I thought I wanted a job. I was wrong.

This past November, I celebrated thirteen years of being self-employed. Thirteen seems like a weird number to celebrate, but I actually celebrate every year.

And when I say celebrate, what I mean is that I freak out on a semi-monthly basis over the state of my finances and wonder why the hell I don’t have a full-time job for chrissakes.

On a recent freak-out, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to start another business, this time building WordPress websites. As much as I love working in WordPress and creating web sites, starting a new business means that I’ll need to hustle to get projects. That part, I don’t love. I’m already hustling enough in my other work. Instead, I decided to look into a bona fide j-o-b using my WordPress skills.

I figured that I may as well start right at the source, so I looked at careers at Automattic, the company that created WordPress. It’s an amazing company, one that I could actually see myself working for out of love and not just for a paycheck. I found a job called Happiness Engineer and it fit me and my skills perfectly.

Unfortunately, Automattic did not agree, which was a humbling experience. While I can apply again in 12 months, I don’t think that I will. Rather than becoming soured on WordPress, I felt a sort of renewed energy for creating on the platform.

The more I thought about finding a full time job, the more I found myself reflecting on the past thirteen years of independence. When I first struck out on my own, I often felt like an unemployed loser. In my head, my family was a hair’s breadth away from starving to death in a shanty town, reduced to selling cheap trinkets made from our toenail clippings. Over time and with some success, I was gradually able to think of myself as a business owner. We never did starve, and our toenail clipping trinkets are made just for our own pleasure. We’ve had to get creative at times (the Oregon alpaca farm comes to mind), but somehow we’ve always made it work.

The other magical thing that happened to shoo me away from a full time job search was that I suddenly got extremely busy. Big screen printing jobs mean long hours of pushing a squeegee, a writing gig means lots of coffee-filled outlining and collaboration, and I also landed my first WordPress gig. Not bad, considering I had convinced myself that a j-o-b was my thing only three weeks before.

Last week, as I was pushing ink onto my 200th sweatshirt, I suddenly realized that had I been hired at Automattic, I would be scrambling right now trying to figure out how I would be able to show up for everyone, every day, with my brain intact. Forgoing sleep and injecting the coffee comes to mind as a possible solution. But whatever, that did not happen and my brain is still (to a fair degree) intact.

What I also realized is that over thirteen years my brain has also been rewired. I’ve trained myself to work the way I work, meaning that I structure my time in the way that works best for me, rather than an employer deciding that. I’m able to put my energy into things I love and when I need to move on to something else, I just do it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes push deadlines to their absolute limits. Huge deadline tightrope-walker, me. And yeah, there are days I wonder how we’re going to pay for those little frivolities, rent and food. I don’t enjoy the financial roller coaster. Who likes credit card debt, raise your hand. You, in the back, with the foil hat, you can have mine.

The thing of it is, I don’t want just another “job.” Been there, done that, I literally have the t-shirt. If I take on full time employment, I want it to matter. I don’t need just a paycheck. I need to work with amazing people. I need to work on challenging projects that make a difference, that add something positive to the world.

Maybe that’s a tall order, but I’m going to keep looking until I find it.

How the Bullet Journal Saved My Brain

Note: This is a re-blog from my other site. Used with permission because, well, I wrote it. I said it was cool.

I have a long and weird history with analog organizational products. Starting around age seven, I developed a mild folder fetish, spurred along by gloriously shiny document holders with The Muppets on them. Then there was that year I asked for a Trapper Keeper for Christmas. My mother simply blamed it on my Virgoness and indulged me. I think my father wanted me to see a doctor, or at least a little league baseball coach.

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A Very Minty Thanksgiving

My very special journey with Linux Mint

About an hour ago, I went for my first post-Thanksgiving run, where not only did I play Frogger crossing The Big Street (sorry, Dad), I got a ton of ideas of things to write about. Then I got home, fired up WordPress and my mind went kablooey:

Not as clever as I had hoped. It will come back to me eventually. In the meantime…

Pandemic Thanksgiving happened on Thursday and I was not too surprised to find that it was exactly like non-Pandemic Thanksgiving, with the exception of the Macy’s Parade Lite we witnessed. I was happy to be peeling potatoes.

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“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

– Andy Warhol

Now is so… now

vegan burger and fries
Photo by Rolande PG on Unsplash

I’m going to be starting dinner soon, but I wanted to get something down here because I’ve been neglecting the blog lately. I’m making vegan burgers and fries. Not quite a gourmet meal, but we all love some comfort food. Anyone else could make it, and I can make lots of other things, but like vegan French toast it’s kind of my thing. I have a system down.

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Today I turned 50. Fifty years old. Half a century. Roman numeral L. 

They say that age is just a number and mathematically they are right. Aside: Over the next 50 years, I’d like to devote my life to finding who the people are behind the mysterious “they.” Okay, so not the whole 50, maybe just a half hour.

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cough. cough. cough. ahem.

I am feeling super lazy, so for this post I decided to illustrate the sky above Los Angeles right now. It’s filled with smoke, even though the fires are miles away. It’s like living inside a campfire, except there are no marshmallows coming.

The CDC says that being outside right now is like smoking eleventy-million packs of cigarettes (I’m still fact-checking that number because it sounds a bit high). If that’s true then all we need now is a ginormous keg of cheap beer on the bed of a pickup and it’s every party I went to in the 80s.

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What’s Better Than a Midlife Crisis Miata?

MIata flying through the air

A few days ago, a friend posted a photo of a guitar amp that he just bought. In the caption he mentioned going through a midlife crisis, but at least it wasn’t a Miata. First I laughed, then I Googled “Midlife Crisis Miata” because I didn’t know that was a thing. Yup. It’s a thing.

Speaking of midlife, is it a Gen X trait that as soon as we hear about something new, we must know what it’s all about immediately? Or is it just me that drops everything to look stuff up, no matter how trivial? Somebody mentions a DIY toothpaste on twitter and forty-five minutes later I’m pricing Icelandic baking soda on Amazon.

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Letting it go

Zips shoes

You might already know this about me, but I like to run. I’ve always enjoyed it. Yeah, I’m one of those freaks. These days I run at a pace for distance, but in grade school, I loved to run fast. I loved sprinting short distances. I was wiry and thin and not very muscled, but I could run fast. I wasn’t afraid of going all out for 100 yards. The 100-yard dash was my thing. Tetherball was also my thing, but you don’t get your picture on a Wheaties box hitting a ball on a string. So I focused on running.

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