Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Stacy, and I am a struggling artist in New York City. Struggling, not starving. The Work Life Balance Protection Agency has asked me to pen weekly musings over how I keep from starving in this town, both literally and artistically.
I have no advice whatsoever as to achieving success as an artist. But I’ve got plenty of anecdotes regarding how to live as one.
A bit more by way of introduction…I was the Gerber Baby of 1980.
That’s how I got my SAG card. Here I am, in all my professional glory:
Obviously, the trademark face is not mine. Nor is it Humphrey Bogart’s. (Ridiculous myth.) It is the face of mystery novelist Ann Turner Cook, who happens to live just outside the town where I was raised. She is 86 years old, and I discovered her while watching Oprah after school one day as a teenager. (Check her out: http://www.annturnercook.com!) But, I digress.
I made a nice chunk of change with that baby gig. (Ah, the heady ’80s, when residuals were all the rage!) But every penny I baby-earned was ultimately fed to a ravenous little kitty named NYU. The Gerber money was but a turd in the tuition litter box, wiped clean by the second semester of freshman year.
It wasn’t until the New Year’s Eve preceding said second semester that I was once again paid to act. If you care to know what I’ve been up to since then, check out my member page on the website of the Dramatists Guild of America (the playwrights union): Dramatists Guild Profile for STACY LeVINE.
Holding part-time and/or work-study jobs while plying my craft through college was not a challenge. Holding full-time, salaried, benefited work while plying my craft since college has been. Especially given the student loan situation. And that’s what these musings are going to be about.
Which brings me to the Homeric allusion that is the title of this blog. If you never had to, never bothered to or put right out of your mind after having read The Odyssey in high school, allow me to elucidate.
Scylla and Charybdis were the six-headed-monster-perched-on-a-cliff and giant whirlpool, respectively, between which Odysseus had to steer among his many tribulations on the way home to Ithaca from the Trojan War, according to Greek mythology.
The colloquialism “to steer a course between Scylla and Charybdis” dates to a 12th-century Latin epic poem by Walter of Châtillon (a Frenchman), called Alexandreis:
Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim
(He runs into Scylla, wanting to avoid Charybdis.)
Most Americans know this ancient metaphor in the forms “devil and the deep blue sea” and/or “rock and a hard place.” Whichever literary device you prefer, the fact remains that navigating the narrow strait between the nightmare of paying for your life as an artist and the nightmare of giving up on being one SUCKS ASS. But it can be done. Odysseus made it home.
So if you’re interested to know how I’m doing it, stay tuned for my first real blog post, next Friday: Musing #2: You Needn’t Wait Tables If You Don’t Want To.
Until then, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”