Thursday, October 27, 2011

Now I am a flake, too

This evening, Dan and I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a couple of years, a woman I'd met playing Ultimate. We'll call her Angela. Angela's an artsy type, and the kind who, ten years ago, made me a bit uncomfortable. She ekes out a living doing whatever is available, and views whatever job she holds this week as only a means to sustaining her passion for the arts. I always viewed that sort as flakey and unreliable, unable to hold down a "real" job. Having a "real" job was very important to me in those days, you see.

Well, I haven't held a "real" job since 2009. In fact, in the last five years I have been fully employed, partially employed, self-employed and unemployed. I've earned money picking through the corpse of a law office, doing tech support for people half my age with twice my earning potential, filing papers for the Department of Commerce, and telling jokes about breakfast cereals on stage. I've spent much of the last three years writing and preparing to publish a novel that will, in all likelihood, net me only a teeny, tiny profit. And, surprise surprise, I found out it's not such a bad place to be.

So when I ran into Angela tonight, I felt not discomfort but kinship. Here was someone who not only understood that earning money was just an unfortunate necessity, but lived it. She wouldn't have batted an eye if I told her I once worked in an office where someone very carefully explained to me the process of using a stapler. She would have been unruffled knowing that I once paid for a doctor's appointment with the money I had gotten for telling a muppet masturbation joke. She understands that holding down a go-nowhere job is fine as long as it's only the job that's going nowhere. When you're creating, and experimenting, and becoming the person you want to be, then regardless of what you do for a paycheck you're moving faster than light. And defying the laws of relativity is not such a bad place to be, either.

So if Angela's a flake...well, then, so I am I. And I think that's a great place to be.