Last night I got the weekly email: I've sold 88 albums this week for a grand total of 3,863 albums sold since my release date on February 12th. I've basically just told you how much I weigh and every dirty little secret I have.
Unless you are celebrating CD sales with a gold record in your hand- there is really no need for anyone to strut their numbers, especially numbers this paltry.
I laid in bed- refusing to cry.
But then it occurred to me that one time, when I was doing a wrapping paper fundraiser for middle school choir, I was desperately trying to win a plastic helmet that had a fan and flashlight attached to the top and a swirly straw that wraps around your entire head and lands in your drink- and I am sure I sold way more than $3,860 then.
The tears came.
I've sold more boxes of girl scout cookies.
Yesterday I crunched numbers. How much it costs to travel to where I am going, how much I pay the people who play the music for me on stage, how much for a hotel room. I think I've already lost money well into September. How is that possible- you wonder with shock? Last summer I was asked to perform before the headlining artist at a festival. They raved about how many people would be there and who I would be exposed to. Plus opening for the biggest of the best. They could pay me $750. That didn't include travel or lodging. And it didn't include my personal cost: paying a guitarist. Paying 15% to the booking agency who would handle the contract, who gets 15% of every show no matter what. And 15% to the managers who so bravely manage me. I would have gone in the hole by over $750. The girl booking the event later told me the headlining act was paid $45,000. And that was rock bottom for the artist.
So I crunched numbers yesterday and realized that I won't make money until September and even then it's a gamble. Then I got the email telling me how many albums I haven't sold. And I laid in bed and refused to cry. And then the image of that hat. That twirly gig hat from the 5th grade came and ruined it all.
I laid in bed crying my eyes out.
Now what? What do you do when Plan A or B or C (or plan Q in my case) just seems to be hitting a dead end? For those of you who have followed my journey the past few years- you should know- I am still in the middle of the becoming. Putting 38 minutes of music down on an album didn't fix it. Didn't tidy everything up. It wasn't the clear-cut, decisive, Ah-Ha moment at the end of the desert that I had hoped for. I am closer, to be sure. There are all sorts of slivers and glimmers of light and answers and new ways and new life- but nothing fully formed yet. Answers don't come quickly. And even when you endure being nine months pregnant- labor and give birth to the baby- it's still months before they smile and years before their personality is decisively theirs. Even after the new thing arrives- you are still waiting. Still nurturing every moment because it leads to the next.
You are not alone in your waiting. I've heard about this couple who wanted to have babies so bad and were basically dead by the time they finally got pregnant. Mind you- they ushered in the birth of an entire nation that would change history forever- but the WAITING. OH THE WAITING.
So I am still in between. Still trying to figure out what happens next. And when? And why doesn't the current gig seem to really be taking off? And was I created for something more? Something different? Something better? And when- oh when- will I see the finish line? And for God's sake don't tell me there isn't one until heaven. Really. You really think that is what a lost, waiting person wants to hear? It's just all wrong turns and deserts and half dreams till you die baby. All halfsies and everything. See you in the promised-land!
Just tell me it's coming. Like Jesus does. The next step is coming. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living is real. Old people have babies and young people change the world and middle people- like me- dream new dreams and take new adventures and get used up and spilled out and re-created a million times before the other side of eternity. Tell me that.
Back to the bedroom last night. I cried. And then- like usual- decided it was time for me to fix it once and for all.
I got on Monster.Com followed by Indeed.com. For two hours last night I searched for a job. A real life grown-up person job.
Let me tell you what- if you are a phlebotomist, you're in luck. Apparently we need about 800 of them in this city. I've ruled out the Staff Scientist position at Vanderbilt. What is that- your token scientist? All I could envision was a room full of English professors and regents and then one frizzy-haired, white coat, crazy-eyed scientist lady who was running around the room laughing an evil laugh. Dollar General needs a merchandise designer. I could totally color-coordinate that store like Charming Charlie's. Dave Ramsey is hiring lots of people right now. But I didn't see my ideal job. If I'm going to work for Dave Ramsey, I wanna be his hype man. Just dark glasses and a turn table and my head bobbing all gangster style. The church jobs stare at me. I give them the evil eye. I refuse! Still, I spent a good chunk of time studying churches all over the country who are hiring-specifically churches along the ocean- because someone has to do it.
My friend, who is having a similar life crisis said that the guy spraying for bugs in her house yesterday told her she is always welcome to come work the front desk at the pest control place. There is nothing wrong with pest control. Truly. But for 12 years she has pursued her life's dream- shall it all end with 'Do you want to add roach repellent to that? And how about a mouse trap with your order?'
I hope not.
So the fighting and the waiting and the angst of figuring it all out rages on.
Waiting is a privilege that only the rich enjoy. It is a luxury for those of us not fighting to feed, clothe and educate ourselves and our babies. So in the middle of the angst- there is this:
I recorded an album and some radio stations played my songs. That is what some girls around the world can only ever dream for while they hang on for dear life and fight to survive.
This whole 'Waiting on becoming who God has created you to be and do and become' it is a luxury that generations before us have not enjoyed and a reality that people living in poverty have no concept of. There is no "waiting" when you have to kill a chicken to feed your family or walk three miles to fill up jerry cans with water or wait in line for hours on end hoping to see a free doctor because your sick baby needs medicine.
If you have options on the table- you are among the world's most rich. So I will count myself as blessed beyond measure.
Blessed. Beyond. Measure.
We wait as privileged people. I wait as a privileged person. Refusing to get too lost in the narcissism of a life that only swirls around my own dreams. Refusing to be too pitiful over the privilege of waiting and figuring things out little by little. Refusing to be a phlebotomist. Refusing to hand too many nights over to the fact that I've sold more girl scout cookies than I have albums.
Refusing to do anything but get up each day- sit on this porch- have a cup of coffee- listen for God's voice- and then keep moving into the vast- privileged-unknown of this life.