Friday, February 12, 2010

Life Studies & Hopping the Pond

I've spent more time with Robert Plant than Robert Lowell. And that's legit--a 15-year-old discovering Led Zeppelin is a bigger life-changing experience than almost any ground-breaking book. I'd still take Zeppelin's first album over Lowell's "Life Studies" any day (though I'd go for the book over Plant's solo "Now and Zen").

But Lowell gets my attention now with his autobiographical/biographical detail and the confessional tone of his writing. What is a blog other than a confessional medium?

In my own life studies I am starting a new chapter. Leaving a job at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where I have worked for the past seven-and-a-half years.

I started out when our eight-year-old daughter Anna was just a couple months old and our five-year-old daughter Ava was born during my time there. It's been the only place our girls have ever thought of as "Daddy's work."

We moved into the house we're living in now; I finished my first marathon and ultra-marathons; published my first feature article for a nationally known magazine; celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary; and have met folks I now count among my closest friends, all while or because of working at the Museum.

It's the kind of job I wondered if I'd have for 20+ years when I started. The kind of job that isn't just what you do for a paycheck, but is a part of who you are.

It's also become a job, for me, that I know when it is time to move on from. A place in my own life studies when it is time to refocus my creative energies, step up to a new challenge, a new field, one that allows me to better provide for my family (after all, as the Wu-Tang Clan has pointed out, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M. ;) But Benjamins aren't the only ones speaking here.

I'm going to be working as a technical writer/editor, shedding a bit my marketing skin and doing more of the writing and communications that I truly dig. I've got a D.C. commute, something I thought I'd never do, but that I am looking forward to. I'll be working with a creative team, something I love, which is an aspect of the Museum that disbanded as staff changed until I was the last standing.

So there's a big open road ahead, for which I am grateful, humbled, thankful, and excited. And now it's also cool to look back and reflect.

A friend/mentor/co-worker sent around a poem dedicated to my leaving the Museum. He knows I am a fan of Tony Hoagland (who warrants his own post here sometime soon) and now this Hoagland poem carries another layer of meaning on it for me:

"The Loneliest Job in the World"

As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who Loves Me?,
you are completely screwed, because
the next question is How Much?,

and then it is hundreds of hours later,
and you are still hunched over
your flowcharts and abacus,

trying to decide if you have gotten enough.
This is the loneliest job in the world:
to be an accountant of the heart.

It is late at night. You are by yourself,
and all around you, you can hear
the sounds of people moving

in and out of love,
pushing the turnstiles, putting
their coins in the slots,

paying the price which is asked,
which constantly changes,
No one knows why.

CBMM has certainly been a job of the heart and a part of my life studies. Now I'm looking forward to a job of the heart and the mind, looking forward to the next chapters and studies of my and our lives.


Robin said...

awesome piece, hun. You touched so many lives while at the museum. Congratulations as you move on to new adventures. xoxo

dave said...

As one who has spent the last 5 years moving from a career that defined who I am into one of where I need to be, I truly understand this post.
Thanks for you writing, I always enjoy.

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, Robin and Dave. Dave - that's a great way to put it/look at it. Thanks for reading, man!

Elizabeth Bastos said...

To pastures new!