, I'm hoping you may have dusted off that dream and started pursuing it again?

    1. Nice to meet, you, Maggie. Thanks for tuning in. Dusting off the acting dream: when I was actively pursuing it, I didn't get a great response from casting directors, etc. I had an agent for about 10 minutes who never wanted to really work with me or sit down and figure out what to do (He came with an acting class I attended and the careers they "promoted" were the sexy girls that they wanted to sleep with). Now, I was part of a fantastic sketch show and a couple of things I wrote for that (whether I was in them or not) got a great response. So, I'm thinking "write". I have friends who have a satiric news website (www.dognewsteam.com) and I dashed off a rough draft of a sketch for them the other day. We'll see what happens. I need income to meet my needs and I need "work" to keep my mind sharp. They don't have to be twined together. Keep me posted, Maggie!

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