Today I sold the canvas shown above at Spacecraft, took a commission to make a Free Palestine-inspired canvas, talked to a woman about selling my sweatshirts, sold a handful of other little embroidered things, and am going to speak with a woman at an art studio around the corner from my loft about a job. This, in addition to a big job possibility yesterday, and I'm a happy camper!
Keep it coming!
UPDATE: I've already raised over half of what I need. So, thanks to your fine people who have bought my work, thrown jobs my way, and above all, rooted for me! Life is good.
A friend, Leana, connected me with Briana from Unemployed Brooklyn, a witty and well-written diary about being unemployed and single in Greenpoint. Just featured on NY1, Briana does a fantastic job listing resources, and is working to get together a group for unemployed folks in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area. As Briana wrote in her email, the group will be "networking meets support group meets brainstorming." Sounds good to me!
Check out Briana's site, as well as her Etsy shop, which features cute little stuffed animals such as this:
FYI- Briana has a strong retail management background (among other things). Make sure to let her know through the email listed on her blog if you know of open positions in her field!
Although it's great that next Thursday I'll be trekking to Greenwich to embroider and event for Madewell, what's even better is that I've been invited to embroider at the Soho store on September 10th for Fashion's Night Out! Yay!
The event, thrown by NYC, Vogue, and the Council of Fashion Designers in America, is going to be AMAZING. The event is taking place globally, spanning many of the larger cities.
"In a global initiative to promote retail, restore consumer confidence, and celebrate fashion, US and international editions of Vogue are coordinating evening extravaganzas in their respective world fashion capitals."
Every summer, my parents take Anevay to Rochester for a week. Anevay gets excited about her trip months in advance, talking about 'her room', which overlooks a little stream in the backyard, and all the wonderful things she'll get to do with her Nana and Grampa. Mostly, she enjoys basking in their love.
Usually, being separated for a week gives me time to rest, reflect, and miss Anevay. I've never used one of these trips to take vacation, as I've always had to work. All of my vacation time was used for holidays with Anevay.
This year is different...
I don't have a job, and panic, which I'm usually able to keep at bay, is starting to set in. Or rather, it was up until two night ago, when I allowed myself a mini-breakdown. Since then, I've pushed myself into action like never before...
Of course, I've been actively looking for work, and have had freelance work that has pulled me through, but I finally put out an email appeal to friends and family. Network for me, I said, or send me emails full of supportive words. I'm in need, I told them. Friends have definitely networked, letting me know about job possibilities and setting me on course for some fabulous networking opportunities. I'm feeling more positive about my job search than ever- there is even a GREAT opportunity that I'll know about early next week. Keep your fingers crossed.
In the meanwhile, I've decided to have a loft sale on August 8th. I've needed to go through my things, but I'm going above and beyond that, putting it out there that even some of my favorite items need to go.
Amazingly, as soon as I put it out there that I needed job-search assistance, my panic started to ebb. I can only attribute this to the fact that I've finally learned the meaning of the old adage:
Pride goeth before the fall.
I think, perhaps, my pride was getting in the way of good things coming. It was pride that kept me from letting friends and family know how dire things had become. I had assumed the weight of the entire economic crisis, as though it was my fault I had ended up in my current position. What an ego I had, to imagine I fit into the equation in such a grand way! Now I realize that I am not in the least important to the powers that be- at least not in a way that they would give a shit if I floundered and fell... I needed to let go of this dumb pride. It was getting in the way of me figuring out how to fix my situation!
Now, feeling much better, I'm left with one thought: to make things happen. I need to come up with a lot of money, and fast. Staying in NY depends on this one immediate factor. And I need work. Now. Before Anevay returns from her ten-day trip up north. Fortunately, I've kept it together for my sweet girl- she has no understanding of what's going on- in fact, she things it is great fun to have had me all to herself this summer! We've been to the pool, and camping, for long walks, reading... It's other things that I have let slide- recently I haven't worked on any art, and it's been difficult to concentrate on my writing. I've needed to use every ounce of my energy for three things: being with Anevay; coming up with cash; finding a job. I'm lucky to have such amazing parents- this trip could not have come at a better time. Now I'll be able to throw every ounce of myself towards finding work! The downside to this is that I know I'll miss my girl terribly. This afternoon, after she leaves, I'm anticipating a long cry. But after I dry my eyes, I'll have plenty to keep me occupied! I owe it to my girl to give her a stable home- to find a good job- to continue loving her with everything I've got.
Last night I cuddled up with Anevay, and after she drifted to sleep, I stared at her- those tiny, perfect features, and I promised her with every ounce of my being that everything will be OK.
Thanks, all, for your support.
UPDATE: In two days I've already raised more than half of what I need!! This is AMAZING!! Thanks to all for your help, for buying my art, for sending me work... This is a tough life, but I can do it!
Cheyenne's family owns like a kabillion acres around a private lake in New Jersey. We went there last year for Anevay's birthday, and needed to go back. Anevay has told everyone on the planet that this is where she wants to celebrate her birthday every year! Above, Elspeth's cabin.
Anevay and I stayed exactly where we did last year, in the art studio.
Trampoline! I wish I had a picture of me on this thing... I was pulling out tricks from when I was in gymnastics (anyone out there ever have to do swivel-hips?).
Good times on the lake.
Amazing food. I grilled shish kabobs, the remnants of which are pictured in the foreground.
It started to rain a bit while we were around the fire, but it was still a gorgeous night.
Cheyenne getting her pose on.
Daniel and I making some sweet music.
Last year, Elspeth told Anevay that the next time she came back, there would be a swing waiting! Anevay got good use out of it...
Anevay, usually very timid when it comes to insects, actually caught this thing. I'm sure that the dollar I bet her had nothing to do with it... I love the look on her face- a mixture of excitement, terror, and pride.
Apparently a big snake lives under this old car, although we didn't see it.
Anevay had quite a time catching teeny tiny frogs and toads.
Cheyenne makes a mean Bloody Mary, which is, in my opinion, best consumed on the lake.
It was such a great weekend- thanks to all the ladies (and Dan) for making it happen. We're hoping to go back in mid-late August!!
Eight years ago today, I gave birth to my amazing daughter. 40 years ago today, a man walked on the moon for the first time. It seems appropriate that these two dates coincide- from the first second I held my daughter, I felt like I was on another planet... Oh, motherhood...
Tonight we had dinner at my place, and we all sang Bowie's 'Space Oddity'.
When I am really pissed off, I kick things. Never when other people around, my sense of propriety is too great for such a show and tell display, but occasionally, when I'm walking down the street, I'll kick a fence, or a tire (oh, that feels good), or, at times, I'll just kick the air. When I was 15, I kicked a fence and it ended up sticking into my leg... Still have the scar.
On my way back from dropping off Anevay at soccer camp, I kicked a tire- unfortunately, kicking things while wearing sandals is not a good idea. I ended up banging up my foot a bit, but the ridiculousness of the escapade gave me the giggles, and then a laugh.
I laughed all the way to C-Town (the only grocery store around here open early in the morning). Inside, I dropped my brand new cooler, full of batteries and bug spray, onto my already hurtin' toes- that's when I really started to laugh. 'Cause you know what? I'm going camping, and it's going to be AWESOME, and my little tantrums are silly, and I'm silly for getting so angry over not having money/job/stuff.
During some of the more trying times of my life, I'm followed by birds. Not just any birds, but big ones- birds of prey.
This made sense in Wisconsin- where I lived before New York. When I was pregnant with Anevay, I sometimes took off in my car, far away from Madison, and took long hikes through the woods. I saw Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Cooper Hawks. Others, too, but I've never been able to remember the names of species. One of my favorite places to go was Ferry's Bluff, an extraordinarily beautiful place that I used to climb so that I could look out over the Wisconsin River. I saw many pairs of Bald Eagles there, just as I did in Iowa, where I visited some huge resevoir with Anevay's dad, just a few months before she was born.
But the birds started appearing in the city, too. I woke one morning and looked out my window to stare into the eye of a hawk. I lived on the second floor of a house on a busy street, a couple blocks away from the fire department. Not a usual place to see hawks. This bird came back to visit many times.
And then there was the time I was driving and a hawk swooped directly down in front of my car to grab a mouse. I nearly hit the thing.
Don't even get me started about my weird experiences with crows... Not exactly big birds of prey, but very communicative beasts....
I have so many stories from this period, but among the most amazing are my encounters with Golden Eagles, a bird rarely seen in Wisconsin. I used to take my dogs to the water every morning to swim (I lived on the isthmus, a few blocks away from Lake Menona). One morning I got to the park and Sasha, the smarter of my two pups, got all growly. I looked across the grass and saw a groundhog- not unusual, I know, only in the next second, a Golden Eagle swooped from the sky and grabbed it. It was amazing. After this, I saw these giant birds (their wing span is just bigger than that of a Bald Eagle) everywhere. Not only during the mornings, by the water, but once over a golf course where I attended a wedding, and once by a very busy university hangout area called the Union. And all the while, the hawk visited me, up until a week before Anevay was born, when I moved from my apartment.
Because of these strange encounters, I nearly named Anevay 'Peta', which is a Blackfoot name meaning 'Golden Eagle'. I realized, however, that she would get terribly teased, and that people would pronounce the name as they do the acronym PETA.
Here in NY, I've also had my experiences with big birds. The first was up at Columbia. I was going though a particularly trying time, and was trying my best not to bawl like a baby while sitting under a tree by the journalism building, when a hawk swooped out of nowhere and picked up a mouse from the grass about ten feet away.
I've been in somewhat of a state lately- and again the birds have appeared. I've seen the one in the picture above every day this week, right here in Williamsburg. Yesterday it followed Anevay and I home for a bit, flying from tree to tree over McCarren Park.
Not to sound like I'm nuts, but there's something really comforting about seeing these birds. I'm really in the moment when I see them, and forget about my money woes, job search, aggrevations. I'm not one to talk about animal spirit guides, but there have been a couple of times when I've thought something weird was happening...
Today I leave for the Catskills to go camping. Looking forward to seeing whatever I'll see. Wonder if there will be some big birds waiting for me.
A few days ago I stood in my kitchen, ready to wash the dishes, and instead, leaned over the sink and had a panic attack. I'm not prone to this sort of thing. I used to get them in high school, but I attribute that to drinking/smoking/partying too much. A couple of weeks ago I had a rough night of nightmares, and a panic attack such as I've never had. Once the feeling abated, I was filled with an even greater dread- I finally admitted to myself that although I'm enjoying many aspects of my unemployment, the logistics of being poor are suffocating, and I seemed to have reached a low mental point...
I've worked hard this summer on my various projects, and am just steps away from finishing my book. Great, yes, but baby, I need some fucking cash. Just a little bit. Enough to pay my bills would be nice.
I'm not feeling sorry for myself- it's more I'm carrying a weight- a feeling, I suppose- the idea that I need to keep looking over my shoulder, as though some great maw is opening behind me, like Big Brother only uglier, blacker, much more subtle.
When I was a kid- actually, well into my twenties- I felt as though I was always being watched. This belief made me want to believe in God, it gave me a conscience and made me always feel judged. It didn't help that I read far too much philosophy- most of which now gives me hives (although yes, I still have a soft spot for Deleuze). Soon after I moved to New York, I got over myself very quickly. Whether it was the shock and joy of moving to the city, or moving away from an abusive relationship, who knows- it doesn't really matter. All I know is that I thought I was hot shit for most of my life, and all of a sudden I began to relish moments in which my image didn't matter. It was incredibly liberating. It meant that for the first time, I was able to enjoy people- really, REALLY enjoy them. I no longer felt pushed to finish a book before I turned 30 (Someone I once knew told me that when one didn't produce a great work before the age of 30, he or she was already finished... I was insecure enough to believe this). I no longer felt I was the smartest person on the planet. What a relief.
I've enjoyed the last few years of my life- thought about things that ultimately don't matter a little less, let go of some of my heady excitement to enjoy the way my body felt, and simply let myself live a little more. I've been, dare I say, happy...
Which is why my recent moments of panic piss me off. I'm not so young that I still feel dramatic about all of it- and I don't feel grossly important enough to feel as though I'm always alone (Although we're each of us alone, right? The one existential adage I return to was said by Sartre: We're all condemned to freedom). I just desire to move on to the next step, and I'm feeling impatient.
New decision- learn to deal with all of this a bit more constructively, which means to loosen my attachment to that giant, invisible, and totally nonexistent masticating maw I've managed to construct over my shoulder. 'Cause no one, as far as I know, is out to get me. I need to remember that.
If it doesn't work- if I'm not able to meditate/sob/scream/bitch/kick the shit out of the ugly oogly booglies/voices in my head, then someone out there better help me get a job, and pronto.
Amid the stress of job searching and the joys of book writing and art making, Anevay and I have discovered a new passion... the ukulele! Last week we visited Bruno and I became slightly obsessed with his new instrument.
Nice thing is, I picked up two of them for about half the price of a guitar (which is what Anevay had asked for her upcoming birthday).
Unfortunately, Anevay was already asleep when the following video was made. It's possible that it's the worst rendition of Build Me Up Buttercup ever recorded. Thanks to Tricia and Hermann Vessey for all of their help with the video, and for giving me a laugh, and thanks Bruno, for giving me the inspiration to become the phenominal musician you see below.
My friend, Kiki, took me on a short trip to Atlantic City. We hopped on a Greyhound Bus here in NY with a bunch of people who looked pretty down-and-out, and exited on what felt like another planet... Many of the people who go to A.C. are incredibly obese, heavy drinkers, and I got the feeling that gambling was the least of their worries... Being in NY, I often forget about 'Middle America', that term that loosely describes traditional, conservative, middle-to-lower classes working families. The entire experience was fun, but incredibly strange...
Kitsch, all the way... Hotels often have themes, which, I suppose, are meant to make their guests impressed by an opulance by which they are not accustomed. Over-the-top mirrors, lights, glitz...
And yet all of this glitz only covers up the Atlantic City of yester-year. There are signs of older times everywhere. Many businesses along the boardwalk don't even bother to take down the signs of their predecesors, but hang new ones directly over them. Above and below, the remnants of an old concrete dock.
And a decrepid, unused billboard- it looks like it hasn't been touched for many years. Amid the hubub of the boardwalk, one barely notices the thing is there.
New construction are going up all over the place. Apparently the poor economy doesn't stop people from gambling. I wonder how many people on the verge of losing their homes make a trip to Atlantic City to try their luck at the tables?
There are three groups of people who go to Atlantic City... Young families, partiers, and the elderly. Kiki and I walked into one bathroom where there were, no joke, about thirty-five ladies over the age of 75.
Every other storefront on the boardwalk advertizes henna tattoos. If I had to choose one, perhaps it would be the Snoopy with the sunglasses? And you?
We stopped at an outdoor bar on the boardwalk that had Jagermeister and Absolute shots all ready to go. No, we did not partake.
The bar had an Anthrax cover band. It was about 2 in the afternoon, but they were playing for the small crowd as though they were playing at night to thousands of people in a mega-stadium. The beach is rather lovely.
Relaxing, post hot tub, sauna, steam room, pool, and shower. About to leave for dinner...
Should a girl worry when the bathroom at the restaurant has a giant crab on it?
Below is a picture of the place we stayed. There were huge clouds in the sky, illuminated by all the lights of Atlantic City.
We ended the night at a bar inside the casino, and watched the worst band on the planet. They were so bad, I had a hard time taking my eyes off of them.
This couple seemed to really like the band.
The trip was so much fun- it was nice to get away with Kiki, have some great conversations, a few drinks, a great dinner, and pretty walks on the beach. I'm always disturbed, however, by gambling, it being an addiction my biological father dealt with (he worked at a Greyhound racing track for much of my life). I think gambling helps destroy many people's lives. I'm not talking about the uber wealthy, who have money to throw around, but people who don't have a lot of money, who dream about winning big, or winning anything at all. It makes me sad that luck is such a strange and disabling concept, which for gamblers, often does not manifest into anything besides more misery.
Anyway- big thanks to Kiki for giving me a getaway- it was fun to relax, and interesting to be so removed from my daily life.
I am Melissa Banigan. I've been many things under the sun, but am currently a single mom raising an amazing kid in Brooklyn, writing novels and short stories, and working on some art (canvases and paper). I also, under the moniker melifera, produce off-the-cusp embroidered clothing and bags.