Last night, for a job interview, I ironed a shirt for the first time in four years. I even ran the iron over each interlocking pleat, like separating seaweed out from water and straightening it, one strand at a time. It was peaceful and ominous.
The shirt is part of a program of wearing businessable attire every weekday between 9 and 5, even if what I have to do is just sit at my computer and write. It’s supposed to help me have separation between my work and my personal life – difficult when you can work at any time, in any attire. It’s been very effective.
And the interview is part of a program of making a more stable life for myself than can be afforded through freelance grantwriting, exclusively – and anything with the word “freelance” on it – assistant directing, you name it.
These are good things, and necessary, and perhaps a little overdue for someone about to be 27 in a couple weeks. But on the way home from said interview, I heard The Chariot, by Cat Empire, in my ears: “we never yield / to conformity.” For a glorious moment, I leaned against the side of a building on Rockwell and pretended I had a plane to catch, a show to do, an all-nighter to pull, a tech to run. I felt a spasm of defiance, like someone shaking me by my spine. I wanted to run, as fast as I could, away from anything that takes place in an office.
And I walked home, calmly and concisely, still wearing the ironed shirt.
I am reminded of an interview I had with a female director some months ago, who gave me this advice: Align (or ally?) yourself with institutions. It was advice spoken of honesty and experience, from the point of view of someone who had tried to live as a freelancer and also within the structure of a theater, who successfully had a child, a relationship, and a career in the arts. It was wise. I’m trying to take it.
To this end, I continue to try to self-institutionalize, for my own safety and security. But who wouldn’t sometimes hear that music and wish they could still be as young and stupid as they, perhaps, still are?
(For the record, I am blogging on my self-imposed “lunch break.”)