Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When I was in high school and trying to decide on what I'd like to major in in college, music crossed my mind. I loved it, I was in the orchestra and choir in HS. I played guitar and sang for my church and for my prayer meeting every week.

But I figured that I'd be better off choosing some other career, one where I could earn decent money, so that I could AFFORD to pursue avocations like music. I majored in computer science, which I correctly surmised I would enjoy working with, and got a BBA.

I don't think I made a mistake, as I did have a good 12-year run making decent money with the bank. Not great money, compared to the IT field at large at the time, but enough to pay my expenses and afford to do things like take ASL and interpreting classes at night and travel to AADB conventions. (The tradeoff in working for banks was a modest rather than humongous pay scale, but job security. So much for job security these days, but it was good while it lasted.)

HOWEVER. I had an "I can't take this anymore" moment on Monday morning when I got a return call from yet another of the companies I sent my resume to. This was a temp-to-hire position in Delaware. The money would have been decent. But as usual, my 12 years of IT experience label me as "overqualified" for the job, my lack of *recent* IT experience makes me unqualified for an IT-related job, my recent experience of temp jobs in the past few years coupled with the IT experience labels me as a risk to jump to another job, *and* on top of that, this place requires that I not have so much as ONE late payment on my credit record in the past seven years. Considering that I was barely breaking even at some points in time since the downsizing, all I can tell you is, "Yeah, right! Good luck with THAT." Being currently up to date with everything NOW doesn't matter. What happened four years ago matters. (Figure THAT out.)

Anyway, I'm fed up with banging my head against the wall, trying to get back into the 9 to 5 world. That's a world 'm not even sure I WANT to be in anymore, after the past few years of having either bad commutes, bad hours, non-break-even pay rates, and/or spiteful co-workers (or in the case of the call-center job a few years ago, all of the above).

So, back to my "I can't take this anymore!" moment. Joe and I met at Starbuck's, which we tend to do once a week. He said that there's a real demand for church organists, even if it's just part-time for funerals, weddings, and to fill in for full-time musicians who are on vacation. This isn't the first time he's said this to me, but it IS the first time in a while, and it's also the first time that he's said it while I've been questioning WHY I am killing myself trying to get back into the rat race.

He's getting me the contact info for an organ instructor in South Philly. It's someone who teaches at a very reputable music school and has reasonable rates. I'm going to take organ lessons and when I'm up to speed, I'm going to get my name on the local pastoral musicians' registry so I can be called on when there are openings. I've got a ton of knowledge of liturgical music because I've been involved in music ministries in one way or another since I was 14. I already read music, I already KNOW a lot of the music being done by local parishes, and I can already play keyboard instruments with my right hand. So all I have to do is learn to read the bass clef, how to play with both right and left hands, and how to play the foot pedals (a skill that's highly in demand and hard to find among the current pool of musicians).

So after all those years busting my tail at school doing programming, and 16 years self-identifying as a programmer/analyst (counting the programming work I did prior to the Job at the Bank), what am I pursuing now? Being a freelance musician. Who was it that said that man makes plans and the gods laugh? ;o)

All I know is that I'm sick, sick, sick of being judged as over- *and* under-qualified based on the SAME RESUME, the one that I had professionally edited to make sure it was composed and formatted properly for Today's Job Market. I'm sick of the fact that every place in the last four years where I've temped has had a manager who would KILL to hire me as a permanent employee, *but* it'd mean having to kill HER manager who refuses to convert the position into a permanent job and increase the payroll.

I'm sick of trying to go in the same direction as always and banging my head against the same wall, repeatedly. I'm headed in a different direction entirely this time. Non-standard? Yes, it is. But so what? Why should the skill set I'm seeking, for the employment I'm seeking, be "standard"? Who, exactly, would benefit from that?

And the next time I seek something that's "standard" simply BECAUSE it's "standard" will be the first time. I've had a theory for a long time that the people who only want to be Just Like Everyone Else, and subvert their own likes, dislikes, and talents in the process, are the ones whose midlife crisis involves having to go off and "find themselves". Phooey on that. The closest I ever came to doing that was choosing a "practical" major in college instead of music, and guess what? Things have come full circle. The rug of the practical career was pulled out from under me years ago, and after a few years of aggravating myself to death trying to stay within the realm of "practical", I'm going back to school to study music.

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