The Learning Curve is Steep

I’m making a lot of progress when it comes to transitioning out of the day job. I have worked at the university for nearly 19 years. In the last few days, I have been bittersweet about that job ending, but there is more bitter than sweet. Such as the email where an unmentioned jackass sent me an “URGENT!!” request that I respond to “IMMEDIATELY!” at around 4:40pm. It was a request that would have required sifting through emails, compiling data, and then responding to two people he didn’t even list on the original email. In other words, he just got a request and without giving it much thought other than being a little nasty about it hit forward and send with about as much consideration as picking his nose.

I got the shit done the next morning after an explanation the night before that it was a complicated order. He finally provided the info I needed as to whom I needed to CC. They were delighted and thanked me for the quick response. He just answered “Thanks, Clint.”

Yeah, you’re welcome, you self-entitled schmuck.

Or when the soon to be former supervisor gave me yet another shitty review as a parting shot just because she could. You know what, lady? Fuck you.

The work has been trickling in, but that isn’t to say I haven’t been busy. Yesterday I cleared off all the old files on my work computer. Today I went through a box of stuff I brought over with me after the mass-exodus from the office in the middle of March. Just a bunch of old crap that I’m tired of looking at. Even the computer sits on my kitchen table taking up a lot of space. I haven’t eaten a meal at the table with my son in nearly two months. Other than fighting some fires, it is ready to just plop into a box and drag over to the office. It won’t be missed.

It reminds me a little of my divorce. Just paddling along, putting in the work to keep the house from falling apart, but you really don’t care at this point. Pretending everything is okay so the kids don’t cry.

I’m ready to start working for myself, well…I’m getting there. I ordered a new computer today to replace my trusty MacBook Pro which has served me well for the last five and a half years. It has endured Markiplier videos, writing attempts, internet surfing, school projects, and pretty much underutilization. I’m just now getting familiar with the OS, just in time to have the last upgrade put a rush order on its obsolescence. Since upgrading to Catalina, the cooling fan hasn’t stopped. The system lags like crazy, and the more I write on it and work on it, the more I realize I needed something more suited to using it full time.

Judging by the longevity of the Macs I’ve used in the past, this one will hopefully get me to 2028. Just in time for my youngest to graduate high school. The years are running past like wild horses over the hills.

I also discovered a few things about the nuts and bolts of freelancing I hadn’t known before. I might have to pay quarterly taxes, maybe get an LLC, or just work as a sole proprietor and pay taxes yearly with a slight penalty. I ordered a book on accounting today and plan on studying that so I’m making good choices.

The writing has been wonderful lately. I cannot stress that enough. I have been getting assignments done, meeting deadlines, and even working on the books. My next step is to rebuild my website, which is currently dead.

There will be plenty of challenges ahead, but I truly love the work I am doing. Even recently, I wrote some copy for an attorney about car crashes and settlements in Florida. A crappy day of writing is better than a good day of working at the Dean’s Office.

The other day, I worked on paid blogs, researching freelancing, I took a nap, did some personal writing, went on a walk with my son, read for a few hours and ended the night with handwriting everything that I had done for the day in a journal. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. The work is there, and now I have the time to explore my potential. I know I talk a lot about writing, but I must be a writer if I can spend the day writing and then want to do it some more in my free time.

When you write, you don’t know things like days of the week anymore; as I’m starting to find out. If the work is there, you do it. Once you start doing it often, you can’t stop it. I’m sure I’ll have some bad days. My newest therapist tells me to give myself permission to have bad days. I’m pretty tough on myself, which serves absolutely no purpose.

I need to develop a routine, which incorporates exercise, socializing, and downtime into a pretty busy schedule. I will somehow need to manage new leads, correspondence with clients/contacts, budgeting, and getting the work done. My worst trait right now is allowing myself to become distracted. The triumvirate of distraction which is Netflix, Facebook, and Instagram. I don’t know how I do it, but I can just scroll and stare at nothing for a long time.

I think to optimize my time, I can work on podcasting, which is part of why I needed a new computer…I’ll break that misadventure down:

In attempting to record a new episode of Gasoline Shower Thoughts, I played back the audio on a twenty minute episode and half of it was digitally stuttering. I did a quick YouTube search on why this was, and the best solution listed was to uninstall and reinstall the app. I did, until I had to reinstall, which my OS (High Sierra) wasn’t compatible. So I upgraded to Catalina. Both installs went through, but once they were done, the copy of Scrivener 2.0 was no longer supported. So I had to buy the latest version of that. I’m now at Scrivener 3.0, the latest OS, and the latest Garageband. Unfortunately my poor CPU fan hasn’t stopped running, even when the MacBook is asleep. You might be able to put your coffee mug on it and keep it warm.

Now is as good a time as any to get a system upgrade, especially since I’ll be using it all the time, not only for writing but podcasts too. My son gets a kick out of making podcasts and it will be a good reason to spend time together. I had a phone call with an old friend the other day and thought it would have made an excellent podcast. We discussed everything from ASMR videos to COVID to life in general.

The work is there. I just need to jump into it.

For the last 19 years I have not been rewarded for effort, intelligence or merit. I have been wasting my potential, and like many State employees, I have been just getting by in a toxic work environment. In other professions, if I had stuck it out this long, I would have been running the joint. Not getting shitty emails at the end of the day demanding my immediate response and acting like it was my fault it wasn’t already done. ASAP.

But I’ve been putting in the work for other people. A wife, then ex-wife who refused to work, three kids who needed the stability, and a recession, a housing bubble, and starting over again after the end of all of that. I’m 44 years old, and I’m long past due finding my place in the world.

The learning curve is steep, but each time I hit a hurdle and I clear it, I feel amazing. I think about those days in London last year on my own, when I would do something like order up train tickets and head out to another city, or just get lost in an unfamiliar city and find my way back. I would be emotionally exhausted, usually take a nap, but once I woke up again, I was ready for the next challenge. I started to welcome each challenge. I started to push my comfort zones. I realized I enjoyed doing it.

Since then, everything I have challenged myself with has been fulfilling. The day job, the data entry clerk work at a failing university is no longer challenging. It is a toil. I give the place less than three years before it all comes crumbling down. These days, it has been a nice place to let my son ride his bike without fear of getting bitten by dogs or hit by cars.

The charm of the place is wearing thin. It’s time to let it die that gurgling, slow death. Once it’s gone, the only thing I’ll miss is the regular paychecks. It isn’t the same place that brought me out of the cubicle mazes of call centers nearly twenty years ago. Or the place I enjoyed as a student.

It’s time to get a move on. We’re burning daylight.