Last Fall I had a fellowship at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. I conducted research for curators and worked closely with Folkways Records, the official record label of the Smithsonian Institution (housed within the Center for Folklife). So wooed by my wonderful experience, I got it in my head that I wanted to work for the Center for Folklife/Folkways upon my Return to D.C.
When I moved to D.C. this past August, there were no paid positions open at Folkways, but I spent every Friday as a volunteer doing filing. Simply being in the office was wonderful, although I cried a little bit more each week about the steady disappearance of my savings.
I was just about getting desperate when two wonderful things happened: First, word hit the street that Folkways was lookin' to hire someone to (wo)man the phones, answer questions about the collection, and process and fulfill orders (package and ship 'em out.) The job itself wouldn't be too cerebral and hours were flexible so I could focus on my studies. Best of all- I'd be working with the organization and people I loved. A multicultural, intelectual, stimulating, experience.... even if I was just workin' glorified customer service. It seemed ideal, so I applied. And got the position.
Second, in the process of casting my net, I had also applied for a grant-funded position with a non-profit Historic Preservation organization. Through the grant, I would have the chance to actually practice what I was studying, to be mentored by people in the field, and have incredible access to all kinds of research and guidance that few others in my program would. When I was offered that position, too, I simply couldn't say no.
So... yes. While wrasslin' with graduate school I grinned slyly at two part-time jobs.... and tackled it all.
The goin' certainly ain't been easy. I’ve been poorer than I would have preferred, more exhausted than I can ever remember being, and there have been times when I've nearly tapped out. I've been kicked in the proverbial nuts a few times. And I've certainly kicked myself there, too, as punishment for my naive ambition. And the journey ain't over yet.
But one step at a time... one step. I've almost made it to May... when I'll change my lattitude and spend the summer working hard, but in a different way.
I guess since the days are getting longer again I'm able to look back and try to make sense of the past few months. Years. Whatever. And while my head is clear for these few moments, here is one epiphany for the record:
I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.
And although I'm being drawn in so many directions and sometimes barely make ends meet, I really am living a dream.
And I have a lot to be thankful for.