Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dangling Off the Edge of the U.S.A.

Wow, Boston. You couldn't seem further away.

My mom called to tell me what happened there today. It's hard to tell whether to be amused or pissed off. I imagine if I'd been in town today while word was spreading of small, unidentifiable circuit devices placed under bridges, near medical centers, and in other heavily-populated areas, I would have felt a collective fear of the unknown. Did you, my loyal readers? As it was, my mother called me and told me of the city's stand-still, and I hopped on to read the article explaining the ad-campaign-gone-awry. I admit it - I couldn't help but laugh. The devices were a (too) subtle promotion for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", a show so idiotic that I only get a kick out of watching male friends giggle uncontrollably at it. I seem to miss the gene to appreciate watching the show itself.

Here's a little more dish on the subject.

Well, that was an amusing little return to my other life.

Now, where was I?



Ohhh yes.

Truth be told, I really don't have a lot to report from the southernmost tip of the continental US. All I want to do is sleep in my little attic room in the beautiful house of a famous writer who my sister is assisting for the winter, and listen to rain pelt the roof at night - or sit by the little pool on the deck and read until my back is so hot I can't take it anymore. We have rental bikes to go the beach, and the main drag a few blocks away...

Cocktails on porches...

The soporific drone of ceiling fans...

Aaaaaand, well, this was the entire point, I guess. I've been sent to a faraway island to recover from debilitating illness. I'll come back rested, renewed, recovered, with the gleam of my former self returning to my eye.

If I'm... not too weary... I'll blog once in a while.

And yes, Amanda, I'm using blog as a verb and I'm not all that ashamed of it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guess Who's a Hot Shot?

Did you really have any doubt? Really?

I wasn't able to get exactly what I wanted, which was more money up-front. But I got the feeling that there will be bonuses when they're available, and very flexible vacation time and days off, and extensive use of studio and equipment. And with the portrait studio to round things out, I should be able to make ends meet.

After three short weeks of job-searching, with mono to boot, lookit me! I have a job!

On the other hand... oh, man. I have a job.

Got to be in Central Square at 6:55am tomorrow for an all-day shoot in New Haven, CT. This mono makes me such a light-weight that I seem to be drunk off of one glass of red wine with dinner. That it's not even 8pm and I'm trying to decide whether it's an unreasonable time to put myself to bed does not look promising for my roaring social life lately.

Thanks for all the crossed appendages, everyone, I owe you one.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let's Negotiate

Not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on you, but: when do we negotiate for what we know we're worth, and when should we play it safe and accept the value in experience alone?

I'm in a bind. I still haven't officially been offered the job I've been alluding to for the last two weeks, but I'm in the final running, and my last meeting with the guy is tomorrow. I have already come in for two interviews, one unpaid assist, and one very low-paid one, with the justification that it was a "trial-run rate". If I get the job, the hourly pay will fall somewhere around $3 an hour shy of what a typical babysitter around here makes. I have already established that I will need another job, which fortunately I already have at the portrait studio. Given that I'd be paying my own freelancing taxes (which are pretty high) and health care, it will be a stretch just to meet my base payments every month.

Like I've said before, the job comes with lots of perks, some of them with eventual monetary potential, like gigs and equipment use. It would be in many ways like an arts school education wrapped up in one exciting, chaotic, probably sometimes infuriating job. It will most decidedly rule my life for a while. If I get it.

I resent that I even have to think about the money. I resent that it's even less than I was making at the nonprofit, and I thought that was nothing. It's even less than I make at the portrait studio now. I resent that I am on a fence about asking for more. Money has got me down, and I'm kept awake by mental lists full of financial responsibility: what if I get really sick, how do I pay my rent, what if I want to buy stuff, how will I ever save? And then on a whole other plane: how to I get the most of of doing my taxes, how will I ever afford to buy a house if I want to, how do I get to the bottom of my student loans, how do I stay out of serious debt?

Georgia and Melissa prepped me last night about negotiating technique. They are two of the smartest people I know, and definitely some of the most successful at our age, and they think I have to go in there knowing I can still say no to the job - otherwise I have no leverage. They say I should express that I really can't live on what's being offered, that it's lower than average for similar jobs (which it is), and that if nothing else I should be promised an evaluation and salary review in a few months.

The thing is, though, I don't have any leverage. Even if this person decides that I'm the best he's seen so far for an assistant, I don't think realistically that that's enough incentive for him to try and lure me with more money. He got over a hundred replies to his posting within the first week or so. There's certainly another me out there waiting to prove her worth.

This is what they mean when they say "paying your dues." And I do resent it - but the alternative is to hold out and say no, and I just don't think I can without always wondering if I'd shot myself in the foot.

Also... I consider myself a pretty assertive person, someone who gets things done, who changes her situation if it's not what she likes (just ask my landlord, and for that matter landlords before him), but the first time I negotiated a salary, it did not go well. I wrote an extremely professional and rational letter, and was met with shock and the implication that I was out of my mind. So I took the job anyway, stayed for a year, did my best, and peaced out.

So. I don't know what's going to happen. Or what more, if anything, I'm going to ask for. But if anyone's gotten lazy and released their crossed fingers... just give it another day or two? Please?


Monday, January 22, 2007

Beating the Boston Blues

  • I'm on my way to an obsenely low-paid gig in hopes of landing an absurdly low-paid but high-in-perks job. This keeps happening.
  • If you wait long enough, your well-to-do neighbors will skip town for warmer weather and let you escape your chilly confines in exchange for their 5 stories of well-heated glory.
  • And if you're lucky, you get to go visit your sister in Key West and leave all the wintery-ness behind for a while. I leave next week.
  • What's life without a soundtrack? Even better if you can get original and independent music. Ian kept us all warm at Kennedy's last night.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

-syllabic, -tonous, -nucleosis

In my case, the operative prefix would be mono.

The truth is I feel so much better since the doc called yesterday with my results. I knew there had to be some better explanation for feeling so exhausted and sick for the past several weeks, to the point where my sore throat and relentless cough drove me to the (free) healthcare center, than just that I'm "sickly". Turns out, I have the "kissing disease" most people get in high school or college.

I've been ordered not to do any strenuous exercise, or, in my interpretation, to stop feeling guilty for not. Since I've already been going about my business and dragging my ass out of bed every day on various job-hunts, even as I wondered why the hell I could barely keep my eyes open, I guess I'll just keeping rolling along until it's over. Just remember to turn me down next time I enthusiastically offer you a sip of whatever tasty concoction I'm drinking. And no smooching. Definitely no more smooching.

If there were ever a time for a colon followed by an opening-parenthesis, this would be it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sepia on Sunday

Nope, I still haven't heard about the job. It's a long story I'm willing to tell, but not here. Two weeks into the job search, I'm just thankful I have friends who are generous enough in the kitchen that I'm avoiding spending too much money on food.

Today is lazy and wonderful, just hanging out with Matt in Cambridge, eating breakfast in and watching the cold rain outside and listening to music. Of course, that's the thing about being half-employed - I'm not making any money for taking today off.

Yesterday I set up a makeshift studio in my den, and several wonderful people made their way over to pose for me throughout the day. Here are some of the highlights - just a few for now, since I'm still in "post-production".

Meet the models. Here's Rachel:

And Rachel and Jesse:

And Melissa:

And Georgia:

Upon the advice of a local photographer I met with last week, I'm going to be paring way back on my website soon. I may even make exclusively for my umbrella collection, and find another domain for my other work. Check back for updates.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Semi-Employment: Hitting the Ground Running

Cross your fingers for me out there, and while you're at it maybe some toes and arms and legs.

I just erased nearly an entire post about a brief job interview I had with a Cambridge photographer, because after describing it in detail it occurred to me that I'd rather stay tight-lipped about this one, for superstition's sake. But: if I got the job, I'd really be thrown into the business and helping out on all aspects of being a commercial photographer, including darkroom time, traveling to shoots, taking smaller clients myself, and helping teach a summer program for teenagers. It would be a little insane and probably kind of frustrating to work for an disorganized whirlwind like him, but I'd still have time for my own stuff and probably a couple days a week at the portrait studio. If I play my cards right, the paycut wouldn't even be that huge. I'd definitely learn a lot.

My waitress apron is on standby, and I'm reviewing wine pairings and French cuisine terminology just in case... but wouldn't it be so fantastic if I could find enough photo work to keep me afloat without waiting tables?

Oh, and while I'm at it, I need a favor from you. I want to start drumming up headshot business at the local colleges' and universities' theater programs, but I need to build a bit of a portfolio for that, and everything I have is out of date. I'll do free portraits for the first 5 people who respond, in exchange for using them for my website and flyers. And you come to me; we can do them outdoors around Boston.

That's all for now! You know, why don't you cross your eyes for me too, while you're at it? I'll keep you posted.

I need to trim my bangs.