[personal profile] sinnamongirl
I started working when I was 13 years old - old school style, babysat over the summer from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $20 a day. That family ended up moving without warning; I transitioned to after school during the school year, went over to their house like usual, they were gone. Without paying me my final check no less.

That's not what this post is about, though. Not really.

We also had chores growing up, like most kids do. Dishes after dinner, cleaning our rooms, an actual chore schedule (the kitchen garbage can, for instance, got washed out once a month without fail). I was so short I had to stand on something to do the dishes; my dad would check the water temperature and, if it wasn't hot enough for sterilization, he'd let it all out and run the hot water in. Any time I protested the water was too hot for my delicate little hands, he'd grab them and plunge them into the dishwater until they acclimated. It only hurts the first minute or so. Little bright red paws are clumsy, but the dishes got done.

This is closer to what this post is about.

When I was 14, my brother moved into the college dorms. After we dropped him off, dad drove us to a furniture store where he bought a lamp. He held this lamp in his lap and cried all the way home. My brother was 16. He would drop out of college at the age of 18.

That has much more to do with this post.

Despite dropping out, my brother didn't move back in with us. He worked at a restaurant and split a studio apartment with two of his friends, who jointly owned a comic book store.

I stayed home, of course. Despite hours - days, weeks - spent daydreaming of running away, I knew I didn't know how to take care of myself. I did, though, know how to take care of my parents. I knew how to iron dad's dress pants and work shirts to perfection. I knew how to loop his tie and draw it just tight enough. I knew to use up the fresh produce as quick as possible, as dad hated the expense of food gone bad. I can see him still, holding a fistful of wilted, slimy radishes in his hand, "Do you know how much this COSTS?" and flinging it away. I knew how to make a shopping list in aisle order, so my mom could get through the grocery store as fast as possible. I knew which coupons to clip, how to double them.

At 17, with a better job at a local restaurant, I was promoted to more cooking duties and the expense of grocery shopping. I learned you can half-ass lasagna by not boiling the noodles first. Put enough watery green vegetables in there, pop the tinfoil on top, and the noodles steam on their own. I pored through cookbooks. I made meatloaf the way dad used to, with a package of onion soup mix, Saltine crackers, and ketchup on top. I scrubbed, wiped, sanitized, made it to work, made it to school, made it out for parties now and then.

Nearing 18, it was college time. My vote was no college - My jewelry teacher thought he could swing an apprenticeship with a local silversmith. I wanted this. I wanted it badly. I floated the idea of beauty school - cut hair on the side, make jewelry, become a famous artist, done and done.

Dad wasn't okay with this. He'd had one child drop out of college, negating all the status and attention he got for having a child prodigy in the first place. Dad wheedled first - promised he'd figure out how to pay for the entire thing - then threatened. If I didn't go to college ("real" college, 4-year liberal arts type), he would give me 2 weeks to pack everything I owned and find a new place to live. Anything left behind he would burn. I capitulated. After all, "real" college would at least get me out of the house*.

Over and over through this process he told me, "Art doesn't pay the bills. You can't support your family with art. You can't support yourself with art." The argument that being a hairdresser would make up for this fell on deaf ears.

Off to college I went. I worked - couldn't be a burden on my parents, had to buy textbooks, gas, insurance, beer, all that stuff. I made it through. I got jobs. I mostly lived with my parents, dad's logic being that I'd have to pay rent somewhere, why not pay it to them? I could never save quite enough to move out, though I did run off to Brooklyn for a year. Slunk back after realizing the big city wasn't for me, but I go out for awhile.

At 26 I decided to train for medical transcription; I became self-employed at 27 and have been doing it ever since. I'm supposed to be transcribing a report right now, in fact. I'm no longer self-employed** but still a transcriptionist. Since becoming an employee again, I've had to borrow around $3000 from my brother, was forced to stop paying my mom's cell phone bill, couldn't send my dad any more cash***, and am now living with my granny and my mom in a trailer manufactured housing unit, struggling to make ends meet.

Today I'm waiting to hear back from a man named Josh, the manager of a local paint store. Industrial, commercial, domestic paint. Not oil paints, not acrylics, straight house paint. I should hear by tomorrow, Friday at the latest, if he would like me to join his team and sell the shit out of some paint. I have a choice - I can continue on in medical records, buy a business casual wardrobe, maintain certifications, claw my way up a ladder, and make beaucoup bucks. Or I can work at a paint store, make enough for me to support myself (and only myself) and have access to all the free mis-tints my heart desires. There will be no stress. I will have the energy to clean out the garage and set up a silversmithing bench, an easel, move the gemstone faceting machine from my brother's apartment to here.

I will make art. It might be mediocre art; it might be sloppy, ill thought out, unsellable art, but it will be art, and I will be happy.

Also, since this post will reach a wider audience than usual, this is where I ask humbly for good thoughts, prayers, and chicken sacrifices on my behalf. I'm sure the Gods of Paint will also accept chocolate and whiskey sacrifices if you're squeamish about the chicken.****

*There is a long and possibly triggering story behind this, which I will not share now.

**There is a medium-sized story behind this, which I will not share now.

***There is a very long story behind this; in fact, because I can't figure out where to put 4 asterisks, there's two stories - one about the jewelry career and one about dad having a drug-induced psychotic break, neither of which I will share now.

****I keep telling myself I shouldn't get my hopes up, but right now it's down to me or one other guy, and I can't help but hope.

This has been an entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol; please read and enjoy all the entries, and vote for the ones you like!

Date: 2016-03-17 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
I ache for how much of your life has been spent taking care of other people (tip-toeing around them) when it was their job to take care of you.

Not basic chores-- families need the help, and kids need to pitch in. But parenting your parents, even now... that's enough to make anyone want to run away (to a new location or just deep inside themselves). :(

Date: 2016-03-17 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thank you. It took me a long time to realize that wasn't normal, and I still struggle with it. I go to Al-Anon now and it's hugely helpful. Crazy life insight: I've always considered myself an excellent caretaker of others, but I'm NOT. I'm just so used to doing it. Still a balance to be struck, but I'm learning!

Thanks for reading and commenting :)

Date: 2016-03-18 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whipchick.livejournal.com
I'm glad to hear you have support. This works for me both as a personal post, as a genuine journal that's sharing your life and your experience, and as "writing" - you've put this together so well and with so much focus on incredible detail (the lamp is a killer). It sounds like you're making a solid, smart choice - go make art!

Date: 2016-03-21 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Gotta admit, getting support is sort of a new thing for me. I grew up with the "don't tell outsiders what goes on here" mentality, to the point where even when dad was having a psychotic break, it didn't necessarily occur to me to reach out to family about it. But, support is awesome! It's so crazy how I can say "I don't know how to handle this" and will get a hug!

Thank you for your comment, I'm glad it works as both a personal and "writing" style. Yay for art! Of all kinds!

Date: 2016-03-19 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dmousey.livejournal.com
Sucks when you're told you were enabling neglect and alchohol/drug abuse doesn't it? I feel for you and hope the job comes through. YOU deserve to be happy and healthy (mentally) as much as anyone else.

In an aside... wasn't it a bit of a smack in the face when you realized not every family lived like yours? I know that's how I felt. Blindsided.

Hugs and am sending many positive, healing thoughts. Peace~~~D

Date: 2016-03-21 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Actually, that's the really bizarre thing - suddenly understanding how my actions enabled my own abuse. It's something I struggle with a lot, the "Okay, I chose this" thought versus the "but it wasn't right what they did to me" thought. It's something I think my friends who didn't grow up like this don't understand - to a one, I can tell if they had a healthier/functional family life if they say "so why didn't you just leave?" Because they can't understand how that stuff was *totally normal* and that is the smack in the face you mention, that *this is not how other families work.* So bizarre.

Hugs back, and thank you for your positive and healing thoughts :)

Date: 2016-03-17 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tijuanagringo.livejournal.com
"closer to what this post is about" -- poignant, seeking words
"get me out of the house" -- aching, seeking, words of need
"I will make art" -- true, assertive words of power
thank you for sharing your "s.o.u.l" aka persona

Date: 2016-03-17 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thank you so much :) For some reason I got little chills reading your comment, I think because of the "true, assertive words of power" bit. I hadn't realized when I was typing them they could come off like that.

:D Thank you again for reading and commenting :D :D

Date: 2016-03-17 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bleodswean.livejournal.com
Good luck on the job!

I was told the same thing about my dreams and goals. Accepted into a prestigious art school that I secretly had applied to caused untold drama and will-to-power. I lost that battle. Glad to hear you're ready to go after your dreams now!

Date: 2016-03-17 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thank you! Still waiting to hear back, but he said about a week, and a week is today, and... yeah. Probably going to do that whole call tomorrow, the "please god hire me but oh so casual about it" call. blergh.

I hope you also got to go after your goals (or are continuously doing so), because fuck those people. <- easy to say right now, not at all easy in practice.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Date: 2016-03-17 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rayaso.livejournal.com
I think it is important to live life with as few major regrets as possible. We all have regrets, but in the end, looking back on one's life, it would be good not to have the feeling of "if only I had done" something. It seems like you're on that path. It seems like your life has been about taking care of others, particularly your parents (and as a child!), so it seems to be time to take care of yourself.

Date: 2016-03-17 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Yes, I've had a string of major regrets, lots of them connected to that inverted power structure (of course, when I had real good solid advice to give my parents, it was all "we're the parents, we know what you're doing," which led to downfall)... but even though sometimes I think it's too late to change it all, it's really not. I just gotta be more clever and strong for myself!

Thanks for reading and commenting :)

Date: 2016-03-17 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lordrexfear.livejournal.com
I relate to this in ways I have shared in the past but don't want to share anymore cause they are triggers.

Whatever prayers (if I believed in them) I can spare are shared.

Also make art, art is love. I wish I made more art but the drive has been lost as my art making tool is dying.

Date: 2016-03-17 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Should I have put a trigger warning on this? And it's okay not to share, of course, but I appreciate that you've shared a common experience with me in your past - and I hope your art-making tool springs to life :) Thank you for the prayers, as well, and thank you for reading and commenting!

Date: 2016-03-18 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tonithegreat.livejournal.com
The litany of obligation. You've had so much that you never signed on for specifically. I really hope you get this job and it sounds like you're shaking off some negative things and definitely moving toward positive ones.

Date: 2016-03-21 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm actually still waiting about the job - I have this real lame fear of telephones and so today must work my nerve up to call and politely inquire if he's made a decision. If not, well, there's other jobs, and in my newly positive frame of mind (hope it sticks), it'll be okay :) Thanks for reading!

Date: 2016-03-19 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] orockthro.livejournal.com
I work a (... in theory) stress free job and try to make art on the side. :) It's worth it.
I'm glad you're doing it. :)))

Date: 2016-03-21 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Yay! I'm glad to hear that. I've already had one person be like "you know if this all happens, you'll probably never get around to doing it, don't you?"

I am not a violent person but this made me very upset and almost wanted to smack the person. I'm attempting to rearrange my entire life to be happy, and if I have free time and no stress I'll NOT MAKE ART? Bah. Bah to those people. Thank you for your comment :)

Date: 2016-03-20 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] murielle.livejournal.com
This is art. I love they way you begin drawing us closer and closer to your truth by telling us we're not quite there yet.

You are an artist, with many talents. Create! I pray you get what you need to thrive, to fly!

Date: 2016-03-21 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for this lovely comment, it made me smile :) Any positive statement like this is encouraging far beyond what you might realize. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Date: 2016-03-21 10:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] prog-schlock.livejournal.com
I am involved in running a school of the arts. As a result, I know a ton of people in both the visual and performing arts who are making a living at it. Not all of them are even especially good. The only difference between us and you is that our parents never told us not to do it.

Granted, none of us will ever be as rich as venture capitalists, but who wants to be a venture capitalist?

Basically, what I'm saying is go for it. You'll be happy that you did and I bet you do sell some stuff. But even if you don't, you'll feel pretty good about the time you spent making art.

Hey, this song is about a dude on the dole relying on his working girlfriend to pay all the bills.

Date: 2016-03-22 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinnamongirl.livejournal.com
Thanks for the encouragement :) I have seen some artists who aren't that great, and they sell their stuff, and it really is just determination versus talent. I'm not sure why I've never developed determination, so now's the time for it.

I've never heard this song before, I like it!

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