Job Opportunities and Future Creative Endeavors

I have a job offer that I am accepting. It starts in a couple of weeks. I’ll be the one working full-time again, while my husband will continue his part-time position he found for a few months at least to replenish our savings a bit and continue freelancing from home while watching the baby. And we’ll see how things go.

As it seems to matter less now that I keep these two sides of my lives separate, I will discuss my former job and my future job. I was working as a theatrical costume designer and costume shop manager at a local theater before I was let go after getting sick and being unable to complete the costumes before a show opened. Costume design is what I have my training in, and it’s something I really enjoy doing when I am working with people that are good to work with. But the entertainment industry is one that is really easy to be taken advantage in, to burn out, to deal with all kinds of crazy personalities, and to drive yourself into the ground. If you want to check out my work (and learn my real identity – ooo) you can see my portfolio page here. I need to update my Bio page eventually, as all I did was remove the section about where I had been working, but I’m in no rush to do that yet. I also have a tumblr blog where I occasionally post pics of me wearing vintage and repro vintage outfits as a kind of soft-marketing for the custom work I do here.

My new job is going to be doing bridal and formal gown alterations and helping to grow a second shop to it’s full potential. I’ll be making the same rate of money, even bringing in a little more possibly, and I’ll get to work from home part of the time. And the hours, while possibly getting crazy during prom season, won’t be anywhere near what I was putting in every time we led up to a show opening at the theater.

So, pluses are my family and I get to live at the same level of comfort we were at before, maybe even better because we will be able to start building our savings up again. I’ve worked with this woman and in this shop as a freelancer several years ago when I was freelancing show by show at the theater as well, so we have a relationship and I really admire her. I’ll get to help people feel beautiful and confident on their big days, and I’ll still get to be creative in making the bustles of gowns (which I actually love doing) and some custom work as it comes up. I’ll have more time with my family and more energy to put into my own creative work. And I’ll get to surround myself by pretty fabrics and dresses almost every day.

Cons are that after working in theater, almost everything else feels boring by comparison. There are so many little problems that need solving, so much fly-by-the-seat decisions that need to be made, that it is difficult to move at a slower pace. This is why I’ve said in the past that I have two speeds – 100 mph or not moving at all because I overworked myself. So maybe this is actually a plus, because I’ll be forced to modify my way of doing things. Anyway, the other con is that costume design is this blend of everything I enjoy doing – reading and analyzing scripts, historical research, psychoanalyzing characters, inputting all of that in my brain and sketching out ideas, collaborating with the scenic and lighting designers to best realize a director’s vision, occasionally doing fancy renderings, having to read actors to get them to want to wear what I want them to, and then buying/sewing/renting the costumes and making sure they all fit nicely and the actors can move in them the way they need to move. All while on severe budget and time constraints. Doing alterations won’t engage me in the same way. Again, possibly a plus because it will leave me room in my brain for my own projects to be bubbling away, and it will also allow me to focus on my further growth as a human being, allowing me to listen to podcasts and lectures while I work and to just daydream a bit more than I’ve had the opportunity to do in recent years. Another con is that some of my work at the theater was put into helping in our local school district, occasionally going in and working with very poor, at-risk students. We would also pull some of those students into shows we were doing sometimes. Now I won’t have that direct interaction in the community that I felt was really valuable, so I have to find a way to add that back in again somehow.

All this leaves me with having to decide where to put my few hours a week of creative energy. If our positions had flip-flopped and I was the one freelancing from home, I would have tried to build up my sewing business, doing alterations, yes, but also coming up with some kind of line. I could have made a lot of money off of vintage-inspired kids clothes but probably would have quickly gotten bored with it too (cutting the same thing over and over isn’t exciting), and I’ve been leaning toward creating a custom corset and costume line since grad school and have so many ideas for it. But I don’t know if I’ll feel like sewing a lot more after sewing so much during the week, and it feels silly with the world being where it is to put a lot of energy into corset making. I also have two big commissions for the year all ready lined up which will take a lot of time. So I may still dabble at creating a line of things to sell, combining pieces I’ve already made with new pieces, but I doubt that I’ll be motivated to move very fast on that end. So I’d like to focus more on work under this name, as I move to fully unblock myself. I’ve been loving painting this abstract, and may do a couple of more before tackling those bigger pieces I’ve been putting off for years. The writing… I have to see what will happen with that. I have enough poems to probably put together another collection, and I’ll have the time now in theory to try to get out to some poetry readings. The fiction is difficult. I read through some old story ideas and I am really interested in a lot of them, but with reality being so much like fiction these days, I’m having a really hard time wanting to delve into it. I’m not going to push myself too hard on that front, because I can’t force myself, but I will write something every week. And music – I’m building myself up on that front too. I probably won’t try to start pushing myself more until the baby is a little older and weaned, but I want to have that in my life again. Maybe I’ll combine the writing and the music and start writing my own songs again as a means to get back into writing. I don’t know. It’s all kind of up in the air right now. I need to continue to give myself permission to play, and I am trusting that it will sort itself out.

So that’s where I’m at. We’re going to have a rough transition into me being out of the house as the baby definitely likes me better than daddy at this point, and I’m sad that I can’t be a happy housewife for a while longer. But it will be good. I am glad that we’re going to survive this bump, and I feel like I got a nice little 2.5 month extra maternity leave and the chance to fully heal, which is more than so many people get. And I’m also proud that my work ethic stands on so firm a footing that upon posting that I got fired from my job, I was made a job offer with no questions as to why I was fired (we did discuss it later on). This is also the second time that someone wants me so badly that they are creating a position in order to have me. Having me available is the impetus toward someone else pushing forward in an endeavor, and that feels really great.

My Dream Life Schedule

Some days (most days) at my office job, I like to imagine what life would be like not being chained to a 9-5:30.  How much more time I could spend with my son (and hopefully future children) and husband.  How much more time I would have to create and share my creations with the world.  At this point, really, my husband and I have decided that any future that allows us to run our own business and raise our children ourselves would satisfy us, with at least a little time for creative work each day, and that is what we’re currently working towards.  But I wanted to share my dream life, too, if we were able to make a living solely on our creative endeavors.

Monday through Friday, we will get up with the children (currently between 6:30AM and 7:30AM with our son).  My husband will shower while I do my Morning Pages (from Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”) in between playing with the kid(s), we’ll take turns making breakfast and checking our online shop for activity that needs to be completed.  Four days a week, every other day we’ll trade off on who gets 3.5ish hours in the afternoons and mornings to do independent work.  In the three and 1/2 hours with the kids, we’ll play, do homeschooling if that’s what we decide to do, run errands, daily chores/cleaning, and do any bits of blogging/social networking/website updating/business-y work we can in between.  Whoever has the morning kid duty would be responsible for prepping lunch and afternoon duty would be responsible for cooking/reheating dinner.  If there is nap time, that would be writing time.  During my three and 1/2 hours, I would meditate and work out for 30-60 minutes and spend the rest of the time working on the work that needs no distractions or requires loud machinery.  We would come together for lunch and dinner, take turns picking up after dinner and prepping the children for bed, then work for another several hours on writing and quiet hand-finishing work at night.  On the fifth day during the week, we will shorten our daily work time by at least an hour each and plan a family outing.  One evening per week both my husband and I would get a night off.  I would take up bellydancing and maybe pole fitness again (and forgo the workout earlier in the day) or sign up for a class.  My husband would probably join a golf and bowling league, depending on the season.  Maybe also we’d hire a babysitter and sign up for a weekly class together.  I’d love to take ballroom dance again, and we both want to eventually take cake decorating classes together.   Our weekly schedules would remain flexible though because if we were prepping for a particular show or had hard deadlines to meet, then those would take priority.

Weekends would probably involve traveling to different conventions and art shows a lot (which may eat into our weekly schedule as well) or visiting friends and family who don’t live near us, but when we’re home, we’ll have family time together, get home projects done, and probably sneak in quite a bit of work on Saturdays but try to take Sundays completely off of any “work”.  And again, this would depend on deadlines and such.

We also would be entertaining a lot more.  Both my husband and I love to cook for people.  When we had a bit more of a disposable income, we would throw dinner parties for up to ten people and themed parties (like an all-dip party where everyone brings their favorite dip or our favorite holiday National Pie Day that produces a veritable sea of pies) for up to twenty semi-regularly.  We both want to be that house that all our children’s friends want to come eat at/spend the night/hang out.  I would also like to choose one place we’ve never been each year and travel there, both domestically and internationally.  Maybe alternate between expensive and less expensive trips each year.  I think it’s important to see and explore different areas of the country at least, plus since we’ve got friends all over, it is a good excuse to visit!

So that’s the dream.  Like I said in the first paragraph, if we never QUITE get to this schedule until we retire, that’s okay as long as we gain our independence in other ways.  But this is what I daydream about.