Do I want to teach?
People talk about teaching as a calling, which puts a lot of pressure on teachers. I love teaching. I love helping kids read and love reading. I love talking literary analysis. I love writing and talking about writing. I love high school kids. I love teachers. I do not necessarily love the public school high school English classroom at the moment. For the record (said it before, will say it again): Hastings Public Schools is great. The climate of public education in America is making the career a hard sell.
Am I going to make it in show biz?
Define "make it" and define "show biz." I am almost 40. I live in Hastings, Nebraska. The next Taylor Swift I am not, which does not break my heart even a little bit. I think our culture has a skewed view of "making it." In the most accepted definition of the term, I will never make it, which does not break my heart even a little bit.
Here is what I want: to create art I am proud of, send it out into the world and have people connect with it. I want to grow as an artist, improve, learn new instruments, get better at harmonies, write better songs. These are all things I have been doing for a long time. I have done them considerably less-- CONSIDERABLY-- since I started my teaching gig. I want to follow the things I love.
Star Belle is talking about putting together a little tour next winter. The Mrs. Dunbars are talking and planning. I am writing like a machine (thank you, RealWomenRealSongs). Both bands are at the point where we can actually make a small amount of money when we play, which is nice. Plenty of people make a modest living in music -- exponentially more than "make it." It's not the craziest thing in the world to ponder.
So, what will next year look like?
I'm still waiting for the net to appear. I have a family who knows me and loves me and has supported my leap. Unless something goes terribly wrong, we won't starve. We'll be fine. My hope is that I get paid to do things that involve education and music. Paid or not, those are two things I will continue to pursue. What that will look like, I don't know. I may have to forge my own path. I may no longer have a traditional job. I may take a year off of teaching and decide to go back. I may in fact be the next Taylor Swift. Pigs may fly. Hell may freeze. I may win the lottery leave you suckers behind. It's hard to say.
Here is what I know: last week I was on a family vacation in Wisconsin. We rented a big house (for 20 people) in the middle of a meadow surrounded by woods. Hope and I sat out in the empty garage, doors closed, played our guitars and sang with all we had. It was awesome. It was just us and it didn't matter. I felt like I had made it.
So here's to the leap. Here's to the net appearing or not. Here's to starting out my fortieth year with an open heart and schedule.
This is one of the songs we sang in that garage, written and performed by Hope Dunbar, that pretty much sums it up.