So I have a job. More or less. I start training as a polysomnographic technician on Friday at the sleep lab that my dad's practice* works with. Basically, the job is to hook people up with various electrodes and CPAP masks and whatnot, send them off to sleep, watch the monitors and entertain yourself for the next seven hours, and then wake them up and unhook them and send 'em home.
On the one hand I'm obviously glad I can now earn some money instead of sitting at home assembling jewelry and reading politics blogs through the wee hours of the night. And it's nice to have my sleep disorder work in my favor for once. Though to be fair, it also gave me the ability to pull all-nighters without any stimulants, which was kind of impressive, but is kind of useless outside college.
On the other hand, it's sort of disappointing to know that your main qualification for your job is not your painstakingly acquired art skills, nor your scintillating wit, nor well-honed mental abilities, but a circadian quirk in your mental circuitry.
I thought at first I was compromising by looking for jobs in graphic design, which is not terribly close to my actual major but can be done with the skills acquired. And I thought that the last thing I would do is accept any job in my hometown, which I've been dying to leave for, oh, the past decade or so. And I really thought that getting my degree would be my ticket out of town. Nope. It's seven months after graduation and after two or three false starts**, I'm working at a totally unrelated job whose main appeal is the ability to wake up at three in the afternoon and watch late-night X-files marathons on TNT while working, and still in Terabil.
My main hope now is that after working six months or so I can transfer to a sleep lab in Broceliande or Avalon (which has one, fortunately, so theoretically I could work there during grad school). And while I'm working, I can use the downtime to do some artwork. I'm planning tentatively on using the time to get a webcomic version of my senior project started.
I feel kind of stupid for feeling disappointed about getting a job, and at the same time I feel kind of like I gave up too soon, and maybe I could have found something better if I'd held out and moved to Broceliande like I'd planned. Then I feel dumb for being picky and I should just be happy I have a job at all, even if it's not what I expected and not really what I want.
I also can't help but think, because The Little Voices like to creep up at times like these, that the reason I'm not getting any art- or design-related jobs is because secretly, I suck. And while I've received enough compliments and whatnot on my abilities in the past to know that I clearly have something going for me in that regard, and I've read enough to know that it's less a matter of ability and more a matter of connections and experience, it's not a hard leap from "not quite good enough" or "not good in the specific currently-marketable way" to "not good at all."
I had the same problem with portfolio reviews in my senior year, when I'd show my senior project to the visiting comics editors, who were all men with a strong preference for black-and-white serial work, and they had no idea what to do with a fully-painted female-centric graphic novel that didn't already look like someone else's style. (The closest comparison I've gotten is Terry Moore, which is awesome because I love him to death, but the older I get the less my stuff looks like his.) It clearly wasn't that I sucked, just that I was working outside the box, but it was hard to think so right when I had ZOMG FAMOUS EDITORS telling me "well, we don't really... do... this kind of stuff."
It doesn't help that I have produced absolutely no art since getting back from Broceliande, and very little in general since graduating. Terabil sucks my brain dry, I swear. In Broceliande I was seriously making up for lost time, and actually drawing for fun again, but the minute I get back home I can barely force myself to work on my commission piece for my aunt. It's extremely obnoxious.
* My dad, not to give away identifying details or anything, specializes in a branch of medicine that usually has nothing to do with sleep, but all it took was one crossover ailment and now he's board-certified in sleep medicine as well as three other specialties. He also has a business degree and taught himself computer programming, apparently for fun. My dad, not to put too fine a point on it, is a nerd. At least I know where I get it.
** False start one-- got an interview, found a disgruntled employee report online for the company. False start two-- got an interview, did really well, previous occupant of position came back. False start three-- I don't even know why I didn't get it. My mom claims it was because I wore jeans to turn in the application.
My birthday was recently, and I just got my present from Iris today (it's a stuffed animal that she made herself-- one of her hobbies is sewing plushies). I was squeefully posting about it on my livejournal, taking pictures of it sitting on my head and everything, and basically proclaiming it the Most Adorable Thing Ever (which it totally is, I've already named it and everything) and blathering to anyone online about how completely awesome my girlfriend is.
Only I can't pick it up and show it to all my family members because (a) it has little rainbow wings, and that would freak out my mom and (b) they'd wonder who it came from and I might have to Explain Things if questions got too detailed. And that would be the end of the happy and the beginning of another round of "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
One of the things I've noticed lately is that the more I spontaneously smile when I'm thinking about Iris or something she said or a goofy picture she posted somewhere, the sadder I am that I can't share that with my family. I've had to do it a lot-- closing the door or waiting until my family members are asleep or out of the house when I'm talking to her on the phone, or even talking about her to other people-- because the fact is that my obvious giddiness would raise uncomfortable questions, and those never end well. It's an odd sort of tension when happiness is an occasion for sadness.
It always makes me wonder if there will be a breaking point where I'll have to choose between loving a woman and having my family love me. The longer that the whole issue languishes in a sort of denial zone, where it's just the thing that nobody talks about, the fuzzier it gets. Sometimes I think that it's just the time that my parents need to get used to the idea, and maybe they'll eventually come around and, you know, not kick me out of the family.
It would be nice if I could really believe that.
I'm always envious (ooh, deadly sin!) of people with accepting families. Iris' family are all liberal hippie types, so they didn't care one way or another. Sorcha's dad once said he would be glad if both his daughters were lesbians (well, one out of two ain't bad). Hans' mom has practically adopted me as her lesbian daughter, for that matter. A few other gay or bi friends have accepting parents that they don't have to hide their rainbows or t-shirts or significant others from. The more I see the way things can be, the more disappointed I get that it doesn't look like that can or will happen for me.