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Things We Think We Want to Do

The joke goes:
Two circus laborers were shoveling piles of elephant shit. It was a hot day, the flies were awful and one of the elephants had diarrhea. 
A gorgeous woman walked by on the arm of a well-dressed, obviously successful man. 
"Ya know, if we got office jobs, we could afford a dame like that," said the first guy, pitching an enormous, soupy elephant turd onto the pile.
"What?" said the other guy, aghast. "And give up showbiz?"

There are jobs that everyone wants to do because they sound cool and interesting:  writer, actor or theater designer, architect, artist, fashion designer, bar owner. But most people realize that you really should only pursue those careers if you absolutely, positively can not do anything else. Those are jobs that actually require a lot of much of the time very, very dull, tedious work with huge possibilities of ridiculed obscurity, thankless poverty and heartbreaking failure. Most of us who labor in these creative salt mines find even more obscure and thankless jobs to pay for it all: bar tending, temping, writing junk mail. Even then, people assume you have all sorts of time to volunteer and donate work--all for the honor of "being seen." Or want to tell you their "amazing idea" for a novel for you to write and then you can "split the profits." It's such an amazing and original idea for a novel that you'd both make a fortune!
This, of course, is absolute bullshit--yeah, I decided to take on this life because I was just really good at grammar in grade school. I actually don't have a single fucking idea what to write about!
So most people opt for careers with regular, dependable compensation that they can hate and resent and dream of the time when they can realize their dream of being a bar owner, a writer, photographer or an artist. Because we all think we know that if just given time and a laptop, they could write a way better novel than those hacks at the top of the best seller lists.
And this, too, is absolute bullshit.
It was a bit of a difficult pill to swallow when I realized that I was not, after all, brilliant enough on my own to show those hacks and take my writing career to the next level from Naples, FL--a bit of hard truth that coincided with the collapse of the economy and the deep currents of change in the publishing business. That's when I started selling stuff on eBay in volume.
This is definitely not one of those jobs that is ever perceived as cool--even though I learned my seemingly zen thrifting chops as a costume designer. Still--going to the thrift stores every day and pawing through acres of pilly acrylic sweaters and cracked pleather coats? Cleaning ancient stains off lapels and shining shoes? Living with piles of what looks like rags for weeks on end while you photograph them, measure and weigh them, list them and, if you're lucky, sell and ship them. It can make you feel like those tubercular rag-picking children in a Dickens novel.
And still there those people who want you to list their stuff for them because it's soooo freaking amazing you'd both make a fortune!
I mean, maybe, but that, too, is bullshit.
So, the eBay stuff has been in flux--piles of it are being cleaned, other piles are being ironed, other huge piles are being photographed, measured and listed. The summer inventory is going into the holding area, while the newly cleaned, photographed, weighed and measured piles go into the closet where the summer stuff was. I always wonder, at these times, if this is the beginning where it all spins out of my control and I just say "fuck all," and become a hoarder.
I miss going to groovy parties in all the cool clothes that I have long since sold. I miss press passes and comps. I miss being able to say "I'm a writer," when people ask what I do--because it just sounds cooler than "I sell used clothes on eBay."
Sure I could sell my farm and stop going to the Goodwill and go back to rejection letters and spec novel writing.
What? And leave the fashion biz?


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