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  • cogswellmatt77

Reinventing Space

I am typing this from my recently re-designed home office. I have not been in here often lately. When I spend time in here, I remember how much I like this space and vow to use it more often. It feels very open right now, with all its contents along the walls of the room and an empty space in the middle. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere. My desk is facing a wall it had not yet been against in the nearly four years I've lived here. One of my favorite collages is on the wall before me.

I fucking love this collage. It's my truest essence on display in one beautiful mosaic. When I had the desk against the opposite wall and would teach remote classes, I'd try to hide it from view. That action brings me shame. For some indefinite amount of time, there was a bookcase with a television on top of it hiding this collage. I put away the TV I rarely watched and moved the bookcase to my left. The bookcase contains, among some items gifted to me by my dad, all the handwritten products from the past five years and change. To the left of that is another found furniture item, a display case that includes books on acting and plays - some that I was in and others that have been performed by people paid for their acting talents. To the left of that is a shelf with Mom's blankets and visual art tools.

That theme continues on the other side of the room with a box of scrapbooking materials that I don't know what to do with. I don't need to keep them, but I also don't want to give them away. An underused family bookcase is essentially a center balance for an even larger cardboard collage of my favorite actors and other reminders of who I am. Playful wall decals of dinosaurs also grace parts of this room, and I waver between wanting to keep them and remove them. But, they add a sense of childlike playfulness that is missing from my personality. An entire cubby is just full of junk, but it balances the room. The wall directly behind me has more collages, inspirational quotes, and more reminders of my true self.

I seem to redesign when I feel I'm moving farther away from my true self. On my two window shelves I have desk placards that read "#GoalDigger and #Hustling. I bought these when I first moved into my current apartment that I hope I get to stay in. They mock me because I'm neither a hustler nor a goal digger. I try to be. Every day I work, look for additional work in a few different ways, and contribute to the social media that "experts" in my fields say are sure to help me not worry about paying rent. I noticed two TBA faculty courses for the second half of the semester (accelerated). Even if I were offered them, I couldn't accept either because both meet during a time I'm already assigned to an in-person class. This is not the first time that has presented itself as a potential barrier.

I'm only teaching three courses this semester. Fortunately (really, quite unfortunate) I earn less than the weekly benefit amount per week. I can thus collect a small unemployment benefit. Let that sink in. If I were not offered classes, I would be collecting more money from unemployment with my full benefits than I am earning commuting back and forth to dedicated class sessions. I've tried multiple times to leave this field where I will never be paid what I deserve to be paid or have the financial security I have lacked for nearly ten years. I've applied to hotel desk attendant jobs and have not heard back from those. I've saturated promotions for my freelance work. It has gone nowhere. Even when people have promoted on my behalf, it has gone nowhere.

A microphone I bought for recording auditions for voiceover work and accompanying editing suites for audio and video/audio auditions mocks me, as do my subscriptions to casting services and New Play Exchange, where I still have three total recommendations. A recent YouTube short had 46 clicks thus far and did result in one additional subscriber, but I am 974 subscribers away from reaching one criterion for monetization. I had such dreams. I updated my (paid for) artistic website with my recent announcement, but no one's seen it. I don't have a following for what brings me the most joy. I literally cannot afford to dedicate time and travel to yet another unpaid production.

Very few people will even read these words, despite my marketing efforts. It's depressing.

I want to be creating performances, but I'm tapped out of ideas. It seems like every single semester I feel artistically stifled. I create interesting work when I'm not "teaching," but I still haven't figured out how to wire my brain to do that same kind of work when I'm teaching and am ironically worried about finances. That was my impulse to redesign this room. I was hoping it would encourage me to get back into the groove of writing material that actually gets consumed by a substantial audience. Maybe it will, but I'm not feeling it today. I already know I will try to get eyes on this piece and just get discouraged again when that fails to happen.

Some key words from the first mentioned collage to lead you out:

Let that freak flag fly.

The Great Reset.

Not F*cking Around

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