Sunday, November 22, 2009

"You ain't lost, you just on this side of town."

I had to try hard to keep the sheer glee to myself when I heard this and just listen to the man's directions. In my mind, though, I could picture myself bubbling out the ears with joy at the gem that had just been uttered before me. I knew I wouldn't have to write it down and I knew I would never forget it. At the time, I had a mere inkling of the statement's potential complexity, but over the next couple days I spent working and getting lost in Austin, Texas, I realized how little the 7-11 clerk's words had to do with my geographic location and how very much it described my transcendental state.

The next three days were the first time since April that I had worked more than one day at a time. I had a few jobs throughout the summer, and things have picked up a little this fall, just like I knew they would. Until now though, even if I had more than a one day contract, they were never consecutive days. Still, I kept a positive attitude and was frequently being told just how encouraging it was that, despite having never been unemployed before, I just never stopped trying to find work and stay busy. Hell, it wasn't that much of a challenge.

Recently, after almost seven months of unemployment, for about a week I thought it had finally happened - I was bored. When I mentioned this to a friend, Grace, she said to me without even thinking about it, "Yeah but bored for you is like most people's normal." And just because of that, I was ecstatic again. I realized what a gift this time off has been for me and how much I have changed from the time I stopped working at my corporate job in April. I've also noticed how many people have sort of been following my little transformation, whether because they too are unemployed and haven't quite had the time to approach it the same way, or because they are still unhappily employed at a time when pay increases have been frozen and morale is at an all time low.

During this time, I've been purging my apartment of everything I just don't need and have made room for a tiny home-office in the form of an Ikea desk by a bedroom window where my cat sometimes sits on my lap as I write or process images. I remember what I eat now that I'm not too busy too cook the healthy, fresh food I love and I've had time for enough exercise to have lost at least 15 pounds. Over the summer, I was giving my grandmother rides to her weekly card games. It was nice to have a reason to just slow down and do something for this amazing woman who has done so much for me. I bought, not only my first digital SLR, but my first new camera ever! (Pro SLR anyway) All my other cameras have either belonged to my former employer, been handed down from my dad (Canon AE-1 which I still love and use) or otherwise second-hand-gifted awesome-film-relics, or were a point and shoot or a Holga. I got a tan this summer and here, at the end of November, I still haven't let it fade.

When I do work now, it's just the part of the job I love and none of the work that bored the crap out of me while sitting in an office, working for someone else. For the first time, almost ever, I don't feel the need to think so far ahead about how the job I'm doing now will get me to the job I want after this one, or in 5 years. I am really just doing what I love and enjoying both every minute of it and every minute in between.

So when an acquaintance I haven't seen in a while Facebook-asked "when did you get a positive attitude?" after my last day on the Austin shoot and I status-wished every day could be that good (partly because I saved-the-day! by convincing the hero to take off his shirt for the photos and scans, despite the fact that the scene for which they were needed was weeks away from being filmed - no, these skills do not work with real men), I was able to really see how much I had changed over the last seven months. All the contempt for my inability to leave a job I liked most of the time yet needed to be laid off from is gone. All of my self deprecating sense of humor seems to have melted away when I stopped working with people who always thought they could do/improve my job (because every one's a photographer these days!) and now I just get hired by their bosses and never have to deal with them because they mostly lack the social skills needed to function in the places I work. The cynicism and sarcasm I used so much in the past? What's the point? (see above) But I've lightened up quite a bit and can't help but see humor in new places - like the oldies station at the laundromat when I forget my iPod and it feels like Elton John is always playing, like people who mispronounce words or use the wrong ones entirely (Star Track vs Star Trek, kitchen vs chicken!), and like those people in a hurry at the supermarket and want to know if they'll open another register when (clearly) no one else is around.

No, I ain't lost, I'm just on this side of town. Life is good over here. I'm not going back.

Some photos from this side of town:

light bulb shop

studio parking lot, still daylight

Well than I must be the richest woman alive!

New dres, anyone?