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Dancing on the razor's edge - A little less than a happy high
komos
komos
Dancing on the razor's edge
I ran into my boss in the hall yesterday and he joked a bit about Monday When he asked, "What, don't you like going to depositions?" all I could think to say was, "No, and I think Monday kind of broke me." We both laughed, but it was the kind of uncomfortable laugh that lingers when you know that the kidding was based more in truth than in fun.

The truth is, I came out of the deposition wondering if I am at all cut out for this work. I used to think that I had a high tolerance for weirdness, but I now think that that has to be qualified. I have a high tolerance for weirdness so long as it doesn't involve attorneys. Add any sort of legal matter into the mix and I turn into a jittery heap.

And here I am, talking to at least a half dozen attorneys a day...

I shared my distress some with the roommate, and he asked whether I had ever considered trying to make a living with one of the things I end up doing anyway. To his credit, he said that it was very clear that I had a talent for "making things," whether it be beer or pots or whatever. The thought has crossed my mind, but I feel like I lack the freedom to embark on such a radical career shift. One immediate concern is that the hit on my income would be enough to make it utterly impossible to afford little things like food and rent. Heck, this would be a concern even if it weren't for my peculiar circumstances. Right now, I just can't seem to wrap my mind around a career that doesn't guarantee steady work and a comparable salary. At the same time, the worry associated with what I do and any mistakes I make is slowly killing me.
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Comments
wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: April 13th, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find myself thinking of the folks I knew in high school who both wanted steady income and were creative types. The path that many of them chose was art teacher. I dunno if that would work for you, but there must be some sort of career path that would tap into your natural talents while allowing a more stable source of income. What about cooking? Maybe cook_ting could provide some advice?
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
In both cases, I am lacking both training and credentialing, and I'm really not at liberty to seek out further education because of my previously mentioned financial difficulties. Besides, neither would be likely to meet my needs in terms of salary.

I just think I'm fucked.
cinemama From: cinemama Date: April 13th, 2005 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's always the nonprofit world. At least at the end of the day you're making a major difference in the world.

Helps me get through hellish days like today's been.

(And you'd be good at it.)
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
My housemate has been part of the nonprofit development world. I know he's something of an anomaly since he's kind of taken a mercenary for hire approach as opposed to focusing on a cause he loves, but I've watched him struggle with it a great deal. It looks scary out there.

(You think?)
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and happy day to you... ^_^
sassyinkpen From: sassyinkpen Date: April 13th, 2005 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Light industrial? I worked for several years in a small shop making frames and display units out of acrylic - loved it. Now I do signs and engraving. Steady income, but you can feel creative, you rarely have to worry about it away from work, and you start meeting people in other similar areas...might lead to something you like even better.
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
When you were making frames, did you ever start thinking that you were just part of the machine?

I would love to do something like restoration carpentry, but that's got the training/credentials issue again.

sassyinkpen From: sassyinkpen Date: April 13th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never did. I always felt like I was in arts & crafts, or shop class. It was a small shop and pretty informal. We played the radio and talked while we worked. Many of the jobs we did were only runs of 50 or even less, so you set up and do a series of steps for each one, then set up the next phase, etc. (I'll grant you, I don't mind repetative work in short stretches - no more than a few days at one thing. But I know that makes some people nuts). And most of these kinds of jobs are on-th-job training. No credentials issue.

On a more practical level, or more immediate one, maybe you can take a look at what parts of your job that you like - and what you don't like - and see if you can just find another similar job that has a better mix for you?

I'm a firm believer in finding a job that you can live with, and ditching ones that are a real drain on you.
komos From: komos Date: April 14th, 2005 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
The thing that's been bothering me lately is that it seems like my mistakes carry so much weight. I have a deep appreciation for detail, but in any case where my diligence slips, there's a great deal at stake. Joys of being part of the public face of a government agency.
cosmicserpent From: cosmicserpent Date: April 13th, 2005 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Money always has a way of getting into everything and fucking it up. Perhaps for now, you could continue to make things on the side and then find a way to sell them/form a partnership/etc. until the profit from stolen underpants is enough to ween yourself from the day job? Just a thought.
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks to the laws of this great land that are meant to protect the market share of distributors us from ourselves, I can't sell or barter beer without a license whose cost I couldn't recoup short of moving my production to an industrial scale.

Cheese, I might be able to manage, but I'm an absolute neophyte, and what I've made has virtually no shelf-life and I've no idea how I'd market it. I suppose I could put feelers out to see what kind of interest I might get from the specialty shops.

I don't produce pots fast enough to even recoup the cost of studio time, and I'm really not that good yet.

My best bet would be to try to find a second job with somebody who's already doing something on the list. It would mean working a sixty hour week, but it might be worthwhile. I don't know. It kind of hurts my head to think about.
From: ex_cayetana730 Date: April 13th, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
If Mike from Concorde is at Beer Summit, I'll slyly ask their hiring situation. Things have changed there, but still. They might know someone who needs a brewer as well. Also, ask Steve from Ipswitch.

You could start out being a brewer at an established brewery, then like, start your own or take over or something. Definitely not high paying, but if it makes you happy...
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think for the time being I wouldn't be able to do it full time unless they'd give me far more than what I'm really worth to them. Part time, I'd probably be a very specialized janitor who happens to work with a lot of barley. Still, there's something to the idea. Thanks.
From: ulf_rulz Date: April 13th, 2005 10:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
As I seem to be utterly incapable of taking orders or playing along with the hierarchy, I've only ever worked relatively successfully for other artisans with whom I had a personal relationship. It definitely means insecure paychecks and no bennies. Eventually I started working for myself. It's a bitch, mostly because The Man does everything in his power to maintain control of markets & the economy in general by legislating really oppressive business & tax laws... well, oppressive if you don't have a few millions for the accountants & lawyers.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

komos From: komos Date: April 14th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
It certainly seems that way. I don't think I know anyone who's not been co-opted by the system in some way. There just doesn't seem to be a way to avoid it short of becoming a back woods hermit.
From: ulf_rulz Date: April 14th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ulf <--- Backwoods Hermit. :)
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some guys have all the luck...
why_style From: why_style Date: April 14th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

lemme just ramble for a minute...

i totally feel your pain- i am in pretty much the exact same situation: i feel like my job is sucking the life out of me, but i can't see a way around my financial responsibilities to get to someplace more enjoyable. a lot of people would probablyenvy my job, and i'm sure i couldn't get paid as well to do the same thing anywhere else which is part of why i stay, but work has become a constant cycle of boredom, then sudden looming deadline stress, followed by more boredom- mostly due to my boss never giving me advanced notice on projects so that i can spread the work out; instead it's a couple weeks of useless busywork followed by a couple weeks of 9 hour days with no breaks and then more busywork. but enough about the shriveling of my soul.

anyway, sometimes i really wish i'd taken a different path in my life, but i feel like it's too late now because i don't have the training/credentials to do what i'd love to do- work in music/audio production- but i've amassed debts and responsibilities that require a stable income so going back and starting my education over doesn't seem to be an option either. i could continue on, go to grad school and maybe make more money in this career, but what i really want is a different career altogether, and that would require scrapping the last ten years and basically going back to 18 to rewrite my life- leaving my financial responsibilities drifting in the wind.

i wish i had an easy answer to the problem, and i obviously don't know the specifics of your "peculiar circumstances", but i have noted in looking at other people who've made drastic changes in midstream that it is possible. it's always a big risk, and it's often a financial struggle initially, and there are plenty of people who fail, but lots of people do succeed and you'll never know until you try. i've seen people who have a food product that started out as something they just shared with friends, then started making larger batches of at home and got local grocery stores to carry it, and eventually ended up shipping all over the country and moved into a real production facility- it is possible if you are committed to it and are willing to take the chance that things won't pan out and you may have to return to your old life.

i bet you could do it with your cheese or your beer or both. the model is out there. i think most microbreweries started out simply as people who loved the product enough to risk making a go of it. it would take initiative on your part to first hone your craft, possibly take on small business loans, and then having the initiative to go store to store peddling it to get yourself started, but if it would make you happier in the long run, i think it'd be worth it. as much of a pessimist and cynic as i can often be, i believe that life should be fun and not a constant struggle. i know "life is suffering" but i still gotta believe there's a way to make it payoff somehow.
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: lemme just ramble for a minute...

I need to stop finding my way to media that convey the message, "Sometimes, despite all of your efforts otherwise, you're just fucked..."

I believe it is possible utterly to waste a life. I just don't want to be there.
bushidokelt From: bushidokelt Date: April 14th, 2005 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
i certainly hope taht I do not inflict the wierdness on you...the legal profession can do that sometimes....
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remember Gimli and Legolas's exchange at the final battle in RotK?
"I never thought I'd die fighting next to an Elf..."
"How about dying while fighting next to a friend?"
"Aye. I can do that."
nameherlover From: nameherlover Date: April 14th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I work in a law firm as well.. A little lower down...alright a lot lower than you... File Clerk. I was thinking law school.. not anymore.. I think working not only in a corporate firm, but for bankruptcy sucked me dry of optimism towards people, businesses, and our country...I'm not only a misanthrope.. but now I think life that involves money is wretched..

I might be a little crazier than you too ;-)
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Law firm? No, nothing so glamorous as that. I work in state government... so I have to leave it to you as to whether I'm higher or lower on the food chain.

I will say that since I'm in full agreement that a moneyed life is wretched (and I'll even give props for le mot juste), it's likely that we're crazy as each other. The thing is, once there are enough people who believe the same thing, they become the norm, and it's the ones who disagree who are really crazy.

Yeah, ok, I got nothing... ^_^
From: ulf_rulz Date: April 15th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
From youth I've always been highly critical of authority... (my parents lament that they brought me up to be too fair-minded, whatever the fuck *that* means.) Having lived in rural religious insanity in Oregon & then suburban yuppie status-conscious Hell outside the Beltway does that. I guess I heard enough about layoffs & perceived enough short-sighted greed to completely turn me off of the system as a morally viable, stable way of life. At the age of 17 I finally figured out that the answer for me was to work as an artist/artisan. I think it's essentially violent to sell things that people *need*. I think it's essentially unethical to convince people to buy things they *don't* need. The answer? Sell things to people that they don't need. Make the world a more beautiful place and ask for a donation.

To do that you have to make innumerable sacrifices. I have lived off bread, cheese and eggs for years while getting my own business off the ground. I currently have two pairs of publicly wearable pants; and both now have small holes on the side where my keys sit in the pocket. No one will help you work outside the system unless they're really good friends or family. It's the nature of American culture; even my folks can't understand why I don't have a regular job, aside from the fact that they know I'm a bit "odd," and probably suspect I'm a little crazy. This corporately created emphasis on individuality over the family is no accident; it's entirely new to the human experience. It is the result of competitive market advertising, corporate structure (profit uber-alles,) and the lack of any real, natural, unified culture in America. The result is personal isolation & corporate serfhood. The only answer is to take the moral stance that the system itself is the problem and do everything in your power to work outside it.

Having met a bunch of you through Cat9 I can say that you're creative & intelligent people... If enough folks start working for themselves, buying locally, engaging with the soil & disengaging from the Federal/Corporate Gubbamet and working on a functional (i.e. much smaller,) Democratic scale we could all theoretically live in a better world.

Of course we won't. Sooner or later the world will go down some environmentally devastated totalitarian path. Billions will live an unfulfilled, slavish existence for the greedy, short-sighted profit of others. But you'll have your dignity... which is one of the few things you can take to your grave. Do it.
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