burning bridges: artists in offices

There's this book called Artists in Offices. It's been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile now. To be honest, I'm not totally sure what it's about. I suspect it may not actually be about artists working in offices, although I know so many creative types, like myself, who've found their professional way through a series of cubicles. There is a book about that. It's called The Artist in the Office. I should probably read it. It took me awhile to reconcile my sort of stereotypical notions of who an artist is with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies (and truth be told, I've met many a fellow print designer who defies the messy, disorganized artist stereotype). Nearly a couple of decades, actually.

I was 19 when I got my first real office job. Okay, I was about a month away from my 20th birthday, but still. Technically, I was a mere teenager. After only three months, the bakery gig was wearing on me. And that afternoon eclair snack habit was doing me no favors.

I liked the idea of working in an office, you know, wearing nice clothes, spending time in an elevator on a regular basis, complaining about rush hour traffic, taking coffee breaks, that sort of thing. I worked 32 hours a week in a group of law offices in the now trendy uptown area of Oakland. A few months after I got this particular job, I resumed my undergraduate studies at a community college. How I managed that workload while attending 4 to 5 classes each semester is a bit of a mystery to me now, but I think part of what made this work was that about 20 of those hours were spent answering phones. When the phones weren't ringing, I was free to study, do homework, etc.

For the other 12 hours, I assisted the office manager - updating the law library, helping her with bookkeeping, running errands, that sort of thing. I loved it. Eventually I was recruited by the immigration firm to spend some of my hours working for them. One of the partners in this small firm would later offer me a full-time position, one of two times I turned down a full-time job offer in order to pursue a mix of other, some might say more creative, certainly less lucrative opportunities. I don't regret that decision, per se, but I do ponder the sensibility of it from time to time. But I was young and fresh out of college and, anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

This position is also where my love of dance began. Well, other than dabbling in just about every dance genre as a kid. One of the lawyers in the office was on the Board of Directors for Savage Jazz Dance Company at the time and occasionally he'd offer me free tickets to their local performances (poor college kid that I was). My mind was blown. Watching these particular contemporary dancers was like nothing I'd ever experienced before - athletic, sensual, beautiful. All that good stuff. And in a, I don't know, sincere way that has, over the past 17 years or so, proven to be pretty rare.

Not a bad gig.

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