Things have not been going well.
I was utterly wrecked that I wasn’t even honorable mention on the Kilroys. And if I had been on the list, I’m certain I would’ve made it a little further for two different jobs on the table. And not being on it kind of knocks me out of the running. For a couple things.
So that plus losing a job that actually meant a lot to me, a job I could’ve done really well if someone had just let me do the job I was hired to do…
Plus hearing about rumors being spread about me. That I lack administrative skills. That I’m impossible to work with.
As Janelle Monae says, cue the violins and violas.
Or, as I like to say, it was time to get the f*ck out.
One of my best friends lives in Denver (Jasmine) and she suggested I come there for my birthday. At first, I was only supposed to be there for like two days and then come back so I could be ready to really job search and/or be available to immediately start working.
Then she asked me, “When’s the last time you took a real vacation?”
Y’all. I haven’t taken a true vacation that lasted longer than 24 hours since 2015. And, technically, that “vacation” was my honeymoon.
I think this is true of a lot of artists. I work my “day” job (that so far I’ve been deeply invested in) and the only I time I take off work is to go on a playwriting adventure. Which yes is fun.
But it’s also still work.
So I agreed to stay an extra day.
I spent the entire time really thinking about my arts administration jobs and my playwriting jobs. I’ve always believed that at some point those two would come to a head. That I wouldn’t be able to do both.
But why though? And is that true everywhere or is that just Arkansas?
The biggest question on my mind: Have I peaked in Arkansas? Have I gotten as far I can in this city?
Have I gotten as far as I’m allowed to go?
If the answer is yes, then where does that leave me? What’s next?
A literary manager not too long ago said that while she found my loyalty to Arkansas admirable, she didn’t understand it.
Especially when I told her what my potential job options were after leaving the AD position.
Then I started questioning myself. Did I accept an AD position too soon? Is my resume not as impressive as I think it is? Maybe I need to count my losses and just accept the ceiling Arkansas has set up for me?
And as my head starts spinning, Jasmine slides me a beer and tells me to chill. I’m supposed to be on a vacation.
I tried so hard to relax. To not focus in on work and my overall situation. But my situation suuuuuucks.
And I can’t even complain because it’s not like my career (arts admin or playwriting) is nonexistent. Yeah, I wasn’t on any of the lists this year but I had two major commissions. Yes, I had to leave my job but I was able to create paperwork I can use as a sample for future positions. And already have job offers.
Like yes, there are so many positives but…
And then Jasmine said, “Let’s go to Disney World.”
There are three things I deeply, deeply love (people not included): Disney, Harry Potter, and theatre. I needed a break from one of my loves so hell yeah I was down.
I cannot explain the overwhelming sense of absolute joy I felt walking around Harry Potter world. I would stop often and just geek out. Jasmine said it’s the happiest she’s seen me in years. I got a wand! I got a Slytherin tie! I tried butterbeer (and hated it but loved that I tried it). We walked around and just kind of got lost in happiness.
After Harry Potter World, we went to Disney World.
By then I was hangry. We had fast passes and I didn’t understand the rules of them so that frustrated me and I was cranky but then I looked up at the castles and at the theatre and the taverns and all the Disney imagery, I felt that happiness literally rush back in. (I also had a snack finally.)
It hit me. Like really, truly hit me. Artists don’t take vacations. Or at least the artist I know don’t. We’re constantly on the grind. For me, constantly watching money. Trying to figure out what our next move is. Constantly trying to prove our value to others.
But like…for what?
Here’s what I know about myself: I made an impossible thing happen. I built up a career on sweat, lots of tears, late nights, and working 80+hours a week. At 30, I’ve been a professor, playwright, programming coordinator, literary manager, stage manager, production manager, operations manager, company manager. I’ve designed and directed. And I’m a motherf*ckin playwright.
I’ve done so much.
So, okay, I didn’t make any of the lists. So maybe Arkansas doesn’t appreciate or value me. So maybe I’m not one of the playwrights “to watch” right now. And maybe I won’t ever be.
Does that take my value away?
No. It doesn’t.
I needed a moment to take a step back. To remember why I’m fighting this fight in the first place.
But more importantly, what I really, really needed was to try to catch the golden snitch in Harry Potter World* and then sing Disney songs as loud as I could. Until I lost my voice. Until my feet hurt. Until I literally couldn’t think about anything else.
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.
*A guy dressed up as a golden snitch let me run around and chase him for a bit. I had a wild, amazing time y’all.