March 08, 2014

Changing My Rhythm

I'd gotten into a nice little routine since I left my last fulltime job in Summer 2012. I was staying up til 1 or 2 in the morning (usually writing, researching, tweeting or watching movies) and sleeping in, setting my alarm for whatever time would give me eight hours of sleep.

During the week, there wasn't much reason to get up early, the weather cool enough all day for afternoon hiking, the rest of the world doing their own thing.

I filled my days with exploring, swimming, hiking, and searching for a strong wifi connection at libraries, restaurants, and my car dealership.

I filled my nights with happy hours and home-popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil and unlimited Diet Cokes at the diner late at night.

When winter hit the first time, I was getting a little bored and lonely and needed money badly enough to work a retail job for five months.

When that job became more trouble than it was worth — and I was able to secure another (temporary) source of income — I quit, grateful for the extra free time, freed of the temptation to use my employee discount as often as possible.

In Summer 2013, I found myself unemployed again, but less bored and lonely than before. Because I find LA endlessly fascinating, even without a travel budget for long car trips and overnight stays, I found plenty to occupy myself. 

I took odd jobs as they came — one day as a production assistant, another shooting photos for a film — one of which turned out to be my foot-in-the-door at Atlas Obscura, leading to a longer-term part-time job as Field Agent, for which I work essentially doing the same things with a group that I do by myself for recreation.

I'd found a groove, and it was comfortable, but it wasn't profitable. It wasn't even financially livable. 

Thank God for my retirement fund, otherwise I don't know how I would've survived, not eligible for unemployment, no benefactors to bail me out.  But by the end of last year, my 401k was running out, credit cards maxed, and I was panicked. 

For some reason, others weren't worried. I don't think my friends took me seriously when I complained of my draining funds, lack of prospects, and chances of losing my apartment, my car, my livelihood. 

"You always land on your feet..." they always say.

By December, I was so desperate that I was interviewing for a job that would land me back in New York City, one of the last places I want to be. (When I was living there, I would've chosen to teach English in Central Asia rather than stay there.) But I've never been one to act out of desperation, and, trusting my intuition, turned down the job despite a dearth of opportunities.

And then suddenly, sometime after the New Year, I landed on my feet.

I started a new job — part-time, like this time last year, and possibly temporary, like this time last year — and created a whole new rhythm. I could still stay up late. I could still sleep in. But I spent the afternoon working, and then I hightailed it to the pool or the park, just in time for sunset, with just enough time to get in a workout before dark and still make happy hour.

It was comfortable. 

It was cushy.

Midway through my initial term, I was promoted from part-time to fulltime, not only expanding my responsibilities but also my jurisdiction. Five hours a day turned into eight or nine or ten, with no time in the morning for anything but a bowl of cereal before work, and no daylight or happy hours left afterwards.

So, too tired to do much of anything after work, I've got to figure out how to change my rhythm and get up earlier in the morning to do something, even just a swim. Even just to write.

I wanted to be working. I wanted to hang out with a good group of people. I wanted to be creative and successful and make a difference somewhere. And I got what I wanted.

But it can't be all-encompassing, or I'll surely burn out.

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