So, you may have noticed that I haven’t been around here in a while. In previous years, that has happened during crunch time at school, which, at Sheridan, was pretty much the last two months of a three month semester.
This year, it’s a little different. I’m enjoying a larger share of freedom than I once enjoyed, having left school behind me. I had a very nice Canada day, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs over a fire pit and watching other people’s fireworks from a safe distance that did not involve either boozers or traffic jams. Plus, it seemed like Rush was all that got played on the radio that day, and it only made the fun times all that much sweeter. I’ve taken walks in the sunshine, and gone to the park and taken pictures. I’ve read a good history book under an even better shade tree. These are not pleasures that I take for granted after being put through the wringer for 5+ years.
I’ve also been scrambling to find a better job, and the chaos has been affecting my life’s work significantly.
I have always considered my foremost calling to be art and literature. I believe that they are what I was put on this earth to do. To that end, I have tried as hard as I can to be recognized for what I do and make a steady living at it, by going to school and working toward the right degrees, and attending important workshops and development opportunities like the Odyssey program. However, as anyone who is familiar with the arts can tell you, none of those things are a guarantee, however prestigious they may be. So far, I’ve had periods of luck, when I’ve been employed doing the things I love and been compensated well for them, and periods of ill fortune where I’ve been forced to stick it out with jobs I’m neutral on at best. I have come to accept this reality most days, and I know that even if I never received another penny for my work for the rest of my days, I would continue to create it and try to bring it to the public with whatever means were available to me.
Having said all of this, however, the last eight or nine months have just felt like I can’t catch a single break. Last summer, I was on a professional animation contract, and I was having the time of my life. Not only had I scored a job right out of school, but I had done well at it, met every deadline, and made many wonderful friends. When I left, I was told that I would have another contract from the same studio within three months. Although in retrospect, it may not have been the wisest decision, I trusted, and I waited. I needed more than three months’ experience to convince another studio to invest in me, and this was the only studio that knew my work. I looked for other jobs, but didn’t find any. Then, in November, with my credit card debts mounting, my reserves depleted and my student loans coming due, I found out that the new contract had fallen through, three days before I was supposed to start work. I went into panic mode, scouring every available resource for a job, and eventually, I found one that would work (barely) in retail.
When I started at this new job, it was on a probationary basis. The owner was willing to hire me for a few months, but said he couldn’t afford me in the long run if I didn’t produce an improvement in the business. I had no experience beyond customer service, and no previous knowledge of most of the things I was asked to do. I threw myself into it, needing the stability it offered financially, and ultimately raised profits dramatically, improved the store’s policies and procedures, and was promoted to assistant manager. Despite all of this, my boss continually refused me a raise, citing impossible sales goals and long-distant milestones as carrots to keep me thinking that things would eventually improve. I reached the end of my rope with this job when by boss threatened to fire me, after months of exemplary work, for a single typo in an online listing. My work there has become chaotic and stressful as I constantly have to fight the stupidity of the management to preserve even the poverty-level wages I earn.
I’ve been looking for a new job, but it’s been rough going. I’m good at getting interviews, because I present well and have a lot of obvious skills, but am passed over more than others because people see my list of previous employers and decide that my wide and varied work experiences, which I have been forced to take because I have to do whatever will keep food on my plate, mean that I won’t be loyal enough to their business or have enough of what they want. And it’s not as easy as just leaving jobs out on my resume, because if I leave too many of my experiences off the list, I’ll have no chance of convincing employers that I have any skills at all. I would love to quit this job outright and have more time to pursue other avenues, especially since it is no longer making me enough to cover my monthly expenses, but I fear that I’ll get even less interviews and opportunities if I don’t already have a job.
All this chaos and hardship has taken a toll on my work, despite my best efforts. I find myself getting behind on emails, vegging out at night when I should be revising and boarding and animating, and constantly apologizing for not being more present with my business. I feel, right now, like I am fighting a losing battle. Most of my day is taken up with things that I don’t even remotely want to do, and when I do have time, I feel drained and angry. I hate how unstable things have become for me when I’ve worked so hard all my life, and still don’t have many of the basic things many people take for granted: a dependable job, the ability to buy new clothes or get my hair cut at the salon, the hope of having a starter house… I feel like this stress and the crap that is thrown at me just to survive is killing the most vital part of me, and it breaks my heart.
I’m working on new stuff, gradually. I’m going to be writing a history book soon for a local charity that I believe in, for which I’m currently doing research in conjunction with the historians there. I’ve got a deadline set for myself to have a new book out in early October, and the book trailer at least past the rough animation stage by the launch. I’m trying to get back on my feet, and back on track, but it still feels like I’m making compromises that I didn’t want to make, all because my boss decided to have a few mood swings. I hope that someone takes a chance on me soon, and that this past nine months doesn’t turn into a full year. We only have so much time on this earth, and I refuse to waste it wandering further and further away from what I really want to do. I don’t know how I’m going to address this issue in my life, but over the next little while, I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking.
Hopefully this time, I think of something that works.