I should be working on sketching pumpkin displays for one of my classes right now, but I’m here blogging because I’ve spent the past 24 hours in varying states of distress. I’m not a crier but I’ve been crying. I have a migraine. My hand just went numb, so I went in the bathroom to cry about my migraine and my numb hand, and then my face went numb in the bathroom, so I called my mommy. That helped a bit.
Seeing people’s happy faces when they eat my cakes and bakes still makes me feel good. I wonder if I should have stuck to pastry. It’s not too late to quit and go home. I already fucking bailed on the exercise classes I paid for because my ass can’t deal with pain.
I really need a win. I feel like I haven’t had one since I got here. I keep falling just short of “good” and it feels bad, man. I feel like I’m 16 years old and fumbling around at band camp and wondering why I can’t get “tempo” right.
I miss my friends and family. I miss financial stability. I miss when I wasn’t 15 pounds overweight. I miss being able to look in the mirror and like what I see. I miss having my own car and being able to go where I want when I want. I feel very alone.
What would Carrie Fisher do?
I am nearing the end of my third week of Brandcenter. First years are bombarded with advice from every angle: do this, never do that, maybe do this but also maybe don’t?! Don’t work your first year. Do eat real food, but if you can’t eat real food because you can’t afford it during your aforementioned unemployment, then eat some kind of food. Slurpees aren’t food.
My second year mentor has been a positive source of comfort in this overwhelming time. I am remaining committed to loving myself, my body, and my mind. I am not employed and do not intend to work this year (I acknowledge the enormous privilege necessary to make that decision). I am making time for exercising, cooking, eight hours of sleep each night, and spending time with my husband and our family. I am a better teammate and peer and friend when I can be my whole self, in my private life.
The advice I’ve clung to is “stay interesting.” Our professors urge us to commit to our lives and hobbies outside of advertising and branding and capitalism and all that “fun” stuff at school because time spent out of our heads will make us better creatives. Last night, I had a few hours I could have spent finishing an assignment due on Monday, or catching up on my Final Cut Pro X tutorials, or doing some required readings. I did approximately fucking none of those things. I crawled into bed with my husband and we finished the last four episodes of season three of Netflix’s GLOW. We were asleep by eleven.
Today I woke up intending to head to school by 9ish to get some work done before class at 1:30. It’s almost noon, and I’m still at home. I made a fresh pineapple salsa and we’re gonna dump that shit all over pulled pork sandwiches on toasted, buttered Hawaiian buns for dinner. I’m about to go rub that big juicy butt with spices and dump her in the Instant Pot with some pineapple juice. When I’m done with that, it’ll be time to shuffle my little hoofie-woofies to school and whatever has to get done will get done eventually.
I’m staying fed. And interesting.
So last month, I was accepted to the VCU Brandcenter for copywriting. In the month between submitting my application and receiving my decision, my confidence in my spec ads wavered on the daily. On Monday I could look them over for the umpteenth time, stroking my titanium steel labia with pride like, “fuck yeah, I am pretty much the wittiest cleverest maiden in these United States” and on Friday I’d be curled up sobbing on Patrick’s shoulder begging him to divorce me, his talentless ugly wife, for embarrassing our family and our cows in front of the admissions committee.
(I am thankful he did not divorce me, his acceptably middlin’ wife. We would have felt pretty stupid when the acceptance email came.)
There are many things I could say about the writing process in an attempt to help a future BC-hopeful find their way, but I think they all boil down to “stay humble.” And a lot of folks conflate humility with self-deprecation, especially in an age where “haha i want to fucking kill myself” qualifies as a half-decent Internet joke. Honestly, you probably do suck. And we would all be better off dead, before the oceans start to boil us alive. But telling yourself you suck and should die doesn’t produce the goth masterpiece of your dreams. It’s just discouraging. Go outside and touch some grass before returning to your notebook. It’ll be okay. The worst anyone can tell you is “no,” and you can always have the last word.
When you have something that sucks, acknowledge that it sucks. Tell your shitty idea it sucks shit, and thank it for its service, like Marie Kondo would thank your old scratched copies of Halo 2 and Sim City 3000 before chucking them in the garbage. Things that suck still have value when you can look at them from all angles and discover what led you there and where you made a wrong turn. You can respect your work, even the shitty work, without disrespecting yourself. I think that’s essential. We all shit our pants sometimes but no one needs to wallow in their soiled trousers. It sure won’t make them any cleaner. I’ll try to keep this disgusting metaphor in mind during my sixty weeks at the Brandcenter.
I’ll leave you with the (accurate) impression I’m crude and crass and obscene and blah blah blah. I almost got expelled in my senior year of high school for something I wrote that was crude, crass, and utterly inappropriate, so I’m hoping maybe those skills will finally come in handy. If not, I can always go back to baking cakes. There’s only glory in creating something that’s fucking delicious.