Tag Archives: careers

I quit my job to take my hobbies full time. Here’s what happens now.

Future daytime improv star

Future daytime improv star

On June 27th, 2014 I quit a (relatively) cushy corporate job to pursue my hobbies as a career, these hobbies being writing, improv, comedy, acting and amateur clowning. Many people congratulated me on this decision and told me I was brave (read: foolish). Maybe they’re right because the truth is I don’t really know how make this happen. I just needed to do something.

Two days later, I left the Bay Area bubble for a 7 week journey that will take me across the Eastern third of the United States, starting in Chicago and continuing through Nashville, Atlanta, North Carolina (Asheville area), Washington DC, Boston, NY and then Oklahoma City (Edmond area) on a miniature “Wassup USA” tour. I fully expect to get scurvy and lose a couple of teeth on this journey which can only be described as low-budget.

I’m doing this, the quitting and the traveling and the clowning, to test the hypothesis that there are no rules in life and no limit to what I can dream up and do, that nothing is in my way except for my own fear, and it is a formidable opponent that has some great arguments for why my dreams are a bunch of hogwash.

“Why should you be so lucky that you get the chance to quit a pretty good job and pursue comedy for a career? Not everyone has the chance to go after jobs they find meaningful – why should you? You shouldn’t look for meaning in your work, so why don’t you just do something that will get you a good income so you can be secure and figure out a way to work in your passions at nights and on weekends? Improv, really? Can’t you be passionate about something else? What if you fail?”

There’s some truth in these doubts, but at the end of the day they are just fear disguised as practicality, and I can’t convince myself to listen to them anymore. Not yet. But they are interesting questions.

In the next phase of my life and as I’m doing my hobbies full-time-ish, I want to explore these questions of meaning and career, who gets to follow their dreams and why, and who cares about this and does it even matter.

And for the next 50 days, I want to see what’s up with the USA. I want to do an Alexis de Toqueville “Democracy in America” except more along the lines of “Drevets in America.” It’ll just be me, in America, with my vision and dreams along with everyone else’s. Nothing much has changed except my morning commute and my inbox count.

So….what’s up USA?

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An Open Letter to My Reba McEntire and Brooks and Dunn T-Shirt

The real heroes.

We’ve come a long way haven’t we? I remember when you were all trussed up in wrapping paper beneath our tree. You were a Christmas gift from my big brother, and you were from a thrift store and a handful of sizes too big. When I ripped the paper off of you that sunny morning in December and saw those three pairs of eyes twinkling from the breast of the shirt, I knew I’d found a couple of buddies that would stick with me for a long while.

Oh Reba, oh Brooks and Dunn, we’ve had a lot of good times. You came with me up to Boston and we showed those people what real Americans are like. I wore you underneath a duck-patterned prairie dress to a formal party and we danced the night away, worrying only about when the music would stop, and not caring about pit stains. Life’s too short to worry about pit stains.

Now we’re here in San Francisco, another city on the bay. And I’ll be honest with you Reba, Brooks, and Dunn: I’m tired. My computer woke me up this morning at 6:30 because it was whirring so loudly, panting like a butcher on the 4th of July. A couple of hours later I went into “the city,” which is what the folks up here call “San Francisco,” and had an interview at 10 o’clock for a job that I’m not sure I even want. While on the way to the train station a young British hippy asked me if I wanted to buy an apple. He had two tiny apples in his hand and I said no and he said thanks for smiling and nice hoodie.

I wish you could have seen him. More strangers talk to me up here than most anywhere else I’ve been, but it’s not too bad. What would you do, Reba? Would you sing them a song and lift their spirits? How did you know what you wanted to do, and when you figured it out, how did you get it? Can you really have it all?

One day I’m going to have it all too, but right now I’m tired. I’m going to finish my coffee while staring at you three, your eyes sparkling back at me and then maybe I’ll get the big idea and we’ll all have to admit my brother is the genius we always knew he was.

You’re the real heroes, you the t-shirt dwellers, the silent inspirers. How many have you cheered on to victory with your never-ending mirth? No matter what the Californians say to you up here, no matter what they think of you or what kind of names they call you because you’re not from somewhere that has a San in front of it or some other liberal name, just remember that to me you are special. I love this t-shirt and am going to wear it more often so people around here can get some freaking cultural education.

I came not a moment too soon.

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We’re Modern Now. We Don’t Have to Sweat.

It’s functional. Don’t worry about it.

Saturday afternoon, 1:30 pm. College graduate exits bedroom and runs into father, also a college graduate, for first time of the day. Pleasantries are exchanged. Father, pleased to see the college graduate, lists the yard work he has done that day. He has trimmed the hedges, cleaned out the pool, fixed something, moved something else, and used a loud machine for about two hours. He didn’t mention the last one, but the college graduate knows because she was sitting inside and had to listen to the racket for about two hours.

He’s tired and asks the college graduate if she was planning on making lunch for everyone, a laughable prospect. She chuckles and thinks of this question later when she sees the family has cracked wheat in the pantry. Why didn’t he just make this? She wonders.

In the meantime, college graduate has also been busy. She applied for 3.5 jobs and wrote 2.5 blog posts and made herself an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly on it for lunch. Her mind is tired but she’s hasn’t left the house, hasn’t made any money, and is wearing an old pair of sweatpants and a shirt from two days ago.

She was reflecting on her outfit earlier that day and how she felt surprisingly accomplished despite the fact sweatpants are viewed as the garb of the defeated. At least, she had accomplished until she met father, who had exited the house, made money by virtue of the fact he is a salaried employee of a real company, and burned over 20x as many calories as the college graduate.

She wonders how to explain to father that despite the sweatpants and the fact she was emerging from the bedroom, she had also done work that day, work that was laying the ground for her future and paving the way for his entry into a comfortable nursing home. In the digital age, she thought, we don’t have to sweat while we work. We don’t have to do anything besides stare at a computer screen and think really hard and sometimes type/write stuff down. This is the technological era. We don’t need to go outside anymore.

But instead of saying any of this, she lets the conversation fall into silence and quickly hides the tab with the YouTube music video of “Call Me, Maybe,” the music video that the college graduate had danced to only seconds earlier, maybe, when trying to recall some moves from her hip-hop class last spring.

Maybe father will read blog post later on and want to dance to the music video as well, she thinks, and then we will both burn calories.

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An Example of a Cover Letter with Ideological Overtones

The most noble of scavenging birds of prey. A worthy master.

To Whom it May Concern:

I was rooting around in a dumpster when I found a good piece of chewed gum in a receipt from your store, American Eagle. I am passionate about scavenging birds of prey, so needless to say I was intrigued by the company name. The next day, I concealed myself in a bush for several hours. When someone passed by, I frightened them by leaping mightily and yelling “booga booga booga.” I then demanded to know what American Eagle is. An oily teenage boy told me it is an apparel store that can be found at my local mall, Walnut Springs.

For the next thirty minutes, I loitered suspiciously around the Walmart parking until I found a sneaker clad man who wasn’t paying attention while putting his groceries in his trunk. While he was distracted with unloading his Go-Gurt and Cheetos, I slithered snake-like into his backseat. When the sedan began moving and reached the main road, I bolted upright, hissed, and commanded him to take me to Walnut Springs Shopping Center. The man complied.

Once there, I slithered out of the sedan—it was green—and made towards the entrance of the great temple of consumption. Heat rose off the asphalt and sweat accumulated the corners of my body. I almost didn’t make it, but finally I reached the gates of Babylon itself and entered with the rest of the sausage people. Once inside, I found a crude map-like representation of the holy shrine, and deduced that American Eagle was even closer than I imagined. It was right behind me.

Good God what horror. You declare yourself worthy to name yourself after the greatest and most noble scavenger of all time, and yet what kind of frivolous merchandise do you peddle? Jeggings? Skinny Jeans?  Shirts emblazoned with nothing more than pathetic incarnations of the American Eagle logo? The walls covered with scantily clad adolescents cavorting at various music festivals, suggestive twinkles in their eyes…the whole thing was a disgrace. Only I know what secret these young gods held: it was that they had taken part in the communal pissing-on of everything that is good and noble.

For that reason, I’m applying to work at American Eagle in some sort of ideological reconstructive capacity, with the title of Master Re-ideologist. I will have the creative power to redesign any aspect of American Eagle that I see fit and sack anyone who does not meet my standards. Your company, dear sir or madame, is quite frankly an abomination. You are lucky that I’ve come along to save you from the destruction and/or complete loss of your own souls.

We’ll be in touch.


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Another Okie Heading West

As I stood on top of one of the Twin Peaks and looked out over the bright city of San Francisco and into the bay beyond with its rust colored Golden Gate Bridge and the lumpy green mountains beyond that, and looked behind me and saw the setting sun and its reflection in the water so it looked like two suns, and glanced down and saw my lengthening shadow on the earth, and felt the coolness coming from the trees, and considered all the combinations of colors of green and blue and brown and bright that lay before me, I thought to myself that there is no other city I have found in this earth that has such a high concentration of everything I love. Creativity, nature, color, coffee, books, floral dresses, and sidewalks all combined and laid out on a grid set between hills on a peninsula in the bay.

And then I thought that I would like to live in California, if it would have me, and especially if it would find me a place to live and pay my bills. But those might have to be personal journeys. I would make the effort, though. It would be worth it to live here.

Here I come, just another liberal arts graduate with a job in retail.

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