Friday, January 15, 2016

A Little History, aka Where I've Been the Last Five Years

To follow up on my last post about my refusal to make any New Year's Resolutions other than "Be Kind to Yourself", I thought I should mention some of my goals.

First, some history. I worked on my first feature film, The Tailor, in 2005. I was smitten, and moved to LA to pursue film. (Side note: in 2010, an unscrupulous production company picked it up for a song, re-edited it, named it Gunfight at Yuma which has nothing to do with the storyline, and is apparently making money on it; but for a variety of reasons, primarily with regards to their lack of scruples, none of us who worked on it originally are making any money on this. But the costumes are AWESOME.)

My most well-known project was a Star Wars fan fic film called Forced Alliance, which can be seen here or here. I did extras costuming and also costumed the bartender and waitresses characters. I also did not get paid for this film, but the crew and actors were among the best I ever worked with.

After some ups and downs in the film industry, I sustained a serious back injury while on location for a really bad movie that I was costume designing. I was unable to walk more than two or three steps at a time for about three weeks. I had no health insurance and no savings, and the inability to walk made getting another job difficult.

Shortly after that, the awesome house I was renting in Echo Park went into foreclosure, unbeknownst to me and my roommates. The landlord disappeared with all of the rent money that she'd been collecting from us for the preceding year, and we were all given eviction notices by the mortgage company.

My best friend at the time (now my wife) was there for me through all of this turmoil. I was out of places to go, decided to move in with her for a while to get back on my feet, BECAUSE I LITERALLY COULDN'T WALK.

When I finally healed enough, I took a job in a call center to try to make some money while I figured out what to do next. I liked the people and the product, and I worked my way up in the company, eventually ending up in the Merchandising department.

I really, really loved my job in the Merchandising department. I was good at it, I was challenged, I loved the people I worked with, and I had the best boss ever.

Things changed, as they always do. My boss moved to Baltimore and her replacement was a bitter, angry, backstabbing, jealous, miserable human being who made my life sheer hell until finally I quit. I think that if I was less passionate, more able to deflect her pettiness, less impacted by being given decreasingly less responsibility, and better able to play the game, I might have stayed. But I've never been good at hiding my emotions, and it was a roller coaster until I finally quit.

In the middle of all of that, The Girl and I got married legally in California, and shortly after that, DOMA was overturned, making it easier for us to take care of each other, and overall making us feel more supported and secure as a couple.

Another side note: Marriage is AWESOME. There's a whole post about how amazing it felt to finally be married after having been engaged for three years and constantly worrying about our legal rights as a couple. And then there's another post about how terrific it is to be married to your best friend. And then there's another post about how much you and your spouse can annoy each other at times.

ANYWAY. I found a job in the merchandising department at another company, but it wasn't the same. I was doing work that required little creativity, was prohibited from making changes or improvements even in MY OWN DAMN WORKFLOW, and I was raked over the coals for every mistake, no matter how large or small. I was completely miserable and stressed out. At the same time, my wife was promoted, with more responsibility, a little bit more money, and a lot more stress in her job.

After long discussions and multiple attempts to make things work at my place of employment, my wife urged me to quit and find a way to do what I'd always wanted to do - as soon as I figured out what that was. She was making enough money to cover the bills, and we were almost completely out of debt (excepting student loans which, I believe, go on forever.)

So, in May of 2015, I quit again. For a while I was doing some writing for an SEO company that paid per word. It was fun, but for a perfectionist like me, not exactly lucrative. I'm also working on a novel, because goddess forbid I focus on one thing at a time.

I relaunched my etsy shop in the fall, and thanks to the lovely and amazing Katrina Walker, who uses one of my hams in some of her Craftsy classes, I've had a lot of interest in my hand-made pressing hams and seam rolls, and so I'm trying to focus on that. (BTW, she is an AMAZING educator and you should absolutely take one or all of her classes, either online or, if you're really lucky, in-person! You'll even see one of my hams used in her classes on Craftsy, because I am the luckiest person in the world)

So that's where I am now. I've had a lot of interest and I've had some good weeks on etsy, but I'm nowhere near being able to pay bills or do much more than buy groceries with the money I am making. My biggest challenge is the enormous amount of time it takes to make a single ham, contrasted with the amount of money I think people are willing to pay for one. I am working on ways to streamline the process while coming up with new ideas that I hope will be appealing to people.

Now it's a new year, and it's been over six months since I quit my day job. I thought I would have things figured out by now! I've been doing more sewing, more knitting, and more cooking and baking, but haven't made any of that profitable yet. It's s little frustrating, and I'm starting to really miss having a paycheck, but I'm still hoping to find the intersection of art and commerce that satisfies me.

Next post: my plans for the coming year. Probably. Unless I get sidetracked by something else which is always a possibility.

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