The People Inside My Head

Since Quinn was born, I can go from zero (not stressed) to sixty (“HOLY SHIT HE’S GOING TO GET KIDNAPPED”) pretty much instantly.

Instead of letting my crazy thoughts take control, I have decided to name the different personalities in my head.

That way when I think, “OMG Will’s changing Quinn. Is he going to fall off the changing table?! Did he buckle him in? I hope he buckled him in…”, I know that that’s just Worried Wilma taking control of my brain. Oh hello there, Worried Wilma. Thanks for your input. Let’s move on.

Here are the characters in my head: Continue Reading

Six Years of Self-Employment

Today is the sixth anniversary of the day I left my full-time job.

I was 27. I had decided to leave my job one month earlier. I was then acting Development Director — the highest position in the fundraising and marketing branch of my small non-profit. I had worked there off and on since I was 19.

My coworkers were my family. I came to work everyday greeted by people I loved and who loved me (I think…). I worked with students with stars in their eyes; learned all about their hopes and dreams. Watching them party and study, party and study. There were good points. There were bad points.

I looked around my office that fateful day, and I realized… “I’m too comfortable.” Continue Reading

My Life is Good

So good, I’d hazard to say it’s practically perfect.

I have an amazing home with a boyfriend I love. I have a cat of 12 years who I know as well as I know myself. I have a new kitten (still nameless!) to work in some excitement. And yesterday I exercised for the first time in weeks.

The #1 reason that my life is awesome: it’s 10:33 on a Monday and I’m lying in bed with my coffee and the kitten working on this website, jenniferheller.com.

This site has been a labor of love for many years. Whatever my passion du jour (mosaics, pet portraits, wood carving), I never stop wishing for more time and energy to devote to this site. I wished for so much time to work on this site (and other silly projects) that I threw caution to the wind and quit a full-time job I’d had for years on March 31st, 2009.

Since then, I’ve been forced to overcome many challenges. My perfectionist instincts, for one. And the realization that my dreams change almost daily, for another. The first dream I followed was a failed attempt at a pet portraiture business, Van Gogh My Pet.

Hangoverville was even less of a success. Lushes in Love caught on, but never proved profitable.

But these attempts were not without their lessons. I learned that “If you build it, they will come” is frankly not true. No, if you build it and promote it AND it’s brilliant, then they will come.

I launched Artsy Geek to capitalize on the web development and marketing skills I’d been building since I built my first website in 1996. Artsy Geek, I thought, would pay the bills and then, finally, I’d have the time and energy to work on this site (and other silly projects).

This year has been particularly trying. Artsy Geek has tripled its business since January.

Tripled! I didn’t see it coming.

That growth has brought with it more challenges than I ever expected. I regularly bemoan our success, saying “If I’d known it would be this hard to grow a business, I never would have launched it.”

I wonder at this moment if I still mean that. With a team in place that I can trust, I can scale back the 60+ hour work weeks. With the confidence to charge higher prices, I don’t have to work as hard for every dollar we earn. With a great reputation, we have enough business coming in that I don’t feel the need to jump at very last dollar. (Knock on wood!!)

And having survived on practically no income for many months, I can truly appreciate every dollar in my wallet.

With this new found breathing room, my sister suggested that I take my mornings to myself. With my mornings to myself, I can be sure to exercise more often and — perhaps most importantly — to pursue my long-term dreams of being a writer, a blogger and a talk show host.

So here I am. My head sings the Randy Newman song, My Life is Good:

Sure, I don’t have a housekeeper to write my songs for me or Bruce Springsteen asking me to be boss for awhile. But I do have a purring kitten, a stack of blog entries I’ve been dying to write and infinite appreciation for what I’ve built.

Ching ching!

I don’t like Andy anymore. Now I like Steve. Cool. He’s cute, popular. I was about to say he’s smart. Well he might be.

I don’t like Andy anymore.  Now I like Steve.  Cool.  He’s cute, popular.  I was about to say he’s smart.  Well he might be.  I hope he doesn’t do to me what he did to Sarah T.  He asked her out and a couple minutes later he dumped her.

For my birthday I’m getting a phone.  Then Becky’s phone can be given to Erica!  I think I’ll get the Swatch Twin Phone.  It’s cool but its $97!  I don’t think Mom and Dad are going to spring for it.  Unless we get the money.  And then were moving to Arkansas.  Blech!  Hell! Continue Reading

Let’s Hitch Our Wagons to this Star

The Guster was really, really great in our movie Hanging with the Gus Man. What? You haven’t seen it?? Watch it now; you won’t be sorry. Seen it? Watch it again! It’s so brilliant*.

He popped up right when we needed him too. A little bit of cat treat on my fingers was all I needed to get him to approach at just the right moment.

All in all, it was an amazing filming experience.

So, I said to Will the other day, “Let’s hitch our wagons to this star. We’ll become cat handlers, move to LA. Get Gus an agent. It’s our destiny.” Continue Reading

I went to Swagapalooza and I didn't get an iPad.

I was inexplicably invited to this event called Swagapolooza last Tuesday evening.  Attendance was strictly limited to tweeters and “digital influencers” from San Francisco.

Flattery will get you a long way with me, as it did when I received the invitation only a week before the event.  I assumed that they hadn’t gotten enough RSVPs and started scraping nearer the bottom of the barrel of local bloggers and tweeters.  Or maybe I have more reach on the Internet then I think I do.

Regardless, I showed up at 7 to get my two free drinks and see if I couldn’t make a new friend.  I was lucky to have gotten to stop by my great friend Corrie’s birthday party just a block or two from the event.  There her partner Ed gave me the idea that at an event called something like Swagapalooza, one might leave with an iPad.

An iPad!  I’m too cheap to buy one, but it would sure be a great addition to our upcoming European adventure (as well as every moment of my life).  Maybe that night was the night?

I reflected on this as I waited for my turn at the bar and checked out the grub they were serving.  Crappy rolled sandwiches I know from attending far too many networking events and pizza.  I was glad I had eaten.

I asked the bartender what was included for my red ticket, and was shocked to discover I could have anything I wanted!  I searched the bottles.  “Anything?” I asked. He nodded.  I noted that this event was heavily sponsored and that I should return as I ordered a Sapphire and Tonic. Continue Reading

A Lost Dream: Shit Be Gone

Once upon a time I lived with my sister Alexandra in an apartment building in the shape of a dome.

Where I met ShitBeGone

See??? You didn’t believe me, but it’s actually a dome. Google street view sure does come through in a pinch.

She was just coming back to the Bay Area from living in a cooperative warehouse space in Brooklyn.  It was a cool space; though haunted.  The ghosts danced away in the air above human heads all the way up the 40 foot ceilings just like in Magnetic Fields’ song Busby Berkeley Dreams. Continue Reading

The Mad Hatter Business Plan

The other night we enjoyed The Late Show, the 1977 movie starring Lily Tomlin, Art Carney and Bill Macy.

Bill Macy plays Charles Hatter, a down-on-his-luck entrepreneur.  We first meet him leaving his office, and catch the following glorious screen shot:

Five businesses all named after himself, all with the same address but various specialties?  I love it.  Hey, if you have a skill, why not make a business out of it on the off chance you succeed?

He reminds me of me. Had Charles Hatter hired me as a marketing consultant, though, I would have told him that if he wanted to list all his various enterprises in the lobby directory, he should definitely not name them all after himself.  Each business should have its own unique vibrant identity so that they seemingly stand on their own.  Naming them all after himself sends an almost desperate message–hire me to do anything!  I can do anything! Continue Reading