why for and other unanswerables

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I graduated college with a Theater degree in August of 2008, pretty much exactly when our economic rug was janked right out from under us.  I was full of hope and zest and roses then; it was beautiful.  And then I fell down a flight of stairs.

Literally, I fell down a flight of stairs two months after I was unceremoniously kicked off my parents’ health insurance for turning 22, effectively ruining my knee for life and saddling myself with a whole shiz-ton of brand new medical bills. And figuratively, it was a bumpy, jarring road to the bottom of that year in which I limped along (literally, figuratively, etc.) from part-time gig to part-time gig, and often had to pay my dear, darling, ever-patient roommate rent in installments, even more often having to borrow from my dear, darling, overburdened parents to pay in full.

So when my friend called out of the blue almost exactly a year later and said, “I know it’s The Man and all, but do you want a day job?”  I cautiously asked if there was health insurance involved, and at the first glimmer of a “Y-” I was in like mother truckin flynn.   Even then I knew myself well enough to know that if I’m slightly comfortable I’ll stay forever, and so I told myself, two years.  I would take two years to get my ducks in a row, and then I would be out. The recession would surely be better by then, and I would be the picture of fiscal responsibility.

So I became a tech writer. With a regular paycheck. For the first six months, I felt like a legit billionaire.  Jumping several tax brackets from 6K to 30K a year will do that for you.  But the problem remained that I’m an artist. I can’t help it. Believe me, if I could I would.  And even more unfortunately, I’m an artist who has to work with others, on others’ schedules, in order to do my art.  But so it went.  I could suddenly afford things, and not even just rent!  I made fantastic friends at my new job. I could go on vacation. I. Had. HEALTH INSURANCE.  The first several months of my job all I did was joyously make doctor appointments. I am not kidding; it was my favorite thing.

But the longer I stayed, and the more comfortable I became with the paycheck, and the better friends I became with my coworkers, the more difficult it became to think about leaving.  So why DO you want to leave, you may be asking yourself.  Part of it is that, no matter how much I love my coworkers, my sweet commute, and the regular paycheck (though, two years later, it ain’t quite as sexy as it used to be), when it comes right down to it, I can’t stand my job, and have no desire to go any farther up the food chain in that particular area of business.  The other part, the biggest part, is that, while I no longer have the issue of not being able to afford my art money-wise, I now can’t afford it time-wise.  The nail(s) in the coffin were delivered this spring, when I took on WAY too many gigs related to my art, and ended up working 80 hour weeks for about two months straight; no weekends.  No, it was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  History will tell whether it was the dumbest (something tells me… I’ll do dumber).

But it made me realize that if I don’t take this leap and hope to everything holy that I won’t crash and burn (*cough*likelasttime*cough*), then I will be miserable forever. I will be one of Those People who is bitter and ugly (on the inside!), who drags herself to work where she bitches about her homelife, and then goes home where she bitches about her work life. I’m not trying to be dramatic; it’s a phenomenon we are all well acquainted with.

Basically, my current life goal is I’m just not tryna be That Guy.

So I’ma do it. Quit my day job in pursuit of art. In a recession, on purpose. And record it here. We’ll see how that goes.


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