Monday, January 22, 2007


I don’t know how it happened but I became important somehow – and it’s really starting to have a negative impact on my ability to be a good time.

When I first got out of college, I scored a full time gig writing for a local ad agency in Champaign, Illinois. It didn’t pay a whole lot, but then I suppose I didn’t really work a whole lot, either. We didn’t have a lot of clients, so I had a LOT of down time. I later came to understand that too much down time = unemployment office. But I was young, naive, and carefree, so I played computer games, e-mailed friends, started a couple of screenplays I wouldn’t finish, and kicked off an internet e-letter called All You Need to Know.

Yes - the very same AYNtK. There was a lot going on inside that I felt I needed to get out. And, surprisingly, people were interested in what I had to say. So I kept writing. In many ways, it was more rewarding to me personally than anything I was doing professionally at the time. Truly a labor or love.

Back then I would spend much of my workweek, every week, researching information about news, events, and little known facts…and then sharing that information with people all over the world – most of whom were strangers I would never know. I made fun of a lot of things, too, most of all myself, because it’s important to have a sense of humor. I definitely had a lot of fun back then, which is more than I can say for my poor liver. But the liver is doing much better today…what’s left of it.

In many ways, those were the days. Rent was cheap. Beer was cheap. My taste in everything was cheap. But even then I knew I had way more potential…and eventually, I was going to have to explore the world outside of that small, Midwestern campustown. Not long after 9/11/01, I moved back to sweet home Chicago, where I was born and raised. I got a job at a suburban marketing firm, nearly doubled my salary, and almost immediately began flushing that extra cash away on expensive rent, expensive beer, and more expensive taste in everything. That’s what city living is all about.

That was also when I discovered that there is a different pace to life in the city. People drive you to work harder and longer hours. Traffic congestion, crime, pollution, and other ills of city living began to sink in and I started wondering what the hell I’d done. I was driving myself crazy at the office, assuming more responsibilities by the day and falling asleep at 8:30 every night. It was brutal. Between the long commute and the even longer work day, I found I little time or energy left for myself at the end of the day. But it was good experience to have, however short-lived, if for no other reason than it showed me what was important to me: living close to work, relatively normal work hours, and ambient, natural light.

A year and a half after signing on in that suburban nightmare, I bailed for a small creative shop in the west loop.

Being the only writer at an agency is a blessing and a curse. There’s some degree of job security in being the only guy in house who can turn a phrase, but there’s also a lot of pressure being the only guy in house who can turn a phrase. I learned that mt previous experience was serving me well, and I was a lot better at doing the things the clients pay money for.

And then I got promoted.

And then I got promoted again.

And then I got promoted again. All in just the last year. I’ve been handed more responsibility than I’ve ever had before…an almost frightening amount, to be honest. But I keep accepting it because I know I can handle it. And because it’s good to feel needed. And because I’m still saddled by a tremendous amount of student loan debt. Unfortunately, the promotions came without the pay increases that might typically be expected. But at least now I have more options than I did a year ago. If they can't line your pockets with gold, you need to find that silver lining.

So here I sit - busier than can be. These days I don’t really have a ton of time to research information about news, events, and little known facts. And I don’t really have time to make fun of a lot of stuff, not even myself. Which sucks because it’s important to have a sense of humor. But it’s also important to feel financially secure, and that’s why I’ve been so out of touch lately. I’ve become important somehow - and it's really having a negative impact on my ability to be a good time.

But I can still feel it inside. There’s a lot left to share. A lot left to talk about. And I WILL get it out eventually...

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