John B, my new friend and in fact, business partner, asked me if I was happy doing the “Theater thing.” Just to catch you up, having started to spend more time in NY merely months ago, I am now in the midst of producing at least five musicals. Yes it’s hard to believe that a only months ago I was in DC, trying to figure out which Under Secretary in Government I did not want to be. And Voila! now (according to my friend Pam T), I am the Under Secretary for Broadway. Who cares if anyone else knows about this prestigious Big Apple appointment.
So, back to the “happy” question but not without a little more rambling. There really has never been a time when I was not happy – except my first two days at USA Networks when I had neither office nor desk, anywhere near the rest of my department. I was sitting somewhere on the Tenth Floor and all the people who supposedly worked for me, had space on the fifth floor. It was inconvenient at best – it was untenable at worst. Eventually, I found space on five, and even though it wasn’t “commensurate” with my position, it was better than being in Siberia. Once I was settled in, I started to enjoy all the new tasks and certainly the people.
Hang on. Let me peruse my mind for an awful work memory.
When I was in high school, I packed and stacked handbags at the family factory. (I started out in the office but they moved me because they didn’t understand why, when I couldn’t find a file, I simply threw the paperwork away. ) The packing and stacking bags was mindless but the people who made this their lives were lovely and most kind to me – the time passed quickly. When I was in college I taught speech at a Catholic elementary school,
When I was a young married person (the first marriage) and needed to be an income provider, I worked at a Chinese restaurant—and a coffee shop. The Chinese place was fun but I couldn’t understand what they asked me to do, so they asked me to leave. After that I worked as counter help in a Jewish bakery (until one Friday when I had been pushed and beaten beyond my level of tolerance, by the old ladies who thought I wanted to make it my career), I threw in the towel. Then I worked at the corner drugstore and was so bored that, just like when we were kids at my Uncles drug store, I pretended to be a spy. That was way beyond my comfort level and I found a position as a job counselor at the Snelling and Snelling Employment Agency. Among all the jobs I had, that was the most humiliating. You had to change your name so no one could find you and kill you if they hated the work to which you sent them. (That wasn’t the humiliating part) They fired me because they said I should be a social worker, not in the placement business – and it didn’t matter if the client liked the their placement. Enough real world, I decided to apply for a teaching assistantship and go back to graduate school.
Like so many people in the 60’s, I thought I was making a difference in the world. History, I thought, would look back on my generation and treat us kindly. One day, when I was haranging a young friend about his lack of interest in protest and outrage against the war, he said, “You don’t get it. We read about you guys in our history books. You’re history man!” So I guess the rest is history – or maybe history, politics and government aren’t the same thing. It gets so confusing. Nevertheless most of my professional life was spent in teaching, politics, and government. Always communication related but certainly not in my life plan.
While all my political and government jobs were amazing, and I had unbelievable opportunities, none were planned as a career. My dream, my passion, had been to do something in the theater. Never a talented performer, but always an exceptional organizer, I wanted to run a theater, direct a theater company, or produce… anything.
And now, after just a few months and a few courses, I am involved in producing at least five musicals. Am I happy? Giddy with enthusiasm and excitement might be a more accurate description. Am I “happy” doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel about each day. We're just sayin'...Iris.