the first item is the reason why i’m able to write this at all. if you’ve followed my what’s new page, you’ll know that i haven’t added anything to these pages in almost two months, despite my best intentions. i’ve just been way too busy. since i started working for andover in february, there’s been a lot of steady work to get ldc on its feet, and it’s only now reached the point at which it’s a little easier to keep it going on a day-to-day basis.

but it wasn’t just that andover was taking a lot of my time, it’s that i had a number of other small jobs hanging around as well. i still had a lot of students at the laurel school of music, so i had to go there (an hour round-trip drive) twice a week. i was still getting called to come and help people with their computers. i still had to drive to umbc each week (40 minute round-trip) to teach my two students, if either of them showed up. i still had to update webpages and write the bcgs newsletter. it was just too much to move into a closer-to-full-time situation with andover while still carrying all the other baggage. i could have gone back to my stay-up-all-night ways of college days, but that’s a losing game.

i wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any good by trying to do it all, so i cut back. this is a little scary when you’re used to having many disparate sources of income; you worry about putting all your eggs into one employer’s basket. i convinced myself it was necessary, and i did some hacking away at my job list and stopped accepting new jobs. i’ll still do work for people who have employed me for years (especially if it’s work i can do from home), but when someone new calls and wants me to come over to his house and figure out why his digital camera isn’t working, i tell him i don’t do that anymore. i’ve turned down some of the old people, also. for example, one lady has had me drive out to her house three times in as many years because windows keeps crashing on her and it doesn’t dawn on her that there’s nothing anyone can do to fix closed code. the pay is all right, but the drive is interminable. [1] so, when she called again a few weeks ago, i just apologized and said i couldn’t do it. one part of me worries about burning bridges, but the more rational part realizes that i have enough skills that i’ll have no problem finding more work if i need it. (in a world in which people are amazed when you change the image on their root window, it’s hard for even a quasi-geek to stay unemployed.)

my biggest reason for turning down a job is that it involves leaving the house. at first, i thought leaving each day to go to a job would be a good incentive to get out and enjoy the fresh air, meet people, etc. in practice, it meant getting dressed in uncomfortable clothes, spending time in traffic to get to a workplace, walking just from the car to a building, and sitting down and working. i’m much happier leaving the house because i’m going to do something i want to do. i’d rather just go out and take a walk and say hello to my neighbors. if i’m driving somewhere, i’d rather it was to meet friends or to take my laptop to the state park and work at a picnic table.

so things are falling into a better place in terms of work. if they keep moving in a good direction, i’ll have more time for things i want to do, like writing these notes.

footnotes

1. in your money or your life, joe dominguez and vicki robin point out that to really understand what you’re earning from a job, you have to subtract from your payment all of the expenses that are required in order for you to do the job. in the instance of me driving out to the county to play with doze, that would include:

  1. the gas to get me there
  2. the wear and tear on my car
  3. the cost of keeping two wardrobes, one that i wear at home and one that i wear to job sites
  4. the cost of eating somewhere on the way back if it’s late and i don’t want to wait to get home and cook
  5. and perhaps the largest item of all: how much money could i be making in the time that i’m driving? if it takes me an hour to get there, i spend an hour there, and i spend an hour driving back, i would have made three times the money if i’d stayed home and worked instead.

calculated this way, i’m actually paying someone a huge amount for the privilege of doing work i don’t like.

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