networking

What Did I Bet On in Vegas?

My boyfriend had a last-minute work trip in Vegas right before Thanksgiving, and I last-minute tagged along, for a flight price of $390. 

Casinos are weird. I had never been to Vegas, and I wasn’t ready for all the random slot machine tie-ins. Sex and the City? Game of Thrones? Ellen? Seinfeld??? 

I had not known how many brands were making money tying their name in with slot machines. Of all my vices, gambling is just not one of them. I felt a sense of power as I walked through the casino at The Mirage. Casinos take advantage of people with gambling addictions, and, if you look at the lights and the spectacle of The Strip, you know that was not built on jackpots, but instead on the wealth of all the losers.

In the ’70s, my mom bet on my dad in Vegas, eloped with him to the chapel across from the courthouse. They later lived there, and my mom told me one morning she saw a man in a three-piece suit, sitting on the curb, sobbing. She could tell he had lost it all.

What did I do in Vegas? I went to visit the offices of The Believer, a wonderful literary magazine, where someone I’d known in Seattle had moved to work for the organization that runs it. I brought them a copy of my book, and she thought one of the illustrations might be good for the magazine. Which would be crazy. (Networking!)

Then I met up with Paula Pant, who I know from my money writing world. She runs the Afford Anything podcast, and, since I was in town and right in front of her face, (networking!), she invited me to be on the podcast. I thought we were going to chat about writing, but instead she asked me about my whole financial past. I spilled it all, things I’ve written about here and there, but never blurted out in one hour. There were tears. Afterward I felt like and shaky, like I’d just been in a confessional for an hour. 

I don’t know how, but I think that podcast will lead to me writing my financial memoir. Maybe because saying it all out loud like that made me remember how much I want to write it down, tell the whole thing. 

We didn’t go to shows, I didn’t bet a single dollar. What did I bet on in Vegas?

Myself.

Anyone who works in the arts or in what they love is taking the biggest gamble there is in life, letting it all ride. 

Where Have You Been?: May 10th Not Monday Money Check-In

God everything’s a shitshow right now. An exciting, scary, pit-of-stomach, oh-my-heart shit show. Over the last month I’ve gone from San Francisco to New York, from the offices of The New York Times to free fancy dinners paid for by years of practicing writing to a housein the Catskills filled with badass women to my apartment wondering where I’ll get my next paycheck.

It was all “work.” Work in the sense that I was drumming up business, negotiating a raise with my steadiest freelancing client, brainstorming story ideas with two editors at The Times.

And none of it was “work.” It was not work in the sense that no one was paying me, except for the $500 speaking fee (poofed when I bought my flight and found a $50-a-night-room to stay in).

I finished my book on Tuesday, for which the two checks of $2,400 have long come and gone. I finished an essay I’ve been working on for months and submitted to Modern Love, but even if it gets accepted I’ll get $300 in, maybe, six months from now. Fuck Off Funds were in Cosmo and Glamour this month, for which I got $0.

I cannot cash my rent check on publicity, or connections, or exposure. They will pay off, someday. But I have $285 after my rent check clears (and I cannot, cannot bounce it again), and really no solid idea of where my next check will come from.

So today is spent hustling, and I will just keep bouncing back.

I so believe, more than ever, that I am on the verge. I will be paid well within the next few years. The book will give me a platform to make more money. Those stories will be published in The Times.

But damn, shit feels real right now.