This path that I'm currently on was not planned--not even in the slightest. When I quit my job in New York right before Christmas, I was doing so in order to finish In Double Rainbows by the self-imposed deadline of December 25. Though a complete production of I.D.R. never materialized, I had gone all-in and had no back-up plan as to how I would make money in order to continue living in New York. So, I weighed my options and decided that maybe it was time to leave. Several trips down to D.C. during the fall made it clear that both Zac and I wanted to re-start Juno Day in earnest, but the challenge was finding a way given the restraints of jobs, geography, and time. Ultimately, I decided I would move home to the suburbs of Philadelphia for the month of February, regroup, and then move to D.C. to facilitate making music again with Zac.
At the same time, I knew I wanted to find work (a source of income) that was more consistent, sustainable, and rewarding. In New York, I had had five jobs in 14 months--none particularly exciting, rewarding, or with any intention of any sort of "career." I also moved six times. I was tired. By contrast, home was a haven, and for the first time in a long time, I actually desired this comfort and stability. Most of my friends--other than Zac--were in Philly, and I began to start thinking seriously about what I "wanted to do" with my life. Tapping into my network in Philadelphia seemed more tangible and inviting than another "experiment" in another city, so I began to have second thoughts about my move to D.C. Teaching had always been in the back of my mind as something I would like to do at some point, so I began to explore potential opportunities in that direction. I was still not committed to staying in Philly, necessarily, but I was increasingly moving in that direction. (I was completely ignorant as to the imminent budget crisis, but that's a whole other story.) One opportunity led to the next, and before I knew it, my schedule was filled with various education-based activities.
Here's a chronological summary of the past six months of my life, highlighting everything I would not have been able to anticipate beforehand:
- Quit my job at a marketing agency in New York City (almost completely spontaneous)
- Wrote the songs for In Double Rainbows
- Left NYC en route to Washington, D.C.; ended up staying at home in the suburbs of Philadelphia instead
- Started volunteering at Mighty Writers, Students Run Philly Style (Team SLA), and YouthBuild Philadelphia
- Sponsored a high school student's Senior Project, teaching him guitar lessons
- Was accepted into Philadelphia Teaching Fellows
- Held a job as a substitute teacher at charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia
- Ran the Broad St. Run for the second year in a row, with the kids from SLA
- Played in my first ice hockey game since high school (7 years)
- Was offered a position as a math teacher with Mastery Charter Schools at Simon Gratz High School
The only thing on the list I would have been able to have predicted is In Double Rainbows, and only because it was already in progress. Everything else is new--although, not entirely surprising, given my interests and the fact that I took action in that direction.
I honestly couldn't be happier with the way things have evolved over the past several months for me. But, the reality is, in taking on these additional responsibilities, I've made the mission of tangible accomplishment for Juno Day seemingly much more difficult to realize, due to having less time and energy to devote to its cause. And so, by default, the cause--or at least the scope and the way in which it might be realized--evolves.
I'm reminded of a quote from The Great Bridge by David McCullough, which I read over the fall/winter:
"The movable saddles, like big expansion joints that were to be built into the actual roadway, were essential to the stability of the bridge. Its capacity to move, the fact that it would not be perfectly rigid like a stone bridge, was the thing that would keep it alive..." (316)
Today (June 21) was supposed to have marked the release of Up, a 12-song album that I had worked on last summer while living in New York; or, it could also have marked the release of Acomodador, an 11-song album of songs from 2009 and earlier. Neither one of them are anywhere close to being complete. I had set the goal of releasing an album on the first day of summer, 2011--the longest day of the year--as early as last spring (2010). How did it not happen? Mainly by my finding other distractions, by allowing new ideas to compete with the existing plan, and by simply not doing it.
I've had enough ideas not come to fruition over the years to know that "Just do it" is the ultimate truth. In undertaking these new responsibilities, I still hope to find a way to produce an actual catalog of songs with Juno Day. Further, this new path is now inextricably linked to the path of Juno Day. The way I approach my job as a teacher will invariably reflect my experience and what I've learned from Juno Day over the past few years; and the direction of Juno Day will undoubtedly be influenced by my job as a teacher. Both Zac and I are aware that our priorities rest with our "real" jobs, and so it will be a major challenge to try and "move it forward" with Juno Day, especially since we are still not living in the same city. But, we'll see what happens.
Here's what I anticipate in the next six months:
- PTF Training Institute
- Teach math at Gratz
- Run the Philadelphia Marathon
That's about all I'm fairly certain of...I have ideas for how I'd like to fill in the gaps, but I'm not sure how things will play out, and I kind of like the idea of not planning too much. "With the flow."