Friday, March 2, 2012

LA Education (the long con)

I like poker players. Hustlers. Artists. Actors. Entrepreneurs. Professional athletes. Authors. Musicians. Anyone who does freelance anything (so I am all about your hangin' a shingle approach). Comedians. Absolutely. Love those guys. Con artists all. Drug dealers and criminals you ask? You would need to see the look on my face to know how difficult and interesting I find that question. for another post...

I don't take any sort of pride or interest in the subject of work. I never have. All my heroes and mentors have found some way to avoid it, and so it goes. I often sit mute in groups when conversation turns to work life, because I have nothing to add, and feel bored out of my skull. (The subject makes me want to drink and stand over a breezy grate in sexy underpants.) One of the things I was fleeing when I left the midwest -- a sense that good old fashioned hard work was so highly prized that my kids might get the wrong idea. I wanted to show my children some California fools gold.

Of course, I don't support myself and would have a seriously hard time of it if I tried. I like money, don't get me wrong, so my position is often contradictory and dishonest. Frank and I try to limit our debt so that anything seems possible, but Frank working a corporate soul sucking job for the past fifteen years is really what has afforded me the luxury of my views.

I have never had the drive, ambition or talent for any of the lofty long-con careers I so esteem. Not really. In my 20s the artist life appealed to me certainly, but lack of fortitude and vision caused me to stumble and doubt. I also got pregnant at 24, not that I don't love the stories of single moms who struggle through and make a go of it. fuck yeah J. K Rowling. work it M.B. Collins. Love those -- but that's not my story. Today I'm sure that many screenplays and novels rest unharvested in my soul, and yet the ability to sit down and write everyday in earnest just isn't appealing enough. I'm not hungry for it. I'd rather help my kid Henry with an education about the long con.

So the thing with Henry is not about work. It's about Henry learning how charm, beauty, hustle and talent can be used to make money. And it's fun. LA professional acting is not a game that can be won with pure strategy. (It's not chess, a game I find as tedious as work.) This is poker. You need some skills but the whole LA thing relies heavily on bluffing and luck. But the payoff is big and most importantly, you get used to losing a lot and trying again. I feel so happy to teach this to my kid. Not the acting dream. I don't care about that. I am so glad to share the con game with him. LA is an opportunity to learn about systems that reward without reason.

I believe life rewards without reason and you have to be charming and flexible to play. Most people get really confused and angry and trudge through life like big boobs, believing that reason will save them and then getting pissed when it doesn't.

I'm trying to teach my kids not to be boobs. And I'm not just talking about semantics. When Henry gets a commercial job I say, "you won the lottery". We celebrate luck. Every time we drive to an audition I believe we are playing the lottery. I don't take any sort of pride in that. I don't want Henry to confuse ego and luck. We are playing a game. We are risk takers. We have perseverance, but everyone needs that to win at anything. Perseverance is a given. I find great satisfaction in this idea -- I have turned the LA adventure into a perfect educational tool.

Of course I also think Henry has talent and has worked hard over the years, but so has everyone in LA. Talent becomes another given.

I think we have it all wrong, the way we educate our kids. Our national message to teenagers is to stay in school, obey the rules, get good grades and go to college. The best they can hope for is to ace their exams and get scholarships. And then gasp. They get into a good college. Hooray. And then they protest vigorously because their degrees are meaningless and they are in debt. But I digress. The main point is that the traditional approach is boring and doesn't reward risk taking or creativity. Also the game is too easy. Also the game rewards only a very small slice of potential talents. Also the game says nothing about realistic potential and the end game. I could go on and on here........ Does any of this ring true to you MB? I wonder how you view the system for Peter and Maddie. How do you talk to them about school stuff? What are your expectations for them in regards to grades and future goals?

I know Peter and Maddie possess more charm in their little pinkies than most children...that was always very apparent. Miss those two. sigh.

Anyway, I have found a way to avoid an educational system I don't respect with Henry. I will try to scheme similar paths with my other two kids as they grow older. Of course, I will need different strategies because they are motivated by different factors. I try to pay attention. What makes Jimmy's eyes gleam and sparkle? Where does Charlie want to take risks? What do they do every day for pleasure that could be turned to profit? On what do they obsess?

So yes, currently both Jimmy and Henry are in school. Henry is going to a public high school with 5,000 kids and he is doing the bare minimum. He has two gym classes! Jimmy is going to a private big brain school because I think public middle school is pretty toxic and I wanted him to make friends with nerdy children. Jimmy still seems to want close friendships outside of the family and he has had more success making friends than any of the rest of us. There is part of me that really wants to unschool, but the reality is both Henry and Jimmy wanted to get out and meet people and look around a bit. Makes sense to me.

Charlie just quit a hippie preschool. another post on this for sure..........

I know we could figure out some sort of awesome adventure in April if you are still in. Call me sometime for talk of details.

Best. Best. Best.