Sunday, December 28, 2014

The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment: (#18: A Job Offer)

by Pam Victor

[The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment is my one-year challenge to make a living through creative pursuits. Read all the updates here.]

He was saying all the words a woman wants to hear. He wanted me. The money was almost three times as much as my goal in this Experiment. I would start in mid-August ("coincidentally" exactly after the Experiment formally ends). I would be working for a cause I deeply believe in. 

But ...

There's always a but, right?

(That's what she said?)

BUT the cause is alternative education, not improvisation. (You didn't think I was talking about prostitution, did you? Jeesh, you guys. I would never do that! So many men, so little applause ... though now that I think about it, probably lots of standing o's.)

Ok, get my mind out of the gutter.

Seriously, I cannot express enough how deeply I care about providing non-traditional education for kids. Anyone of you who have felt held hostage by me while I rail against the fucked up educational system know all too well that this topic the stirs limitless passion and ire in me. You can't educate the whole child in a bureaucracy!!! Children are not just cogs in the capitalist wheel! The current system doesn't educate; it only trains kids to become mindless consumers! Soylent Green is people!

"Coincidentally," just a month or so ago, I was sitting in an angry, weepy mess in my car waiting for my daughter to be released from the latest lockdown in her public high school. (It was not my choice for her to go there. I don't want to talk about it.) This time, it was a bomb threat called in to the high school, which was eventually evacuated. My daughter and a couple thousand other high schoolers were trudged out of the high school and were now locked in the nearby middle school gymnasium, awaiting dismissal. Dismissal not from class but from a bomb threat. I was livid. THIS is how we educate the next generation of children?! Can we all agree that any system that propels children to be so desperate that they regularly threaten to bomb the school or - goddess forbid - actually do shoot up the school is deeply, deeply broken?????????

Ok ... breathe, Pam. Breathe.

Brewing in my bitter angst in my car that afternoon, I decided that I had to walk the talk more. Rather than bitch and moan about the problem, I became determined that afternoon to work for a solution. And after a bit of thought, I decided there was one place I knew of that had one possible solution for the abject failure of the public school system to produce well-rounded, analytic and independent-thinking human beings. In fact, this place offers a very good solution with a proven record. I decided right there and then to put my back into supporting this place.

You see where this is going, right? 

(No! I'll tell you just one more time, I WAS NOT OFFERED A PROSTITUTION JOB. Holy cow. You are ridiculous.)

It's going here: The kind man saying all the words a woman wants to hear was offering me a dream job at this exact place. For the exact amount that would be crucial to getting us out of the college tuition pit - way more than $16K, you guys. Money my family needs to stop dipping into our savings every month. The only catch was that taking this amazing dream job would mean The "Can I Make a Living Doing What I Love?" Experiment would not continue beyond August 1, 2015 because I would not have time or bandwidth to do the work I'm currently doing. 

Oh, Life, you tricky minx, you. You teasing jester. You taunting bitch. Silly, silly life.

I thanked the generous man with the kind eyes and set off into the night. I was as clear as I was conflicted about which road to take. Six months ago, I would have jumped at this job. Now it turned down the corners of my mouth and brought my brows together in an expression that will be permanently etched into my face sooner rather than later. (Stupid wrinkles.) Do I give up my dream to take this dream job?

The thing is, you guys, the Experiment is going pretty well. I am making my modest, monthly goal. (In December, I made up for November's shortfall.) But much more than that, I feels like I'm doing something Right and Good for me. Have you ever had the sense that doors were opening up for you all the exact time you needed them to? That's how it feels for me right now, I am very grateful to say. Small opportunities are presenting themselves to me, little by little. Sometimes I have to listen harder than others to hear them, but I'm very often hearing them. This road that I'm on has a neon arrow sign pointing very clearly straight ahead. Not to alternative education, but towards my goal of making a living doing what I love, mainly in improvisation-related fields.

So, feeling like a dumbass, I told the nice man, "Thanks but no thanks." I stood at the crossroads and took the scarier road leading to the unknown. 

I guess if it doesn't work out, there's always prostitution.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

* * *

Pam Victor is the founding member of The Ha-Ha’s, and she produces The Happier Valley Comedy Show in western Massachusetts. Pam performs  "Geeking Out with: The TALK SHOW," a live version of the written Geeking Out with... interview series, at comedy festivals throughout the land. Pam writes mostly humorous, mostly true essays and reviews of books, movies, and tea on her blog, "My Nephew is a Poodle." Along with TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi, Pam is the co-author of "Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ & Dave Book" which is due out in Spring, 2015. Read all her nonsense at

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