Without a Net

After a long and exhausting May, I'm pretty much to the point where I just can't talk about another video game for a little while. Even if you dropped a surprise copy of Halo 3 right in my lap, I'd consider it with a quizzical glance at best, and probably not be able to drum up more cogent thoughts than that the DVD was mostly opaque. If there is a well of inspiration from which I draw gaming literature then E3 and our coverage of that organized hysteria drained it the way a man dying of thirst might drain a thimble of water. I am, as they say, sick and tired of talking about that stuff for a while. Besides, my attention is distracted of late, and as is usually the case when that sort of thing happens, I'm inflicting my thoughts upon you.

You see, I'm quitting my job.

I've been very cagey with you, dear readers, since leaving my life as a stay-at-home dad as to what I went on to do. I imagine there are only a very few of you who know what my employment has been in these months, and those few people know only because, for one reason or another, revealing my profession was virtually unavoidable. I've asked those people to not disclose my profession or employer, and they have generally been compliant.

I've piqued your interest, haven't I? It's because I have some sense about creating drama, crafting a paragraph in just an enticing yet vague enough way that the reader feels compelled to keep reading, even if the very next paragraph entirely breaks character and enters a troubling realm of procrastinating self-awareness. And, usually when a writer holds that drama for too long, extending it for effect through artificial conceits, it means they know the climax will be anything but climactic. You see, I also know when I'm about to disappoint the reader. For example:

Well, I'm not ready to tell you what I've been doing yet. You'll just have to wait another month.

I will say this, though. It was a bad job; a soul sucking, mind numbing, creativity squelching, scrotal shriveling, exploration in compressed frustration and hopelessness, made all the worse for having left the constant company of my son. That's not to say I would do things any different given a second chance. If not for this festering pus nugget of a job I wouldn't have accomplished some important goals I'd set, the most important being giving Elysia the opportunity to leave her own pus nugget of a job and have the chance to be a stay-at-home mom. It's also helped me get my new house, this sanctuary from the tumult of the day; a quiet, peaceful, split-level nestled at the back end of an idyllic neighborhood with a big yard and a river view. Those two successes alone make the past ten months worth having been endured.

That's not to say I've come through it unscarred. As Certis revealed to me on our recent trip and on several occasions before I've become increasingly distant, detached, and there was a certainty for some that E3 might be my final hurrah before finally, almost irrevocably, bidding farewell to the site. In hindsight it's an understandable, if troubling, assumption to be made, though what wasn't clear to Certis is that my dealings with him and the site are fairly representative of my general state of mind: distant, detached. I don't remember precisely when I realized that I was cutting myself off from everything just to get through the steady flow of days, but it wasn't a pleasant epiphany. The irony is, of course, that GWJ like my family, my home was a bright spot, a point of pride. I would no more leave GWJ than I would remove one of my own eyes, lance it with a swizzle stick, and drop it in a rather dry martini.

He was right about one thing, though. I had decided to leave something. I would -- will leave my job. The only question is what to do next, and how to convince my family that it's a good idea.

It wasn't until I returned to from E3 with 4 days left of vacation that I found myself with any time to sit and seriously think about where I'd been, where I was heading, and where I wanted to go. Elysia had traveled south with our son to visit her folks while I was away on the West Coast, and I was left here with several days of solitude. The first thing I noticed, even before getting back from LA, was that my enjoyment of my time off was increasingly corrupted by a hollowness in my stomach which grew with each thought I had about my job and how soon I would be back at it. I was physically aching as I guess many people must do at the thought of returning. It was probably that growing sense of dread mingled with the empty house that got me thinking about precisely how the hell I could step off my current path.

And even if I could, what was it I wanted? What didn't I like so much about this job? Wasn't it just the same stuff everyone struggles with? What would I do if not this? I put my mind firmly to the question and realized that there were a great many things I didn't like about my job, and they're probably things everyone doesn't like about their job, so why the hell was I whining so much about it? I had no flexibility. No opportunities to be creative. I couldn't write. I sure as hell wasn't paid enough for the number hours and amount of work I put forth. I didn't benefit from my own work. Above all, I just didn't take any pleasure, any sense of success from the job. There were other problems too, but I'll talk about those later.

It dawned on me that these were the same things Elysia had complained about before she came home. These were the things that drove her to seek her own new path, to make the change she needed to make. These were the things that made her decide to start her own business.

And it had worked.

She had contacts, and talent, and fifteen years of experience in graphic design, and funds for the software, and enough tenacity to walk out the door and become her own boss. Or, at least   kind of. I would think it's fair to say and I say this knowing full well that she's going to read this, and if I'm wrong I'll hear about it that Elysia is successful at her business despite how rarely she actually lets anyone know that she runs a business. It's got to be one of the most successful secret home businesses that I've seen. And, it's because she's just that good at what she does.

So, it occurred to me to wonder. What would happen if someone stepped in to tell people that there was this business, and it was good? What would happen if just a little networking, and a little marketing, and a little promotion happened? What if there was someone who had the time and the inclination to get clients?

And from there, with two days before I had to get back to my job, two days to sit and think and imagine, two days to figure out how it might work, this small vague idea took shape. What if I could contribute to this supposed business; after all Elysia had spent seven years at her former job working with small businesses developing every aspect of their business identity. She knows every professional piece of design software, has great contacts, and knows how to design anything from letterhead to logos to flyers to catalogs. She's fast. She's efficient. And she's damn good. But, where she is the technical expert on the scene, I could be part of the creative end, could write copy, could do the basic overflow design work, could meet and brainstorm with clients, could do all the legwork, could network and develop new customers. In short, I could with great satisfaction do the parts of the work that she hates. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like such an obvious idea that I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before.

Now, all I had to do was sell our new business to my first and, I imagined, toughest customer. I had the "vision" (tm), but now I had to paint the picture for someone else. I had to convince my partner that what she really wanted was for me to wedge my way into her happy situation. To be honest, the more enthusiastic I became about the idea, the more I was certain that she'd never go for it. Have you ever bought a lottery ticket for a really big jackpot? Do you remember how you spend the hours between the time you buy the ticket and the time reality reminds you that no one ever wins those things dreaming of how you're going to manage all that lovely money? It was like that. I had my ticket, but nobody ever wins a prize that big. Reality would come crashing down soon enough.

But, inexplicably Elysia bought into the idea; slowly at first, but with increasing enthusiasm and with not nearly as much trepidation as she's completely entitled. Which is how we decided I should quit my job and come home to start our new business. And so, I've spent the past week writing up a business plan, learning design basics, talking to our financial advisor, hiring an accountant, reading any piece of start-up literature I can find, and spending virtually every extra moment putting pieces in place before the end of June when I walk the high-wire without a net.

I wonder if many home businesses spring from such moments of realization that the pieces are actually in place. Isn't this a kind of carpe diem, a dash through a briefly open door? Isn't it noble, or definitive, or at least worth regretting later on if it should not succeed. And if there are regrets later, wouldn't the regret for not having tried be greater than that for having tried and failed? What if it succeeds? I wonder how many successful businesses have taken shape out of a dark time of life, part an act of desperation, but also of profound optimism. I wonder if I'm being intensely selfish in destabilizing everything. I wonder if I should be more frightened of this plunge. I wonder if it will be far more difficult, or far less rewarding than I imagine. But, it feels like a good move. It feels like something we should do. The foundation is there, and the desire to work. Is it crazy? Would it be worth doing if it weren't?

Anyway, all I'm saying is: wish us luck.

- Elysium

Comments

You guys are gonna do great. Good luck, Ely.

Yeah, good luck to both of you. Sometimes you just gotta follow your gut.

Best of luck!

My father did a similiar thing. He had no training in doing what he was doing (co-Brewmaster at a Brewary in Victoria, BC) when the company he was working for went Bankrupt. My father and his Brewmaster partner decided to start up a company designing brewtanks. Neither had any experience in doing what they were doing. Neither had a leg to stand on (my dad was now 28 or 29 and had 3 years of University studying to be doctor and his partner was fleeing from South Africa so he and his family had virtually no money). My parents also had a child (me) to feed. With no knowledge and no background they started the company. Now it designs and manufactures brew tanks, separators, centrifuges, small-scale grain silos, and other stainless steel products. My father had nothing and managed to turn it into a rather large company. If he can do it I'm positive that you and Elysia can. Best of luck to both of you!

I've never regretted leaving a job to seek happiness. And believe me, I've left a few good jobs to seek happiness. Jobs are a dime a dozen. Courage, vision and drive are priceless. Fear not, be strong and good luck.

Ely, I've been there. Just reading what you've written, I can't imagine you didn't make the right decision by leaving your previous job. I've twice walked away from enviable, hard-won, financially secure positions because the work they required me to do was destroying me personally. It was scary as hell, but in each instance I eventually found myself wondering why it had taken me so long to realize I needed out.

Anyway, I'm thrilled for you. Good luck with everything.

And thank God you're not leaving the site.

Better to try, possibly fail, and learn something from it, rather than to keep on going on with the drudgery of something that brings you absolutely no happiness, save to pay the bills.

With the wit and success that you have shown on / with the site I am positive that you two will come out on top.

Good luck in your future endeavours.

My guess is that you were a circus ringmaster. Or you worked for Electronic Arts (actually, that's my real guess ;))

Good luck, though! There are a lot of successful people out there, and you are a much more balanced, intelligent person than almost all of them. Competance and character don't always pay for themselves, but they do a lot of the time. I have a feeling you'll hit the ground running.

Good luck Elysium

Good luck, guys. IMAGE(http://freeweb.siol.net/zubi/smilies/thumbsup.gif)

Woohoo! That's exciting -- best of luck!

Although with that build-up, I will be *very* disappointed if your old job doesn't turn out to be sordid, shameful, or vaguely pornographic.

It's a brave thing to be doing, but from your description of the current situation, it's the right thing. Your writing and creative talent are definitely up to scratch. I hope it works out for you both. Good luck!

Wow Elysium, best of luck to you both! May you regain a soul by latching on to Elysia's underbelly of success. If everything goes to plan, hopefully I will be writing a similar manifesto (though not quite as verbose) in the very near future. Here's to the horrific yet inspiring thought of self-employment!

Good luck my friend, if there is ever anything I can do to help, you have only but to ask.

~A brave man dies but one death, a coward dies a thousand.

Good Luck, I wish all the best to you in the future, I hope everything works out

I am sure that no matter what everything is meant to happen for a reason and it will all be good.

I was doing my usual transcendental meditations into the course of future events, and struggling, as is normal, with the terrible burden of knowledge of calamity, destruction, and armageddon yet to come. The world, you see, is doomed to perish in a wash of blood and fiery death. Long have I divined the future, and nothing has ever affected my final, terrible vision of the world. But this time, something was different; nestled somewhere amidst the shattered cities and burning continents was a verdant and isolated grove of placidity, centered around two people happily at work in their new home business venture. How strange that two could be so happy, so lucky, as to stand firm against the fierce tide of mortal woe!

Lobo wrote:
I was doing my usual transcendental meditations into the course of future events, and struggling, as is normal, with the terrible burden of knowledge of calamity, destruction, and armageddon yet to come. The world, you see, is doomed to perish in a wash of blood and fiery death. Long have I divined the future, and nothing has ever affected my final, terrible vision of the world. But this time, something was different; nestled somewhere amidst the shattered cities and burning continents was a verdant and isolated grove of placidity, centered around two people happily at work in their new home business venture. How strange that two could be so happy, so lucky, as to stand firm against the fierce tide of mortal woe!

Not to be a party pooper, but how would Elysium and Elysia sustain a home business after The Apocalypse? I mean the health care costs alone will skyrocket once all the doctors are dead. And lord knows the the small businessperson is pinched as it is.

hubbinsd wrote:
Not to be a party pooper, but how would Elysium and Elysia sustain a home business after The Apocalypse? I mean the health care costs alone will skyrocket once all the doctors are dead. And lord knows the the small businessperson is pinched as it is.

Because then they'd have no competition; a total monopoly! They'd have Boardwalk AND Park Place! Think of the untold riches! Bring on the Apocalypse, I say!

Also, I forgot to add earlier that the beginning of the article scared the crap out of me; I thought Elysium was quitting the site! That would be like peanut butter parting ways with jelly, if peanut butter was long-winded and had a beard.

A friend and I have both been trying to start some kind of career and we thought maybe we could start a business together. Unfortunately, we cannot ever get past what kind of business to start. You're fortunate to have a strong foundation to build upon.

Brave too. Best of luck!

baggachipz wrote:

Also, I forgot to add earlier that the beginning of the article scared the crap out of me; I thought Elysium was quitting the site!

Ditto. And I'm glad he put my fears to rest

if peanut butter was long-winded and had a beard.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Beard butter.

Congratulations & the best of luck on your new endeavour.

Awesome. Good for you for walking away from a job of drudgery and dissatisfaction. It always makes me sad to see people work their entire lives at something they hate only because they feel like they're trapped in it, or don't have the fortitude to make the leap.

This sounds like a fantastic new start that's a win for both you and Elysia. That makes it a success already. All the best to you both.

If Elysia bought into your plan, then I guess you're on the right track! Good luck, fellas!

Good luck guys!

I'd wish you good luck, but it sounds like you're making your own. Fortune favours the prepared, and all that. I'm looking forward to reading about how well you guys are doing. And about your 10 months as a McDonald's gigolo, once the scars have healed enough to talk about.

When younger, I had two great friends with whom I talked about the future and business opportunities with - one was a computer whiz, one a sales machine, and me, the engineer who could lead and manage the enterprise - we had some concepts, and we were good at what we did.

We never took the ideas and launched them - we are all doing well on our own, but I still think of the success and happiness we could have had with our own business, being our own bosses.

Bottom line - Good luck and God Bless for doing what many of us want to do, but never have the courage to do. You'll do great!

Second bottom line - although I suspect that strip bar you worked at that sucked your soul out...well, I still think the girls will miss you (oops, sorry, I know I wasn't supposed to tell!)

Third bottom line - still vague in the business you all are launching in, but my mom (artist/graphic artist) and her husband own their own business and do calendars/magazines/brochures/ads/marketing/chamber of commerce stuff galore, and seem to be quite successful. If you ever have some questions, be glad to plug you into them as a source of expertise in running your own business. [NOTE: Cultivate the hell out of chamber of commerce in your town - very lucrative connections there.]

Boy do I emphasize. I had the opportunity for a rather substantial raise if I left my current employer. The problem was that I really liked my current employer and really hated the place offering me a job. How much money is worth losing my enjoyment from life?

Sometimes you just gotta take a chance.

Good luck to you and your family. I like seeing that they are such a priority in your life.

Like everyone here I can totaly relate. I feel very creatively stagnant at my job, which is why I come to GWJ every day. My wife is currently getting ready to launch a Photography/Graphic Design buisness. Maybe after she gets a foundation I can join her or strike out in a different buisness.

Good luck to yah..

Though my diatribe on why I had to get out of my high-paying, soul-sucking job wasn't quite as long as yours, it was sure close. After explaining it to one of my new found undergrad friends (someone 12 years younger than me) as I went back to do college all over again, she summed it up in a much better way, "so you're tired of whoring yourself to Corporate America?"

I guarantee as I start my new career as a choir teacher this fall, that I will be paid ~50-60% of what I was making before. I guarantee, having talked to other choir teachers, that I will spend my first two years fighting a terrible, uphill battle, cause nobody likes change, especially those kids who've had some favorite teacher for the last 2-3 years. The past two years of my four year career changing process have been kind of brutal, and I have been in "just survive" mode for most of that time, which has taken its toll on me, my wife, our marriage, my sanity.

And yet.

I can't descibe adequately the joy I feel when I look forward to teaching for the next thirty years. I'm only 34. I have a big piece of foam board sitting beside me, that the kids who I student taught for *eight weeks* (i did 8 weeks of h.s., 8 weeks of elementary) made for me.

The senior boy who I thought I would never reach, never get to accept me wrote: "Make sure you keep the emphasis on having fun and singing. Open your heart and soul up to the kids and you'll be fine just like with us. Good luck and don't be a stranger." There are dozens of longer, wonderful thank yous from the girls, but guys just don't write more than, "You rock! Thx 4 everything!" (which is what the lead in the musical I directed wrote). I look at this "plaque" that they made for me, and I see all of the success I need.

If you've figured that out, what "success" will be for you, every day, not just come time for direct deposit, then I think you're there. Even if it's really difficult. Even if you have to struggle harder than you've ever done before.

My best, my goodwishes to you both.

Elysium, your words fill me with joy. I think you've made the right choice.

hubbinsd wrote:
...I will be *very* disappointed if your old job doesn't turn out to be sordid, shameful, or vaguely pornographic.

Oh don't worry - it was all of the above.

hoochie wrote:
Elysium, your words fill me with joy. I think you've made the right choice.

hubbinsd wrote:
...I will be *very* disappointed if your old job doesn't turn out to be sordid, shameful, or vaguely pornographic.

Oh don't worry - it was all of the above.

Ok, that was the only clue I needed. Elysium works as a semen collector for a large corporate cattle breeder.

Talk about shameful!