The last time I wrote, I was pretty hung up on being unemployed upon my return to my parents’ house in Southern California. So I was casting a far and wide net and I ended up applying to more jobs than I can keep track of. I began with the one’s I actually wanted and with few responses, I widened my options and applied to one’s that sounded okay that I was qualified for. And then I decided to go one notch further and apply to pretty much anything that sounded like I maybe could do it if I tried. The result of these tactics has been an exhausting string of interviews for disparate positions at different organizations. I feel like I’ve worn my sassy librarian outfit (equipped with power blazer and assertive stilettos) more than anything in the past couple weeks only to try on a few different figurative hats.
At one point, it was all really making me lose my sense of who I really am, what I’m good at, and what I want to do. As a young professional pouring over job descriptions, I sadly sometimes felt like my cover letters and resumes were extensions of myself. So every time I made an adjustment or highlighted one strength over the next, I felt like I was changing who I was as a whole and living person—for a job. If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know that of the three of us, I am the queen of the identity crisis and getting through this whole process has led me to pursue moments where I could really try to “find myself.”
On a particularly trying evening, I was a bit discouraged by an interview I had for a sales job at a tech company. I was lying on my bed listening to White Wilderness by John Vanderslice and I had a simultaneous “Fuck it” and “Ah hah!” moment. Music and creative environments in general make me happy—their culture, their processes—much of it is mystic to me but they can nonetheless, easily redeem a bad day. So in that moment, I wrote a crazy e-mail to JV himself asking him to be my sensei and take a chance on me or at least let me work front desk or get coffee for the studio.
I expected no response to such fan girl activity so I was naturally elated when I found an e-mail in my inbox inviting me to tour his studio, Tiny Telephone in SF.
Needless to say, I went. The space was gorgeous and had a warmth to it that screams creative space. Each room was meticulously crafted for sound and filled with beautiful equipment and instruments. On top of all of that, the rates to record are insanely cheap and unheard of no matter who you are ($350/day for the larger studio and $250/day for the other and these prices have stayed the same for ten years).
As awesome as touring the place was, getting to sit down with and talk to JV was probably the highlight of the day. He has so much experience and two-cents. He’s like a hipster grandpa whose advice you steal and try to pass off as your own to friends. Amidst his wealth of knowledge on production and sound, he shared bits of life wisdom. Owning and operating Tiny Telephone is hard. It’s a cost-friendly studio for the client that costs a lot of money to operate for him. And he took years to get it where it is today. He worked side jobs, waited tables full time, and asked friends and family for money and the show of faith to get everything on its feet—learning from each experience. And in the mean time—he got really good at what he loves and cultivated a team of people that share the same interests and talents (the magic of analog recording heaven). It’s this work that has made Tiny Telephone a success and sets it apart. Both studio rooms are booked everyday of every month, really reputable artists choose to record there, they’re expanding, and fan girls like me write letters asking to be mentored by its owner.
Other than instilling in me a desire to learn more about music production, learning about Tiny Telephone and JV really just made me realize in a round about way, that anything I venture to do—it’s going to take work and time. We don’t magically manifest into exactly what we envision. And maybe I’m going to have to take turns and go down different paths for a bit but it doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice my passions or what makes me tick along the way. I have to own the experience and know ultimately that I can shape how it is serving me and not the other way around. Jobs aren’t who you are and they aren’t permanent—but I can certainly use them to help get me where I want to be.
Maybe someday I’ll have my own tiny telephone.
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