The Unemployables

Original image was taken from  @kimkardashian

Original image was taken from @kimkardashian

A couple of weekends ago, I volunteered at an event featuring a series of play readings. I'd participated in the planning of the event and, when two event volunteers dropped out at the last minute, it was all hands on deck. The event was held at a hip yoga-café on South Fairfax and ran from 11:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m on both Saturday and Sunday. I reported to the call of duty like the Energizer Bunny: greeting and checking-in attendees, setting up the catering, and helping the crew with setting up and breaking down each day. When there was a lull in the front of the house, I had a chance to sit in on some of the readings, which I found to be a suitable and enjoyable reward.

On one the afternoons, while preparing the guest list for a reading, I looked over at the bookshelf beside me and pulled a random paperback book off the shelf. Coincidentally, it was a play–Equus by Peter Shaffer. I'd recalled seeing Equus on Broadway in 2008 when the lead was performed by actor Daniel Radcliffe, and remembered the play being a very strange and bizarre story of a clinical psychologist and a teenaged boy charged with blinding six horses. Who would write such a thing, I wondered, realizing that I knew nothing of the playwright. When I opened the cover to skim his bio, one line in particular caught my attention: "... Convinced of his own unemployability, he returned to England and began writing his first play, FIVE FINGER EXERCISE, which opened in London and New York to critical acclaim."

"Convinced of his own unemployability"? Boy, can I relate...

To clarify, my claims of being "unemployable" have nothing to do with my work ethics or competency, I simply don't think I'm meant to work in a traditional 9-to-5 sense. I have no interest in working in an office, even if they offer ping pong tables and meditation rooms. If anything, I'm repelled by the idea and can tell you that this is a sentiment rings true from my very bones.

After I graduated from Parsons, I was offered a job as an account executive in the corporate offices of Chanel and thought that I had had it made. I went to a top fashion school and landed the ultimate fashion job. I was seemingly "set for life". Because it was so cushy, nobody in their right mind ever left Chanel. Employee perks included a 70% discount at the boutique, a great health insurance plan, and a 401k where the company matched your contributions. We were even allowed to expense our weekly manicures! It was no surprise that there were still women working there who'd been there since the New York office first opened in the late 1970's. They were real dinosaurs. I, on the other hand, lasted just under a year before resigning.

It was my first taste of corporate life and I quickly learned that I didn't fit into hierarchical settings or possess the sneakiness required to maneuver through office politics. But what I found most stifling were the unspoken rules: Although the workday began at 9:00 a.m., you'd get quiet stares if you breezed in the door a minute after 8:30 a.m. And if you didn't order a salad to eat at your desk during lunch hour–and decided to go out instead–you were often made to feel as though you were avoiding work. 

On top of that, it was hard for me to take my job seriously due to the absurdity of it all. For example, the entire office launched into crisis mode when Vogue requested a shoe sample for a cover photo shoot and the left shoe was discovered missing from the showroom. Where is the left shoe?! Where is it? Where is it??? Imagine the mayhem that ensued! Turns out, it was being photographed at a conflicting advertising shoot for Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas. Everyone was scrambling around on their phones and emails, trying to finagle deadline extensions and coordinating courier pick-ups and deliveries, practically sending the damn shoe on a private jet to the Sahara desert for the Vogue shoot.

It's fashion. Call me disillusioned, but we were hawking luxury goods, not saving lives. However, the fact remains: It's this kind of misplaced intensity that makes the world go 'round. 

Not having a "career" has been a looming insecurity of mine for many years. Most of my girlfriends have built legitimate careers in their fields. Every now and again, I'll even click around on LinkedIn and come across the profiles of my former colleagues at Chanel and, yes, they're still there–except now they're at the executive level. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm dilly-dallying along and stopping, here and there, to while away a little more if something catches my attention long enough.

What am I saying, I admire their commitment to stability, I really do. There must be an incredible sense of satisfaction and security that comes from a steady and progressive growth. It's something that I'm intrigued by yet unfamiliar with. After all, my own resume resembles something more like a patchwork quilt. I've worked for a luxury brand, private art dealer, private equity firm, contemporary artist, non-profit organization, fashion photographer and private foundation. I've filled in at my friends' boutiques, hostessed at restaurants, played babysitter, and even had a short-lived stint as a freelance makeup artist. This was all by choice, though. I've always had a knack for digging out the most unconventional jobs possible. None of them ever felt like "a real job".

For the longest time, I felt ashamed that I had no aspirations to move up the so-called ladder of success. Isn't the goal of being a modern woman centered on the concept of leaning forward, being a #girlboss, and having it all? It has certainly been shoved down our throats! But, you know what, it's just not for me. I'm unambitious in that way and used to be ashamed to admit it. 

Maybe I just like trying on different hats..

Maybe I'm super adaptable...

Maybe I'm a quick learner...

Maybe I bring with me a set of unique experiences and skills...

Maybe I like doing things at my own pace...

Maybe I don't belong in a group...

Maybe I don't care about becoming a CEO one day...

Maybe I operate more like Wonder Woman, where I go in, do what I need to do, and then I'm off to the next mission...

Maybe...

"What can you see me doing, job-wise?" I asked my best friend over the phone. I was lying on top of the bed, munching on popcorn and swinging my legs around. 

"I don't know..." she said, distracted by my munching, "What are you eating?" 

"Popcorn," I replied, "It's miniature popcorn, actually. It's really cute. I'm eating it from a porcelain bowl."

"I... Can't really see you working."

"My huckleberry friend once told me that he doesn't think I'm meant to work a job because he says it always makes me miserable," I said, taking a pause to contemplate this, "Do you think he's right? It's not because I lack the ability to do a job, is it?"

"No, you're not lazy. You're a hard worker. But I think he's right," she told me. "I don't know, I can't really see you working. I mean, I think it's kind of amazing that you've made it this far in life without a career."

"Really? I've always been embarrassed by that."

"You should just own it. I mean, you're rolling around on a bed right now eating miniature popcorn!" she pointed out, laughing.

"If only I could find a benefactor who'd want to subsidize my life just so that I could keep writing sporadic posts on my blog," I sighed.

I was just joking, of course. I'm still figuring out what my groove is. But, since we're on the subject... Any takers?

 

A Modern Love

A relationship is a dynamic, symbiotic, living, breathing entity comprised of two individuals in the act of relating to each other. But this relating to each other has got to be more meaningful than the day-to-day, perfunctory, superficial obligations of a relationship, does it not?

Take the popular notion of "date night", for example. Date night is supposed to be the solution for couples who don't spend enough quality time together, yet the concept of allotting a certain number of nights per week to engage in an activity together only seems to reinforce the problem. It becomes this thing that's external to your relationship. In other words, you end up relying on date night to feel like you've had quality time. If you're being present in your relationship at all times, I wonder, would there ever be a need for "date night"? 

Being present, as I'm learning, doesn't necessarily imply being physically present. I've been splitting time between L.A. and the ranch and, to tell you the truth, my relationship with my boyfriend feels a lot more balanced. As our relationship transcends beyond the traditional constraints of "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes so-and-so with a baby carriage", I'm feeling free of the usual fears: the fear of breaking up, the fear he'll leave me, the fear of not getting married, the fear of not having a baby and what have you.

"It's not a relationship, but a modern love!" my friend Ana told me, "It's a love that isn't obvious and conventional in terms of 'boundaries'. You're together but don't feel that obligation of traditional relationships like having to make time together."

I've become less concerned with the pre-established goals of a relationship and more in touch with my moment-by-moment reality. Does that mean that this town-and-country distance between us is the be-all, end-all? No. Being fearless makes you more aware in general; in a relationship, it makes you aware of yourself and how you're relating to the other person. You learn to let go of the illusions you've constructed and look at things with a fresh pair of eyes. It keeps you in "the now" and brings about a new level of understanding.

Perhaps, to put it more accurately, it's because I'm freeing myself of the usual fears that my relationship is evolving... 

 

 

 

 

Chateau Marmont

Photo by my friend Ana

CHATEAU MARMONT
8221 Sunset Boulevard
323.656.1010


Whenever we can't figure out where to go, we always choose Chateau Marmont. It's a place where the scene more than makes up for the food–not that the food is at all bad, but one doesn't come here for the cuisine as much as for the visual buffet of beautiful people on which your eyes can feast upon. I always enjoy having a catch-up drink or dinner here because they somehow mastered dispensing the perfect amount of heady L.A. glamour make you feel rewarded for simply having a night out. If you decide to increase the level of debauchery from there, it's all up to you. In that case, order spaghetti bolognese from room service. It'll hit you in all the right spots.