I never figured out how to live, despite the good examples of my parents. My father was an adventurer. My mom was a hard working mother who juggled her career, kids, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and full on construction on whatever house she was living in. Their spouses were both good examples in their own way. Dad’s wife is a consummate professional type designer, and mom’s husband is a hard working man who dedicated himself to his spouse, and we kids.
They’re all better at socializing, or at least networking, than I. Dad was a bartender, calligrapher, and all around an outgoing person. Mom is a great hostess. She meets people through church, volunteering, and in her neighborhood. I don’t know how well mom’s husband would do on his own, but he worked in stage lighting for shows in Reno. He probably would’ve been okay. I mean, he did meet, date, and marry mom. My dad’s wife is kind of a loner, but she has developed the skill of building professional relationships, at the least. She also has organizations, like the Friends of Calligraphy, to meet people, which is more than I can say.
I’m kind of a social dunce. Also, I never gelled on the adventuring or domestic lifestyle. I never joined the military, merchant marines, bartended, bounced, or found another route to travel and adventure. I got the stable, corporate job, but I never got the family and kids, or developed the neighborhood social skills that goes with a happy, or at least fulfilled, domestic lifestyle. I spend way too much time in my books, T.V., the internet, and other solitary pursuits.
I am happy that I accept myself in my middle age. In my 20’s and 30’s I came down hard on myself. I’d punish myself for not making friends, or having a girlfriend, or advancing my career. There were some dark years in there. Now I’m lonely sometimes, but I don’t despair over it like I did.
Maybe the most fortunate thing for me is that I liked technology. I always enjoyed video games, and a lot of my early technical curiosity developed from trying to get the most out of Doom on a 386 PC. This led to a paid internship, and then job, at Intel. While I never made it into CS or other really high paying positions in tech, even low paying positions beat the heck out of retail or warehouse work.
I don’t have a wife and kids. I have a house, but it’s not a source of pride for me. It saves me from the ravages of ever increasing rents, but it’s a bit neglected under my ownership. Some people really take pride in their homes. To me the walls kind of fade away, and as long as it isn’t rotting out from under me, or a complete swill heap, it just fades into the background. Upkeep on a house and yard is a lot of work when one doesn’t derive satisfaction from them. I’d much rather be an apartment dweller, but rents have been insane.
I took the last year off to learn 3D modeling in Blender. I took on a couple of roommates to help offset the lack of income. They pay on time, but I don’t think the three of us are really comfortable in each other’s company. I know if I was making enough I’d have the house to myself again. Heck, if I was making enough I’d move into an apartment and forgo ownership altogether. Now the year’s coming to an end, and I need to make money again. . . but to what end?
I’ve been looking at America, and inexpensive living is just so difficult to do here. There are few cities where the price of rent makes sense compared to what one can make there, unless one’s working a “high energy” corporate gig.
It seems like institutions have been doing everything they can to close out loop holes for inexpensive living. Good luck finding many live aboard slips if you want to be a boater. If you do, they’re way more expensive than they once were, with more restrictions.
Rents in RV and mobile home parks are going up, as well as adding restrictions like the age of the home you can bring to the park. Let’s face it, with my aversion to maintenance I’d probably be a horrible RV or boater anyway.
My ideal home would be something like a modern, well built tiny home with a plot that’s just a little bigger than the house itself, and in no need of immediate maintenance. Somewhere close to a light rail line, and without a “park fee” or other HOA. That just doesn’t seem to exist, and there don’t seem to be cheap houses in any town that isn’t dying.
Too many American condos seem to have been built by shady contractors where the shortcuts they took don’t show up until they’re no longer available to be sued, and one can get stuck with insane assessments on top of the $400+ monthly dues on top of one’s mortgage. The associations are a huge pain in the ass too. If I bought a condo I’d prefer it to be run like a well organized apartment complex. There’d be a management company to take calls about the leaky faucets, a maintenance crew that didn’t totally bilk the association, and few meetings with the board other than to affirm the management company is doing its bit. Instead, the pettiest people with the most time on their hands burn up the board’s time.
Also, I’ve found that if I’m working independently a Minnesota winter is hard on me. I’ll join a gym this winter, but it’s work to get my energy up when it’s dark at 4pm and 20 degrees or less outside. I really miss the San Francisco weather.
So, what is one to do? I like the idea of doing enough animation to sustain myself. Can I do that? It’s a ton of work, and at first I wont’ be very prolific. Maybe I can add streaming and/or voice over work to help get me by. Maybe I can sell some products. Postcards of the work I’m producing. Prints. T-Shirts. Figurines.
If I freelance, and make enough money, I can do it from nearly anywhere. I’d love to visit New York, and I miss San Francisco, but I don’t really want to work as much as I think I’d have to to really thrive in those cities.
I’ve been looking a little at living abroad. Maybe not permanently, but for a few years. I really enjoyed my time in Japan. Part of that was having the Japan Rail Pass, which wouldn’t be available to me as any sort of a resident, but Japan’s kind of restrictive on what it takes to live there. I don’t have a four year degree. I don’t want to teach English as a second language.
Maybe Europe? I looked at Portugal and Spain. Living there seems surprisingly affordable. Mass transit is a lot better than here. There seem to be better local stores that aren’t super sized markets. You can get an apartment or flat that’s like a condo, but the association dues are way less expensive. Rent’s less expensive too.
Moving doesn’t fix who I am. I’ll still be that solitary guy who spends too much time on his computer, but I really enjoyed my time in Japan. If I can swing making money in 3D art, maybe I can do it in Europe. It’s something to think about. Some of the happiest times I’ve had have been in places that were new to me, with relatively easy access to trains. I love travel by train as opposed to flying. The month I spent in Japan was great.
I’d still have a lot to do before I could just take off. I should get my 315 pounds down to something sane. Same with my blood pressure. My blood work is probably horrible too. Way too much cholesterol, etc. in me. I’d need to actually start making money with YouTube or whatever. I’d still not be great at socializing, and I probably wouldn’t even speak the language well even if I started learning it tomorrow. I’d have to sell most my stuff. If I could get a money stream that I enjoy and allows me to work from anywhere, I think I could enjoy a few years in Europe.