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.