Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

Certain people take great pleasure in teasing me about my wimpy music tastes. While I (grudgingly) admit that there’s a bit of truth to their claims that I only like sad, wispy indie bands, I would also like to point out that one of my favorite albums of all time is London Calling. That’s the one with Paul Simonon smashing his bass on the album cover, and it’s neither sad nor wimpy by any stretch of the imagination.

The reason I mention The Clash (other than to give myself a bit of street cred) is that one of their songs--annoyingly, not off of London Calling, which would have made for a tidier blog post--has been stuck in my head a lot lately. As you have probably gathered by the title of this posting, that song is “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and I’ve been thinking about as I try to decide how much longer to stay in San Francisco.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and it occurred to me one morning last week that I’ve essentially been driving myself insane out here. It’s exhausting to be on the lookout for jobs all the time; it’s exhausting trying to figure out how to spend my days when I don’t have freelance work; it’s exhausting never to be able to plan anything more than two weeks in advance; and it’s beyond exhausting when none of it gets me anywhere. I sort of hoped that once I graduated college I’d morph into some sort of bohemian who could just go with the flow and embrace uncertainty, and while I’ve gone from being a type A+ to a type A- or maybe even a type B+, it turns out that I’m still me, and that means I need a routine and a sense of direction, two things I definitely lack out here.

(UPDATE: After writing that, it occurred to me that I actually had no idea whether or not I’m a type A. I just took a personality test online, and apparently I am smack in the middle of type A and type B. This means I am well-balanced and easy to be around. Sweet. Now hire me so I can share my healthy attitude and general charm with your office!)

I can’t pinpoint precisely when I decided it might be time to stop trying to make it out here, but I woke up one morning about a week ago feeling too drained to plunk myself down in a cafe and get excited about jobs that always turn out to be dead ends. I don’t know that things will be better in Austin, but I’m ready for a bit of sanity and stability and I don’t think I’m going to find them in San Francisco. Moreover, Texas isn’t broke; I know people over the age of 30 and therefore have at least a shot of doing some networking; and Austin isn’t a mecca for highly ambitious recent college grads in quite the same way San Francisco is. Plus my family’s there, and I miss them.

So now what? At what point do I give up? Doesn’t it seem like there should be some kind of guidebook for making this choice? If I go there could be trouble, but if I stay it will be double (or even triple, as I could continue driving myself insane for months). The only thing I can imagine making me feel better about making this impossible choice would be if I could smash my Fender against a stage in front of an adoring crowd after I'd reached a decision.

Since that seems unlikely, I guess I'll just go watch another episode of Freaks and Geeks, which finally came via Netflix yesterday. I can't even describe how much I already love this show. I’ve only gotten through the first two episodes, but I’m already dreading the day when I get to the end of the season. It’s that good.


  1. I object to the way you've labeled this post; your time in San Francisco, whenever it ends, has most certainly NOT been a fiasco. Someday you'll look back and realize (if you don't already) that you've done a ton of really really cool stuff under admittedly difficult circumstances. And need I point out that you've also produced a highly visible portfolio of absolutely brilliant writing in the form of this blog? (Yes, I said brilliant.) You are our hero. Plus you get bonus points for the Clash references and use of the coolest album cover EVER.

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  3. Whoops, I just accidentally deleted my response! Here's what I said:

    As always, thanks for the kind words.

    Also: When I was poking around on Wikipedia yesterday, I discovered that the London Calling album cover is a tribute to Elvis Presley's debut album cover (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley_(album)). You probably knew that already, but I didn't. Very cool, either way.

  4. Hi Lizzie,
    All I can say is that I can't wait for you to be in Austin where we can hopefully have delicious dinner parties and potlucks. Until then, take care.