I don’t think it’s any grand secret that my Grand Floridian adventure hasn’t exactly been a thing like I pictured it would be.

If the photos have done their job of lying, however, feel free to subscribe to the myth that it’s just all sunshine and oranges here.

(For the record, all the oranges in the supermarkets came from California. The hell?)

But if you see the stormclouds in those perfect photos, know that they’re the predecessor to a boatload of rainstorms.

I had sold myself on this brand-new life. And it looked like I’d gotten it. But when it all boils down to it, I still have a clingy, needy Over-Extended HouseguestTM and the pay differential between there and here basically makes up for the extra hours that I’m putting in.

In other words, while I crave some of the familiarity of my adopted homeland of Washington, D.C., it’s been the abundance of similarities between my old life and new one that have been driving me batshit insane.

I’m at this place in my life where I’m really tired of working. Not of the job; I don’t mean to imply that. I just mean, I’ve been working 60- to 80-hour workweeks since I was 20 years old. I worked just as hard for my salary now as I did for my $3/hour gigs 15 years ago.

That’s the dream, right? To go from slave’s wages to making something resembling a living.

But I guess I thought there’d be more time for me in there, too.

When I was in San Antonio a week and a half ago, I met this extraordinary man and asked him how he got his start in our industry. He said he was a very young lawyer, working around the clock and racking up billable hours.

His epiphany came one Sunday afternoon when he was going out for coffee. He saw a big boss also in the office — a man who looked at him fondly and said, “I see a lot of myself in you. Someday, you’ll no doubt be as successful as me.”

And my friend said he wanted to die on the spot as he looked at this middle-aged man with more money than God and a wife and kids at home and saw his future. He was cool with working a shit-ton of hours as a “nobody,” but he figured if he ever had wealth and a family, he’d want to be able to ENJOY them.

The irony now, of course, is that he still works lawyers’ hours. But he’s HAPPY. He’s doing this “work thing” on his own terms, as he’s in business for himself.

I wonder whether having a couple of very tasty margaritas with him at the Iron Cactus wasn’t meant to change MY life as well.

I’ve been in emotional hell the past few weeks. I’ve been working a lot — nothing new there. In fact, I’ve had a rather light two days so far this week … in preparation of the vicious cycle to pick back up tomorrow … and I’ve been rather cranky that the ebb-and-flow seems to ebb FAR more than it flows.

The thing is, I’m working on industry-changing products. When all is said and done, we’re gonna turn our section of the world on its ass. And the next steps are for me to get off of MY ass and make things happen … at a time when I couldn’t produce a million-dollar idea even if someone advanced me the cash.

Here’s where I am right now. (I’ve been here before — I know it well.) I was a rock star where I was. I still get calls from potential employers, saying they want to hire someone JUST LIKE ME or, hey, feel free to give us a call if this new gig doesn’t work out.

I’m not bragging and I’m not threatening anyone or anything — I have a great reputation. I owe it all to my former company. I really do. They took Cinderella out of the chimney and gave her a castle. I’m sure I had a little something to do with that, but I’m not so dumb as to not give credit where it’s due.

But here I am, with a quadruple-platinum debut album, and everyone’s looking at me for my sophomore effort. And you know how it goes — second albums SUCK.

This Lateral Action article best describes the “second-album syndrome”:

“Debut albums are usually the result of an irrepressible musical spirit that bursts forth from the band. It’s great when fame and fortune result, but it also gives you a challenge: how do you ignore the weight of expectation – from your fans, the media, your management and each other – long enough to write and record music for the sheer joy of it? Sometimes it’s easier to get famous slowly.

“So getting paid to do what you love can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you deal with it. You could create the Sistine Chapel or Led Zeppelin IV. Or you could end up as another rock ‘n’ roll casualty, burnt out and/or selling out.

“Either way, money and creativity are an explosive combination. Handle with care.”

God, that article turned my life around. I was drowning. I was dying. I was seriously feeling so very trapped … like I am living life at gunpoint.

I HAVE to take care of Mommy. I HAD to give her money. I HAD to bounce my goddamned bank account because I didn’t HAVE that money. I HAVE to work hard to earn a paycheck. I MUST top all of my past accomplishments to PROVE I’m the star everyone thinks I am. I CANNOT fail. I have NO OTHER OPTIONS.

The big realization from today is that I am caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, both at home and work. I can’t check the OEH into Shady Pines, but I can’t stand another minute of her being underfoot.

With work, I want so very badly to shine again, and to outdo myself. But I cannot be that no-life, sad shell of a girl who died on the vine (socially) at her last job, either. I struggle SO HARD between wanting to dazzle/impress, and not wanting to raise expectations too much.

Because, as I’ve learned, you can’t ever fall short of those expectations once you’ve set the bar.

So, wow do I feel better after having typed all of this. I’ve been so miserable, trying not to become the shadow of myself that I once was … while the unavoidable happened and I’ve BECOME A SHADOW OF WHO I ONCE WAS — AGAIN!

As always, the decision remains whether to become irreplaceable (again) or to amble along just fine and have the balance I so desperately crave. Or is there even free will in this at all and will I just continue defaulting to “superstar”?

Even if my second record is Teh Suck, I am under contract for a good five or 10 of them. No wonder all these celebrities take drugs and die young — it’s fucking HARD to change an ingrained ethic.

But, and I hate to say it, imagine what we’d achieve if we channeled ALL THIS PASSION into something that we truly loved, instead of just something we found that we’re incredibly good at. …

3 Responses to Confessions

  1. Lachlan :

    *big, tight, squeezy hugs*

    Love you. It’s good to get this all out there. Call me if you need to vent more.

  2. Tiff :

    *hugs* You know there’s a whole cheering section for you here, love. Cheering for, you know, whatever. 🙂

  3. mikeiam :

    I hope the OEH gets out so that you can have a place to recharge so your creativity can flow.