Thursday, February 5, 2009

Temp



I was actually thinking, especially in this financial day and age, how nice it would be to write an article for Etsy ( they have all of these great articles called "Quit Your Day Job" ) entitled "Appreciate Your Day Job" to remind us ( especially in this amazing and challenging period of economic history ) that there is no moment you stand on the mountain shouting, "I have won!" when you stop working for someone else.
If you're smart you look at leaving an employer a little more humbly, saying to the powers that be, "Thank you for this chance" and then getting to work on your own material.
As romantic as it would be to yell, "Never say die!!!" and refuse outside work, it's not always possible. I can support a whole lot of our lives on my artistic income, but the mortgage on a condo bought at the height of the Los Angeles housing boom? 

Nope.

So the perfect solution has presented itself: I will temp again until we find our footing. It means no specific job in the long-term, just a lot of answering phones and filing things for people I don't know. It both thrills me and repulses me.
It won't be every day: the goal is two weeks out of the month until Anthony has work.
Temping was the basis of my income for nearly five years after I left college.
I still remember my first temp jobs, the dread in my belly when I looked at phone lines and realized I didn't know what I was doing. There were several failed jobs in New York City that were embarrassing to say the least and then the subsequent ride home on the subway crying big tears of shame and loneliness. 
The ache would fade long before I fell asleep a mere five feet away from one of my best friends in the bedroom we shared in Astoria, Queens. 

Eventually I got so good at temping that companies were asking me to stay longer, looking for things I could do. Phone lines of every shape, size and number were near and dear to my learned heart. I became familiar with dozens of neighborhoods and sections of the city I would have never known if not for temping.

As overwhelming as NYC was to me at 22, I remember it with this golden glow of nostalgia and wonder: there's a halo around those amazing three and a half years.
How are we ever to know when we graduate whatever school we finish what the big wide world looks and feels like? I opted to go to the Big Apple and find my Broadway dream, only to discover that it wasn't being on Broadway, but singing - my material or someone else's.

So while my Broadway-bound friends auditioned and pounded the pavement I worked at Land Rover and Citigroup and Berger-Vitearea-McNamae-Schmetterer ( that long phone greeting haunts my dreams! ) and ten thousand other forgotten businesses, writing at night and booking time at a piano-rental studio on 47th street.

I have come to love the idea of temping: it's like being a babysitter: you can visit but you get to give the job back to its rightful, normally disgruntled owner.

Now instead of going home to a two bedroom railroad apartment with four roomates, I will go home to a husband I adore and two cats who make us laugh day in and day out.

And I know that this too shall pass and become its own thoughtful memory, humbling and tender, full of things I'd forgotten to notice until the years gave them a delightful amber glow and the hunger that made them necessary fades.

9 comments:

Good Girls Studio said...

you always have the best attitude towards life. Thank you for sharing it :)

susie said...

I love your blog - the amount of art bubbling up inside you amazes me. We all do what we need to do to support our families. I relate. I look forward to a day when my creative endeavors will enable me to quit my 9-5, but the truth is that it is nice to have a paycheck and a pension too. Good luck to you in your temping adventure. May you meet new people and learn new things. Have a good day,
Susie

Sunny Rising Leather said...

J - Thank you so much :)

Susie - Wow, that is so kind!! Congratulations on riding both horses: career and art - family changes everything, doesn't it? It makes your heart big enough to do both :)

Dave Zeman said...

While I love our receptionist Kathy, I tell her... "you know I know this woman who can sing incredible in California and she too is a receptionist"... she says, "Dave I can bake cakes'... and marvelous ones they are.. filling joys of brides everywhere...
btw... loved the story....Dave

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Everybody's got their something, it's so true, Dave!

terry said...

I really related to your post as I'm in the same boat right now. After giving 4 months notice at my day job back in the rosy spring of last year to focus on my creative work, my final day was in mid-September. Great timing, eh? A week later the economic crash. My husband, who was working as a consultant to the financial industry, lost all of the upcoming work he had and has been unable to find more. So despite having healthy sales in my little shop, I'm now looking for outside work again as well. I alternate between feeling very matter-of-fact and then incredibly sad. Thanks for reminding me that it really is a loving and positive step to take.

auryane said...

*smiles * I love reading your entries.

I worked in a coffeeshop (as a second job) between undergrad and graduate school. It was somewhat terrifying, since my training was in a completely different field, and did little to prepare me for that job. Still...I had a good time, learned a lot of lessons, and can still make a mean cup of coffee.

I think it really depends on how you approach the tough times. You have a strong sense of self and a vision for your future...and when you have that to anchor you, the temporary jobs (no matter how difficult) becomes a learning experience, not a shackle.

You'll do well, Allison. I have no doubt of that.

(btw, pretty things for you to put together will be in mail next week!)

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Terry - ah yes - the sad mixed with the 'reality' of everything - we're so in the same place!!! It's funny though: when you think back on your life isn't it amazing how different everything looks in a few months time?
You and your husband will be in my thoughts and prayers :)
Kat - mmmmmmmm coffee!!!
At times like these I remember the great Indigo Girls lyric, " For every pleasure exacts its pain"... when I think of that I remember to take the good in stride as much as the bad .

FF said...

Thanks for helping me look at the whole picture rather than just this moment!