We are the psychos in first class. People see me and my older son and wonder how we could afford tickets. They probably decide I’m the crazy wife whose husband is never home because he extends every business trip to include a mistress tryst and sends me his love via miles for upgrades.
My son asks for water: “Do you have a bottle? Um. Excuse me? Do you have four? Oh! Thank you very much. Thank you.”
I know. You’re waiting on the advice on creating a passive income. Okay. Here:
1. Be the annoying person in the room no matter where you go.
I get up to go to the bathroom. The flight attendant tells me to sit down. I pretend I’m deaf. Then I forget to flush. Sort of. It’s just too much noise in such a small space.
We have the violin in the overhead. People keep trying to squash it into the shape of a french horn so their roll-on bag will fit. If you are first class you can tap the flight attendant on the arm and say, “Can you make sure our violin is okay?” If you are not first class you have to defend the extra space like it’s a Stradivarius. Not that anyone on the plane would care.
Now the violin has an overhead bin to itself. And I pretend to be a disinterested party while I listen to the flight attendant telling people to check their bags.
2. Believe money will solve your problems.
I open my journal, which doubles as my music notebook. The first thing I have to do is copy cello and piano notes from today’s lessons into an email so my younger son can practice while my older son and I are in Los Angeles.
I have pages and pages of notes, not because I’m a good music parent, but because I write journal entries during music lessons. Last week the piano teacher asked to see my notes and I clutched my notebook to my chest and screamed no like I was Jan Brady avoiding Marcia’s prying eyes.
The page has blood spots all over it. If I could stop picking my cuticles when I’m anxious then I could use that same skill to stop eating when I’m anxious and I’d be so thin I’d be a bathing suit model. And a hand model.
When Amal Clooney gets nervous about flying, does she want to eat? Or pick her cuticles? Maybe she just goes shopping. I guess I could do that if I were married to George. I always tell people that money wouldn’t change any of their problems, but suddenly realize that I’m the exception to that rule.
3. Have a lot of crackpot ideas for what you can sell.
I have incredible anxiety now. I mean, I have anxiety medicine and I still think about how I need anxiety medicine for when the anxiety medicine doesn’t work. If only Xanax didn’t put me to sleep. I would be such a good drug addict—the kind that is high-functioning and could even handle an investor meeting under the influence. And I’d be the worker who’s great at selling off-label pharmaceuticals to unsuspecting co-workers to fund my habit. I would be the popular girl at the office. Finally.
Anyway, I’m the exception to the rule about how money can’t solve your problems because if I could just go shopping when I’m anxious then I wouldn’t eat or pick my cuticles. Also, I’m just telling you now, while I’m being gross about blood, that my editor almost always cuts parts about blood but he’ll never be able to cut all the blood out of this post.
4. Have an illogical sense of your importance to the world.
Is anyone making a movie about me? Because the opening shot should be a close up of me pulling at a cuticle, and it rips, and you see a pool of blood in the nail bed, and in the background is cello music. Maybe something from Suzuki Book 3. That book took us so long to finish. Boccherini is an exacting composer for a six-year-old cellist.
Then the camera pans back. Is that the right use of pans? I should know because my first husband was a UCLA film school guy but all I learned is that the director always casts women he wants to sleep with.
Anyway, the camera pans back and there I am. Wait. That’s the thing. I can’t see myself past that. Where would I be? I don’t know where I am. I am in a music lesson. (Three in one day, actually.) And I am on the airplane. And I am in the hotel.
5. Learn to live on zero dollars for days at a time.
But wait—I am not in a hotel. Because I thought I saved money for the hotel, but I didn’t, and then I had to make company payroll. So this morning I paid the last person and now I have to wait until money comes into my account.
6. Make a ten-year master plan, because that’s how long it takes.
This is what passive income is. I am doing my day while money comes into my account. Do you want to have a passive income like me? Here’s what you do:
a. Write a blog for eight years. Without making any money directly from posts. Almost make money directly from posts but sign up for ad revenue the year ad revenue disappears.
b. Create a mailing list. I built this list very un-passively by raising almost a million dollars in funding to create a specialized list of people and then figured out how to run the people through software and then customize the software and then fire three people who didn’t know how to do that and hire other people and then realize that I have to be an expert myself. Notice how the process is central to creating passive income, yet notice how un-passive it is.
c. Create a product to sell. Become a total nutcase and decide that there is not enough heart in the product and dump the product and start over. Then create a new product that is so fun and effective and customizable that it takes forever to build and it totally doesn’t scale so you have to make fifty of them.
d. Announce everything is for sale. Watch no one come because the world is not waiting for you to create passive income. In fact, the world pretty much does not give a crap about anyone except themselves. Adjust your sales pitch to reflect that.
e. Sit back and let the income pour into your bank account. For one day. Then make a new product. Make a new blog post. Talk with a customer who is not happy to make her happy. And again. And again. And then fix everything because the market is different. Then have one more minute of passive income. Write about it. Fast. Before you have to be active again.
7. Passive income is a mindset, but a quantifiable reality.
So yeah, my passive income comes today. Because you have to be crazy to create a supposedly-passive-income stream, because it’s such an insane amount of work, and I am just that crazy.
And then I don’t tell my son, or the Uber driver, that we don’t have a room when we pull up to the Hilton in Santa Monica. I want to tell you we went to Shutters and the hotel sponsored us and I put Shutters in this post twice because they gave me a $900 room for every mention. But that did not happen. But it might. So just in case. Shutters. Because we always need three nights when we go to LA.
Do you know what I love about being in First Class? It’s passive—there is someone who seems to be taking care of things: Feeding me. Cleaning the toilet. Making sure no one crushes the violin. I don’t mind that my income is not passive. I want a passive life instead.