Started writing this about a week ago, then got distracted with my other website and let it sit idle. But then! I was on the app Timehop on my phone and it showed me that one year ago, yesterday, I started this website!
It’s been a year! Woo hoo!
Now at the time I began the site I said I would release a new song every week for a year. “New Tune Tuesday.” Well, we’re at 27 new tunes and 52 weeks later, so, that obviously didn’t happen. But! That’s an average of two songs a month, and I think that’s pretty respectable. My goal is to get to 52 entries. No matter how long it takes me, haha.
In my last entry I mentioned I was dealing with some weighty issues. But, I think they’re all figured out! And I did it, with a spreadsheet!
Spreadsheets are the best. I know most people think they’re boring, and only for dry types like accountants, engineers, and general ne’er-do-wells, but in reality they are for the coolest of people. I started using spreadsheets extensively when I was working with Wolf PAC last year organizing volunteers and learned a lot about them. And now I’m using a spreadsheet as the backbone of my new budget system Allowance (which, God willing, I will be launching this winter. Stay tuned!)
Why did I need to create a spreadsheet to figure out what to do with my life? I’m living in New York. New York is a terrible and wonderful place to be. We just saw my friend Troy Deutsch’s new play “In A Tilted Place.”
It’s a series of scenes, or vignettes, all taking place in New York with generally insane people. But it’s so sensitively written that you identify with all of these maniacs: whether it’s a mermaid who has dragged herself from the Hudson to be with a drug addict, or a trust fund kid (now 30) who’s father has hired a writer to watch her and report back on the father’s “investment:” his own daughter. In this scene (which I related to the most) the daughter realizes that this guy is watching her, and has been watching her for weeks, and she approaches him thinking maybe they could go on a date, or at least be friends, and it slowly comes out that he’s paid to watch her and report back to her father. And she pushes him to tell her what he’s writing and it’s just awful. Notes about her dirty clothes, her ratty hair, her desperate pleas for attention day in and day out, and her utter loneliness. Her attempts at looking happy when she is completely lost. It was an exaggerated scene, almost absurd, but her embarrassing and vocal reactions to these revelations are what a lot of us sling at ourselves in our own heads: and not just in New York, but all across society. There’s this feeling that huge, cosmic forces are constantly bearing down on us, forcing the ugliest bits of ourselves out into the open, where we try to ignore them with diversions of food, drugs, and TV; or we dwell on our ugliness too long and become depressed, insane, and suicidal. Of course the third option is to try and deal with the ugliness inside ourselves, but who has the time anymore, am I right? Or the wisdom? So we just carry it around with us, getting more and more lost, hoping that our father (God?) doesn’t realize that the investment was a total waste, and take it back.
And…that’s what living in New York is like, haha. So it finally pushed me to think about what I’m doing (waiting tables) as a means to an end (producing musicals, being an actor, maybe?) and realizing that none of that makes sense. I hate waiting tables. It is the most soul-sucking, terrible job. Constantly treated like I’m a table’s servant, not their server (there is a difference), and over the years it has become unbearable. The only reason I still serve tables is that for the hours I work, the money is great. It’s better than just about anything else I could do, and it gives me the free time to work on this website, write musicals, compose piano music, and hopefully start my own business. But, even given that freedom, it can still be the worst.
So I made a spreadsheet. Along the top were all the different careers I have ever wanted to end up in. Along the side were my values: What I wanted to give back to the world with my work (these each had 20 points) and below that a list of about a dozen values I wanted in the actual job like vacation time, flexible schedule, regular pay, etc. These each had 5 points. Then I just went down each job’s and assigned points to values, and the spreadsheet added up each column. The dream career with the most points wins! When I was finished it was clear: start my own budget coaching business and turn that into my main income source over the next two years, then use the flexibility and money it offers to create my own theatre company and do the kind of artistic work that makes me excited to be alive.
How do you make difficult decisions about your future? Or do you? I recommend putting it off until you have a crisis and become riddled with anxiety to the point of paralysis.
See ya next time,