For the past week I’ve had Molly Shannon’s voice running through my head. A few years ago, she did a bit on Saturday Night Live making fun of Julianna Margulies for leaving “ER.” As far as I can remember, the whole bit was Shannon saying “You crazy! You crazy, pretty lady!” over and over again. Margulies got a ton of flack for it at the time, but I remember thinking she had a pretty cool attitude about the whole thing. She didn’t need any more money, she felt like she’d done all she wanted with the series, so she left.
Now I’m not, as far as I’m aware, a hot actress, and I sure as hell am not getting offers of millions of dollars to keep my job. But still, I’ve had a pretty sweet deal over the last year and a half. Working with great people for a company I’ve always wanted to work for on a project that was as cool as hell, with flexible hours working from home and occasional business trips to theme parks.
So I did the only sensible thing and quit. When I was trying to make up my mind, I had two different people tell me, “Maybe you’re just afraid of success,” which is exactly the kind of thing you want to hear when you’re a self-obsessed person contemplating a job change.
Fact is, though, that another year like this one would’ve driven me crazy nuts. Getting in crunch mode on a project you’re working on from home means that you can spend an entire week without ever speaking to another human being — I did it several times this year. I’m sure that there are people out there who can tolerate that, who even think it’s ideal. But for me, it’s just no way to live.
All but one of the friends I have in California, I met either directly or indirectly through work. And with the amount I’ve been housebound over the past year, even those are mostly virtual friends at this point. If I didn’t have e-mail and this blog, I’d probably be hanging out at Union Square begging strangers to talk to me. One of the managers at Disney had a great line, which I hope he’s not planning to put in his memoirs because I’m about to steal it on the internets: “There’s no such thing as a five-minute conversation with a contractor. You can schedule a quick conference call, but you have to be ready to listen to how their entire day went in great detail.”
There’s no telling what I’m going to do for a living, now. The idea of getting a job in an office where actual human beings work is pretty appealing, but at the same time it seems like a shame to give up a sweet contracting gig after giving it only one chance. And I’m kind of nervous at the thought of finally escaping the cubicle only to run right back to one. I’m not really looking forward to dong job interviews again, either. You have to validate yourself and explain why you’re a good candidate, which is something I’ve never been good at. I don’t really know why I’m a good candidate, people just keep offering me really cool jobs.
I don’t know, maybe a month or two of confusion and unease that I don’t have a definite way to support myself lined up will be interesting. I got my first job the week before I graduated college, and have either been working or had a job lined up every day for the past 13 years. Maybe this’d be a good time to get caught up on the billion different projects I always say I’ll finish if I ever get the time.
Last Saturday I left the apartment for the first time in a week. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge on a perfectly clear, sunny day reminded me that there was a time I used to get out and do stuff for no reason. I’d drive down Lucas Valley Road or along Highway 1, or take pictures of random buildings, or walk around Berkeley just for the hell of it. I can’t remember doing that since I moved to Walnut Creek for EA. Maybe I’m not so much afraid of success as I am fond of not working.