Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Explanation Due

I'm going to sit here and force myself to write this post. I've been dodging it for days -- first because I was still a little raw, and later because I was just tired and didn't want to think about it. But an explanation I promised you, so an explanation you shall have.

The short version: I got rejected for a job I really, really wanted. It sucked. A lot.

The long version: A couple of months ago, while I was moving, I hinted at a "big thing" that I was involved in but wasn't talking about yet. The big thing on that particular day was an interview for a position at the local cable access network, a job which came as close to an ideal match for me as I have ever seen. It was a position as a facilitator for non-profit groups who wanted to produce content for the network; it involved mostly teaching production and working with the nonprofits to plan and execute their productions. As it happens, I've taught production on behalf of nonprofit groups, and met all of their requested qualifications. It was a real job, with a salary and benefits and vacation time, with access to a full studio and TV station in a casual work environment with good hours. It was a sweet fucking job, and I had everything they were looking for.

Anyway, I coasted through the first interview easily and knew I'd be invited back for the second. There was a brief moment of angst when they ran way late in setting up the second interview, but eventually they did. The night before, they hit me with a surprise assignment: I was to "teach" them a new skill in five minutes during my interview. I pulled a little electronics demonstration/arts-and-crafts project out of my ass and fucking delighted them. Then I waited. And waited, and waited.

And then they turned me down.

The station director was practically fellating me over the phone while she rejected me -- praised my passion and dedication, told me how much they'd loved me, how much she hoped I'd apply again if another position ever opened up. But they'd decided to go with someone with "more technical experience." So sorry, goodbye. And that was that. I was so fucking close, but still fell short. All the passion and dedication in the world -- the years spent doing damn near this very job for free, just because the work was important to me personally and philosophically -- still isn't worth a few years sitting at a desk at a station or production company somewhere. But hey, I didn't want to work for fucking lame-ass public access TV anyway. Really I didn't.

I went to work that evening still weepy, and was treated to consolation cocktails by friends that night. They played the crucial dual role of singing in the "fuck 'em anyway" chorus, while distracting me from my still-fresh wounds until they could scab over a little. I am very fortunate to have friends in town who will go to the trouble. Almost a week on, and I'm less bothered by it; another week from now, I expect I'll have mostly shaken it off. Two weeks more and I'll probably be ready to start planning my next bold move, whatever that turns out to be.

For the moment, though, I'm just trying to lose myself in everything else I have to do. My current job, while the pay sucks and leaves my economic situation constantly tenuous, and while it brings its fair share of crappy days, is at least flexible and laid back, and keeps me in the company of some good and interesting people. It could be worse. As long as I don't let people drag me into the shame trap ("32 and working in a bookstore? Tsk..."), and try instead to just make the best of where I am and the benefits it still affords me, I don't mind it too much. I wish I wasn't constantly broke, and I wish I wasn't always so tired, and I wish I could go see a doctor when I needed to. But I bear few responsibilities, am free to leave whenever I want for any reason, and get to read for free. It isn't all bad.

The irony is, now that I know I don't have this big thing happening, I'm officially free to take up a short-term position -- get this -- teaching kids how to make films. Assuming everything goes as I've been all but assured it will, I'll be spending the end of June and the beginning of July working with Film Action Oregon in their Project Youth Doc program, helping the kids crank out some films. And it should even pay, probably a bit better than Fnorders. Absurdly, being turned down for the job teaching people to make films on behalf of a non-profit group frees me up to do some work teaching people to make films on behalf of a non-profit group. It's just what I fucking do, you know?

Anyway, the shape of my summer is gradually becoming clearer. Most immediately I have to finish the Teacher Corps film, which is coming together, but too slowly for me -- it's like the hallway in Poltergeist: the faster I run, the longer the distance. The more work I do on it, the more work it still needs. I admit that while my theoretical estimate was accurate, the real magnitude of the work required to edit a piece of this scale was something I couldn't quite imagine. It's one thing to say, "well, it'll probably take this much," and something else entirely to be sitting there doing it hour after hour after hour, week after week. It'll get done, have no doubt. As it is I spend most of my non-working time editing. But it might be a while before I volunteer to do a project this big again, at least without it being my primary, paying job. Still, I'll be proud of having done it when it's finished. I just hope it's finished soon. I really want to not have to think about it anymore.

After all of this -- the film, the teaching project, the various personal transitions I have in the near future -- is over, I'm thinking about taking some time off from big projects, taking a couple of months to slack off guilt-free. I'll keep working my job, but giving myself some time to replenish my available supply of passion might be a good thing. I'm feeling pretty drained of passion right now, and it means that nothing sounds like much fun, nothing really seems worth doing. Maybe I'll sit around and watch movies every night, or lose myself in some mindless video game for a while. I'm thinking that it's about time I started expanding my circle of friends, so maybe I'll work in some volunteer time or something, or maybe I'll go out a few nights a week. Maybe I'll do some light experimentation with substances -- I've got a friend at work with a source for psychedelics, and I'm curious and ready to try. There's a lot I'm not doing because I feel like I'm constantly supposed to be working on something "important", and I think the pressure I'm exerting on myself is, if anything, getting in the way of doing the stuff I'd genuinely enjoy and find meaning in. All I know is, I'd like to have some time without anything hanging over me, without some existential "to do" list always running in the back of my mind. I'd like to be able to spend my free time doing whatever I want at any given moment, without feeling like I'm failing at something else in doing it.

It seems for the time being I'm stuck being a slacker who works at a bookstore. At the very least, I should be able to live like one for a month or two.
11:26 PM ::
Amy :: permalink