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Monday August 16, 2004, 01:50

The phrase "join the circus" floated past in conversation this evening, and it brought me back several years, when I was sitting in an apartment in lower Manhattan, working at a dotcom, and thinking about leaving my own life at the time to go and join the circus. I had a job that I went to every day as a "junior programmer" and I would walk past the World Trade Center towers on my way to an office in the financial district. My coworkers and I wore jeans and t-shirts in a sea of suits and we would recount funny stories of how the senior software developer was told one day to use the service elevator with the rest of the building staff. I worked late because I didn't really have my own apartment at the time, and when I went home in the evenings, I would work on my own programming projects because it's what I wanted to do. I wasn't really working for love, and I wasn't even really working for money. I think I was working because I was supposed to, and I was doing what I was because I didn't know how to do anything else.

Five months after I joined that firm I did run off and join the circus. I went to another startup, this one with a far shakier financial footing, and spent my days in an office next to rail tracks and a highway in Boston where we tried to figure out how to make a business model out of technology that was never going to work. Suffice it to say, it didn't, and I never really bought into the idea in the first place, which probably did not help matters too much at the time. A couple of months after leaving, I found myself back in New York, jobless and homeless, until I found a sublet and some theatre work. That went along swimmingly, until I found myself programming again and the next thing I knew it was three years later, I had a girlfriend and an apartment, I worked from home and I would go for hours without speaking to another human being.

At some point, that too got tired, and though the freedom was exhilarating and the money was enough to keep me happy, I grew restless and wanted more to my life. This part should start to sound familiar, and so we fast forward to right now, at a quarter past one in the morning, a Monday morning cum Sunday night at the start of another work week. Is this the circus that I have decided to join this time? When I wake up tomorrow morning (if I ever do get to sleep), I will don my clown suit and my funny shoes and I will go to work where I will perform magic tricks and maybe make a balloon animal or two. On a good day I'll be lucky if I manage to make a couple of people smile and end the day with all of my appendages intact. My brain is currently being taxed to an extent that it has not been in the past several years and I am learning skills that will, in fact, serve me in good stead for the rest of my life.

So it is at this point, when I am looking at the clock and noting the passing hours that I realize that I have been hit with some serious ennui. Out of nowhere, pangs of discouragement and dissatisfaction attack the very core of anything resembling conviction that I ever might have had and I feel tonight like there might never be another day worth working ever again. Which is of course ridiculous and simply indicates that today, two and a half months ago, I put on a shirt and tie (the latter of which has not again seen the light of day but which stands by, ready for action on a moment's notice) shined my shoes, and walked into what was, at the time, the great unknown. That the unknown is turning more familiar as the days go by means that the new is becoming somewhat routine (as routine as this so-called "consulting" work can ever get) which means that it is able to earn the distinction of becoming "tedious" or even "taxing."

The drive to do anything was missing this evening, though I have been thinking that part of my lack of motivation could be due to the fact that we watched "Night at the Roxbury" on TBS for the better part of the evening and found that after the film was done, I couldn't muster the energy to sleep, let alone do anything constructive. Now, as the night rolls on and my eyes keep closing in an attempt to fully utilize my cognitive tomorrow at my place of business, I find myself driven to commit words into some sort of e-intangible tangible form that can be archived and shared with the world. Perhaps it is a last-ditch effort to reclaim the weekend, a construct of which that I have been increasingly appreciative. Or perhaps it is simply the need that I have to tell the story of where I am and how it is that I got to be here, because sometimes I don't believe it myself.

At this point we decide to rehash the question of work, of why it is important and why we spend so much time doing it, rather than spending equal amounts of time working and taking care of ourselves. and working on our "own thing."

That all happens in my head though, and in emails from the rest of the world. In reality, in my "Real Life," i retire to bed for another night of recharging before being pulled back into the weekday reality, which I have discovered, bears very little resemblance to the weekend reality. But that requires some thinking into which I do not currently have the mental capacity to handle. So I will not even try.

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