Monday, November 17, 2014

Full-Time Competitive Free Old Man Happy Face

Frankly, like many Americans, I’m exhausted from exhausting all my avenues. For 15 years, I have been a writer. With degrees in history from the University of Missouri, I have contributed to several encyclopedic projects, scholarly journals and websites; as a former opinion columnist/editorial writer, I have written on topics ranging from socio-economic issues, local and national politics and international relations, and have reported on the political scene throughout the St. Louis region. Additionally, my short story fiction and poetry has appeared in various online and print magazines; this year, [*PROMOTION ALERT*] I self-published my personal narrative, Echoes From An Unexamined Life, and a novella, Judgment Bound. Yes, I am bragging about my achievements as a writer because I take pride in them. Just as a good death is its own reward, so too creativity is only as valuable as the personal worth attached to it; in essence, I have gone broke gaining riches in artistic fulfillment. I’m okay with that, but its own reward doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

Over the years, I also have held a colorful variety of jobs – dishwasher, delivery driver, substitute teacher, archeology technician and bartender. While I haven’t experienced its full brunt, I can sympathize with the under- and unemployed as a “full-time” freelancer. Far too often, I come across so-called “competitive” rates that are more expectant of “free” work than freelance. My resume/credentials are on a multitude of freelance/employment board websites, with innumerable applications/proposals sent to potential clients; against my nature, I am regularly active in networking efforts on both professional and social levels. As such, I have committed to every piece of advice about getting out there. Yet, there is very little movement from any in the form of steady work, even from the most promising; many other freelancers face the same situation. While I have resources tied up in certain ventures (like my aforementioned books), generally these too have not been a steady stream and typically not accessible when needed.
That may sound like I am complaining – which I am, because it’s inherent for me to do so both genetically and professionally – but as I said, though, it’s more that I’m exhausted. For probably only the second time in my life, I’m a blank canvass devoid of ideas, plans or solutions of my next step. Uncharacteristically as well, I have no contingency ideas, plans or solutions from which to draw. Because, I have exhausted those too.

In another life years ago, I worked at a country club as a bartender for four years, and more recently managed/bartended at a music venue for seven – the latter of which came to an abrupt end both from burnout and upper-management incompetence and unprofessionalism, to put it nicely, that I was unwilling to continue tolerating or ignoring. You know, standing up for my principles et al…while those to whom I was making a statement continued in their positions. Overall, since age 16, I have 25 years of experience in the bar/restaurant/entertainment industries; as such, thought has been given to returning to bartending but do I really want to? Similar to when I was pursuing a teaching degree in yet another life long ago, the answer I keep coming back to is no. As a curmudgeonly “old man” – suited perfectly and contentedly for home-based, solitary freelance work – I am finding it ever more difficult to put on the requisite “happy face” for people in general.

I’m exhausted from it.

©2014 Steve Sagarra

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