Monday, March 13, 2006

What is this topsy-turvy world?

Go back with me. Way back. By my carbon-dating techniques, I'm going to say around a month and a half. Yes, we're talking ALL the way back, friends, to late January. It'll be alright, just bring some water rations and don't taunt the wild animals roaming about madly.

Look, there's Late January Me, sitting around the house bored out of my mind. My friends are traveling in London, Florida, California, or in the library studying for the February bar. Every last one of them. I'm unemployed every other week and - oh look - I'm climbing up the walls, literally. There are scratches all over them.

So I decide to Do Something. It had to be something I could do by myself, obviously, and something cheap or free, lest I be forced to sell a kidney for rent. As an avid DCist and DC Art News reader, I decided to take their weekly agenda advice and start going to some shows. I mean, I like art, right? I'm kind of a photographer myself - not exactly an artist, but I like to think it gives me a little bit of an increased perspective on the subject. Okay, maybe not, but why not give myself a little culture. For free! Plus, I live on U Street, it's not like I have to trek very far to find a gallery.

So I go to one. And of course I blog about it! If I'm going to blog about bugs in my oatmeal (I still get google hits all the time for that post) then, yes, I'm going to write about the art show I went to. Then I see another and another. All of which are linked to by this guy, who noticed me because I'd linked to him on this site a number of times.

Then, things start to get weird. Really Weird. As a result of my increased readership from those links, I get an email from this guy, who invites me to happy hour and promptly pimps me out as an "art writer" to every single one of these people who gets within ten feet of me. Time passes. An entire two weeks, if my calendar is winded properly. Suddenly I'm one of those people! I get press passes! I sit four chairs away from the WaPo art critic, who's review on the same show makes me SO MAD I'm spitting about it for hours. I'm an angry art critic! Is this the same girl who spent a summer assembling telescopes at Perkins Observatory in hopes of one day becoming the next Mission Control Commander for NASA? Is it the one who moved to DC out of a desire work her way up the ugly political ladder and be the liberal Peggy Noonan? How about the one who agonized through three years of law school just to become a glorified secretary?

Oh folks. We haven't hit the peak of sureality quite yet.

Someone has rationalized today that I'm one of the two "most widely read Washington-based online art writers on the planet."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lotto ticket to purchase.



Just a quick addendum. I wrote this rather flippantly, mostly due to plain old flabbergastiness on the whole subject -- in fact, it gave me flashbacks to that terrifying heat-flush I got every time I was singled out in Property class and asked, "Ms. Mylastname." One hundred faces turn to watch me squirm. "Why did the defendant's lose their right to the easement in Archaic v. AncientCase?" But in fairness to the artists I write about, I wanted to add that I take my reviews quite seriously. And who knew, but I actually have a degree in writing and have been published in a couple (far, far off the radar) magazines, and maybe more importantly, I have the patience to sit and think critically about something, so I'm not a totally unqualified hack. Not totally. I will, however, let Lenny explain to my editor that I haven't turned in a review in four months because I'm sitting paralyzed under the spotlight in front of my laptop.


At 10:42 PM, March 13, 2006, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:43 PM, March 13, 2006, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

thats awesome!

At 12:14 AM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

I can't say I'm not proud of you...frozen under the desk lamp or no. You're a great writer, you are informed, and I quite like your blog, no matter what you write about. It's about time everyone else knows what I know!

At 8:59 AM, March 14, 2006, Blogger elliott said...

go with it. Just don't forget us little people when you roll up to the galleries in your stretch hummer limo ;)

At 9:06 AM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Lenny said...

A liberal Peggy Noonan?

That's it!

At 10:42 AM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Chai said...

dont forget bout moi.

At 3:15 PM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

sorry chirashiisyummy - i deleted your comment only because i'd rather not have this blog coming up in google searches for my name. i realize my anonymity ship - which was tethered loosely to the harbor to begin with - sailed the minute lenny started linking to me by my last name, but keeping i'd still prefer to keep the hits down, if at all possible. so as to not be a total ass by deleting your comment, here was the rest of it:

"this is perhaps the time you take the leap and take a big risk. why not become an art writer? magazines and newspapers are always hiring young beat writers. do it!"

At 4:12 PM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

oh, and in response:

1) how do you know my full name anyway? does my middle name come up on google searches, or do i know you?

2) if it were that easy to get an art writing gig...well, let's just say it's not. first, as you might have heard, the WaPo - like most paper publications - is cutting way way down on staff and it's fairly likely the art coverage will be hit (despite the fact it's nearly decimated as it is). paper publications just aren't really hiring because they're all losing money hand over fist. in fact, that was the point of lenny's post that i linked to at the end - the fact that a totally-new-to-the-scene writer like myself is so high up on the ladder readership-wise is SOLELY because i write for a high-traffic website (not because i'm so brilliant) - and not for the WaPo or the City Paper. Finally, DCist likes that I'm a layperson, because that's my target audience there; I'm wholly unqualified to be critiquing art in any kind of bigger, historical context.

3) On the other hand, I would very much like to see if this could lead to some kind of a paying writing gig. We'll see if I can take this to the next step in time.

At 5:58 PM, March 14, 2006, Anonymous chirashiisyummy said...

no offense, but i think the blogger has some fuzzy math/logic with his calculations as to readership. and while i have no position on the washingtonpost critic, presumably experience, depth of knowledge, and perhaps training are all important to a certain extent. the linked-to blogger ignores all of that because he otherwise dislikes that critic. nonetheless, keep up the good work.

on a side note, i've noticed a sort of blase attitude by you about your job search. have more confidence. expect more struggle to get what you want. it's going to take something creative (a risk) to really do what you like. this includes cold phone calls, attending industry events, persistence. while newspapers definitely are at a turning point, they still need writers. the recent to-do at the washington post was early retirements etc. to get people off of health and retirement plans -- which are way costly. freelance and beat positions are still to be had. it seems like you have bought into reasons for things not to work out for you, and that's unfortunate.

pps (b/c you really care about my opinion). i'm against your india trip until you have your job situation worked out and at least 6 months expenses saved up -- otherwise i think it's too risky. what if the economy or the lawyer market tanks? why is it going to be easier to find a job after your trip? aren't more law grads going to be available then? why don't you find a job and then tell them you can start in a month, and take your trip before you start.

At 8:48 PM, March 14, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

Here's my two cents about Yummy's comment, and I'll keep it brief: I don't believe Heather's "blase" about her job search. I just don't think she feels it necessary to write about every agonizing detail on the blog. Fill in the blanks with your own imagination, or get to know Heather, and maybe then you can claim "blase" or not.

Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

At 11:10 AM, March 15, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

chirashiisyummy - as to your first paragraph, i think you're having trouble grasping both mine and lenny's point, but i'll leave it at that.

as to your "blase" comment - see roonie's response. or, i could start doing this:

"dear blog, last month i sent in 20 job applications. i got 2 rejections. the other 18 will never acknowledge my existance. the end." riveting.

thirdly, my decision to go to india has nothing to do with whether i think the market will be better when i come back. likely, it won't. but the longer i temp, the less marketable i become (except that it gives me time to round out my resume by volunteering in legal clinics and having my writing published), which is why i put a 1 year limit on it. as for my trip, well i figure, do it while i'm young, before i have a family, before i'm in some job where i can't do things like take an entire month off.

all of that being said, you never answered my question. i googled my name and nowhere does my middle name appear. and you seem to have quite the opinion for someone who's commented on my blog for less than a week, anonymously. so do i know you, or are you just positioning yourself to be my very first blog stalker?

At 9:27 AM, March 16, 2006, Anonymous Sylvie said...

If I were Heather, I would suspect that Yummy was my mother writing anonymously in hopes to convince me that living a practical life is better than living a passionate one. (i.e. find a job, save money, don't go on any trips...) That would solve the "how does she know my middle name" question. But then, my mom is crazy like that...

At 9:46 AM, March 16, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

Rest assured, my mom said "India! That's fantastic!" when I told her my plan. Though my mom does call me by my full name, so this must be some person who wishes they were my mom.


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