A year ago, I left my job—at an office I’d been at for four years, my personal record—to Do What You Love (DWYL). There were some problems with the non-profit I worked for, most importantly the fact that it felt like a ship headed for an iceberg. (And lo, it transpired that, shortly after I left, it smashed against icy reality and no longer exists.) But! I had good coworkers, good hours, and a reasonably good salary that I had negotiated for myself. I had my own office with windows *and* a door, which had been a goal of mine since I was 22.
Several different things clamored for my attention: I had a baby, a novel-in-progress, and a gainfully employed, though stressed-out and overburdened, husband. I felt fortunate and, day to day, I was satisfied. But my brain also felt overcrowded, teeming with too many details, some real, some fictional. I wanted to do everything: keep the apartment in a state of reasonable cleanliness, raise my kid right, finish and sell the book, be a good, upwardly mobile leaned-in employee and a good, calming when necessary and exciting-and-fun when called for wife.
After much deliberation and angst, facilitated by a partial fellowship to a writer’s residency in Lithuania and a query from an editor at a publishing house who found my work online, I decided to quit my job and DWYL for a year. The point was not to earn money, though I had been making very minor bank freelance writing and placing essays online on the side. The point was, for the first time, to give myself a Room of One’s Own.
That was last July. My year is up. Inspired the tabulations of Nicole and Kima Jones, I’ve decided to do a reckoning: What did it cost me to DWYL and what did I gain?
How’d you do?
How did you do?
How were your weekends?
Good morning! I hope you all had an amazing long weekend. Let’s check in.
My pals and I packed into two cars and navigated our way through a storm on our way into the woods. We stopped at an Outback Steakhouse where we consoled ourselves with steaks, drinks, and a Bloomin’ Onion ($60). We arrived to our cabin in the woods to discover that the power had gone out due to downed power lines thanks to the storm, but made the best of it with flashlights, candles and glasses of dark and stormies. When we woke up the next day, the power was back on, and we left to have brunch in a little town ($32) before going hiking, followed by tennis and a trip to the grocery store and butcher’s shop for items to grill grilling. We ate, we danced, we played games, and went to bed late. In the morning we made coffee and bacon, egg and cheese on English muffins, and then went out to a lake to get some sun, play some volleyball and go for a swim. We grilled the last of our groceries, cleaned our cabin and headed back to the city. I spent Sunday recovering. My share of groceries, gas, and booze was $78. My estimate was $200, and I ended up spending $170.
And how were your weekends?
Good morning! What a nice weekend this was—let’s check-in.
I packed up a duffel bag headed to a friend’s to house/cat-sit for a week. Since there was a grill, I picked up some steaks, veggies and other snacks and had some friends over for dinner ($85.87), which was really nice. We grilled pineapple and peaches to eat with vanilla ice cream for dessert, listened to Motown, and sat outside. On Sunday, I spent some time doing work, talked to my father for a while on the phone, and picked up a few groceries ($21.89). My estimate was $100 and I spent 107.76.
And how were your weekends?
Photo: Mike McCune