November 9, 2007 12:44 AM

About a week ago I started at the local record/video store Rainy Day Records, working three small shifts. It took me a little while to realize that it's one of the nicer jobs around this very small town, and that I sort of lucked out -- feelings communicated to me by friends, and noticing how it doesn't involve grease or hungry customers, which really says a lot around here. So far my duties involves ringing up customers and doing special orders, checking in and out movies, re-stocking, and alphabetizing. It's all very low-key and casual, although according to my new friend James, with additional responsibilities come some boss-employee headbutting. The 'perk' I appreciate the most off-hand is, being a record store, I get to choose what music is playing from the store's selection of promos and vinyl. I'm also allowed to rip DVDs from their extensive movie collection. So yes, I really have no complaints so far, and can hardly imagine any in the future, if I'm able make $8 an hour listening to Albert Ayler and sorting soul CDs. Long-term career it is not; what is, though, is a low-impact way to make a modest living.

At this point in time there are two underlying threads to my life: establishing myself here in Olympia, and examining how I'm situated. Practically speaking, I'm trying to find myself as many projects to work on as I can manage -- mostly musical, but I'm also open to performance and technical support. Most of the work is in getting people to commit to a creative endeavor. The population of Olympia has no shortage of imagination, but definitely lacks the free time. The people who are interested in art projects are the same people who go to school or work, often both. I hope to pick up the slack as much as I can and get things rolling. I'm also trying to be open to everyone, and make things happen in my life in other, non-musical/artistic regards. School seemed to have made me lazy socially. It took me graduating to realize that no one has to be anywhere, and that you're only obliged to meet someone or do something on your own accord and motivation. This is me being proactive about it.

On the flipside, I'm eager to see what my prospects might be elsewhere. I'd like to travel around and feel out other cities, and entertain the possibility of something better. My imagination is limited by the few places I've visited, so my definition of "better" is quite limited and vague. Spending some time in other cities would help me better understand and refine what my expectations are and could be. Like Hawaii, I feel that there might be a time when I'll outgrow Olympia. It is comfortable to me, much like Hawaii in that regard, but better because of its energetic arts community. The arts community here is small, personal, and somewhat insular, with an accessible, useful range of venues and resources to draw from. The Olympia audience (there really is only one, many themselves artists) is open and responsive to all kinds of activity, whether it be conventional or weird. The geographical placement of Olympia -- an hour from Seattle, two from Portland -- means that the cast of characters is in constant rotation. We are close enough to visit these towns, and have others visit us, yet out-of-the-way enough to give a touch of positive, fruitful hysteria and provincialism to the art. This arrangement works for some people; it stifles others. I don't think I've explored enough of what Olympia has to offer yet to make that judgement. But I'm trying to remember that my residence here is not contractual, and remind myself that I don't have to settle for what's right in front of me.

After being unemployed for so long, and only being partly busied by work now, it almost feels as if my life has unraveled into a long, unending weekend. Like any given weekend, it is equal parts giddiness and aimlessness. How will it end? When will the next one start? Just like anything else, I'm figuring out that I'm the one who divides it all up, into however many parts, and it's as much about how it looks and sounds as it is about what it means.