A few minutes ago it was 1:55 AM. Now it is 1:09 AM. God, I HATE being at work during the switch from daylight to standard time! Anyway...

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from my ex, Tim. He was facing a possible layoff at his company and wanted to pick my brain about it. Having gotten laid off from every single job I've had since leaving the Police Department, I'm somewhat of an expert. Ha HA. So he asked me about all the usual stuff, like unemployment insurance, COBRA, severance, etc, etc. He then complained about how inherently unstable jobs are in hi-tech. I agreed, and noted that the very nature of the job made it very dynamic, and dynamic isn't necessarily a good thing because it makes employment less stable than other lines of work.

I mentioned that I have been thinking a lot lately about wanting to leave hi-tech altogether. I like what I do, but I don't love it. It's just that I don't know what else to do that would pay me as much money. I'd probably be happier being a bookstore clerk or working in a small coffee house, but then again there's no way I could live on $10 an hour. At least not here in the Bay Area. Tim agreed. He said that he's spoken to quite a few people who work in hi-tech about changing careers, and most of them have talked about wanting simpler jobs. I'm not surprised. I think that for a lot of people, the only reason they stay in tech jobs is the money. It's easy to enjoy working with networks, or software, or computers, but I think that it's not as easy to be passionate about it. Hence the talk about being a barrista or a toy store owner or a waiter. I mean, if you're gonna have a job that you're not passionate about, might as well have one that doesn't come with so much professional angst, right?

I told Tim that I just need to find a higher-paying tech job and stay there a couple (or 3) more years in order to get all my finances in order. "Finances in order" as in wiping out all my debt and having a decent amount of savings (both kinds - retirement savings and an "oh shit" fund). After that, I would have no problem changing to a lower-pay, lower-angst job. Of course, this would mean that Bay Area housing would become unaffordable.

As it is now, it's already pretty unaffordable, anyway. I've almost become resigned to the idea that I'll never be able to afford to buy a house here. Unless there is a big market correction (read: CRASH) and housing prices come tumbling down, I really don't see how I could afford to buy. No, don't even start about "creative financing options" like interest-only loans and such. I am slowly starting to believe that if I want to be a homeowner, it will have to be someplace other than the SF Bay Area.

But that's the thing. I'm at a point in my life where I don't really have to live in Silicon Valley. I wouldn't mind moving someplace cheaper. They caveat is that whatever place that may be cannot be in the South, the Midwest, or the Plains states. And there has to be a lot of outdoor activity options. These days I'm a big homebody (my home or Bill's), couch potato type. But back when I lived in Menlo Park I was outside all the time, whether up in the Santa Cruz Foothills or the hiking trails behind Stanford.

I'd be happy with job that has lower stress and lower pay (IF my cost of living were also lower). A job like that may not be as intellectually challenging as a network engineering job, but what I've come to realize in my old age is that to me that's no big deal. I've never looked at a job as anything other than a means to an end (i.e. money to live on), anyway. I'm not one of those people who define themselves by what they do. All I want is something that pays enough to allow me to live a decent life without stressing me out too much. Oh, and that provides health benefits. Heheheh. I think this is a sign that I should seriously explore an exit strategy and figure out how to get out of this rat race...

Man! If only I could win the lottery! heheheh.