Fate: a ruttish fly-bitten puttock!

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings.

–William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar (Cassius discussing Caesar with Brutus, Act I, Scene II)

Sometimes I wonder. I think [tag]Fate[/tag] mocks me. Yes me, personally, as a matter of purpose. And since I’m breaking rules and personifying Fate (I’m hardly the first; it’s not like there isn’t precedent), I’ll also capitalize it.

Just when things settle down to routine and I decide that I’m going to pursue freelance writing opportunities for the next year or so, saving money and preparing to venture abroad and try my hand at teaching English as a foreign language, Fate steps in and mucks it all up. Last week I flew to Newark, NJ for a job interview that came out of the blue; the position would involve relocation to the NJ/NY City area and working in an office (something I haven’t done since June of 2001—horrors!). The interview, prompted by a former colleague who now works for the publication in question, seemed to go well, despite my rather rusty interview skills—the last time I actually participated in a formal job interview process was December, 1999.

Then, I get a call today from the folks that I currently freelance for on a regular, daily basis, inquiring about my interest in a new full-time position (this one would ostensibly involve telecommuting full-time, incidentally, since most of the company’s current editors telecommute themselves). The group publisher of this particular pub (actually there are two involved in this position) had actually told me a few months ago that she may have more work for me in the new year; but I hadn’t considered that it might involve a full-time position; I had just assumed that it was more freelance work.

Curse you, fickle Fate! Damn you! A [tag]pox[/tag] on thee, thou ruttish fly-bitten puttock!

I had just put up my resume and profiles on several sites that bring together freelance writers and freelance writing jobs (Mediabistro—Match.com for scribes!), in anticipation of pursuing freelance writing full-time this year. 2007 was a half-and-half kinda year, in that respect, but 2008—this was to be the year that Jeff Chappell was a permanent hired gun—er, pen or keyboard, rather. Then all this comes down with job opportunities and full-time inquiries.

I should have known something like this was coming, because I ordered new checks late last year. Every time I order new checks, specifically the second set of checks after opening a new bank account, it presages a geographical relocation for me, usually prompted by a job change. Seriously, as a post-college adult, this has always proved true. Moves back to Cincinnati from Michigan, up to Cleveland, out to Arizona, then San Jose, California, back across the continent to West Virginia, then back to Cincinnati (again!)–all forecasted by the ordering of new checks. I hardly ever write checks anymore—pay almost everything online—but I figured I should have a few around; it comes in handy from time to time, like when I forget to pay my rent early via online bill pay (and if you look up absent-minded in the dictionary, there is a picture of me).

So, what to do, what to do. I’m not really complaining, of course—actually rather grateful to be in this position. I’m actually very fortunate, and I know it. Particularly the way the economy is headed these days.

But things like my current situation always make me question the nature of fate. Is it really up to me, and me alone, as to whether I stride the world like a Colossus, or scurry about as Cassius’ so-called underlying, seemingly the plaything of the stars, but in reality just afraid to take life by the short hairs (there’s a metaphor I don’t believe Shakespeare every employed). Am I really master of my destiny (if not my domain, heh), or merely the plaything pawn of the stars? Being a staunch, self-centered individualist, I’m inclined to agree with the Bard and others that I’m calling the shots (although [tag]Shakespeare[/tag] seemed to be of two minds on the question of self determination). But If I were Fate—note the capital—I doubt I could resist messing with people in similar situations and beliefs, throwing out some options when they were least expected, just to keep ’em guessing. I’d be a bit of a rapscallion, if I were Fate.

Maybe we are masters of our own [tag]destiny[/tag], for the most part, but Fate likes to step in once in a while, just to keep us on our toes—to make life interesting.

Fate, you crazy kid.