Tuesday, August 28, 2007
when toby and i lived in our little white house on the edge of the woods in duluth, i had time. he and i lived alone, and my only obligations were to him and to my job. i worked from noon to 8, four days a week. i had a five-minute commute, which meant i could dink around until 11:45 or 11:50, and still have time to throw on some clothes and make it to work.
i spent the rest of my time wandering around in the woods throwing the tennis ball for toby, and writing. i wrote short stories, several of which were published, and one of which was awarded a prize. ($500, and the judge was anne tyler. that was cool.) i wrote magazine pieces. i wrote long, long emails to doug, who lived in st. paul, and to other friends. those emails were sort of like prehistoric versions of my current long long blog entries.
i had no money.
i somehow managed to make my house payment every month, and pay for my utilities, and keep myself in beer and pizza, which i lived on, when i wasn't living on beer and chips and salsa. i couldn't save much, but i squirreled away $10 here and $5 there and when i had a little bit set aside, i'd take a trip.
i flew to seattle to visit my brother and sister, and then took the ferry to alaska to visit pam. i couldn't afford a stateroom, so i slept out on the deck for three nights and got up at 4 a.m., with the sun and the eagles.
i went to ireland with lila, because she thought she should see europe before she was married, and the wedding was coming right up. she wanted to go to Waterford and buy crystal, but i wanted to walk through fields of sheep and listen to fiddle music in the west. since i knew how to work a stick shift and she didn't, the sheep won.
i went to england and scotland with katy, where we played all the scottish music we could find on the jukebox in a little pub called the Twa Tams, and apparently the bartender just got more and more and more annoyed with us until finally he slammed over to the jukebox, opened it up, set it to play nothing but loud american headbanger music, glared at us fiercely, put on his hat, and went home.
but things changed. doug and i decided we'd like to live in the same city, maybe even the same house. my boss got tired of my having fridays off, and she started calling me in most weeks. the magazine i freelanced for in minneapolis decided they wanted me on staff.
my brother gave me good advice: if you think things are going to change, try to control the change.
so here i am, a working girl in the big city. (or, perhaps more accurately, a working middle-aged woman in the medium-sized city.)
now i have a little more money, but less time. my commute is 20 minutes, not five. my work hours are 9 to 6 or 6:30 or later, not noon to 8. i still take trips, but we also salt away money and worry about retirement, and worry about health care, and worry about elderly parents, and worry worry worry.
i worry way more about money than i ever did when i didn't have any.
cait asked, in her comments yesterday, could i work part time? i probably could. i could not work part-time at the place i work now, but i could probably find a part-time job somewhere, doing something.
should i? i don't know. which is more important? time, or money? time without money is tough. money without time is meaningless. would a boring part-time job that doesn't pay well but gives me more free time be better than an interesting full-time job that pays pretty well but leaves me exhausted and drained at the end of the day?
i feel like deep red roses, going back and forth eternally between the clock and the looking glass. (though i am less poetic than carl sandburg.)
what do you think? how do you solve this?