Yesterday I ran into a guy I used to work with at the data slaughterhouse at the hockey rink. After exchanging pleasantries (“pleasantries” being me talking smack after we shut his team his team out 4-0), I asked him how everything was going. I knew that he was still toiling away in that godforsaken hellhole and I was curious if things were as I remembered them. He dropped this gem on me:
“Once I stopped caring about what was happening around me, I was a lot happier. When I cared, management knew it and they crushed my soul.”
Good to hear that nothing has changed since the day I was laid off.
When I started the MB back in 2000, my original intent was to showcase my resume and minuscule design portfolio. I had just made the transition from print design to web design and thought the purchase of the domain name would motivate me to learn more about designing and maintaining websites. It did.
In 2002, the MB transitioned from a professional showcase to a personal one. I started posting about all manner of nonsense, because, in case you have not realized by now, I have a lot to say about a lot of shit. In 2002 there was no Facebook. No Twitter. No MySpace. No news feeds. It actually took some doing to track down links and write about them. I was happy to do this because my job was mind-numbing and management at the data slaughterhouse had no idea what the hell I was up to. Soon, links, emails and IMs started flooding in from the likes of Jake, Michael, DJ, Kaye, Monica, CH, Gay Joe and Mark. Boredom loves company? I was happy to be posting regularly as it fueled my passion for creativity in ways that my career was not.
Enter Broz Design in November 2008 and my posting to the MB fizzling out. Maybe its because I am fulfilled professionally? Or because I would rather hang out with my kid than waste my time posting about a guy that got fucked to death by a horse? Or maybe it is time to take the MB into a new direction? I go with the latter. I have always dreamed about writing the Great American Novel but am no closer to that goal than I was last year. My New Years resolution for 2010 is to start using the MB to focus more on actually writing a book and get some ideas out into the ether. It may not lead to anything other than me doing what I have been wanting to do for some time and that is fine. It is not like you want to read about a horse fucking a guy to death, anyway. Right?
Jake’s post got my juices flowing regarding my “career.” While I am overjoyed I no longer have to answer questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” in employment reviews to people who have no right to judge my design abilities in the first place, I will play along with the question for just this post.
So, where do I want to be five years from now?
Simple; still walking the path of fulfillment. I want to be able to choose the work I want to take on. I want to understand the direct correlation between cause and effect. I want to be a single point of failure. I want my clients to be happy with the work I have done for them and be successful because of it. In short, I want to be exactly where I am today. Whether it be designing websites or writing the Great American Novel or shoveling mule shit. For the first time in my life I can say I am satisfied. I am satisfied without being rich, having a really bitchin’ car or a loveless house in some wasteland suburb. I think that is the definition of success.
My response to the well-compiled Tomato Nation 25 and Over list:
- Remember to write thank-you notes. The written word is a lost art and most youngsters under age 25 think texting ‘THX PLAYA’ does the trick. Taking the time to send off a stamped, hand-written note (especially after a job interview) shows that you are considerate and not a serial killer.
- Do not invite yourself to stay with friends when you travel anymore. Being as I have a deep aversion to inconvenience (both for myself and those around me), this has never been a problem for me. I would much rather crash at a hotel even if family/friends are close by.
- Do not expect friends to help you move anymore. I only expect my friends to help me move things if they stayed at my house due to a bout of excessive drinking the night before. Asking someone to help you move a roll-top desk with a crippling hangover should not be an issue if said someone yaked in your sink twelve hours earlier.
- Develop a physical awareness of your surroundings. I pride myself on assessing my surroundings and acting accordingly. Alcohol often kills this one for me.
- Be on time. I generally show up on time to most events. If I am late to anything longer than thirty minutes, I will blame my infant child who cannot speak.
- Have enough money. Nothing pisses me off more than somebody who never brings money out in card or cash from. You did not leave your wallet at home. You are just a cheap bastard.
- Know how to calculate the tip. It is not difficult to multiply the bill by two to get the 20% tip equivalent. If you do not have the mental capacity to calculate a tip without the aid of a calculator or cell phone, eating out is probably the least of your worries.
- Do not share the crazy dream you had last night with anyone but your mental wellness professional. Depends on what the dream is about and what your intentions are by sharing said dream. A sex dream with the intention of getting yourself laid? Absolutely. Murdering all you co-workers with a machine gun during a casual Friday with the intention of getting a raise? Probably not.
- Learn to walk in heels. Only applies to me if I patronize an East German sex club.
- Have at least one good dress-up outfit. Before the wife cleaned me up, taught me how to dress and expanded my wardrobe, I owned only one suit at the behest of my mother. It was my all-purpose suit that saw many weddings, funerals and job interviews. I could sometimes tell the last time I wore it by reaching in the inner-coat pocket and finding an old event program.
- Do as invitations ask you. I am usually not formally invited to anything and if I am the wife handles all the RSVP-ing and gifting. It is better this way.
- Know how. Sadly I think most people 25 and under grew up with every convenience afforded to them and would perish in the wilderness after being given a knife and a water source. Problem solving is lost on a generation that did not have to solve any problems because their parents were afraid if they failed it would crush there delicate sensibilities. I like to think I know enough about enough to be dangerous.
- Don’t use your friends. This should be on an age 5 and over list. You should never use your friends unless they have an awesome surround-sound system.
- Have something to talk about besides college or your job. As the many people in my life can attest, I have plenty to talk about besides college and my job.
- Give and receive favors graciously. As my Dad said while scolding me after an excessive sports celebration in my youth, “Act like you have been there before.”
- Drinking until you throw up is no longer properly a point of pride. It depends on how good the scotch is.
- Have a real trash receptacle, real Kleenex, and, if you smoke, a real ashtray. Toilet paper serves multiple purposes (in my opinion); nose blowing and ass-wiping. If you smoke? You will be dead before me. That and you should properly dispose of your butts. My yard is not that place.
- Universal quiet hours do in fact apply to you. Working from home I keep weird hours and I keep the volume down during the quiet hours without even realizing it.
- Take care of yourself. Workout a few times. Take a shower every other day. Do not eat Taco Bell three times a week. Repeat.
- Rudeness is not a signifier of your importance. It is when you are from California.
I am happy I committed to Broz last November. From a guy who has been laid off and fired more than most, I can tell you that offering to cut your own salary will do little other than show your employer you have no pride left. If anything, it makes you look desperate and afraid.
I take more risks with my income than most. There is no guarantee when my next pay check will arrive. My retainer clients may decide to cut losses and terminate their contracts tomorrow. Yet in spite of all this, I am happier than I have ever been professionally. I have always refused (sometimes at my own peril) to justify to anyone why my skills and abilities are indispensable. If my work did not speak for itself or it went about unnoticed, than I do not want to work for you.
My employment missteps have led me to where I am today. I am flourishing. I do not have to wear pants to work. I am making enough money to keep diapers on the boy. I would rather fail on my own that be somebody’s puppet. I do not like anyone’s hand up my ass, be it metaphorically or literally.
This past year has been rife with big happenings including planting a spawn in my wife’s womb and career upheaval. My mentor once said, “The best way to learn on how not to do things is by being around people who consistently fail and learning from their mistakes.” My former mentor was once fired from a job for looking at porn on his work computer, but that is neither here nor there. The point is he is right. I have a solid understanding on what not to do professionally provided by a bevy of past employers. I have great examples of unsuccessful parenting skills thanks to former friends and coworkers (i.e. buying your kids beer only if they “drink it at the house” does not keep them “safe”). I am hopeful I have learned enough from these bad examples to forge onward and do the right thing. If I have not learned enough, I look forward to an illustrious career as a bartender and snorting cocaine with my kids.
Last Monday my boss and I had a Come-To-Jesus chat regarding my complete lack of enthusiasm for my current position. While I informed him my lack of passion did not hinder me from going through the motions (just ask my ex-girlfriend She Who Will Not Be Named), I did acknowledge that I was completely burnt out. Many factors led to my burnout; frequent late paychecks, a complete lack of any tangible project process (i.e. massive undertakings were given one line explanations like “Client Center back-end development: 36 hours”), lack of established deadlines and milestones (other than early 2008 or late 2008), non-payment of contractors/vendors and a general malaise regarding client/vendor relationships. I was issued an ultimatum to decide by that Friday whether or not I wanted to stay with the company. When Friday rolled around, I quit, packed up all my shit and went over to DJ’s house to get drunk and play poker (in a rare Ex-Data Slaughterhouse Employees Game victory, I took home $60). After a tumultuous career path over the past three years, I am finally growing some balls and committing full-time to Broz Design. I have already nabbed two and a half retainer clients (the other half happening once I get off my ass and draw up a contract) that will pay me more all while working less and living the pants-free dream. My pregnant wife is thankfully awesome and supportive of my pursuits and deserves a new Lexus once I start rolling in the dough. It is either that or we will be selling our unborn child on the Mexican black market to make ends meet. Wish me luck either way.
As my seed festers in my wife’s baby maker, I have been laying awake at nights and pondering life’s important questions. Will I turn into the cold, unforgiving man my father was growing up when my unborn child arrives? Will I be able to afford diapers and a college fund? Will the wife and I stay happily married with the added stress of a newborn baby? Could DJ and I get away with beating Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt to death? I keep coming back to one nagging query; do I hate my job or do I hate my career? While I acknowledge I do not have the worst professional life by a long shot (I could be languishing in data sales, for example), I cannot say that I am satisfied with where I am currently at career-wise (nor, for that matter, have I ever been satisfied). I love what I do but I am finally acknowledging that I am running on creative fumes. A new job may be the answer. A full-time stab at freelance may be the answer. Writing the book I told myself I would write a long time ago may be the answer. In short; I am dealing with a lot of shit. Confucius once said “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” F’in A, Confucius. F’in A.
Flying on 9/11 may not be the smartest thing I have ever done (then again neither was this. Or this. Or this), but, as the rabid Carolina Hurricanes fan sitting next to me on the plane said yesterday “If we do not fly on 9/11 then the fucking terrorists win.” Preach on, guy who loves Rod Brind’Amour, preach on (note to Perez: ‘Canes fan was a former Philadelphia Flyers fan which almost made me stop talking to him until I asked him why he stopped rooting for the Flyers. His response, “Because my wife and I have been living in Raleigh for the past seven years and, well, fuck the Flyers“). Sitting in the CLT, here are some highlights from my recent business trip to North Carolina:
- North Carolina is green and lush. I mean really green and lush. I guess I am too used to the yellow-brown hue Colorado is covered in year-round. There are a plethora of pine tress in the greater Raleigh-Durham area, too. I was not aware the Carolinas were so friendly to the coniferous tree family.
- Various topics discussed with our client that was not related to his website: Carolina Panthers football, the point spread on the UNC-Rutgers game, Indian hotel investors, hairy pussy, bald pussy, Viagra and wine.
- Various topics discussed with our client related to his website that had nothing to do with design or development: their T1 connection.
- Various topics discussed with our client related to his website that had to do with design or development: none.
- I enjoyed a ridiculous meal at a five-star resort called Herons. I gorged myself on a tremendous meal of sea bass, hush puppies, numerous expensive glasses of wine and sweet potato pie.
- How many times our client’s partner urged me to “beat my children with a strap” upon telling him that my wife was pregnant: 3.
- How many times our client’s partner passed on the restaurant valet service even though it was free: 2.
- The next time I will be to invited fly to Raleigh and “talk about the website”: 6 months.