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I don’t live in Las Vegas, I live in Los Angeles. But every time I sit down to write this entry, that line from the Sheryl Crow song pops into my head. Why fight it?
Those of you who’ve visited here for a while know that these have been a rough couple of years for me, trying to help care for a dying mother last year, and trying to deal with her death this year. You hear a lot about the grieving process on TV and stuff, but no one tells you what’s on the other side. Maybe at some point it stops hurting. I dunno.
But there’s been plenty more than that. Nothing as traumatic as another death, but just a generally frustrating and unhappy path I’ve been following for many months without much hope of breaking away.
I’ve only recently faced that common young adult moment, where you look around with sadness and a bit of fear and say “do I really have to get a job I hate and work at it the rest of my life?” I’ve been trying to get by on one part-time job for about 8 months now, because when I looked for a second job to supplement this job, all I could find were jobs that looked ugly or boring or evil.
I know folks who’ve taken these paths, resigned themselves to decades of drudgery. Or if they aren’t working jobs they hate, they’re working unpleasant jobs that they’ve halfway convinced themselves they like. Making a choice like these is rough for me because I know that there are alternatives, many of them radical. I know folks who are intentionally homeless, turning their backs on what they see as a harmful, materialistic society. I know folks who squat in abandoned buildings, feeling that shelter is a human right. I know folks who turn their backs on secure employment for long-shots at success in music and art. I know folks who work half a year and then stretch their savings into voyages around the world, carpeing diems for as long as they can.
Even if this 50-hour a week cubicle/factory world is the norm, is that how humans are supposed to live? Maybe I shouldn’t be conceding to this seeming necessity, maybe I should be fighting to overthrow it. I know, I know, I’m a crazy idealist. You’ve got to be this idealistic to get this cynical.
So I’ve been trying to make a go of the “cut expenses till you can survive on what you make” lifestyle. And theoretically, that’s not a bad choice– would you rather have extra cash to blow on crap, or would you rather have that extra time and freedom to do what you enjoy? But this plan just isn’t working out for me, at least not with my current job. Sure, I could probably live within my means if I moved to a cheap apartment, but plenty of my other problems would remain.
In plenty of ways, my job is perfect for me: a highly solitary, politics-obsessed computer nerd who gets to work from home, by himself, researching and organizing political activism from his apartment? It’s like peanut meets butter! But at the same time, this is exactly the problem with the job.
I’ve come to realize that this environment magnifies a number of the negative consequences of my personality type. For a few years now, I’ve run this organization largely solo. And while it’s very freeing not having a supervisor looking over my shoulder, it also means that I feel the weight and responsibility 24/7. If anything’s going to get done, I have to do it. If a problem arises, I have to fix it. If I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. I don’t put in my 9-to-5 and then spend my evenings carefree; it’s like I’m at work all the time. This set-up ratchets up my natural feelings of responsibility and anxiety.
And although I need plenty of alone time to be sane, working from home has been moving me from “moody loner” to “twitchy recluse.” I don’t get out much. My social circle has crumbled, and that gives me even fewer people to socialize with. Which leaves me indoors and alone even more, further eroding my social network, etc. And my constant anxiety about the job makes me even more hesitant to leave the house. It’s a vicious cycle that’s spun itself about as tightly as I’m willing to let it.
The first real honest-to-goodness escape route I’ve seen was a set of job listings for a San Diego library I used to work at (thanks Candice!). The idea was kind of euphoric. I could get one of those jobs (while continuing my other part-time job) finally be making full-time wages again. I could move down there and stay with my dad (and save up some money). I’d be interacting with co-workers and patrons—real, live people. And my anxiety would be reduced because my life wouldn’t be so centered around a single job.
Libraries are good things. No concern about profit, or marketing, or hustling. Just helping people. For free. And is there anything I’m more qualified to do than help people find the information they’re looking for? There’s no guarantee I’ll get the job, but it looks pretty positive.
And I’d be living just a few minutes from the ocean. I’ve missed it.
The only real downside of this plan is that I’d miss a couple of friends here in LA (although I’ll still come up to visit), and I wouldn’t be able to get that mohawk I’ve been hankering for.
Really that would just leave the issue of my radio show, which I assure you, would continue in one form or another. I’m thinking that I’d either keep coming up to LA to do it at Kill Radio (either weekly or bi-weekly), or join up with one of several radio collectives in San Diego and do it from there. Or possibly both.
And don’t worry about the writing, it’ll keep coming—hopefully in more venues than just this website.
So that’s it. Turned in my 30-day notice and will be moving out of LA in mid-January. Maybe for good, maybe just for a little while, I really don’t know yet. I’ve been unhappy for a real long time. This isn’t my dream come true or anything, but I think things will get better, a lot better. We’ll see how it all turns out.
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