It's been two months since my last day at the IPTOG, though let me tell you, it seems a lot longer than that. My cubicle days seem like the memory of a fretful dream, and when I have stopped back in the office to visit friends or deliver ware, it's been a bit disorienting. In a real sense it is behind me.
I knew what my goal looked like: financial stability, and an orderly work life as a full time potter. I knew I could get there, but it required leaping a chasm between that last paycheck, and the steady stream of small checks that is the potter's income, not to mention summoning the discipline to work even when the delivery deadline seems far away. I'm not at the goal yet, but I can see the first light of it, on the horizon; I now have something more than faith to go on, that this is indeed ahead of me. In some ways, though, the transitional period has surprised me.
- What I expected: I thought money would be a Big Problem, and that I would have to spend down my small savings during the first couple of months of this venture. What I got: Not. Just...not. And I don't know why. I thought I was being crazy-frugal before I quit, but I must have been wrong about that, because even though I am not yet bringing in as much as I did from the IPTOG, the money thing seems somehow easier. Whereas before, my account would be in the single digits (no lie) the day before payday, now that never happens. I am conscious of greater care at the grocery store: more lentils, rice, dry beans, potatoes, and eggs; but since I was already pretty cheap this doesn't go far to explain it. One BIG thing: I used to get lunch out & about in Portland twice a week, or more; and sometimes dinner, too, on the days I stayed in town to teach my classes. Nothing much - Tic Tac O rather than DiMillo's - but it added up, apparently more than I thought. Money that I could have been saving. Which makes me think: where's the waste now, that I am clueless about? NOT that I am complaining. The money thing was my big worry (Thanks, Captain Obvious!) and having it turn out okay (so far -- still got winter & oil bills coming up) is a relief the vastness of which cannot be overstated.
- What I expected: With the dead weight of cubicle work cut out of my schedule, I thought I'd finally have time to garden, organize my closets, make sculpture...I thought my working days would themselves be more leisurely. BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAAAA! Leisure? What's that? That earlier post when I envisioned spending the morning preparing deposits and strolling to the post office - yeah, not really. I roll out of bed, feed the menagerie, and head into the studio. After an hour or so I get hungry and go get breakfast, check my email, and go back to the studio. Lather, rinse, repeat, until 7 or 8 pm. Once a week or so I look around and think: This place is a dump, and then I run around for an hour vacuuming and putting things away. I have less free time than I did before. On the other hand, my working time is so much more enjoyable that it is totally worth it.
- What I expected: I didn't so much expect this as fear it, but I worried that Doug and I would get on each other's nerves, since we are both self-employed and working from home now. What I got: That hasn't happened. We work in different parts of the house, and bump into each other when we come down to the kitchen for more coffee. I do kind of miss the "Honey, I'm home!" moment, and I feel like we need to create a new ritual of sorts to take its place; otherwise we risk never focusing on ourselves as a couple, because we are just always there.
- What I expected: Though I pride myself on my rationality, it's clear that I haven't quite stamped out superstition in my own mind, since I was convinced that, once I no longer had the security of the paycheck, something would happen. Not something truly catastrophic, just something. I'd break my wrist and be unable to throw. Or, the car would die and render me unable to get to class or to my sales calls. Or, worse, my elderly mother would get ill, or...or...or... What I got: Speaking of superstition, knock wood! Nothing like this has happened. And really it's sort of narcissistic to imagine that the universe is just waiting for me to be vulnerable, in order to pounce.