Monday, April 4, 2011

State of the Union

Hello, Curious Onlookers.

It's nearly impossible for me to conceive that it's been a full year since I tendered my resignation at my last place of employ.  Honestly, I know I've kept busy and all but this time has flown by like a three-day weekend in Vegas.

So, with a full twelve months now in my rear-view mirror, I suppose I'm due to compose some thoughts of affirmation if only to convince myself that the time is well-accounted for, the decision was sound and I made the right call.

Too bad that, even after doing so, the jury's still somewhat out.

First off, here's some evidence for the defense; a listing of all the things I certainly wouldn't have done had I stayed the course this time last year:
  1. Created the blog that you are now reading, which now warehouses 124 entries and has over eight-thousand visits.  ¡Ay, caramba!  Thanks, peoples...
  2. Appeared (at least in theory) in three local film productions.
  3. Met some amazing people like the band Weezer, Roy Batty/Shotgun-Armed Hobo Rutger Hauer and legendary Hollywood royalty Mickey Rooney.
  4. Read my poetry and stories in front of several graciously charitable audiences.
  5. Finally had another answer other then "Um, no" when people ask me "So, can I read this mythical book you supposedly wrote?"  Now I can come back on the wise-asses with the infinitely more positive: "Why yes, yes you can...right here in fact!" 
  6. Designed a physical copy of the self-same book.  With any luck I'll get the proof copy in the mail this week (fingers and various other appendages crossed).  
  7. Volunteered with the Atlantic Film Festival.
  8. Finally managed to get formally published when my poetry appeared in the Year One Anthology for Open Heart Forgery.  
  9. Went through an extensive personal inventory that will eventually see me return in school in September. 
  10. Completed a six-week voice acting class which I'm hoping to parley into a few auditions (hopefully more on this later). 
  11. Shot video for a local commercial (again, details to follow).
  12. Sat in on a pre-production meeting for a local short film slated to lens in a few months (also, hopefully, a future ECD entry).     
  13. Managed to get through winter without sporting the equivalent of a spare tire around my traditionally very sedentary mid-drift. 
There's more but these things are what I'm particularly proud of.  Thing is, however, with the world in it's current fix, will it be enough to justify leaving a job that paid so well for so little effort?  Who cares if it was slowly causing my brain to atrophy?  Who cares I couldn't come close to reconciling the effort I wanted to do with what was asked of me?  Who cares if the job did me some physical harm?  The more time that goes by, the more I realize that, ultimately, life still comes down to the filthy lucre...

Seriously, folks, it's great and all that I've self-published a book, but c'mon.  If a tree falls in the forest and that tree is debarked, chipped, washed, bleached, beaten, refined, screened, pressed, dried, printed, made into paper then my book is printed on it and no-one reads it does it justify killing that poor tree in the first place?   

Although the E-book is selling better then I expected, I got a loooooong way to go to move the ten-thousand copies that I believe will be needed to grab a traditional publisher by the lapels and yell with some authority: "Hey! Pay attention to me!"  Unless I can do some pretty miraculous single-handed promotion for it over the next few months (or enter into a Faustian arrangement with dark forces for immediate financial stability), I'm afraid that it's gonna be all for naught.

I won't lie to you folks, I miss the endless wellspring of cold-hard cash.  I did save a ton of money before telling my last employer to cram it with walnuts and I've tried to be very frugal over the past year.  I really don't buy a ton of stuff, just the odd book, Blu-Ray, CD, movie/concert ticket, decent meal or board/video game.

Thank the Maker that I don't have expensive tastes.  Mercifully my particular brand of mid-life crisis doesn't seem to involve splashy sports cars, powerboats, motorcycles, phat palatial mansions, hair plugs or bottles of cognac.  Well, at least not yet.

No, honestly, the only real thing that I truly miss is the absence of travel in my life over the past two years.  My last two trips (Scotland and Ireland in 2008 and London in 2009) were life-altering.  I wanted to go AWOL at the time and now I'm desperate to go back.  I want to tour the English countryside and poke around in Wales, one of my two ancestral places of origin.  I want to spend at least half a month in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Greece respectively.  But given the current state of the union, I have no clue when I'll be able to do this again.

The net result: Happy Dave is starting to run out of happy...

Not to mention having to eschew those things that most people take for granted.  Since I constantly felt like walking off the job for about five years before I finally pulled the trigger, my life in general has been in a holding pattern.  No house, no kids, no major investments.  Hell, I can't even ponder replacing my venerable, ole' 2003 Corolla, who, like it's owner, is gettin' kinda long in the tooth.  I feel like I'm in limbo.

I dunno, maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be.  Maybe that's the lot in life for most jobbers on this wacky planet.  Perhaps all we're really supposed to do is toil away at some thankless, anonymous enterprise, trying to rake in as much coin as possible while occasionally eking out small blips of happiness between stretches of repetitive dreariness.

Some days I feel like I'll never be able to generate the sort of scratch I was making at my last job by doing creative things, things that I'm actually good at and feel happy doing.  Right now I'm trying not to do the employment equivalent of jumping out of the frying pan and into the flash fryer.  The jobs I'm applying for are gigs that I think I'm well-suited for and with companies that seem to enjoy a positive reputation for trusting and nurturing their employees.

If I can help it at all, I don't want to say the following words to a stranger ever again...

"Hi, thanks for calling (insert name of crappy call center employer here), my name is David.  How can I debase myself today for your edification?"

I don't want to do it anymore because I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that I'm better then that.  It's a waste of my unique (if decidedly modest) talents.  It's not what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.     

I know, I know.  Eighty percent of humanity can probably make a similar claim.      

Was this whole thing set off a year ago for the right reasons?  Did I leave work because it was slowly killing me?  Was it just because I was bored?  Was it due to the fact that conditions were getting worse every year and no-one I talked to gave a crap about making it better?  Was it to pursue ventures that I would never have gotten around to had I stayed the course?   

Or did I leave because of some kind of midlife crisis?  I hate to think that anyone would make a decision just because hair stops growing in places where it's supposed to and begins to seek out brave and creative new avenues.

But could it really have been something so shallow?

I'm hoping this debate winds down a bit when the demo copy of my book arrives in the mail sometime over the next week or so.  Or I hope the parley is instantly silenced when someone of power and/or influence reads this blog, sees something with promise and decides to grant me some semblance of a palatable future.

Because just as sure as Dr. Johnny Fever refused to play disco tunes at W.K.R.P, I can't do call centers any more.

I'd rather sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door.
    EPIC: One of the best episodes of one of the best sitcoms in T.V. history.  I patterned large tracts of my early life after the teachings of John Caravella.  Which I suppose goes to considerable lengths to explain my current fix...

    Mike Fright, Part 1 by giebergoldfarb

    Johnny's rant @ the 4:40 mark here is priceless...

    Mike Fright, Part 2 by giebergoldfarb

    FAIL: I'd say #2 was a tell, but the job really did suck...

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