Posts Tagged ‘DayJob’

Dispatches from the Spice Mines

Monday, April 19th, 2010
pencil sketch of cubicles

Pencil Sketch, dispatched from the Spice Mines

The best laid paths cannot pass through a brick wall in the way.

I had a path set out for myself. I spent the first weekend in January planning 2010. A painting every week! A new woodblock edition every month!

I had an assumption built into those plans, I would not be too busy at the Spice Mines in 2010. I would be just busy enough to keep on working, but not so busy that I would have to commit an extra amount of focus to the job.

Those plans have flown out the window as this year progressed. The Spice Mines have gotten spicier and spicier over the last few months, and now, after already working plenty of nights and weekends, I see myself spending even more time in Chateau Spice.

I’ve been fighting it and fighting it, regular readers have seen my posts about being behind at work or how to focus after a long day of work.

I’ve been fighting it, trying to figure out how to work hard all day, then come home, shift gears, and make beautiful art at night.

Luckily I have good friends, friends who not only help me sort this stuff out, but that prompt me to sort it out for myself as well. My buddy Dave teaches people stuff, how to blog being what he is publicly known for. He teaches other stuff too, like how to get your head right, but that tends to be in our private conversations.

Yesterday Dave called, “what you up to today?” and I had no idea. My plans had fallen so far behind, that once I got a goodness gracious free day to work on art, I didn’t know what to do with it. He told me to come over later in the day, and we’d set stuff straight. He bought me tacos too, and I very much appreciate those as well.

As I did laundry, cleaned my apartment, read some comics, and took a nap, I got to thinking about my situation, cuz I knew Dave and I would be hashing it out later. Big revelation, fighting my situation is the hardest part. I realized a little emotional jujitsu may be in order, and instead of trying to work against my need to double down on the DayJob, I should use that as the fuel.

I’ll probably do that. You’re probably gonna see a lot of art and drawings about being at work and stuff for the next few months. You probably won’t see much promotion or sales stuff here either. I figured out I have time to make art, or I have time to sell art.

Not both.

I’m opting to make art.

Too Busy To Work (or, why TV is so popular)

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

When the DayJob piles on the work, it doesn’t just eat up on time, it eats up on energy and motivation.

I’ve been wrestling with the DayJob lately, they have been loading me up with work. It hasn’t started to push into my free time yet (though I see that coming), but it has sapped a lot of my energy and focus.

When I started this crazy art venture, I wasn’t overloaded at work. Every now and then I would have to work late to catch up, but it was infrequent. Now, however, I have a constant, heavy, stressful load of work.

By the time I get home from work at 6pm, after stressing about the 3 jobs I have due in the next 2 weeks to 2 months, as well as the “gotta have it now” emergency work that gets thrown my way, I am mentally drained. I am not in a mental position to focus on writing, editing audio or video, and most of all, art, which requires plenty of focus.

I am not one of those crazy powerhouses of energy that can go and go and go.

Is it just me?

I have a feeling that a lot of jobs are like this, and a lot of people’s lives are like this. Fresh in the morning, drained in the evening. I hear this from my coworkers, later in the afternoon, their brain is fried, they can’t focus on stuff anymore, and not much gets done.

By the time work is over, and the commute home is complete, there isn’t much energy left for mush else. Food. Booze. TV. It’s not that I don’t have time to work for a few hours in the evening, it’s that I don’t have the capacity to work in the evening.

Most evenings, when I get home from work, I want a big plate of food, a few beers or glasses of wine, and to sit and blither out watching TV or some movie. I don’t even like TV (except Lost, that show is tha bomb), but it feels good after a long day at work. It feels like I am relaxing and more so, recovering.

I really believe this is why TV is so popular. It’s not what’s on TV, but what everyone does all day before they watch TV. There isn’t much left upstairs for anything else after slaving away.

So… what to do about it?

After all, I want the fire back. I wake up with it, and it is dim by the end of the day.

Honestly, I’m not sure.

I’ve been cranking up my diet, eating healthier foods, that helps.

I give myself my best time, ie. the morning. I just have to teach myself how to wake up early on a consistent basis.

I think that adding physical exercise to the mix will help. I may start doing some sort of physical activity first thing when I get home. I’ll try this out and see how it goes.

What about you? Do you have any secrets about how to recharge after a long stressful day of slaving in the spice mines? I’d like to hear it. I haven’t solved this one yet.

I will solve this one. It is just going to take some work, practice, problem solving, and trial and error.

Fine Art also loses Round 2; Balance is a Sucker’s Bet

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I lost last week’s productivity to DayJob. I have been busy as an engineer, solving the drinking water problems of California.

I thought I would be able to catch up last week, and be on track this week. Turns out this isn’t the case. I was busy again this week, partly with work, partly with important personal business.

The real difficulty I am running into is the so called “balance” between my DayJob and my ambition to create and sell art.

I like doing a good job at work. That takes time, and it takes energy. DayJob requires about 10-1/2 hours per day, from when I get dressed in the morning till I get home and change out of my slacks and tie.

On top of the time, I am mentally drained after a day of work. This is why I started to dedicate an hour every morning to writing (at least, when I am not leaving early to work, as I have the last couple weeks).

I am freshest in the morning, so I give an hour of my best time to myself, before I give 8 hours to BossMan.

Balance is a Myth

There is a common meme around the internet (and in real life) that it is good to “balance” work life with hobbies and other activities. “Balance” is a healthy way to accomplish the things you want to do, and still maintain a decent day job.

They are wrong. The problem isn’t to “balance” the day job with art.

The truth is, the “balance” to a hard day’s work is relaxing at home, eating a good dinner, drinking a beer or a glass of wine (or 3), and relaxing with your family/girlfriend/whatever.

If I didn’t have ambition, I’d be “balancing” out this long work week by drinking beer, playing Call of Duty on my Xbox, and maybe hanging out with a girlfriend that suited the bill.

Irrational Drive is the real kick

I rely on irrational drive to convince me to get up at 6am every day to write, to work every other Friday night instead of going out, and to work on art every night after crunching through problems all day at work.

Balance does nothing to compell me to keep working.

Irrational Drive is what keeps me pushing to work what is essentially 2 full time jobs, in search of fortune and glory.

The trick is to develop my irrational drive into a monster, a force of nature, that compels me to continue to work, beyond when the “balanced” person does.

DayJob v ArtJob, Round 1 goes to DayJob

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I’ve been busy at work. 12 to 15 hours a day busy.

I hope that it will mellow out today, and I will be able to get back on schedule.

I have an ambitious schedule of art production after all. I paint on Monday and Tuesday, draw on Wednesday and Thursday, and work on print projects all weekend.

The impact on my “night” schedule when I am this busy at work are two-fold:

  1. I spend many hours at work, hours I planned to spend creating art. I was at work till 10 pm last night, but my schedule has me painting from 7-10 on Tuesday nights. No painting got done.
  2. After 12 hours at work, I am too tired to get anything done at home, even basic stuff like clean up. Last weekend, after working over 12 hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I had to spend most of saturday doing chores like laundry, dishes, running errands and cleaning my apartment. I didn’t get to spend 4 hours with the brayers and blocks, making prints, as I had planned.

When I have to spend my nights working at DayJob, not only does it displace the time I scheduled that night to work on art, but it displaces time afterwards that I have to spend catching up.

It has been a conundrum, and not how I planned to start the year. I set a rigorous schedule of art production for myself so I could start strong, right out of the gate. Instead I got put in another race.

It’s not necessarily bad, because the work I am doing at DayJob right now is decent, and I have gotten some assignments that I am interested in, and bestow me with greater responsibilities.

When I come home from work however, I see my art supplies waiting for me, and I see my calendar listing out what I planned to accomplish that night, and I know that it is too late, and I am too tired, to get it done.

When I get set back liek this, and I get tired like this, it has a toll on my emotions. I feel dissappointed, and I end up feeling sluggish. My energy levels go down.

What I am learning is that some days, and some weeks, I will have to put art on the side, so I can do a good job at DayJob, bring home the bacon, and pay the bills. It may set me back a week or two, but it is what will create success for me in the art field.

The trick is to realize that I have not gotten behind, but have just spent my time in other ways. I don’t focus on what I didn’t do in the past, but what I will do in the future.

Where’s Waldo Proves I Have Tech Cred

Monday, January 4th, 2010

There is a walkway between the contemporary art gallery and the rooftop garden terrace at the SF Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and it overlooks some of the adjacent rooftops across the street. The view is pretty boring, unless you are a mechanical engineer, then all of the rooftop equipment you can see from this walkway is fairly interesting.

Every time I cross this walkway, I stop and look at all the equipment across the street.

Last time I was at the MoMA, I noticed a couple stopped in the walkway, taking a photo of the rooftop across the street. I was a little surprised, because I thought I was the only person who looked at the rooftop air conditioning equipment installed on the adjacent roof. “Must be another engineer”, I thought to myself.

It turns out that I still am the only person that checks out A/C equipment. They were only interested in Waldo:

Where's Waldo? Hiding behind that supply duct fromt hat packaged rooftop A/C unit!

Where's Waldo? Hiding behind the boiler water piping from the water side heating system!

That equipment that Waldo is hiding behind is probably a boiler, supplying hot water to a hydraunic heating system or something like that. The hot water from the boiler gets pumped through pipes to coils that sit in the airstream, heating up the supply air, keeping the people inside warm.

I know this because this is the kind of stuff I design at DayJob. I design a lot of Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Heating systems. In fact, I took this photo last time I was at MoMA, because I thought all of that rooftop A/C equipment looked pretty interesting.

I was all over that rooftop before Waldo ever showed up

I was all over that rooftop before Waldo ever showed up

This is the blessing and the curse of being an Engineer. I can’t help but notice examples of the type of equipment that I design. Plumbing vents? Cool. Fire Protection system risers? Fascinating. Rooftop equipment? Stops me in my tracks.

Anyway, I took a picture of that rooftop long before Waldo showed up, making anyone else care about this roof.

That, my friends, is street cred.

At least for technical nerds.