Almost Famous? Nah.
“You look familiar,” says my server, the same lady that cleans my room.
I wasn’t “familiar” yesterday, so I know someone’s asked her to investigate my identity.
The compact breakfast room with uncomfortably close tables has an expansive passthrough allowing a good view of the cheffing activities.
There is one head chef (Filipino), a sous chef, and three female servers (including one Filipina, my server, relevant shortly).
I’m also confident one of the female servers is gay, one is straight (mine, wearing a wedding ring) and the other is of unknown sexual orientation, though I suspect she’s non-binary. (Before you reach for your Is-she-a-racist-rainbowphobe? ballcap, hold tight.)
I’m staying at a heritage Inn that includes “a 3-course breakfast and evening charcuterie board (while it lasts)”.
There’s a small library with a fireplace and a gift shop which is more of a closet with monogrammed sweatshirts.
Built long ago, charm and character ooze out of every crystal door knob and crown molding corner.
I like old things.
I am an old thing. (But I identify as Retro, thank you so much.)
A Get-Paid-Not-Famous Brainstorming Retreat
I’d come to Victoria for an appointment but decided to stay a few extra days to brainstorm business ideas and “get some B-roll for my YouTube channel” I’d told a close friend. “Plus, I don’t have the energy to do the long drive to Victoria and back in one day.”
My friend knows my channel has been struggling. Maybe it’s got long Covid.
The pandemic brought with it a flood of new video creators, many with decent info and creativity with eye-catching visuals. And some with soft, feminine voices and large sweater-stretchers.
And, famous or not, thanks to some pretty decent advice I’ve provided over the years—if I do say so myself (which I do)—many of my subscribers have hooked up, shacked up, and locked down into relationships.
That makes me as happy as all those clams many of my long-time loyal viewers are now with.
On top of that, the “it’s not a recession” recession has negatively impacted the ad rate (dollars per minute of watch time) I receive from YouTube and is steadily declining along with views.
I’ve got about 2-3 months before the costs associated with producing videos—and blogs and storing email addresses for newsletters and platforms for my video courses and all the apps to support such things—will be higher than the income generated.
And I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I accepted any of the sponsors who’ve offered.
Most people don’t realize the costs involved in making YouTube a career, whether the creator is famous or not.
I love what I do but I also need to eat and, truth be told, I’m getting a little burnt out—a big red flag for me. (Burnout started the health issues I’m still working on healing from.)
This leaves me at a crossroads.
I’ve let my video editor and channel admin know we need to switch it up stat.
Incentives have been offered based on video performance and my team is up for the challenge.
But, to be completely honest (and uncomfortably vulnerable), I feel discouraged.
I sent this message to one of my closest friends yesterday:
Really tired today. Haven’t slept as well here even though the bed is super comfy. Maybe stress related. I’m not feeling inspired about my business. I want to take a break but it would destroy my channel. I’ve seen other channels way bigger than mine take time off and they haven’t recovered after returning. (They get lost in the algorithm maybe.)
So, I’m at the point where I need to figure out if I can push through a LITTLE longer to try some new stuff or throw in the towel, recalibrate and do something else.
If I’m going to continue, I need to pull something amazing out by next week or I won’t have a video ready for January and it’ll be decided for me. Oy.
It was fun [eavesdropping on] the construction guys (and I also talked with my 24-year-old aesthetician about dating) but it hasn’t inspired me.
I feel defeated today. I don’t know if I’m meant to push through or if [God] has something else for me.
I’d better get up and get ready. Food awaits. Thank you for reading. I appreciate you, my friend!
She sent me back a pep talk of perfect words with LITTLE pressure and a lot of love. (Thank you!)
Cut back to today at breakfast in the wee breakfast room at the Inn.
“You look familiar.” She says.
I’m not sure what to say so I tell her, “I’m not from around here, I’m from [my current city].”
I realize this is obvious, the restaurant is for hotel guests and my key is on the table.
I add, “I’m not famous or anything.”
Which I realize is also obvious and now I feel like a presumptuous egomaniac.
She graciously smiles and offers more coffee then goes into the kitchen.
I can hear her speaking Filipino to the chefs and catch the name of my city. I now know she’s reporting back.
One of the chefs replies in Filipino and I hear “TikTok” in the verbiage.
I’m thinking to myself, “Can he know who I am? I’m pretty sure I’m not famous.”
I’m surprised and amused and a wee bit re-heartened if not yet quite re-inspired.
I receive exceptional service and am offered both potatoes and sausage (the menu says “potatoes or sausage” so now I officially know how celebrities feel).
I’m tempted to get both, but I’ve already got a dry scone, a stack of stale crackers, and a plate of melting stilton up in my room from last night’s charcuterie thievery. I decline.
The restaurant fills up and I use my time alone to imagine the stories of the couples sitting on either side of me.
One couple looks to be in their 60s. The woman’s been scrolling her phone since she sat down, occasionally reporting some incidental to her husband who silently nods acknowledgment even though she doesn’t look up.
The other couple looks to be in their 30s and I get the distinct feeling they’re on their third date, which makes me wonder if they’d chosen to come to a hotel for “the big occasion” and if they were the noisy couple going at it last night in the room adjacent to mine. I refrain from asking.
Not long after, I notice the staff have disappeared and I hear giggling from somewhere in the gallows of the kitchen.
I finish my meal and am almost ready to go when the chef comes out to my table.
He leans on the chair across from me and says, “I watch your channel—we’re subscribers, we’re all subscribers—it’s really good. It’s helped me a lot.”
Most of the other staff reappear (minus Non-binary) in the kitchen and by the passthrough, nodding and smiling affirmatively, including the I-suspect-she’s-a-lesbian.
I say, “Thank you” and “I’m so glad” and a few other appropriate things.
He’s clearly got confidence, but where has mine gone.
I’m shy and embarrassed and pleased and humbled and all-in-all the cockles of my heart have welled and it’s pretty darn swell, but I’m not actually famous so I don’t know what the protocol is from here.
Fortunately, there are other patrons to attend to so everyone goes back to work.
My main server returns to see if I’d like anything else and I ask if I can take the croissant to my room. (I don’t want my scone to be lonely.)
She says, “Yes” and then blushes telling me, “We went in the back and Googled you.”
I figured “we’re all subscribers” excluded her and Non-binary, and until my channel had been mentioned to her a moment ago, she’d had no clue who I was.
I laugh and tell her, “I knew the jig was up when I heard him say TikTok.”
She blushes again and smiles.
When everyone seems distracted I abscond with my croissant, go up to my room and make sure my undies are tucked in the furthest corner of my suitcase. Just in case.
I send a voice message to my friend laughing and briefly recounting the scene and then grab my laptop and head out for a walk, landing in the lobby/coffee shop area at the Museum where I sit writing this blog and wonder if the young lady at the table next to me knows her male co-worker has a thing for her.
What have I re-learned?
- From my 24-year-old aesthetician: “Banter. Nice guys need to learn how to banter or we end up with toxic bad boys that do.”
- “You can make meringue from fava beans.” ~ Now infamous burly vegan construction man who’s a self-acknowledged “anxious-avoidant.” (That’s another story.)
- Always be kind and tip well, famous or not. (I do. I do.)
- Blue cheese is already moldy so you won’t notice any difference if you leave it out overnight.
- When you ask God for a sign, he sends you a kitchen full of friendly Filipino fans. And one lesbian.
Figure out if God is telling me to write another memoir or to add storytelling and a new demographic to my YouTube videos!
Extra special thanks to Janeth, Gerald, Zac, and those I didn’t get a chance to talk with. And a nod to Robyn.
I answer public comments posted on blogs and videos.