yikes.

I just found out that one of the attorneys I assist got FIRED. Or ‘let go.’ They’re downsizing. They’re also firing an attorney in our LA office. I hope they’re not firing any assistants!

…Suddenly, I want to hang on tight to this desk job I’m trying to get rid of.

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It’s here! It’s arrived! My fancy new camera!! Yaaaaaay!

I’m so excited about it. It’s the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen, it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it looks, I did plenty of research to make sure it was the right one, and now, it’s ALL MINE. I’m very pleased. No more grainy, dark cell phone photos!

I put a quarter next to it in the photo above so you could see just how tiny it is. It’s tiny, you guys.

As soon as I figure out how to work it……………………I’ll post some lovely photos.

it’s simple

It’s a beautiful 60 degrees in New York today. I’m wearing a bright yellow shirt to celebrate. I’m also planning to go for a long run in Central Park on my lunch break. I have to take Friday off work this week to shoot a little TV show segment, but if that weren’t the case, I would have called in sick today. “Cough, cough. I have a terrible migraine. Cough. I think I should bask in the sun to cure it.”

This week’s growing daydream is to get my certification in personal training. A personal trainer certification is a pre-requisite to getting a certification in something else that I’m more interested in; apparently I can become certified as a “lifestyle and weight management consultant.” !! I’ve been doing some googling and I happened up on this the other night.

Theoretically, this is precisely what I’ve been leaning toward – helping people who struggle with their weight to become healthier and more fit. In fact, back in December, my very first daydream about finally leaving my desk job career was along these lines.

Here’s the thing: My interest in learning more about nutrition is not only personal, but also so I can have more expertise to advise people who want to lose weight. My daydream about being a yoga teacher includes encouraging heavy people to get involved in the practice as a way to develop a more meaningful conversation with and relationship to their bodies. My interest in fitness training is mostly so I can have more information to help overweight people get fit.

It’s also an area in which I consider myself an amateur expert. If I’ve done anything over the last six years, it’s hone the skill of living a healthy, active lifestyle. And it really is a learned skill, especially for a person who has always struggled with their weight. I’ve lost 115 pounds and kept the weight off for a long time. I exercise 4-6 times a week and have done so for years, constantly adapting my routine as I learn more about the human body and listen to my own body. I have been a walker, a runner, I have maintained a resistance training program using machines or free weights, I have regularly practiced pilates, and more recently, yoga. I have gone from being a fast food binge-eater without any impulse control to being an organic-loving health food nut, and I made a pitstop at most of the gradients in between those two extremes. Not to toot my own horn (too late), but my point is that it’s something about which I know a great deal. And I fully understand what it’s like to be standing at the beginning of the weight loss journey, wondering how you’ll ever make it across the water.

I’ve heard it said that a great way to create what you want is to imagine, over and over, what you want being true. So I’ve been trying to imagine exactly what it is that I want, so as not to throw off the universe with a half-definition. I want to make my own flexible schedule. I want to have more time to myself. I want to be regularly active and have the option to go outside during the day. I don’t want to be told what do to. And I want to feel more fulfilled by how I’m earning my living. So to fit that bill, I really have been imagining a lifestyle where I’m working closely with my own personal clients to help them achieve their healthy-lifestyle goals. There are other ways to achieve these desires of mine, sure, but working with overweight people is something I’m very much drawn to.

So, I’m excited that I happened upon this particular certificate program. I didn’t know something like this existed. It’s not going to be an insta-career, but it’s a start.

I still have plenty of research to do – I want to find out more about what other programs like this exist, more about which certificate-endowing organizations are most respected in these fields, and more about the actual experience of studying for and taking the exams. (If anyone has any related thoughts or advice, please let me know!) Once I have that information, my daydream is to enroll in the program, get the pre-requisite certificate in personal training, and then get a certificate in both nutrition and in weight management. It probably won’t be until I’m out of this desk job that I can go through the yoga teacher training process, but I plan to do that eventually too.

I have no concrete idea about how those things will play together once I’m certified in all of them, nor do I know where an actual paycheck will eventually come from. But I do have some ideas – some realistic, some grand – and more will come as I move through these open doors, I’m certain.

The best part is that, unlike the yoga teacher training, studying for and acing these certificate exams is something I know I can do while I’m still working at this desk job. It will be a big undertaking and might be more than I can chew, but my understanding is that you can prepare for the exams for as long as you’d like. Once you’re ready to sit for them, only then do you schedule your test day. And the test days happen all the time.

This is a way to spend my limbo time, the time I’m still committed to the desk job world, that will be productive and helpful to me once I leave here. It will only help advance my purpose.

I continue to remind myself of a kind of mantra I adopted when I first began this quest: It’s Simple. That’s the mantra. It’s Simple. I realized this while taking a yoga class on the beach with my mom and my aunt in Florida over winter break. I remember finding myself so jealous of the yoga teacher’s lifestyle, spending her days on the beach, teaching yoga in the sunshine. And then I realized that I had it all wrong; what she does is not hard, it’s not out of reach. It’s really rather simple. This woman, teaching yoga on the beach, probably didn’t do anything spectacular or impossible to have this life. She simply reached for it; she likely endured some roadblocks along the way, but she ultimately ended up doing something she loves.

Living the life I want and spending my time doing what I love is a luxury experienced by millions before me and millions after me. They are no more or less intelligent than I, they are no more or less capable, they are not better or more ill-prepared, they are no more or less deserving. So. I remind myself: It’s Simple.

Only when I decide it’s hard is when it becomes hard.

Billy, Clayton and me on stage at The PIT.

Billy, Clayton and me on stage at The PIT.

That face I’m making in this photo, which was taken by my dear and talented friend Keith Huang, and is from one of Harvard Sailing Team’s sketch shows? Is how I feel at my desk job a lot of the time.

Besides my disdain for sitting indoors, staring at a bunch of bright pixels, and smelling copier toner all day, some of the personalities here really drive me crazy. Sure, a few of my coworkers are people I might actually chose as friends in the real world. But a few more of them are people  with whom I wouldn’t dream of spending a moment of my free time. I’m not rude or unpleasant to them, but there’s still a good chance they wouldn’t dream of spending a moment of their free time with me either. You know, different strokes. Offices are like that. It’s like high school. Or family. You’re stuck with these people whether you like it or not.

All that said, I’ve been doing an awful lot of thinking about my somewhat negative relationship to this desk job. The truth is, I don’t hate it in the way it’s possible for someone to truly, deeply hate something. Perhaps that’s what I’ve led you (and occasionally, myself) to believe, but it’s really not the case.

Now, I don’t like it, I don’t want to spend my time here, I’d rather be doing a really long list of other stuff with my day. But here I am. Because I have to be. For now. And when I’m operating with mental maturity, I recognize that it’s not that bad. One can do anything for X amount of time.

Something I haven’t addressed much on the blog yet is the impact the current economy could and will likely have on this quest of mine. First, I refuse to let the state of the world deter me from my search. The economy is what it is and I will operate responsibly within its framework. I don’t have another choice. That’s all there is to it.

Additionally, I am more than aware that to have a job at all is a blessing right now. I am employed, with health insurance, and a steady, predictable income. I’m much better off than an unfortunate percentage of the population. That fact does not escape me, nor do I take it lightly.

That’s why I don’t intend to leave this job anytime in the immediate future. I intend to make a plan to leave, but I do not intend to actually leave until I can be sure I’m making a solid decision.

Not only can I count on my salary and benefits, I also enjoy a few perks here, some of which are arguably helpful to me in my quest to leave the job:

  • I don’t have to be here until 10am. Granted, I don’t get to leave until 7pm, which is entirely too late to have a full evening to myself, and finds me scrambling to get to all my practices and shows each week. But a 10am start-time makes my mornings a bit calmer.
  • I can wear what I want. This, as those who know me personally can confirm, is huge for me. I hate wearing “office” clothes. I am not into fancy pants, blouses, dress shoes, or “doing” “my” “hair.” I prefer life in jeans and whatever shirt/sweater is clean. And tennis shoes. (Or ‘sneakers,’ Kevin.) Sometimes I wish I was someone who liked to dress up every day because it seems like it could be fun. Alas, I just don’t. It’s beyond me.
  • I’ve been here for over a year. (Little known fact – I also worked here for a year right after I graduated college. I had a couple jobs in between. Then, last year, I got a call from the office manager here, asking if I was available because they needed someone. I was working as a temp at the time so I took her up on the offer.) Being at a job for a healthy chunk of time earns one a little bit of seniority, which doesn’t hurt when requesting vacation days, calling in sick, or “sick,” or taking occasional trips to the gym on a lunch break.
  • Most helpfully, I enjoy some free time to do personal stuff during the day. It’s not a ton of free time, and I generally try to avoid ogling my facebook page when one of the bosses walks by. But I won’t get into trouble if I’m seen writing a personal email or reading a blog now and again. And let me tell you, I take advantage of this freedom whenever I can appropriately do so. I blog, I email, I facebook, I make personal to do lists, I read CNN dot com – you know, I do my thing. I find that this is the case for almost every office worker I know (perhaps, besides, some members of my mom’s side of the family, who each have the work ethic of a catholic pack-mule). I am lucky to work for a company which recognizes that I will probably inadvertently sabotage their organization if they don’t let me check my personal email. Don’t worry, I am also sure to thoroughly complete all the duties I’m actually paid to do while I’m here each day. (So, spare me the concern, Mom. ;))

Even so, for the last couple months, I have been eagerly creating master plan after master plan to organize my escape route from my career as an office jobber. The constant working and reworking of what I want to do with myself once I am able to leave this job, the list making, the blogging, the conversing is, in and of itself, an incredibly helpful exercise. Almost daily I’ve come up with a new interest to research, a new idea to pursue, a new way to combine the lifestyle I want with the things that make me happiest. Some of them are leads I’m still following, more of them are dead ends, but they’ve all helped to inform this process for me.

And within all that, one thing I keep coming back to is this: I might constantly wish that I could snap my fingers and be *there,* wherever *there* will be that is not *here.* I wished that, too, when I embarked the journey to go back to college to get my degree, and also when I embarked on the the journey to lose 115 pounds. But I could not skip putting in the hours in those situations, nor can I in this one. So if I have to be in some state of professional limbo and work in some environment that does not perfectly suit me while I get my ducks in a row, I suppose it’s best for it to be a limbo wherein I can save money, have health insurance, wear what I want, and research my next job on their watch. Like this one. When I shift my perspective, I realize that this limbo might actually be one of my greatest assets right now.  I am, in essence, being paid to do some part-time mindless paperwork for them, and some part-time trying-to-find-my-dream-job for me. Not a bad set up.

Yesterday was probably one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long time.

First of all, the weather was incredible. Just beyond belief. It was nearing 60 degrees all day with clear blue skies. So healing.

Kevin and I went for a run in Prospect Park in the early part of the day. There were so many people out and about, it was like Disney World. I just loved seeing everyone enjoying the day. Our run was perfect, about an hour, and so refreshing. I like exercising with Kevin – it’s like hanging out and working out all at once. It’s really nice.

After the run, I stopped back at the apartment to grab a sweater and my metrocard and then I headed to yoga class #1. This was an “open flow” class at Bend & Bloom, taught by my friend Jen. I’ve only taken this particular class one other time, two weeks ago, but I had an easier time of it yesterday than I did the time before. I knew to expect it to be slightly faster paced than the yoga I do at home and I also knew to expect some more intense poses than I’m used to. Jen said she considered yesterday’s class to be fairly challenging so I was happy to have just been able to keep up! I felt great when it was over, although I was a little tired from the intense class and my long run earlier in the day.

Jen kept reminding me that I had the option to bail on the second class, which we’d planned to attend together; she said she would totally understand if I wasn’t up for another hour and forty minutes of yoga on such a beautiful Sunday, but I told her I was most definitely going to the second class. I’d been looking forward to it all week.

We made our way into Manhattan, chatting the whole way about Jen’s experience being a yoga teacher. I had a lot of questions and she answered all of them. I gained some interesting insight into what might be in store for me. I also told Jen about the kind of yoga I imagine myself teaching and she was very encouraging of my ideas.

I’d never been to Om Yoga’s studios before. We arrived a little bit early and Jen showed me around the (huge, gorgeous) space and introduced me to some of her friends and former co-workers. Jen did her teacher training at Om, through their 6 week intensive, and she also used to work at their front desk, so she knew her way around.

I loved the energy in the studio. The photo above is their class schedule board for the day. Everyone was very nice and the space was so warm, inviting, comforting, and relaxing. While we were looking at a wrack of yoga shirts for sale in the lobby, the founder of Om Yoga, Cyndi Lee, walked up and said hello to Jen. I didn’t know who she was at the time, Jen told me later. She was a very sweet lady with a nice smile. It made perfect sense that her studio would be so inviting.

I wish I’d had more opportunity to look around in the little shop and enjoy some of the art on the walls. I bought a two-class-package (because it’s cheaper, per class, to buy two than just one) so I’ll definitely get to experience the homey space and warm energy a bit more.

The class we took was called “open & restorative,” and it was easily one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Jen was absolutely right to suggest we take this particular class. She said it was one of her very favorites. I, too, loved it. It brought my love for yoga to a new level.

The room was slightly warm, the lighting was energizing and relaxing all at once, and the teacher was fantastic. The first part of the class was “flow,” which, from what I’ve been able to gather, means linking the breath to the pose. We did some really simple, yummy-feeling poses, slowly and gently, which felt so great on my fatigued muscles. It was incredible to spend a good hour practicing this way after having taken Jen’s more difficult class and I particularly liked having the two experiences back to back. Even though I initially doubted whether or not I’d be able to handle that much yoga in one day, I would take the back to back classes again in a heartbeat.

The best part of all, however, came during the second half of the class at Om. The restorative portion.

If you’ve never experienced a full-on restorative yoga class before, please take one. It might have changed me forever. Basically, after we were all warm and limber from the hour of poses, she had us rest in some unbelievably comfortable ‘healing’ positions, supported by different pillows and blankets. And then she turned the lights out. It was divine.  Experiencing the dark room was like being wrapped in soft cotton. The sounds of the city outside the windows and the rise and fall of people’s breath all around the room was hypnotic. I’d notice my thoughts drift toward details of the week ahead or what I planned to have for dinner later and then I’d just gently guide them away from all that chatter and back to my breath. I was in heaven. I’m not someone who will force myself to *feel* something if I’m not actually feeling it, but the calm energy in the room was palpable. When it was over, I felt (and probably looked) like a happy zombie, as did everyone else in the room. It was as invigorating and relaxing as the best massage you’ve ever had. Wonderful.

And it was also a perfect way to end my Sunday. I spent the entire day in my workout clothes, either running, walking, or taking yoga class. I practiced over three hours of yoga. A bit much, perhaps, and certainly not something I would be able to do every day, not from a physical standpoint anyway. (Or could I?) But from a mental standpoint, I enjoyed myself very much and would be elated to spend most of my days doing things like I did yesterday. It felt natural, relaxing, and freeing to me. I felt like I spoiled myself. And the affects have stayed with me today.

In terms of beginning to train to teach yoga, I’m still interested. Although, I’ve learned that there’s really no way to keep my current schedule and embark on that journey at the same time. Right now, I work until 7pm every weekday. I also have “after-school” obligations three evenings each week, and every Saturday.

It seems there are a few different schedules for yoga teaching teacher. It can be done as an “intensive,” meaning you’re in class all day long for six weeks. That’s obviously not an option for me right now. It can also be done in the evening, generally four or five nights a week, which is also not an option for me right now. Or it can be done on the weekend, which means Friday nights and all day Saturday and Sunday, which is not an option with my current schedule either.

This leaves me with some things to think about. Neither my job nor my commitment to my sketch and improv teams is going to change anytime in the immediate future, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to make room for teacher training some day, maybe even sooner than I imagine. Right now, the best way I can continue to prepare myself to teach yoga someday is just to deepen my own practice, which I’d want to do whether I planned to teach or not.

I downloaded some new classes from Yoga Download yesterday. I’m also eager to try out different studios throughout the city. One common piece of advice I’ve heard from yoga teachers is that I should experience as many different kinds of yoga, different teachers, and different studios as possible so I can get a true sense of what resonates most with me.

In the meantime, I’m going to take that restorative class again as soon as I’m able.

Today is a big day on follow my bliss. Today is the day I’m taking two awesome yoga classes back to back, and then interviewing my friend Jen about her experience teaching yoga in New York!

She teaches a 3:15pm “open flow” class today at a place called Bend and Bloom in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I’m going to go take the 90 minute class, which I’ve taken once before. I enjoyed it, but it was also a challenge for me. I’m looking forward to exerting the effort.

After that, Jen and I are going, together, to Om Yoga in Manhattan, to take a 6:30pm “restorative” yoga class. I’ve never done restorative yoga before, but I’ve heard it’s a lot of laying around, melting into the floor, legs-up-the-wall kind of yoga. Excellent. After 90 minutes of Jen’s class and a full week of Life behind me, I think a Sunday evening restorative experience will be perfect.

Jen told me she has a ritual whenever she takes the Sunday evening restorative class; she goes to a certain place nearby Om’s studios to grab dinner after class. Apparently it’s macro-biotic vegetarian. Eeep! So tonight, we’ll go together – I’ll maybe (maybe) try something off their menu (and I’ll bring a snack from home just in case…) and we’ll get a chance to talk about teaching yoga!

I’ve been looking forward to this afternoon for quite some time. If anything, it will be a lot of new experiences in a row, which is always an interesting place from which to observe oneself.

In the meantime, it’s amazing outside right now. 56 degrees, sunny, and clear. I’m going to rouse the boyfriend, who is still snoring in our dark bedroom, throw some shoes on, and go out to enjoy the day. I plan to take a long walk around Prospect Park today. How could I not? I’ve been waiting for a warm Sunday like this since November.

i just have to tell you guys…

…that I’m so excited to post more payday segments! Reading Phil’s answers was so much fun for me. I hope it was interesting for you guys too.

I also sent the questions to a few friends and family members – my mom and my cousin Trisha both got back to me with theirs earlier today and I can’t wait to post their replies. For whatever reason, I am getting such a kick out of learning people’s responses to this stuff. I guess it’s because these are questions that don’t usually come up in casual conversation.

Anyway, please let me know if there are any other related questions you think I should add to the list. Yay!

(Yup. Big dork.)

i did. but then i didn’t.

I’ve never really known what I wanted to do for a living. Not as an adult anyway.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a few different things. When I was very little, I wanted to be an “artist.” No specific sort of artist, just an artist. After that, there was a long period of time when I wanted to be an “author.” Not a writer, I never used that word. I always said ” author.” I wrote voraciously as a kid. Not just on paper, but I also ‘wrote’ verbally. I’d take a walk or climb a tree and talk to myself in story form. And my next brilliant novel would unfold.

We traveled a lot when I was younger, which was an incredibly awesome move on my mother’s part, because it made me more well-rounded and also really grateful for simple things like the American phenomenon of ice cubes. I have vivid memories of being 11 years old, touring through various European castle ruins, “losing” the tour group so I could walk alone among the rubble and write myself into the story of the Princess and Prince who once lived where I climbed. I would talk my story to myself in an excited whisper that bounced off the stone and moss in the most satisfying way. I never got past the first few pages before we had to get back on the bus, but I could have stayed among those ruins for hours. Had I been permitted to sleep there overnight, besides being crippled with terror, I would have also been delightfully inspired.

I wrote (on paper) whenever I could. Short stories, chapter stories, children’s stories, essays, letters of all kinds. I won lots of contests for my efforts. I didn’t know how to type yet, so I hand-wrote everything. If something had to be typed up for a contest submission, I would dictate it to my mom, who would type it up for me in the morning before school while I squirmed in the chair next to her desk. “If I’m going to type this for you, you’re going to sit here while I do it.”

Somewhere along the way, the “author” dream was gently placed on the back burner for more exciting goals. Besides writing stories on paper or aloud, I’d also act in imaginary commercials or after-school specials aloud. In the shower, while making a snack, at the dinner table, I would talk to an invisible camera, pretending I was selling a great new brand of milk or shampoo. Sometimes, when I was feeling particularly creative, I’d narrate a harrowing mini-drama. It was usually something about how I was orphaned, lived alone on the streets for years, and was just recently taken in by a loving family who made me THIS hot, steaming plate of mac n’ cheese. (Show hot, steaming plate of mac n’ cheese to camera.) Those usually started out with a concerned, genuine, melancholy stare, a deep breath, and the line, “When my parents both died in a horrible automobile accident, I was left alone with no where to go.” I am not sure at what age I decided I wanted to be an actor, but once it entered the building, it stayed, much to the dismay of my very practical grandparents and half of my extended family.

After years of performing, auditioning, taking classes, being a performer at a Renaissance Faire one summer (yes), logging six weeks at an intensive acting camp another summer, I decided I wanted to spend a good quarter mil’ to study acting at NYU Tisch. (No mention of the family drama that followed that decision.)

And it was probably a year into the Tisch experience that I thought, “Eh. Do I really want to do this?”

I still loved it. But the business aspect of it, which is something most of us knew nothing of until our college professors bleakly explained it, really turned me off. I didn’t want to market myself constantly, pound the pavement just to get an audition, have postcards of my headshots made to send out to people who’d promptly throw them away. I wasn’t sure if I *loved* it the way they say you have to *love* it. Plus, by this point, I was a depressed, miserable, overweight, angry teenager. So I’m pretty sure nothing would have appealed to me. Even if I was training to be a TV Watcher, I probably would have second guessed the decision.

I dropped out of college, a fact mostly unrelated to a vacillating interest in my chosen field of study, and due more to a series of factors related to how depressed, fat, and miserable I was. I spent two years out of school, first messing up my life further, then cleaning it up until it was better than ever. Then I went back to college with the intention of completing any degree and learned I had no realistic choice but to complete my theater degree – anything else would have taken too much more time and money.

As life would and will have it, we don’t always have much control over what we love and I rediscovered a love for performing when I returned to school. Once I graduated I wasn’t sure what I’d formally do with my BFA in acting, and I also knew I needed to pay my rent. I’d been working full time while I was in school; the next logical step was to get a better-paying job and see where things fell, so I did. A few months later, my good friend Clayton got in touch with me about joining a sketch comedy group, and a few months after that, I started getting into the improv community.

And that brings us to today. I’ve been working to pay the rent and performing for fun since then. Comedy, rather than serious acting, is my preference. I rehearse and perform weekly with the aforementioned sketch comedy group, Harvard Sailing Team, and I also practice and perform weekly with my improv team, The Baldwins. Sometimes I go on auditions when an opportunity presents itself, sometimes I get paid to act in something, sometimes I act in friends’ short films or comedy videos. I have a feeling acting is always going to be in or around my life in one way or another. Maybe not, but maybe.

I enjoy it a lot. It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s relatively rewarding, and it can certainly feeds one’s ego at times. Plus, my best friends and my boyfriend are all performers, comedians, and artists. I know insanely funny, attractive people with mind boggling abilities and talents. If I had all the money in the world, I could organize the making of a most amazing piece of film or theater, just by asking the people I talk to every day to collaborate on the project.

But I do know, for whatever strange reason, that I don’t want to aggressively pursue acting as a career. I enjoy it, but it doesn’t excite me like it did when I was a kid. If someone handed me a starring role in a major motion picture, I’m not remotely suggesting that I’d turn it down. I’m not even suggesting that I’d like to stop performing or that I wouldn’t miss it a lot if it wasn’t in my life. I am, however, saying that to actively pursue it as life-sustaining work, to the exclusion of the other daydream jobs I’ve daydreamed about with you guys so far, doesn’t quite cut it for me any more.

I’m honestly not sure why that is. I just know how I feel. The idea of being a yoga teacher, a baker, a writer, a weight loss coach, a small business entrepreneur – who also performs comedy, is more appealing to me right now. Maybe that will change. Maybe I’m closing an already open door by being disinterested in pursuing my acting career. Maybe if I threw myself head long into comedy writing and performance I’d be surprised and delighted by the outcome. Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll find out tomorrow. Performing comedy is a lot of fun for me. But it doesn’t fulfill me. I know deep down that if I pursued and achieved a successful acting or comedy career, I’d wake up one day ten years from now and say, “What else. This is not enough.”

I really enjoyed my friend Phil’s responses in yesterday’s ‘payday.’ One thing he said particularly struck me. When I asked him if he’d rather a job provided him a big paycheck, or personal fulfillment he said, “If I needed a job to fulfill me personally I’d blow my brains out.  When I leave the office, I leave the job behind me until the next day. If I could get a paycheck without coming into work, I’d live exactly like I do now, minus these daily visits to the office, and not miss it a bit.  I have my writing, my comedy, my little woman, my friends. I’m more than personally fulfilled.”

I was so intrigued by that response. I really respect and envy about him that he feels that way because I…do not. I am personally fulfilled in some respects, yes. I have a healthy, happy relationship, I’ve achieved amazing, rare things in my young life, I actively care a lot about my health and well-being, I love my family, my cats, my friends, and my hobbies. But in certain respects, like how I earn my living, I am anything but personally fulfilled. And for some reason, those two things do intersect for me. I need for the time I spend in my day to be about what inspires and interests me. I sometimes wish I could be more like Phil and find fulfillment where it already exists.

My trouble is that I have very little tolerance, to a fault, for things that I find myself doing only because I am obligated to them. Like my desk job, for example. There is nothing wrong with obligation. It can be a very healthy thing. The problem arises when people continue to fulfill obligations that make them unhappy, uninspired, and sometimes even physically ill. People sometimes limit their potential to achieve the things that matter most to them when they work to fulfill obligations, big or small, just for the sake of fulfilling them. Life’s too short, the world too filled with people unapologetically doing things they love, not to reach out and live your life in whichever ways fulfill you.

So whether that ends up being comedy stuff, writing stuff, or just climbing-through-castle-ruins-whispering-stories-to-myself-and-getting-paid-for-it, that’s what I’ll do.

payday

I have a burning desire to ask people questions, I always have. Whether they’re people I know, people I just met, or a stranger on the street, I almost always want to know more. And I will usually ask. (A totally serious daydream job I’ve had for years, but haven’t yet mentioned on here, is Stop People On The Street To Ask Them Questions About Where They’re Going And Why…And Get Paid For It.)

Now that I’m on a quest to find my dream job, my curiosity has naturally extended to wanting to know every detail of people’s work lives. So I’m going to start formally asking people my questions and telling you all about it! It can only make the journey richer for me and make this, the chronicle of the journey, more interesting for its readers. Plus I think we’ll learn plenty along the way.

So, without further ado, I’d like to present a new segment on follow my bliss, called payday.

(photo by Keith Huang)

(photo by Keith Huang - click the photo to be taken to Keith's awesome blog)

This is my old friend Phil Wells.  Phil and I met years ago in our Level 1 improv class at The PIT . I’m not sure if I’ve ever told him this, but I instantly liked Phil the night I met him. I remember it well. A bunch of the other people in that class were weirdos and I remembering thinking Phil was a semi-normal, very talented guy. Also, I’m pretty sure that he saw me get a pie-in-the-face (yes, really) a few weeks later, courtesy of my two idiot friends. That means Phil and I are FFL. Friends for life.

He brilliantly answered these questions today:

1. How do you earn a paycheck?
Right now I’m an administrative assistant for 2 companies in the same office.  I am, however, running down my two weeks’ notice at this gig in preparation for becoming a software tester at another company. 
 
2. Do you enjoy what you do to earn a paycheck?
It’s strikes and gutters.  This job was an improvement from my previous job in a call center, which was like the office equivalent of fast food.  A lot of office workers take for granted things like deciding on your own when to take lunch, or internet access all day, or not having to punch out to use the bathroom.  There are places where these conditions are but a dream, and I’ve worked at those places.

HOWEVER.  This particular job started relatively cozy, then more and more work started coming across my desk.  I’d usually be fine with that, but this was work that just used to belong people who’d been promoted and they couldn’t find anyone else to do it all.  And then I asked for a raise and didn’t get it.  That’s when I started looking for work elsewhere.

3. How did you get the job?
A friend from improv got me this job and I’m very grateful to her for doing it.  After a while we both sort of realized how toxic this place could be and she felt a little bad about bringing me into it, but really she did me a big favor. 
 
4. Did you go to college and if so, what did you study?
I went to NJIT for computer science for 3.5 years before I conceded that my brain is just not suited for calculus or physics.  I tried to transfer out to any sort of liberal arts major, but all my earned credits are in esoteric computer science electives so none of them would transfer.  So rather than start over as a freshman after 4 years, I just walked away and started working.

5. If you could have any job in the whole entire world, assuming you’d instantly, miraculously possess the the training, opportunities, and expertise to excel at it, what would you do?
I’d design games.  Board games and nerdy computer games.  I just love the idea of designing an experience for a game player.  If you design a chair, you’re creating its look, its usefulness, its material makeup, all that.  When you design a game you’re working with a different set of aesthetics.  Will the players cooperate or compete?  Does it get more difficult as the game progresses?  Are monkeys involved?  I’d have a great time doing that.  I subscribe to about 5 blogs devoted to game design, and I’m reading through a textbook about it.
 
6. If you didn’t have to earn a living – money was no object, but you had to be productive for 8 hours a day, what would you do?
I’d write poems and novels.  I’m working on a big book-length poem right now, but i only get to it a few hours a week, which is frustrating. 
 
7. What are your hobbies and interests?
I’m a comic actor and writer.  I do improv comedy and sketch at the PIT, and I really am thankful for the community of like-minded maniacs I’ve hooked up with there.  I also write essays and little things for a whole slew of blogs.  Sadly, my blogging is as infrequent as my schedule is manic, so I usually lose heart and stop posting to anything I create online.  There have been so many false starts.  But that’s what hobbies are made of, right? 
 
8. How do you spend your free time?
I don’t consider the time I’m doing comedy to be free time, so all my free time happens on weekends.  I generally stay home, watch movies, and clean my bathroom.  I also take naps on the weekends, because why the hell shouldn’t I? 
 
9. What do/did your parents or guardians do to earn livings?
My dad was a staff sergeant in the US Army.  He’s now retired and has a new job where he “does computers” as he explains it.  My mom, in the course of raising two boys, went to college, got a job in the insurance industry as an accountant, and has worked her way up to being sort of a big wheel in reinsurance (those are the guys that insure the insurance companies).  Before my mom got into all of that, we was po’. 
 
10. What was the conversation or climate surrounding work and work ethic in your home when you were growing up?
I can’t remember any outright conversations about work ethic, but everyone in the household understood that work’s a necessary evil and the better you apply yourself the further you’ll get ahead.  Somehow I was one of those “gifted and talented” nerds through most of school, so homework really just bored me.  I never did homework; my grades sucked.  But then once I started working jobs I excelled at whatever I put my mind to.  When I waited tables they called me “the warrior” because of my work ethic.  When I worked at Starbucks in Newark they called me Tall White Mocha, but that’s another story.

11. How does your family feel about how you earn a living today?
My mom’s proud I turned out to be a white-collar sort of guy who’s pursuing interests outside of work.  The jobs I pick up are never anything groundbreaking, so it’s generally a heartfelt “good for you” from the extended family.  Aside from leaving college, there haven’t really been any steps backward so far, so they’re happy to know that I’m making it on my own.   
 
12. Do you have siblings and if so, what do they do for a living? Do you have a personal reaction to what they do, like maybe you’re envious or inspired?
I have one older brother.  He works at that same call center that I left a year and a half ago.  He’s got it better than I did because he’s sort of in charge of scheduling and not manning the phones.  The phone calls are the worst part of call center work.  It’s just a job, though.  A survival job.  He’s good at what he does and he’s well-liked there.  You can find the upside of pretty much any job.  I’m just happy he’s at a desk and his role is pretty secure there.

13. Generally, what time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up?
On week nights I get home anywhere between 8 PM and 1 AM, so I get to bed between 12 AM and 2 AM.  I set the alarm for 7, then hit the snooze until 7:30. 
 
14. Do you want to leave your current job for something different? If so, can you imagine yourself doing this? If so, will you do it?
Yes.  Oh yes.  It’s not that these people are monsters or anything, but without the raise and with all the extra crap piling up, this looks more and more like a dead end for me.  I don’t want to get into real estate.  I’m moving on to the new gig in a week and a half and it’s still hard for me to imagine what my day will be like.  I’m sure I’ll get along.  I’m a good worker. 
 
15. What is more important to you in a job? a big paycheck or personal fulfillment.
Big paycheck, definitely.  If I needed a job to fulfill me personally I’d blow my brains out.  When I leave the office, I leave the job behind me until the next day.  If I could get a paycheck without coming into work, I’d live exactly like I do now, minus these daily visits to the office, and not miss it a bit.  I have my writing, my comedy, my little woman, my friends.  I’m more than personally fulfilled.
 
16. Do you think your idea of personal success has changed since you were 10 years old? 18 years old?
 Well when I was 10 I was an idiot.  Personal success back then was so immediate.  Jumping off a swing and landing on my feet was pretty much as lofty as it got.  I didn’t start seriously thinking about careers until I was maybe 14 or 15.  When I was 18 it was all about knowledge.  I wanted to be an expert at something or a thousand things.  Yeah, there was the subtext that being the world’s greatest whatever would make me rich, but that was a side effect.  I wanted to be a famous scholar or guru. 

Now?  That’d still be nice, but I don’t see it as being attached to any career in particular.  Now I wouldn’t mind working these survival jobs until I retire but still coming out as a leading expert on anything that catches my fancy.  Just not real estate.

17. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Probably a mountain or a goat or something.  I was a spaz.

Another sunny, albeit cold, day in New York today. After meeting Kevin for a quick lunch, I once again took in my prescribed 15 minutes of direct sunshine. It’s amazing what a dose of that stuff can do to my mood.