Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Giving Up? or Growing Up?

"So, if you were hired, we would expect a commitment of Tuesday through Saturday, 10-6pm, as well as any shifts that your staff would be missing. We would expect you to be an exemplary role model, as your position would require disciplinary measures and coaching for your staff."

Gulp. MY staff?

I had an interview today. A real, live interview. Not an audition... (i know, i was confused too...) but an INTERVIEW. For a full-time, salaried position. With set hours, salary, and benefits. BENEFITS!!!!!! Meaning... incentives for going to the doctor, taking a lunch break, getting that long-overdue dental cleanup. It was for management in arts administration, 40 hours/week. They asked me about my skills in managing people, in disciplinary action, in how I would approach the job. It would be ME who would be scheduling OTHER people... and it would be MY responsibility if they didn't show up for their shift. So in other words, I've got to put my Big Girl Panties on and shoulder the responsibility.

I've also been applying for other full-time jobs, ones that are perhaps a little more flexible, yet still along the basic line of what I've been doing: $12/hour or so, 20-40 hours/week. So, hourly, no benefits... yet time-wise, flexible. AND, Scheduling would still be done in advance - so, calling off a shift last-minute would be out of the question. Although, I would still be paid less, have more time, create "art"...

... and still be dirt poor.

I tell you this not because I'm looking for advice, or sympathy, or monetary donations (although all would be gratefully accepted... especially the latter...personal cheques accepted with valid photo ID...), but moreso because this whole experience is bringing up a massive can of worms. Like, we're talking Costco-size here. And that can of worms is this:

Am I giving up? Or am I growing up?

All my life I've judged others based on their work. It hasn't been a conscious thing... and I didn't mean for it to be mean... but in retrospect, some of these thoughts have been pretty darn harsh. I've always considered anyone who's working a Day Job as "non-committed" to their art. Like they've "given up" on their passion, they've sold out. I've always seen these people as all TALK - like, "well, I trained in New York, and now I'm living in Langley and I'm teaching... I want to go back some day, but it's just not financially feasible for me right now...the business is HARD, and I really miss it, but you gotta pay the bills, I haven't really auditioned lately..." yadda yadda yadda. And I've listened to these people talk, smiling and nodding and bobbing my head to "show" that I'm ALL on their side, that I really respect their decision...

but you know what? Inside it's been a whoooole different story. Inside, I've seen them work their day jobs and I've listened to them talk and I've watched them kinda-auditioning for semi-pro shows and thinking, "WOW. they have FAILED... I'll never be like that. I'll always keep my flexibility, because acting and singing and dancing is my passion. And I"ll ALWAYS make auditions a first priority, and I'm going to be famous by the age of 25, and I am amazing and they are not.." And no, I"m not proud of these thoughts I've had. But they were there.

And then, lately, I've been shopping around for different restaurants that serve different dishes in life. You know, like the "being honest" cafe, and Chez-"committing to things" on "I just turned 25 and my ankle is arthritic and I have no money to my name" Street. And since this blowout with Dad, I tried the "OH GOD I need to move the hell out!!!" diner, which is serving this new type of pie - have you tried it? You know.. that kind that sort of brings out steel toed boots and kicks you in the ass? It's called "humble" pie. If you haven't tried it yet, I don't recommend it. Or maybe I do. I don't know yet. I'm still halfway through my serving.

But regardless -- it was this incident that propelled me into applying for jobs. Day jobs. REAL jobs. Jobs with "routine". Jobs with "structure". Jobs with everything that I've always said that I'm AGAINST. Like... think of it this way. It's like an environmental activist who, after spending 10 years overtly imparting his values of Green-this, Green-that to everyone he meets, goes ahead and applies for a job at an oil refinery in Alberta.

I'm exaggerating, of course. Sort of.

In serious, though... haven't I always said that money doesn't matter? That it's how you feel, and that leads to What you Do? That your thoughts create your reality and action has to be inspired, and then your dreams will come true?

I feel like all of that was incredibly ignorant. When I remember myself saying these things to friends, this image comes to mind of a bossy child loudly giving directions in life to another peer who is forced into submission, and I kind of cringe a little bit.

Because... moving out means paying rent. Paying rent requires money. Money comes from... trees? Anyone want to donate a Money Tree? Because, truth be told, I have not made one dime from my acting. Not one DIME. I've made some income from my singing - corporate gigs, you know - and lots of gifts in kind...but I'd like to meet the landlord who accepts a lifetime's supply of Free Opening Night Tickets to the Gateway and the $75 from my corporate gig last year in exchange for May's rent (Seriously. If you meet him, send him my way...)

And it's funny, because my friends are of two mindsets. There is nobody who is sitting on the fence with this one. They either fall into the "oh FINALLY, you're growing up, welcome to the REAL WORLD!" mentality; or it's the "Oh God, well, there goes your acting career, I guess... I'm so sorry for your loss, when's the funeral?"

And can I tell you the truth? We're friends here, right? So I'll be honest:

I'm worried that I won't get the job. Because I'm qualified. I've grown a HELL of a lot in the past 2 years. And I feel confident about my interview... I can envision myself working for the two women who interviewed me, fulfilling my responsibilities, and managing others effectively. I can see myself working in a professional manner, and the money is amazing, and I really would kick ass at this. I can see myself enjoying it, committing to it, being useful.

And... I'm worried that I will get the job. Because if I get it, I"ll take it. And I'll be professional, and I'll give myself to the contract, and I'll work set hours, and I'll have staff that I'm responsible for, and I'll spend 1 hour in commute there and 1 hour in commute home and 8 hours working on the computer and dealing with people and have an office and be able to make plans in advance and pay my rent and stay off the ankle ...

... And...

where does that leave Megan, the famous actress? Megan, the Wild Child? Megan, the free spirit? What happens to THAT identity?


in accepting this position... is it the end of an era? Does accepting the fact that it is, in fact, physically painful to audition and stand in rehearsal for hours at a time, mean that I'm giving up? That I, too, have joined the ranks of, "well, acting is so great and I love it but you know what, it doesn't pay the bills so I've just got to get a real job and I'll just have to learn to enjoy routine and 9-5 and maybe one day I'll retire but until then i'll just eat lots of food to deal with the pain and divert my attention from my failure in living in suburbia, getting married, and just making do with my life"?

I don't know. I just don't know. But there you have it. 25, unemployed, scared shitless to be employed, scared shitless to not be employed.
So, my point? Cheques can be made out to MEGAN PHILLIPS -- that's no H and 2 L's, and mailed to...

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