Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Archive for July, 2008

Sleepless Meditations on Work and Friends

Posted by penuruloki on July 27, 2008

After going to bed exhausted all week because I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, I finally got a day off (Saturday) got a good night’s sleep (though I didn’t “sleep in”) and now, I can’t sleep. =(

Confidence in building toward something or not, the desire not to go in, or quit outright grows daily. It’s spreading too. Andy took the next two days off, and is making more noises about wanting to leave too. He claims boredom mostly (and he comes home in a foul mood most frequently when posted to Pod Control). My desires are rooted in something less direct.

When I left before, one of my motivators for going back to school was a distinct feeling of isolation. The people I worked with did not have the same interests, or the same mentality that I did, or that my friends did. The best jobs I had were defined not by the job I did, but by the people I worked with. The people I worked with were _friends_. The people at PCF are not my friends. I don’t just mean the inmates, I mean the staff. Even though I have good friends that work there, I don’t work with them, and I couldn’t say for sure that they are my friends while in that environment.

To some degree, I’m not sure I feel like the friendship extends to that sphere. I’ve been at social functions hosted by Pete, with other people from the facility (his friends) there, and felt distinctly uncomfortable. The expression of his personality with that crowd was too foreign and uncomfortable to feel like I had any friends there, including Pete. That isn’t to say that the Pete there isn’t Pete, it just isn’t the same expression of Pete that I became friends with. Frequently, our gatherings are set up with mutual friends, whether the link was made initially through him (Jesse O, James L, Katie, Tim, to some degree Ben) or through me (Andy, Sam, Erik, Rachael, Jenn, James B.). Being close to the “link point” (i.e. being closely linked to a majority of the group) generally means that the mood and activity suits me well, and I feel comfortable. Having hung out with people from work who were distinctly _not_ my friends (though not disliked by any means), the experience leaves the impression that it is to be endured rather than enjoyed. I skipped a bonfire in April after the CD7 Convention, partly out of this feeling (not expressed at the time) and now another one comes up on Aug 2nd. I want to go to be with a good friend, but not sure I would even get to be with the person I am friends with, even if I go.

In a more professional sense, enduring people we don’t like is part of having a job, or is it? We make such sacrifices to further a career, support the family, or pay the bills; but what if you didn’t need to work the job to pay the bills, and didn’t have a family or a career? For that matter, with no family and limited material aspirations, do you even need a career?

When we are young, we’re told to pick a career we enjoy, so that we will be happy with our jobs. The focus is placed on the activity. Yet it seems like everyone’s biggest complaint at their job is the people they work with. Why shouldn’t we prioritize organizing our lives around career flexibility, the ability and financial freedom to change careers or jobs to find the most pleasant environment, rather than limiting our options based on chosen task? I’ve very deliberately tried to limit my liabilities to keep my options open, but never really for _career_ flexibility. I was more focused on having options about where, and how, I would live my life, but maybe that view needs to be expanded.

Ultimately, most of this is simply venting and trying to justify a strong urge to quit. Mixed in is a sense of resistance against looking for a job “in my field,” just because I will (soon) have a college degree. The urge is to downgrade to something that simply demands less of me, while conventional wisdom (and most advisers) say to look for something that demands (and rewards) more.

If I have any level of foresight left, I think my days at PCF are numbered, and this time I won’t be going back. I knew when I left that there would be only one opportunity to return, and that once used would be spent forever. The same sentiment might be true for Morris. Having stayed this long and been led only back to PCF, it might be time to plan my exit. As usual, I will let the omens guide me, but this is what I am sensing at the moment. Comments from friends are always welcome, so feel free to give advice.


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Going Back

Posted by penuruloki on July 23, 2008

I’m generally a big believer in the idea that “You can never go back,” but I finally pulled the trigger on my option to go back to the prison. Lack of funds for bills, limited local job prospects, and limited transportation options combined to make it a natural move, and the immediacies of the details (apparently I was still on the payroll; I didn’t even have to reapply) became something of an omen. I’m a big believer in omens.

The process of going back has brought mixed feelings. I’m still comfortable working there, and the people there certainly seem happy to see me back, but I can’t say I was ever more than satisfied with my job there, and my immediate feelings upon returning are identical to when I left. I left on good terms, and I wasn’t unhappy per se, but working there had worn thin before, and it’s starting out a little thin this time.

But that’s not the real sense of going back. This isn’t August 2007 when I left, it’s actually back to June 2003. As I was getting ready for work yesterday, I began to rethink my path since I came to Morris, and became somewhat nostalgic for the simple, cramped apartment I had when I first came. I don’t think my bills there were any smaller (since I can split my current bills with a roommate), but I was pining for the simplicity of the time none the less.

The time period that preceeded my arrival in Morris is a mirror of the current one. After working a comfortable (if not exactly fulfilling and motivating) job at MTS, I was laid off in November 2001. I returned to school briefly in the Spring of 2002, and then ran an unpleasant and unsuccessful job search. Giving up in 2003, following my Dad’s (and at the time roommate of sorts) layoff in April and my parents’ subsequent decision to retire, I spent the early summer of 2003 in a rapid remodeling project to prepare to sell my house. After the sale, I moved to Morris and went back to school.

Those watching may notice vague parallels in the story at this point (although I left PCF willing to return to school this time). At this point, I’ve just ended the failed job search after the brief return to school. That puts me into the period of determined effort to rebuild my finances before I launch myself on a new adventure. What lies in store, I don’t know. But for now I find myself balancing the awkwardness of the return with the comfort of knowing why I’m there, and trying to sort out what the new adventure is supposed to be when the time comes.

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