Fall is coming, and the thought always fills me with a tinge of dread. I am reading the first book of Game of Thrones and re-watching episodes in tandem, and thus the Stark family comes to mind: Winter is coming. Granted, their winters were seven or so years long, and it’s still warm in New York in September, so I’m being (as usual) a bit dramatic. But I am one of the few that loathe the change from summer to fall, because summer to me means fun and frolicking and I’m never cold unless I’m over-air-conditioned. Fall means winter is not far behind, and being a girl from the whipping winds and endless snows of Northern Michigan, I do not welcome the winter.
So with the coming autumn, I am sticking to the spring plan of stepping into gainful employment once summer came to a close. I had a glorious time off through July and August playing Borderlands and The Darkness on our Xbox for days, with unwashed hair piled on top of my head (until I sprained my left index finger from overuse of sniper scopes and in no way is that depressing for a woman my age), practicing yoga, hanging out with friends and family, vacationing in Cape Cod and Michigan, and simply regenerating my creative spirit. It has been one of the best summers of my life and I had no idea how burnt out and wounded I was from my 11 year stint in the world of PF until I stepped away from it. Now I feel tentatively ready to face a few more days of work a week, and regardless of personal readiness, the bank account demands it.
So with that, I’ve gratefully accepted a couple more bar shifts, Tuesday nights at Three of Cups with DJ Mr. Tim:
Saturday nights in the VIP room at Blackbird, which is the gorgeous new lounge situated in the old Lakeside space. And there’s still every Friday at Bowery Electric. This particular one already passed but Tim made me such a great flyer for the week I got back from vacation that I’m going to post it here anyway:
Here’s the current one for our upcoming 6 month anniversary, featuring the always amazing rock and roll rebel, Ms. Puma Perl:
Oops. Aaaaannnd one more, because I’m doing a special guest star happy hour with the BFF next Saturday:
Okay, enough of Tim’s awesome flyers. Sorry!
Anyhoo, I am blessed with good friends and family who work and own in the nightlife industry, and worked in it for so many years prior to stepping into the world of fashion that it is almost second nature to me. But it is still daunting in some ways. I am not a young girl, and bar/club work, especially in NYC now, is designed for the young. I wonder what people see when they look across the bar, and sometimes feel insecure about it. But I try to remember that I bring something other than the beauty and freshness of youth. I bring a wisdom (hopefully) and an understanding that comes with middle age. I am the tattooed relic of a golden rock and roll generation, and I’m okay with that. Sometimes customers ask me questions in that direction and I’m happy to answer.
Some are confused as to why I would ignore talents and skills that could offer a more solid day gig, with insurance and a real paycheck and some status in the world. It does look counter-intuitive, and occasionally the ego smarts a little when I can see in a stranger’s eyes that I am less important to them because I am merely their server. I am at times too quick to explain my history, to state that I voluntarily quit a world that revolved around spreadsheets and brainpower and famous fashion types, rather than got ejected from it.
But that’s just an ego-lesson that needs to occur anyway. And it’s one that I’ve been through before, albeit this time it is infinitely more gentle. In the early 90’s I bartended in the shittiest of coked out biker bars after losing a record deal, with Beavis and Butthead in constant rotation on MTV on the television overhead. They extolled my band and played our one video and banged their cartoon heads happily, but it was too late to do me any good. It seemed so unfair that my time in the sun was over almost before it began, and the world looked very dark indeed. People would point at the screen and shout, “What are you doing here, aren’t you rich?”. “Nope”, I said, tersely, sullenly, as I scooped up their beer money. It was humiliating and I was depressed beyond expression.
This time around it is my choice. My energy and heart are clear and draw to me a much lighter experience, even if the act of pouring the beer is the same. I long got over feeling the need to explain to anyone that I was once Kind of a Big Deal. I know this is absolutely meaningless, as it probably should be, to the kid in front of me waving a twenty dollar bill. There’s another old saying that I love: That and a token will get me on the subway.
We are all more than we appear upon first sight, and all more valuable than the world would have us believe sometimes. Don’t ever doubt that about yourself.
So this is primarily a state of the address for those who are still struggling with hating their job or wondering if they could be doing something else as they watch a clock in a room into which they dragged themselves, soul kicking and screaming. I got so many responses and emails from people when I first posted about my own change that it seems that this is a topic on many minds. If you’re wondering how it’s been working out to free-fall from a job that once served me but eventually felt like a trap, I can tell you that I’m feeling great. It’s scary; I don’t have as much money right now, but it’s wonderful. Every morning I wake up and know that I am free.
I do realize that I am lucky to have choices and friends to count on that some don’t have, and I am not encouraging anyone to up and quit their job without some thought behind it. We all need to feed our children, to sleep somewhere warm and occasionally go to the doctor. I only want to tell you that in my experience, following an inner voice has raised the level of my day to day existence in exactly the way I had hoped it would. It is scary at times, and I certainly don’t want to die one day as the oldest bartender on record. But for now it feels quite magical to be embarking into new adventures, and I want to encourage all my friends to look around and see where they can make changes according to their true selves. We are all artists at soul, and the world gets happier in increments each time one of us finds his true calling, whatever that may be.