Luxury Goods

I stayed home from work today because I pulled a muscle in my back at a Cardio Tai Box class at the gym. That makes me sound all hardcore and athletic, doesn’t it? Nope, I just happened to make it to a class that beat the crap out of me.

I also stayed home from work bc Drew got some somewhat shitty news regarding a project that was going to bring him some much needed extra cash, and I didn’t get much sleep because we sat up late talking about the state of things – the music and entertainment business, friends, a person’s financial worth, a person’s worth to themselves, etc. Overall the outcome of the situation will be fine for him and maybe better in the long run, but it did bring up the question of how does one get their worth as a creative entity when the world is not always kind to creative entities.

I work with someone who creates spaces – he does store windows, fashion show layouts, party interiors, set design for photo shoots. It’s not exactly interior decorating, bc it’s usually temporary and much more glamourous rooms, but I don’t know what the exact term for what he does is called. Maybe it’s just set designer? Anyway, he’s a huge talent, I’m always stunned at the beauty he creates, and at how much work goes into it. It takes a lot of vision and physical labor.

Recently he told me, “You have to charge people a reasonably high price. If you undervalue yourself and try to do favors and discounts, the client doesn’t feel you’re worth even that much, and they will skip out on the bill entirely. You are only respected and paid if you charge accordingly.”

I thought this was a very interesting bit of information. The logical mode of thinking would be that if you’re giving someone something cheap, they’ll be more inclined to pay you bc it’s easier to come up with the cash. But there is a deeper level to it – if I bargain basement myself, other people will follow suit and I will only attract basement-level experiences. Hmmm…

We’ve already established that what you think and say out loud you create. I’ve been practicing more of this lately, under my mother’s wise tutelage, and I’m amazed at how easily it works for me. I make statements like “I choose to have an easy, swift and comfortable flight.” or “I intend to remain calm and open-minded throughout today’s meeting.” And it works. Whether you have my beliefs about energy and creation, or whether it’s just a good way to set your mind to something, in my experience it does work. And in line with that, I am attempting to refrain from my usual sarcastic and negative statements regarding various events and issues. When I pay attention I am surprised at all the negative things that roll so easily into my brain and out of my mouth.

So following this train of thought, it does make sense that if you set your intentions at a certain value for yourself, monetarily or otherwise, others will hear that intention and follow suit. I’m not talking about screaming that “I’m better than this!” during times of duress, although sometimes that’s necessary, but about actually choosing to value oneself and what one does at a respectable level. It’s not as easy as it sounds, there are all kinds of insecurities and unknowns that can get in the way. But it can’t hurt to work towards that end.

Recently I was walking to an appointment on 34th Street, thinking warm and cheery thoughts about the Christmas bonuses that Pat very generously handed out this year. I walked past a spot on 32nd that used to contain an all-nude “gentleman’s” club. Many years ago, after CSFH had collapsed and before I got my first management job at Coney, I was desperate for cash and work and gained employment there as a hostess. It was my job to show up at 4pm dress sexily and nab the men as they walked in the door and fast talk them into exhorbitantly priced fake cocktails and beer before they sat down in front of the squatting and bending nude girls. Suffice to say I hated every second of it, and was pretty fucking depressed by the entire venture. I felt like the lowest piece of shit in New York City, to be exact.

At the same time I had a therapist who was an absolute champion, and who insisted that I keep coming to him regardless of my ability to pay, and who told me that he had faith that I would be able to pay him back at a later time, which I did (very slowly). This therapist said to me, as I sat on his couch snuffling into a wet tissue, “What makes you think that this is the only thing available to you? Why would you think that this is all you have to offer?”

I didn’t completely get it right away; I needed a job and that’s who had hired me. But over time I understood what he was saying, and even though I didn’t get it completely right then I quit the job within the week at his urging. I didn’t know I had any choices, he knew I did. So it was really nice to walk by this ex-house of horrors and to feel light years away from feeling so trapped by my own circumstance and lack of self-esteem. I owe him a card…and maybe a car. Things aren’t perfect and I am still only now figuring out how to truly trust my own value, but it’s still on a much further upward trajectory.

And that’s really itI don’t have any truly deep insights on all this, I just wanted to put it out there today because it’s on my mind. 2009 – let’s overprice ourselves!

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