Monday, May 09, 2005

Thoughts and Wanderings

Now that the gray fog of illness is lifting, and now that I appear to be fighting off the last of my sicknesses, it's time to take stock of this life, and what the hell I'm doing with it.

The June date for taking the LSAT is full, which is actually a good thing, cause I haven't had time to study, and I'm still not sure I'm really gung-ho about the idea of law school - mainly because it'll mean I've got to commit to one place for 3 years and take out a huge amount of money. It means going back to being a *really* poor student. And though I miss the freedom of student life, and learning new things, taking a money hit for three years depresses the hell out of me.

The issue then becomes: well, shit, woman, what do you want to do with your life? Certainly, I'm writing books and short stories, and someday I'd like to make a living doing it, but that day isn't today, and in the mean time, I'd hate to think I was wasting my potential and not making full use of the years I've got. I'm youngish, nearly in great health, and can (mostly) pay my bills. So what's next? What do I want? What's my next challenge?

That's how I keep my mind going, how I keep from feeling like I'm atrophying. I need new places, new challenges.

I have a couple of options, and I've been mulling them all over for some time, to the point where, I think, Jenn and B are sick of hearing them. But I'm going to mull them over again.

Jenn and her SO will be moving in together after next year (likely), and the SO doesn't particularly want me in on this get-together, which is understandable, so if I do stay in Chicago, I'm on my own. This means that in order to live in something other than a studio apartment, I'll need to have a better-paying job by next year. At least 45-55K.

B is also very keen on me moving to NY for a year while he finishes up school - and I think living in NY for a year would be really cool. While I'm flying up there on the off-weekends, I can always extend the trip for job interviews. Living would be tight (money and spacewise), but I could do it for a year, and it would give me a new city to explore, a move to negotiate; a challenge, which is what I'm looking for.

There's also the opportunity with a gaming company one of my writing buddies is currently at. They're hiring, but they're also in Canada, and about an 8-hour plane flight from NYC, where B is. And basically, an 8-hour-flight is a make-or-break for our fledgeling relationship, or, to paraphrase B, "I think that's a great opportunity, and if you really want to do that, I'll totally support you as a friend. But I can't maintain a relationship where we see each other one weekend a month if 16 hours of that weekend are taken up with flying time."

He's right, of course. If I applied for, got, and took that job, I'd effectively end my relationship with B, and I'm not willing to do that. He's still got a year of school, so there's no compromise on that for at least a year.

It all comes down to what makes me feel the most fulfilled, and I don't know what that is right now. Writing books at a beach house on the Oregon Coast would certainly make me feel fulfilled, but I'm not at that point in my life yet. So how do I fill up the years between now and then?

The answer, for me, is about being better. I want to be better. Go back to school for another Master's degree? Or settle for taking French classes at Truman College? Could I "settle" for that? Would I feel like I was progressing? What if instead of academic pursuits, I focused on the physical stuff, really started taking boxing and martial arts seriously? Would I feel that that was a great enough challenge for me? (and oh boy, it would be a big challenge, to focus on actually getting *good* at something physical).

At what point can I step back and say that those social measures of achievements: school degrees et. al. aren't neccessary for me to feel like I'm "accomplishing" something?

Education was and is very important in my family, and it's how we measure success, that and money, of course, but education is considered almost *more* respectable than money. I'm sure I'm carrying around some of that when looking at my life. Am I done with formal school? Can't I just take up painting and collect books and have a nice place and feel as if I'm accomplishing something? At what point can I just say, "This is enough for me"?

I don't know. I don't think I'll ever be able to say it's "enough," but I'd like to be able to say I have enough academic degrees. Because those damn things are fucking expensive. I've got to find something I find fulfilling. I don't want to feel like I'm stagnating, like I'm merely existing.

I've got to find focus: the kind that comes with a "reward" at the end. Problem is, most things don't have a golden key at the end unless you give yourself one.

It's crises time, when nothing feels like it's moving forward, and you just want to kick yourself in the ass cause life just seems too damn comfortable.

Maybe I just need to spend a couple weeks abroad, and get this travel bug out of my system. I feel like I need to move.

6 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

For the first two years of my relationship with SWITCTBN, I worked no closer than a 4 hour flight away from home (and I started working a 7 hour flight away a month and a half after starting the relationship.) One of the things we did was that I went home every weekend (United Air Lines _loved_ me when I was doing that; I was clocking over 100,000 miles a year on their stinking horrible airline), leaving for home on Friday afternoon, then going back on the very first flight of the day on Monday morning.

If you're willing to burn up a lot of your income buying airfare, it rapidly becomes an easy routine (and a good selling point for your job: "Sure, I need to fly home every weekend, but since I'm going to be living out of a shed while I'm here there's nothing stopping me from working nonstop during the week.")

Living in NYC and working in goddamn Spokane, Washington, may have had something to do with it, too. (Living in Pasadena, CA and working in either Spokane or San "anus of the Universe" Jose, California was about the same.) 

Posted by David Parsons

Anonymous said...

Some unsolicited law school advice....I say just take the LSAT in the fall, and see how you do. If you're worried about the debt, but have no interest in big firm life, go to a lower ranked school that'll give you a full ride or close to. Even with my shitty, shitty undergrad. GPA, due to a stint in military school, I got offered a pretty nice chunk of change by Cardozo (ranked 53rd or so) because my LSATs were good. Even the big schools give full rides to someone. And due to your previous grad. school experience, they'll see you as a good risk and more intersting that most applicants, who go straight through or take a year or two off. Also, if you haven't been claimed by your parents on their income taxes for five or six years, they will only consider your income when awarding financial aid. This means that your financial aid award will be a heckuva lot higher than everyone else's, because most law students were claimed by their parents throughout undergrad. 

Posted by Ismone

Anonymous said...

I second Ismone's remarks here. It can be done, and at blitzkrieg speed Law school has been done in 2.5 years, sometimes even a bit less. Now how to pull down 45-55K in a city you want to live in is a nice trick. There's only perhaps something less than 10 million people waiting for such an opportunity currently. The average salary for a college educated female is between 36-45K. Anything much beyond that and you're usually talking serious professional development. This may well mean more schooling.

NYC is really expensive, and getting more so all the damn time. I don't blame B for putting limitations on distance, but perhaps some time will sort it out. The problem comes in collecting some sort of income while living. Writing will not normally bring this, so it needs to be supplemented. Hanging out bohemian like just writing what you will has been done too, but it requires a level of dedication and sacrifice that is no longer really possible in a 'modern' context. In many ways we are a post print culture. While we are producing more readers but we are actually paying the writers less than thay've typically been paid in the industrial era.

I'd explore each option if possible for awhile. The gaming idea sounds intriguing, but I fear the 'golden age' has all bust passed us by. Most of the large shops are unfortunately beginning to sound like little more than high tech sweat shops now.

You don't need more degrees to make you any more acceptable or to feel more accomplished. You might need one to obtain the tools you need to get a job that will afford you the lifestyle you desire. Again alternatively, try out the building trades. That's going great guns currently, but probably not for too much longer.

A fulfilling life is a bit easier actually. Children could do this, so could charity work, as will good art. Hell, even pretty damn obscure art has proved to be fulfilling to some. It's a personal thing. Getting enough moola to have that 'room of one's own' is another matter. And for most writers I know, even the very successful ones, that room was typically the upstairs/Master bath when they started. That bo-ho stuff was actually hard to achieve and depended on extra sources of income that you do not have access to. But scholarship grants instead of a trust fund might be a better start.

Alternatively you could chuck it all and produce some of the finest 'artisian' like mooshine in the southern mountains. We're really hurting for a decent moonshiner down here. Most of the stuff they produce now is just the most base basic stuff, really rot-gut quality.

And remember wishes are but moonshine w/o a workable, realistic plan. And condenser coils made from the radiators of post 1985 domestic cars will not do.

Sorry to run on. Cheers&Good Luck K! VJ 

Posted by VJ

Anonymous said...

I know the feeling of wanting to be better. I also know the feeling of chasing your tail in circles trying to figure out how to do that! You are right about the need to move, though. Whatever that entails, I hope you commit yourself to that. You're not alone! The warm weather of the last few days has really made me aware of just how much my recent behavior and activity resembles a rock. And a boring rock at that. So a big good luck to you - nothing like an old-fashioned decision making party to get your blood flowing again!  

Posted by ally

Anonymous said...

The thirst for accomplishing something in life is a journey and not a destination... I don't know if you can actually step back and say its enough... atleast I don't feel I would be able to do so. So stop contemplating on the grounds of stepping out. Take the ride as it goes and one thing that would really help you getting over this hollow feeling is taking a break...


Posted by @nu$h@

Mike said...

Thought you would like this. get rich