I am having a really hard time not smoking. I just wanted to get that out in the open.
Also I am having a hard time finding a job. I know I have only been looking for three weeks, but still I expect more for/from myself. I keep saying things like, "Nobody gets a job in August! Everyone's on vacation!" Only I keep hearing about people finding jobs, or at least having interviews. I had one interview and got one short job that fizzled (for the time being) in a very unsexy way after a week, and anyway it was just a job for money, not a job for the future.
Part of the problem might be that I don't know what I want to do next. The other night I asked my brother and his wife, the only two people I know who are doing exactly what they want with their lives (Marc is a marketing director in the horse racing industry and Kristin is the executive editor of a publishing house), what they thought I should do with my life.
Kristin: Couldn't you come up with an idea for a book that would sell a lot of copies?
Marc: I think you should write for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
As heartwarming as it is to know that they think I could do either of those things, my only response was, "Easier said than done."
I also talked to my former creative partner at HBO, Allen, who writes all those wonderful Sopranos books. I told him I was frustrated, that I didn't know what I was looking for, and even if I figured out what I wanted, the job probably didn't exist anyway.
He sent me a long list of adjectives praising me. Then he told me everything would work out eventually and wrote, "You don't want a 'job' so dislocations happen all the time, but it inevitably works out for someone like you."
Then I talked to my old boss from HBO the other day. We are very loyal to each other which is nice, and far too rare in this world.
"I'm looking," I said. "For the job."
"What about your writing?" she said. She's always supported my decision to leave the comfortable and safe environs of the office.
"I'm always going to write. I'm writing quite a bit these days, and I'm truly enjoying it. But I think I'm not that good at freelancing, the pitching, the schmoozing. And anyway I think I might like a little structure again in my life."
"Well ok, what do you want to do?"
"I don't know. I just like to make new things. That's all I know."
"You're going to have to give me a little bit more to go on than that."
The final discussion I had about my job search, or at least the one that's worth repeating anyway, happened on Saturday night with Hana. We were sitting outside at Chris' party, in the backyard. It was a week before her wedding. There was no bachelorette party, so I dragged her along with me that night.
"Do you want me to get some cocaine?" I said. "Crack? Strippers? Whores?"
"No this is fine," she said, and lifted her Corona.
Hana has had more jobs than anyone I know my age besides me, and her jobs were all big, professional type jobs, whereas mine were, up until five years ago, mainly service industry jobs. She wrote a book about all of her dot com jobs (I think she had seven in five years or something insane like that) but by the time she was done with it, no one wanted to buy or read anything to do with that world. I've read parts of it. It's pretty good. So I always want to know her thoughts about the professional world because, at the very least, she has put a lot of thought into it.
"I think you expect too much from your jobs," she said. "I think every job sucks, and you're lucky if you can just be in a creative environment." She thought it was a mistake for me to leave HBO.
"I do not think I expect too much. I understand there are problems everywhere, and politics, and so forth. But if you hit a wall somewhere, there's nothing you can do about it. And I had definitely hit a wall. I was worried I would stop doing good work there. I can handle stress. Often I thrive on stress. But apathy, that scares me."
Hana thinks it's good to have some space between you and your job. A little distance never hurt anyone. I think I've got a more holistic view of my creative world, though I think when I go back into the work world I'll definitely be able to protect myself a little better.
I've been writing some interesting things lately that I would never be able to sell, which I realize is not the best way to make a living as a freelance writer. But I'm enjoying it more than I did researching new day spas in Manhattan for men, something I did earlier in the summer. Writing these pieces makes me feel like I'm stretching my legs or my arms, getting myself ready for something more strenuous. I don't know what's coming my way, but I hope it's something great, or, at the very least, good enough for me.