Fake It Til You Make It

Ima hustler homey, you a customer crony. Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off fo me?

One ever present component of the endless, mindless banter which runs in my head (a dialogue with no one but my alter egos) is the ridiculously bombastic remarks. According to one of my personalities, I totally get Kanye West, y’know, cuz we’re like, the same person. Not really of course (I mean, he’s East coast for goodness’ sake and I’m from Cali), but he knows he’s the shit and he’s not afraid to speak the truth. Just like moi, but with considerably shorter stacks of cash.

This voice cracks me up constantly and you will find me giggling to myself like a crazy person, especially whilst doing some kind of repetitive task like polishing silver or data entry. I think this alter ego came about from my years of working as a yacht stewardess. From the outside, it looks like an awesome, glamourous gig, I mean, you live on on yacht worth something like $10 million and your boss is probably on the Fortune 500 list. And if you’re really lucky, some snot-nosed, new money chump will charter the boat and do something stupid, like boast about having banged Paris Hilton just before he upchucks Cristal all over the poor Russian hooker. This will give you fodder for sitting at the pub for weeks afterwards ripping this trainwreck apart with your mates (this is assuming you’ve got any time off between the 100 hour work weeks) and giving you that warm, brothers-in-arms comraderie that at the end of the day, is the only thing that makes that job doable. Well that and the fat tip the chump left you because he (rightly so) felt a little sheepish seeing you delicately dabbing his puke out of the stupid expensive, cream-colored, silk fiber carpet. It’s these times of moping up puke or wiping pubes off the bathroom floor or ironing someone’s pillow case for the third time that day because for heaven’s sake, it cannot be wrinkled, that you just have to turn to yourself and say “You jus jealous cuz I make this look goooood”. And then giggle alone like an insane person while trying not to retch at the puke smell.

It works well when I’m trying to push myself through a workout as well. Who’s gonna run this town tonight?, you ask, Rihanna. Why me of course; I’m dat bitch.

And right now, at this time in my life, I need to be that super confident person more than ever because I’ve finally started to put my life back on track. Let me explain.

I went to school (and a darn good one at that) for environmental sciences, but I’m a pretty rootless wanderer and strayed from that path a long time ago. I almost settled down once. After a year’s jaunt to the remote Pacific to live with “the people” and be an elementary school teacher in a building where the roof was caving in, the woefully irrelevent textbooks filled the holes in the floorboards so the kids would stop falling in, and there was no electricity (or chalk for that matter), I almost took up a normal life. Granted I picked a city on a map of America I’d never been to, packed up my little car with as many of my worldly possessions as would fit, and drove across the country to maybe live with a roommate I met on Craigslist (he turned out to be a wonderful human being and a great friend and not an ax murderer, by the way). Did I mention I had no job and no money? Well I did eventually get a job at an excellent consulting firm doing mostly skull-numbing desk work in a dreary, grey suburb. Three months into that, I got a text message from my chef sister in France asking if I’d like to drop everything I was doing, come work on yachts, travel the world for a while and get paid waaaaay too much money to do laundry. Twenty five wasn’t my brightest age so I said yes (bien sur!). What was meant to be a summer job, ended up being a four-year career and try as I might, getting back into my old line of work proved incredibly more difficult than my 25-year old self had ever imagined.

Luckily my 29-year old self is somewhat more clever (god I like to think so, but sometimes not) and I did actually manage to land an excellent and super challenging position as a communications assistant for an organization in the Caribbean. Awesome right? Except I’ve just spent four years learning how to get red wine stains out of Roberto Cavailli dresses and how to organize the hell out of a cleaning cupboard (yes I have 17 types of stain removers and I know how to use them all). I’ve never been a communications anything. Didn’t study it, don’t know how to do it. I haven’t even figured out how to make this blog visually appealing yet (please forgive me for that). I started it because I frankly need to learn how to use this internet thingy for more than facebook-stalking ex’s and the occasional funny cat video. I mean, I haven’t even had TV since probably the mid-2000’s. I can’t figure out my sister’s digital satellite TV with it’s four different remotes. She likes to tease me by trying to introduce me to the “Moving Picture Box”, said very slowly with a comforting hand placed on its slim side. I smirk and respond with something like “It’s so darn skinny, how do they fit all dem people in thar?” Nine hundred channels and I can’t find anything but Kardashian crap and infomercials; how on earth am I going to master this social and traditional media thing?

Add into that the fact that despite what the job desciption says, I DO need to learn a whole new language (or even two, there’s a crazy local creole here as well!) because intercontinental communication is pretty much the name of the game. Plus I’ve decided that I need to “expand my horizons” and “take advantage of my situation” and all that crap so now add getting my PADI advanced scuba certification in there, taking up mountain biking, and maybe salsa dancing. Luckily all these things distract me from the fact that my love life has swirled the bowl and gone down that drain, but anyway….

I got this job because I basically whored myself out to a similar organization (and I mean that in the best way possible, I loved every minute of it, but I pretty much forced myself upon them and said “Make me your bitch! I want to learn and I will do anything”) just to get my foot in the door and gain some skills. But my style was pretty old school. I got things done by knocking on doors, sitting in receptions day after day, or in last ditch efforts, figuring out which car the person I needed to speak with drove and camping myself out next to his Toyota like a stalker until I finally got my man. My flyers were designed by myself, in Paint, and looked strangely similar to the pictures I used to make in KidPix when I was 8. But it worked. It really worked. I actually pulled off that whole grassroots gumption thing and I was so proud at the end, I could have melted when the fundraising check was handed over to the NGO manager live on the radio.

But this is a whole different animal. The rules are different, the players are different. I might try to look all put-together and professional with my new thick-rimmed spectacles, but the Birkenstocks give it away. I’m a hippy who can’t work a Moving Picture Box. And I need to figure out how to please some very very tough customers and perform a job I’ve never done in my life, but not in the way I’m used to. Working hard is no problem, it’s working smart that is going to be trickier, and I’m only so clever.

So I’ve decided to fake it ’til I make it and hope to God I pull it off and get offered a permanent contract. I’m only on a trial contract and I’d say my future hangs in the balance. I know for a fact several people that came before me got the ax. So this means I bring my work home with me quite often, or I spend my weekends trying to learn Dutch and write profound and provocative proposals. Unfortunately four years of living an erratic lifestyle (oh who am I kidding, an entire erratic adulthood) has completely ruined my attention span and I have so. much. to. learn.

I’ve never listened to a podcast in my life, but I’m starting to get savvy with ones relevent to my field (suggestions welcome!). WordPress is another one of those things I’ve got to learn. I can’t even get the printer to do what I want it to most of the time. Sometimes I hiss Office Space-reference laced threats to the HP 3650 whilst standing three inches from it, just to make sure it doesn’t eff this print job up again and waste yet more paper (I’m so sorry trees). I’m learning the jargon too, slowly. Things like “targeted focus group”, “compelling content”, and “intended impacts”. But it’s hard to pretend like you know something and at the same time frantically try to make that true before anyone figures out the dirty fact that you don’t.

Luckily all the rappers of the world got my back (except Pitbull, he can sod off. I love Miami and he is soiling it. That guy can’t even spell swagger let along wear it). Flo Rida sings in my head daily “Cain’t see me with ten bi-NOK-luurs!” Sometimes I even wake up in the morning and give myself a checklist. 1) Brush teeth 2) Put on trainers and run like hell 3) Be AWESOME all day 4) Brush teeth again, and try not to forget to floss this time. I don’t always achieve my list, in fact, I feel like I rarely do, but I will keep telling myself I do. I might only run three miles and it kills me, but I tell myself I’m well on my way for that NYC marathon. And my thoughts and ideas and proposals may be cock-eyed and half-formed, but I tell myself if I just keep putting in the time and effort to do the research and revise, one day I will put something on my boss’ desk that will actually make her believe she’s hired the right chick for the job.

And while my head gets filled with the many tasks I’m juggling, I’ve luckily found my newest creative outlet (and you’re reading it, woohoo!). In all those years of running around (or maybe even from) the world, I almost forgot how good it feels to write and to create and to put beautiful words to beautiful paper and think beautiful thoughts you’ve never thought up before. And in time I’ll get the rest down and when that happens, man I tell you what, I’m gonna shine so big and bright you couldn’t see me with a hundred binoculars.

At least that’s what my homeboy Flo Rida might say.

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About stephelwa

Everyday I'm hustlin'
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One Response to Fake It Til You Make It

  1. Lyssapants says:

    love it. I like reading about what you’ve been up to. Keep it up, bitch!

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