Monday, September 28, 2009

Validation Wanted

There have been so many failures over the past few weeks it's hard to decide where to even begin. That's what I get for being such a lackadaisical blogger: backlog. So we'll start with failure number one which is not posting all the time about what I'm thinking and I'm pretty much thinking about something relevant ALL the time! But I'm tired and not prone to the marathon posts that Jon-Barrett enjoys so I'm just going to stick to one thing that's been irking me for awhile.

I'm opening a business with some friends and we've been in the process for oh, about 7 months. And after 3 (or 4?) tentative opening dates I still have no idea when we're actually going to open. There have been many, many , many...many setbacks. And mistakes. A lot of them on my part which brings me to the crux of things.

I can't remember the last time I did something that I'm really good at.

How did that happen? It used to be that I only, exclusively ( with the exception of math) did things that I was good at and luckily that was a pretty long list. I won awards, got straight A's, had my name in the paper, got the part, got the guy and looked good while doing it. Certainly things started to change when I moved to LA, but there were still some things I excelled at. At least that's how I like to remember the past.

But as soon as I peek over the rose-colored glasses I can see that no matter what I've been doing or how much outside praise I've gotten, I've always been plagued by insecurity during the process. No matter how many roles I've done, each one is a new experience that leaves me completely humbled. Ditto that with pretty much anything challenging and/or worthwhile. I don't know why I thought opening up an ice cream shop would be any different. (I've actually always really wanted to own my own business. It was a childhood dream that started even earlier than my desire to be an actress, but my first entrepreneurial foray is not quite everything I pictured small business owning to be. Of course, then again, neither is being an *aspiring* actress.) Perhaps if I would set my sights lower then I could constantly feel in control. Which is oh, so tempting! But also totally lame.

So the discomfort of having to stretch oneself and grow in pursuit of a higher goal is clearly worthwhile - or at the very least necessary. But even if I accept that, what do I do in the meantime to get that occasional and very important sensation of being a Bad-Ass?! Take up kickboxing? What if I suck? In fact, learning anything new is completely out. So what does that leave? I just watched Julie & Julia this weekend. Maybe I should consider taking up baking again as I was always quite good at that...

I guess what I'm saying is that I have an idea in my head of the kind of person I want to be, the difference I want to make and the life I want to live - but what it takes to actually become that person...well, stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What to do now?

What to do now, after getting fired from my place of work for five years? It is very simple, find a job and stop complaining, right? But then that makes me just another guy who has been fired and being fired is not a desirable attribute on any resume. It is also the way in which I lost my job that I want...that I need to have more weight than maybe it does. I know I was a good worker, a hard worker. I know customers liked me and requested me and still ask about me. But wearing the title of "fired" has a stigma to it. Other employers are not a fan of that word no matter what the circumstances. They believe that whatever you did to get fired you might do at their establishment. I do not want to be the guy who was fired. That is why I keep coming back to the inane way in which I was let go.

For a few days after the incident, I was filled with a righteous indignation. I had been wronged by Jane Adams and Barney's New York. I wanted the world to know. I wanted the powers that be to see the can of worms they had opened. So I wrote and rewrote on my blog, on Facebook, and on twitter. There was a response. My friends and friends of friends came out in support agreeing how f-ed up the situation was and how I was the victim. It was brought to my attention that Michelle Focarazzo, the VP of customer service for Barney's, had been following me on twitter (@MMF0607) and that she was the one, after Jane Adams complained, who requested my managers let me go. I had to delete and block my mangers, some of whom are good friends, from my Facebook page because they were continuing to "monitor" my pages after I was no longer employed. I found out that they are prohibited to talk to me or have any contact with me, again these are friends of mine, some of them. The situation was serious it impacted my life. I needed it to be serious so I tried to sell the story and when that failed, I tried to give it away for free. No response.

I then started getting messages from those who believed I was at fault. That I should expect to get fired for writing on twitter. That I should lay off Jane Adams and Barney's. They were only reacting in accordance to what I had done to them. I started feeling guilty. I was the bad guy. I was the asshole, fixated on this poor woman who felt like I infringed on her privacy. In lieu of the numerous urgings from friends and strangers alike to publicize the incident and seek legal recourse, I kept quiet and tried to go on with my life. The internet buzz fizzled out, my time for vengeance had passed and I returned to being a guy who has been fired. I searched online hoping someone else would keep the flame burning for me so that I wouldn't feel fully implicated but still know I was supported. There was nothing.

I sent out resumes, I enjoyed my free time with my daughter and I waited for whatever was going to be next. I couldn't get away from the story, though. Aside from constantly thinking about it, I had to retell it to those who hadn't heard. Everyone I would run into wanted to know, "What happened?" I felt pathetic retelling it, even when their sympathy and support would pour out after hearing. I felt like those closest to me wanted me to stop talking about it. I wanted to stop talking about it even though it had only been a week since my termination. The financial implications of not having a job started to set in. I lost my health benefits, I couldn't afford to eat out, I had to stop bills from being automatically withdrawn from my account. I signed up for unemployment not thinking I would be accepted because of being fired. I was embarrassed at my situation.

Three things reinvigorated me. The first was getting a call from a reporter from to interview me for their technology page. My righteous fire ignited and I explained the whole story. Surprisingly he was sympathetic. He saw, I think, the ridiculousness of her complaining to get me fired. He asked me if I would have written what I had again knowing what the outcome would be. Of course I would! If I could, I would complain about every cheap, or nasty customer whom I had the displeasure of waiting on. My fire was raging. The story was going to be published. The second thing that got me going was reading about NFL players tweeting and how a policy had to be put in place to prevent the players from tweeting during a game. I wasn't alone anymore. Chad OchoCinco and I had a common quest, to freely express our opinions on a public forum. Although my 52 followers (which is more than double what I had before getting fired) does not compare to his 100,000 plus, our voices are still heard. The third thing was a combination of things. I returned to my acting class this week, having a lot of free time, to find support from my teacher and fellow students. I found out that other students working in the food industry in Beverly Hills had to sign confidentiality agreements before being employed, I never did. I also heard a story of a student who got drunk at his place of employment on his birthday and showed his penis and got a warning? I couldn't believe it. How ridiculous that he got a warning for that and I was fired for writing about a $3 tip.

Now, instead of being just another guy who got the axe, I have re-become the guy who got axed with a bigger axe of his own to grind. Look out Barney's New York! Beware Jane Adams! Where is the number for my lawyer? Where is that LA Times article? Where is my unemployment check? Where is my retribution?

Don't worry folks, this roller coaster is not over for any of us. Not as long as I have a voice.