So here’s what’s been up with me this week.
Work, lots of it. Last week was crazy workwise. some very late nights to hit a deadline and some other stuff going on. This week was more stable but still pretty full. I like my job, I like feeling like I am getting better at doing it. I like being challenged, being able to work from home, and so on. It’s not sunshine and roses all the time but it’s probably the best staff gig I have had in a long time, if not ever.
As a result of this, I have been thinking lately about my other “career” during the last few years: freelancing as a writer and especially as a designer. I wasn’t too successful at it. Part of the reason for that is that freelancing is just plain difficult; it demands even crazier hours and time and attention than a “regular” job, plus you have to be your own salesperson and accountant and manager, none of which I enjoy. Plus, if I am quite honest with myself, I am just not as good a designer as many of my competitors. What skills I had ten years ago have been inconsistently buttressed over the years with small client website and print jobs. I didn’t stay sharp and as a result, my portfolio and skillset are weak.
You can only do so many things if you want to do them well. So, I’m no longer doing design for money, even if I get fired tomorrow. Maybe someday I would be interested in brushing up on those skills again (or maybe technology will change again to eliminate some of that learning curve), but for now and the forseeable future, writing is what puts food on my table. It feels good to simplify like that.
Which brings me to drawing. Because of the aforementioned work, I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked lately but it is creeping back in. I’m making some comics for a local music and multimedia project over the summer and having a blast doing it. I’m really enjoying using Manga Studio as a drawing tool with my decade-old Wacom tablet. If I could make a living doing illustration and making comics, I certainly would, but again, that is not going to happen anytime soon; partly because my skills aren’t there yet, mostly because it would require even more time that I don’t have. So, it’s my hobby, but unlike the many other hobbies I have had for the last 25 years or so, it seems to be the one that I never lose interest in.
The annual Theatre on the Edge Festival is coming up about a month from now, and I will be performing with friends in some improv shows and some Shakespeare-themed sketch shows, so that should be fun. It will be nice to be in a scene with Nicole again before she moves away to Kingston, ON to start her PhD. I feel like that will be the first of several big changes in my life; changes that are largely good but changes nonetheless. Not long after she moves, I plan to move too, hopefully somewhere else uptown, to a smaller and less expensive apartment. I’ll be traveling by train every few weeks to see her and making adjustments to my work life as required.
Later this month I pay off a loan that has hung over my head for about 6 years, so that should give me some much needed financial breathing room and a little more flexibility. I don’t like being this age and living from paycheck to paycheck, with not much in the way of savings or investments. I will continue to pay down my debts and try to start saving in earnest so that if there is some kind of catastrophe, I have more of a cushion than selling all of my stuff to get by. I’ve gotten rid of so many possessions over the last few years; as a Buddhist I certainly don’t mind it, but when you pare your life down to the stuff you need every day, it makes it harder still to shed those things, especially if the only reason to do so is bad finances. That said, I’m proud of myself for sticking it out and paying off the loan. It hasn’t been easy. I hope I am never in that kind of debt again.
In far less important matters, I started using Google Plus, and that has led me to using Google Reader (I know, welcome to 2008), Chrome, Google Docs, Gmail again instead of Mail.app. You win, Google. I haven’t dropped Facebook yet but I like all this centralized, sort-of-open-sourced, nice-interfaced, Farmville-less new frontier.
Meanwhile the US is broke (I originally typed broken; I guess that works too). The leader of the IMF is a rapist. Belgium has been without a government for 13 months and may break into two nations, leading to even more discord in Europe and perhaps the breakup of the EU itself. People are starving and terrorized in Africa, but still not enough for the West to do anything about it. I turn 43 in August and some days it feels like I am struggling to think clearly; or is it that I am only now thinking clearly after years of not doing so? My little troubles seem so insignificant, and I suppose they are in the grand scheme. All the same I feel like I should do what I can to stabilize my own small section of the world and do what I can to help others.
It feels like summer is going fast.