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Employment is Nigh

December 15, 2015

My last day of work at Philadelphia Zoo was October 2. I took most of October to get ready for my move down to Athens and have spent most of my time since working on the book, treating it like a full-time job. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the positives from working the desk jobs I’ve worked since leaving Athens in 2010 is that I’ve saved up a bit of a nest egg, and Athens is cheap enough that I’ve been able to live comfortably here without worrying about my lack of income yet. But as I’m finishing up this phase of the project and transitioning to a more research-heavy phase—and as we move past the holiday season and our beloved job creators shift their focus to hiring—I’m fixing to get myself a part-time job. I’m fairly open-minded about what this looks like, but it will need to be something flexible so that it doesn’t interfere with the book project.

So far, even on days I’m writing a ton, I still have some free time. Getting rid of a full-time job will do that, as will moving from a frenetic Northeastern metropolis to a slow-cooking Southern setting. I’m very aware that downtime is invaluable to the creative process, that boredom is sometimes crucial. That new ideas can pour only into an empty mind, never a full one. And so I’m protective of that free time, and I want to make sure I still have some even as I take on other obligations (in addition to—or instead of, if I’m really lucky—the part-time job, I need to start writing for publication again). But that mostly just means “do something else instead of sitting in front of my computer all the time.”

This is another obstacle I alleviated by leaving Philadelphia. Leaving a full-time job that was weighing on me even when I was out of the office was the biggest piece, but suffice it to say that I have fewer distractions down here. That seems counterintuitive given the ubiquitous gustatory temptations that abound down here and the fact that I can find a show worth seeing almost every night of the week, but I’ve found it much easier to focus down here. There’s a lot of small reasons for that, but I think one of the bigger ones is my social network. I spent three years in DC mostly feeling like I was missing out on what my Philly friends were up to, and when I moved back to Philadelphia, I felt like I needed to make up for lost time. Some lonely years in college before that (and really at every stage in my life) has ingrained in me—even though I’m very much an introvert who finds even enjoyable social situations exhausting after just a few minutes—a reflex to say yes to every invitation. I know plenty of people down here too, some whom I’m writing about and some whom I’m not, enough folks that on a given night I could find someone to hang with (including my roommate), but I feel less rushed, those opportunities seem less precious for some reason, and I feel less tempted to do things beside write. If I’m being charitable to myself, I can say that I’m somewhat more mature and just getting better at saying no, but much of it is circumstantial, even if I did create those very circumstances, for this exact purpose.

Having some distractions are important, though, so I’m certainly not living ascetically. I’ve been to probably at least one or two shows every week since moving here, for example. Things like meditation and yoga are hugely important, but taking a long walk or grabbing some lunch by myself (both of which are currently part of my daily routine) are great ways to let the mind wander, as is going to a show (even if you’re there with someone, you’re usually not talking to anyone for 40 minutes at a time). Time to actually sit at a computer and work is, of course, important, but to make that time productive, I’m making the most of my time away from the computer. I’ll be picky on my job hunt for that reason.


One Comment leave one →
  1. December 17, 2015 5:50 PM

    Give me your best “what’llyahave” and I might have something lined up for you…

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