Monday, November 25, 2013

FAQ - round one- do you work?

Finally Answer the damn Questions!

Thank you everyone who sent me questions for the very first FAQ, Finally Answer the damn Questions Section on the wild and often confusingly vague coast. They were fun to read, and they brought to my attention the gaps that exist in this business of writing down my own life, both the intentional and the unintentional.
Many of you asked more or less the same question: what happened to the dude who visited and then disappeared off the face of the blog seriously what the heck? And, you know, I'll do my best to answer that, although I can already assure some of you that you will be disappointed with my answer.

I'll get there, though, and address it to the best of my ability.

For now, some of you asked about.....

1. Do you work? What is your job?


I am currently a 'consultant' for a Vermont-based consulting firm. I know 'consultant' doesn't explain anything, but that's what's printed on my business card so it's a good place to start.  The company is here in my hometown (I claim three hometowns, by the way.) This is the smallest of the three, a town roughly the size of my thumbnail. It's so small, in fact, that the Diner has a whole menu of sandwiches named after my associates.

The firm is fantastic, recently voted 'Best place to work in Vermont.' You can bring your dog to the office, you're given spontaneous days off to go skiing, and the annual picnic includes a company band and a talent show.

Of course, none of this relates to me as I work remotely. But in a way it does- I work out of my house so my dog is always there, and last year I brought my work to the ski hill on many occasions.

Somehow, sadly, I never got the company picnic invite. Although I lived in Seattle at the time; I suppose I could not have gone anyway.

I've had this job ever since I got off the ship about 15 months ago. My project involves the technical side of a study for Housing and Urban Development. I'm required to travel a lot. Just this year I've flown to Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Duluth, Asheville, Ocala, Columbus and Milwaukee, and those are just the recognizable places, certainly not a complete list.
I've made a few important life observations during my travels. For example, the Orlando airport is difficult to navigate and the grass in Florida is not to be trusted (fire ants).

Maybe the only things I learned were about Florida?

When I'm not traveling, I'm sitting in front of the computer monitoring this website that looks like hundreds of tiny little dots. I can work wherever there is an internet connection, which is how I manage to travel a lot for fun, and how I'm able to live here in Asheville.

I've been given the luxury of almost total independence with my work. It's wicked.

I understand all the questions regarding not only the nature of but also the existence of my job, because I do not write about it except for a few vague "I'm in another airport" posts.
I chose not to write about it early on. I think, in general, you never regret not writing about work. It's far too easy to misrepresent yourself online, even when you have only the best intentions at heart.

So that's what I'm doing now, and I'm so grateful for the solid employment and all the flexibility of schedule and location. And I'm grateful it's a Vermont company, because our tourism and ski based economy is walking a thin, melty, rapidly warming line right now.

Here is some employment history that relates to some other job-and-school-related questions. 
Let's call these the answers to questions 3, 4 & 5.

In 2007 I emerged from five ultimate-frisbee-soaked years at the university of Washington, freshly armed with an English degree and two mysteriously still intact ACLs.

I loved my years at that gorgeous University, a place with a rose garden so rare that it was a felony to pick even one rose.  However, I would never in a million years suggest someone study english, unless they honestly dream of being a Classics professor. Actually, if that's the case, I'd suggest they study Classics, which is an entirely separate major.

I value everything that I learned at UW, but I think (from a professional standpoint) that I am the only one who values everything that I learned at UW.

If I could do it again, I'd study graphic design or communications, or at least throw in a few science classes.

Despite the relative worthlessness of my degree, (argue with that sentiment all you want, but besides brightening a bit when listening to the Prairie Home Companion 'professional association of english major' bits I really don't think it has given me much of a boost) I have managed to string together a fair compilation of employment. I've been the PR manager of an epically failing kayak shop, a waitress at a tiny Vermont diner, desk person at a bouldering gym, a high school teacher, sea kayak guide, ship medic, and naturalist. (I was undoubtedly the world's most uneducated and ill prepared naturalist, but an enthusiastic one.)
I've also worked as a nanny, outdoor educator, blogger, ultimate coach, photographer, writer, editor, gear reviewer, secret shopper and storyteller.

My job now, 'consultant', is probably the least exciting job, but also the one that pays enough to live. So, give and take, I'll take it.

I have my side projects, including writing for various online outdoor websites and photography. I will always have these projects, for money, trade or just for fun. But I doubt I'll ever try and piece them together into a steady income like I once did. While it is possible to do that, it involves a fair amount of luck, an enormous amount of self discipline and a bone-crushing amount of work. A writer friend of mine said that to make ends meet, she needed to have an average of thirteen serious projects going on at once.

Forget it.

I'm a very lucky person with an adequate amount of self discipline, but I honestly do not want to work at that punishing and unpredictable rate for the rest of my life.

I'm a contractor right now, meaning my employment at bring-your-dog-to-work-place won't last forever. In January I'm taking a few science classes to prepare myself for grad school in something health related. Like I said, I wish I'd have knocked out those sciences during my undergrad, but someone had to drag UW out of college-ultimate-frisbee anonymity, and I'm proud to say, that person was me. And a few others.

And that concludes round one! Thanks for playing!


Amanda Towne said...

Love this!!!!

Bekah said...

I love that you 'work to live, not live to work' (I quote that because I know I heard it somewhere...but I've long since forgotten where...).

Sounds like a great job for you right now!

Anonymous said...

this does solve a few mysteries ;)

Martha Rule said...

Totally loved studying English but I feel the same way!