How did you decide when to change jobs? 

crop faceless person turning shop signboard hanging on glass wall
Photo by Amina Filkins on

The great thing about a question like this is that it presupposes so many things. I mean the easiest answer could be I decided to change jobs when I was fired. But there’s always more to the story than that, isn’t there? Also, which jobs are we talking about? We’re no longer in the age of being a “company man” where you live and die within a singular corporate structure. We’re a long way from Tennessee Ernie Ford’s stylized hero.

If I look at my career history in relation to the question of how did I decide to change, one of the things I notice right off is that I may have had no choice in most of them. I wasn’t fired often, and never for cause, but in most cases when I left a job it was because the job itself ended. When I was working in the film industry, when the film ended, so did my gig. We used to laugh that when we were working, we had all the money but no time, and when we were between shoots, we had all the time, and no money.

But in the spirit of the question, let’s take a look and see if we can’t find specific times and places when I decided to change. Like when I was working for an independent producer (whose name escapes me now) on a Monday in the middle of January one year. I heard her on the phone, laughing with another producer how she hadn’t expected him to be working on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Her exact wording was “that n***er’s holiday.” That was also my last day working for her. I never went back.

In other times, changing jobs was a matter of finding something better, which paid more, had more advancement potential, or was in a different city. I once left a gig as a paste-up/designer for a weekly paper called the Argonaut because they wouldn’t give me the time off for a week-long theatre gig. So, there you have it, really. I always prioritized my creative work over my day job. And when the two overlapped, all the better, certainly.

At the same time, I’ve (almost) never done just one thing. I’ve been a professional writer for many years, even if I wasn’t a full-time one. No matter what else I was doing, I was always writing. In this way, there was always the fall back, always the option to trade out one of the jobs for something more suitable.

When I worked for the Groundlings, which was only on weekends, I tried to make sure whatever else I was doing, I was free on Friday and Saturday nights. My blood pumped for theatre, for performance.

In general though, the time to change jobs is when the job no longer fulfills a purpose for you. You don’t always have to love it. In fact, that’s a great myth, that “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” There are a lot of things wrong with that statement, but the biggest problem is that it implies that if you do something you don’t love, you’re somehow selling out, or not living up to your potential or whatever. No. I refute that. But what I will say is that while you don’t have to do what you love, you should always try to love what you do.

When I worked at Borders on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, there were times when I’d have to work in the café. I was working in there one day with a girl named Amy and we were singing and dancing while we made various beverages. This one octogenarian smiled at us and she said to me, quietly, “you must really love what you do.”

“No, ma’am,” I responded. “But they don’t pay me enough to be able to hate it.”

I’ve been fairly lucky in that regard. No, I’ve never made huge amounts of money, but I’ve always been able to find the fun and enjoyment in what I was doing. When you get to that point, where the money isn’t good enough to make you want to stay regardless of anything else, or when you’re not able to find any fun in it, to me, that’s the time to change jobs.

Tell me about a song that brings back an interesting memory from your youth

241185075_4345170612196389_904449076746889131_nThere’s this weird thing about senses – even though we get most of our information through our eyes, scent and sound are much better for memory recall. And so, this week’s question, about a song that brings back an interesting memory from youth, is a strange hybrid for me. I mean, sure, I’ll answer the question (as well as I usually do with these) but at the same time, I probably won’t answer it very well, because my memories, the ones I will share, are conscious memories. If I were to be completely honest here, I’d just listen to a bunch of music I remember hearing from youth and then let the visceral memories wash over me and report back what I feel. Continue reading “Tell me about a song that brings back an interesting memory from your youth”

It’s been a week…

For the first time since we went online for the Pandemic back in March of 2020, I started a new school year ready to meet some students face to face. To be fair, a year ago, we tried what we’re trying now, but I opted to stay completely online, which worked out to my benefit since it wasn’t long before everyone was online.

But now, a year and a half into this thing, I’ve got a couple of classes which are going to meet in person and last week, the first week of school, we did. It was nice to be in front of a roomful of students, to be able to see and hear their reactions, but even so, it was a bit disconcerting with everyone wearing masks. As of this coming week, I’m supposed to monitor them all (and each class has more than 60 students) to make sure they’ve been vaccinated and if they haven’t, to ask them to leave. And if they don’t leave, I’m supposed to leave. Continue reading “It’s been a week…”