Hanging with friends amongst the Nerd Herd this week, i had a chance to contemplate mid-career directional changes – both voluntary and involuntary.  Slamming beer with two of my all time favorite drunken yabs professional colleagues, we swapped our stories… 

JS, all of 47 years old, is recovering from a near-fatal stroke and was recounting his close brush with the big dirt nap.  JP continues to work and drink himself to death at the helm of his scrappin’ high tech start up.  We joke about the difficulties of the economy, and about being fitted for our “paper hats” so we can retrain to serve burgers at McD’s when it all collapses.

We’re burnt out, frustrated, and getting tired of being in the hamster wheel.  As i stumbled back to my hotel room, i was reminded of a favorite scene from Annie Hall.

Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Alvy’s Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down – his mother answers for him]
Alvy’s Mom: It’s something he read.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh?
Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.
Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?
Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Alvy’s Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor]
Alvy’s Mom: He stopped doing his homework!
Alvy at 9: What’s the point?
Alvy’s Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!
Doctor in Brooklyn: It won’t be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we’ve gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here!

Seriously.  What’s the point?  i know… we’re lucky to be debating optional career change.  Too many folks are facing that involuntarily.  But i’m done.  i just want to tend bar.  That’s it.  Pour drinks.  Laugh along with drunks.  Wipe glasses dry with ratty bar towels.  Go home.  Repeat the next day.


As i prepare to meet with my accountant on Friday to get the taxes filed, we’re going to have a conversation about “what would it take for me to walk away?”.  i really need to figure out how much i need to do what i want to do.  And get outta the wheel… 

Fuck it.


20 thoughts on “Entropy

  1. Have you ever seen the movie ‘Strange Brew’…what am I talking about…I know you’ve seen ‘Strange Brew’. The scene where Dave Thomas is driving down the big hill in the van and discovers that he has no brakes. After he announces to his brother that they have no brakes, he lets go of the steering wheel and says, “No use steering since we don’t have brakes.”

    Fatalism is awesome. I have often considered becoming a fatalist, but what difference would it make?

  2. Interesting post title.

    I don’t think it’s being fatalistic. I prefer to think of it as evolution.

    For a while now, my heart has not been in my job. Now and then I can fool myself and feign interest and passion in what I get paid to do, but I think a small piece of myself dies inside every time I do that.

    I remember I once moved my dad to tears (for some reason) when I was around 13 or so. I was asking him what the point of our (humankind) existence was. I thought at the time, and after, that he figured I was thinking about offing myself. Which I wasn’t. Oddly, as I was writing this, it just occurred to me that perhaps he had been thinking the same thing himself.

    Anyway, I have really found it frustrating to have to “play the game” just because the rest of the world says I must. And to add insult to injury, when I do “play the game” the rest of the world just fucks off and implodes. I know it’s not personal, but it pisses me off just the same.

    So, yeah, where was I? Oh yes. Evolution. There comes a time when a smart person stops, takes a breath, looks around and sees right through the more flimsy aspects of our existence. Money, power, things. Is this really what life is about? I don’t think so.

    For me, though, the only thing standing between me and living the kind of life I always imagined I should be is….fear.

    (*Sorry for the long comment. Don’t be surprised if this shows up on my blog.*)

    Good luck sorting out the details of your next great adventure in this crazy thing we call life.

  3. You could always come sleep on my couch & be a hot surfer-chick bum. There are so many folks doing that, there’s got to be a way for you to do it too!

    I will feed you berries and fresh fish, and take you for long walks on the beach. I can pet you and love you and call you George. Just come to the west, come to the west, come to the west.

  4. We live too long these days. Most of our grandparents or at least great-grandparents would be dead by our age. They didn’t have to think about “what’s next.”

    IMHO, marriages and jobs have a 20-30 year term limit, unless they are really exciting and periodically revitalized. And jobs aren’t revitalized these days. Our corporate and governmental masters (there are few mistresses) have found the way to suck all life out of jobs. I know I could no longer enjoy nursing when it became about the bottom line instead of about the patients.

    If you don’t listen to what your mind is saying, your body will make it so. I would take a near-fatal stroke as a hint to get out. For myself, I managed to work myself into a short stay in the booby hatch, and when I started to recover from that, my knees said, “Fuck you, we ain’t going back to work.” My advice is take the option while you have it. Find something more fun, and even perhaps, more lucrative. You like guiding young-un’s, maybe you should get a teaching certificate or an academic post. Not more lucrative, but probably more fun. Or go see the Empress, and let her feed you fresh fruit and fish, and then travel on to Oz.

  5. uncle keith – of course i’ve seen “Strange Brew”. i think i went to high school with those guys… if i let go of the wheel and it was just gravity/fate that took over, i’d be more inclined to do so. it’s just that the endless stream of fucktards in my professional universe would do something to defy gravity and send me careening into a steaming lake of excrement, inhabited by flesh eating bugs. to die a slow, painful death…

    annie – i’ve lost my passion for professional exploits of any sort. that’s a strange feeling. i live for nights/weekends. this is the first time in my life i’ve hit that particular wall… at least, that i haven’t blocked out…

    manuel – i just can’t say that to the boss. not just yet. need to do some math first. it may be about 8 years and 2 months before i can do so…

    rob – no need to apologize. there’s comfort in knowing that most folks hit this sort of place. it’s fear… the new “f-bomb”…

    unbearable banishment – no, that’s a phrase ripped from JP during our conversations. he was channeling yeast, hops and malt that evening… and no, i’m not walking just yet. need a plan.

    goddess of stank – i kinda wondered about that after my visit in Feb. what do those gypsy couch people do? just mooch? dance for tips? scavenge trash cans for leftover granola? i’m thinking about it…

    nursemyra – oh, Dr. Stanky is a hottie with brains, talent and a terrific ass! oh, and she lives 2.1 miles from the pacific ocean, so there’s that, too! maybe i should just travel the world, mooching from blogmates?

    kyknoord – then i’m a success. can i go home now? do i win a prize? where are the dancing monkeys?

    silverstar – have considered teaching, but is supect that profession is just as “bottom line” these days as any other. but it sure as hell would be more satisfying. i need to get out – or get a fresh start – before i break completely. it’s the best job in the world in so many respects. i’m lucky to have it. if i could just shake that evil notion of “career” vs “job”…

  6. i’d suggest you start drinking heavily, but know that’s too late. i empathize and sympathize with that loss of fire for what you do. is it just us? or the way things are in this economy? [heavy sigh] stout heart.

  7. Read Orwells Keep the Apidistra’s Flying, it’s all about the trap of money and society, i myself subscribe heavily to the theory that money is over-rated, yeah i know we all need a certain amount but it should not be the end all be all of our existence, i’m classicly under-employed and love it, i don’t make a lot of dosh but i do have plenty of time to paint, write, read and raise my kid soon to be kids, i know to many people who make a lot of money and are in therapy because they are unhappy, because capitalism perpetuates a soulless existence for it’s workers, they wake up one day and wonder what they are doing with their lives, of course we can’t all be the enfante terrible that i like to portray myself as but i think the planet as a whole would be better served if we stopped worrying about acquiring things and started worrying about creating/helping/serving in the name of our fellow man/woman which of course brings me to the most regal of professions… bartending, yes the feet might hurt and it’s not all sunshine and puppy dogs because as we know drunks can get unruly at times, basically depends on where you wish to work but it is in my opinion a very noble profession, i would prefer a nice bar in the city and not say TGI Fridays but that’s just me, i’ve often been told i’d be a superb bartender based on my storytelling ability and sound advice giving and someday i’m gonna be one, as for now i’ll just change the lightbulbs, so fuck it, do what you want and don’t worry about the cash, you can’t take it with you anyway and as i will instruct my sons, if i become a burden on society in my older years make me a peanut butter sandwich and walk me out into the woods or drop me on the beach, say goodbye and i love you and leave me to die in peace and dignity.

  8. i think that part of life is to love what you do – and not do it for the money. every job is going to have it’s own element of suck – and needs to be balanced out by other things. but there is the practical aspect of realizing you also need to make enough to survive. very few people enter the workforce and continue to love what they do forever – and then feel trapped. i hate having a “five year plan” all laid out… my goal is to really just get this degree, and do it in such a way that i have options when i graduate…. i don’t foresee myself having the same career forever – maybe the same general field, but not the same job.

    best of luck searching. it’s not easy.

  9. gnu – more likely just mid-life sneaking up on us… “letting the days go by, letting the water hold me down…” and all that…

    kono – that’s where i’m trying to get to… may pick up the orwell book for some added inspiration. accountant said it’s pretty easy – just make sure i’m debt free the day i retire (whenever that is) and i can cruise. what do i need the cash for? travel. it is my intention to move around the world a bit. a month here, a month there. couch surfing sometimes, shacking up in hostels… will need gentle income to support that, but i can travel cheap (no need for 4 star hotels for this old gal) so it’s possible… i also see the nobility of bartending, and it won’t be a TGIF (although i might train at one) but a local hole in the wall for sure…

    dolce – i’ve tried to embrace the adage: work to live, don’t live to work. but it doesn’t work for me. or is that ‘doesn’t live for me’? i’m confused. anyway, if i spend 9-10 hours a day doing something, i want to at least think it matters somehow… changing light bulbs, cleaning a train station, or mowing grass would be more satisfying than listening to blow-tards yap endlessly in meetings…

    daisymae – i consider life, and therefore work, as improvisational dance… i’ve just stayed in the same dance company 27 years. i’ve played 6 different roles, though, so that kept it interesting. but i’m sick of my partners. it’s not fresh. i’m just as stale as the dancer next to me. gotta go, gotta go, gotta go…

    alex – that’s a good plan. i’ll keep hoping that i win. oh, wait. you have to actually buy tickets or something, right?

    nursemyra – ok. definitely going to add this to the airport reading list….

  10. Hey girl, good luck on your journey… there is a shortage of call girls in capital city… good tax free bucks… loads of sex…. work your own hours… lets talk!

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