July 29, 2009
I know enough to get by.
I am probably competent, with skills, and while not perfect,
I KNOW ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS.
I will keep up the good work. That was Facebook’s assessment, couched in musical terms, of my performance on one of their endless quizzes, this one on Music Theory and Terminology. Yes, I know enough about music to sound like I know what I’m talking about, without actually knowing what I’m talking about. I know enough to be dangerous. Hm. Fair warning!
I swore I’d never do again—applied for a full-time job. It was first and foremost to see what would happen, if I’m even still employable at age 54 after 2½ years out of the workforce. Submitting a resume was one thing; being interviewed, another, being offered the job yet another thing, and accepting it, a far, far different thing. It was a roughly one-year assignment as a Temporary Assistant Editor in the Department of Development for the San Francisco Symphony, a combination writing/editing job. Though it would distract me from writing full-time, it offered a wealth of opportunities, social, musical and knowledge-wise, that I could never acquire on my own. I figured I could choose to turn my focus towards this for just a year. And I wanted to experience what it’s like to love a job and identify with it, to actually be what that job defined you as.
having been amazed by the rejuvenating properties of Resveratrol, wanted to convince myself I’d be up to the challenge of a full-time routine, when I know damn well that a repetitive rigid sleep schedule where I can’t get the rest I need whenever I need it, is my worst trigger for diving head-first into miserable exhausted nonfunctionality.
I WONDERED IF THE UNIVERSE
sent this to me as a test of my commitment to myself, because I rarely look at Craig’s List, but the last time I did I got two published articles out of it, so I occasionally check out the writing category. Or did this come as a sign that I needed to move in another direction, for whatever reason? I couldn’t know unless I emailed my resume, so I did, and in the cover letter I included some links to columns about the symphony, as writing samples. Their auto-reply acknowledged my submission, and said applicants would be contacted within the next three weeks. Although with forty years both writing experience and love of classical music, and a degree in English, I have scant professional editing experience, so given the competition for such a job, I was an iffy candidate, I knew.
DURING THE THREE WEEKS
I had to roll the idea around my noggin, I decided I couldn’t forfeit the unknown everything I would have written had I not taken a job, that my greatest opportunity is to follow my own star and not work to meet other people’s needs, even if they are the best people and needs I could hope for. Finally, I know that musically, I know enough to get by and am probably competent, with skills, and while not perfect, I know (only) enough to be dangerous, not enough to work for an orchestra. In their world, I am no more than a dilettante. “Amateur” comes from the Italian amatore, lover, and Latin amare, to love, and “dilettante” from Italian dilettare, to delight, from Latin delectare. Really, when it comes to music, I am one who loves and is delighted by it, but no more. I know enough piano to be dangerous to your ears.
I ever heard from them, I sent another email withdrawing my application. What I have right now, freedom from employment, is something I worked for thirty years to be able to enjoy, and if I don’t work hard enough, I’ll be back at square one, in need of a job, without assets, and most likely having to leave $an Franci$co. I need to see this thing through and I’m betting on myself that I will.
ALSO, AS A REPRESENTATIVE
of so celebrated an organization, I would not be able to fulfill the mission statement of The Ax Files: to write whatever I want. I certainly couldn’t write about my job or my employer or its famous guest stars, no matter how delicious the story, or wicked my take on it.
AND IN THE LINKS
I sent, if anyone bothered to click on them, they would find that in addition to telling my symphony stories, I write a lot of raunchy stuff, as well as descriptions of drug trips I’ve been on, that would offend some readers, much less potential employers. My regular readers must like that stuff. But I let it slide because I am who I am and that’s who they’d get.
THUS THIS LITTLE FLIRTATION
with employment. And though my withdrawal received the same robo-response as my application, I never heard from them one way or the other. I deem the experiment a success, in that I had to deeply examine just what I want from this life, and to weigh alternatives, and emerged recommitted to myself. Kind of like remarrying someone and having a second honeymoon.
STALE PEE IN A BROKEN TOILET
is what I identified as my worst-smelling thing in a quiz a friend sent me. It represents the worst aspects of any job. At the time I was landlady to four tenants and I went to inspect one of their toilets. I took one look at it and thought, “I don’t want to own that thing.” That was the beginning of the end, and I sold the property not too long after. I’ve been a landlady twice and once worked as the property manager for a 12-unit apartment building. For someone who doesn’t enjoy lording land over people, I sure spent a lot of years doing it. His psychiatrist once said to Alan Ginsberg, “If you hate your life, why don’t you stop doing what you do.” And I have. I stopped being employed in jobs I don’t like. And I’m just going to leave it at that. I was never meant for it to begin with.
THE WORLD WAS NEVER MEANT
for one as beautiful as Vincent Van Gogh, who ended his own life 119 years ago July 29th, 1890. He’d spent a year in an insane asylum and went to live in Auvers. Between May and the end of his life, he produced some 70 works, and then shot himself in the chest. He’d become good friends with Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, who was not able to remove the bullet. It took him two days to die, during which Gachet and his brother Theo sat and talked with him, as he smoked a pipe, and they were with him when he passed. They covered his coffin with sunflowers. May someone be there for you, to do something like that for you too.
The author suggests you give someone you love a sunflower today.
Stale pee in a broken toilet
Give yourself a sunflower today.
copyright Alexandra Jones 2009