Sept. 28, 2019. I must confess. I was nervous diving into the dark, mucky quarry today in 5-foot visibility. The water had all the visibility of swimming in a chocolate milkshake. But, here’s the thing. Once I got down there under the water, it didn’t matter to me that I could barely see my instructor or my dive buddy. I had lots of tasks to do so I didn’t care if I could see. And I realized when I am focused on several tasks, my awareness around me expands. I feel my body floating and I enjoy the sheer act of being in the water. And much to my utter happiness, I always felt so comfortable and calm throughout the tasks – though I still take FOREVER to equalize. So, today I finished Peak Performance Buoyancy, Search & Recovery, and Underwater Navigation. And I completed everything on the first try (well, no, not true – some of the knot tying tripped me up). Next week, I will do Deep Dive & Wreck – off the coast of South Carolina – with SHARKS! Again, I am nervous because I am so worried because it takes me so long to equalize that I will hold everyone up. But I cannot wait to see my first deep wreck dive. Tonight, after we finished up the dives, we walked over to the dive shop bonfire on the other side of the quarry – a few of us sat around in the dark, drinking beer and talking about…well…diving and then dating and then love…but mostly diving. I like diving better than dating right now (that has its own stories coming up). I genuinely love the path I am on…I have found happiness and joy in this sport. And there is such an amazing support group and community around me. Little did I know how walking into my dive shop back in April to sign up for OW and the trip to Curaçao would change the path of my life. I believe there are no coincidences in life. Or maybe they are all coincidences. But this chain of events from then to now took me out of my comfort zone and a life I was settling for. These experiences reminded me of how adventurous and brave and wild and free I truly am at heart. I found myself again. I lost her somewhere…but never ever again. Ever.
Category Archives: Work and Career
Earlier this morning, a co-worker asked me how was my trip to Curaçao. I told him about finally getting Open Water and how this has inspired me to further immerse myself into the world of diving and ocean conservation. He told me about how much he used to love diving and that he got into it from a good buddy of his.
Jim: Yeah, my friend loved diving. He was obsessed with it. We worked in IT together at Verizon. He got sick of working in an office. So he decided to quit it all at 50 years old.
Angela: No shit, that’s awesome. To do what, be a dive instructor?
Jim: Well, to be part of a dive crew on a boat in the Caribbean.
Angela: At 50 years old? That’s some tough grunt work. Damn.
Jim: Exactly, he found out real quick that being on a dive crew is a young person’s game. Even though he was really fit and super healthy. He said he just couldn’t keep up the daily hustle.
Angela: So what did he do? Seems like the best thing to do when you get older is become a boat captain or maybe maybe run a dive shop. He could still have been an instructor.
Jim: Nope, he gave it all up and moved to Texas and became a cattle rancher. He’s still doing it. Loved it.
Angela: WOW. Well, the thing is, he tried out his dream for diving. Found out that wasn’t for him long term. At least he went for it. And then he went for another dream. Sounds like your friend knew one thing for sure – he was never going back into an office.
Jim: Exactly. I wish I could do what he did.
Angela (laughing): Jim, what the fuck are we doing here? Let’s just walk out right now. Let’s do it.
Jim: God, I wish we could. But, money, Angela. Money. Bills. Mortgages. Cars. Health insurance. RETIREMENT PLANS. That’s real life, Angela. Not scuba diving and cattle ranching.
And so ended my conversation with Jim. I’ll take diving and cattle ranching over life in an office any ole’ time. It’s ALL real life. But Jim has some legitimate points and concerns about making big life changes when you are older and feel you have more to lose. Stay tuned.
#nevergiveup #ilovecuracao #girlsthatscuba
Back at it. I LOVE LOVE my dive shop in Raleigh – but it’s dangerous. Came in a couple of hours ago to get an adjustment on my regulator – and left with new equipment, put down a deposit on a boat dive trip to Bonaire coming up, signed up for the Advanced Open Water cert, signed up for the Night Dive campout at the quarry in a couple of weeks, and a boat dive in South Carolina. I am officially hooked, line and sinker.
I’d better leave the dive shop before I sign up for the Honduras dive. I have developed an addiction and I got it bad. But I want to get AOW before I move to Curacao. I want to be full-on ready to take advantage of all of the diving possibilities this island has to offer.
When I lived in DC and worked from home now and again, I’d get stir crazy and miss human interaction – then after a few days in the office I found I couldn’t handle the Dilbertesqueness and day-to-day horrors of office politics. I left the larger corporate world – sure, the money was wonderful, but there was no joy in it.
When I was finally making over six-figures, I believed I had truly arrived in life. That the salary was the culmation of all of my dreams, hard work and, yes, graduate shcool debt. But none of that turned out to be true. I realized that my happiest days were when I was living off of $20,000 a year, traveling the world and immersing myself in other cultures. Learning to understand who Angela was in a global context. Moving from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism.
Lately, I’ve been reading one Princeton professor’s work as to what makes for work-related /career happiness and ultimately general happiness. Before I started reading up on living a life of effective altruism and normative ethics, I already understood I am obligated to give of my time and money to make a difference in the world. If I am in a position to do that, then ethically I am obligated to do so. Once you figure that out, the rest falls into place.
There are lots of sociological & exhaustive psychological studies offering stats on what makes for a satisfying career. In my career and in my voluteer/side pursuits I’ve learned to follow these tenets (and push myself even more on the volunteer side to live these) and it’s what drives me now. For number 6, I had to do some altering of that personal life – for me, it was to quit drinking, smoking and surrounding myself with negative, needy, dark and draining people and people engaged in their own forms of self-destruction (ah, is that altruistic behavior? Yes, if those kinds of people are keeping you from achieving and being all that you can.) Once I did that, my God, it was shocking how much clearer the path became. I also used to believe that my cynicism and dark side were the things that kept me honest – the fact is, acknowledging that I have both of those and looking them square in the face and not being enslaved to them is the most honest pursuit I’ve ever embarked upon. [Editor’s note: about 3 and a half years later, I discovered that I could drink again and do so in moderation and not let it lead me down the dark path – though, when I get tipsy, the desire to light up a cigarette is STRONG in me. But I have scuba diving goals and smoking fucks that up. So, note to Angela – NO SMOKING DAMMIT.]
So without some meme saying trite things like “Follow your passion” (I have a passion for Chinese opera but I won’t find happiness by trying to make a career out of it because I would suck at it on numerous levels – but I CAN support Chinese opera and feel just as fine about that), here is the prof’s simple premise – remember though, these are edicts for people in a position to make choices and who have options – part of fulfilling obligations to helping those in the world who need it or devoting yourself to particular causes:
“Here are the six key ingredients of a dream job:
- Work you’re good at
- Work that helps others
- Engaging work that lets you enter a state of flow (freedom, variety, clear tasks, feedback)
- Supportive colleagues
- A job that meets your basic needs, like fair pay, short commute and reasonable hours
- A job that fits your personal life
- Most importantly, focus on getting good at something that helps others.”
I swear to God, people, it works.
by Angela Perez
When the Life Path Genie appeared before the man in his dull grey cubicle there on the 39th floor of the office building, it really was quite a shock. He had never complained about his work. And while pushing cyber paper and assisting Vice Presidents with important needs and gentle egos wasn’t what he’d dreamed of being when he grew up (he’d planned to be a sexy astronaut or a real pussy magnet in a loud and famous heavy metal band), well, he was never the type to complain.
And while his job wasn’t necessarily as fulfilling as his hobby of raising 20 varieties of daffodils in a tiny hothouse he’d built in the backyard, his job paid the bills and provided decent health insurance for both him and his wife of 10 years.
Although he was middle-aged and in full health, he knew it was just a matter of time before he needed pills of all sorts and regular rectal exams. “That’s the aging process love!” his mother told him before she died last year.
The man often found work fulfillment by sometimes attending a monthly whiskey club some of the lower-level employees on his floor had put together. But he wasn’t much of a drinker so he didn’t always go.
The Life Path Genie showed up the moment he clicked on the third job listing on LinkedIn. POOF! The genie appeared next to his computer. Only 10 inches tall. The man was startled but he didn’t cry out.
“Since you’re in a cubicle, I’ll have to whisper,” whispered the genie. “I see you have been looking for jobs while you’re at work. You know, you could get fired for that.”
“You aren’t wearing little shiny pants,” said the man. “Or a little turban. Where’d you get such a tiny business suit?”
The genie tapped the computer screen impatiently. “These things are of no importance. What is important is that you looked for jobs three times three days in a row from a work computer. Such actions immediately summon me, your personal Life Path Genie.”
“Wait, are you from human resources?” asked the man, looking around nervously. “Are you here to fire me?”
“No, no, no,” said the genie, laughing just a bit. “I’m here to help you find your true life path. Obviously this isn’t it, or you wouldn’t be looking for jobs. At work. That’s really taking a risk you know. IT and human resources could find out and then it’s the axe.”
“Well, it’s not so much that I want to quit. I mean, I have great benefits, the pay is decent. Higher than average really! I’m low-level so I’m not really on the radar of the really super important people in the top levels of management who ensure the continued success of this operation.” The man paused for a second and continued. “Oh, and there was this one woman who was only about 30 years old working in the cubicle next to me and one of the new managers really liked her blonde hair and cute pants and noticed her talents and raised her several pay grades. She was moved up, not for looks, but for talent. It shows that you can get ahead around here if you have talent and combine that with the right pants!”
“Sir,” said the genie, “you’ve been here six years. The flowers of your labor are in full bloom. You come to work early so that the important managers can see you and you stay late, laughing loudly at co-workers’ jokes that aren’t funny, so the managers know you are working late. When, in fact, you are playing solitaire, updating your Facebook page, reading the New York Times online and talking about sports. Is this how you want to spend your life?”
“Well, genie, there ARE worse things to do with yourself,” replied the man. “Like working for the state or with people who don’t speak English.”
“I also know that your wife doesn’t have sex with you anymore because she also isn’t happy in her office job,” said the genie.
“Well, she gives me hand jobs some mornings,” said the man sheepishly. “Sometimes she gives the tip of my dick a right good sucking. What business is that of yours?”
“Good sex is important to finding your life path,” said the genie matter-of-factly. “Well, sir, I think I know all I need to know about you. Get ready, my friend. Your life is about to happen!” And with that, the genie disappeared with a poof that was no louder than an unobtrusive fart.
The man had no time to figure out what had just happened because he had an important meeting to attend that was actually really very unimportant.
That night after arriving home and tending to his tender daffodils, he walked out of the hot-house and stood very still in the quiet of his backyard. It was dark already and the stars were clear and bright. He looked over into the neighbor’s yard and there was the pretty 24-year old school teacher who had moved in only 3 months earlier.
She was naked and looking directly at him. He walked over to her.
“What are you doing?” he asked, feeling blood rushing into the tip of his rather unused penis.
“I’m going to fuck you right here in my backyard,” she said, wrapping her lithe young limbs around his body. “And then I’m going to kill you.”
The man turned to see if his wife was peeking out the window. She was not. He turned back to face the school teacher.
“That’s fine,” he said. “I very much want to stick my cock into you and see where this goes. But please don’t kill me.”
“We shall see,” she uttered softly. “We shall see.”
The next morning, the man’s wife found her husband dead in his hot-house, stabbed in the stomach presumably by the clipping shears protruding from his belly. He was sprawled across the Hoop Petticoat variety of daffodil.
The police speculated that this was most certainly a suicide. When they questioned his wife and the neighbors, including the school teacher, no one knew of any reason that the man had to kill himself.
“We loved each other,” sobbed his wife. “We went to the movies regularly and ate out at lovely restaurants once a week.” When asked about how he felt about his job she replied, “He’d just gotten a 3 percent cost of living raise at work. They allow him access to social media. It was all going so perfectly.”
“He couldn’t have suffered from any kind of despair or disillusionment. Why, why throw our life together away?” she wailed. The wife was inconsolable but comforted by all of the gluten-free and free-range gourmet duck fat casseroles that friends and family had started to bring over to express their sorrow at her loss.
Later that week, at the man’s office, as his department’s administrative assistant cleaned out his desk (there were mostly clip binders and soy sauce packets in the drawer), she found a sticky note addressed to the VP of Human Resources.
“Dear important sir. I did not attend the three meetings I had on my Outlook calendar for tomorrow. I didn’t want to work here anymore.”
“Tsk tsk,” said the administrative assistant. “What could he have wanted to be, poor dear? A VP perhaps!” She was going to give the message to human resources but remembered she had to put out coffee in the conference room because four very important managers were scheduled for a meeting in 10 minutes.