I started writing the hooping story on Friday night, finishing it Saturday morning before my mid-morning run. I then spent the entire four-mile run around the neighborhood thinking about all of the ways that it was lie. It was written as a piece of light fluff about yet another quirky job with all of the scrappy can-do attitude that permeates my activities. Of course I can first learn, then master hula hooping, even though I’ve never done it before! All true, but I left out the part about how I felt during that time and what else was happening. The further I ran, the more I thought about the context and the role of sub-cultures.
My non-profit gallery closed September 2009. I started working with my friend’s hooping business that fall. I was taking any and all jobs, trying to cobble together enough to keep going while I looked for what I assumed would be my next art full-time art gig. Only it didn’t come. The longer I spent out of work, the more alienated, betrayed, and abandoned I felt by the community that had been my home for the past ten years. Within that sub-culture, the Dallas art scene, they didn’t like losers. I had failed, again; once at the museum and now with the gallery. I kept writing, working with another friend as the host of his art vlog, interviewing artists, curating the occasional show mostly in empty/alternative spaces, working around the fringes, trying to stay active.
To make money, I had to push even further out into the broader culture and new sub-cultures, into farmer’s markets, the local craft scene, and writing PR + teaching art appreciation at a local community college. I lovingly wrapped my fragile ego in tissue paper, tied it up with string, and gamely took on whatever work I could find. I didn’t tell anyone about the “tabbing” work I did at home, sorting and adding tab dividers and stickers to reams of paper documents for the Barnett Shale. This was by far the stupidest job I’ve ever had, but it paid by the hour and I could drive 10 minutes to pick up a car-load’s worth of paper from an official employee who was sub-contracting me.
Hooping was a distraction and a lifeline. I needed it — financially and emotionally. It pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet new people, to teach strangers, to be silly, and to do something, anything, when all I thought I wanted was to crawl into a hole and never come out. The more time that passed, the more I realized it was likely that I wasn’t going to go back. I tried one more gallery in 2012, but it wasn’t a good fit. Eighty-eight days in I quit and a month later I took the job at the mobile start-up. One chapter was closing, while another was opening, only I was responsible for someone else now.