Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Things I Do To Avoid Getting A Normal Job...

I'm a little amazed right now.

We had our monthly Friday night open house and I made $50.

I made $20 by selling a duct tape purse with a Bob Dylan-themed collage on the front.

I made $30 by putting the following signs in front of my door:

I then opened my door, set up my keyboard, and sang songs to my microwave until someone walked by.

I thought I would have a few takers, but I didn't expect the tip jar to look like this at the end of the night:

I lost track of how many songs I spontaneously wrote for random people tonight, but I know it had to be at least 15. Naturally, I am completely drained right now. I just spent a good three hours pretending to be far more extroverted than I really am. But it was a lot of fun and it seemed like my silly little songs brought joy to a lot of people.

At first, I was frustrated because no one was coming to my end of the hallway. The Chef took his insanity to a whole new level and decided to display his new "sound sculpture" down the hall from me. This fine piece of work is nothing more than an air mattress with a few toy horns attached to it. When inflated, it makes the loudest, most obnoxious wheezing noise imaginable. So that was in the middle of the hallway, honking away.

As if that wasn't bad enough, The Chef decided that it was time to debut his recording of a song entitled "The Hamster Wheel Of Bullshit." This song is basically just those five words repeated in various rhythms. He blasted it from an amp along with some loud, industrial sounds.

I love The Chef, but I couldn't even hear my own voice over his cacophony festival. Not to mention people were afraid to come near the third floor.

The Poet came in and shut the door, a worried look on his face. "Okay, I think The Chef has really lost it. Seriously, what the f@#$? I tried to confront him and the noise just got louder."

I decided to go down the hall and talk to him. I just nicely asked him to turn it down so I could play music in my room. Surprisingly, he turned it down and turned it off soon afterward. But he kept the sound sculpture going. In fact, he shoved it in a nearby utility closet that locked accidentally. None of us have the key, so that thing was in there screaming forever. Apparently it got so bad that people were trying to pick the lock.

So that all threw off my groove a little bit. But after a few people came in and out of my room and requested songs, I was able to slip into performer mode.

It was strange how many people took me up on my offer for profound life advice. I mean, who am I and why am I even qualified to give people advice? I'm just some artsy chick with a keyboard and a tip jar. But all sorts of people wanted to hear what I would come up with.

I wrote the weirdest assortment of songs. I sang about how to get a girlfriend. I sang about how to choose a major in college. I sang about unicorns and how they relate to the human condition. I sang about birds. I sang about existentialism and Twinkies. I sang about how to get away with farting in public. I gave a couple some advice on time management. I wrote theme songs for people. I played my accordion and encouraged people to sing along (they did).

The weirdest part for me was that though I felt like my advice was often vague and flippant, people really reacted to it. I had multiple people say "That was really what I wanted to hear right now." I think one guy almost cried.

This guy is actually a musician that lives downstairs. I don't know him that well, but I know from talking to The Poet that he's been really discouraged and has been thinking of giving up on music. So when he came in and asked for a song, I gave him a song about how he shouldn't stop making music. He thanked me for it several times throughout the night.

And then there was the end the night, when I got trapped with the old drunk guy that would not leave. Fortunately, The Poet walked by and I was able to get his attention by urgently say "Hey!" He say what was going on right away and came to the rescue. Except the drunk guy wouldn't leave without getting a song first. I was really ready to be done with songs and had no advice to give to this man other than "Please get out of my room," so it ended up being mainly instrumental.

Anyway, that's the story of how I wound up with $30 in my tip jar. It was a really slow night and I was one of the few people that made any money. I was pretty stoked. Not only did I make a little bit of cash, but I had a fun time and made people smile. Mission accomplished.


  1. Wow, I feel so excited just by reading this, I am far from imagining how that must have made YOU feel :)

    Music is a real healer, and you seem to have the gift to touch lives, I am sure the people will remember those songs you came up with so quickly, just for them.

  2. That's amazing! Congrats. I'm making $50 this weekend transcribing an interview - which is way less fun than singing and selling fun purses.

    Did the Chef ever get his monstrosity out of the closet? I think I'd go insane if that was trapped in there.

  3. ug i wish i could sing....cause the whole retail shit blows...

  4. Amazing! Very creative money-making.

  5. If I only had a voice. I'm really jealous, haha. I couldn't make shit singing. People would probably steal my tip jar; and that's truth, haha. Good on you. =]

  6. That's really cool that people loved your advice. It feels so great to make people happy. Just out of curiosity, how do unicorns relate to the human condition? If I'm ever in Portland when you are doing your Friday open night thing, I want to come. It sounds like a lot of fun.

  7. What cool ideas! I'm jealous that you can actually profit, both monetarily and humanly, from stuff you enjoy.

  8. This is fantastic. I'd love to see this as an on-going blog feature here...and to see some of the song lyrics, if not video of them altogether. I'm now considering posting the various ways I've made cash that cannot be considered "normal, real employment."

  9. That sounds so much fun. Trivia fact: one-hit wonder Arthur Brown is now a therapist in Texas who I believe does something like what you did.

  10. I would highly recommend continuing on the path you are on as long as you have fun and can make some money, because the 8-5 life is for suckers...I know this better than anybody...hahaha


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