Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Waiting On The World To Change

A couple weeks ago, before we left for California, my boyfriend asked me to move out of our house. We’ve been together for 10 (wait, 11?) years, and we’ve lived together for the past five. I guess the Universe decided I’ve been comfortable long enough, and it’s time to push me off my ledge again and demand that I do some growing. :sigh: It’s probably a good thing, but even when it’s a friendly separation for logical reasons, landing on Reality is hard and leaves bruises.

We’ve been mostly happy these past five years, certainly better than the average couple. Cohabitating has presented some challenges, but we resolved most of them. The ones we haven't have become a Mexican standoff, but not in a bad way.

We’re very independent people and though we share many interests, our lifestyles are literally night and day. When I worked in the porn industry I mostly followed his night schedule because I could. Don't get me wrong, I’m so NOT a morning person anyway (and neither is the rest of the industry), but it would bug me sometimes and in the winter I'd hardly see the Sun, which made me cranky.

My return to daytime corporate America in '06 didn’t mean our time together suffered, it meant I gave up sleeping except on weekends because my maturity surrounding the discipline of going to bed stalled and died at age 6. I work a regular 9 to 5 (because I like the stability of paychecks twice a month) and he owns a graphic design business and still chooses to work at night (because he can’t stand the thought of a 9 to 5 job). We only lasted six months sleeping in the same room with this disparity. He goes to bed around 6am and sleeps until 2pm with the light on and a fan blowing for background noise the entire time. I like it quiet and dark when I sleep because I’m NORMAL.

Anyway, we both appreciate that the other is not so clingy and insecure that we feel a need to conform to the social standard of being in the same bedroom. Even so, I don't think either one of us gets really good sleep most of the time because of the difference in schedules, and the noise/energy level that naturally accompanies some people being awake in the house while others try to sleep.

Work schedules aside, I've never quite felt comfortable in this house either (despite it being a great house). It seems he's caught my uneasiness now, but for different reasons. When Katy and I lived in our last apartment, my home was my sanctuary. The atmosphere was usually quiet and peaceful (people would even comment on it). It was somewhat like Cool Bookstore meets Local Coffee House with a kitchen and a couple bedrooms thrown in. I did most of my socializing one-on-one or I went out. I’m one of those people that only has a few friends (or so I think until we’re making reservations for a party of 40), but I consider every one of them a best friend.

In contrast, Mark would easily win the Social Butterfly Award. He follows an open door policy – literally. In fact, I've threatened to install a revolving door before, and I think it would lower our energy bill. Mark grew up around here so he knows everyone, he makes new friends easily, and all those people congregate at our house like birds on a wire. You know that one house on the block where all the kids went to play every day after school? That's us + 20 years (ok, ok, 25 years...sheesh).

This is not a bad thing (I love you all – you know who you are!), it's just not my style 90% of the time. People come in and out of this house constantly, without announcement. It's always bothered me, and he says now it bothers him knowing that it bothers me, so I guess the unrest has spread even though I didn't mean for it to. Katy doesn't like it either and complains a lot about it (very loudly, often with "embellishment").

When we lived separately, I thought it was so strange that friends just walked in his front door without knocking or anything. I tried to change that when we moved in together but gave up after a couple weeks. First off, any kind of announcement (bell, knocker, minor air disturbance) sets off the “dog alarm” - a massive, uncontrollable barking frenzy from our Resident Protector and Owner of Very Sharp Teeth. If you value your hearing, you will do anything to avoid this. Second, apparently the dog and I are the only ones capable of detecting someone requesting entrance to our home. Last I checked, my job description did not include Doorman; new friends sporting beards that are unaware of The Open Door Policy very well may have grown their facial hair right on our front porch.

Another of our Mexican standoffs is that the Northeast is not my favoritest place to live. I truly appreciate the seasons here, and I've come to love many other things about it, but I still prefer the other side of the Mighty Mississippi. I've talked about moving back to the Southwest, but I've always come to the conclusion that I would miss Mark too much so I've stayed. My thoughts wander further west every year though (until they've finally reached the coast - next I'll be thinking about moving to Hawaii), and I suppose that has translated to my actions and words. I think my soul is just not the type to live in one place my entire life and be happy with that (although thinking about packing all this crap up again makes me cringe). Visiting other places is great, but what I really love is immersing myself in new cultures, even if they're all American cultures (so far). Mark says he would rather me go find my happiness than hold me here, which he says is the primary reason he asked me to move out. So even though I know his intentions are good, and he doesn't want to break up, my ego is still licking its wounds.

Other stalemates include some issues with our love life and some things about our respective kids, but no sense getting into that in public. They say it’s better if you beat the kids in private. (I’m kidding – RELAX.)

So our experiment with Playing House will conclude on June 1 or sooner, depending on the Universe's day planner (as always). I’ve consulted the Runes twice and although I pulled different ones (Othila and Hagalaz for those playing along at home), both basically said to stop tugging the sleeves of the Gods because they’re busy making plans on my behalf. Hmmm. Being that I’m human, this is really hard. You can’t push me off my comfortable ledge then expect me to lie there and wait for instructions. Once I’m up, I'm up.

Part of Mark’s idea of me moving out was so I would go to San Diego like I keep talking about and find out if that’s really where I should be. (Isn't 70 and sunny 360 days a year where everyone should be?) The problem with that is money. I admit I still live paycheck to paycheck, and having a savings account is my favorite fantasy (but damn, I’ve got a rockin closet!). If I had the backup funds, where to go next would be an easy choice. As it is, I just started this job as a graphic designer, and I’m loathe to leave the dependable income and a position I've coveted for many years. Besides, looking for a job ranks right up there with a visit to the gyno in my opinion.

Of course there might be something even better and higher paying in SD. I looked up the local newspaper online last night, and they had cost of living and salary calculators to play with, so of course I was distracted from my original purpose. Assuming the calcs are somewhat accurate, I found out it costs 30.2% more to live in SD than here in the NYC metro area, and the job market generally pays you 6.9% LESS. Beautiful. Spending more and making less is like the American dream, right? At least my credit is not in jeopardy cuz I already done screwed that up good.

But wait! There’s more! When I researched average salaries I was really surprised. Keep in mind I was a Project Manager at Pearson before I became a Graphic Designer. However, lets set the bar at my porn job salary, since that’s the most I’ve ever squandered thoughtlessly over a long period of time. I made roughly $80K/yr as recently as 2005 managing customer service for over 40 sites. I made HALF that doing project management, and was raised a little less than 20% when I moved to graphic design. I’ll wait while you do the math.

Now let’s check San Diego.

Graphic designers make a median income of $47K. Not too bad. It’s close to what I make currently, but factor in that 30.2% cost of living hike, and I’m still not in great shape. Project Managers on the other hand, make a median income of $85K.

Wait, WHAT?

A MEDIAN income of $85K. I checked it twice. Granted, the calculator could be completely wrong, but geez! If it's not, I would make over $20K more than I do as a graphic designer 40 miles from NYC where the rents and salaries are The Most Ridiculous Ever. How is that possible? My logic says: SD = lots of stoned creatives, not enough lucid thinkers. Just my kinda crowd. I may suck at math and economics, but I get the psychology of supply and demand. Of course, I could be wrong. Or it could be The Promised Land for me, since I don’t like weed anyway (gives me a headache), but enjoy the company of those who do (because they tend to be more open-minded).

So I’m emailing all this incredible info to my mother and she suggests I get certification from PMI, because it’s “almost as good as an MBA these days.” I’ve looked into this before, but I couldn’t remember why I tossed the idea aside, so I go check again at pmi.org.

Oh yeah, now I remember. If you read their handbook and their sample test questions, you’ll find more corporate buzzwords and BS than flies at the dump. :sigh: What am I doing in corporate America? Who do I think I’m fooling? My clock doesn't run at the same rate, so many principles don't match my own, but they've got me addicted to that steady pay. Damn the bad luck.

Which brings me to considering the Reiki option. I'm already a Level II practitioner. Maybe it's time to get serious and do the Master Attunement and make it my living. I really do enjoy helping people be more peaceful. My biggest hurdle would be feeling worthy of payment for my services. It just seems to me like helping people find peace and happiness is something we should do as humans, not for the Almighty Dollar, ya know? Plus it takes time to build a client base and I have no savings for the meantime.

Now I'm really just thinking out loud, but I wonder if I could make enough to survive by doing proofreading as a freelancer, plus working somewhere really laid back like a coffee shop. I've always wanted to be the cool chick at the coffee shop because the character seems so peaceful. Besides, I want to own one when I'm retired, and what better way to learn the business than get paid to do it? Isn't it kind of an oxymoron that establishments selling caffeine appear so laid back? But that's a whole 'nother blog.

I just don't know how all this is going to roll out. I'll tell you what though - these are high class problems (as my Mom says) and I'm grateful to have them. I'd much rather have too many options than too few, and the options I'm mulling over are all preferable to questions like "Will I get to eat today?" or "Will we have clean water to drink?" or "Will I survive today?" Whenever I get too freaked out by all this (or life in general), I just go watch some videos on third world countries and it puts it all right back in perspective.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winter Night at Pic du Midi

How incredible is this picture? It looks like something out of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. This is a real observatory though, it actually exists. Mark this on my list of places to see before I die.