Monday, December 8, 2008

worklife, personal reflections

Like many people, I work from home. My situation, however, goes a little beyond that of the average telecommuter, computer professional, or work-from-home job: I run a retail yarn and fiber shop in my house.

I initially had a vaguely guilty feeling that I was getting an unfair advantage over other retail yarn shops. I don't pay rent! It sounds really great, doesn't it? The reality however, is that if you are using your personal space, upon which there is a mortgage, utility bills, repairs and taxes, you are paying rent for business space, it's just bundled up in one payment. 

It's an interesting lifestyle choice, with advantages and disadvantages; most sane middle class people my age would not choose to live in 2.5 rooms. I have no living room, dining room, spare bedroom, den, basement or garage — those are either shop space or shop storage. I don't own a sofa or dining room furniture. Most sane people wouldn't open their house to strangers on a daily basis — not that any knitter stays a stranger for long. 

The small-business live-above-the-shop lifestyle is a time-honored family tradition all over the world, but has become less common in the US in the last 50 years. I think it's really a shame that this type of work/life integration has gone away in this country, except in the very urban and very rural areas. It makes a lot of sense for families and the environment. It's a wholistic lifestyle, meshing work and family life, allowing children to participate in and learn about running a business and see the realities of their parents work life, to actually see where money comes from. 

When I was growing up, I had no idea of what work was about. My father spent an utterly mysterious 10 hours a day away at an office, completely removed from the rest of us. He termed what he did for a living as "paper pushing", and died less than a year after retiring from a lifetime of doing it. That never seemed right to me — just sad.

So yeah, no living room to entertain guests in, or sofa to flop down on after a long work day. But you know, it's a really rich life, regardless of my hovering way too near the poverty line (which really has nothing to do with where I work as much as how seriously undisciplined I am).

The only really "unfair advantage" is my commute time of thirteen seconds.

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