Sunday, April 13, 2008

Money dearest.

To make an extensive story somewhat brief, I had to turn down NJ Shakes' very nice offer, largely for fiscal reasons. This was an odd sensation for me, disorienting and annoying, like a time-change or something. I am not entirely used to making decisions based entirely on money. That is to say, my money, and not my parents' money. Usually, when an artistic opportunity presents itself, I'd prefer to run at it, arms outstretched, oblivious to the fact that I might have to eat oatmeal more often than I'd like to for a few weeks. I gave up my actual job twice just this calendar year for assistant directing gigs that payed next to nothing, and always managed to pay the next month's rent. As Tim Gunn would say, I "made it work".

So, naturally, I thought I could do the same with NJ Shakes and their four month long no pay no income buy your own food offer. I had a preliminary deal with Emily Peters' brother to sublet up in here for June and July and I figured that since they couldn't house me until May 5, it would be worth paying May's rent just to have somewhere to live for those 5 days where I tried to pack up my entire life and leave town. Well. They later rescinded May 5 and let me know that April 28th was really my only option, and that it was quite the dealbreaker. I hemmed and I hawed about various things one and the other for about four days before I decided that I could not sign that contract.

There are a few reasons, I suppose. The first and most off topic is that for 2 days before they made their offer, I had been coming to a series of realizations about my performance career. A year ago today, I was singing every single day for several hours, analyzing music poorly, and learning lines for Into the Woods. Today, I listen and think more than I sing, and I am losing my voice in the sense that its endurance is greatly lessened by the break I've given it over these past few months. It's still lovely and colorful, but for only about 20 minutes. Imagine that. Oy. Anyway, I never stopped and realized what was going on last summer. I needed money and I had none, so rather than fight the law and have the law win, I decided to get a job at a theatre in the Berkshires like all my friends were doing. While there, I decided that I would settle in Boston just in case I, ya know, wanted to go to that prestigious grad school that wanted me to join them in the Fall. I learned some music over the summer, but that's when the lessening of my voice really began. In the fall, without a voice teacher or even an apartment, I decided it was time to get a church job at which, I of course, sucked and was a total wreck. Going to a first paid rehearsal while one is in the process of moving one's entire life is never fun! So I quit that and decided that that was "it". I had a few other paid gigs in the early fall but decided that largely I just didn't cut it.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. I never stopped and said, "I am scared shitless of this amazing early music city with all its wonderful early music singers." I rationalized an awful lot to get out of feeling shitty about the fact that I did not feel ready to attend the holy grail of the kind of Voice I want to do in Boston. I mean, one could look at it like this even: Girl sings at college and elsewhere, girl gets into grad school, girl has no money so takes day job, girl is unaccustomed to doing things for money that aren't in her artistic field, girl arrives in Boston wanting to sing, girl gets scared shitless, girl quits.

Anyway, that's a very one-sided life story, but the realization at least convinced me that I asbolutely need to find a voice teacher her. I can't keep just letting my voice go to crap. It's too important to me. I suck at theory and I still have nightmares about singing Gesualdo with my ESTEEMED bcf colleagues who were about ready to eat me alive for the first two weeks, but I also learn a lot with each challenge I put myself through. Just by moving here and becoming involved through the back door, I have learned that there is a vibrant community of people who don't necessarily want fame, but want to sing and play emotional and intelligent music.

Therefore, I am glad that I will around here for most or all of the summer. I said I'd get a voice teacher out in the Berks last summer and never did, and I do regret it. The second reason for turning the whole thing down was that I also did the very objective math and would have had negative 540 dollars in my checking account (all the money I have to my name) at the end of teh summer. There's no point in destroying your entire life for the sake of being creative so that you have to come back and work an intense desk job just to be able to live somewhere again.

That being said, I want to always make authentic choices. I want to find, and be able to do that thing that I would do if I could not fail. That, I think, would be singing. However, I'm also sick of being treated as if I have the I.Q. of a toaster oven by patrons on the phone. I want to get the highest degree I possibly can in something so that I can spend my days with smart and creative people all the time. Do I want to make money while doing this?

I honestly only want *enough* money to feel creatively fulfilled.

Some people have so much money that it makes me laugh at myself when I feel "luxurious" during pay week when I buy two pairs of shoes and Once on DVD and say "I like having some money!" But then again, what IS "some money"?

Where do you all stand on money at our age? It's one of those horrible little things that can define who we are, but is also a gauche topic at a dinner party. How much do you see yourself having? What do you want to do with it? Not do with it? Do you think our society has become increasingly materialistic since we watched commercials and read magazines when we were 13? Can someone survive in American if their primary motivations are neither love nor money?

Maybe it's just a sneaky way of finding out who actually reads this thing .... but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.


Sometimes I feel like a salad, shaken up with some new dressing in the to-go box of Kenyon, and then dumped out on the big white plate o' life. Don't you??


The Project said...

Here is my thought on money right now:

I want to have enough money that I never have to second-guess buying food, and don't have to feel bad about, on the spur of the moment, going out to get a drink or eat out.

Its just a gross feeling, you know? I enjoy being thrifty at TJ's, but feeling like you really shouldn't go--that's bogus.

Also, TJ's apparently started carrying rice noodles again! Hooray! Less cool: I had a dream about cooking tofu last night.

The kicker? I managed to actually use "bogus" in a non-ironic way. Hell Yes.

S0PHIE8 said...

I sucked it up for a year, and have made money in corporate america, and hate my job every other day. On the one side, it has given me some financial stability to go on with my "real" life, but on the other hand it has almost zapped all of my abstract thinking.

However, I did just visit a friend on Islesboro (a lovely island in Maine full of rich summer people), and have since decided that I need a private island and a sailboat. And I am not sure how that's going to go on librarian's pay!

Cherubino/Carmen said...

Haha, well, there's always marrying rich (I think you know who I'm thinking!!)