“Since I don’t know of a clear way to make more, I am going somewhere where the same amount hopefully buys more.”
“Are you afraid of getting burned?” asked my supervisor as I gingerly lifted a floppy, undercooked crêpe with a spatula. I looked at it with dismay as it fell apart. She swept it off to the side with one long motion of her own spatula, greasing the griddle again. “I’m not,” she said as I struggled to spread the thick buckwheat batter evenly on the huge griddle.
I got my first ever paying job through a family friend. My mom’s college friend ran a (now defunct) television production company specializing in lowbrow A&E Biography specials (RIP), afternoon cooking shows for the Food Network, and occasional documentaries for HBO. I was shy and willing to earn minimum wage spending all summer inside, reading the internet. My first summer, I pitched subjects for a Biography special on murderers. I spent a lot of time on Crime Library, got familiar with the filming policies for both federal and assorted state prisons, and eventually one of my suggestions became a TV episode! “First Person Killers: Ronald DeFeo,” (about the guy who inspired The Amityville Horror) aired sometime in 2006, and I have still never seen it.
If you had asked me in the summer of 2011 where I thought I’d be in a year, I would have said living a queer artist’s life in San Francisco, “writing” my dissertation. Instead, I spent the summer of 2012 moving my parents out of their retirement property in South Florida — think Boca but not nearly as bougie — and bringing them back to New York, where my brother and I had grown up.
I was socialized to be a super achieving person who does great things and makes lots of money. I was one of the “smart” ones in my class, so I thought I had to be a doctor. I never really considered anything else until I went to college. And then I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor, but maybe a teacher (there’s my gut!). But my parents said something along the lines of, “We’re not paying for you to go to Cornell to be a teacher.”