April 04, 2004

Musings on the Anniversary of My Emancipation

April 1st one year ago, five years to the day after I started there, I took my last walk into Ketchum to drop off the paperwork that got me a little bit of money and 30 days more of health insurance, which, at nearly $1000 per month for COBRA, was like walking in to receive a gold nugget.

The weather hit spring here a couple of weeks back. As the softness returned to the air, it dawned on me that April Fools day had more meaning than the tricks Jenna tried to pull over on us all day long. I remembered that it had been a year since my emancipation from the corporate world.

The realization hit suddenly, since I generally go missing from myself somewhere around St. Patrick's day. When the dogwood blossoms sprang and I got wind of the season having changed, I had a few different thoughts (listed in no particular order) on the startling fact that I had made it through my first year as an independent consultant of the "writing" flavor:

1) holy shit, I made it!
2) holy shit, I'm tired.
3) holy shit, it's tax time!
4) holy shit, holy shit.

For me, the transition from agency to my own business has not been as jolting as it might have been if I hadn't already been working from home.

Essentially, I realized significant efficiency gains, as one might say if one had to write such phrases for a living, through having only ONE email account to check each day, only one channel through which clients and friends could communicate with me electronically.

Gone was my Ketchum email with so many dozens of messages each day, approximately 1/4 of them useful to me; Gone was Lotus Notes (praise be!), a requirement for working on IBM; gone was YAHOO messenger (another IBM team requirement); gone was logging into the corporate Intranet; gone were meeting notices.

gone gone gone.

On April 2nd, 2003, it was just me and bellsouth.

I felt both puny and free.

No more teams. No more resources. No more "global network" or best practices.

Sometimes, what's missing is just what needs to be missing.

One thing that eased the transition from part-time corporate citizen to full-time Net citizen was my home in blogspace. This space has been my workplace for so long now that losing my "internal" business colleagues was far less traumatic than it might have been. When you work from your couch for five years, and then you sign some paperwork, and go back home and work from your couch another year, the realworld watercooler just doesn't figure into the grief equation.

The friends I had "inside" are still my friends (though few are left "inside") and the only difference is that I get emails from them at my home email account. I've collaborated or have been turned on to work by so many of them over the past year, that they really haven't gone anywhere. And neither have I. At the sametime, we've all gone everywhere compared to where we'd been.

During this first year I had some pretty cool successes, and I'm thinking I need to round up links to what I can and update my e-portfolio (which I haven't touched in a year). If I do, I might post some links here, to remind myself what year one of my sole proprietorship was like.

I don't miss my real job. It seems so unreal to me now. A flip in perspective, a flip in priorities.

It seems unreal that I ever made the commute, infrequently as it might have been; it seems unreal that I ever sat in that cube, or in my fancy glass office at the job before Ketchum; it seems unreal that I ate lunch at restaurants; it seems unreal that I ever talked to clients on a phone with a tethered receiver; it seems unreal that I printed on a laser printer; it seems unreal that I ever knew what time it was.

It sees unreal that I ever did anything other than what I'm doing right now.

And I guess, in some ways, that's because I never have.