After I graduated from Columbia College in May with a BA in Contemporary and Urban Popular Music (where my CUP did indeed runneth over with the boundless artistry of some of Chicago's finest teacher and student musicians), I found myself, at 51, suddenly unmoored from the relative safety of student life, simultaneously released from my earlier indenture to the UK Government Legal Department and metaphorically bobbing about on Lake Michigan with not a care (or a job offer) in the world. "What now?" was the deadening refrain. The rest of the song, however, was a blank sheet.
I made a few single-cheeked attempts at finding employment, managing a toe-curling three weeks as an unpaid intern at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra before realizing that not for nothing had I had traveled 4,000 miles to escape being chained to a desk. It had drained the life out of me like an over-eager mortician and had twisted my spine and pelvis into an anatomically unlikely source of pain. "What now?" followed as surely as the chorus follows the verse.
While sitting somewhere, waiting for something vaguely bureaucratic, I took out one of my newly-acquired notebooks and wrote out the following advertisement for myself:
"Mature, recent music graduate with British accent and Slavic sense of humor seeks gainful occupation in the music field. Advanced organizational skills, confident, yet laid-back demeanor, and facility with the written and spoken word, culled from 20 years of experience as a servant of the Crown. Instruments played: electric bass, piano, guitar, drums, ukulele, cello. Foreign languages spoken: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Serbian. All reasonable offers considered."
Needless to say, my personal sales pitch remained untroubled by human eyes. Until now. Craigslist seemed destined to invite a host of weirdos and time-wasters. Facebook is little more than an obituary site with optional cat photos. Most modern job advertisements are drafted by HR departments with a penchant for depressing similarity and fail to articulate the human attributes being sought for the position in question. Perhaps with good reason.
So here it is, in all its unvarnished glory, destined to be read by very few, but at least it makes me feel like I've attempted to identify, mainly for my own benefit, what I'm about. Going freelance is always scary, especially for someone like me who has never strayed from the obedient servant path. We struggle to allow ourselves the "luxury" of deciding how we want to spend our short time here and with whom, when instead this should be our default starting point (in my somewhat biased view). We understandably shy away from challenging the status quo more generally, in all aspects of our lives, from the political to the personal (if one can still maintain such a distinction). With the creation of Vanda Kay Music, it's my small way of establishing my identity as I've always dreamed of doing and carving out my own place in the world using all of the attributes I've been lucky enough to be endowed with and all of the skills and experience I've collected along the way.