I just gave notice at my day job.
I don’t have another job lined up.
(Actually, I’m prewriting this. so as I type I haven’t actually done it. And I can’t believe I might. That I will. I’m trying not to hyperventilate, and that’s not hyperbolic. If this post goes live, I did it.)
I’ve been answering 911 for seventeen years, ever since I got my master’s degree in writing. I’ve loved dispatching. I’ve been honored to do it, so honored to be able to help others. But my fire/EMS agency is taking over a police agency, and I left police dispatching many years ago, so I’m hanging up the headset for good. Dispatchers have to start at the bottom with police work before earning their way to fire/medical. Hard and thankless and depressing, police 911 is a job I’ve seen break too many people. I myself was getting broken—I was turning into a sour, jaded Eeyore who hated everyone—when I managed to shift jobs and promote to fire/medical dispatching. I love giving CPR instructions and managing fire traffic. I hate listening to people swear at me because they’re furious about the ugly broken-down old Civic parked in front of their home, and I really hate being told the person sitting in that Civic doesn’t belong because he’s the wrong color (which happens every. damn. day). I’ve been proud to wear a fire badge for eleven years, and I just can’t bear to go back to wearing a police one. And truthfully, I believe there’s too much wrong in the American policing system today. There are good men and women in the police industry. I’ve known many of them, and I still count many as good, true friends. I believe a strong, righteous police system is necessary—criminals will always be criminalling, y’know? I know the police agency I would be working for if I stayed is probably a great one. But if you’ve been watching the news at all, it’s obvious that (along with many other things) the current American legal system is super broken, systemically racist, and chasing its own tail, and I don’t want to be slotted back inside it.
We’re not rich. We are not poor, but every dollar has a job, and we’re more frugal than most.
We don’t have big savings. To be clear, our savings are small. Very small. Like you-might-make-it-three-months small.
However, we are (finally) debt-free, except for the house.
Going down to one full-time job instead of the two full-time jobs I’ve held for ten years means that we’ll be eating rice and beans, literally.
Lala’s job is mostly stable (fingers crossed?) but it can’t support us both.
This feels reckless. I do not DO reckless things. Ever. I do wacky! I do crazy! I do ballsy! But I do safe, and this is NOT safe.
This is a leap so big that even if the fog cleared, I could not see the other side.
I don’t feel worthy. Even with so many published books (buy one, Jayzus, please buy one), I still feel like I don’t deserve to be a full-time writer. I’m not good enough. I haven’t worked hard enough. (These are untrue statements, but my brain keeps saying them.)
I feel guilt–so much of it–for pursuing this dream. For leaping. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
In three months, we may run out of savings, and I’ll have to get a new job and I have NO OTHER SKILLS besides dispatching, writing, and making rice (I can cook the HELL out of rice, though, I swear to you).
But this: A close, very dear family member is very sick. It’s a cliche, but something like this does make you think about how you spend your time.
Right now, I routinely work 90+ hours a week (56 hours at the day job is our contracted minimum work week, plus all writing hours in my off time). My migraines have been getting worse again, and they’re now mainly triggered by lack of sleep. Even with daily yoga, VERY few processed foods, no alcohol, and very little sugar (except ice cream!), my cholesterol/triglyceride levels are those of an obese, diabetic, 70-year-old, midwestern cattle-farming, heavy-drinking, heavy-smoking man who can’t climb stairs.
I’m choosing life over money, and I’m terrified.
I’m not sure this is the right thing to do. My gut tells me it’s the right thing while my brain screams that I’m an idiot who deserves what she gets. My heart wanders between the two, wringing its fatty little ventricular hands, trying to keep the peace.
Leaping, with no net.
Building wings on my way down.
(And hey, if you’ve been wondering whether or not to support my Patreon essays on living your creative life, now would be a FANTASTIC time to shoot a dollar or two my way per essay.)