Where I’ve Been And Where I Am Going

Hello, Friends. It’s been awhile. You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to lately. So am I. What have I been up to lately? Let’s find out.

Last month I celebrated the one-year anniversary of leaving my lucrative job at a collapsing company to pursue my dream. My dream of not working there, and working somewhere else. I didn’t know it at the time, but I wasn’t going to work somewhere else. I was going to work nowhere else. Which, incidentally, also made it the one-year anniversary of not having a real job.

I know what you’re thinking: where’d I get these pants? JC Penney. How did I survive a whole year without a job? Easy. I just lived off my trust fund1. I hear a lot of people complaining about the economy and not having enough money… Hey, Stupids! Use your trust funds! That’s what they’re there for! Using! So dumb.

Anyway, as you know if you’ve been following me religiously, amen, I became a PROFESSIONAL WRITER. Which, as you know if you’ve been following me agnostically, maybe?, means nothing, really. However, sometimes people do pay me to write things, because my words are worth money. (Yours are not, so don’t get ideas; it’s not just the words, it’s the order of the words—technical terms: syntax, diction, verbiage, sausage, gerund, past-participle—see? So, just forget it.) Also, if you are a company or something, and need words, I will sell them to you.

But my booming career is just part of my wild, wild Year One! I have also boomed in other areas. Like, for example, being popular.

Think of everyone you know… Got it? OK, now answer this: am I one of those people? Yes? Bingo. Popular! ‘Was a farmer had a dog, you know? That’s me. Bingo.

Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of cooking projects in the oven. They are warm.

I made buttons. There are all gone now.

Oh, P.S. Keep your look out for This is Podcast, The Official This Is Conlan Podcast.

  1. Financial Advisor: “I trust you understand me when I tell you, you have no money. At all. Get it?” []

The Bookshop

When I was in college, I worked at the college bookstore. One day a girl came in, took a pen off the shelf and brought it to the register. Then she took an old pen from her pocket.

“I used up all the ink in this one,” she said, indicating her old pen. “Can I trade it for this?” She pointed to the new one.

“What?” I said.

“Can I give you this old pen, and you give me this new one?”

“Is this some kind of sociological experiment or something?” I asked.

Turns out it was. And I ruined it.

I didn’t give her the pen.

Goodbye, Good Job

If you truly loved me, you would already know that exactly one month and a few days ago, I quit my lucrative job as an employed person to embark (pun intended… because that’s the name of the place I worked, see?) on a new life as a hobo clown (or similar). The following is the email I sent to my beloved colleagues shortly before walking out of their lives forever.

To whom it may concern:

When I arrived here in summer of aught six, it was a different era. Embark was known by another name, and I was but a boy taking my first tentative steps into the world. We’ve grown a lot over the years. We shared laughter and tears. Bagels and beers. Other things that rhyme with ears. And now it is time for us to part ways. At last, I am a man.

I know none of you as well as I should, and well of you as should as I none (if you take my meaning, and I think you do). Why is that? I blame potatoes, but perhaps it was the Industrial Revolution. Disirregardlessly, there’s no use analyzing it now. What’s done is done. Now is the time for fond memories and crocodile tears and laters alligators. (Note: DO NOT wrestle alligators. It is not as easy as it looks.)

In the words of the great forgotten circus act, Fran the Semi-Amazing Man: ‘We have nothing to fear except things that are scary.’ No hairier person has ever spoken truer words. Take heart, my colleagues! For it is only when bees make honey that the trees may bear fruit (pollination). Likewise, it is only in my leaving, that some other unrelated stuff may happen. So you see, this is a time of opportunity and hashbrowns (metaphor).

If you want to email me for some reason, do: [super-secret personal email address removed by editor]. If you want to Facebook me, foo: [super-publicly-available Facebook URL removed by editor]. If you want to Twitter me, twoo: http://twitter.com/thisisconlan. And if you want sporadic updates on all my hilarious misadventures, you can read my blog. The link is easy to find if you’re actually interested (and if you are, you may want to reevaluate the direction your life has taken).

I will miss each and every one of you, except for three of you. Thanks, Embark, for the memories and the well-wishes. And the paychecks. 

I will be around for a little while longer, in case you want to present me with gifts (cash accepted and encouraged), stock up on my outdated business cards, or give me an Obama-style fist-bump for the road.

Embark Corp.

P.S. There are not actually three of you I won’t miss. It was a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.

I don’t think I have to tell you it provoked more than a few tears.

Year’s End, Part 2

It’s Monday, the 10th, and I have effectively two weeks before my world crumbles around me. Apparently I’m not the only one for whom this is happening fast. Turns out, no one actually knows what the salary will be for the position, because the position hasn’t been created or approved yet. And of course the executives who hammer out such things are out of the office for the week.

The week drags on, until Friday, when its suggested that I may have an answer the next Monday, the 17th. I resolve that after all this waiting, I can’t possible not wait longer, so Monday it is. The problem is, if I do leave, the following Friday will be my last day, since the next week will be Christmas and I’ll be out of town. So I remind my current managers of this. They mention that they’re going to be making my position a real full-time deal, with a salary, and whatever else goes with that. I don’t care.

I leave work for another agonizing weekend. Sunday night, I find a listing on Craigslist for a little studio in the Haight and, on a whim, I set up a viewing for the next night. Just in case.

Monday comes around, as it tends to, and I’m back at work. Before lunch, the HR guy lets me know that the powers that be have reached a decision; we’ll meet at 4pm to discuss it. Great. So I spend the next few hours with my iPod, compiling a suitable on-the-go playlist of songs for the inevitable heartbreak to occur at four.

I’d only had a sliver of hope that the offer would be enough to keep me here, but at the same time, I didn’t think it was too far-fetched. I estimated that I’d only need to make an average of two dollars more per hour. As it turns out, my cynical view of hope is again completely justified.

The offer: A net raise of… negative dollars. A decrease in pay. In a twisted way, I would be paying them to let me stay here and have this new job.

My heart feels like it’s in my throat. I’ve always prided myself on expecting the worst; I scold myself for not imagining this.

… No thanks.

I’m feeling defeated as I walk back to my desk. I guess I’m leaving. I don’t want to leave. I talk to my manager. I ask about what would happen if I stayed. He says I’d get a big raise.

I sell out. I decide to stay.

I feel a little light-headed, rushed, but good. I’m staying.

Now I have less than a week to find a place to live. I leave work and head out to the apartment I’m going to look at. It’s under a Victorian house: a bedroom, kitchen, and a bathroom. It’s cool. It comes fully furnished (even with dishes and pots and pans), all utilities included. I tell the lady I’m interested, leave my information, but you know in SF it’s never as easy as that.

The next day, I see the same ad reposted. (I hate it when they do that.) I email again to say thanks for her consideration. Then she sends me a rental application, which I fill out and promptly return. On Wednesday the ad for the place is posted again, this time with info for an open house that night. (I’m getting mixed signals.)

I’m not finding other suitable places on Craigslist, and time is getting short. I expect I’ll have to spend at least a week or two in one of those repulsive residential hotels–just like old times–when I return for the new year.

At work on Thursday, I email one last time, to get a final answer on this place. To my surprise, she emails me in the afternoon and says my boss gave me an excellent recommendation, and I can come over that night to sign the lease.

This is weird.

So after work I ride the bus a few extra stops down Haight to this place, sign the papers, and write a check. I tell her I’ll move in this weekend. She says welcome. And I suddenly have a decent job and my own place to live in San Francisco.

Merry Christmas.

Year’s End, Part 1

When I’m thinking about something, it’s hard to think about other things. So, for example, I haven’t been able to think of other things–blog things–over the past month. Because I was thinking of something. Or, somethings, to be more specific.

A month ago, my roommate tells me she’ll be leaving at the end of December. So I’m left with a choice: I can either scramble to find another roommate (who I assumed won’t like me), so I can stay at this place I can’t really afford, so I can continue to work at a job I don’t really enjoy, so I can remain in a city where I have approximately zero friends, scraping by a windowless and meager existence, or I can… not do that.

I decide to not do that.

My friends in LA–probably tired of just hearing me complain about my life (and presumably wanting to watch me complain about it in person)–have been trying to get me to move down there for a while. So I decide I will. No job, no home. I’ll stay with them and my last paycheck and returned security deposit can sustain me for a month or two, until I hopefully find a job. At least this way I’ll be with some friends. And at this point I decide I should let them know about this. So I tell my friends in LA and they say it’s great: I can stay with them as long as I need, etc.

The next day I ask our HR guy about what will happen with my paid time off, and that sort of thing, if I quit at the end of the month. Of course he wants to know why, so I tell him I don’t feel like I was on the right track, to editing or writing or whatever–I don’t go into my other problems. He asks if there was anywhere in the company that I think would be a good fit, just so I could be sure to explore my options. So I mention the website part of the business, which they’ve been talking about having me involved in for months, but nothing came of it. So the HR guy says, why don’t I meet with them to talk about it? So I say OK, and he sets up a meeting for the following Monday.

I ask my landlord if I can have until that Monday (the 3rd) to give my 30 days notice and he says OK. (Actually, he says no, but then he says he misunderstood my email, so OK.) Over the weekend I think about the possibilities and, coincidentally, make a new friend.

I decide, in order for me to stay, they’d have to offer me a super great job and enough money to get my own place here. And I don’t think that’s going to happen. Although, you have to keep in mind that up till now I’ve been making what, in SF, practically amounts to minimum wage for anywhere else. So it’s not like I’m looking for a ridiculous increase.

I’m stressed out, and I can feel myself starting to get sick. I give my 30 days notice, because even if I do stay in SF, I’ll be moving.

On Monday I have the meeting and they basically offer me the job, no questions asked. A content editor position, some writing, gathering articles, giving a voice to the site. They say it’s OK if I start off slowly, since I haven’t had a lot of experience with this type of thing directly. It’s basically the perfect opportunity. I say I’ll think about it.

Now I’m really confused. I think about it as I walk the few blocks back to my office. This would be a great opportunity to learn and develop some great skills. This is opposed to moving to LA and likely finding some crappier job for less pay, at least for a while. I guess I’d like to stay here, if they pay me enough.

But… I didn’t ask about the money.

I don’t know why I didn’t. It all happened so fast, and I’ve never been in a position like this before; I didn’t know what to do. When I get back, I send off an email thanking them, and–oh, by the way–Conlan gots ta git paid, son. I don’t hear back immediately.

The next day I’m sick. This happens all the time. I get stressed out and my immune system shuts off. I call in sick, sleep till 6pm, and am still sick the next day. I send another email to the hiring people saying, basically, I’ll decide when I know the salary.

I’m still sick the next day. I think I’m getting better, but I still generally feel like shit. Just a general achy, feverish, snot-faced good time. This is also bad because I’ll need all the money I can get in my last paycheck, whatever happens.

I still haven’t heard anything by the end of the week, when I finally go to the doctor and get some drugs for my sinus infection. Next week?

The clock–apparently unaware of the cliché–goes on ticking.


Striking Out

If you don’t know by now, you’ll soon figure it out: Hollywood writers are going on strike. I’m interested in this for a few reasons, none of them sensical, and not least of which is the temptation to join them–out of solidarity, of course–and call it quits on NaNoWriMo.

First of all, this means that starting tomorrow, all the minds behind the best entertainment are going to be concentrated along LA picket lines, exposed to the world. Screw actors. The people I want to rub elbows with are the nerds in the writers’ room. Only now they aren’t going to be in the writers’ room; they’ll be on a public sidewalk. If I were near LA, I’d join them, just to hang out. The prospect would probably be even more appealing if I actually watched TV.

I’d like to work in TV. Whenever I’ve written or conceptualized stories in the past, it’s always been with an eye to production–how they would look, rather than how they read or sound. But the mere idea of trying to break into that industry paralyzes me. I can hardly get past the doubts that come with applying for a demeaning job at a throwaway company in San Francisco. How am I supposed to deal with cutthroat Hollywood types?

In any case, good luck to the writers.