I should be reading right now, by which I mean professionally. See, a recent gig performing radio drama at Lakewood Playhouse, together with a lull in my usual day job, inspired me to seek out work as a voice actor. Apparently readers of audiobooks are in high demand these days. Can you believe I landed the first such job for which I've ever auditioned? Yay, life! Yeah, I was stunned, too. It's an translation in sonnets of The Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes, whomever that is. It's challenging work, because not only does each ancient Greek name present a daunting hurdle, but this translator's vocabulary puts that of Shakespeare to shame. Dictionary.com has become my new best friend. I'm enjoying the assignment. Trouble is, my home office isn't soundproof, so November rain presents an unexpected problem. Same goes for traffic over the Tumwater airport a short distance away, and leaf blowers, and Amanda's cat Sloppy Joe out in the hall...
Still, I got the job, so I can call myself a professional voice actor. Why the hell would I complain about something like that?
As I've mentioned before, the concept of thankfulness is an odd one for agnostics--not because we don't feel the emotion, of course, but we're not sure whom we should be thanking. The Great Unknown Cosmic? Impersonal luck? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Take your pick. All I know is, there are times when I feel grateful to SOMETHING, and I don't want to let those moments vanish into nothing. They did not have to happen. The Universe doesn't owe us good luck or even fair treatment; when it arrives, it should never be taken for granted.
So. Y'know what I'm most grateful for, right at this moment? I feel wanted. I don't mean I feel wanted sexually, as valuable as that may be, but in every other dimension of my life. For example, when I was laid off by Cengage last year (a company that's since begun bankruptcy proceedings), I was only out of work for three months. In our current economy, that's just shy of miraculous. It seems my ex-supervisor liked my work so much that when he was hired by another company, Chegg, he asked if he could hire me as well. I've been writing for Chegg ever since.
Meanwhile, my publisher/editor at the Weekly Volcano keeps swearing he'll be obliged to decrease the paper's theatre coverage, but it never seems to happen. Trust me, that's not because he's a theatre buff. I don't think he's ever attended a show. He just says he likes my writing too much. Consequently, I've had maybe one cover story idea rejected in four years. How many newspaper writers, even recognized names, can say that?
This week another ex-employer indicated a desire to hire me for yet another writing job, and even if that never comes to pass, it's still lovely to hear. I didn't fish for the compliment. It just happened. As rejection emails clog my inbox, the inevitable result of recent query letters to possible agents, it's rewarding to hear I'm not completely wasting my time putting QWERTY to keyboard.
I suppose this is one of those posts that consists almost entirely of bragging, isn't it? Sorry about that. I'm trying to say thanks, if to no one other than you, Gentle Reader. I couldn't have done it without you. Because you're a reader, and a mensch, this former trailer park resident gets to be a professional writer. I mean WOW.
And then there's my wife. They say marriage is hard work. Ours is not. Ours runs smoothly, and I suspect that's because we're each other's best friend. Consequently, we have no one else to gripe to about each other. And she likes having me around. She doesn't need me, she wants me. We don't have kids to keep us together, we don't need to lie or omit many truths to make it work, yet her car still pulls into the driveway each weekday at 5:30 p.m. Granted, it was already her house, but you see where I'm coming from here.
Meanwhile, my Washington friends put up with my borderline-autistic behaviors and laugh at my clearly inappropriate jokes. Rare is the weekend someone hasn't sought out, or at least agreed to, the company of Amanda and me. I suspect they mostly want to hang out with her--but geez, that's only because she's so much nicer and friendlier than me. Their math does check out.
The South Sound arts scene wants me. People ask when I'll be in a show again. They don't need me; my niche is amply filled with multi-talented performers. Yet they ask, and when I audition, I tend to get cast. There's a publisher interested in releasing a paperback edition of Lightfall. I don't know if I want that to happen, but God, am I thankful that book hasn't faded into an absolute obscurity that seemed unstoppable two years ago.
What a blessing it is to be wanted. As we enter our mid-forties, the number of people who seem interested in jumping our bones decreases sharply. Aging sucks. It's not that other people find us unattractive; rather, they find us beside the point, sexually speaking. It's like they've looked up from their bus stop, we're the #45 bus, and they were waiting for the #23. They return to their People magazine, instantly forgetting we were ever passing by. As that particular variety of desirability diminishes into the rear-view mirror, then, it's comforting to replace it with something valuable and ageless and comprehensively satisfying.
This afternoon someone posted a picture of me and my undergraduate friends on Facebook. The photo was probably taken in 1990 or 1991, in a house which no longer exists. I felt that instant pang of nostalgia. Can it really be over two decades since that goofy kid was me? But y'know, as I reflect on how many people are happy to have me around, and the warm reception they've offered my talents and personality over the years, I feel grateful for how things turned out. At any point in our lives, that's a joy to be recognized and savored in most humble appreciation.