Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

If I Were a Rich (Wo)Man…

Tudor Style House in Berkeley Place Neighborhood

Image by StevenM_61 via Flickr

Sometimes, I hate posting on Friday. I mean, seriously, how can I follow Mandy’s ultra-altruistic post yesterday? Oh well, I’ll do my best…

I like to think about what I would do with millions of dollars. Frankly, I can’t even comprehend that much money.  My first priorities would be practical – pay off the huge amounts of student loans that I have accumulated, the credit card debt that I am actually making some headway on, and pay off my car.  I’d buy myself a nice Craftsman or Tudor style house in North Seattle, preferably within walking/biking distance to school. Unlike a lot of people, I wouldn’t quit my job. I feel that I can do a lot of good where I am and I worked hard to get here. It would nice not to worry about the salary aspect of teaching. I would also pay off my sister and brother-in-laws student loans and buy them a new house.  I’d pay off my mom’s mortgage and buy her a new car.

However, being a teacher leaves some nice chunks of time to travel.  I doubt I would be anywhere near home during the summer, I would spend my Christmas breaks with my East Coast family, and I’d spend the President’s Day week someplace much, much warmer. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, especially since Amanda studied there years ago.  I also would love to travel to South America.

Unlike me, my mother hates her job. Not the job so much, but she’s tired of working at a stressful job.  I would buy her some property somewhere – likely closer to my sister – and let her fulfill her dream of opening a dog shelter for those dogs who don’t have forever homes.  She would do a great job helping these unfortunate dogs whose only crime is existing.  I would start a philanthropic foundation and put Amanda in charge. Then she can fund her fantastic idea for revitalizing urban areas.

Now for the frivolous – I’d buy a studio apartment in Manhattan.  That way I’d have a place to stay when I’m in town. When friends needed it, they could stay for free.  I’d also buy a beach house large enough for family and friends to all come when they choose.  I’d make a significant donation to my school, particularly in the area of technology and to the library.  I’d also have a fully stocked classroom with the most amazing classroom library you’ve ever seen.  I’d like to go back to school to work on my doctorate in a few years. I’d commission someone to make a dog chew toy that Toby doesn’t destroy in less than 10 minutes.  I’d take up dance classes again and finally learn to play the cello.

And I’d definitely fly first class.

Now you can get this stuck in your head too…

Leave a comment »

Stress Case

I’m not very good at sublimating my stress.  I will usually sit on it until it explodes in some dangerous or terrifying way.  There are lots of things that stress me out and only a very few that actually relieve and release that stress. 

One thing that takes me out of my own head and away from the troubles of being human is being with friends.  Having dinner, or drinks, or just talking on the phone can make me feel miles better, yet, I’m sometimes reluctant to reach out to them for that comfort. 

The holidays are built (at least in my house) around making time for family and friends.  So, I should have little to no stress in my life now, yes?  Nope.  Less time, less money and more seas of humanity (all also short of money and time) than usual provides a perfect storm of stress. 

Stress breeds.  When it meets more stress, it multiplies, especially the stress of strangers.  Stress is kind of a slut.  But, stress can also kills itself as an act of selflessness.  When it meets the stress of loved ones, it can go away to give you the opportunity to be with someone else and help take care of their problem. 

In closing this all-over-the-place post, I’ll first apologize for its lack of central theme or clear structure. Then I’d like to explain by saying that I’m a bit stressed out right now.

Leave a comment »

Stuff that never happens to me

This has been a rough week.  I’m sick right now, and trying to keep myself conscious for long enough periods to get anything meaningful done is pretty much impossible.  And, when I get sick, I get kinda cranky and lazy and I have a hard time with creative problem solving (the particular problem to which I am referring is the what-do-I-write-for-my-blog-post problem). 

So, since I’ve spent the last five or six weeks writing about things that have happened to me, I thought I’d spend this one writing about things that never happen to me.

1. I never win anything. I’ve entered contests, drawings and giveaways, bought lottery tickets and raffle tickets, and I never win anything.  The last thing I tried to win was a handmade wooden canoe, which would have looked awesome in my living room.  But, despite buying five tickets, I didn’t win.  I should probably just give up and resign myself to a wooden canoe-less existence, but I am just too damn hopeful.

2. I never find money. Well, this isn’t QUITE true.  I do find money, but my stupid sense of fairness always looks around for the person from whose pocket it may have dropped.  And wouldn’t you know it, I always find them walking a few paces in front of me frantically searching for the $20 bill they just dropped, and only too happy to take it off my hands.

yes, just like this.

3. I never manage to not be swarmed by weirdos. Yesterday, I left work early.  Riding the bus in the middle of the afternoon in Boston is a surreal experience. It’s a totally different crowd from the evening commuters.  One guy on my bus yesterday afternoon looked like he carried his life on his back.  He had clothes hanging from his backpack that appeared to be clean and drying.  Notable among those items was a pair of white underpants.  He was later joined by a middle-aged couple wearing matching Elmer Fudd hunting caps.  Underwear man and the Fudds chatted away amiably on the bus while I wondered whether or not I was hallucinating.

I’ve also been escorted down a beach by a nude massage therapist, but that’s a story for a different day. 

pretty much like this, but with more skin in the way.

4. I never miss an opportunity to hurt myself. I am notoriously clumsy.  I spill things, I trip, I break stuff.  I find ways to turn a seemingly innocuous situation into one fraught with danger.  I once nearly killed myself running across an empty parking lot (no cars were involved).  I required stitches after injuries sustained in a tragic lightbulb-changing incident. I’ve electrocuted myself while painting my living room.  I’m sure my parents regret the day they ever bought that chemistry set, because it took weeks to get all the broken bits of test tube out of the ceiling tiles.  It no longer surprises me to find broken glass splinters with my feet or mystery bruises on my legs.  Luckily, however, I’m usually the only victim of my dastardly plots to do myself in.  No innocent bystanders have yet been hurt. 

It’s probably only a matter of time, though.

Leave a comment »

Money vs. Happiness

I’ve been thinking about money vs. happiness a lot lately. All in terms of ones job.  Some people hate their job but it pays well so they stick with it. The good pay allows them to do what they want outside of work and buy shiny fancy things. Others get by on very little pay but love what they do. It makes some things harder in life but they enjoy going to work everyday and tend to be happier outside of work.

Recently I had to face the option of money vs. happiness head on. Based on the circumstances at work I need to start looking for another job. A company I had interviewed with was working on making me an offer. They knew where I needed to be salary wise so presumably planned to match it. I knew a phone call was coming so I seriously pondered how I felt about this job. All the people that know me and this company said it was a great fit, a great opportunity for me. So many things seemed right, in a nice area, close to friends, and a stable company that looked out for their employees. The job was something I’d done for years so I knew I was perfectly capable. All of my potential co-workers seemed very nice. They were even willing to wait for me to become available in 2011. All of these things were checked off in the “pro” column in my mind but something didn’t feel right. All signs said I should be  excited about this opportunity and I wasn’t. Part of me was even dreading the call with the offer. Hoping it would be delayed so I could have something else pop up and I could put off giving them an answer and keep it as a fall back. I finally realized all the pros were things  I was trying to use to convince me to take the job. Nothing about the job itself excited me.

When they called to make the offer they wanted me to come back in to make the offer in person. I had to be honest. I told them I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t going to waste their time or mine anymore. I didn’t even want to keep it as a fall back. I thanked the manager for her time and the opportunity. She left the door open in case I change my mind later.

I really hoped I had made the right choice. Then a co-worker said something to me after I told him what I decided.  He said, “Whatever decision you make will be the right one. Don’t worry about it.” He was right. No one knows me better than me. As long as I trust my instincts I’ll be OK.

I’ve realized that being happy in what I do is ultimately more important than making a bunch of money to buy shiny things.  I’m going to spend way too many of my waking hours at whatever job I find for it to be something I don’t enjoy doing. I’m not sure where I’m going to end up but I feel like I’m at least in a better mental frame of mind now. I know I can’t wait forever for the perfect shining job to come along but I’m not to that point yet. For now, I’m going to be picky and look for something that will make me happy.

Leave a comment »

This belt is too tight

The money thing is always there. 

There’s never enough of it, no matter how much there is.  Just as we expand to fit the space we have–if you have a large apartment, you buy things to fill it, so when you move, you need an apartment at least as large as the one you’re leaving–we spend to match the money we’re making.  Well…at least I do. 

When it comes to money, some people are good at saving; I’m good at spending.  Some people are prudent; I’m impulsive.  Some people plan; I fly by the seat of my pants. 

To make matters worse, now there’s less money than there was before.  I was pretty smug while the whole “economic meltdown” was happening.  I had a steady job, I was working hard, and I didn’t see any danger of a layoff in my future.  Then we were asked to take a pay cut, or to eliminate staff, or to close one of our projects (which was de facto staff elimination, just more structured).  We were given a few days to consider these (objectionable) options.  To no one’s surprise, everyone on staff offered to take a pay cut, rather than see our colleagues (or ourselves, but we didn’t want to think that way) dismissed.

Now I’m making 5% less than I was.  After taxes, it doesn’t amount to much of a change, but I still feel it.  I’m tightening my belt and trying to change some of my money habits.  (I started with a yarn diet, which actually makes a huge difference)  Because of the unique structure of my job, taking a part-time second job to make more money won’t work.  I’m doing a little free-lance work at home, but not enough to make a significant difference in my bank balance. 

But, like everyone else, I’m weathering the storm.  I’m hunkering down and doing a little less and trying to be a little wiser. 

It feels like personal growth.  Or something equally painful.

Leave a comment »

They say there’s always magic in the air

Just last week I had a conversation with one of my cast-members about the differences in pay between stage and television actors.  He offered a shocking example of comparable salaries.  In 2003, when Bernadette Peters, a highly sought-after and respected headliner on Broadway, starred in the Gypsy revival, she earned $20,000 per week.  It was the highest reported Broadway salary at that time.  In comparison, an unknown regular on Medium earned $20,000 per episode.  (Bernadette Peters later accepted a significant pay cut to keep the show open longer, and shortly after, Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane beat Ms. Peters’ record, each earning $50,000 per week when they returned to The Producers in 2004.)

Choosing a life in theatre is not guaranteeing financial stability or “success.” Part of what makes theatre so thrilling for me is the remarkable people I meet in this field, who have all chosen a career for the love of the work, and not for the paycheck. Similar, I’m sure, to the non-profit and educational fields of my fellow bloggers.

I am, for the first time, making a living wage doing something I love.  I don’t have any dependents and I live with two fantastic roommates, which helps.  Luckily I really enjoy having roommates, especially these two. And I am actually grateful to have the experience of not having enough money while I was living in New York City.  I had to cut out different things from my daily routine and really decide which items or activities on which I spent money. I found free or discounted activities and this group of women has been very good at locating the best happy hours in the city!

However, I have memories of New York as a cold and somewhat lonely place. Particularly compared to San Diego, which is warm and full of the good friends I’ve made in the four years that I’ve been here.  I think that view of the city and that time in my life has a lot to do with money. While I lived there, I worked in a Malt Shop and Barnes & Noble, not making enough money either place and stage managing for free. I wanted to go out and do “New York” things and meet new people, but I was on a very tight budget.

The plan was to obtain my MFA and then move back to New York and “conquer the city,” being in a position to make enough money stage managing, without having to have another job.  Enough money to pay the rent and buy groceries, but also to go out after a show with my cast without worrying if it costs too much. One of these days in the not-too-distant future, I will move back to New York to pursue the dream of working on Broadway and rediscover my romantic love of New York City.

Leave a comment »