Safety in Numbers
During high school, I went to a Vocational-Technical school... at the time, eloquently referred to as Slow-Tech, but this didn't deter me from going anyway, and majoring in Commercial Art. I was good at drawing and peripherally knew of people making a good living doing just that. Sure, in my town, there were people like John Skipp and Craig Spector. Bigger than life and taller than Gods. Beyond the rural walls where I lived? Well, those were the untouchables that didn't seem quite real... Stephen King.. Koontz... Barker. What they did for a living didn't seem possible to me at all.
So I excelled in art as a career, continuing on and working two weeks on, two weeks off, during my senior year at the marketing department of AT&T. That early, I sort of wondered if that was it... I'd hit, at the time, what was considered to be a great job in my chosen field. But as the days grew on, I continued looking at the cubicle walls and began to see that they resembled jail cells in more ways than one.
One of my best friends convinced me to hook off school one day and go visit a college in Philadelphia... just for the hell of it.
He has no idea just how much I owe him for convincing me to go along. It has changed my life in countless ways. So... six months later, I'm in Philadelphia. A single man with my two of my best friends on the planet. A city filled with that much concrete was as foreign to me as landing on Mars. I was used to rolling corn fields and reservoirs. The call of pheasants in the woods and mud on your shoes.
In the city, there was safety in numbers. All three of us working and learning toward the same goals. Pulling nights without sleep or so little of it that we were walking zombies the next day. And of course, parties and more than a few drunken nights.
And imagination running wild...
the homeless people with their empty eyes and angry faces.
the apparent army of rats hunkered in burrows surrounding Love Park.
the strange, freaky shops and storefronts scattered along South Street and Chinatown.
During the next two years in Philadelphia, I continued to write; co-writing the first of two novels with a lady I met while at AT&T. These will never see the light of day as they were completed.
Anyway... like many people in my town, after I graduated college and came back, things settled into something of a routine for me and to a degree, the "fantasy" of writing began to dull and dilute and get more distant. At the same time, the direction of what I'd went to college for in the first place, loomed high over head and I went through a couple jobs before launching my own ad and design agency, which I ran for twelve years.
I'm not the type of guy that can deal with having a boss. It's not in me to have to accept the constant shit shoveling that goes on in a typical 9 to 5, and again, I have my best friend to thank for pulling me out of the AT&T position or else, I'm quite certain that one day I'd have ended up storming the offices and pulling down the blue globe logo on the front of the building.
How fitting is it that years later, in 2006, I gave my first living reading at the HorrorFind convention - so close in walking distance to the AT&T offices, that you wouldn't even be breathing hard when you arrived at their front door?
2006 has been a year of so many changes for me, that the sheer enormity of them all, tires me out just to review them all.
In a single month this year, I lost 50k worth of business. Well... lost isn't actually the correct term.. it's not like I couldn't find it. It just went away.
This happened through no fault of my own. Corporations change, marketing directors move on, and some companies hire in-house departments in an effort to cut costs. Sometimes it works, others it doesn't. But that's business.
So... I ended up wading into waters I hadn't been in before; merging with someone else's business. I was leery of this at best. 12 years is a long time to be on your own... but I kept an open mind and it's working out way better than I could have even expected. There are some rocky days, of course... and although my routine started out easy going, there are some nights recently that kept me "partying on til the break of dawn" when it came to work. I'm not wearing as many hats as I used to, but still keeping damn busy.
On my personal arena... well... I'll keep those changes in my pocket instead of spilling that loose change up here on the blog. To quote from the movie, Let it Ride... "Even when you know, you never know."
I'm declaring 2006 the year of the Mulligan. I'm sweeping up the little pieces of things I'd set out to do at the beginning of last year and attempting them again. My goal's still the same.
I don't know who the hell reads this thing... but look back on last year for what it was... and look forward to this year for what it can be.
I've always loved Japanese culture, and they've got a certain mentality of living here and now. If you're going to love, then love, if you're going to get drunk, then get stinking roaring drunk. Whatever it is you're gonna do, then do it.
That's one of my goals for this year... to live with that mentality.
There's no tomorrow.
Happy New Year...