Learning to Share

One problem I’ve had as a writer is with the anxiety that once my words are out there, they can be interpreted in ways I may not have intended. So understandably, when I was gathering material for this portfolio, I got uneasy when I Googled my name and found this gem. I had no idea it existed until then:

‘Reports From The General: Younger Than Jesus’ at The New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York

May 5, 2009 | by YTJ

Ten dollars an hour is nothing to laugh at these days. It’s what Megan Robb was making before she was laid off from her job at an architectural firm. Unemployed, she applied for a new gig that requires considerably less effort on the job—sleeping in an upcoming participatory art installation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

“My brother told me about it as a joke because he thought it was weird,” said Robb, 24. “But I’m not doing anything else. I enjoy sleeping, art and money.”

So begins an article in The Columbia Journalist titled “Sleeping beauties in the New Museum,” which contains interviews with several of the women participating in Chu Yun’s artwork. “More than 170 women responded to the [recruitment] ad with their pictures”, said Jarrett Gregory, a curatorial assistant. About 50 were asked to audition at the museum. ‘Some people seemed like they had better motivations,’ Gregory said. “Some were more exhibitionist. It’s just sleeping.”

This is the attitude you get when you’re out of work. Needless to say, I didn’t get that job, either. My statements were part of an interview with Katy Hall (the Columbia student who wrote the article) and not with the museum curator, so it’s not like I sabotaged my opportunity, but I do look obnoxious. Once something I said or wrote is online and it’s not hidden behind a username, that’s it, even if the username is “mkrobb” (there actually are quite a few of us). It’s on record for anyone to see. That’s why I was hesitant to publish my portfolio online. Of course, a few things floating in cyberspace are under my full name. One in particular I’d rather not be associated with myself because the final version bore little resemblance to my original work. That’s an unfortunate chance that freelance writers have to take, but it’s part of the M.O. And I have to accept that.

So here I am now. If I’m willing to let strangers watch me sleep, I should let them read and judge my work. I’m not sure which is the more intimate act, but I do know which one is better for me in the long run.


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