experiment: contesting

how couples in closely related fields manage to avoid the pitfalls of competition is always astounding. the notion of “group work” is anathema to me. (too many cooks! get out of my creative kitchen! Don’t even think about touching my grilled cheese!) however. however. i’ve realized, because of those twin towers of intransigence and arrogance, i’ve actually missed out.

see, jared won a very cool contest, accompanied by laud and a bag o goodies. we were able to work on much of this together and i honestly think we (and the project) were the better for it. but still, it was him that won. he reaped the fruits. and yes, i was genuinely excited for him, and yes, i do want a talented friend to get the recognition he very much deserves. but hey, wait a minute! what about me? don't cut-ME-out, uncle joey. i need to win something, too!

these incessant, internal “me-toos!” coupled by a simply awful work month, tripled by my feelings of creative flabbiness—led me to start looking for creative contests of my own.

the first i found was accidental, on jaman.com—a very cool, alternative distribution site for foreign and low budget domestic films (intentional plug, i actually think it’s cool). we’d met the founder just weeks ago at a tribeca thing and after jared interviewed him, i wanted to check out the site for myself. and i ran across a promo--$1000 to whole foods for the best review of the documentary “super size me.” it seemed, i don’t know, five years too late to be running such a show, but i figured, hey, i’ve seen it, i can write, i can win this thing. i can join my boyfriend in the winner’s circle. so, with HIS input and feedback, i wrote a slightly ridiculous "review" of the movie. and thanks very much to kith and kin, i won! that's right. i can call myself a winner.

(hopefully, i will prove to be proficient in more than just food-centric writing. the first time i traded words for dollars was when i won a creative arts contest as an undergrad --500 bucks for a poem that was more or less about, yeah, wal-mart.).

you know that feeling, when you’re type type typing away, or designing away, or sautéing away, or strumming away, or accounting away, or biologizing away, or experimenting-away, and you suddenly realize --- hey, i could do this. not just now, but for a living? do you? it’s (peacefully) intoxicating, and somehow, a firm ground.

but could i be better? working with another? or was this just a fluke?

this is a question i am trying really hard to answer. and maybe it will find itself, and maybe it will take its sweet time, and maybe, like Rilke suggests, i should learn to live the questions. and though i am starting to see the fruits of collaboration, that doesn’t mean healthy competition is wrong, right? in romantic relationships and in all others? what if it makes me want to be better?

i am competitive, certainly. i used to have intense soccer matches to channel this, but now i can make anything a contest. what do you want—i’m a scorpio. hear me scuttle silently, strike, and watch my victims seethe in pain. hahahah. just kidding, i am Nice scorpion. who is trying hard to become less of a contestant even if it kills me or means i have to share or expose my vulnerabilities and creative ideologies to criticism and revision.

what I have learned:


since beginning the reluctant, solipsistic shed, i’m feeling much better about TEAMWORK. and more than the proof (mostly for myself) of being able to win, and more than the impending whole foods shopping spree (hello, 21 dollar a pound cheeses!) maybe collaboration can be better than going it solo. (turns out, not everyone will in fact, burn my grilled cheese. some will take it to a level of cheesy, gooey perfection.)

goodness, look how long this is. you know who i want to collaborate with next? an editor.
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