Folks, I am going to Calgary for two weeks. Would not have been my first choice, because of the weather, but I am not yet in a position where I can be all that choosy. This is the start of a full-time, long-term, open-ended contracting gig. I am improving their iPhone shopping app. I will work remotely after the initial onsite visit is over.
The contractor company also got me a gig writing a small iPhone app, which I think will be about a week’s worth of work. That one is currently stalled while I am waiting for another guy to do his part of the job. And I have yet another contracting gig that will start on Monday, through a company I found on my own, so I don’t have to split the money with anybody. And there are another two companies waiting in the wings that I have had some conversations with, that might get around to giving me some work eventually.
I’ve been trying to find a way to make money on my own terms ever since I quit my job at the boring corporate company way back in 2008. These are the signs that I am getting a little traction.
If I have succeeded, it isn’t because I got any better at any of the skills needed to make contracting work as a real job. I am still lousy at dealing with people and closing deals. My only “skill” is unwavering tenacity. (Well, my other “skill” is that I am a good programmer, but that doesn’t matter very much at all, I have discovered.) I decided I was willing to be broke and homeless until I made it work somehow. I just kept emailing and emailing and emailing until I found some people willing to put up with my sorry ass.
For a good number of years, my long-term goal was to get back to the Bay Area and work for another A-plus tech company, like the one I worked at back in 2000. What changed my mind was the few months I spent working at home, at the tail end of my boring corporate job. I no longer had to commute through brutal traffic at the beginning and end of the day. I didn’t have to sit in a stupid low-walled cube and try to ignore all the idiots around me. Every afternoon, the dog would guilt me into going for a walk with her. It felt like a chore to leave the house, but I enjoyed those walks at least as much as the dog did. An hour or two of walking and sunshine and real air, every day. That’s as close to what they call “work-life balance” as I’ve ever achieved.
I didn’t know it when I moved in, but the house I was renting was perfect for my chosen lifestyle. It had a couple of bedrooms and a garage. I lived right next to a public golf course. The dog park was only a mile away. I could never afford to buy a place like that in San Francisco, but locally, it is well within my reach. And if I can work remotely and live anywhere, then I can choose a place where the cost of living is downright cheap. I can have all those things and then some. And I can live all over the place until I decide. Amsterdam, Panama, Detroit, Thailand.
I used to fear getting older. But generally speaking, things get better all the time. The terrain inside my own mind is a calmer, happier place than it has ever been.