I’m a little late in mentioning here that Jessica and I are moving to Denver after we return from Peru. The possibility first came up a few months ago, but we just signed a lease this weekend, so it’s fairly certain now. I also signed a contract this weekend, to become a web developer at the Integer Group. Astute readers will notice I am already a web developer at the Integer Group. I’m just moving from the Des Moines branch to the Denver branch.

I’m also moving from working remotely back to an actual office. For much of my life, my dream job was to work from home online. When Jessica found work in Illinois after searching for teaching work in Des Moines, I actually had the opportunity to work from home online. I was surprised to discover it wasn’t all I had hoped. It was certainly a luxury to be able to fold laundry while thinking about issues at work, but it was also somewhat of a burden to be thinking about issues at work while folding laundry.

And living in a small rural town didn’t help much either. I wasn’t especially excited about Denver itself until our visit this weekend, but now I am. There’s a lot more going on near our new place in the middle of Denver than our old place twenty minutes outside of Carbondale. I wasn’t really happy with working from Carbondale, and Jessica wasn’t really happy with working from Des Moines, so hopefully we can both be happy working from Denver.

My work transition is actually a bit more than just moving between two branches of the same company; my job will actually be changing slightly. For example, I’m currently one of three full time web developers in Des Moines, but I will be the only full time developer in Denver. The company is twice as large in Denver, so I’ll have a bit more responsibility. But I also won’t be doing any work for client websites as I do now, only making internal tools for the people at Integer.

So I still have two more weeks in Des Moines, helping to train my replacement, Dan. Then we have a week and a half in Peru for vacation (scheduled before Denver came up). Then I head out to Denver, with Jessica to follow shortly after. Hopefully I’ll be done moving and travelling for a while after that. It’s exhausting to be in a different city almost every week. But Denver was certainly worth the visit this weekend, and I have high hopes it will prove worth the move later this month.

 

One of my university professors told me a secret about how he would decide how much homework to give his students. The secret was: it doesn’t matter. Students will complain that any amount of homework is too much, and then they’ll find time to do it. A student with only one class and very little homework will somehow fill her schedule such that the very little homework seems to be taking too much time, but is still possible to complete. And a student with five classes all with extensive homework will somehow clear her schedule such that the homework seems to be taking too much time, but is still possible to complete. Time is magically elastic for university students.

When I worked in an office, I would go to work in the morning, then back home for lunch, then back to work in the afternoon, then back home at night. During those trips, I occasionally imagined how much more time I would have to do things I should be doing more often (e.g cooking, reading, exercising). Four trips a day at ten minutes per trip, plus time packing up and unpacking on each end, must be at least an hour of every day I spent in transition.

Now that I’ve been working from home for a while, I have almost no time lost in transition. Yet I notice the extra time hasn’t materialized. I can now work in the kitchen, and somehow I still feel like I don’t have time to cook a good meal for lunch. My time appears to be just as elastic as it was when I was a university student.

Where does time go when it stretches? For a full time student, I think the time goes primarily to socializing. When your friend invites you to go somewhere and you don’t have pressing homework, it would seem rather unlike a student to decline the invitation. And a university is full of friends inviting each other to go places. Socializing is a black hole, endlessly sucking in all student time not otherwise attracted to a mass of homework.

For me, the black hole is web work. I try to restrict myself to close to forty hours a week for my full time employer, and though I almost never reach that goal, that’s not really the problem. My time sink is largely freelance work. When someone offers me money to work on an interesting project, it just seems odd to decline. What would I even say? “No thanks. That sounds interesting, and I like money, but I’d rather read books and cook better meals.“ Maybe I should say that, but I don’t.

Your black hole is what you won’t regret. When your university friends come back from the bar, and you’ve just spent a few hours making sure you understand the subject really well instead of just okay, you’re going to regret the missed opportunities at the bar. But they won’t regret the missed studying. And when that really neat website launches after I turned down the opportunity to work on it so that I could learn to make Pad Thai instead of Mac and Cheese, I’ll be regretting the missed opportunity on the web, but I don’t yet regret the Mac and Cheese.

So it turns out time is elastic for everyone, not just students. And we all just choose a different black hole to suck it up. Some day I hope to be the kind of person whose black hole is the simpler things in life: good food, good books, health, a sunny day. But right now my black hole is interesting web work. I don’t need more time, and most likely you don’t either. What’s your black hole, sucking up all your free time? TV? Books? A sunny day?

 

I’ll be playing at the Continental Lounge in Des Moines again this Wednesday, and then next Wednesday, and I suspect the Wednesday after that, but I didn’t want to push my luck. The owner of the Continental Lounge seems to like my music, so I expect to play there regularly, until I move. Which brings me to the other news:

Jessica has a job that starts in a few weeks teaching at Southern Illinois University. It’s not all finalized yet, but it seems likely she’ll be leaving for Carbondale in a couple weeks. “But Scott,” you say, “SIU is in Carbondale, and your job is in Des Moines. How is that working?” It’s not really. Not yet, anyway. For now, I’m staying here in Des Moines while Jessica starts work in Carbondale. Interesting honeymoon, I know, but I’m confident it will work out.

There’s a small chance Jessica will still find a good ESL teaching job in Des Moines, in which case I won’t move to Carbondale at all. There’s a slightly more likely scenario that I’ll find a job in Carbondale in the next few months and move there then. But neither job market seems very good for our respective vocations right now, so the most likely scenario seems to be that I’ll stay here until the end of the year, then join Jessica in Carbondale and be unemployed do freelance work.

So the next few months will double as both a stalling tactic in making a major transition and a chance to save up some money with both of us working full-time jobs at the same time before I no longer have steady income. It will also give me a chance to hone my musical skills if I am left with no choice but to become a world-famous musician for a living.

It’s all rather up in the air right now, but worst case scenario: Jessica works full-time, I try to make more than I spend online, and we adopt a lower-cost lifestyle than we’ve been living lately. I trust we can get by without the money fires.

Photo from slight clutter

 

Steve Rogne is a friend of mine from university days. We were apartment mates for about a year and a half. He recently became the Director of Zen Shiatsu Chicago. I’ve done a bit of revamping of their website for him, including giving Steve his own URL (because everyone should have a URL). I hope to get a blog set up for them soon (because everyone should have a blog). Speaking of blogs and new jobs, Dan has both (as everyone should).

Back to me. Last week I met with the bassist — let’s call him "Chris" (because that’s his name) — and we "jammed." Whenever anyone talks about "jamming," I think of it as some sort of improvisational music performance that I don’t know how to do. But really it’s just short hand for "playing music." At least that’s what we did. It went okay for the first time. It looks tentatively like the makings of a band (because everyone should have a band).

Speaking of bands, a week from now Jessica and I are having a wedding (because everyone should have a wedding). As far as the state of Iowa is concerned, we were actually married back in January, but the ceremony will be next weekend, and as far as our grandmothers are concerned, no ceremony means to marriage. We’ve attempted to plan it such that it will be more fun than stressful, so hopefully it will turn out that way.

If you’re interested in showcasing your home for a chance to win … looks like about $25,000 in prizes … Benjamin Moore’s current promotion began at 12am yesterday morning. I made the entry form. I also recently worked on the website for ICM, so if you need some work done on your ethanol refinery (because everyone should have an ethanol refinery), I recommend checking that out.

If you don’t yet have a URL, a blog, a new job, a band, a wedding, or an ethanol refinery, please let me know if I can be of any assistance. Because really, everyone should.