The last several months, after taking my leap, have felt like I took a big dive off of Mt. Everest. At first it felt liberating, falling through the crisp mountain air. After all, I had a long way to go to reach the ground that seemed so far to land. But I also knew that I would land eventually, and when I did, if I did not do everything in my power to stop my rocket-like descent, I would fail and be squished like a little gnat on that cold, rocky precipice. I also knew that even if I did do everything in my power, success was not assured. Even today, at this very moment, my success is not assured. I estimate that even with recent good news, I have about a 60% chance of surviving this. I may be prejudiced. The recent good news makes me giddy. The crux of the matter though is that living in Silicon Valley is a very expensive prospect.
When one comes from a life of labor such as I have, with no connections to speak of, it was truly a foolish thing for me to move out here. But all I knew was that I played by the rules for most of my life. Hard labor, scrimping and saving led to a slow sense of disappointment and creeping dread as we worked harder, got older, and inflation took more and more of what we made. So I chose this land, of desert and pines, near the pacific to plant perhaps my last (and only) flag, throw my intellectual reasons and fears for staying in PA and make my stand.
My experience so far with Silicon Valley people in general, and San Jose people in particular has been positive. It has taken, and continues to take my screaming at the top of my lungs to get noticed, but I have had some people give me the chance I always wanted. A chance for a fair shake, to advance when I do a job well done. Through these fleeting months, hope has turned to despair at times. However, just when we seem to be reaching the end of our rope, we have at times gotten a gleam of something brighter in our future that helps us continue our swim against the tide for one more day. I cannot say that failure is not an option. Of course it is. But it is a terrible option that would probably break our hearts and spirit. I will fight that until the end. I must be remain and fight.
This week has been a succession of pretty good news. I have landed employment. My wife has landed a part time job also. They are stable if not glorious jobs. Not enough to pay our way here, but at least slow down the free-fall. This is good, because the ground was getting near enough that I could see it coming up quickly. Our reprieve will grant us a few more months. Maybe enough time to make our plans work.
I also got my life insurance license today. Much hinges on this, as my graphic design job will not pay our way. Neither will my wife’s job, even it she eventually makes my wages full time. However, if I am successful in making some extra money a month from my selling financial services, we might make it. If I start doing decent at it, we might even thrive.
My new graphic design job I think could help me also. I hope, if I cultivate a decent relationship with my employer, that he could farm some of his more complex jobs to me so I can finish them in the evenings. The shop I work at seems like what I worked before – fast and furious. I doubt he would want to stop for slow and complex works of art that I am capable of. But I think we could help each other. I could do illustration and more complex graphic design for him as an outside business. Then I could give him the printing. This could be a lucrative business for the both of us. Only time wil tell. He would have to trust me, as well as work to offer me.I am hopeful, as he has been in the business for some time, and he may have extensions that run deep in the community.
I also have a friend from home who has a brother who lives in Mountain View. They are both well entrenched the computer industry, and may be able to offer me help with contacts, advice, headhunters, etc. My friend has offered to help me. What comes of it, I don’t know. But the fact he offered warms my heart that I have friends who will try. For now, that is all that matters.
What I have learned is that here, and perhaps everywhere, leverage is everything. You have to use every tool you have at your disposal. Get to know as many people as you can, as quickly as you can. Learn any skill that makes you useful. Even if they are ones you never thought you would use or be good at (i.e. Life Insurance). Because you have to survive before you can thrive. Although I am not thriving yet, my wife and I have made some steps towards that end.
I have heard something in one of my insurance classes that inspired me. Our instructor said “you can’t change your life in one day…but you can change your direction”. It is my hope that all people who read this, be they artisans or not, take this to heart.