Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Please, Just Be Doctors.

Whenever I tell my friends that I want the babies to be doctors or lawyers, they act SO shocked. Even...offended. My friends actually get pissed at me because I don't want my kids to go through the same hell I've gone through for "my art."

So, let me just spell out exactly what I did and you can imagine how you'll feel when your kid does the same thing to you.

I went to (according to me and everyone who went with me) one of the best universities of higher learning in the entire country (Ray, Bucknell!) and got a liberal arts degree. It cost my parents plenty of dough, and will probably cost you about a million duckets by the time your kid decides to mess with you.

I graduated with honors (this is my blog, I can say whatever I want), and shortly thereafter got a job in advertising. I quickly climbed the corporate ladder because I was...innovative...charismatic...quite frankly, to paraphrase Charlie Sheen, I was a winner. While the others were getting measly raises or no raises at all, I was getting 10% increases and job offers from competitive advertising firms...and taking them.

with Sarah Mclachlan - Lilith Fair
But I was bored. Unfulfilled. I had A DREAM. My art was calling I moved into an apartment on Bleecker St. in the West Village with my sister and I started a band. We were both still working in advertising when we began selling out clubs in New York City. And eventually we won a coveted spot on Sarah Mclachlan's Lilith Fair tour. Yes, I'm exaggerating. We won 2 dates on the tour. But more than 1 date makes it a tour. Don't question me. My blog. My rules.

We had grown so popular that The Today Show featured us (ok, it was The Today Show in New York, the one that airs at 5am). And after we performed in the plaza, I jumped on a subway so as not to be late for my day job. I got to discuss my morning's performance with my colleagues around the water cooler before heading to my cubicle to revise media plans for my New York Life client.

This is all true stuff, people.

I had a fat salary with fat benefits. I could go to the podiatrist if I felt like it and get opinions about bunions. I'm not saying I did (or didn't). I had a matching 401K plan. You know. The whole nine yards.

And then. I quit. Just like that. Done.

Cashed in my 401K. Put the down payment for a van on my personal credit card. Put $10K of recording studio and CD duplication costs on another credit card cause they sent me checks and I thought that would be a good idea. Let my cobra lapse. Stopped going to doctors. Toured the country relentlessly, playing 260 shows a year. Never. Saw. My. Home. Slept in Motel 6s. Every night. Until Priceline.

Chased ghosts. And paid minimums on all my credit cards. For ten years.

Then Jason Flom signed us to Lava Records.


Yes. A lot of neat things happened when I was signed to Lava Records, like getting to be on THE REAL Today Show. When you google me, shit comes up. I know. But I'm not RICH from it. I'm not worry-free because of it. I don't have a nest egg. I can't retire in five years like all my other fellow Buknellians who went and formed Lending and did SMART things.

 Yes, I love what I do. Yes, I think that's what is most important. But maybe....JUST MAYBE...I could have loved being an anesthesiologist. So I am going to push them...just nudge them a little in a different direction. Pardon me for trying!

ps-It's clearly NOT working.
Thomas drums in the studio wearing a doctor shirt....SO CLOSE, yet SO FAR! (photo by A. Vontobel)


  1. I LOVE that photo! ;)

    Maybe Thomas can open a practice called, Dr. Love: for those who follow their own beat.

  2. Yeah, I think you're in trouble with that one. The man looks like a natural.

    PS Looking for a few upsets to put into my NCAA bracket. Bucknell over UConn?

  3. Rest easy, Kristen. Just like their Moms, they're going to do just what they want to do, and the best you can do is support their decisions.
    But the little man does look pretty comfortable back there.

  4. don't know Physician Asstant as a career...not quite a doctor, but you don't get the ego either...not that I am biased or anything :P

  5. Wow...what a great post! Thank you!! Speaking as one who took the other route in life (people call me 'doctor' only when I am at work, really), I admire your perspective in light of your experiences. The kids are lucky to have you look out for them and I have the feeling the talents that the both of them possess will enable them to succeed in whatever they choose to do...just like their moms. :o)


  6. Hey Kristen.Very interesting post.I'm personally very happy that you left corporate America to pursue a musical career.Your band has given us some great music which is hard to find these days.

    It looks like Thomas is a musician already.It must be in the genes.No amount of nudging will change that.The way I see it,success cannot be measured in dollars.Doesn't matter whether Thomas becomes a physician or a musician.All that matters is that he's happy in whatevever he chooses to become.You are happy in your career as a musician,so you are a success.If Thomas is happy in whatever career he chooses,then he is a success.

    Many of us are working "steady" jobs and drawing decent salaries and 401K plans.But we are miserable.I should know.(I'm one of them.)Does that make us "successful"?I'm not so sure about that.

    Having said all that,I'm off now to pursue a career in training dolphins.(I wish):)Phyl

  7. Kristen -

    You and the rest of AR followed your dreams and it sounds like they came true to a large extent. You did national tours on your own, did a tour with the Allmans, you've been on the Jay Leno show, you've had a video on VH1, MTV, etc, and you've even opened for the Rolling Stones (OH YEAH!!!).

    I sometime sit here at my desk (the same one I've sat at since 1986) thinking that I wish didn't do something in life more like what you did!

    We all have inside us the experiences that we went through in life. Some people don't have much, and others live a full life. It sounds like you have an an interesting and exciting one so far where some really cool stuff has happened.


  8. Kristen - maybe we all just do what we do for some reason not really known to us, but it's amazing how much we do (or don't do), effects others.

    You guys brought people togther (and still are), and as others have said, sated a thirst you had for "your art".

    Way too early to worry about what Thomas is going to do. Besides...what's wrong with being a doctor by day, and rockin' out by night...lots of peeps do it!

  9. I'm just happy to hear of another gay Bucknellian. I was starting to think I might be the only one.

  10. wow, when did you graduate from Bucknell? Cause, while I didn't realize it while I was turns out a whole bunch of us were gay! And we're all out now, many of us with families.