I'm quitting my job today. For some reason I feel nervous about it, even though I know that I should be okay financially for a little while, and even though I haven't enjoyed this job or found it fulfilling for a long time. It's nearly eleven in the morning, and I find myself putting it off in my mind, thinking "I'll do it in an hour, or maybe just after lunch." I have no reason to be nervous - I don't think anyone is going to be angry with me, or even particularly regret that I'm going.
It's strange timing on my part - my company is just about to move out to a business park very close to where I live. On the other hand, it's perfect timing, because it's just after the 1-year mark, after which I get to keep shares that I have in the company. So if it ever does well, gets taken over, etc, I could make a lot of money. Of course, I could stay longer and keep even more shares, but I don't think I can do that.
The main reason for leaving is that Lindsay and I are planning to move to the States in winter, but I'm handing in my notice at least a month earlier than necessary, because I can't stand it here any more. I've lost some strength in my mouse hand and have started using the mouse left-handed. My eyes are becoming strained from staring at the screen all day. I don't enjoy the work I'm doing - from interesting, relational database design work, I've been reduced to mindless duplication of ASP.NET and VB.NET code and repetitious, painstaking results testing which makes me want to throw up on my keyboard. If I get the bus to work, it's usually eight o'clock or later by the time I get home, and I'm tired and stressed and in a bad mood, which affects my relationship with Lindsay. Recently I've been cycling to work, which is much nicer and puts me in a good mood, but it's about 10 miles and I'm not able to do it every day yet, and especially not when it's raining.
We were supposed to move at the end of June. Then July. Then August. Then September. Now October. Just like were supposed to release version 2.0 of the software in May. Then July. Then September, now October. As I like my job less and less, my productivity has gone steadily downwards, to the point where it's now not an unusual thing for me to spend 90% of my time before lunch playing chess on the Internet, followed maybe by writing a node after lunch, playing some more chess, and doing just enough work to keep myself from getting fired. All of this has made me feel like I have no purpose here - I'm just a test rat running a maze to get food. Plus, my boss has noticed that my work has been suffering, and he doesn't like it, and tells me, which makes me feel even worse, because there is no way for me to improve. I can't make myself care about the work any more.
If I quit now, after I finish working my month's notice period I will be able to go about two months before I need to get another job. That should be enough time for my Visa application to go through, and we will be in the states, backed up by money that my dad has promised us. If the visa takes longer, or is refused for some reason, then I guess I can get another job. And in the meantime I can get some serious writing done, and get really organised about sending away poems and stories. I can be a house-husband and take care of Lindsay while she works (she's going to an interview tomorrow and it looks like she'll probably get it).
I've been working for four years now with occasional holidays, and it's starting to get to me. I wake up between seven and eight every morning whether it's a weekday or not, and no matter how late I stay up the previous night. I spend a lot of time on anxious thoughts - I worry about money and security, how things will turn out in the future. I distract myself with compulsive activities - chess is a big one. Before you laugh at that idea, consider the case of someone who will play bullet chess (1 minute each for all moves) for 5 hours, until his fingers are numb, his eyes are sore and his brain is traumatized, and still want to keep going. I do it because I am stuck here in this office, and it's sunny outside, and my brain doesn't want to do this work any more, and I need to distract myself from all of these things. All this is scary to me because I am not like this unless I'm very unhappy, and I think I've been avoiding admitting to myself how unhappy I am because I needed the money from the job.
When I started working, it was almost as a joke. I was the biggest hippy you can imagine - I had long hair, I juggled obsessively, smoked pot, lived in a dirty, smelly house with four fellow jugglers, hung around Leeds university, and didn't want to do anything except write and chill out have friends, and maybe get enlightened, if it wasn't too much effort. I only took the first job because someone offered it to me, and I had nothing better to do. I thought it couldn't hurt. I didn't cut my hair, but I did buy a suit and stopped smoking so much pot, and made the amazing discovery that I really liked databases. My life began to change totally as I discovered how amazing it was to feel the power of being able to provide for myself and being disciplined enough to hold down a steady job. It was all stuff that I really needed to learn in my life, and I don't regret any of it, but my natural personality is starting to reassert itself in a way that I can't ignore any longer. This may mean that I'm never going to be "financially secure". An Indian friend once read my palm, and told me that I would never want for money to the extent that I would be starving or homeless, but that I would also never be able to hang on to money. It would pass through me freely.
A friend of mine recently gave up a €400+/day IT contracting career to take a 6-month cooking course and try to become a chef. He's currently unemployed in West Cork, having quit two minimum-wage cooking jobs, but planning to open his own restaurant in March 2003. He's pretty scared about the future, but he knows he's doing what he wants to do. I don't know if I'll work in computers again - when we go to the states I might have to for a while at least, until we get settled - but I know that I've come to the end of the road right now. I can't make myself work any harder or care any more. I've got the beginnings of CTS and I don't want it to get worse, or to go short-sighted over a job I don't even want. And I need time to write, because when I'm not writing I feel like a blocked pipe.
So I guess I should stop talking about it and go do it. I'll post an update later.
UPDATE: I did it! It was much nicer than I thought it would be - my boss apologised for criticizing me and told me that on the whole he was very happy with my work, and that he hoped I wasn't leaving because of what he said to me. He even promised to write me a glowing reference. I feel very good now. I'm going to call Lindsay.