what happened to the last 15 years? (or, filthy lucre)

This is going to be long and complainy.

I graduated high school in 1995.  Went to college, then grad school.  Finally came out the other side with 3 degrees in 2005.  Got an academic job overseas; sold all my stuff and went for it.

After 2 years the reasons to come home outweighed the reasons to stay.

Came back.  New city.  Grad school for the husband this time; that means I’m the one with the day job.  But I haven’t stopped trying to be a performing artist.  My resume is actually rather impressive at first glance, with orchestra gigs, international festivals, teaching experience, guest artist recitals, collaborations with composers, good reviews, etc.

The problem is I’m not getting paid for any of it.

I’ve got grad school loans that I’m still paying off (yes, I had an assistantship; no, it wasn’t enough to live on), I’m trying to support my husband through his studies, and I’m becoming less marketable as an academic with every year that goes by.

So here I am, 15 years out of high school, making 13 bucks an hour as an administrative assistant, scraping by to make ends meet.

My performing ensemble has been invited to be featured artists-in-residence at a major festival in Asia next summer.  Hooray!  But we have to find the funding ourselves.  Boo!

What that means is that any income we make from concerts we play over the upcoming season is going into the pot for the trip.  It means that after work, in addition to teaching lessons, practicing, rehearsing, and playing concerts, we will be working on grant applications and soliciting private donations.

It means that I don’t really have a performing career.

I have a very expensive hobby.


4 responses to “what happened to the last 15 years? (or, filthy lucre)

  1. I don’t think it counts as a hobby just because you have to get grants to do it. I don’t think hobbyists GET grants, actually… and all professional artists and scientists have to.

    Which is why I’m leaning towards scientist-hobbyist myself– cause I don’t WANT to write anything, ever again, including grant proposals. Too bad there isn’t a magical career path for academics to take when the decide academia isn’t for them. After 6 years of grad school, I’m totally unqualified for anything! Greaaat.

    But, I think the invitation to perform abroad is great (don’t let my sourness get to you). Congratulations on the amazing opportunity, and I know you guys will get the money together.

  2. Congrats on adding an Asia leg to your tour. Best luck saving for it. I can imagine the pressure – throw ART in the mix and you are $$$$$.

    I like Leslie – no grants for hobbies.

    Hope you are getting some good relaxing under your belt.

  3. That wasn’t that long, and not nearly complainy enough for me. But I also agree with Leslie–given how committed you have to be to keep performing despite all the reasons not to, this ain’t no hobby! It sucks that our culture makes doing this so difficult, and I wish you could be showered with money, but I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with send you good thoughts for finding funding . And hey, congratulations on the invitation–that’s impressive!

  4. First of all, Congrats for the invitation that you got.

    Second, I had no idea about this really. I hope the money bit eases up…Does your husband also work part time after grad school? Can’t you apply for a better-paying job?

    All the best@

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