Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brace Yourself.

This post is going to be about a lot of things.
So, grab yourself a beer (not that I would know anything about beer...)
And settle in.
Or just hit the "back" button on your browser and ignore me.


Before yesterday, I clearly hadn't blogged in a while (sidebar: when did "blogged" become acceptable verbiage? Weird). The reason for my hiatus?
There are a couple.
The main one being-- I got a new job.

Yeah, I know.

A new job.
I am now a grant writer and contracts manager for this place. I think my *official* title is associate manager. At least, that's what it says on my business cards.
I get business cards!
The Hoogland Center for the Arts is a non-profit artistic enrichment organization that was created with a very, VERY generous grant from Charles and Kathleen Hoogland who, incidentally, happened to also found the Family Video chain. Which is obviously how they came to be able to afford to donate such a thing to the city of Springfield.
It is a single four-story building (technically seven because we have a basement and there are also two half-floors, whatever that means) that is home to a number of arts-related organizations including the Springfield Ballet Company, Springfield Theatre Center, Praire Art Alliance, and some others. All, except for one independent media business, are non-profit like the center itself. They rent their offices from us, which is how we make a portion of our money.
However, when these organizations put on shows (for example, Springfield Theatre Center does six shows in a single season, not to mention all the other youth-related workshops they produce) they use our facilities.
We have three theaters all together; one large 500-person theater on our main level, a medium-sized theater which will seat approximately 300 with temporary seating, and a small theater which can comfortable seat about 150, also with temporary seating. In addition, there are multiple practice rooms, a dance studio, and art gallery, and a dining room.
Although our residents and their events make up for a large part of our schedule, we also have outside performers give shows in our theatres when space permits. Not huge national touring company shows, mind you. Most of those go to the Sangamon Auditorium, which holds something ridiculous like 3000 people. But smaller, more localized groups. Sometimes, bands that frequent the local bar scene will get cocky and decide that they are cool enough to play an actual show, and rent the space from us. You get the idea.
And when all of this is not going on, we host wedding receptions, birthday parties, reunions, galas, fundraisers, beautye pageants, annual meetings....

So what's my job.

Remember all that stuff I just talked about? I get to write and negotiate contracts for space rentals and reservations with every. single. one.
It sounds overwhelming.
And it kind of is.
But more than that,
There's a lot of problem-solving involved and a lot or creative thinking. Yeah, there are points in the day when I want to stab both my eyes out with a pencil. But, at the end of the day, I know I've accomplished something. Which is more than I can say for working at the hospital answering phones.

The hospital.
I might be working there also.

When it came down to it, the Center, being a non-profit, really couldn't afford to pay me what I'm actually worth but I couldn't turn down the job because it will eventually turn into a really great opportunity. There's a vast wealth of experience that can be gained from working so closely with so many different organizations at one time. And that's really the most important thing to me.

Money is also important, though.
So I stayed at the hospital part-time to supplement my income. I'm working much harder and only making slightly more between the two jobs than I was before, but it will be worth it. It already is.

Health insurance is important, too.
And, as you can imagine, the hospital has kick-ass insurance.
Which I can maintain if I still work part-time.
Ergo, my dual employment.

If you were reading very carefully during the part where I first talked about my great new job, you might have caught that I was also hired to write grants for the Center.

What is a grant, you ask?
And even if you didn't, I will still explain.
Large corporations, in order to maintain public and political favor, donate large sums of money every year not only to charities like The Red Cross, but also to non-charities. Most non-profits are founded with an initial lump-sum and subsequent donations from patrons, but are not self-sustaining. As such, they need to lobby for donations from larger companies, i.e. grants. Althought, donations is not really an accurate word; donation implies that money is directly given to a recipient. What happens when a corporation establishes a grant is they basically make the kowledge of a designated amount of money available to various non-profits, and then award the sum based on whichever group writes and submits the best proposal stating *why* their respecitive organization needs and deserves the money, based on the unique specifications of the individual grants.
Still with me?
So, that's my job. I get to research companies offering grants, write a super-awesome proposal about why we should recieve the grant, and submit it to these gigantic corporations.
How do I do this, you ask?

I have not a clue.

Don't get your panties in a bunch. My boss knew this when he hired me.
This is how the conversation went.

Him: How do you feel about grants?
Me: I think they're great. I don't really know a whole lot about them, though.
Him: Do you think you could write one?
Me: Well, like I said I don't really know anything about them. But I'm not imtimidated by it. I think I could probably write one.
Him: Great. You're hired.

I've already got an order placed on Amazon with several how-to books that should be really useful (like this one, and this one, and this one).
And we all know that Amazon is the key to everything.
Or something.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

It is also worth mentioning that the reason I have this other really exciting job is because Lara is the collest person on earth. She recommended me to her boss, and then helped CREATE a position for me. Because she's the coolest. And I love her.
So next time you see her, give her a big hug and tell her that she's the best friend ever.

If two jobs isn't reason enough for you to accept the fact that I legitimately didn't have any time to blog last month, you might also consider that I'm in school.
Ah, yes. School.

In school and trying to freaking graduate.
Which is part of the problem.
I'm double-majoring in English and Communication.
I started off as an English major because I like to read and write, and then added Com because I like to talk.
Simple, right?
Not so much.
I graduated high school in 2003.
Partially because I worked full-time for three years.
Partially because I have bad procrastination habit (one day, I'm going to invent a patch for that)
And partially because I double-majored.
I've actually been done with my Com portion of my degree for almost a year.
The reason I'm still taking classes is merely to finish up English.

And it's slowly killing my soul.
I am not 19 anymore.
I'm not even 21 anymore.
I will be 24 three weeks from yesterday.
Taking classes with kids who still survive on a steady diet of vodka and bacon cheeseburgers and stay up until 5 am on a Tuesday watching James Bond marathons is not where I should be at this point in my life. Don't get me wrong, I was that kid. There's nothing wrong with it. But, I'm not there anymore.
I work full-time in an office. I wear suits and heels to work. I have bills to pay. I go to bed at 10:30 and get up at 6:15.
What I'm saying is, my brain is not in college anymore.
So, my body shouldn't be either.

Drop my English degree down to a minor (which I'm already well past), get a bachelor's in Communication, and call my undergrad finished. Unless I decide to go back and finish up my English bachelor's, in which case I'll be suffciently on my way. Or I could go to grad school. Whichever.
It wouldn't matter.
So I'm pretty sure that's what I'm going to do at this point. Kudos to my mom for not freaking out like I thought she would. I don't know why I thought she was going to, but she didn't. Really, it's not like I'm dropping out or anything. I'm still getting a degree. It's just not in what I had planned.
But really, when you think about it, there's no job that an English degree would get me that a Com degree wouldn't. Except for maybe an English teacher, and even then it's debatable.

So there's the whole job(s) thing, and the school thing.
And sleep.
And socialization. Which I miraculously manage to still make time for.

That's why I haven't been around.

But I'm back, Internets.
I promise that I will write more often.
It won't be easy, especially since I have a real occupation that requires real effort and legitimate work.
But I think it can be done.
Because, hey? If I can work two jobs and graduate, what's one more thing.

On a final and much cuter note, please allow me to present my Wrigley Pignon-Swegle.

He is twice as adorable in real life.
Too bad he belongs to Eric and Marie.
But that's okay because I got to hold him the WHOLE TIME we were in PetSmart buying him new puppy stuff.
We even got him a sweater.
He's super-tiny and likes to give me kisses on my chin.

I think I'm in love.

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