Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We're gonna party like it's 1999

ok... not really.  This has nothing to do with Prince or partying, but it DOES have to do with 1999.

I don't have the official calendar to give all the details, but 1999 was the year of travel.  I flew so much that by the time May came along I had achieved "Silver Medallion" status on Delta, which meant that I had flown 25,000 miles in less than 5 months (I say less than because I know I probably didn't go anywhere in the month of January... the craziness started in late February, although I had already gone to Tucson by then)

In 1999 my then-husband left his teaching job and I became the full-time bread-winner for our family.  This was something that happened pretty spur of the moment and without a lot of planning and suddenly, I had to make a living... not just part-time income doing art.  This was before the era of online bead sales, so that meant that in order to sell the glass beads... I had to go to where the bead shows were and that meant West Coast a lot of the time... and when not the West Coast, somewhere other than home was where the shows were.  (and when I wasn't on the road, I was teaching from my studio at home... but that's a whole other topic.  This is about "the road")

The spring of 1999 was filled with weeks of me flying out of town on Friday morning, arriving in whatever town (and they quickly became a blur), grabbing a rental car, finding the hotel, crashing for the night after eating cheap drive-thru if possible (sometimes skipping meals and "eating" slim fast that I packed so that I wouldn't have to spend money eating out), setting up for a show Saturday morning, tearing down a show Sunday afternoon, catching a red-eye back to ATL on Sunday night... getting back home, crashing for half a day trying to catch up with sleep, then getting back in the studio on Tuesday to make the stuff that I was going to sell the following weekend.

It was an endless cycle. Some weekends were winners, some were losers.  I just hoped that during the month the winners would outweigh the losers and I'd end up with enough to keep us afloat. ... and I pretty much did.  

It wasn't much of a life.  It was tough on me physically and emotionally.... and tough on my family too, but you do what you do to pay the bills, right??  And that was the way I was able to pay the bills back then.... by being a factory and an on-the-road salesperson for my factory.

This weekend was the first time I've really felt that way in a long time.  The travel REALLY got to me.  The being away from home, not knowing if you're going to make money or not... and this time was a not.  It's hard to make money in art right now and harder when the show is in Oakland a few blocks away from one of the "occupy" sites.   When I have a killer show, I can sort of swallow the tired worn-out, road-weariness by doing a happy dance for the money.  This wasn't one of those weekends, so I'm just tired, worn out and road-weary.... and I do it again on Friday.

Friday is a bit different because it's a class, not a show, but it's still travel and it's still away and it's still a lot of work in a couple of days that I'm at home this week.... and I'm doing it solo (which honestly, is better than doing it as a partner... I only have me to worry about).

My kids are troopers.  Of course, I'm not sure they notice as much as they did when they were little that mom isn't around on weekends.  Most of my gigs are scheduled when they are with their dad and when something hits on one of my weekends, my parents (who are WONDERFULLY SUPPORTIVE) are there to step in and spoil them (which this time included driving to Game Stop across town to pick up a game that H had pre-ordered and paid for so that the boys would have it when they got home from a church retreat.... you rock grandpa!)

SO anyways... I'm home and I'm tired and I'm two trips away from being an "A Plus Rewards Member" on AirTran which is airline-speak for "you really do fly too much"

(I didn't get coffee today)

I'm logging back on because I think it's important for me to end on a high note.  Yes... I'm exhausted.  Yes... it's hard.  But it's NOT the first time I've supported a family doing art and I am totally capable of doing it even in an economic slump.  I have MAD skills... including business savvy and an entrepreneurial streak a mile long.  I'm going to make it.  I just have to take care of myself...which means giving myself a day off to sleep, like I did today....  and treating myself to coffee, even when it's a luxury.

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