Claire and I have been nomads for months now and I realized I haven’t really documented it much on my end. I’ve written a few posts that, thanks to some jerk, have vanished into the void of the internet. Thankfully Claire has done a great job with her blog, but my thoughts and feelings have mostly gone unrecorded.
So here’s a brief recap: In Phoenix I managed to get a part time manual labor job. It wasn’t really anything to get excited about, but I was grateful to have something to make me feel useful. The only problem was the hours which could range from a full 40 one week to five or six the next. It’s no one’s fault; it’s just what was available and I was happy to have work. I just didn’t realize how much a lack of routine could throw me off.
From there we moved to the Denver area. I assumed finding work in my home state of Colorado would be way easier since I know a lot of locals, and it did start off promising. My brother Josh works for a company that makes mobile video games and he was reasonably sure he could get me a contract job as a game tester. That sounds like a perfect job for someone like me, but let me assure you it’s not as fun as it sounds. The sole task of a tester is basically finding bugs (i.e. break the game) and reporting them to someone else to fix.
Still, I was up for trying something new so dusted off the ol’ resume and drove to Boulder for an interview. Long story short, it didn’t pan out. They only had two open slots and there were two other applicants with actual testing experience. I didn’t mind being passed over so much, but what really frustrated me was the fact that it took the company almost three weeks to tell me that I didn’t get the job. Even Josh only found out a day before I did. In the meantime, I thought it was a lock and hadn’t really looked elsewhere for a job.
Even though I had lost those three weeks, I decided it was a good thing in the end. It would have been a tedious and boring job with a 2+ hour commute every day. Who wants to drive that much? So…I ended up working for Uber.
It really isn’t a bad gig; I got to make my own schedule and explore Denver, a city I’ve been to several times but never as an adult with my own car. Uber can also be a fun kind of social experiment. You never know what sort of wacky characters will climb into your car and strike up a conversation about brain surgery or Mapquest. Fun fact: did you know that’s still a thing? And it’s based in Denver? Neither did I.
On top of that, I felt like I was providing a truly useful service to people. My one complaint was that the work itself was wildly inconsistent. I had a few days where I’d get continuous rides for two or three straight hours, but more often than not I’d end up alone in a parking lot waiting around.
I had one other Denver job prospect playing at a piano bar downtown that I was really excited about, but once again it took a long time for the hiring process to go through and by the time I’d been confirmed as a trainee, Claire found out that a) she couldn’t get an extension for her Colorado contract and b) she got an amazing offer from the hospital at Stanford. Fortunately the manager at the piano bar was understanding and told me to contact him if we end up in Denver again, so at least the bridge remains unburned.
So it’s been a challenging time for me. I knew it would be, but I think I overestimated how difficult it is to find meaningful work when you’re moving every three months.
I know this all sounds whiny, and I apologize for that. I really don’t have reason to complain. I did actually find work in some less-than-ideal circumstances and I’m grateful to those who took a chance and hired me. It’s all part of what I signed up for and I know I am really, REALLY lucky to be doing it.
And it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the couch griping about my lot in life. I’ve still got a few interesting things going on. For one, I started writing a novel, and for two, I’ve finally gotten over how silly I feel when I say it out loud. I don’t know why I ever felt that way. Maybe I just didn’t want to set up anyone’s expectations. I really don’t know what I’m doing, but at the end of the day, I’m enjoying doing it.
Claire and I have used our free time to explore the great outdoors. One of the great things about being in the west is that there is no shortage of mountains, canyons, and wide open spaces to hike and/or camp in and we’re determined to make some memories in them. I will refer you once again to her blog as it contains our best pictures.
I’m still teaching too! I’ve got new students here in the bay area as well as regular online lessons with a few of my old students from North Carolina. There’s a lot I still miss about NC, but it’s amazing that I can take that small part of it with me. And I can’t stress enough how good it feels to know that I’m still a teacher, nomad or not.
I guess the lesson I’ve taken from this experience thus far is this: every time, location, and job opportunity are going to fall short of ideal in some way, and some things are bound to be inconsistent regardless of the circumstances. There’s only one thing that can be truly reliable: me. I’ve got to make things happen even when there’s not as much time as I would like. I think I’ll do better in California. But, to quote the wise man: “We’ll see.”