August 26th, 2003

default, pepper

Yes, probably I am nuts.

Why? I'm sending out feelers for a part-time web development position. Part-time. The chances are it wouldn't bring me any benefits other than being a W-2 employee again (not that that's anything to sneeze at), and likely my salary wouldn't just go down, it'd plummet like a turkey in freefall.

So why would I even consider this, you ask? But no--you've been reading this journal (probably), so you know. I want time to develop personal projects--ideally time to develop them into things that generate a side income. A part-time job with a side income could end up equalling a full-time income.

But would I really want to leave There? That's a complicated question.

It's great to be part of a company like this, even in a small way. They're the classic visionary startup that wants to change the world. (Really. It's definitely not about being a game, and long-term it's not about being a fancy chat service. It's about being the metaverse.) The data I'm analyzing is usually pretty interesting, and it's got the highest Brilliant Person Per Square Foot measure of any place I've worked at and probably will ever be at again.

But, I'm realizing it's a classic example of the distinction between occupation and field, the two components of a career in job-hunting lingo. I find the field fascinating, even though it's not one I'd have probably chosen for myself. But the occupation, interesting data or not, isn't doing much for me. Couple that with the "ergonomic issues" I've already mentioned, from office setup to commute to working hours, and it's difficult for me to work up a lot of enthusiasm. Couple that with my status as a 1099 contractor, and the enthusiasm drops another fraction. (I recently worked out how far behind I am in my savings from where I need to be just to cover taxes, and have realized I should have been paying estimated tax the last couple of quarters to boot.)

I suppose I'm confirming what I already really knew about myself--if I'm going to go into overdrive for work, I want it to be work I'm doing for myself, not somebody else. I don't think I'm lazy and I think I do pretty good work. But I think 35-45 hours a week for somebody else is quite enough. I also know from experience that I'm poor at drudge work: my attention wanders.

Some off-the-cuff calculations I made suggest that I probably need about $2,000 a month in net pay--more than that and I get to save and pay off debts, but much less than that and I get to either sell the car or sleep in it. My guess is that grossing $15 an hour at 40 hrs/week would hit that level. It'd be a serious cut from my high-water mark, certainly--which isn't that high by this area's standards--but despite my love of expensive toys, I'm willing to opt out of the income race for a while. (I'd still love to be able to put together a top-of-the-line desktop machine before the end of this year so I can both use it for my work and take a tax deduction on it, but I'm not completely sure I can justify that with my current income, let alone a smaller one.)

Well. I'm writing this from the "wired" McDonald's I've written about before. Currently I can't check email from the office, as they've locked down the network for the indefinite future. I have no idea if the position I inquired about this morning will still be open, if they'll decide I'm not quite qualified (or overqualified), or... well, or anything. But it feels like I'm taking another one of those weird life steps--you know, the off-the-cliff kind of steps--by applying. I won't ask for wishes for luck, per se, but more general good wishes are appreciated. Hopefully I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up before I die.