It’s been a rough couple of weeks.
Looking piece by piece, there hasn’t been anything that in itself is overwhelming. Some work backed up due to Toronto, some clueless plan examiners, an unexpected tax bill, the typical run of creditors…. It hasn’t even been that bad professionally, one of my favorite clients has me doing fun preliminaries on a potentially good project (he is also my landlord, so it’s a barter deal and for now, no actual money changing hands; but it combines the most fun of building reuse and new building, and is in my neighborhood; once we are into Design Development, I suppose he then will question my ability to deliver the eventual working drawings, but I just have to blow up that bridge when it falls down):
Heck, money even hasn’t been as excruciatingly tight as it’s been in the past, and it seems likely that a project will escrow within a month, allowing them to pay the fucking architect.
So why has it been so tough? Not as if I know, I am asking YOU. If I had the faintest idea, I would be a mental health professional with a paycheck and defined benefit plan instead of a starving unbalanced architect with poor impulse control.
Dunno. I would guess a big part of it is likely the rocky transition from mostly gainfully employed to the wonderfully exciting world of middle-aged unreliable “employment-at-will” in the Continual Depression 2.0 New Normal. It’s resulted in some entertainingly disturbing dream sequences, even without the alcohol and drug abuse.
Un employment and underemployment is a fucking beast, even if you’re not prone to self-doubt and depressive bouts. With them, well it’s just a non-stop emotional rollercoaster ride and tequila shot party, with blunt head trauma. And squirrels. Stinky rabid squirrels with mange and singing Creed songs.
It’s easy to say, over and over again, that it isn’t your fault that the job market has passed you by. It’s easy to say that it’s not because you are past your use-by date, that it’s not because nobody wants a more expensive experienced guy when they could hire three warm bodies, that it’s your innate hatefulness or antisocial bent, that your hair isn’t horrible, that you’re not too fat. It’s easy to say those things. It’s easy to say it’s not your personal failings.
Believing those things is the trick, you know.
But as the Bloggess says, Depression Lies.
In one of my past blogs littering the scary abandoned smelly portions of the Internet, I posted a couple of times about the hurdle of closing my private practice (I think I’ve mostly whined about it enough to drive away almost everyone who ever hung out during those times, but it’s possible there may still be a couple of lurkers) and the emotional kneecapping it was providing me.
Funny story: if you want to close your private professional practice in favor of working for another firm, there must be another firm willing to extend the offer. Well, maybe that’s not so funny. Not to me; there may be a few who are willing to laugh at my expense. Hey, why not?
After deciding to close my gig, I spent a fair amount of time contacting people I knew at other firms and throughout the industry; construction firms, real estate, past clients, people I got drunk with in college… funny thing was, everybody else was in the same boat. People had been laid off. Firms were laying people off. People who had jobs were worried about being laid off. For fuck’s sake, I had a call last week from i guy I went to HIGH SCHOOL WITH and subsequently architectural school, who has been laid off for two fucking years.
Anyway, I called around, had a couple of face-to-faces, and …nothing. A couple of interviews, nothing.
So with no other options before me, and corporate debt to service one way or the other, I turned back to what I saw as my only alternative; to keep working with whatever came my way, in whatever way I could. And enough came my way to keep the wolf from my door and the zombie from debtor’s prison. And, oddly enough, resulted in some of the best work of my career.
I am getting to a point, here, or I think I am. Hang in there. Make another drink if you have to; I certainly am.
Yep; a couple of rough weeks indeed. The incessant posting of Summerfest performers was a weak attempt to keep a forward positive view.
A couple of weeks ago, Wife Sublime reminded me that the college had a Career Counseling center, and they provided services to alumni as well as students and that I was an alumnus, even if it was back from when nobody had computers. So I made an appointment to see what kind of advice I could get.
Today was that appointment. Talked for quite some time with a nice woman named Ada (one of my aunts was named Ada). Talked long enough that my meter expired and got a ticket to boot. But you know? Even after the preceding couple of weeks, the ticket didn’t particularly bother me.
Just like my inability to determine any particular reason for the difficulties of the past couple of weeks, there was nothing particular in what Ada and I discussed that made me feel better about my situation. We talked about what I liked about what I did, what I didn’t like; I was forced to admit that what I didn’t like was mostly the financial parts and what I liked was nearly everything else about being an Architect. I also admitted that my liking for the profession was making it difficult for me to consider another path; she gave me some suggested ways to explore, and that reinventing oneself is something people should do from time to time. we discovered that most of what I had done with my job search was pretty much the best approach anyway, if a bit too narrow, that I wasn’t a complete idiot, and then we talked for a while about the current hot topics in architecture (BIM and sustainability) and how I was keeping up on them. She reminded me that I needed to highlight my robotics and martial arts volunteer gigs.
Maybe what it did for me more than anything is remind me that as bad as things have gotten, I still have a decent amount of competency, management skills, ability to analyze and problem solve, and knowledge. That I’m not as big a useless idiot moron loser as I have been feeling, Maybe it was just that I am cycling through another nadir cycle. Maybe I improved my diet.
So, OK, I didn’t have much of a point. But every blog I ever had, I used for writing things out, and so this is that. Cheaper than therapy, although less opportunity for hi-tension prescription medications.
Oh, and if I ever make an actual salary again, I am TOTALLY buying a big-ass motorcycle. I don’t care if I am one of the mockable old fat white-guy white-collar wannabe demographic.
Also, since I can not NOT think of things in terms of music, here is not-local, then local, then not-local musician Scott Woldridge doing a song, I thin Brando will like it anyways: