My name is Erin G. Pullen, and I'm a pretty normal person, as things go. Went to a state university, live in a decent apartment, drive a new car that's nicer than a Golf but not as cool as a Cross Country, own a flat-screen television. I work two jobs to pay for these fancy accoutrements of modern living, and my 60-hour workweeks can get tiring. I do operations assistance for an international tea company, and I peddle my retail consulting skills to area businesses, including a recent glamorous stint helping a local Texaco Xpress Lube with a customer service makeover. My average day is filled with endless typing, cease-less phone calls and some rather grumpy fiddling with Microsoft Office. Faxing, filing, flow-charting and frequent frowning; from six in the morning well into the evening, this is how I spend my waking hours. Day in, day out- this is what I do.
When I'm lucky, though, my nights are a different story.
So, yeah, that's me in the pink wig.
I'm an opera singer. I studied vocal performance at aforementioned state university and have gone on to, well, I haven't gone on to much but damned if I'm not trying. The last few years have seen me land some pretty neat opportunities in a relatively competitive marketplace, but I haven't even scratched the surface of Singing For A Living. Last year I sang two leading roles with opera companies in Boston, and this year I made my soloist debut with the Salem Philharmonic. But if I told you how much those three opportunities put in my bank account you'd laugh (hard) and then tell me I'd have better luck selling Mary Kay at a church social (I've done that, too). You'd laugh even harder if you compared how much I made as an opera singer last year with how much I spent on voice lessons. If I told you how much I spent on auditions to land those precious three opportunities, however, you'd stop laughing entirely, shoot me a terrified sideways glance and demand to see my tax returns. It isn't just difficult making it as an opera singer, or a performing artist in general, it's downright insane.
There are so many of us, though, struggling performers desperate to have our shot at stardom and pay our credit card bills, too. Unable to make a living with our passion but incapable of giving up we turn to the trusty day job. We are an army of singers, actors, instrumentalists and dancers whose study of the craft spans decades. We've spent those same decades cramming the hours between lessons and auditions with shifts at the local Mac Donalds, Dress Barn and temp agency. We can whip together a Power Point presentation with the same artistic flair that we reserve for our Mozart arias, or fold sweaters with the same quiet dignity we display in our audition monologues. Our headshots may look nothing like our work ids, and our Pizza Hut uniforms don't resemble our ballroom dancing gowns, but remember this: when you flounce out of the dressing room at the Gap and leave a giant tangled pile of denim in your wake for us to unravel; when your debit card is declined at the Macys checkout counter and you glare at us like we are mentally handicapped; when you scream at the top of your lungs, "Goddamnit, I asked for medium rare and this is so obviously well done!" while flinging your steak tips in our general direction, look out, Lady. You have no idea who we are.
This is just our day job.