Falling With Style: Keeping One Eye On My Goals And The Other On … Everything Else

Helen Laroche, better late than never… 

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.

-Robert Frost

So, I started my Starbucks job this week.

I have a confession to make. I have never had a foodservice or retail job (though I realize Starbucks does not quite qualify for either of those), and before this, the only job I had with early morning shifts was a cushy university service desk job in the dead of summer — my customers were few and far between. The job involved a lot of surfing the internet and using the copier for personal projects.

After a week working the opening shift, which encompasses this store’s peak and where my lunch break is at 9:30am, I … am full of feelings.

On the one hand, I am absolutely blown away by the energy and camaraderie that goes into making the bar work. Everyone appeared to be selfless and constantly moving — in a smooth, well-oiled way, not a frenetic one. I got the feeling that everyone worked selflessly because, it was implied, that useless fat would be trimmed off, and not just by the manager. Somewhere down the line, you’ll need someone else’s help. And if you haven’t built up good karma, there will be no one willing to help you. (Not a bad life lesson, either!)

In the midst of this display, it really became apparent to me how lazy I generally am. I can be sort of a slob. (In college one time, I was forced to do laundry because literally every piece of clothing I owned was on the floor. And we had a washer/dryer set in the apartment. I’m getting better, but I’m still far from spic or span.) I tend to rely heavily on others, especially in moments of crisis. I sort of tune out of my own life. So I can see how working at a place like Starbucks might be a great kick in the psychic ass.

On the other hand, working 2.5 jobs on top of trying to make some art feels like it will be hard to keep up. Even this week, the art suffered. (Case in point: this column, which is a day late. Fail.) I look at upcoming auditions and wonder: “is it worth staying up to prep when I could just sleep? Man, I miss sleep.” So the number of jobs and their ratio to art creation are still up in the air. I don’t want to forget what’s important to me. I don’t want to forget that my survival jobs are in service to my art.

Ultimately, I keep myself on track by having a (www.sayshelen.com/2012/08/8-simple-steps-to-becoming-professional.html) list of goals that I wrote for myself. As new performing opportunities come up, I check them against this list of goals that I made — does the opportunity sound like something I’d really like to do; i.e. does it match up with a goal on the list? Or am I just grasping for something to do? I find that, when I am honest with myself while writing the goals, and then patient with myself when waiting (www.sayshelen.com/2012/09/waiting-for-fat-pitch.html), I am not disappointed.

Indeed, today I booked my first play, which will run in late January. Patience led me to that booking, as I had already auditioned for a number of shows in that slot. And patience and honesty will lead me to finding the right ratio of survival jobs to art in my life.

Helen Laroche is a Bay Area actor and singer. She can make you a 5 shot venti soy half-caf no whip salted caramel mocha. Learn about upcoming performance dates at www.helenlaroche.com.