As many of you may know, I have recently been very restless about my current position in life. Music is moving surely but VERY VERY slowly. My apartment situation has been less than pleasing, but I am attempting to remedy this situation by throwing money at it.
Money. The abstract idea that exists mostly in bank mainframes, and yet somehow runs the world, determining what I can do and when I can do it. This brings me to the problem of making more money, the most insidious catch-22 known to modern man.
I have a job now. If I lived in Iowa, for example, the money I make now would be a lot. I would have enough to buy the things I need AND the things I want. I would be able to save, and I would probably never get that drowning feeling I get right about the last week of the month when I know my next paycheck is going to cover my rent and only my rent. However, I live in New York, a city with one of the highest costs of living in the world, even for a solitude-craving, non-drinking, tuna-salad-eating, penny-pincher-not-by-choice-but-by-necessity like myself, and so none of these things are true. This begs the question: why not find a new job?
I majored in music in college. That's right, in MUSIC. Because I put an emphasis on what was important to me, what I really really wanted and needed to learn about deep in the pit of my soul. This does not, however, translate well into the job market. The only people who care that you have a music degree are the people who want to sell you another one.
My resume, on the other hand, tells the story of my geek side. ASP, SQL, web design, tech support, etc, etc. This is the stuff I know, and this is the stuff I would like to do for a day job. Yes, LIKE. When I worked at the Center For Language Study, I LIKED doing my job. I would make things happen - data would talk to other data at my command. I'd find little bugs, and I'd get all frustrated, and when I fixed them, I would truly feel like I accomplished something. I would come home and tell my girlfriend what I had done that day, and I'd be PROUD of it. I believe that everyone should have that in their lives and that we should all strive to achieve this.
But looking at the economy around us, and judging from the lack of response I received last summer, and the lack of response this summer, I am not qualified to do this. I mean, you could have fooled me, but apparently, there is no way for a potential employer to know that, regardless of my lack of a degree in Computer Science, I happen to be able to pick things up very quickly because I'm really really smart. :)
And so it would seem that I, like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, need a degree to prove my intelligence. A degree in computer science. And I know you're all thinking, Arthur, going back to school? But he hated school!
Yes. Yes I did. I hated the lack of autonomy over my own mind and my own free time. I hated the teachers who acted like you owed them something when they were giving you nothing in return. I hated final exams. But I loved my computer science classes. They gave me that sense of accomplishment and they allowed me to prove to myself that it wasn't that I was somehow dumber than everyone else, it wasn't that I wasn't capable of doing well in school - it was merely that what they had to tell me was usually useless and their means of presentation inhuman. Most importantly, CS classes enabled me to systematically acquire knowledge that not only remained useful outside of the classroom, but actually truly held my interest!
Of course, here we come to the catch that I'm sure we're all familiar with. To get a better-paying and more interesting job, I need another degree. This much is clear. To buy this degree, I need more money. Lots of money. You know what would really help in getting that money? A better-paying job. Might as well be more interesting while I'm at it, so I don't end up shooting somebody.
In addition, the fact that I have a BA in Music is not going to be helpful during the application process. Every place that looks really good and really interesting wants you to have a degree in CS or EE or something to tell them you're capable of doing this stuff. Listen up, universities! I can do this shit! I've done it before and I'll do it again!
As always, the answer, depressing as it may seem, is to compromise. I'll probably have to take a few post-bac CS classes to qualify - I know that NYU has a built-in infrastructure for my problem, but I don't know who else will. I'll have to sink deeper and deeper into debt. I'll probably have to move to a smaller, less expensive city for a while just to keep afloat. I'll have to keep doing music on the side, cause ain't no one gonna pay me to sing half-finished songs with no lyrics while pounding though chords on the piano. And every once in a while, I'll ask myself, is this really worth it?
But hell, I do that anyway.