It was about two years ago in December of 2011. I was putting in about 40 hours a week volunteering (something which I still do and about which I am very passionate) and making a living by waiting tables at night- often with blaring music, obscene music videos, drunken Vanderbilt students and almost famous Nashville social climbers. I hated it. I would stand, hidden in a quite corner during slow times, and write to do lists of my dreams and goals- sometimes crunching numbers as to how much I would have to make each week to pay of the mountain of debt which I had accumulated over the years. As the night went on and the young Nashville Socialites and college students filtered in in their stylish party dresses which I guessed were funded out of their parents pocket books- I would constantly think of just that…dresses.
I was a lot like the character from my favorite book as a child, Angelina Ballerina, a story about a young mouselette who daydreams so much about becoming a ballerina- that she begins to fail her studies, ruin gardens, and break treasured household items, while practicing pirouettes in the kitchen. That was me- daydreaming constantly about all the dresses I wanted to create- while the “guests” (they made us always refer to them as “guests” and not “customers”) wondered where the hell their blackberry-st germane Mojito was. It was somewhere lost in my dreams, and my dreams were somewhere lost in the hustle and bustle of a trendy Nashville nightspot.
I wanted to leave so badly- each Saturday night closing shift became more and more of an onslaught to my soul. At the height of my exhaustion I remember writing a 4 page angry scrawl to my roommates at 5a. Between my volunteer work and my night job- I had worked a total of 36 hours in just 2 days- and came home to a filthy kitchen filled with dirty dishes and I just lost it. Looking back I can see- that it wasn’t about the dishes- it was about my utter exhaustion and about the fact that the way that I made money- was in total misalignment with my purpose in life. I wanted to create as much art as possible and uplift people through aesthetics. I wanted to help encourage people to become more ethical and aware and to fill the world with the magic of their own dreams…and every night, I was at grips with my own morality- as I begrudgingly brought the 5th Gin and Tonic to the table and tried to get into the party spirit. I mean- I’m funny, I’m charming, I can feign one hell of a party spirit- but what no one knew, is that when I had to serve the third glass of white wine to a woman who was 7 months pregnant- because there is no law against it- I went into the bathroom and sobbed for a good 10 minutes. And when I went into the bathroom one afternoon before my shift to find four of my co-workers breaking open capsules of Aderrall and snorting them, I spent the entire night fighting back tears.
So I guess it didn’t really surprise me- when 2 weeks before Christmas, I was pulled into the back office and fired. Customer complaint- apparently I had been “aloof” to a friend of the owner. I remember the night- I had been in a delightful mood and given some of the best service of my life. Quite frankly, it was ridiculous, it was unfair- the managers of the place didn’t agree, they both had tears in their eyes as they let me go, but I looked at them both and said, “I’m the kind of person who believes that individuals create their own life and are ultimately responsible, in some way, for everything that happens to them, and I honestly believe that somehow- this is what I want.” A few weeks later I was proven right when I was nailing my interview for yet another restaurant and the entire time- I kept thinking to myself, “This sounds so great- this would be such a great stable job…but I just don’t want it…” When it was over, I went to place my water glass on the bar and somehow misjudged the counter, accidentally shattering my glass all over the counter and the floor. Yeah…they weren’t gonna hire me after that. For the record, I never break things, I’m a trained dancer with great reflexes, I am not a clumsy person…this was definitely a sign….from me, from God, who knows, but I listened.
The next week I grabbed everything in my house which I had ever made and could sell. I called my friend Carmen to model for me and grabbed a point and shoot camera that seemed to die every 10 minutes. Despite the constant need to turn the camera back on after it had died, sometimes licking the batteries to keep them going, within an hour, I had successfully done my first ever Monarch photo shoot.
The couch had been donated from an old lady back in the day when I needed one. It smelled like cigarettes and old men and was so heavy that I thought people might die when we took it out of the house an in to the backyard. It stayed upside down out there for quite some time. I looked at it often, and marveled at the strange beauty of it’s white trash charm. I’ve always been drawn to the aesthetic of broken things. Somehow- they remind me of the chaos of the world and how we as beings struggle and fight to push through the garbage in order to create beauty, meaning, and life. I call it “Beauty in the Wreckage” it’s kind of how I feel about Earth…