It’s a full time job being Self-Unemployed

It is hard to believe that I have been in Austin for over a month now.  Since my entire relationship with Maria has been a series of comings and goings, there is still this odd feeling in the back of my head that I am missing my return flight to Canada.  The only thing missing however, is work authorization.  We filed the necessary paperwork as soon as possible, and a recent email tells me that within 90 days I will be permitted to find my way out of the 8% unemployment statistic.  For now I refer to my situation as being Self-Unemployed.  And as the title to this post mentions, it has been a full time job.  Here are some of the highlights of the month:


Maria and I had an excellent honeymoon on Captiva Island.  We were blessed with an entire home to ourselves, thanks to our amazing friends, the Terrils.  We did typical honeymoon things, like play Scrabble every night.  So no need to bore you with the details.

Camp Gladiator Fitness Model

Shortly after we returned to Austin, Maria asked me to volunteer at her work.  This was not the first, and it will certainly not be the last time this request comes my way.  Having volunteered at the CG games prior to our wedding, and having experienced the joy of heat stroke as a result, I was a little cautious about committing at first.  When I was reassured that this event would have a hydration station I said, “Sure, why not.”  The event turned out to be a Photo Shoot for marketing reasons.

If this whole history thing doesn’t work out, I at least have 5 hours of modelling under my belt.

Parental Visit

After coming down from my modelling high, my (I guess “our” now) parents flew in from Canada.  Austin was their launch pad in what was nearly a month of road tripping across the USA.  We enjoyed our four days with them and their glorious rental vehicle: The Mantis.

I am sure there are better pictures of this visit somewhere, but not on my computer at the moment.  We hope that this is the first of many family visits to Texas.  The Sikkema presence south of the 49th parallel needs work.

Inde Film Volunteer

Once the parents left, Maria was in full swing with CG and I was asked by friends to help them with their Independent Film.  I’ve never really been on a movie set before, except for my brief role in Rescue 911, and so it was pretty great to be a part of the experience.  For the most part, I helped with set design which involved going to various locations and asking for materials such as magnets, wires, old sinks, etc…The film’s story line is too confusing for me to relate here, but there are special effects that will be fun to see.  My high light of this experience was Boom Mic’ing for a day.

The recorder and mic were very similar to the ones I used for my Oral History project so I did not feel too lost.  The biggest challenge was not dropping the mic into the shot after about 5 minutes of a long dialogue scene which left my arms burning and shaking.

Oral Historian

With the film taking place in Waco and realizing that self-unemployment is not the most lucrative profession, I decided it was not viable to drive that distance repeatedly.  So I set to work creating videos for the JP Metras Museum using our oral histories.  In the process I came across the HJ Luther Stark Center for Physical Fitness, which is very similar to the JP Metras Sports Museum in that it is a repository for sports history memorabilia.  The only difference is that the Stark Center acquired a large amount of capital to build a 27,500 square foot research center and reading room, complete with 10 ft. plaster bust of Hercules.

Noticing that they are developing an oral history project with the 1968 USA Olympic team, I emailed the librarian at the center, mentioning my situation as well as my experience with sport oral histories.  What happened next provides a good case for public historians (and others) to have a web presence, either with a blog, twitter account, or an updated LinkedIn profile.

Why?  The curator at the museum checked me out on LinkedIn, and actually read my blog.  When I got there they told me so, and instead of a question period about my experience, we just got right down to business.  They shared with me what they hoped to accomplish with their oral histories, and I shared with them how we might make it happen.  (It also doesn’t hurt when people know they have free labor on their hands).  Either way, before I knew it I was set up with a work station, and involved with their really fascinating oral history project on the 1968 Olympics.  For those unfamiliar with these games here are a few iconic images:

The Black Power Salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos provided a memorable moment in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement.

Bob Beamon shattered the long jump record, and held it for the next 22 years.

Dick Fosbury revolutionized high jump when he “flopped” over the pole this way.

The 1968 Olympians are coming together for a reunion in Austin at the end of the month.  The Stark Center is hosting one event in their time and I am looking forward to meeting these incredible athletes and hearing their stories.

Moving Forward

So that is the month in a nutshell.  Maria and I are slowly turning our apartment of boxes into a home, and developing routines that allow for more writing.  Moving forward, the blog will still be used as a space for reflections on oral history, and the role of technology in historical learning, but I will also use it to keep our families updated (at most monthly) of our Texan lives.


2 thoughts on “It’s a full time job being Self-Unemployed

  1. Dave, I’m very impressed with how you’ve filled your time. Seems like you get more work done being unemployed than many would employed! Kudos.

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