2016: A New Odyssey

“Looks like freedom but it feels like death / It’s something in between, I guess.”
Leonard Cohen, “Closing Time

Since deciding the adjunct life was not working for me, I’ve been taking my time to explore job opportunities, consider educational paths not yet taken, and remembering that I wasn’t always only just an observer of art.

I should be clear: I still love teaching and embrace any opportunity to do so. The shift to searching for full-time employment though takes precedence. It is my hope that one day, I will be able to return to teaching in some capacity.

There probably aren’t many people out there who enjoy the application process, myself included. You have to find a position you’re excited by, write a cover letter conscientiously connecting the dots between your talents, skills, and abilities to the enumerated duties, and then endure the lengthy rigors of data entry as you enter mundane details of places, times, and dates of education, employment, and other personal information. Then it’s on to the next one. Meanwhile you’re fretting over all aspects of your writing and résumé, concerned about your online presence, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, trying to decide on a reasonable time frame in which to follow-up on your submissions, and wondering if the phone will ever ring.

Since embarking on Junkyard Heartstrings, this whole routine, though exhausting, is easier to endure and an example of when active persistence pays off. Similar to booking gigs, it’s hard to make that initial contact, stand out, impress with your credentials, and move along to the next step. With any job I’ve ever held, doing the actual work required is far easier to me than any of the steps leading to that employment. Except for interviews, I actually enjoy those and generally feel comfortable meeting people and talking about myself, since I know that person rather well.

While I’ve prioritized the occupational hunt, I would be remiss to not reflect upon areas that I could know more about and spark a genuine interest in me. I’ve always been engaged with a variety of computer programs, teaching myself a good deal about desktop publishing, graphic design, and sound and video editing. Along with website creation and maintenance, these tools have certainly come in handy with the band, and utilizing them much more frequently has been fulfilling.

Business was never of great allure to me in a specific and personal way. I’m not at all money driven. In looking for a new job, it’s about the closest I’ve ever gotten and that’s based on the practicality of getting to fulfill ambitions with much more passion and purpose. I love to quote Paul Simon‘s “That’s Me” with the apt lyric, “Well, I never cared much for money / And money never cared much for me.” I’ve done budgeting and ordering, which I loved, but I never felt a close connection to it aside from trying to be as accurate and precise as humanly possible in my calculations, that’s a much more satisfying feeling to me. However, with the band, I find myself intrigued by making things run smoother and marketing ourselves more strategically.

In consideration of my divergent callings in computer software and programming, business and marketing, and dedication to education, I’ve tried to find possible jobs that might align them together. I’ve found a few and quickly realized that I should seriously entertain going back to school. I never doubted that I would ever go back, but for a while I was sure that it would be for a doctorate and build off my media and cultural studies background. The area of instructional design appeals to pieces of each of my interests and I’ve started entertaining the pursuit of a certificate or degree program. I’m not concretely decided, but it’s worth spending time examining further and learning more about.

Meanwhile, making music has been going quite well for Heidi and I. We’re continually growing in ability while expanding our repertoire and the number of venues we play. A goal is to begin writing original music and I think we’re on the verge of wondering how far this might take us. Not sure I know enough or if we’re ready to take the plunge, but I’ve been doing research on equipment to make reasonable home recordings of material when we get there.

I’d like to learn more about songwriting, take up an additional instrument, and also get involved more in the creation of other art forms. I used to paint, I enjoy photography but lack the quality camera that feels so necessary in today’s high resolution world, and reinvigorate my exploration in screen printing from a class Heidi and I took a while back.

Though I’m tempted to complain about the current state of things, there’s a lot that could be going more favorably and seamlessly, I personally like to work and construct unsure of the final product. I can follow patterns and designs, but it’s especially exhilarating when you don’t know the result and nothing has been promised or expected. I would feel a sense of resignation and regret if I knew exactly what lay ahead of me. While I wish certain aspects were more clear and visible, life is a strange adventure and I’m good to keep treating it as such. And when there’s a supportive, talented, beautiful, and smart lady by your side, it’s an especially good trip to be on.

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