@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Bailiwick & Bandwidth
Whenever I vent about fears for the future, stress about jobs and career woes, almost everyone waves it off… “you’re smart,” they say, “you’ll figure it.”
But what? What exactly am I figuring out? That’s the problem I have with this response. Am I figuring out my future? How to make money? How to be happy? Sane? I only know how to do any of those things in theory. Most of the time, solutions are mere band-aids, eventually they fall off and need to be replaced. How am I supposed to figure out a puzzle when I don’t even know the game I’m playing?
When my boss said the word, “bailiwick,” it excited me so much, I wrote it down because it’s a word I probably last heard spoken during an SAT prep, and sometimes when I hear a delightful word that borders pretentiousness, I like to jot it down and insert it into my regular vocabulary because I have an affinity for words and language. To be clear, I’m not calling my boss pretentious here. Not at all. He’s about as humble as a human can be, and is in the running for “human of the year” in Lori Palminteri’s world because he’s a top notch person and puts up with my bullshit. Granted, he didn’t have steep competition for topping the boss list. In my experience, I’ve almost always had a boss who was very nice but a moron or highly intelligent but a complete asshole. Throw in a couple creeps in there as well. Previous to this job, if you told me your boss was both kind and a lot smarter than you, I’d go, “I’ve heard of such mythological beings but I’ve never come across one myself.”
Over the last decade, I’ve gone through my fair share of “survival jobs,” which are mere temporary ways to feed myself until I’m a best selling author (though I’d happily settle for a mediocre selling author). Many of which were awful. Including working at the nursing home which sunk me into throes of what once seemed like an unbeatable depression, but alas, I was so much younger then. Not that depressions get any easier. In fact, in many ways it gets worse. But age does gift you perspective, so you’re more likely to realize that you do have the bandwidth to pull through it.
Upon training for a new task, my boss complimented me that I had the bandwidth to expand beyond my assistant duties. A perfect word for the situation, given we are a computing company. While coding is certainly not my forte, I don’t at all mind doing/learning it because it is almost puzzle like by nature, and I like puzzles— what’s more is I like having jobs that don’t involve talking to people and I feel like literary hero Lisbeth Salander when I edit code. Though it does make me nervous because I would consider myself at an elementary level. I never want to hear another hacky joke about how older people are inept with technology, now that I’m in a tech environment where most of my co-workers are boomers and are 10x more computer savvy than I’ll ever be.
Because my boss is smarter than me, I assume he’s now somewhat used to the vacant stare I sometimes give when he’s assigned me a new task, unsure if I am fully comprehending what he’s saying. One time in high school, a teacher told me she thought I was retarded (she used that word too) after explaining something to me because I looked so confused, but upon handing in the assignment she was surprised at how well I did (it was a writing assignment which was always my strength). People who know me well are somewhat used to me “disappearing” into my own head, and either ignore it completely or ask, “where the hell are you right now, Lori, because you are not here.” A more recent addition to my inner circle is my cousin’s girlfriend, Christine. While we bonded almost instantly, she still is somewhat not used to the ‘Lori way,’ as when we were talking on Christmas and somehow I mentally floated into space, she stopped speaking and said, “wow, you are completely checked out of this conversation right now, aren’t you?” We both had a laugh about it. Sometimes my face really gives it away.
When I express fears about the future to close friends, family, peers or the weight of perceived failures sinking my spiritual ship, they never really seem to understand the gravity of my anxieties, waving it off. “I’m never worried about you,” they say, “you’ll figure it out.” Mystified, I honestly think I’ve duped people into thinking I’m smarter than I actually am because I write down words no one uses anymore and use them in my vocabulary. If you only knew how badly I wish I could talk as eloquently as I write, instead of mumbling half ideas and stuttering over my own often rapid thoughts. It’s nice that others have confidence in me, but oh boy, don’t I wish that level of confidence radiated inside of me organically.
A fan inquired how much time I invest in writing my weekly blogs. If you’re interested, read on, otherwise feel free to skip this part. It depends. There have been times I’ve typed up a blog on my phone and posted it within the hour of writing it, giving it quick once over for grammatical errors (I know I always miss a couple of blaring typos, but it is much harder to edit your own work than others). There are times a blog could be on the back burner for weeks as I chip away on it, review, edit and spend hours tweaking it. However, the idea of the blog was not to obsess over every entry. Because, I do have a tendency to obsess over things to the point where it paralyzes me. I’m constantly in my own way when it comes to ideas/my work. No doubt I am enemy number one to myself, likely I’d be more successful if I could only quell those negative thoughts in my head that make me second guess, third guess, fourth guess. The idea of the blog is not to people please but to vent for my sanity and practice my craft.
There are plenty of mornings I rue the day I indefinitely decided I’d rather fail trying as an artist than succeed in almost anything else. As said in ‘Citizen Kane,’ “it’s no trick to make a lot of money, if all you want is to make a lot of money.” How simple life must be for the greedy. How vanity keeps one afloat in shallow waters, unable to explore depth. And while despite all my creativity, made up stories and characters cleverly designed by piecing together traits of people I’ve known like my own little Frankenstein monsters, I can’t imagine my own distant future. One of my closest friends and allies in comedy, Dennis Rooney, said in response to me on a day I was being especially morose, “I think you have a future in comedy, just not the future you want.”
If there is one thing I know for certain, is I’ve never been afraid to hold my breath, dive into the water and swim as deep as I can, embraced by another universe, and be an alien for a little while. Dare I say, sometimes it feels like home.