The Cloud Strikes Again

Dammit!  Rachel Roberts, you warned me but I did NOT listen.  I spent a couple of hours this weekend writing about The Second Stage of my working life and now it’s Gone, Gone, Gone…

very sad emoticon

Oh well.  Maybe I’ll write about it again in-depth someday but in summary:  I was an actor, Acting is a small business where you sell your services, which make it doubly hard because if you don’t believe in your product you aren’t very successful. I had a five-year business plan, I got where I wanted to be in Boston.  I joined all the acting unions, was respected in the community, made a modest living doing theater, on-camera, and voiceover work and I still wasn’t satisfied.  I started to commute to NYC because juicy on-camera acting parts were few and far between.  And then the twin towers fell.

I asked myself “If I were to die today, what could I say that I’d contributed to the world?” and the only thing I could come up with was working with the Underground Railway Theater touring “Are You Ready, My Sister?’ (a play about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway) nationally.  So that was really good but was it worth all the time and energy I’d put into my craft?  Nope.  I got a bunch of other stuff out of acting— recognition, emotional release in a “safe” environment, endorphins from keeping my body in shape, endorphins from working with a high-functioning team (i.e., a cast for a play that is working with each other well, or just a great scene partner).  I also got lots of rejections which, ironically but not surprisingly, made the emotional highs from the acceptances ten times better.

As I was wrestling with these thoughts the universe re-opened the Harvard door.  I was asked back to deal with a “problem” project.  I reluctantly accepted and tried to continue my acting career while working overtime on the project.  Long story short:  I ended up with repetitive strain disorder and in therapy and after nine months I knew I had to find another job.  Luckily, the directors of the program decided that they wanted to hire a staff assistant instead of an administrative manager so I was “reorganized” out of that position.  Again, fortunately, I had a really good reputation and network of administrative colleagues so I was able to work out an interim part-time job until I got another job about a month later. I consider my time in that position a failure but a really good one because I learned a LOT about workplace (and Harvard) politics. I also got some Great career advice during this time—I took a look at my skills and talents and realized that I wanted to teach people how to do research administration (i.e., how to help researchers apply for and take care of grants).  I didn’t get there right away—I spent three years gaining experience as a grant manager for a department before I started working at the college level doing research finance and education work.

More to come on The Second Stage…

(PS—Thank you so much to my first follower!  It’s really great to have a person in mind when I write and to know that someone is reading this!)

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