Let’s talk about these crowded trains, 3:45 AM alarms, coworkers who have been overdue for a vacation for 5 years, coffee that costs $5, skipping your lunch break, 11 hour overnight shifts, + men with beards telling me how to style bras with lace thongs. I moved to New York City at 18 after growing up watching these glamorous films of people that freelance 3 hours a day and can afford manhattan lofts and going around grabbing drinks + shopping all day. It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
I work as a visual merchandiser at the largest Victoria’s Secret in the world. It’s one of the few jobs in the world you are encouraged to wear fake eye lashes, excessive acrylic nails, and expose your lingerie. I started as the sales associate that you hated every time you walked into any store and got attacked with perfume and sales promotions. I did that for 7 months until I was promoted to this new position. I thought it was fantastic – the visual team walked through the store with iPads in their all black outfits discussing the appearance of the store with such intensity. I needed to be apart of this exclusive club of styling mannequins that everyone dreamt of joining. There is a whole art to making people empty their bank accounts on glittery lingerie and perfumes that smell like britney spears. Little did I know I would be committing to the same sleeping schedule as a construction worker and working overnight shifts that almost drive me to psychosis.
The second extreme of my life is the business I run on the side. I have an e-commerce business selling painted leather jackets and shoes. These aren’t practical everyday items – they are the definition of Bushwick hipster graffiti-inspired metallic pieces for the lovers + dreamers that wish they were born in the 80’s. I go from visual merchandising for the monopoly of lingerie in the busiest shopping area in America to selling one-of-a-kind underground artistic designs to musicians in Brooklyn. I suppose you could say I have a split personality. It gets confusing working for a Manhattan corporate conglomerate, and then running back to the edgiest neighborhood in Brooklyn to paint jackets inspired by underground culture and rebellious artists.
When I started my job at Victoria’s Secret, I began to lose myself in the formulaic corporate pool of expectations and lack of creativity. All of my art and business started to make real money. I was suddenly contributing to society but in the least creative way possible. The sadness lies where I began to miss the opportunities to speak my voice with complete uninhibited boundaries. I started escaping to Cafe Reggio in the lower east side thinking I was one of the Beats running away from my own success in order to feel like I wasn’t 19 and having a mid-life crisis. I always admired Lucien Carr, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg solely for their lack of boundaries in their creative horizons. They wrote for the sake of revolution. All I craved after I got promoted and started finding success in my own business was to release. Tension would build up every time one of my many bosses asked me to redo, undo, or completely erase the 12 hours of work I would commit to each project. I occasionally manage to lose myself in a relationship where we watch Taxi Driver while drinking gin and quote the beats in bars late at night. Yes – you could say its an unconventional relationship where we collaborate on films together about psychopaths. It’s true love and I knew it ever since he exposed his obsession with Junji Ito.
Now, here I am in my hole-in-the-wall Bushwick kava bar drinking my 6th cup of coffee and writing this blog. Only, I’m not sure how soon I can fall asleep tonight to rise with the construction workers in order to style bras and underwear at 6 AM tomorrow morning.