"Call it fate, call it karma..."

In July of 2010 I made a choice, an illogical, fairly desperate, possibly awful choice.  At the time, I was working a full time job that came with benefits, and while it didn't pay all that well, I had the opportunity to make more through commissions.  Really, given the economic climate, who could ask for anything more?

Me, apparently.

I was miserable at that job.  It was in property management, which is an industry I loathe yet was trapped in for years.  I had no respect for the people who ran the company.  And I worked in downtown L.A. -- not the hip, renovated part, the part that was a block away from skid row and the methadone clinic.  Every few months our street would be shut down by the police for something like a stabbing or a jumper.

Nicole and I had a lot of other reasons to be miserable back then, too.  The job just felt like the last straw.

So after a year at that job, I left, and took a job that was part time, no benefits, and even less money.  The Midwesterner in me couldn't believe how irresponsible I was being.  Nicole, who had seen me beaten down by this job, gave me full support to go.

Aside from the horrible decisions I've made involving relationships, this was the first time I'd really made a move based entirely upon my happiness.

Less than a year later, Nicole and I made the decision to move up to the Bay area.  It was a pretty big deal, considering our lives were fairly entrenched in Los Angeles.  But it was a move that would make Nicole happy and, ultimately, would make me happy -- besides, a happy Nicole often equals a happy Kyle.

Nicole left behind a pretty substantial career and a good amount of money.  But we made this decision to be happy.

The company I jumped ship for isn't a large multi-national corporation, but they have purchased a few other companies that still maintain their offices.  One of those offices was in the Bay area...and I happened to have been working for them, but in SoCal, this entire time.  So when I told my bosses I was leaving, they told me that I should stay, but just transfer up north.

Suddenly, this incredibly rash decision Nicole and I had made to quit our jobs and move north wasn't so rash.  I don't even know how to calculate the odds that the company I work for has an office 15 minutes from where we moved.  It's almost impossible to wrap my brain around.

Nicole was going to face an uphill battle finding work.  Most film editing jobs are in Los Angeles.  The pie in the sky, of course, was working at Pixar (or even LucasFilm).  But it could take her months to find a job, and maybe years to make the connections needed to get a job there.

But tomorrow is her first day at Pixar.

The timing was perfect; they just happened to have an opening within a month of our arrival.  Nicole loves the hell out of Pixar and loves what she does.  It's surreal, to be honest.

So perhaps Bill Murray was right.  Perhaps everything does happen for a reason.  I'm just too blown away by it all to really get beyond that.

Nation of Humpbacks

That is nothing at all like what my desk at work looks like, I just felt like being hyperbolic.  But I do work in a cubicle, albeit one that is relatively free of papers, let alone stacks of papers.  And I do sit in a desk all day, which has slowly but surely beaten all the muscles in my back to something of a gelatinous state.  This, of course, is only compounded by the fact that I then go home and sit at another desk for a few hours to, in theory, write.  
This is all in addition to my carpal tunnel syndrome, for which I have wrist braces and a snazzy keyword and mouse.  If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what was wrong with my wrists, well, I wouldn't have to work in a cubicle anymore and then no one would ask me that.  Wrists brace are the helmets of the cubicle world.

I took time off over the holidays to visit my in-laws.  The secondary goal was for me to go and visit a physical therapist, a guy who specializes in what he calls "reposturing."  It's basically what it sounds like.  He works on your muscles to get them back to how they should be, as opposed to what they are now.  I had three sessions with him over three days.  I nearly threw up twice and I nearly passed out once.  It was horrible pain doing things that, had they not been done by a certified professional, would be considered torture.

What a human skeleton is supposed to look like.
There were a number of things wrong with my overall posture, and Aaron (said physical therapist) took pictures before assaulting me.  He then took pictures afterward to show me what he had done.  The entire difference was startling.Perhaps the most notable of all the problems Aaron fixed was what, Google tells me, is described as a "neck hump."  Google also tells me that "neck humps" are apparently not particularly rare these days.  This, obviously, is a product of our society, as more and more people spend hours and hours every day sitting at desks.
Even more bizarre is the fact that there are other causes for these humps besides sitting at a desk all day.  Not only that, but the humps can vary in size and how greatly they influence a person's body.  In other words, we are slowly but surely becoming a nation of humpbacks.
Perhaps it's evolution.  Perhaps this is what's eventually going to happen to the human race.  Maybe all those stories of a dystopian should really be millions of Igors ruled by those special few who can still manage to stand upright.  And maybe when the aliens show up to eat us all, we really won't be that hard to catch.

When I looked at my "after" pictures, I couldn't believe the difference, even more surprised than I was when I learned I was only a few years away from living in the bell tower of a cathedral.  Aaron's assistant said they were "fighting hump backs, one person at a time."
According to Google, that might be a losing battle.
I, for one, welcome our new upright overlords.

Careego the Unstoppable (That's "Career" and "Ego")

I have not made this little per hour in 8 years, and that, at least, was a full time, salaried job (so not really per hour, but I did the math) with benefits and commissions.  But here I am.

I just left a job that paid 20% more, was full time, had benefits, and also paid commissions.  But I can say that I have never hated a job so much in my entire life.  To make matters worse, it was in property management, a field I rather dislike.  I don't hate it -- it's given me a lot of good things over the years -- but this last job was the epitome of everything that's wrong with that industry.

So when I got the opportunity to not only leave my job, but leave property management, I jumped, even if it was less money...and fewer hours...and no benefits...and a longer commute...

Why did I do this?

Ah, yes, for my career, or at least some semblance thereof.  The new job isn't just NOT in the property management business, but it's also in a field I'm kind of interested in, something I could see myself doing if I'm able to get a little further up the food chain.

And I am definitely at the bottom of the food chain right now.

Besides the aforementioned lack of pay, I would guess that I'm at least 10 years old than all of my co-workers.  This actually doesn't bother me, even if the girl with all the piercings actually said to me "You're not joking?  You really like metal?"  Nicole has suggested I tell them all what it was like to grow up without a computer.

No, my problem at the moment is my ego.

My last job was bad, but I survived it for nearly a year because of my ego.  I was needed at my last job.  I knew I was needed.  If I had a dollar for every time someone there asked me a question, I wouldn't have to work at all.  I knew my boss would always ask me to do things because he had faith in me to do them, and because he couldn't really trust anyone else.  Honestly, there were probably times when he considered firing everyone and just having he and I run the place, given that the others often created more work than they did.

I've had that to a certain extent at all my jobs -- that feeling of being needed, of being essential in some way.  I don't have that at the new job.

Now, it's only been two days, so that could all change.  I don't see it changing any time soon, though, as the job -- like most jobs at large companies -- is designed for the lowest common denominator.  It's also pretty tightly defined, which means there's not much room for me to show off my essential-ness.

If I had my druthers (you know, I have no idea what "druthers" are, so for all I know I have actually had them already and totally blew it), I'd be writing for a living.  I don't mean the type of writing I'm doing now, or even the "for a living" I'm doing now, since I really can't make ends meet without the Mrs.  No, I'd spend the morning working on my book and the afternoon working on my short stories, then maybe dinner with my agent/editor/publisher, and my nights doing readings and signings.

Yet even my ideal job has its roots in ego.  Clearly, if I'm writing for a living, that means someone is paying me to do so.  And if someone is willing to pay me enough to live on, then I must be making them some money, which I must be selling something at a fairly good pace.

Even with my great Midwestern work ethic, it's hard to get up for a job that doesn't feel important.  But I take comfort in knowing/hoping that it's just the first step towards something better.

I also take comfort in knowing it's not freaking property management.

Digging Ditches

I have a long history with digging ditches.

Actually, I have a long history with talking about digging ditches.  For some reason, whenever I complain about whatever job I might have at the time (and I've had a lot), I always say "it could be worse; I could be digging ditches."

I once read an interview -- during the "Juno" craze -- with Diablo Cody (is that how you spell it?) where she said that writing was the hardest job in the world or some such nonsense.  And, of course, it made me think that she was a crazy person.  It also made me think of ditch digging.

Here's the thing: do people still dig ditches?  They must, I guess, but do they actually pay people to do so?  Where did this occupation even come from?  And why is it my go-to job of despair?

To some extent, I would imagine digging ditches could be a nice job.  Sure, it would be physically taxing, particularly for someone as sickly as myself, but imagine having a job where, each day, you just go out and dig ditches.  At the end of the day you have concrete proof of your accomplishments, for where there were once no ditches, now there are.

Most of this comes from the realization that I have job angst.  I realize that most people have job angst, but I think it gets worse as you get older.  What's surprising is that I've really never had it before.  I have mostly stumbled from job to job, and while I've complained about them, I've never hated any of them.  They never crept into other aspects of my life.

Off the top of my whiskey drinking head, there are the jobs I've had:

Little league soccer ref
Retail servant, health and beauty department at Value City
Pizza place whose name escapes (and are now out of business)
Van driver, Apple's grocery store
Wendy's again
Janitor, Ohio University
Retail servant, Schoolkids Records
Retail servant, Shell gas station
Teaching assistant
Retail servant, Barnes and Noble
Lease extractor, some company I can't remember
Data entry, C.A.R.E.
Internet team, Coca-Cola
Assistant Property Manager, Oak Pointe apts
Data entry, some magazine company I can't remember
Leasing agent
E-business Coordinator
Leasing agent again
SEO Copywriter
And I think I've made back around $60 on my book (which I spent more than $60 to produce)

Not a glamorous list, to say the least, and one filled with more experience in the god awful field of property management than I would like.  And what of all the other jobs?  What is there to make of all that?

That's where I'm at now.  At some point, everyone gets to the point where they can't have a job anymore, they need a career.  And I'd kind of like one of those.

Maybe I should see if there's a future in ditch digging.