Monday, August 8, 2011
I hate the question "What do you do?"
The worst part is that I never quite know how to answer it. I'm always tempted to say something like this:
"Well, I do a lot of things. Usually I wake up late and make a pot of coffee. Sometimes I eat a bowl of instant oatmeal but usually I just wait for lunchtime to roll around and then I eat a sandwich. I write a lot of things. Songs, blogs, stories. Sometimes, I read books. Other times, I go out with my friends. Play pool at the pub down the street. I used to not know how to hold the cue but I'm getting so I can sink balls like some sort of amateur pool shark. Whenever I hear Pitbull on the radio in my car, I turn it up and sing along despite the fact that I pretend to not like hip hop. Once every two and a half years, I eat pop tarts on a whim and usually end up tearing off the edges because they are too crusty. I try hard to incorporate the word 'lanyard' into my everyday vocabulary. I partake in Solstice celebrations. I wear leopard-print pants when I need to feel like some sort of trashy rock and roll diva. I strive to live life as fully and as honestly as I can. Oh...you meant what do I do to make money..."
Of course, I've never actually said all that to anyone. I usually just smile and say "I'm a musician." And then the conversation eventually ends and I leave the room feeling at least somewhat powerful.
Because, as my artsy neighbors often remind me, that is what I do. I just don't always make very much money from it.
That hasn't always been my standard answer, though. I used to awkwardly pause and mumble something about being unemployed or self-employed (which is almost the same thing sometimes). Then I would proceed to feel extremely self-concious and slightly dysfunctional, especially if I was talking to someone with an established career.
When I moved into the artist's community last fall, I immediately noticed that none of my neighbors indentified themselves by the place they work (or, in many cases, don't work). And the question was no longer "What do you do?" The question became "What sort of things do you make?"
Now that's a question I can deal with answering.