Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Now What?

I'd been busy.  Working nights, working weekends.  My show was supposed to end in early March and then I'd get a break.    I could skydive again!
That's not what happened.  The show extended into March.  Then April.  Our studio had new owners.  We weren't closing down!   Did this mean my job wasn't in jeopardy?
I got the boot.  
My department got the boot. 
 Pretty much everyone I knew got the boot.  We weren't doing anything wrong.   There wasn't any new work (I think the bankruptcy spooked potential bidders).  What would be the point of keeping everyone until that changed?  And wasn't it cheaper to have this thing done overseas anyway?
To make things worse, it wasn't like I could just get a job at another studio down the street.  Most local studios had closed or moved their workloads overseas (tax incentive deals).  
I'd sensed my career (which in turn supported my skydiving ) might be in danger, but this finality hit me like a brick.  That job you loved?  The one you worked so hard at to be good at?  It's gone.  At least you'll have skydiv-  oh wait.  Without a steady income or insurance you're not doing that either.
In the opera "Madama Butterfly," there's a scene near the end where the heroine expects to be reunited with her husband (whom she knows is in town).  In one moment she learns that he has a new wife and  he's only swinging by pick up her child so he and his new wife can raise it.  She says "They want to take everything!"
That part of the show kept playing in my head.  They want to take everything*.

 When I was a kid, parents and teachers taught me that if I were good, and if I really, really tried (and didn't just coast,) that I'd be successful.  Maybe not rich, but okay.  Down and out people were lazy or had screwed up, I was told.  That scared me!  What if I screwed up?    I tried really hard to be a good kid.

 In my teens I read something about Walt Disney (whom I admired.)   A departure from the "believe in your dreams" fluff that often followed his name:
"He learned to work and work hard."
I never forget that.  "Learn to work and work hard."  It wasn't just wishes and imagination.  "Work and work hard" was a key to success.
 After a decade of "working and working hard**," I'd developed a lot of skills.  I could paint, rotoscope, composite, retime, pull green screens, troubleshoot...
...but these weren't skills that transferred to other fields.  Skill-wise I was a freak.  And the freak show was gone.  Now what?
And, what I could do was done on special software.  Only my workplace used it.  It was like I spent the last ten years of my life learning how to master a weird musical instrument...
 ...only to discover every one of them had exploded  Did I know how to play something else?  A piano? A violin?   I certainly could learn, but I'd still be competing with people who had been playing "standard" instruments for years... (who most likely lived and worked outside of the United States.)
I had screwed up.
 My Inner Critic wasn't impressed.  Other people had to start over from scratch.  Did I think I was special?  Who did I think I was, anyway? Boo hoo hoo.
 Maybe a career change was in order, but what?  I had no talent in the promising "STEM" fields (science, tech, engineering, math.) I'm too squeamish to be a nurse.  I disliked teaching for multiple reasons (and wasn't very good at it).  Should I try my hand at being a professional illustrator?  No, that was silly.  But my main career was dipping into "silly" territory too.  So many of my colleges (including those who were in the industry longer and were more talented than me) can't find steady work.  There has to be something else I'd be good at.  I wonder what it is?  And how will I discover it?