Sunday, October 31, 2021

notes & things | 10/31/2021

With Halloween on a Sunday, it almost feels like it's over before it began.  All the candy eaten, horror watched, the building humming all weekend with parties and elevators stuffed full of costumed Loyolans. Friday night date night, rather than brave an outing we decided to stream the new Halloween from the comfort of the couch instead of a possible crowded theatre.  I was exhausted from the week anyways, so it was a nice respite.  I slept late yesterday, had a zoom call with a class to talk about chapbooks, then spent the evening assembling them and making soup and baking. I intended to curl up in bed and watch more horror, but fell asleep pretty early and woke this morning to coffee and lemon bars that cooled in the fridge all night. Somehow, tomorrow it will be November, which seems impossible.  

Tomorrow, I also have an appointment for the booster and flu shot on my way to work, which compared to scheduling the initial in the spring and all the anxiety was markedly easier.  I wanted to get it done  as soon as I was eligible and before it's approved for younger kids, which may mean appointments will be harder to come by. Despite the world that seems to just be going on about it's business this fall, occasionally it occurs to me how many people are still dying daily but it barely registers in the headlines. On campus, much is business as usual. We hosted our yearly Frankentoys workshop to a full house--more students in one space than I've seen in almost two years. Classes are meeting and the library is hopping as much as it ever was. Most of my week was spend finalizing the build on a faculty virtual exhibit, and this week, I'll turn to the one for Bad Art and planning our artist panel. We are, collectively, in a much better place than we were a year ago, which is something.

Personally, it's been a flurry of conflicting impulses and shifting life decisions on work. Daily, my plans shift for the coming year. I keep thinking of the day I came into the city on November 1st 21 years ago.  How I stood outside the library the day of my interview trying to decide whether or not to bother going inside.  I'd been working at the elementary school for a year--my first post grad school job.  I was miserable but trying to convince myself it was ok. I was working a terrible inhospitable schedule for peanuts and living with my parents. And would I even be seriously considered for this job?  Was it even worth it?  We'd had a nice little trip for shopping and lunch into downtown on the bus regardless, my sister and I.  Maybe that was all I needed.  But I went inside--had a strange but not all that impressive (on my part) interview--and 10 days later was offered the job. It changed the course of my life remarkably and I've been there ever since. 

But now, I wonder at my tendency to stay somehwere becuase it's comfortable--because its familiar. Because its safe.  I am a Taurus after all. Am I still standing on that sidewalk and willing to settle for something less than what I want?  What do I want? In the moments where I am convinced I am staying, that I want to, am I just settling? Because it's safe and familiar and the alternative is uncertain and scary? Running a small business on the side  its exhausting sometimes, but I imagine the hustle to make it your sole gig would be even more so. Would I be making my life better or worse by ditching my day job.  Sometimes it also feels like I've been holding on to the edge of a swimmming pool for a decade and scared to let go. There are some floaties just out of reach, but I am still too scared to try. And the water here is warm and familiar, though sometimes there are sharks that take off a finger or a toe.  What are you gonna do? 

I still don't have the answer. There are reasons to stay--as many as there are to go.  Personal relationships--working downtown--the campus communiy. The potential for doing good things there. On a local level, I mostly like the people I work with directly.   There are also reasons to go--money of course, feeling like I am being taken advantage of, forever dangling carrots, increased responsibilities, inequities galore. I know pretty much I don't want to go elsewhere, but I have to wonder if it's not time to branch off on my own. It would certainly give me more time to work on the things I am passionate about rather than spending my days bogged down in ILL duties (a position that it seems is unlikely to be filled anytime soon while meanwhile I am vastly underpaid at my own job and haven't had an increase in over a decade, have taken on responsibilities of other people because they did not/ could not do them. (fun work I like doing, but work nonetheless.) But it's made me mean and bitter and inflexible in a way I am feeling now more than ever. I don't think it's good for my mental health.  And I also don't think, despite assurances for the future, that it will change.

There are things I could do for money, that along with amping up shop offerings to the levels they were in the etsy days, could give me a subsistence level income, esp now that I don't have the overhead of the studio.  Add in some design and manuscript work and I could eke out a living for sure, but albeit one without the tiny luxuries I am used to.  Lattes and new (to me) dresses.  Takeout and fancy bath gels. but (again Taurus) I like my little luxuries and am not sure I want to give them up. Sometimes, there are leaner months and I'm not sure I would like that leaning hanging over my head with no safety nets. When you give up your day job, and your passion becomes your job, what is lost? What is gained? The library and my work there provides a structure--a framework for my days--and what happens when that's gone?

I don't have to decide right now of course...but in the coming months I'd like to format a plan at least. If I stay, I want to make an actual decision to do so.  It's a nice little dream--to forge out on one's own.  To spend your days writing poems and making art and editing books.  But also sometimes, it's nice to spend hours on programming and social media and exhibits at the library. Sometimes I don't even mind the drudgery tasks because they've become familiar enough that they aren't too taxing.  I can think about other stuff or socialize with co-workers/student workers.  It's not even time so much as bandwidth, how many jobs I can keep up with in my head without feeling burned out all the time. To actually feel like I'm doing any of them well or have anything under control. If I stay, I need it to be an intentional choice to do so.  Not just that I feel I'm stuck or that I have to. 

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