I’ve been back in Colorado for one week, and I’m already overwhelmed by everyday life … which is surprising, actually, as I went on my road trip primarily because there wasn’t much to my everyday life. The two plans I’ve been living on for the past three years, freelance editing and house sitting, had largely ground to a halt, my other life passions (acting, writing, and chasing men) had been largely forgotten, and I was feeling lost, stuck, and a little desperate.
The road trip helped immensely. A total change of pace, with plenty of time to ponder, plenty of new information, and a great lecture by Martha Beck on my iPod, actually did (as I’d naîvely thought it would) give me a much clearer view of what I really want in my life and what I think I can realistically acheive. The biggest boost for my plan, though, came from two lunches and a happy hour with Portland’s own wonderful Ted, who, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, seems to charm and delight everyone he meets. When I whined to Ted that I felt lost at sea, he told me he, too, was feeling stuck, and then proceeded to talk himself into a very exciting life plan. Bored with his day job and heartbroken that he gave up teaching music (and significantly cut back on performances—he’s a fantastic jazz pianist) to work there, Ted has decided to take night courses to improve his work skills, but only so he can quit his job and become a part-time consultant. Then he’ll have enough income, plus the flexibility to teach, perform, and fulfill his long-term dream of earning an MFA in music.
I didn’t have such a clear idea when I left Ted, but I had another whole week of rambling planned. By the time I returned to Colorado, I had a three-part vision for my new, improved life. Now comes the scary part: Since I’m in my home state and have all of my resources available again, it looks like I’ll have to actually do something to make my vision a reality. Scary stuff, indeed! So far, I’m running on leftover road-trip optimism, but like most things in the real world, my efforts are disturbingly slow in paying off. On top of that, I have only the slightest idea what I’m doing. Still, I’ve had some lovely rays of hope (more on the best on in my next post). I’ll be refining the practicalities of my plan as I go along, but here is what I want to achieve:
Constantly house sitting has its appeal because it make rent-free living possible, but it’s also exhausting. I’m tired of packing up all of the possessions I use day to day and moving every two weeks, or worse, every two days. I’m tired of knowing that I have a storage space (in my mom’s house, because she spoils me—I’m also tired of feeling that I’m taking advantage of my mother’s goodwill) full of possessions that I haven’t used for three years, because I can’t find them in the crammed-together mess. I’ve thought of getting rid of them, but I won’t be able to until I have some space of my own to spread my things out in, so I can, for the first time in years, get a good look at them. I’m tired of not being able to get to most of the useful things I own, tired of always worrying whether I’ll have a place to live next week … just plain tired of this plan. House sitting has overstayed its welcome in my life, for now, anyway. In these past three years, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped to in other areas of my life, either, and I think it’s largely because too much of my focus has been on hustling for house sits and moving around.
So, though I know it’s a novel idea, now I actually want a home. I’m looking for a room in a house, condo, or apartment, with interesting, quiet, and respectful roommate(s) who won’t mind that, though friendly when I do see them, I’m shy and I spend a lot of time in my room. In fact, I’m very, very shy, and need a very, very quiet space to recharge myself in, but I’m still charged up with road-trip optimism, so I truly believe I can find like-minded roommates with an open room at an affordable price. I’m even hopeful that I can find them before the house sit I’m on right now ends. The room-hunting process is on hold, though, because I think it would be best if another part of my plan were set in place first:
Yes, I said “job,” that hated word I’ve been avoiding for three years. I do want a job, within specific parameters: It must be part-time, ideally 24 to 30 hours a week. I hope to find one that uses some of my most salable skills, like copy editing, typing really fast, or understanding how MS Excel works, so that I can make the maximum income possible for my time. Also, I really do like to feel smart and useful. However, it could be almost any job … well, I’ve decided any job that pays $10 an hour or better.
The goal of The Job is to give me enough regular income so that, no matter what my freelance life does, I will easily be able to cover rent on The Room, yet The Job must stay part-time enough and emotionally comfortable enough not to eat more than 30 hours per week of my time. I need to save my time and energy, as I do not intend to give up on freelance writing, acting, knitting design, and chasing any other wild idea that occurs to me. The Job is there to stabilize my life, allowing me to focus more on each of my eccentricities. And the number-one area of focus will be:
I figured this part out when I attended two plays and a backstage tour at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, America’s largest and longest-running such festival. I was blown away by their productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler. (If you’re familiar at all with Ibsen’s original Hedda Gabler, you understand the problem with this title. Yes, it was a very surreal play—right up my alley!)
However, the festival left me rather depressed. I have been acting in plays, Shakespeare and modern, experimental and children’s, old standards and brand-new workshops, regularly for 14 years now, but I’ve never given it more than a half-assed effort. I majored in English and minored in anthropology, rather than theatre, because I was convinced that making a living doing what I loved most was too much for a dork like me to hope for, and I should really be responsible and choose a practical major. I took classes here and there, in college and after, but I never got any kind of solid, focused, long-term training. Lately, I’m convinced that the level of professionalism in Denver/Boulder theatre has outgrown me. I’ve done a little improv lately, and a few scavenger hunts and murder mystery dinners, but I haven’t been in a scripted play for nearly two years. Before my trip, I’d largely given up auditioning. I’d see an audition announcement, andsay, “What’s the use? Somebody better than me is bound to show up.”
Well, here’s my new acting plan: less of a half-assed effort. In fact, like Ted, I’d like to earn an MFA in my favorite art form. I’m not sure if I can convince any MFA program to take such an old lady, (I’ll be 35 by the time I get through anyone’s application process, and for an actress, that’s way over the hill, especially for one just getting her training.) and I’m not sure how I’ll pay for it if I can, but just the process of applying would do wonders for my skills. I’ll have to take more classes, and hopefully work on more plays, to get directors and teachers for letters of reference. I’ll have to work hard and get coached to build up two or three wonderful audition monologues. To audition, I might have to go on a few more road trips. (Hooray!)
So I’ve signed up for a two-month advanced acting class that starts in October. I’m considering another, shorter workshop, as well. (I sure hope I find The Job before I’ve emptied out my savings accounts!) I’m also auditioning for every play I can even remotely imagine myself fitting into. I’ve been back in Colorado for one week, and I’ve already auditioned twice. No dice on either one, but I’m just getting warmed up. My first audition, though it didn’t land me a part, convinced me that any joyous thing is possible. I’ll write about that in my next post.