Well, it finally happened — the layoff genie landed on my shoulder last Thursday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, however, it was quite a shock to log in for that meeting and see an unfamiliar name on the call — an HR person. Nine years I’ve been at that job, and frankly, the past several have been pretty unpleasant. But it was a good job in a bad economy, and so I stuck it out until they decided that they don’t need editors any more, or they don’t like remote workers, or whatever corporate algebra goes into deciding who to vote off the island. Luckily it’s a very large company, and the severance package was quite generous. Also in my favor — I’d seen it coming and I’d landed some freelance work that I think will, eventually, support me.
But wow. Time to put everything I know about living small to the test. I’m getting more hens tonight — the rooster is going off to live on an actual ranch (not the proverbial ranch where all of our old dogs went when we were children), so there’s another source of protein out of the backyard. And last week we saw an ad in the paper for a whole pig, cut, wrapped, butchered with hams and bacon cured for a really reasonable price, so this afternoon I ordered a pig.
While getting laid off was a shock, it reminded me that I moved here with the intention of getting out of that job eventually. I knew that if I wanted to write, I’d need to find a place where I could afford to live on less money. Unlike some of my California co-workers, I have a really reasonable mortgage, and I’m not upside down on my house. My car is paid off, and while I owe more on the credit cards than I like, and while I’ve still got that student loan from my PhD, I’m in pretty good shape. My goal was always to downsize, and while I had hoped it wouldn’t come so soon, it does come as something of a relief. I was unhappy in that job, but it was too good to quit. Being laid off means I have six months to finish my novel, build up a freelance career, pay things off, and make the transition. I’ve never had six months support without a job in my life.
So like I said. Time to get serious about living small. Time to get back to what Gary Snyder calls the “real work.” Time to dust off the writer/artist/hippie I cast aside when I took that good solid sensible corporate job. And so far, it’s been really lovely — I’m sleeping again. Chuck and I went for a really long hike yesterday. I re-organized my office so I can reclaim it for my own work. I printed out the poor neglected novel and figured out a thing to make the first part better (which unfortunately means I have to rewrite it again, but oh well.) I have some freelance work on deck, which looks both interesting and reasonably lucrative. So we’ll see. In eighteen months I could be really regretting this, but for now, it all looks sort of hopeful.