Lying Media Bastards

December 21, 2004

Leaving Las Vegas

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.

Posted by Jake on December 21, 2004 1:31 am

7 Comments »

  1. Good luck with your decisions. Regardless of what your decision is, don’t let people guilt-trip you. Believe me, I’ve had the homeless-by-choice people give that guilt trip to me (sellout!) and all I can say is that it is, on a certain level, a luxury to be able to drop out like that.

    Comment by Amanda — December 21, 2004 @ 6:19 am

  2. Yeah, I’m a sell out. Took the job that paid, but I’m stuck in a place that I can’t stand (think bible belt). It sucks now, but few things in this life are set in stone. You can always change your mind if you realize that aren’t doing what you should be. Good luck with everything, and thanks for being a highly solitary, politics- obsessed computer nerd. Your work is more appreciated than you know!

    Comment by Robin — December 21, 2004 @ 10:33 am

  3. Congratulations and good luck, no matter what you eventually do. No matter what, only you can make yourself happy. Don’t forget to go outside, smell some flowers, pet someone’s dog, etc. — I’m basically saying, please take some time out and away from the PC when you need it - you’ll find the social circle problems and anxiety problems resolve themselves.

    I work in a large DC HQ’d union’s office, am sometimes stressed by workload, but love that what I’m doing is making good money while helping to kick The Man in the nuts everyday. My advice is, you may not make good money, but artist jobs, jobs for positive organizations (unions, lefty nonprofits, for example) can be very satisfying, even on bad days. Good luck on whatever you do. You deserve happiness, as does everyone (who isn’t working in the White House right now).

    Comment by VA-DC Liberal — December 21, 2004 @ 11:22 am

  4. Best of Luck Jake. I’ve read your page for a little over two years now. Hooked from on of the first stories abou towns in Florida getting new cop cars for a $1 with adevrtisments all over them and not being able to stop laughing at your “can’t wait for the inevitable ‘this racist police beating brought to you by Snapple.’

    I wear my LMB pin with pride, a bright yellow on a denim vest of black and white. I’ve even interviewed you for college. I hope you have a great time and the transition goes well. I recently got a job too, realizing my ‘work for a bit, save for longer’ plan is putting pressure on myself.

    Politics-obssesed computer nerds for life!

    Comment by Brian/Buddy — December 21, 2004 @ 4:30 pm

  5. Ha, I love how everyone leaves all these positive notes and encouragement. Maybe I am just more of a cynic than most, I really don’t know. But, do you want to know the plain truth? Moving won’t make you happy. Having more money won’t make you happy. A different job won’t matter. The problem is you, always has been and always will be. You can make the change, things may seem better for a bit, but the anxiety and depression will always come back, things will always seem a little off.

    It’s a systemic problem, brought on by the fact that you just aren’t happy with the way things are. You try to reconcile going tets up and just getting along to get along, but that makes you miserable on a whole different level. Then you flop back to trying to believe things will change, that you might possibly make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I love your site, read it all the time. But the thing you rarely discuss in depth is how goddamn futile it all is. We are the minority, this is just a fact. Things aren’t going to change anytime soon. Believe me, I almost wish religious people were right so that Jesus would come back and take them all up to heaven and leave me be.

    Write this blog, if you will. I know, it is cathartic. Getting it out, expressing your frustration and hoping there are people out there that share even a modicum of your viewpoint is a little ray of sunshine amidst all the other shit we go through on a daily basis. I encourage what you do, but just… God, reality is really fucking heavy sometimes, isn’t it? You are going to get to your dad’s, settle in and realize you are still a loner because, no matter how hard you try to identify with others, you just don’t. People are too fucking stupid, too many idiots floating around, just waiting to fuck up the otherwise lovely day you were having inside your own head. Close your eyes and just let it all fade. It’s all I can ever seem to manage.

    Comment by Anonymous — December 22, 2004 @ 7:42 am

  6. Anon, even snotty loners like myself *do* manage to find a place in life where they’re happy. You can’t rely on other people to smarten up, no, so you have to decide not to take it personally.

    Comment by Amanda — December 22, 2004 @ 10:36 am

  7. Anonymous, unless you’re psychic, (which i highly doubt)it’s not exactly prudent to tell Jake
    how his life is going to turn out when you don’t even know him. First of all, just because you
    read a persons website DOESN’T mean you know them. And so what if Jake is moving to make himself
    happy? Shouldn’t he do everything possible to find happiness? No one WANTS to be sad. At least
    he’s trying. At least he hasn’t given up.

    And now, Jake, do whatever you feel is best for the situation. i trust your judgement. i guess
    that’s really all i had to say. Alexa and i are off to St.Louis to do our last minute Christmas
    shopping. Even though we’re supposed to get 6-8 inches of snow….

    Comment by Piper — December 22, 2004 @ 11:43 am

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