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Nuclear option

  • Tagged The life, The family
  • Commenters Paul, Drew Myler, Daniel X. O'Neil, Paul Smith, Megan McElwain, Claire Bidwell Smith, Gram Amy

I got a job. An actual, full-time, direct-depositing, insurance-giving job.

This news comes as unexpectedly to me as much as it might to you, given how fruitful and satisfying freelance life has been for the past four years. Strangely, I had been thinking about it a lot lately, considering how long I thought I’d keep up the business before I got drawn back into the salaried life. I figured it would be years. Turned out to be months.

The job is doing design, full-time, for EveryBlock.com. EveryBlock is a site that collects news and important information from across the web and aggregates it by location, so you can easily see exactly the news that is relevant to you, based on your block, neighborhood or ZIP code. It’s a simple concept executed beautifully, both in design and function, and it has been since the beginning. (If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Sign up for an account and get the news delivered to you every day.) I’m honored, and humbled, to join the team of brilliant folks, and to fill the shoes of the inimitable Wilson Miner, EveryBlock’s designer since day one.

The story of my joining is a bit of a slow burn situation. Soon after the site launched in 2008, I approached Wilson at SXSW, fanboyishly, and told him I’d love to be a part of it. I was speaking nebulously — I wasn’t asking for a job, I just wanted to make something that put me in orbit of the site. Nothing tangible came of that conversation — for almost three years. Then in August, Adrian, the man in charge, emailed me and asked if I wanted to apply for the job Wilson was leaving. I actually said something along the lines of “probably not, but let’s talk.” We talked, talked some more, and agreed on a three-month, two-day-a-week contract, to see if we worked out for each other.

Meanwhile, I did some handwringing. Shutting down Methodtree was not an easy decision. How do I just close the door on something I’ve built up for four years? I thought about it for months. Finally I figured it out: this kind of job is exactly what I had be building towards. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Two months into our contract, I told Adrian, “I’m in.”

Freelance life, it has been very very good to me. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to make a life doing it, and to support my family, too. It started out on a whim, back in our childless days, when I felt more freedom to take that kind of gamble. It has been greatly successful, and even after Ezra was born, and after we got re-pregnant, enough work was coming in to keep us comfortable. But when you work for yourself, there’s always that low background hum of instability, and there was great appeal, with Rummicub’s imminent arrival, to turn off that hum and turn on the faucet of a steady paycheck.

And that’s to say nothing about the insurance. Sarah has written about it before. It’s awful. It’s stressful. I can honestly say the decision to take the job was made without consideration of the potential medical benefits — but it certainly didn’t hurt. It will be a significant cost savings every year to have cheap, good insurance, to say nothing of the money saved not having to pay for a baby delivery. (EveryBlock is owned by MSNBC.com, who is very generous with their benefits.) It pains me a little bit to give up the fight of the independently insured, as we’ve been held up as examples for how it came be done, but only a little bit. Mostly I’m happy to see everyone in my family be able to afford regular check-ups.

And with that, we take one more step closer to our nuclear family profile. Dad leaves for work at 8, Mom stays at home taking care of the 2.3 little rascals. (I’m putting each cat at .15 human.) Dad comes home at 5, exchanges loafers for a pipe, brandy and a copy of the evening edition…

Okay, not quite. The bottom line is we’re all really happy. I look forward to going to work every day, and Sarah gets the freedom to spend most of her days with our kid(s), and the rest studying for her next career. (More on that later.) We’re feeling very lucky.

7 Comments

Gram Amy

Dec 16 / 23:47
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