A sparsely-attended morning tea, an awkward 15-minute handover meeting, and 8 years of my life is over.
I don’t think my relationship with the City can be better summed up by my leaving present: a book about the art and people of the Dampier Peninsula so I can “enjoy reading about the culture of the area you’re heading to.”
For the record, the Dampier Peninsula is 850 kilometres North of the area I’m heading to.
So long, City of Rockingham. It certainly was a thing that I did.
The car went first. Then the furniture. Finally, on Wednesday, I drove Luscious and the kids to the airport and they went too. I’ve a couple of days of work and house tidying left, and then I’ll follow them. Rockingham is over, and our future– at least for the next 2 years– lies in Karratha.
I’ve lived in Rockingham, on and off, since the age of eight. That’s a gnat’s breath short of forty years. It’s my home. No matter where I travel– including this move, for however many years it lasts– no matter where I move to, my new location is viewed in terms of where it lies in relation to Rockingham. I’m not moving 1600 kilometres to Karratha, I’m moving 1600 kilometres away from Rockingham.
Back to work today, for the final time. All that remains is to count down the things I won’t be doing again: the New Year’s Eve event I won’t be doing again has finished; the Australia Day event I won’t be doing again is ahead; the Symphony Orchestra concert I won’t be doing again happens after I leave.
These are happy days.
It’s July 2016. Every morning I park my car in the car park at work, and give myself five minutes to cry before I get out and face the day.
Today is no different. What was a dream job when I started has become a nightmare I can’t bring myself to face, but can see no way of escaping. 2 years under a manager who was psychotically work-obsessed to the point where the three co-ordinators who worked under her (I am one) would take turns in being the first to talk to her, so we could report back which personality we were dealing with that day, have taken a toll. She left some months ago, but has been replaced with someone even worse– a career monkey, utterly disinterested in the welfare of her staff and of the projects being worked upon in the name of her section. She ignores vital paperwork, distributes blame in buckets, throws her co-ordinators under buses on a daily basis, is untrustworthy, cowardly, and is ruining everyone around her. Already, of the two co-ordinators with whom I’ve worked for the last 4 years, one has left to take up a job with another City. The other will soon fall pregnant and take a year’s maternity leave. Me? I’ve cracked under the stress. I’m seeing a work-appointed therapist, and I’m on a work-management program. I can’t sleep. I’m eating every piece of badforme in sight. I’m drinking. I’ve used up all my sick leave. Writing is out of the question. There’s no hope.
Today is a therapy day. My therapist asks me a simple question: What would you be doing, if you had the choice?
Been a while.
I don’t normally talk about my day job on this blog. I like to keep my writing world and my employment world separate, for the very good reason that I don’t want the one to affect the other— working in the arts field leaves me too open to accusations of using my employment position to advance my writing career, and it’s a lot easier to simply keep the two things disassociated and avoid the possibility altogether. However, this is one of those rare occasions where I’m going to break that self-imposed taboo, because my day job is the reason I’ve not been around here lately, and I think that deserves an explanation.
I work as the Arts Officer for a local government. Every year we produce a beachside sculpture exhibition called the Castaways Sculpture Awards—50 or so sculptures along our officially-the-second-best-beach-in-the-country foreshore, each one made from recycled materials. It is, without patting myself on the back too hard, pretty bloody specky. You can check it out here, here, and here if you don’t believe me.
See? Good, innit?
The event has been steadily growing over the past 5 years: apart from the central exhibition we run a week of schools workshops, a separate two-day schools exhibition, a flash opening night and a free public forum featuring a series of guest speakers. We co-ordinate a team of community volunteers to staff our information tent, and many of the artworks are for sale, and we co-ordinate those sales as well. This year, the event expanded to incorporate a poetry competition that received over 150 entries and a photography competition which, at the time of writing, had attracted 140 entries with a few days to go until closing. All this, organised by two people—myself, and the Co-ordinator, my immediate superior.
Six weeks before this year’s event, she resigned and left.
Since then I’ve been co-ordinating this event as well as taking on the duties of both the Co-ordinator and Officer positions, essentially working two jobs as well as applying for the vacant Co-ordinator job and going through the application & interview process for that, culminating in working a 19-day week during the exhibition and aftermath. The event went off like a bomb. I got the job. It’s all ended pretty darn well. But in the meantime, it damn well ate my fucking life. Things are back to normal now: the beach is back to its pristine self, I’ve had a normal-person weekend, and I’ve got a week off coming up where I’ve been able to tie my fingers to the keyboard and undertake mass wordage.
But in the interests of catching the hell up, and there are a few things that’ll sound a bit out of date along the way, let’s settle in for a bit of updatery, shall we?
As part of the literary focus of my job here with the City of Rockingham, I’m in the process of creating a register of local writers, in order to build a database of writers in the Rockingham region. The City already keeps a roster of Artists, enabling us to communicate news of competitions, opportunities, events and the like. Now I want to do the same for writers.
If it’s of interest to you, and you’re in the area (or, at least, close enough to the area: remember, I once joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild by persuading them that Perth was a Western suburb of Canberra……) you might want to contact me.
It is to be noted: a) all details are private and won’t be released to anyone outside City of Rockingham employees; it’s purely an internal database, and b) the intent is not to create a nuisance list or telemarketing list, rather, it’s a list of people to whom I can send such writing related info as comes my way, should I think it appropriate, so my intention is not to bombard you with a million emails a day. However, if there is a City of Rockingham event that might fit your expertise profile, you may get contacted by someone not-me asking if you’re interested. That I cannot control……
If that’s fine, get in touch. Put “Writer’s Register” in the subject line of your email, and include the following in the text: Name; Address; Phone Number; Mobile; Email address; Website; “Interests”. And I’ll add you to the list.