Things have been unfolding in a strangely poetic and very satisfying way.
As I’ve said before, we’ve all been on various job hunts. Last week, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed, in a positive way, because I was actually experiencing an overabundance of opportunities. I don’t need the money necessarily, but I had felt the urge to find *something*, just for the added stability. It was a source of conflict for me as I was presented with opportunity after opportunity and forced to really assess what my priorities are here and what, exactly, I want to do with my life and time and energy.
First, a Chinese restaurant here wanted me 6 days a week, 8 hours per day. Minimum wage, splitting the tips between all the servers and the kitchen. I said no; no question. I actually didn’t even interview with them, I went with Amanda, who was looking into the job, and interpreted for her since the manager spoke no English. Taking a job like that would deplete both my time and my energy.
Then came another restaurant gig, someone looking for bilingual servers. Again, no thank you.
Next, I found an opportunity for “sporadic office work”; I met the owner, he wanted someone 2 or 3 days per week, 8 hours each day, to help run his kayak business. This one I really had to think about. It seemed like a good idea – “just what I was looking for”, as I’d said. I thought of how it might fit into my life, my schedule, my priorities, and I eventually turned that down as well. I tend to give 110% of my time and energy to a given project, and he wanted someone for the entire season. As I thought more about it, I realized that that type of commitment, even though it was just part-time, was too much. Between my existing jobs, and my existing dedication to writing in every moment available, I don’t have the time or energy to learn the world of kayaking, rafting and mountain climbing. Plus, all of those things scare me. (Running a yoga studio? Part-time receptionist for an organic farm? Maybe those things. But not activities that actively involve facing death in the wild yond. I still don’t know how to light a fire by myself. This girl scout would be the first to die.)
After that decision, I realized that I needed to find an office space. Less than 24 hours after sending a message to the community about my search for borrowed office space so that I could focus on writing, an opportunity arrived. A young guy with a family-owned rental car business has a small office that he only uses part-time. I met with him and said, Hey. I want to use your space, I don’t want to pay anything, how about I give you my sporadic services however you need me so that I can use your office the rest of the time to be an ex-pat writer? He said yes. It’s a small affair, operated entirely by him and his wife, and he essentially wants me to just be there, in the office, to receive people that stop by, maybe answer the phone, and interpret for the English-speaking clients. SCORE.
So my new colleague/barter buddy has also passed my name along to other people in his area of work. Yesterday I received a call from a man named Marcelo who operates private tours in conjunction with the hotels around here. He had two Americans arriving today who wanted an English-speaking guide to accompany them on their three-day stay. He asked if I would be interested in going along with them on their various tours throughout their stay – full compensation of course, not to mention the free entrance, free meals and swanky private ride to all these destinations. I said, Hell yes, Marcelo!
Today began that adventure. I went to the airport with Marcelo, I held up a sign with a last name written in bold ink, loving the the fact that this was something my family and I do for shits and giggles when we greet each other places, and waited for the Americans to arrive. They showed up, an older ex-pat couple who has been living in Chile for a couple years, doing big farm business up north, but only know basic conversational Spanish after all this time. I got paid to hang with them all day and just look at stuff. And eat clams at the seafood restaurant. And interpret occasionally when Marcelo spoke too fast for the American guy to understand. What I’ll make from these three days will pay a month’s rent. And they might add a fourth day of touring that I’ll be compensated for as well.
Not too shabby.
Leslie has helped me realize that what I am looking for in this phase is projects. I don’t want a long-term commitment, I don’t want to sign a contract, I don’t want to be expected someplace each day at a certain hour. I want a project – a three day companion tour, a random encounter with some English-speaking clients at the airport, last-minute assistance with a catering event, things like that. Just call me Project-Based Bradford. She who drifts between opportunities and one-time events.
Around the time that all these opportunities have been arising for me, the girls have also snagged their own gigs. Amanda is now working part-time at a cool bar downtown that often has live music and is part of the circuit here in town. Leslie took a job as the live-in manager of a bed and breakfast in Puerto Varas. We said goodbye to her at the house with the abuelita, but Amanda and I have “moved in with her” in a sense; the owner knows that we will be in and out constantly and we are, in essence, “lightly co-habitating”. (Blogger says co-habitating isn’t a word but I beg to differ.)
It is strange and surprising and exciting to reflect upon the ways in which we have manifested, or discovered, these opportunities that fit us all so well. But at the same time, it is not strange or surprising at all – this is how life tends to unfold. I am so grateful for these new opportunities, for these new ways of flexing creative muscles and using skills and exploring facets of life that were previously unknowable to me. I gave thanks for this yesterday, as well as for all of the people in my life who support me.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, it sure was a micro-American Feast up in Puerto Varas yesterday! I started cooking around noon and by 4pm we had a Starch Explosion – I made the Bradford-famous corn crap (corn casserole), Vegan Stuffing and Shannon’s Mashed Taters. All from scratch, without ANY measuring instruments, AND with only a general idea of what ingredients I was using really were (man, the language barrier sucks when it comes to specific baking ingredients). I sauteed some asparagus to add a little greenery to the landscape, and we topped it off with some German desserts purchased from a bakery downtown.
Despite my concerns and general dismay regarding the consistency of the corn casserole prior to putting it in the oven, everything came out BANGIN’ and FRICKIN AMAZING. It smelled like Thanksgiving in that house all day, and that was maybe the best part of the experience. Also, being able to share this holiday with these girls, in a foreign country, giving thanks and celebrating a facet of our culture that nobody knew was occurring that day (we shouted “HAPPY THANKSGIVING” to every Chilean we could find and the amount of blank stares was, well, comical at best) was pretty fun as well.
I think Chileans have their own version of Thanksgiving, obviously with different historical details (unless, I don’t know, maybe John Smith made his way down here too? Maybe for a winter vacation once?), but it definitely wasn’t yesterday. We left the house later in the day, once our bellies and intestines had been thoroughly assaulted per American Tradition, and were surprised to find everything open and bustling with people. Oh yeah, it’s only Thanksgiving in America.
Also, I didn’t have to suffer through/be tempted with Black Friday Bullcrap, so that was another really nice part of this year’s Thanksgiving.
Thank you again to Life, family & friends: for the bountiful amount of love, sharing, reciprocity, mutual understanding, support, creativity, fun, laughter, words, closeness, positive energy, wholehearted Being and more. La vida es buena!