At last, at last -- I have a job!
March has been an action-packed month, and I have scarcely been able to keep up.
First, I am finally gainfully employed. After nearly two years of self-doubt and weeping, I have finally set a foot in the right direction, and regained a sense of self-respect.
This is not to say that I was unhappy or dissatisfied with my lot as a Housewife-Writer-and-Freelance-Shakespeare-Scholar. No, I have enjoyed that life very much, and still do!
But, there is just something in my Puritan DNA that would not, could not rest without a sense of active, lucrative employment.
I have come by my work ethic organically. My father was a tireless professional. He never seemed to stop working. To be honest, I can count the number of bona fide vacations/holidays my parents had (i.e., ones that were purely for relaxation and/or recreational purposes, as opposed to work-related ones) on one hand, and have six fingers left over. That is to say, the number is less than negligible.
To my parents’ generation, Work in a very traditional sense, (i.e., having a job, actively pursued during business hours, that pays you a regular wage) was a matter of pride and respectability. It was a badge of honour, a sign of maturity, proof of ones position as a contributing member of society.
As a result, my allowance was ‘earned,’ and tied to the efforts I had made around the house: cleaning my room; helping my mother with garden; folding clothes; polishing silver, and so on. And, it could be withheld and/or withdrawn based on occupational performance.
I must confess that I resented my friends, many of whom by my estimation, lived the life of Riley, and were given nice allowances for just being themselves, with little or no effort at all on their part.
I was also encouraged to join the workforce before many of my friends did, as well. I began babysitting professionally at the age of nine; and even spent a very lucrative, teenage, summer holiday as a live-in nanny/babysitter for several families in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.
Looking back, I have no regrets. I had some wonderful experiences, and had the joy of earning “my own money”. Of course, wages for baby-sitting or working at "The Record Rack" in the mall were ridiculously low, but the amount of money was not the point, the point was earning it.
This ethos is still with me today. As an academic, I have never earned a great deal of money, but even so, I have always been quite proud of having a good job, and one that I enjoyed.
Relocating to England provided me with a real opportunity to re-evaluate my relationship with work. To explore and uncover what it is I really want to do with my life.
It has been a blessing to get off the academic treadmill, and take some time for myself. The D.E.B. has been quite proud and supportive of my aspirations and desire to write.
As if in response to the sentiments Virginia Woolf, expressed profoundly in her work, A Room of Ones Own, the D.E.B. has given me the space, support and freedom to write.
At times, this incredible opportunity has felt a little like the sort of gift that prompts the view, ‘be careful what you wish for’. Over the past year and a half, I have applied a considerable amount of pressure on myself to achieve something, anything, with my writing, and quickly.
But, of course, writing is not a pursuit that one follows with any sort of haste. My impatience in this regard has been coupled with an overwhelming desire to be a “team player,” to be a contributing member of my new and wonderful marriage.
So, this being my life, these two points have converged at the same time. Just when my writing has started to take off – e.g., my newly minted monthly column in Warwickshire Life; and, acquiring an agent for the cookbook, successfully and finally. (!!!)
And now -- the offer of a part-time job with the National Trust! I’ll be working at Charlecote Park, in the area of community engagement and audience development. I am absolutely thrilled! I positively adore Charlecote Park, and am a huge, huge fan of the National Trust.
The job will call upon my skills as an educator, arts administrator, librarian, theatre director, creative thinker, problem solver, and lover of history. Fabulous.
“I do worry for your writing,” my dear friend Julia said softly down the phone. (I miss her terribly, since she and her husband, Robert, moved from Barford.)
Truth be told, I worry for my writing, too. This post with the National Trust is just the sort of job I relish, and one in which I could ever so easily lose myself…
However, my hope is that instead of hindering my creative spirit, this new role will inspire me, and provide the discipline and structure to my craft that I so desperately need.