Thursday, November 4, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

   These are strange times.

   I remember when my ex and I watched George Bush win the Presidential election. After turning off the TV, he said that he was scared... REALLY scared! He explained that Bush could do some serious damage to our country. Damage that we may not be able to recover from.

   Remember the 80s? So carefree and fun. Before cell phones and texting, CDs and iPods. Before the internet.... I was in college, so maybe my view of the 80s is slightly skewed.

   My art colleagues and I worked hard. Paid our dues, working 2 jobs at a time. Learning as much as we possibly could about graphic design, painting, and animation. We were treated badly, but we enjoyed the work and the chaotic studio environments. There was a steady paycheck! Art openings were celebrations of our burgeoning talent and we cheered each other on.

   At the animation studios, we played tricks on each other, had margarita lunches, and went skydiving on the weekends.
It was easy to save money.... No house, kids, marriage. Just a clunky Chevy Corvair that broke down every few hundred miles. A cheap house rented with a friend in East LA.

   Although we played hard, we took our work very seriously, quickly moving up in the animation business and gaining attention in the editorial world. Producers and small studio owners noticed our talent right away and paired us up with teams of animators that you could learn from, and vice versa. It was intense work. Hands and fingers were always sore from drawing. Constant changes and revisions from directors. Re draw, re draw, re draw.... Every day. Then paint large at night for the next art show.

   Slowly we moved up to supervisor positions. Art Director, Assistant Director.... Then more stress, more work, more responsibility. More notoriety, more stress.
I guess we were growing up.

   Marriage, kids, and a beautiful home. A nice salary to pay for trips back East. We could SAVE for the first time in our lives. Start IRAs, investments, and buy life insurance. We were beginning to look like real, live, functioning adults while balancing work and family.


   Then the economy... No jobs!

   Cut back, cut back, cut back.

   Lose the house.

   Cut back, cut back.....

   Scramble for work....

   Finally a job.
   Back to square one. Back to low pay, back to being treated like an 20 year old.
   The experience of my co workers is astounding. But, we are widget makers. Widget makers that do beautiful work.


We have lost 20 years of investing in our future. Forever.   
We are aware of EVERYTHING we have lost ... OUCH!

I am grateful for my work and my healthy children.
My husband and I work very hard to support our family and we are lucky to have jobs. Some are not as fortunate as we are.

   But, where are we going now?
   Do we storm the banks and get our money back?
   Do we storm people's homes who profited on our losses?
   Or live in a hut in Tahiti and make cool touristy magnets? (that sounds pretty good)

When I was young I never thought that I would have so much success in my career.
At my age now, I can't believe that I've lost what I worked so hard for.
I know this is a familiar tale. And there are far worse stories than mine, but it is awful nevertheless.
I have some hope left that things will turn around for us materialistic Americans.
Maybe we needed to find out what life is really like.

   The banks and the President talk about getting our economy on track by getting consumers back out spending money. Isn't that the problem? Consuming? Do we really need one more cup holder in our 15 cup holder SUV that sits in traffic in a snow-less Los Angeles? Or a 4,000 square foot home for a couple who never wants to have a family? How many TVs do we need in one house? How many iPods does each child really need?  It's as if a materialistic fairy put a spell on all of us and made us believe that we need THINGS...
More things to take us away from looking into our spouses eyes, or playing hide and seek with our kids. We can watch TV shows about fictional families playing with one another and live vicariously through them. They even have sex so we don't have to!

I hope we can find ways to earn money without making more useless crap. That will be the next great invention.... a new concept we Americans have never thought of.... I cannot imagine what that would look like.

Let's hope it happens soon!


  1. Aw, heck, I would not call you a "materialist." Lots of what Americans buy is stuff you have to have to get by. They used to call computers, cell phones, fax machines, and other technology "luxuries." Try to get a job and stay in the loop without them, though. The cup holders are for when we don't have the money to get what we really need but have no other outlet to alleviate the stress than to buy some little reminder that we are worth something. You worked too hard to have no security, cup-holders notwithstanding. We all did. The game was rigged against us. And it got moreso all the time. Great blog as usual.