A Dream Deferred, Part 2

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
– Langston Hughes

My sophomore year of high school we read the play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, inspired by the above poem (which we, naturally, also analyzed). For a group of white, middle-class, Jewish teenagers, it was difficult to understand the many layers of meaning in both the poem and the play.
I remember many of us were confused about what this can do to a person. At that point in our lives I don’t think anyone had been in a situation where we needed to choose one path over another; up to that point (and for another three years after it) our paths were pretty much predetermined. I doubt any of us had really pushed off a dream because it was, at the time, unattainable. Few of us really understood the message.

Now, it comes easy. I guess time is the true teacher, and experience the provider of meaning.

After the second interview I really tried not to think about what had happened. But of course, I had to provide updates to those who knew about the saga. So I kind of became anti-social just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. And when I was social I didn’t really behave properly.
Hence, the apology at the beginning of my previous post.

To choose one dream over another is not something that I wish on anyone. How can someone consciously say that dream “A” is better/more important than dream “B”? And, what happens to the dreams that are pushed off? Will they ever come back? Langston Hughes didn’t address that question in his poem – he just spoke about the physical qualities of the dream itself. What the dream manifests as if it is postponed.

He didn’t discuss the mental anguish of deferring a dream. He didn’t talk about the human agony of making that decision.

My dream did all of the things Langston Hughes listed in his poem – it dried up, it festered, it sagged, it exploded. Sometimes all in one day.

A question that I repeatedly asked myself this past month, often with nascent tears in my eyes, was how can I choose between two dreams that provide me with joy, and happiness, and a sense of fulfillment?

On the one hand, taking this job would mean that my career is set. I will have achieved the pinnacle of my goals and I would have legitimate job security for a good decade.
On the other hand, taking this job would mean that I would need to quit school. I would need to push off any other children that I may want to have. My job would always come first, which means that Hubby’s would suffer. Hubby would need to pull more weight around the house too

But, if I didn’t take this job – I could still have kids. Hubby and I would continue to share the housework, not to mention see each other on a fairly regular basis. And I could continue my degree, which means exposing myself to other people and opportunities in the music/theater world. The other day, while I was giving a presentation, I was complimented on my knowledge of the topic, my delivery and presence by Ronit Seter – which, for those of you not in the musical world, is like Sammy Sosa complimenting you on your batting follow-through.

I may have fangirled a little bit.

I may have fangirled a little bit.

But, on the other hand, if I didn’t take the job who knows when the next opportunity would arise? I was told during the interviews that there isn’t a lot of turnover in this field, because people tend to stick around for a long time. Five years is a generous minimum time commitment. Would other positions at the Tel Aviv Opera House (or other Performing Art Centers) have similar requirements and commitments?

All these questions and emotions are moot, though. Because I still haven’t heard back from them.

I have resigned myself to the belief that, right now, this job is not meant for me. And I am okay with that. I contacted the Opera House in the past when something came my way; each time, I pushed myself further and took additional steps to making the phone call, and applying for the job, and getting the interview.

I still stand by what I said previously – maybe I just needed to know what my dream entailed, so I could make a wiser decision if and when presented with this opportunity in the future.

I still believe, that sometimes we are presented with different choices and opportunities, and it’s up to us to decide to pursue it. But, sometimes those opportunities and choices appear when we aren’t ready for it. We’re either too young, or too old; too religious, or too secular; employed, or unemployed; single or married; with kids or without kids. Occasionally, we don’t even realize the opportunity when it’s staring us right in the face. Only with hindsight, when it is too late to decide anything.

I still believe, that I will recognize similar opportunities when they present themselves to me. And that I will continue to seek out these opportunities because they are important to me.

So I still believe, regardless of the state of life we find ourselves in, that following dreams requires faith, and guts, and determination, and support, and a little bit of crazy. Very rarely do dream opportunities present themselves at opportune times.

But I will hold on to this dream, because it keeps coming back.

And dreams do not have expiration dates.

Apologies and A Dream Deferred

In previous posts, here and there, I made vague references to an incredible job opportunity that made its way into my lap.

Okay, so maybe

Okay, so maybe “vague” is a slight understatement.

To be fair, I didn’t want to go into too much detail or tell too many people about it, because that would mean going back to all those people and providing updates. Which normally, I’m really happy to do – but it was just such a bad time. So, I kept it vague and I tried not to think about it.

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have anything else going on in my life…just writing a seminar paper, performing research for my term papers/oral presentations, and getting ready for LAK’s wedding. Also the sudden out-of-the-blue driving test (which I failed, BTW), and the ever-present continuation of hunting for a job.

Needless to say, I had what to distract me with. But it wasn’t easy.

It was a real struggle to focus on anything other than this job opp. I constantly questioned my self worth, and worried if I would make the right decision, and freaked out. A LOT.
There were lots of elements of my life that suffered during this time – to the point where I wasn’t able to do much else except yell in order to handle the stress. I was too panicked stressed freaked (there is no word to adequately describe what I was feeling). In my mind, there was no other acceptable alternative outlet for the confusion, disorder, chaos, and panic.

PANIC!!

PANIC!!

So, this is an apology to those whom I may have annoyed, pissed off, ignored, offended. While I cannnot say that my behavior during the past month-and-a-half wasn’t warranted, and I was validated several times by the people who know me best, I was aware enough to know that I was definitely not myself. This fact was also pointed out to me on numerous occasions, also by the people who know me best.

For events that I may have missed, or for things I said that I shouldn’t have, or for the crazy I was handing out like candy on Halloween, or for some other reason that I neglected to mention, or for all of the above – I am sorry.

I feel more like myself now, and I hope that I never have to go through something like that again. Or, if I do, that I am better able to handle it. Or, that I continue to have amazing friends to help me get through it.

*breath* Okay. Onward and upward.

I went to the Opera House three times in the span of 10 days. Each time, I had to psych myself up to open the main door and not vomit immediately upon entering. On the return trip home each time, I rambled on the phone to the Hubby for a good 40 minutes, which did not help in the least but was still necessary.

The first time was to present myself (I guess) as a candidate for the job opp. I waltzed on in with my best smile, slathered in confidence and bouncing with excitement; I walked out with a phone number and email address, and butterflies in my stomach. Contact was made later that day, and a CV was exchanged. The interview was scheduled for the following week.

The second time I stately walked in and patiently waited for a few minutes. I was warmly received by the head of HR, and the appreciation was mutual. The butterflies had been replaced by stomach acid, and my heart was beating like a brass band.

I was interviewed by the same HR guy, who was very forthcoming with any and all information available to him, not only about this job but also working at the Opera House in general.

As the interview progressed, I realized that he wanted me to make the right choice, too. To my surprise, he didn’t want me to choose the job over my family and/or religion, despite my apparent willingness to do just that. Because, despite the fact that asking these types of questions are the norm in Israel interviews, and despite the increasing belief that there is global discrimination regarding family status and religion when applying for jobs, some positions in certain fields really do require you to put those things on the back burner. And therefore, they must be discussed in detail.

He understood that; he understood that this is not the easiest field to work in on a good day, and that I really, really, REALLY wanted to work there anyhow.

It was kind of obvious. The desire to be employed by the Opera House was literally on my face, and my sleeve. When we took a tour of the offices I happened upon my reflection in the elevator mirror and said to myself, “I look like Lucy when she first entered Narnia. I look like I’m dreaming.”

Yup, accurate.

Yup, accurate.

So, after the tour, when we were back in his office, he gave me the low-down. And the further low-down. He made it his mission to give me as many details as possible. For he could tell that I had no idea what this kind of job would entail, or what it would mean in the grand scheme of things.
With each additional bit of information, I could feel the realization resonate on my face, even though I was no longer in front of a mirror. The realization that, to pursue this dream, life as I knew it would change drastically.

That interview lasted an hour and a half. It would have lasted longer, had I been aware enough to think about what I was considering getting myself into. As it was, there was a second part to the interview which we scheduled for the following week. I figured this would give me the whole weekend to talk with the Hubby and various friends and family members, not only to collectively freak the hell out, but also to get advice.

We mostly did this.

We mostly did this.

With the Hubby, I analyzed each statement, each answer, each sigh, each facial expression. We talked about the pros and cons and neutrals of taking the job, of rejecting the job, of what it would mean for us as a family, and as individuals.

With my friends, I explained and provided as much detail as possible about the job description, and what it would entail regarding commitment. My closest friends, who know that this is my dream of dreams, offered some of the best advice I ever received about work in general and this job in particular.

With everyone, we talked about relevant questions I should ask at the second interview. We also talked about questions I needed to ask *myself* at some point during this process. Of course, there were also follow-up questions dependent on the answers that I received; each of those provided me with additional “what-if” scenarios until I had piles of lists that were filled with questions, each one spinning me around and making me dizzy and nauseous.

The morning of the second interview dawned, and I became a better expert at Vaguebooking. I slowly made my way through the main doors, incredibly unsure of myself and with a sense of unease. I spent almost 3 hours at the opera house, filling out a questionnaire, reading questions off the list I had prepared, making sense of the answers I received, and hearing snippets of whatever opera they were currently practicing.

I couldn’t tell if it was going well. I may have dug myself into a hole with the questions I asked – but, I needed to ask those questions and receive those answers, so I could make an educated decision.

HR guy said that I would hear something within the next few weeks. We shook hands, and I shakily made my way back home. I had nothing else to give, but I told myself that I presented myself the best that I could. And now, I just had to wait for them to make a decision.

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The Path of the Destined

I’ve been thinking a lot about destiny lately. Mostly about how it creeps up on you at the absolute worst possible time like a ton of bricks, usually with a ton of bricks in hand.

But, sometimes, destiny surprises you way after the fact, with one of those “Ha ha! I told you so!” moments.

Except, not that ugly looking.

Except, not that ugly looking.

And you kind of replay every moment that led up to the one you currently find yourself in, and wonder what it would have been like had destiny taken you down another path.
But then, you remind yourself, that you are the one in control of your life, and destiny is this figment of our collective imaginations. Probably created by someone a long time ago who was unable to commit to the choices that he made, or admit that he made them himself.

Also, destiny can’t lead us anywhere because it’s blind. That would be kind of disastrous.

Not sorry, at all.

Not sorry, at all.

I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about destiny, and how it drives us to make certain choices in our lives. From things as small as which bus we take and when we do our grocery shopping, to big things like where to go to school or when to have kids. Any one of those situations can introduce you to someone, or an idea, or something that you would not otherwise have met, or thought of, or experienced had you made a different choice.

In the Sandman graphic novel series, Neil Gaiman explains it best:

The paths fork and divide. With each step you take through Destiny’s garden, you make a choice; and every choice determines future paths. However, at the end of a lifetime of walking you might look back, and see only one path stretching out behind you; or look ahead, and see only darkness.

What Neil doesn’t say, is that sometimes when you look back, you can see hints of the other paths that “might-have-been”. Sometimes, there are points in our lives where it was so blatantly obvious that we had a choice to make, that we forever look back to that moment and wonder – “What if?”

I find myself doing that a lot lately.

About three weeks ago I found myself drawn to something posted on the bulletin board outside the music secretary’s office on campus. It was a job opportunity; it had the logo of the Tel-Aviv Opera House on it in the upper-right corner.

That was all that mattered.

I took down the contact information and ran home – too afraid to actually call the guy and ask about this. But, a few days later, I mentioned it to the Hubby and he said do it. More like, DO IT!!!!! But you get the idea.

So I did it. Twice – yes, I was invited back for a second interview. No, my gag reflex did not fail me either time, although my stomach has been doing complex somersaults ever since I saw the job opp. I have also not really been able to focus on the myriad other things that I must needs do right now, because this has been weighing on me constantly.

This job opp is the pinnacle of what I consider my dream job, no superlatives necessary. I would be working in the music library, responsible for caring and organizing and preparing the sheet music for every single operatic and symphonic performance. Of which there are *counting* anywhere between 15 and 20 per year.
I would be working long hours, longer weeks, and would really only get a few moments between performances to collect myself.

But, in all honesty, I would scrub the floor with a toothbrush as long as my pay stub said “Tel-Aviv Opera House” on it.

Wow, there are stock photos of everything these days.

Wow, there are stock photos of everything these days.

I’m totally not kidding – I’ve said this enough times to realize that it’s the honest truth.

I guess that was when I realized I really wanted to work there – because if you repeat something often enough, it becomes truth. Working there would be the dream. And that dream kept reasserting itself. And the dream that keeps coming back is, above all else, your destiny.

This job would mean incomparable, inconceivable, unadulterated happiness for me. It would also mean that life as I, the Hubby, and Nooshkin know it would change forever.
So – all the melodrama and stress is definitely warranted. As is the desire for an adultier adult to make this decision for me.

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to about this job opp has said I should accept it (if given the chance). They know me well, they’ve heard me talk about this forever; and, let’s be honest – dreams don’t often present themselves so obviously.
This is my hobby, my degree, my passion, my muse.

Paths change, options appear, choices present themselves all the time. This month so many people I know are quitting work, or moving, or getting married, or applying for their next degree. In LAK’s case, it’s all of the above (she’s a little nuts like that).

It’s only been four-and-a-half months since I made the choice to quit my job. It feels like a lot longer. So much has happened since then, and mostly for the good, that I know it was the right choice. But, still.

The thought occurred to me that I was meant to know about this job. Regardless of whether or not I end up getting it, I was meant to know right now – smack in the middle of all else that is happening right now – that there are possibilities like this out there. That there are many other paths available in front of me, regardless of how far they end up taking me before I am presented with other choices or, worse yet, backtrack to where I started.

I know that if I hadn’t quit I would not know that this job opp even existed. And I would not be having these questions, and doubts, and sleepless nights. My path would be set, and straight, for a little while longer.

But I am holding on tight to the possibility that this job opp is neither for the good, nor the bad – but for the neutral. That right now I’m only meant to be presented with a crossroad, instead of a straight line. That perhaps I will end up continuing down the same path that I had been on two weeks ago.

Maybe I’m only meant to know that it exists. And, rather surprisingly, that comforts me immensely.

Regardless of what happens within the next two weeks, I have to trust myself that the choice I make will be the right one. Otherwise I end up with regret, and I cannot afford to regret the decisions that I make. Living a life with regrets means that there was nothing good in any choice that I made – which is obviously not true. All choices, all decisions, can have a positive outlook – but only if you are open to the possibility that not everything is terrible, or horrible, or no good, or very bad.

Even in Australia.

Even in Australia.

I guess that means I am the adultier adult, and that I’m capable of making this choice.

And I will see you on the other side.