It was 3:57pm, May 2nd on a Saturday afternoon, when my phone rang from a familiar number. Cal Arts was calling, what the fuck did they want? Sure enough the cute little Asian girl voice made her sales spiel. “Hi its blablabla and I’m a blablabla student from Cal Arts, we wanted to keep in touch and raise money for the school.”
Me “Yeah sorry I don’t have money to contribute right now” Her, “ooooohhhh oook… can we get your contact information” Me “Uh.. yeah…. I’m ok thäaaánks” -click-
Its not the cute little Asian girl’s fault, but God Damn, that school cost me $100,000 to attend grad school, and I’m on the “defer the $130,000 payment plan” expecting to wait it out until WW3 hits, or when the San Andreas Fault makes me homeless.
The following is the true life saga, the one year anniversary, the directors cut of…Life After Cal Arts by Gustavo Adolfo Uribe
The day after graduation, my friends and I were throwing as much shit as we could into a card box from my card-board-box sized dorm room in C-4 Ahmanson. I had a 3pm deadline to get the fuck out of there, turn in my keys, and start my life as a broke artist. I stayed at my Momma’s House living room for two weeks and returned in glory to my friend’s sublet room 2 miles away from Cal Arts. I was determined to finish my music album, find a job, buy a car and make it in LA once and for all.
After blowing off most of my summer fund on groceries and booze, and not getting the Music Counselor Job at Cal Arts, I realized I had an extremely difficult 2-month time line ahead. My days went like this: Wake up, drink coffee, apply to 30 jobs, drink booze, go to the hot tub, sleep, apply to 30 more jobs, drink, eat ‘cholo chow-mein’ (my infamous $2-a-day spicy ching-chang fettuccini recipe), drink, drink, drink, apply to 1 more job and then call it a day. Yes, I finally inserted some music album work in there, but this went on for about a month when I finally hit some job leads.
My first job lead was not doable because I lived in Valencia without a car. It was a music engineer position to edit voice over stuff, but I could not get there by 8:30am by bus-train-bus. However, I decided I would wake up even earlier and make it no- matter-what. I got another job lead for a ‘music research specialist’, (a fancy way of saying the guy who tracks what songs that are in what show for $12/hr in the Woodland Hills). I had to write a fucking essay about who and why my favorite music artist was, plus a phone interview to get the actual in person interview. I put on my tie and managed to bus-train-bus-walk my 3-hour-journey to the interview and not get the job. If I had a car the trip would have taken me 45 min, but fuck, what are you going to do? I had another job lead for a financial aid counselor for Art Institute of California in Santa Monica. I took another 3-4 hour journey and I spent the day with my friend. We drank and watched Planet of the Apes and went to Wendy’s. Wendy’s had this awesome new Peppercorn Cheeseburger for $1.50 and it made the not-getting-the-job field trip, so much better.
Surprisingly, the Woodland Hills Music Research place called again and said they had another opportunity. Ok, so I went back to get interviewed with two different people and again did not get the $12/hr job with a fucking music composition Masters in Fine Arts. I called my parents almost every week begging for money so I can eat and buy more booze. It was so depressed of spending all of my $1200 summer money and being broker then how I was when I graduated. I even applied for about a thousand jobs including car wash washer, Beverly Hills Cop, academic counselor, web designer, social media dude…
When I ran out of my money, booze and my dignity, I had to make that fateful phone call… There was a living room waiting for me and it was time to come home.
“The Summer of Tub Life” had come to a close and I was doing the same shit in Santa Barbara. Drink; apply for jobs, drink, apply for more jobs. I was so exhausted, but my friend mentioned I should sign up for a temp agency. I had joined a temp agency about 10 years before and got warehouse work, so I was a little hesitant. My other friend living in Irvine said that he got a job with a temp agency and his other friend at the same temp agency got a job for $26/hr doing some computer shit. I joined the temp agency and started to put on that fucking tie again.
I got a job as a phone receptionist for a week; the job offered on the spot and was $15/hr in downtown Santa Barbara. I thought I hit the jackpot and wanted to FedEx a package of my shit to that place in Woodland Hills, but the happy hour celebrations were short lived. I started on a Monday and got fired on that Friday. The crazy thing was, during that week on a Thursday, I wrote an email to a video production company in town and asked them to be an intern on a gut feeling.
I got the email back on Saturday and started my video production internship the next Monday at Dajen Productions. Dave was really nice and our first gig was shooting a beauty product commercial 45min towards LA. Awesome! I even go to help out during a live American Idolesque singing competition, Star Voice, at the Chumash Casino. I had my own free room, free booze and everything.
I was living the fucking good life, but I was still broke. I needed a car and I needed money to pay for it. Luckily, my paycheck came in from the temp job and I had a check receipt proving I was employed. I went to the Toyota dealership, and walked out that day leasing a brand new Prius C, full coverage insurance for about $550 a month. Most people would think I’m crazy, but keep in mind that I was unemployed, broke, and my credit beyond shit. I managed to get a deal on their promotion that allowed me to not have to pay a down payment and have a free month. So basically, I had one month to make the next month’s payment while living rent-free on my Momma’s one-bedroom-apartment living room floor.
I met Jim Cutsinger, a local live music concert producer and musician through the internship at Dajen Productions. He offered me a paid music internship where I would help mix the music from the live concert footage of a concert DVD he was working on. I was technically making the payments on the car while not working 8-5 temping. I managed a good two months but he was going to go on a month vacation in January and I was going to be a financial-fish-out-of-water.
Back to the temp game. I signed up to two more temp agencies and got a week assignment working as a receptionist at the UCSB Study Abroad Center for $12/hr. I did a phone interview for Sientra (which makes boobs), and I did lunch interview on Thursday at Bega (which makes fancy lights), and got hired to start Monday. I was on cloud nine, finally an $18/hr job to help me move out my Momma’s house. I trained on the job on a Monday, was doing real orders by Wednesday, and got the dreaded email from the temp agency by Friday. “Gustavo, don’t talk to anyone, go outside and call me”. I got unexpectedly fired, but they had another job to start at Citrix for $17.50 next Monday.
By this time my head was like fuck, but the training was supposed to last at least a week, and that meant that I could make a car payment for next month and buy some more booze at Costco. (By the way, I signed up for Amex card through Costco and got a $1200 credit card. I immediately bought a $600 Vitamix blender and 6 big bottles of fine merry mixing spirits. Michael Jackson – This Is IT) By this time I had started at Citrix, I had re-enrolled in Santa Barbara City College and got a free bucket of classes to start my Marketing Associates Degree goal. (I enrolled while I was in between jobs and technically unemployed, so I qualified for the government waiver-score!)
Citrix was fucking awesome and I pimped out my open-spaced, adjustable desk height, yoga-ball-chair cubicle, feng shui style with a bonsai tree and everything. Anyways, I thought that if I could work at Citrix and get a marketing associates degree, I could probably get into the marketing department and start fishing for a big-fish marketing job. Three months into working at Citrix as a Tech Support Specialist, I realized that if I had to listen to another caller bitching about why this-and-that didn’t work and how we cost them thousands of dollars of business, I was going to blow my fucking head off and be ok with it. They re-organized the call center, so instead of chilling with the homies in the feng-shui open cubicle, I was getting death threats in the Game of Thrones, 6x6x6 castle cubicle with no homie in sight. I couldn’t sleep at night and I had to email the temp agency so they could send a knight-in-shining-lowrider to rescue me.
And then I got the email… “Gustavo, can you interview tomorrow on Friday at the Santa Barbara Independent?” WTF? The local newspaper that I was reading since before I knew how to read, had a job interview???? Hell yeah, I put on my fucking tie for the 100th time and raced over there in my clean car-washed, vanilla scented Prius during my lunch break. By the time I finished the day at Citrix, I quit and started working at the Independent next Monday morning. They liked that bit in my resume where I mentioned that I was pursuing my marketing degree at SBCC.
I got hired to be an office administrative, accounting assistant, but by the second week’s Wednesday’s Creative/Birthday Meeting, the publisher says “Oh yea this is Gustavo, he’s new, but he’s got a masters degree in music composition from Cal Arts.” He turns to Arts Executive Editor sitting right next to him, “Maybe he could right for us?” I almost spilled my birthday celebration beer and shit myself. The Arts Executive Editor looks at me and said, “yeah, I got some stuff coming next week, I’ll send you the email”. I think I did shit myself, but I didn’t tell anybody. By the next couple of weeks I did two classical music reviews and a phone interview. I got my first music review published online on April 30th, 2015, fifteen days shy of my graduation date.
Gustavo Adolfo Uribe is now employed, has a car, has just bought 5K worth of audio and video equipment. He will move out of his Momma’s house by the end of June, release his debut album Cholo 2.0, and film his first music video by September 2015.
Break out the Champagne Bitches!!!