What happened in 2005 was that I was on a rollercoaster going up, up, up and was, soon enough, on a rollercoaster going down, down, down, and I realized that I really had no control over the situation. That my good fortune wasn't because I was awesome and productive and my bad fortune wasn't because I was suddenly horrible and lazy. Things just changed and it was external to me. I worked for my success, but I would not have had it (or my subsequent failure) if not for random market forces that I had no sway over.
I think the major thing that happened at the cresting of that rollercoaster was that I stopped thinking of the things I did as being real and concrete. Most of the things I did started seeming pointless. I just do things. I'm waiting until something "catches" again. Until I'm making mad dough again, I keep considering everything I do to be "dicking around." Still, I keep doing things because that's all one can do.
And if it's all dicking around and nothing is "catching", the only way to evaluate it is based on how good I am at it and how much I do it. I am an artist in that I very occasionally create a piece of art. I am a designer in that I often design things. I am an comic actor in that I occasionally am in plays and they're usually comedies. I am a writer in that I write things. I am a housewife in that I keep house. I am an entrepreneur in that I have a business that still makes some money. I am maybe a cartoonist in that I've drawn cartoons, but I haven't in quite some time. None of these things feels any more "real" than the other. None of them seems to make a definitive "what I am."
I've spent a lot of my life "talking up" my modest accomplishments to make them seem important... usually more important than they were:
"Cartoonist A.V. Phibes has began publishing her comics in underground zines, and soon grew an enthusiastic internet following!"
"Artist A.V. Phibes has done illustrations for for Penguin Publishing, Andrews McMeel and Steve Madden Inc!* She has had 3 solo shows of her work and recieved a jury prize from the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival."
"Entrepreneur A.V. Phibes founded Evilkid Productions, a six-figure art licensing business that had products in Target, Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic!"
"Sideshow Performer A.V. Phibes has performed all over new york in venues such as the Slipper Room, The Cutting Room and Webster Hall, she also spent time on tour with the Modern Gypsies!"
"Actress/comedian A.V. Phibes has appeared in two off-broadway comedies!"
Hell, even writer A.V. Phibes "has been blogging since 2001, been published in the Audacity Productions "In the Works" anthology** and her one-act play "Grading on a Curve" has been staged in in the US and Hong Kong. Her work has been described by the the Dallas Morning News as "quite funny" and having "...lots of garrulous, good lines..."
And all of this feels like just anecdotal "stuff I did." None of it feels like I was doing it "for real" (except maybe the entrepreneur bit). Most of this was "dicking around." I have told people before: "The key to having an exciting life is omission. Omit everything except the exciting parts."
I still don't have the sense that I'm doing what I ought to with my life. And so that's how I came about to my previous thoughts: Since most of my credentials seem tenuous, if not borderline bullshit, do credentials even matter? Shouldn't we just consider what we're good at?
*Totally got this job because of nepotism.
**My friend published this and printed it at kinkos.