i start my new job on thursday! i have a huge stack of paperwork to do this weekend, finalizing everything. i still don't know what time to show up or which building to go to next week. the company i'm working for is spread out all over the world (although it's small in terms of number of employees--most of them work from home from wherever they happen to be), but the actual offices are on site at the campus of a computer company. i'm being cagey about this because i signed a confidentiality agreement, which makes me paranoid enough to not want to share any details online. i never mention the names of my employers on here anyway, for privacy reasons. tomorrow i'm getting coffee with one of my future coworkers so she'll fill me in on the hours and exact location.
i'm confronted with the possibility of having my shit together pretty soon. this job pays three-and-a-half times what i was making before, which is about twice as much as i realistically could've hoped to make any time in the next decade or two. i have no debt, never live beyond my means and i'm always good at saving money, even with a small income, so i don't expect my frugality to budge a whole lot...but if the job works out i'll finally feel stable enough to make some major purchases i've held off on. like the $2.5k full-frame sensor camera i've been lusting after for two years now. i almost pushed the button on that one the other day, but it's too soon.
there's a lot of change going on in and around my life right now. so much has piled on that it's not overwhelming anymore, it's time to let go and go with it, be happy for myself and everyone else. my cousin (with whom i have a close, sister-like relationship) got engaged. my friend bethany took a job sewing samples for a fashion design company, her first job in five years, and she's moving back to boise (from nampa, which might as well be in canada for as often as i'm willing to drive over there). jason was offered a tempting new job at an organic bakery and he might move to king hill where another friend of ours lives, over an hour away, but he'd come back to town on weekends. laura is probably going to law school next fall, and same goes for the owner of the magazines i used to work for.
that regular freelance writing/photo gig is no more, along with the magazines themselves for now. there's a small group of longtime, frequent contributors, myself included, who might leverage the debt they owe us to buy part of the publishing company and start up the magazines again. we'll see how that goes. no hard feelings no matter how it turns out. they paid me well and treated me well for years, and i was ready to move on. this frees me up to write other things. i even started writing a poem the other day, for the first time in ages.
other changes are more subtle. my informal new year's resolutions were to "read more" and "do more stuff." by "stuff" i mean experiential social stuff that involves more than just hanging out with friends. i signed up for groupon and livingsocial and all those discount sites, which are awesome not only for the pricing but also as notifications. i miss a lot because i'm not on facebook or twitter.
the resolutions are successful so far, making me branch out and de-rut-ify in certain areas. jason and i went to see MOMIX: botanica last weekend (check out the youtube video, it's phenomenal.) last night i went to red light variety show with jeanne. in the last couple weeks i've read mary roach's "stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers" and patton oswalt's "zombie spaceship wasteland," now reed and i are both reading "one hundred years of solitude" by gabriel garcia marquez.
yesterday i was talking with this guy who works at moxie java--incredibly kind, gentle person, reminded me of the paul rudd character in "our idiot brother”--and he was asking me about my new job. i'd already been feeling plenty strange about the idea of having a full-time professional job, but somehow talking to him drew that out more than ever. i think what i wanted to convey to him was something along the lines of, "i'm like you! i'm poor and part-time and that's what i'm comfortable with. i enjoy my job, but my occupation is incidental to my identity, and i'm a complicated and well-rounded person." the new job won't change who i am, but it will change how some people perceive me, or at least how i perceive people perceiving me.
with my last job i felt a stronger sense of occupational identity than with any previous because it incorporated so many of my skills and passions. it felt like volunteer work. i have mixed feelings about occupational identity, just like i do about every other goddamn thing in the world. on one hand it's crucial to enjoy your occupation, because in our unfortunate system it's an enormous, obligatory, and relatively static part of everyday life. it's wonderful when people can feel fulfilled by and gain happiness from their experiences at work.
but that can easily go too far. people can become so wrapped up in their occupational identity (including that of "mother" or "wife"--though rarely "father" or "husband”) that it flavors nearly everything they do and talk about, it even alters their personality--they lose dimension and become grotesque. society can use occupational identity to simplify, categorize and dehumanize an individual--bad, but not as bad as when the individual uses it that way on themselves. i've seen it happen multiple times in varying degrees and it's always disturbing and painful, though thankfully reversible.
the obvious answer is balance. i think it's totally possible for me to maintain the proper balance if i'm vigilant and proactive about it throughout my life. it’s just that major life changes throw me so off-balance, it’s easy to imagine myself teetering on some potential ledge.
my dad recently made lots of calls to family and family-friends to tell them i'm not a fuckup anymore. i keep getting emails congratulating me on the job, using the c-word (career). it's not that i feel like a sellout, it's more like i'm mourning the loss of a lifestyle, or an anti-occupational identity, i guess. i'm going to miss being seen as a fuckup. i'll miss people looking down on me and reacting to me with condescension and disappointment because it feels so reassuring to ignore them and recognize that their values are different from mine. i enjoy having secrets about me that only certain special people can see and appreciate--i like the convenient exclusivity of not being obvious. that won't change, but now it's a whole different set of attitudes, assumptions and expectations that i'm faced with the task of merrily disregarding.