"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, August 28, 2023

Having it all

 Author. Singer. Actor. Artist.

We've all heard the response when we said we wanted a career in the arts. "That's great, but you should have a backup plan."

Accountant. Teacher. Nurse. Tech. The Backup Plan.

Not making a living as an artist, needing a day job while you pursue your dreams, sounds like failure. You're supposed to reach for the stars, pour your heart and soul into your desires, knock on every door, chase every opportunity until your book is a bestseller, or your song hits Number One, or your movie is a blockbuster. Anything less than that is a big fat ZERO, and so are you.

BUT...what if the day job isn't the Backup Plan? What if you can be an accountant with a weekly singing gig and be happy?

A podcast I listened to recently made the case for the Parallel Job. As long as artists are creating art, we are not failures. Our day job is not what we've HAD to do to put food on the table--it's a parallel role, an additional plan we put into motion to enhance our lives.

And I might argue, that parallel job is necessary to artists. Even the creative brain needs to take a break now and then. Rest enables the creative ideas to bubble to the top, keeps the heart and mind from burning out. Working with numbers, with people, with objects allows our creativity to wander. And when it wanders, it sometimes picks up pretty rocks, interesting leaves, and a new idea or two.

The podcast also made a case for creating art for art's sake. So many authors are locked into a series or a genre because that's where their readers are so that's what they sell. Singers stay in their country/rock/jazz lane because every song has to reach for the top of the chart. Artists who find a niche (geometric cows, luminescent landscapes, splatter patterns) are encouraged to "paint more of that."

But maybe you don't always need to monetize your creativity. Maybe sometimes write something just for you. Sing a song for your baby. Put on a show for free. Do something that allows you to let go, feel the wind through your soul as you reach inside yourself and hitch it to the breeze. 

Keep the day job and do your art. Your success comes from juggling multiple tasks, from doing things to the best of your abilities, and from feeling the freedom that comes with self-expression.

Art, and life, are to be enjoyed. Get out there and enjoy them!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

I have no regrets

Y'all know one thing about me, and that is I'm a lady of a certain age...that age being older.

What you may not know is that I went to Las Vegas last weekend with three of my friends. We were having a farewell to one of the gals, who is moving out of the area. I'm not much of a Vegas baby. I'm too pale to enjoy the pools, and I don't gamble. The only things I like to do there are eat and go to shows. But I was happy and willing to spend a weekend with friends.

Vegas' motto is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Not when I come to town. I will confess all and feel no regrets.

NoMad Library Restaurant

Our weekend included shopping at fabulous stores, eating delish food, touring the Princess Diana Exhibit, ziplining down Fremont Street, and seeing the show, "Thunder From Down Under," where I ended up on stage with half-undressed young men. 

I'm pretty sure I know which one of those activities you want me to tell you

I wasn't excited about seeing Thunder, but I've never seen the show and I didn't want to complain. We were tucked into a lovely booth in the back of the theater where I figured the dancers would be far away.

Apparently, I was wrong. They like to include the whole room.

The show was as I expected--dancing, ripping off shirts, ripping off pants, etc. The audience was overwhelmingly filled with bachelorette parties and each lead dancer picked a young woman from the audience and did suggestive dance moves with her. Rinse and repeat.

I think I had just checked my watch when I saw the emcee come off the stage toward an older, white-haired woman. Her name was Judy and he asked her to accompany him. She declined. We tried to encourage her ("Ju-DEE! JU-DEE!) but she wasn't having it. So he smiled and said, "That's okay, Judy. I think I see someone else in the crowd who might accompany me this evening."

Then he wandered all the way to the back, all the way to our booth, and held his hand out to me. I could have said no, but my motto has always been, "Sure, I'm not doing anything else."

He ushered me to a tall-backed red velvet chair in the middle of the stage, wrapped a boa around my neck, and asked me if I wanted "an experience." My first thought was, "Thanks, I've had some." I mean, I'm not a nun, right? Then he asked, "Would you like the boys to dance for you?"

Oooohhhh. THAT'S what he meant.

The boys came out in shirts and pants, dancing to 70s disco music. It's so cute they think that was my era. At some point the shirts came off and they kept dancing. Every once in awhile they'd come over to me and smile and I'd smile back and it was just a very smiley kind of thing. 

At some point I noticed they weren't on the stage anymore but the emcee was. He faced me and put my hands on his tush. I didn't squeeze but I did hold. Then he turned away from me and stood in front of me with his hands away from his sides.

I'm such a dork. I didn't know what he wanted me to do. At last, I held my arms out between his waist and his arms, my palms extended in an "I'm clueless" pose. I guess that was the right thing to do because he took my right hand and ran it down his chest, into his pants. Not too far, though. There are laws about that.

At various times he would lean in and let his cheek touch mine (faces, people!) so that it looked as if he was kissing me, but his lips never touched me. That's when I realized it was all "smoke and mirrors," even the suggestive dancing. Each time he leaned in, he asked if I was doing okay. I assured him I was fine.

It was a little like having the young guy at the grocery store ask me if I needed help getting my bags to the car.

He took my hands and lifted me from the chair, saying, "Now we're going to bow."

Bow? I thought. What's a bow? I remembered just in time, we bowed, and he escorted me to the edge of the stage. 

The crowd all cheered and gave me high-fives, told me how entertaining I was. I took that with a grain of salt, since they'd all been drinking. But it was fun.

And now I have a boa.

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