I have to say that I am so, so, so happy that I had a chance to celebrate Labor Day this year. Really. I can't tell how you wonderful it feels to be working steadily, to have somewhere to go each day, to have something to do, to be needed, and best of all, to have a money coming in. Compared that to a year ago! Dan and I even opened up a joint savings account, and it felt amazing to deposit a some of my new money in there.
My work schedule is pretty good right now, too. I am working at one magazine four days a week from 10am-4pm, and then I have four other magazines who contact me on a regular basis to do work from home. It turns out to be 1-3 homework assignments a week. And it's likely my situation will stay like this until the end of the year, possibly longer. BIG SIGH OF RELIEF.
It's funny because I had plenty of downtime during my months of unemployment, and I could have filled my time doing all sorts of creative things. But at the time, my brain was so cluttered and weighed down with the burden of finding work and worrying about money that I never had an urge, even though at the time, I wanted to have an urge. Now that I am working again and feel a sense of security, I feel all kinds of creative thoughts and ideas wandering around my brain. I am even considering plunking down and finally starting a big writing project that keeps scratching my brain even though it kind of scares me. I know some people get a creative drive from being depressed or angry, but I think for me, I need to have a sense of security, too. There's got to be some kind of middle ground. (Though I am sure there are people reading this thinking, you have a job until Jan 1 and you feel secure? The life of a freelancer.)
I had this crazy experience the other day. It was a Friday, my day off, and I took my usual yoga class with my favorite instructor, Lara. I don't usually gravitate towards New-Age-y yoga teachers, but I like Lara because she is spiritual but also thoughtful, smart and interesting. Every class begins with a thought or a theme, and that week, she talked about those moments in your life where you feel so flooded with happiness that you actually feel full--mentally and physically. She said how they can come out of nowhere--even just sitting in your pajamas with a cup of coffee and the Sunday Times--and that we should appreciate those moments when they come.
Later that day, I was walking through Carl Schurz Park, looking for my picture of the day, when
I spotted this elderly woman walking her dog. She had a funny gait which made me want to take a picture of her. I think she saw me watching her, so she came by and sat next to me on the bench. I remarked on the cuteness of her dog, and then we got to talking about things. We probably sat there for an hour. Mind you, I am not a very friendly person so this sort of thing never happens to me.
She was a German woman who worked as a nurse had lived and traveled all over the world. We talked raising children in New York City and cross-country road trips and what types of cars are the best (European cars, apparently). She told me about how she got in a car accident and was told she would never walk again, but she did, not because she went through hours of physical therapy.
"Humph," she scoffed, when I asked her if this is how she got better. "I did it all myself. I did it because I was determined."
She told me, in life, it was important to be determined. In the hospital where she worked, the people who made it were the ones who fought for it. She told me she had no regrets in her life, she had lived a nice life, which I thought was such a wonderful thing to say.
She asked me what I did for a living and I told her I worked in advertising but that I wish I were a real writer. She paused for a moment and got very serious. "Well, you know, I knew John Steinbeck. As you know, he was a great writer. He did all kinds of jobs to get by. Before he was John Steinbeck, he was just a regular guy." She looked at me hard, "If you really want something, you can do it. I can see you are determined."
With those words, she hurriedly said she had to go. She got up and left, and I never got her name. I remembered that I didn't even take her picture so I got one of her back. I'll probably never see her again. But that moment, that conversation, those reassuring words, made me feel that fullness my yoga teacher was talking about, and it lasted a while.
My new German friend. And my love for Germans continues.
Scenes from my Labor Day weekend:
Meagan made dinner for Julie and me at her apartment in Queens. We sat on her deck and drank wine and talked about the places we wanted to travel.
I met up with some of my old co-workers at the Frying Pan, a restaurant/bar that lives on a boat which is apparently a NYC institution that I never heard of (see, you can live in New York for eight years and still have no clue about anything).
Katie and Tim goofing off. Those are Tim's glasses. Courtney and her man came too but I didn't get their picture.
Ahh...the last days of summer.