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my resume is cray cray

Survival Research Laboratories

I think maybe my purpose here on earth is to try out and experience new things:  live in new places, have relationships with new people, and learn new ways of working.  I just love a good buffet!  Does that make me a commitment-phobe or a free spirit?  Because let me tell you, I have had a lot, and I mean A LOT, of different jobs over the years.

I've been working since I was old enough to babysit, which is what, 11 or 12 ish?  I've done retail on and off since I was 16.  Usually in the beauty or design business, and usually between careers or college degrees. But the career I originally planned for myself was as a filmmaker.

At San Francisco Art Institute I studied film, video, and performance art which means I studied fine arts, not the film business.  In class, we watched stuff like a 20-minute film of light slowly rising, then falling on the close up of a lemon. No Citizen Kane.  It was the best time of my life, the most fun and most free, and the most fulfilling but it did not prepare me for Hollywood at all.  For three years I stuck it out as an assistant editor, production assistant, and second assistant director in LA but not once did I enjoy myself.  Well, actually Hollywood is filled with gossip and so the gossip was titillating at first but after a while, all that negativity got really depressing and discouraging so I quit.  I only ever worked on B films anyway, and when people ask me what stars I've met I reply that I saw more stars working retail at the Century City Mall than I did in the actual film business (Linda Evangelista, Will Smith, Sean Penn and Robin Wright to name a few).

I probably would have been better off sticking to my first job out of the Art Institute, back in San Francisco, which was as a video camera assistant documenting performances by the uber cool Survival Research Laboratories (SRL).  Their large machine performances were so subversive that they were mostly only "advertised" by word of mouth.  It was also a slightly dangerous job following, yet trying to stay clear of, the giant flame-thrower or the robot vaporizer.  It was pretty exciting and because there was always a socio or political statement to be made it definitely boosted my street cred in the art world.  This was all back in the late 80s/early 90s but SRL is still around and if you want to broaden your horizons I highly recommend checking them out here and some footage I worked on here.

But before I left LA for good I took a waitressing job at a truck stop diner on the outskirts of town.  The other waitresses were exactly as you'd picture them to be, middle-aged and rather salty.  The cook was a total grouch.  It was almost like someone picked them straight out of central casting except they were real, very real, people working hard just to get by.  Including the hookers that loitered in the shadows outside waiting to service the long-haul truck drivers.  I was going to say that waitressing has to be one of the hardest jobs around (certainly it was my toughest job) but then mentioning the hookers I realize waitressing in comparison must be a piece of cake.  Or maybe not?  I wouldn't really know.  But that job was the one and only job that I have ever walked out on mid-shift.

The waitressing gig was followed by my special education teaching job and it was the only job I never got bored with.  It was meaningful.  And highly creative.  However, it turned out I didn't have the energy reserves or stamina to be a teacher.  So if your child has a great teacher or even a halfway decent one, you can be sure they are working many extra hours in their off time.

My favorite memories are of a student named John.  John was 19 and a couple years back tragically became paralyzed from a motorcycle accident while his girlfriend riding on the back died.  John's body was twisted into a comma shape, his muscles as tight as steel bands.  He couldn't talk or even point to communicate but I  had some great "conversations" with him about Jimmi Hendrix and other rock musicians.  John seemed to comprehend what I said anyway, and could at times blink in response.  He was the coolest.

If you want to know about my position teaching Severely Emotionally Disturbed (SED) teens you can read this, but I did do quite a bit of substitute teaching for all types and all ages of Severely Multiply Handicapped kids.  I changed adult diapers, I spoon-fed or even tube-fed lunches, I pushed wheelchairs to the market and I taught students how to count their change.  Being a teacher for the severely handicapped you are not only an educator but also part nurse and part strict-but-loving nanny as well.

In what I thought was an antidote to the stressful teaching job, I switched my career to skincare.  I mistakenly thought a job working in spas would be relaxing.  Skincare turned out to be a real passion and fascination for me but pampering people, within tightly controlled time limits, turned out to be another care-taking job that exhausted me. Yet down I went into the rabbit hole that is the world of beauty and ended up working retail for years in a major international beauty company while I did makeup and makeovers for cross-dressers on the side.  Again, my street cred went up.

What can I say about my male to female transformation business?   Well first of all, who doesn't love a good makeover?  I did their makeup, styled clothes and outfits, consulted on all manner of what is needed to be female, and documented it all with photography to boot.  I met some truly wonderful people, some real gentle souls, but I found myself ill-equipped to handle the narcissists.  Men who are hiding their female identities from society and often from their families have many emotional burdens to bear. The actual physical aspect of the job was massively creative and fun, and I wanted to help this marginalized population but I didn't know how to handle the emotional aspects.  I was working alone and probably could have done with a mentor, but instead packed it in.

Now after almost a year of crippling agoraphobia (more about my mental health issues here), I am walking dogs to get myself back into the working world.  I am a huge animal lover and I have come to adore my regular clients - both human and furry - but I know I won't be sticking with this career forever either.  Because so far this has only been a partial description* of my jobs held.  My pattern is clear.

I really gotta wonder if there is something wrong with me.  Although it's not as if I'm a complete flake; I put my all into every job I take. And I have more questions: Are there other people like me?  Are us free-spirited souls holding up our end of the bargain with society?  Or does it even matter as long as we are keeping a roof over our heads and not harming anyone?  And am I too old to keep doing this?  Maybe I'll just refer to myself as having career-specific ADHD and leave it at that.  I mean, why stress?

* some more include:
   coat check girl at Club Kamakazi in NYC
   my own mini catering business
   acupressure therapist
   reiki therapist
   blogger (for money!)


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