Good evening! Hope everyone is feeling awesome. I am very, very excited to introduce a new segment to How to Have a Day Job, in which I interview people who have tread the line between living passionately and paying the bills.
My first virtual guest today is Cat Mihos. I had the extremely amazing honor of meeting Cat when she visited Pittsburgh in January for Tatter East/Glitter West, an event held at my favorite local bookstore, Rickert & Beagle. She and the bookstore’s owner, Chris Rickert, sold prints, crochet dolls, jewelry and much, much more.
Even if you don’t know Cat personally (your loss, she rocks), you have probably seen images from a website she runs over on Neverwear.net — a home to many pieces of art bearing the writing of Neil Gaiman. Did I mention that he’s part of her day job?
What is your current career? This what you love doing that, if asked, you would say, “Oh, I am a ____.” Do you have a day job that supports your career?
I am, first and foremost, a writer. In my “day jobs”, I work with author Neil Gaiman, and he has shone a light on much of the writer’s life for me. I am very lucky.
My other “day job” is a touring production coordinator, where I am paid to travel with different bands and get paid to see the world while listening to great live music. Lucky stars on repeat.
What is the worst job you ever had? How did you get through it?
The absolute lowest low of my touring career was working the Woodstock ’99 festival.
It was my first experience at touring on that level, and things went very wrong at a top organization level. The crowd set several trailers on fire. Some of the protesting was brought about because of the high price of basic needs, such as water, among other things. You really shouldn’t put a huge number of people into a space and tell them they can’t bring their own water, but over-charge etc. The lines at the pop-up ATMs were horrendous. The amount of waste in catering struck my heart; they would throw the food away rather than give it out. I saw this giant catering company turn away a group of Tibetan monks, while throwing away food as they watched. Witnessing that level of karmic disservice dropped my spirits to their lowest.
The silver lining was that I feel I can do any job now with a strong spirit and now would challenge that in attempt to make changes. I was just a dumb kitten then.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you first started working, what would it be?
Good question! I would be less hesitant in my actions, less fearful of doing the wrong thing. “Fortune favors the bold” is a true statement. As Neil says, “Make beautiful mistakes.” Also I would have counseled my younger self to be less worried about asking for help. People inherently want to help one another. Speak up!
What would you say has been your master tool for getting through difficult times when working? Is there something that is your go-to tactic for dealing with best-of-times-worst-of-times scenarios?
There is something about a certain level of self confidence that gets me through anything. Hold your head up when you walk into a new situation and remember that everyone started somewhere, even the masters. Don’t let fear hold you back. Be interesting and engaging. Stay in the present. I used to hide in books (ok, still can do) and now I try to interact with my surroundings as much as possible. “Be where you are” is one of my main mottoes.
With where you are now and what you are doing with your life presently, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from working day jobs? Is there a skill that you’ve picked up from a work environment that you would not have otherwise?
Hmmmm. A little synopsis of my touring day, we roll into a new city and set up a show, do the show and then pack up and head to the next town. The days can be 20+ hours long, you need the local team of whichever venue you are in to want to help you, so you have to be patient. It is important to be clear and direct with your needs. After a long load out and a shower in the venue dressing rooms, which are usually locker rooms of some sort, you are on a bus with your co-workers, so you are in close quarters with the people you have just spent those long man hours with.
Live kindly, be thoughtful, let anger be your last resort. My skill is survival in all things, but with kindness.
Are you interested in being interviewed for How to Have a Day Job? Comment below or shoot me an email with a brief description of what you love to do and what you do in the off hours!