Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Temptation of Lori

A friend called my attention to a job listing this week: here in my hometown, a company is hiring a full-time receptionist, at an annual salary of 40K, full benefits, vaca, and so on. 40K is a lot for a receptionist in Maine, and especially in Central Maine; if figured per hour, it's about 30% more than I was getting at the IPTOG.

You may be surprised that I would find such an position tempting, but it gets wearing, never having quite enough money. I still owe the heating oil company for the delivery over a month ago, and I've almost paid my property taxes. I eat a lot of rice, in late winter and early spring. What's more, I had an encounter with the misery-inducing norovirus, during a firing which left me acutely aware that there's no calling in sick at this job. If I had shut down the firing because I was ill I would have wasted hundreds of dollars worth of propane, so I just stumbled around, dumping angle irons full of soda into the kiln in between bouts of vomiting.

I was always an outstanding receptionist. I have a natural talent for it, and it plays to some of my strengths: my enjoyment of people and love of order. Anything is more fun when you are good at it.

And then I remember: to do that, I couldn't do this, not really. I remember that during the periods of my life when I had office work full time, I literally felt that I was thinking less interesting thoughts.

I'm not a fan of Mitt Romney, but he had one thing right: there is dignity in work (including parenting, IMO: but I'm off-topic.) I don't and wouldn't belittle anyone's honest work; unlike some artists I meet, I don't feel that sense of superiority to folks working in less obviously creative fields. Sometimes I experience the creative compulsion as a burden: if only I didn't need to do this thing, my life would be a lot easier.

And then I go downstairs to light the second burner, and smell the steam coming off the bricks; I fill up my new coffee cup, fondling the handle and feeling the deep thrum of satisfaction: I made this. And I remember, it's not all unpaid bills and vomiting.

And, you know, it's April. Late winter and early spring are prime time for unpaid bills, for me; and a regular gig is no proof against vomiting. I can already see things picking up for the season. I will get out the calculator and a number 2 pencil and see what I need to do to get me to that number, though: 40K is a lot of money but not a crazy-lot. It should be within my reach.

Maybe I can have it all.


Unknown said...

Weighing out all the rewards and demands of life is certainly challenging...and very personal. I sacrafice time with clay for "security" of a regular paycheck with benefits. So, I am usually a frustrated potter- but I get to go on a vacation in the winter. Best of luck as you crunch numbers.
PS I really love your weekly inspiration posts!

Lori Watts said...

Thanks! Yes, security is a big part of the temptation; and a vacation somewhere other than my yard, too.

We're all just doin the best we can with the options we have.

Patricia Griffin Ceramics said...

Thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Lori. I have big financial goals for my work this year too. Nothing like I could make in my other career, but it's like comparing apples to oranges (or apples to covered bridges!)... Unfortunately, the money all spends the same. I still do ongoing work for one of my long-time design/marketing clients and that keeps my incredibly outrageous insurance paid for at least. And funded my trip to NCECA this year, which was ironic, don't you think?

- Cindy - said...

You're preaching to the cubicle farm. I think there are a lot of us artist types that find ourselves here...

The grass is just always going to be greener.

I know about eating a lot of rice and not having health insurance, but loving the work. I also know hating the work, but having money to get a damn steak and security to be allowed to be sick.

I don't know what pasture is the greenest or how good of a lawn manicurist I am (is that even a thing?). I do know that there are only so many hours in a day and we make choices for how those hours are spent. We remake those choices every day. It isn't easy.