NDA. PMA. WTF.

I would tell you what I did for work today but then I’d have to kill you.

No, seriously, I signed a confidentiality death clause, otherwise known as a non-disclosure agreement. So all I can say is that it was rad, paid very little, but was the equivalent of taking a quadriplegic to a swimming pool in August. Free fajitas at work? Check. Coffee and lunch-break where I was offered margaritas? Check and check. I spent the day with an effervescent, deliriously happy secretary who talked nonstop about how employees were allowed to bring their dogs, have tattoos, throw parties and how she loved work so much that she never wanted to leave. Of course there are no jobs available at this company. Today was just a freelance gig for a friend, eight hours of work for fifty bucks, but still. Freedom’s just another word for food stamps.

Before you start connecting the dots between the previous posting and today’s allow me to say here and now that no, it was not porn or prostitution. Clothes stayed on. The only shower I took occurred at the end of the day and no alloys were thrown in the mix. But it was still fun and easy money.

Anyway.

Yesterday I took a look at a 1960’s self-help book entitled Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. I have been told that I can be a trifle vitriolic and difficult when it comes to walking on the proverbial sunny side of the street. I can argue that this is because I both sunburn easily and enjoy complaining. In my previous job with the internet start-up I was told that I was “too East Coast” and cold on the telephone. So I picked up Success with the hope that it would both lead to a warmer, more cuddly me as well as a steady job. I hoped that the words of the author, W. Clement Stone, would be like oil to the rain rusted New York joints of my Portland tin-man, that from leafing through Success I would glide easily into a more easy-going and smiling work persona.

It was hilarious.

First of all, according to this book, “Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” Well, I have moved to Portland, the unofficial hometown of, “meh,” shrug. It seems that out here the starting point of all achievement is whatever you put your weed in. For my razor-tongued self the only thing that’s definite is that I don’t have enough money to live in this town beyond April, and my purpose is to avoid leaving here at all fucking costs. Being that there are NO FUCKING JOBS it doesn’t seem likely that I can apply for a permanent position, secure a career, and receive a paycheck in time to prevent JetBlue from transporting my sniffling self back to Nassau County with nothing more than a blog and a couple of bruises to show for it. Thanks, positive mental attitude, for being as flaky as most of the people I’ve met in the 503. You say you’re coming? You’re just waiting until you finish downloading the latest Decemberists’ album? Yeah, well. Hurry up and get here.

“No matter who you are you can have a Magnificent Obsession.” Okay. This just sounds creepy. My last magnificent obsession was named Rachel and she had a labret piercing. I do believe that there is something sincere within this quote though, and it pertains to life in all fifty states: it’s true, no matter who you are, you can have a restraining order put out against you for peering in people’s windows late at night carrying a six pack of Pabst and a dozen (dead) roses.

Stone Not-So-Cold also recommends a daily mantra for positive self-suggestion to boost your PMA –

“I feel healthy! I feel happy! I feel terrific!”

I have tweaked this and modernized it to better suit the century and my personality.

“Fucking hell, I’m awake. I want to cut a bitch. Now where the hell is my change from last night, I need to get an espresso.”

Lastly, Stone says the very weighty statement “You are what you think.” In this case I am both bullshit and therefore also a self-help book.

Maybe I just didn’t practice the mantra hard enough.

The Oldest Profession

(My brief, half-hearted exploration of a career in sex work via Craigslist.)

Ever since I was a young girl, back when Sesame Street wasn’t ironic and Tom Cruise wasn’t batshit insane, I have always thought that there was something that I could fall back on professionally. In part it was the film Risky Business, in part it was the seemingly flippant disregard of the Dinkens’ administration coupled with my father’s complete inability to drive outside of Nassau County without hitting 42nd Street. Sex work seemed like the safety net if the whole being a ballerina-milkman-astronaut thing didn’t work out for me.

Yes. I was That Girl in elementary school who walked around holding her dress up simply because it made the mothers of the normal girls cluck their tongues. When puberty arrived and I discovered that it was entirely possible for menstruation to hit even if the tits didn’t come I figured that my life as a woman of the night might be more difficult but still not altogether impossible. I could walk in heels. I was good at talking to people. I had at least three possible names that I could call myself (Bubbles, Bianca, and Asti-Spumante which, as a Long Island teenager, sounded exotic) and I had three people I could call if I got thrown in jail.

Of course then I started having a social life in college and read a few books on feminism and, well, you know. Got a real job and stopped thinking that sex work could be a decent mode d’emploi if I didn’t score the gig as a screenwriter. Read scary statistics on sites like Prostitution Research and Education. Went to some Riot Grrl meetings in Alphabet City. Honed my filing skills. Grew up and eventually moved to the west coast, thinking that a secretary in New York is the same as a secretary in Stumptown.

Then I read about Portland and unionized prostitutes. Then I got fired. Now I’m thinking, you know, that I totally could make a decent Bianca. And there must be a market for sexually ambiguous, androgynous girls with shitty tattoos who break into hives when nervous.

I know, I know. Mom, don’t worry. I’m not really serious. Yet.

As with all things I think about but usually don’t wind up doing (selling my bike, buying a turntable, losing my dog indefinitely*) I turn to the one place all of us can go for guidance and illumination. Craigslist.

Upon first click to the “erotic” services offered section I can already tell what will impede my erotic professional life: basic typing skills. I regard emoticons as why terrorism happens. And all caps have no excuse unless you’ve dropped beer on your keyboard, and even then, get that shit fixed. Call it a response to an elitist education system but I scoff at shorthand. (No, you cannot has cheezburger.)

I am not “gorgeouse,” blonde, Asian, or barely legal. I am feeling slightly uncomfortable so much as viewing this webpage. But I figure starvation feels even more uncomfortable, as would flying back to New York with my nose stuffed from crying. Not to mention waking up to my mother cooking me eggs and smiling at my failure. She’s kept my room in a state of preservation that rivals prehistoric insects trapped in amber, just waiting…waiting…waiting for this moment. If being a “tasty, sweet bad girl bent over at 90 degrees waiting 4u” will help me to avoid such embarrassment, then so be it. Yes, I regard living with my mother as more humiliating than sex work. May I never have children of my own.

Rubdowns…ahem…seem like they could be a sensible way to make your own hours and do something that can somehow or another be translated loosely into helping people, albeit in a way that’s non-taxable. Going rates apparently vary from “300 kisses an hour, 200 kisses for half hour” to “Donations 110 – incall and outcall.”

But most of these girls (and boys) look fuckin’ beat, more bags under their eyes O’Hare airport, faces that say more forlorn than horny. It makes me feel bad. Surely there has to be a reason why they chose to go into adult entertainment, and what can be referred to as very physical therapy? I know – all of them worked for internet start-up companies!

I suppose I could give admin work another whirl, or maybe waiting tables. I might be clumsy but it feels like the occupational hazards of serving food even when awkward and scatterbrained aren‘t nearly as potentially life-altering as those I could encounter if I tried to sell my body. Besides, unlike posting a Surly Long Haul trucker or a lost dog ad, in order to pimp out my treasure box I need to set up a Craigslist account. That, similar to graduate school, feels like a little too much commitment right now.

* (My freakishly talented boyfriend posted this ad after my dog ran off. Due to his blinding talent with words, and Craigslist’s insane viral capabilities that are more astounding than Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, she was returned within twenty-four hours. Thank you, Craigslist, thank you, boyfriend.)

Pounding the pavement.

When they say “pounding the pavement” what they don’t tell you is that they mean with your fists in frustration.

*

Interview Questionnaire – Question #6
What are some of your likes and dislikes?

“I like talking to people and making them laugh. Writing, reading obscure graphic novels, and cooking fat-free, dairy-free, meat-free, low-carb food are hobbies of mine. I do not like extreme heat, golf, or mayonnaise.”

I crossed out that last line.

For five months now I have lived in Portland, Oregon (aka “Little Beirut,” whose unemployment rate is supposedly 4.9% unlike actual Beirut where the unemployment rate was 18% last time I checked.) I have had two jobs, one of which drove me to the very brink of insanity, the other of which I was fired from.

The first job was at a pilates studio. Perceived perks included seeing scantily clad women contort themselves into unnatural positions, proximity to my favorite coffee shop, and the fact that it seemed like the kind of job where I could just dial it in during the day and then go home to write. What actually wound up happening was that I became enslaved to the equivalent of Randy Nadell, my high-school nemesis who owned a Jaguar and smoked Parliament Lights. Like Randy my ex-boss made fun of everyone, had no loyalties, and enjoyed plastic surgery. Unlike Randy I actually had to kiss my ex-boss’ ass in order to make sure my rent was paid. This ended much like high-school: with tears and an inevitable therapy bill. Actually this time instead of a therapy bill it was a bar tab and in place of tears it was a histrionic, nonsensical resignation letter. Booyah.

Next I worked for a company that is so awesome that it still irks me to write about them because they let me go. And as much as I’d like to say something about how they will struggle and fall like all other internet start-ups (Y2K, bitches, I still have my water and duct tape in the closet) and that they have only expedited their doom by canning me, well, I know I didn’t fit in. The unnamed company, just like the rest of this town, sees me as just a little too weird. What was considered quirky on the East Coast is viewed as just plain old garden variety batshit here. I’m too intense, talk too aggressively, and swear like I have a sailor with Tourettes smuggled under my hoodie. Not exactly the strawberry jelly to Portland’s pot-smoking, jam band loving, crunchy hippy peanut butter. Chillax, to me, sounds like a serotonin inhibator.

I was fired on the corner of Davis and Third, across the street from my bus stop. My boss had run – literally run – out the door and down the stairs to catch me after I left work. He asked if I wanted a coffee. There was awkward small talk about some conference in California, email lists, and the weather. We walked around, I drank a Lurisia. Eventually I knew that I would have to take the bull by the horns and perform professional Hara-kiri:

Me: “So.”
Him: “So…uhm…”
Cue up awkward staring.
Me: “So, is there anything I can be doing differently at work.”
(omission of question mark intentional)
Him: “That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. I think we’re going to have to let you go.”

Fan-fucking-tastic. Karma for my righteous, cruel resignation letter from the pilates prison is played out across the street from a homeless shelter and the dim-sum restaurant where we had my “congratulations for being hired” luncheon a mere month ago. I’m out of work in Portland, again. This would be less frightening if I hadn’t sat in the office listening to them try to hire someone for a week…who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was going to replace me. Which means that I sat at my desk listening to my supervisor and boss mock the resumes belonging to people who, as is now revealed, were applying for my job.

Awkward. And disheartening.

This leaves me back at square one. Now, all halfway decent self-help books pertaining to the Great American Job Hunt tell you to evaluate your skill-set, usually in list form, and apply this list to your resume. So I now present to you sections of my resume and their translation:

Self-starter = Responds well to being yelled at.
Computer literate = Surfs the internet well. Hire me just because I do not have a MySpace account.
Highly organized = Entirely dependent on Post-Its to remember shit.
Punctual = Perpetually early due to mild OCD. Do not look in the refrigerator as I have brought lunch for the week and stacked it in ascending order.
Team player = This one is an actual lie with no translation. I do not play well with others, nor do I work well in groups. Female coworkers usually hate me, and I generally creep out anybody within my age group. On the plus side, I get along extremely well with older, skeevy men. Extra bonus points if they have a lazy eye or a record.

I leave you with my heroes, the Suicide Kings, breaking it down for you. Stay tuned. Looking for work in this town is a full time job. One that doesn’t pay. Much like, you know, blogging.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsMKXgIq5fM&feature=related