Biting my knuckles to get through the day…
A few nights ago I was prepping for the last stretch in a busy day. Rehearsal and line read-throughs for nerdfucker had taken precedence, as well they should, it’s MY NEXT SHOW. But there were other tour things demanding my attention, scheduling and planning and writing and proposals to draft and bios to send and quick yet essential text chats.
And at the same time there were calls. You know, CALLS. I was on call throughout the day, and it turned out not to be one of those epically slow days for wankers. I got a steady stream of them, from about 3 o’clock on, which meant that while at least I could get through most of the nerdfucker prep, the rest of my day was hung out to dry.
Fate conspired to nail this point to the wall, by sending me Extreme Top at 9:30pm. There I was thinking I had a couple of hours of productivity left in the day, and this call wound up being one of the longest sessions that I’d done with Extreme Top in the history of Extreme Top. The sensible part of my brain was saying, “yay, money!” But at several points during the two-hour-long call, I could sense him veering off on a tangent, one that could take another 15 minutes to reach its climactic conclusion if he managed to stay on track, and I found myself jamming my knuckles between my teeth to force back the groan of sheer frustration. He was Fucking Up My Work Flow, fuck.
After Extreme Top had finally finished and hung up, I contemplated the self-inflicted bite marks in my hand, and understood, yet again, that there is something not quite right about my work-work balance. Never mind life-work balance, which is an ever-shifting, extremely gendered target, even if it seems like a pretty clean calculation when I have no kids or immediate domestic obligations. I’m talking work-work, the standard dual-job artist dilemma, and the notion of a “main job” and a “sideline.”
Originally the performance stuff had been a sideline, something that I was testing, and knew would not bring in the main dollars. I thought that I could keep creating and producing while hanging onto the main job, the phone work; I could fit the art into the cracks and gaps in between calls. If not ideal, it at least seemed sustainable.
But at some point since then, that perspective shifted. Maybe it’s because the phone business has been dragging. I always knew that I didn’t want it to be My Thing, it was only ever meant to get me through to the next thing—which I hoped would be My Thing—but money-wise, there is no denying it: phone sex was still my money-maker, and now it’s shifting out from under me and I don’t know who is going to crack first, me or the company that I work for.
During that same time, I did find My Thing. I’ve got it, there’s a lot I want to say and do, I’m doing it and I want to keep doing it. In terms of my focus, performing and touring and writing comprise my main job, my career; these are the things that I am devoting my energy to now. I feel really at home in this. But as long as the living money eludes me, I fear I will always be biting my knuckles in frustration. I need that money from wankers, but I’m still end up tearing at my own skin in my impatience to get away from the sexy talk and back to the script.
Neither one is a sideline, in the strict sense of the word, but only one is worth chewing my hand off for. And I don’t really want to do that. I need that hand still.
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