by Christina Mercado
It’s a total treat to connect with someone whose work you admire. That’s how I felt when I interviewed Dina Gachman, the writer behind a comedic blog about unemployment called “Bureaucracy For Breakfast,” which has been featured on a number of mainstream media outlets, including Chelsea Handler’s “Borderline Amazing Comedy,” the Huffington Post, and NPR.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite posts:
“… This crap economy is paving the way for a lot of creative, resourceful people who maybe worked for The Man too long to actually take the big leap and do what they are meant to do. And be their own boss. That’s exciting. And if, in the lean times, until the construction company or the film festival or the catering business takes off, we have to dust Buddha statues at Yum Yum Dim Sum? Bring it on.”
Dina started this blog after she found herself laid off from her job as a film development executive. Today, amongst other things, which include starting a comic book for women, she has gotten signed by a literary agent who wants to turn “Bureaucracy for Breakfast” into a published book.
1. Tell me about the moment you decided to create your blog, “Bureaucracy for Breakfast.” What were your goals for the blog – both personally and professionally? Did you have any idea that it would have blossomed into a writing career – including getting signed by a literary agent?
I was newly laid off and trying to figure out my next steps. I knew I didn’t want to go back to working as a development exec in film again. I wanted to pursue writing or producing, which is what I went to school for. The words “Bureaucracy for Breakfast” popped into my head one morning when I was on hold dealing with… bureaucracy [aka unemployment services]. I wasn’t sure what [the blog] would become, but once I started writing about my experience in a comedic way, the audience started growing, which was exciting. At first, I was terrified putting each post out to the world, but that fear went away somewhere along the line. I signed with an agent recently [to turn the blog into a published book] and the dream is that BFB will become a real, live book at some point.
2. It is a scary thing to have to have to re-envision one’s career path within the context of being unemployed. What was the scariest thing for you about using unemployment as an opportunity to create a career pivot?
I felt very adrift and that’s a scary feeling when you’re used to a paycheck, health insurance, and a daily routine. Having your days wide open is a little daunting, but I started creating a schedule early on which helped. The unknown is exciting but also terrifying. There were a lot of days when I contemplated a totally different career – teacher, phlebotomist – you name it. But the key is to just stick with it and move forward no matter what.
3. Can you tell me about a person that you’ve met along the way that’s been an inspiration to you?
My grandfather is my biggest inspiration. He’s almost 95, he still drives (maybe that’s not so great but whatever), and he started off with a passion for film. He was an actor in bit parts in monster movies in the 1950s, did a few episodes of an old show called “Raw Hide,” but he moved back to Texas to work at the family business when he got married and had kids. When he retired, he started writing and producing little low budget movies in Texas – in his 80s! He was on set 12, 14 hours a day. He just kept that passion no matter what, and still does. He can’t produce these days, but he did it until he literally couldn’t anymore. That’s real passion.
4. Do you have any advice for creative souls out there that are feeling the general backlash against humanities majors?
Hmmm this is tough. I got my BA in English and MFA in Film so I didn’t choose the most logical path. My loan debt is something I struggle with. I sometimes wonder if it was worth it, but in the end [I believe that] yes it was. I really believe that notion that if there is anything else you CAN do besides writing/acting/singing/painting etc then go do it! It’s crazy to pursue this kind of life. If your heart and soul and guts aren’t 100% in it then you’re going to be very unhappy. But, it can also be so rewarding. It’s very up and down, but if you love it and are tenacious, you’ll be just fine.
Check out Dina’s work at bureaucracyforbreakfast.tumblr.com and flinggirlla.com.
All images borrowed from bureaucracy for breakfast.
Christina is the author & illustrator of “You Can Do It, Bunny!” – a “Barenstein Bears” meets “Go the F to Sleep” picture book about job-hunting.