Blog homepage Page 1 Page 2

Blog posts are organized from oldest to newest. Still need to do some work on the organization, but my comment box tool only allows one box per url, so I need to figure out the best way to do it.

Glorified diary entry

Dec. 28, 2023

As the year comes to an end and changes in my life usher in a sense of new beginnings, I find myself reflecting on what's next. Though I should say, first: at christmas with my partner's family, I heard his cousin (who's younger than me and makes a lot more money) talking about her work in the paper industry. She mentioned the pull between her large paycheck and her dislike of the job. She comes from a wildly different class background than I do, and has wildly different political ideologies to match. She grew up rich, attended private Christian schools, went to college to get a degree that would make her money, and now comes home for the holidays and complains about her workplace unionizing and slowing down all the work.

My story is a little different. I was raised by deeply working class parents who had spent their entire young adulthoods in the military and had nothing to show for it. When they got out of the Navy, they closed their bank account because they needed the last few dollars left in it. They had their problems (I barely speak to my dad now), but they encouraged me to study whatever I was interested in. For that, I have two degrees in English and am getting a third in gender studies with a focus in queer and trans theories. I always thought I would teach. I never expected to have (or need) a big paycheck.

I've moved away from teaching, thanks to a raging case of ADHD that made grading and time management exhausting and made me feel like my students weren't getting the attention they deserved. Now I'm in a more stable 8 to 5 job that essentially manages my time for me but still gives me access to university life and a hand in the student experience. I'm hoping it'll scratch whatever itch I have leftover for teaching.

So here's my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?), talking about how hard her high-paying job works her and how much she dislikes the environment, trying to decide if that industry is where she wants to stay. I'm sitting quietly, listening, thinking about how I'm just glad to have a stable paycheck for once instead of the meager pay of grad student work. If I finish my Ph.D., I may one day make as much as she's making now. I wouldn't know--I didn't ask for specifics. If I don't finish my Ph.D., I can still move up a few rungs on my current ladder. But I'd have to live with the disappointment of those who invested (emotionally and financially--I wouldn't have made it here without scholarships) in my education to this point. That's pretty typical for an ADHDer. You get used to it.

Anyway. I'm sitting there thinking about how different the two of us are, but how, nonetheless, we're both in these transitional stages of our lives. What do I want to do? How much money is my happiness worth? Again, I always assumed I'd end up with the modest paycheck of a teacher. If I could survive and be relatively comfortable, I was fine with that. On top of that, this is the kind of conversation I've always hated; capitalism sucks all the fun out of everything. My brother was homeless before he went to prison. When he gets out, he'll still be homeless. How's he going to get a job with a record, in the dead of winter? Will he survive? Can I ignore all the times he's stolen from and hurt me to offer help? Capitalism isn't some abstract theory. It controls every decision I make, every choice my brother has (to steal or starve or squat or freeze or depend on services that expect him to act and believe a certain way). It controls my cousin-in-law's routes to happiness and the way she was raised--even her faith.

So often these conversations turn the same way: do we work for love, or for money, or try and strike a delicate balance between the two? And if you're struggling with something that restricts the work you can do (like my ADHD), then that's an extra consideration. Am I going to burn out? To fail? To disappoint? Can I even try to do the work I love? Do I actually love it at all, or just the idea of it? Will I ever find work that I love? Do I need to? Or should I just try and find hobbies that fulfill me and aren't connected to a job?

I lean toward the latter. I'm happy in my new job so far (though I'm still in training), but lately I've realized just how much I'm capable of doing in my free time. Lately I've been watching less TV (probably a good thing--I usually will just rewatch things I've already seen to have something easy to occupy me. Even then, it doesn't usually work out that nervous energy), and as last semester was wrapping up, I had to find other ways to procrastinate on my finals. I learned some basic HTML to make this website, I drew a lot, I journaled and created. I finished one video game and have put in a decent chunk of hours on another, when video games usually don't hold my attention. (Doesn't hurt that I've recently started medicating. Yay, stimulants!) Basically, I can see a future where I put in my time at work and then come home and, as my partner said recently, my only worry is what type of character will be most fun to play in my next video game. Or, what kinds of changes I could make to my website, or what I could draw or put in my journal or on my blog. I'm really excited about that.

My struggle now is that, though my coursework has officially ended, I still have to write my dissertation. I have no idea how long it will take, but I know how it'll loom in my thoughts as I'm trying to relax. At least I'm writing about something I love (monsters and queerness), so I think my next goal is to find a way to enjoy that experience rather than just burning myself out again trying to survive it. I don't even really want this degree for the salary it might get me someday--I started the program because I like to learn and I enjoy research. If I can balance that with other interests (while also working full-time), maybe this whole thing won't leave me hollowed out like academia tends to do.

This "blog post"--the first one on my site--has been more of a diary entry, but that's fine. I'm not advertising it anywhere and I'm really just writing for myself at this point. I do have ideas about actually readable blog entries I want to write, and ideally I'd like to freelance for money someday. Until then, I'll count this blog among the survival tools I've listed above. Part of my work-life-school balance. Something to do, to create. As they say, "make bad art," write bad posts, all that. If you read to the end, thanks! I hope it was interesting, at least.

Until next time,


Leave a comment!

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...