Life in Seattle has gotten crazy busy. Which, given the weather these days, is probably a good thing.
For the first time since graduating from college, my schedule hasn't been dictated by a full time internship, which is both liberating and terrifying at the same time. I'm officially a freelance teaching artist, creating and working on all sorts of projects and classes around rain city. Being that a freelance career is a tough one to build (especially in this economy) my newfound job title also means that I'm a part time telemarketer, nanny, and house manager.
I am learning a lot these days about free-time and productivity and how to make the most of a schedule that is ever-changing and ever-confusing. I can't say that I've mastered the to-do list, yet but I am getting good at making them for sure. I'm also becoming a master networker, which, it also turns out, means I can write off about 200 bucks worth of coffee dates when tax time rolls around (what's up self-employment!?)
But besides setting up meetings and drinking coffee and qualifying for food stamps (still), what does a "freelance teaching artist" do, you ask?
Well, if you simply split up the word, you've basically got two jobs wrapped up into one.
Basically, I'm an artist who teaches, and a teacher who creates. These days, that looks something like this:
I'm an "apprentice" (read: barely paid) teaching artist at Seattle Children's Theatre. This quarter, that job breaks down into a few specific roles:
-Assisting on an advanced acting class on Monday nights at SCT. The kids in this class are the cream of the crop. Most have been taking acting classes since they were in elementary school, and they're smarter and more dedicated to developing as actors than most of the theatre majors I went to college with (myself included). Needless to day, I'm learning a lot just by observing scene work and curriculum in this class.
-Assisting on a residency that SCT is doing at a failing elementary school in South Seattle. This is a completely different experience than any other class I could assist on at SCT. The kids are largely non-white and very few have had the exposure to theatre that the typical SCT drama school student has had. I'm there two afternoons a week, once with 3-5th graders and then with K-3rd graders. Again, I'm learning a lot about teaching theatre and how to engage with students of all levels and economic backgrounds.
-Assisting and observing one-day workshops and short-term residencies in schools. Assisting on break camps.
Starting next week, I'm teaching drama once a week at Union Gospel Mission in downtown Seattle. UGM is a men's homeless shelter, and the whole project is daunting to me. It's a volunteer gig, completely unpaid, but it's also the type of work that I've always wanted to do, and I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking, reading, praying, and planning for this. I'll let you know how it goes.
There are also several projects coming up for me in the spring. A production of Pinocchio I'm directing at a local elementary school, a professional show I'll be acting in, a few (paid) classes I'll be teaching by myself for local theatres, a two-person grown-up play I'm directing. So I'm spending a lot of time this fall planning and getting excited for those things, as well.
Right now, my "work life" is very far from average, and I expect that it might always be that way. I'm constantly aware of the divide between myself and the "normal" people around me, the non-artists who work consistent schedules and who have benefits and some measure of job security. The people who don't have to work a night job to pay their rent while they get on their feet as an artist. The people who can go to church on Sunday and don't have to rush out after the service to make it to a 10 hour shift at a third job. The people who know how much they'll be making in 6 months and can plan vacations without worrying that a job will come up that might prevent them from traveling. The people who can actually go on a date or join a bible study because they have free time after 5pm every day. I could go on, but I'm starting to cry in a coffee shop (my "office" these days).
It's a hard life, this one that I've landed myself in. But, despite all of these worries and frustrations I've articulated, I know that I really am in the right place. I LOVE teaching at lots of different places, working with adult students and teenagers, and kindergartners, and breaking down a good script as an actor or a director. I don't want to do anything else right now, and I'm blessed enough that I don't have student loans, that my rent is cheap, and that my parents' healthcare plan covers me until I'm 26 (which is sooner than I'd like to admit).
So to sum things up up, I'm taking life a day at a time right now, remembering that each season of life has it's blessings as well as its curses, and choosing to rejoice in the good rather than dwelling on the bad.
I think that's enough of an update for today.