Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back to Work

I'm in a bit of a fucking funk right now, and probably should not be writing at all, lest readers think I'm the type who gets into funks and then they get concerned/annoyed and everything gets uncomfortable.

Maybe I should temper this grumble in advance with the news that I'm very happy about my latest haircut, which is a uniform 1/8" long and has liberated me from worrying that people are looking at my patchy hair and saying, "Why doesn't that old bastard just shave his stupid head?  He's not fooling anyone."  It's not that it "looks good" or anything--It's just that I don't have the option of wasting time futzing with the few remaining strands.  As much as I sincerely loathe this expression, finally, it is what it is.

Anyway, the thing I'm being funky about has to do with my kiddos unexpectedly being invited to enroll in their dream preschool, right now or never.  It's good news for them, but the implications for me are more mixed.

Essentially, I'm now in a position where I have to go out and make some money.  To which eventuality I respond, "Fuck."  I wish I loved chasing dollars as much as some people do; but frankly I don't have much passion or aptitude for it. 

For two days a week, now that the kids are in school, I have a bunch of hours on my hands with no kids around.  These "free" hours don't come cheap, unfortunately.

I've written here and elsewhere about how my wife and I don't base our family roles on societal norms, but rather on practicality.  We do whatever we're in the best position to do, respectively, in order to meet the needs of the family in an equitable way.  My wife makes a lot more money than I ever have, so she's been in charge of doing that for a while.  But she works reasonable hours and does tons of "unpaid family work" whenever she's home, rather than being a female version of a fifties sitcom dad, living at the office and kicking back while her mate serves her hand and foot once she gets home.

We like this arrangement.  It suits us.  So it's only fair that, since there are now fewer hours where I need to do the unpaid family work, and since the family now has more expenses (preschool tuition), I should go out and get some paid work to help hold up my end of the unspoken bargain.

But BD, you're probably thinking.  You're a blogging superstar and media darling.  Why not just do more of that shit?
 

Well, that shit and $70.00 will pay for your internet service for a month.  I need a fucking paycheck.

I knew this moment would come eventually.  But I thought I still had the summer to think about it.  I once had a crazy-ass dream that, by the time the kids were ready for school, I would have parlayed my blogging obsession  into a source of revenue that would justify my actually sitting down during daylight hours and writing while I'm alert, rather than squeezing out reluctant brain-turds while normal people are sleeping.

Instead, it looks like I'm going to spend those "free" daylight hours doing what I've almost always done to make money: building and fixing stuff on other people's houses.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the work.  I even see the poetry in it, after all these years of scoffing at desk jockeys who romanticize manual labor.  There are times when, as a carpenter, I feel connected to a tradition that stretches back, really, to when there were no longer enough caves to house our species, and the first real estate bubble started inflating.


It's just that this time I've spent with the kids seems like it should have marked a natural transition for me.  I've done the hardcore years of the "turn-and-burn", "get-it-done-yesterday", "elbows-and-assholes" construction gig.  I've gotten my degrees and credentials and done my dabbling in the teaching game.  I've blended those two unlikely bedfellows.  Now it seems like I should be doing something different; or at least something more befitting a 45-year-old.  Like sitting in a sun-drenched office and pecking out my insights about parenting, the universe, and everything.  

But since the internet doesn't pay for sentence inventors, and since (warning: micro-rant) California has decided that higher education is not a priority, it looks like it's back to the goddamn nailbags for this old dad.

Again: It's a noble pursuit.  It's maybe the fourth oldest profession.  I learned the basic skills of the trade--no shit--at around five years of age.  It's in my bones, and it affords me the rare opportunity to feel superior to some stock broker with great hair who can't even figure out how to install a towel rack.

On the other hand, it's a variation of the same goddamn thing I've been doing since 1983, when I was sixteen and my friend's dad tapped into Langley High School as a source for the cheap, illegal labor that made the Northern Virginia housing market an inspiration for McMansion developers nationwide.

I wish I were looking forward to clacking out a column tomorrow, while my kids were at school, secure in the knowledge that my parenting wisdom was defraying the cost of their tuition.  But reality is a cold-ass bitch, and it's more likely that I'll be calling old clients and composing Craigslist ads.

Oh, well.  It is what the fuck it is. 

     

        

 


37 comments:

  1. Want to come to Atlanta and finish my basement? I guess we'll have to wait til they're in 5-day a week preschool for that, though.

    Does this mean all the writing gigs will stop? I hope not. I think being out and about in the world will provide great material. Good luck...

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think I will have more material, just less time to share it. That old paradox.

      I'll see how it goes trying to find work here. I might be moving into your unfinished basement if that doesn't work out.

      Delete
  2. Ugh. I hate this for you. I also hate work.

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  3. "Well, that shit and $70.00 will pay for your internet service for a month. I need a fucking paycheck."

    And this is why I've been spending my "free" time working on freelance web projects while my blog dies a slow death. *sigh*

    "The internet doesn't pay for sentence inventors."

    Too true, my friend. Too true.

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    Replies
    1. I was wondering where the hell you've been. The blogosphere misses you.

      Delete
  4. I think change is harder on adults than our kids.. Kids just go w/the flow.. I know your girls are loving pre school!. Just be careful that they don't role play u and wife... Pre school kids are great in doing that ... Gives their teachers quite a perspective on what goes/not goes on at home....
    As far as the work thing, you are lucky u are employable.. I have a sil and cousin who are still out of work.. They are working and year 2 of unemployment... It sucks when you are in your late 50's and no one wants u cuz you aren't employable/marketable.. In other words: Just Too Fuckin' Old....lol

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    Replies
    1. Yeah--it is lucky indeed that I have some marketable skills and I don't have to rely on a company to hire me.

      Delete
  5. That's a donkey ball sucker, for sure. I'm facing sort of the same thing, minus children and any marketable skills whatsoever. You'll figure somthing out, you gots mad skilz dog. (wtf?)

    Plus, those girls are going to be so happy to see you when you pick them up on those days, you'll feel like king of the world.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the pep talk. It's probably going to be good for me to go out and interact with adults. Hope your situation works out!

      Delete
  6. Yeah, it bites.

    "I wish I loved chasing dollars as much as some people do; but frankly I don't have much passion or aptitude for it."

    I'd much rather be chasing my son than the dollar. I seem to be better at it than the hubs, but my dream job... doesn't pay jack or shit, and Jack just quit. So, I muddle along in the corporate hell that I'm trapped in and live for the moments I'm free of this place.

    All that to say you aren't alone and a good rant does everyone good now and again. Stupid effing money...

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  7. Well, shit. Now I am both concerned AND annoyed regarding your state of being.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm already getting better. The ranting helped a lot. Plus I already lined up some work and am starting to look forward to it.

      Delete
  8. As bummed as I am about the state of words on the internet, I'm right there with the reluctant brain turds.

    Good luck, buddy.

    p.s. What about being a handy man? Your own business, your own rate, your own hours. Still noble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brain turds FTW! Essentially I will be doing handyman stuff. I put my shingle out on Facebook and already have some work lined up. But I will be too proud and snobby to use the term "handyman" though. I will instead call myself a part-time general contractor.

      Delete
  9. You can always fetch my beer. I'm a big tipper.

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    Replies
    1. Sure, but I happen to know that you don't drink nearly enough beer to support my lifestyle.

      Delete
  10. I'm sorry to hear that you've been bumped to part time in your parenting gig. I hope you find something that suits you!

    Candace

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    Replies
    1. I hadn't even thought of it that way. Shit. I've been downsized. Or something.

      Delete
  11. I'm with you. I still have a year before my 2-year-old goes to preschool. I assume that in that year I'll become rich and famous. Or at least learn to put up a towel rack.

    Good luck.

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    Replies
    1. I'm starting to see the appeal of homeschooling.

      Delete
  12. I've got a degree in writing. So, I'm kind of screwed no matter what. I've been working since I was 13, doing every little odd job. But I need a career right now so that when all that money comes flooding in from blogging, I can sit back and confidently say I'm a retired so-on-and-so-forth.

    Anywho - good luck in getting back out in the field. This is America, land of work-yourself-to-death. We're only supposed to remember our families fondly in pictures we look at on our phones in airports while waiting for our flights and on those photo mugs we get for Father's Day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should call yourself a consultant. And tomorrow, a retired consultant.

      Delete
  13. I just feel so damn bad about your hair situation.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sorry for your loss man! Work sucks, it's true. I wish I had more encouraging words for you. The one thing, and there is literally only one thing, I like about being out in the workforce, is how excited the kids get to see you when you get home. I don't really know what kind of person you are but that's enough for me every time.

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  15. I feel your pain and in a very real sense of the word. Had a good run for a while followed by lots of challenging crap.

    Kids are all bent out of shape because I told them they are going to a new school next year, except I don't know where it will be.

    Depends on a boatload of things and it is likely that I'll leave California for greener pastures. It is not necessarily what I want to do, I am a freaking native.

    Born and raised in LA, don't find many of us. But we do what we need to do for the kids and family.

    Of course I ought to talk to some of my agent friends and pitch them a great reality television show about a SAHD with twins who works as a blogger and carpenter.

    I am only half kidding. There is money there...

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  16. BD, good luck banging nails, but don't leave off the keyboard banging. Jesus this metaphor sucks.

    You've got to be able to get more paying gigs in the wordsmithing department. . . you're too good not to.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Go for it Jack! I'd totally watch that show!!

    BD, interacting with adults in real life situations is over-rated in my book! :-)
    I so hope you find a good happy medium between working and writing. A book or series pilot is something you should seriously look in to!!

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  18. I am in a similar boat, except swap carpentry with IT stuff (although drawing on my extensive Ikea furniture assembly experience, I reckon I could install a towel rail).

    We have one in preschool, going to big school next year, but the twins will have one more year at home before being shipped of to preschool 3 days a week, but the thought of what exactly I am supposed to be doing in a years time has been weighing heavily on me of late. I am experiencing what a plethora of mother's have had to go through - the prospect of returning to work after a period of being put out to pasture, with a whole new bunch of restrictions on when and where I can work (only available 3 days/week, and need to be able to do drop-offs and pick-ups).

    I have also been thinking about career change, but when the kids go to preschool, I will need to have an income. My thoughts at the moment are to re-certify in the IT stuff I know, and then slowly, slowly, retrain in *some other as-yet-unspecified field of interest*...

    It is a great first world problem to have - a wife earning a great income that allows us both to spend more time with the kids, and I get to have existential crises about WTF I am doing. Ironically, I wouldn't mind improving my manual labour skillz...

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  19. Oh dude, Are you alright? I'm annoyed.

    I'd like to tell you that it's good to be back to work, but it ain't. Take it as easy as you can, bruthu

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good Gravy you're a bunch of complainers (and so am I) so complain and get it off your chest, that's awesome but then get up and do something. Working does suck, no doubt about that, punching that stupid time clock and waiting for someone else to see the value in what you do? I do NOT miss those days. I did begin to dread that my return to the "real world" is nearing as within just a few years we will have all 5 in Christian School (our twins hit preschool this year) and that will take some serious dough as of summer 2012. Never fear there are options people. So have your rant and then put on your shoes and get moving because that which is worth having doesn't plop itself into your lap.
    I'm starting a new business and it scares the crapola outta this happy to be a little country bumpkin introvert. I'm more than happy to wander my house and yard each day cleaning up messes and only answering the calls of my family but that's not something I can do forever. In this world which I wanna give my family an awesome life I have to step up to the challenge and make a decision. So starting a business now while I'm not quite under the gun and reach other people wanting to provide something to their families WITHOUT punching a time clock is not in my comfort zone but I deserve more than being someone's go-and-do-er in a couple years.
    It is great to see I'm not the only one whining about the truly tough things in life, like going back to work, the knowledge I'm not alone is a sweet salve to my ego alone.
    Have a great day all!! :oP

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  21. Yeah, that would put me in a funk, too. It kind of has put me in a funk just hearing about it, actually. I aspire to your kind of traffic and to ultimately, oh, I don't know, making a living at this writing shit? apparently that's not an easy thing. Fark.

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  22. you (and your wife) shouldn't overestimate the amount of free time you're going to have. depending on what time of day your preschool lets out, and how many of the days end up requiring your presence (field trips, plays/dance/music performances, birthday parties, holiday celebrations) and how many days one of your kids picks up something nasty from one of the dozens of parasite lairs they'll be spending those days with. . .you may end up having less free time than you think. also: summers.

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    1. Yeah, I realized that from just two weeks of 2 day/week preschool. The day goes by pretty fast, even with no kids around. Unfortunately, I've agreed to do some estimates for construction projects. I guess I could just bid them so high that no one will accept. Also, I'm supposed to start teaching a college lit class next week. But that's at night.

      Delete
  23. I feel that I should comment to support you since we both went to Fairfax County Public Schools (I to the much dorkier Jefferson) and live in San Diego, which basically means we're related. Good luck with the transition. Transitions are always hard -- I've had a few lately myself -- but I've always thought you can get through anything as long as you can bitch to someone, and you have the whole internet for that. Plus, I might need some carpentry done. Good luck.

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Don't hold back.

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