How does one proceed if one is putting in hours upon hours doing something for free and decides they want to try to move on to getting paid for it instead? Is it practical to keep doing what you're doing while you're looking? What if the organization you're doing it for is driving you absolutely batshit insane, threatening your interpersonal relationships, and wreaking havoc on your health and your (real) job? What if you genuinely like many of the people in the organization individually and you feel like a real rat, letting them down, abandoning them, leaving them in the lurch?
What if you finally just hit a point where you think, "What the FUCK!?! A volunteer organization should NOT be sapping this much of my emotional energy!!"
Is it still better to stay rather than quit, just so you can keep doing what you want to be doing, until you manage to get paid for it? Is ALL experience "good" experience?
I'm certain there are a variety of valid opinions on the difficulties posed by each fish/pond size combo possible in the old adage. Personally, I think the worst of all is being a small fish in a small pond. Small ponds, in my experience, have a much higher big fish : small fish ratio. The mediocrity that is easy to hide (and, more importantly, to accept) when surrounded by mediocre peers comes into stark relief when there are so many exceptional people around.
These are the things that distinguish me from the chum in Iowa*—Editing, Baking, and (nominally) Stage Combat. In other words—simulated violence, facilitating obesity & diabetes**, and criticizing people's best efforts. Yay. Suffice to say, I have little-to-no social currency here. I have no "marketable skills."
There is a growing ball of anger and grief roiling inside of me, and I find myself desperate to move back home. A small fish in a big pond can get lost in the shuffle, can fade into the coral and rest. Only in a small pond will a small fish be called upon simply because of a lack of bodies, and then have to watch as they bring down the quality of everything around them. I miss my big pond. I used to get angry because the few skills I felt I did have were constantly overshadowed... but I'll take overshadowed over irrelevant any day.
In a small pond there is no room for the luxury of depression. There is too much to do and too few people to do it, and even if what I'm doing is only a fraction of the quality as the person next to me, well, hey, they only have so many hours in a day. They'll have to settle for mediocrity in their projects... which, I suppose, is why it's hard to be a big fish in a small pond, too... but forgive me if I'm a little short on compassion at the moment. I can't figure out what I'm supposed to DO here, who I'm supposed to BE here. I keep getting caught up in this whirlwind of intelligent, talented, competent people, and I'm never able to quite keep up. I'm always the tagalong, the lackey, the stray cat. The one who's tolerated. I've never been so wrong so often about so many things. I usually don't even bother opening my mouth unless I'm confident, but lately everything I say is shot down. I've never felt so stupid.
Oh, god. What if I'm the comic relief?
Welcome back to my life. Still melodramatic after all these years.
*there are other things I do well, like singing and writing, but there are So Many people here who are So Much better than I am that they're pretty much irrelevant **seriously, TWO of my closest friends have been diagnosed with diabetes since I moved here... not saying I'm at fault, per se, but the social role of "person who brings cake to parties" has somewhat fallen out of favor
So, the kids (well, primarily D.C.) have worn me down. They're *demanding* school lunch, and who—exhausted as most mothers are—could see fit to deny them? Is denying their request worth BOTH spending half an hour each morning writing clever notes and making sammiches AND getting them home again at least once a week? No need for lunch money, after all... even if they weren't on free/reduced lunch, the school has a policy that they NEVER refuse a kid lunch... which is great and all, considering what a poor neighborhood this is, but still. Sometimes kids are just jerks who are *refusing* to eat their perfectly healthy and existent home lunch! Doesn't matter: there's no discernment. If a kid says he wants lunch, he gets it... the bill just gets sent home later.
OK, OK, so bullies don't get to beat kids up for their lunch money anymore... Does anyone really think the problem was ever THE LUNCH MONEY and not, say, the fact that the kids back then thought it was OK to use violence? Talk about treating a symptom not a cause.
...seems to be the perfect time to say "Hello!" 90% of my feed is Wil Wheaton & GRRM, but perhaps I'll come back here slightly more than occasionally if time allows. I like the fewer people than FB. Makes me more likely to be open about things, I think. I used to think my life was an open book, but lately, FB has gotten so crowded that I find it as exhausting as a party. I still maintain that Social Networking *ruined* talking on the internet, by making it into something that the Norms thought was normal, instead of being reserved for geeks & wackadoos. I miss my tiny cadre of malcontents who were all as awkward as I am. Anytime the "cool kids" get their hands on something, it goes all to shit.
Today, what is tickling my fancy is the notion of transportation. As those of you who are my FB friends likely know, our van took a powder on us Saturday night (leaving us stranded 30mi from home and resulting in a $125 towing fee & an $18 cab ride to work this morning.) Looks like the problem is the fuel pump, which means it's not likely to be fixed on my watch.
The goal at this point is to get some sort of decent trade-in value for it, and do what we should've done a couple of weeks ago, which is buy a car that gets better gas mileage, for the regular commute between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City that has become part of our daily routine. However, it is fun, in a context such as this, to ponder the alternatives that would be available to us under better circumstances.
i.e., I MISS DECENT PUBLIC TRANSPORT, DAMN IT!!!
Cedar Rapids has a bus system. It's not BAD, per se, but it doesn't start running until a couple of hours *after* I have to be at work. I do take it home sometimes. There is no public transportation between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, something that fills most residents of both cities with constant ire. People have been pushing for a commuter train for ages now, but TPTB seem unwilling to encroach on the stranglehold that Big Corn has on the rail lines.
New Jersey Transit was far from perfect, but I have so many fond memories of commuting by train. There's a different sort of people, for one. Around here, no one takes the bus on purpose. If you're there, it's because you HAVE to be: car problems, license taken away, poor, etc. It has the same general reek of desperation that the pawn shops have. Commuter rail is different. People (at least, back in Jersey) take the train because it's practical. They take it because it's convenient. I have no problem with poor people, being one myself and all, but there's just a patheticness, a sense of embarrassment, about the bus around here that brings me down.
Sometimes, I wonder about bikes.
Then I remember that I'm fat, and out of shape, and that the wind chill here in the winter can get bad enough to give you frostbite in under a minute.
So I return to waxing nostalgic about commuter trains, and I think about all the poetry I used to write, and books I used to read (reading on buses is easier than in cars, but still nauseating at times - and writing is right out.)
I've got a couple of leads on a vehicle. It'll make things far easier for us, what with going back and forth to IC so often and all (James is directing Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead for Iowa City Community Theater, I start classes on the 23rd, and I'm in Once on this Island with City Circle Acting Co... and there's a period of about 3wks where all three overlap...) Still, I can't help feeling a little evil, and consumerist, and anti-environmentalist. Am I just wussing out? Are there options that I either can't see, or am too lazy to take? When oh when will I be able to move to a city where being a responsible car-less citizen is a more feasible alternative?!?!
Once again, another one which cannot be narrowed down to one. Hmmmm. Here we go, here's my list:
Neverending Story: This has been my favorite movie since I was 10. Like I said, I don't change things up very easily. I spent a good portion of my life obsessed with all movies based on books (Labyrinth, Princess Bride...) but this one is by far the best. Didn't hurt any that my 10-yr-old self fell HARD for Atreyu. Forget a cool car or a sexy motorcycle; just pick me up on your luck dragon and I'll swoon!
The Usual Suspects: I had been obsessed with Gabriel Byrne since long before this movie came out, thanks to such films as Gothic and Cool World. I'm pretty sure he was the reason I saw it in the first place. Anyone who knew me in college can attest that my walls were practically plastered with that man's picture... ummmmm, because he's a good actor and all. Yeah. Anyway, he might've been the reason I watched it, but he wasn't the reason I loved it. I insist that NEVER has a better ensemble cast been assembled. Also, there were no good guys! Well, except perhaps Chazz Palminteri (who is also awesome,) but (spoiler alert!) he doesn't exactly win at the end. The story was brilliant and the way it was told was unbelievable. Also, Gabriel Byrne continued to be hot AND I first saw Benicio del Toro.
The Wedding Singer: The first time I saw a preview for this movie, I knew it would be my new favorite. Adam Sandler + Drew Barrymore + '80s music = win. That's all I needed to know, really. Of course, it was also fantastic. I know it's hella cheesy, but it makes me tear up every freakin' time I see it. It's just so, I dunno, *genuine,* somehow. Unaffected. Isn't that silly? Still, it seems that way.
Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy: OK, even less "valid" than The Wedding Singer, perhaps, but I have never laughed so much at any other time in my life than I did when watching this movie. I adore Christina Applegate, so much so that I overcame my typical distaste for Will Ferrell in order to watch this. Steve Carell & Paul Rudd were so brilliant that they even made Will Ferrell look good.
The Trial: James has had me sit through quite a lot of Orson Welles' work, all of which is very good great... but this one is the one I love to watch over and over. Maybe it's the source (can't go wrong with Kafka) or maybe it's Anthony Perkins, who is fantastic to watch... I don't know. All I know is that I cannot get enough of this film. It's utterly creepy and satisfyingly unsettling. It's phenomenally fraught with tension. I adore it.