I finally came to the only sensible conclusion: My life after the trip would sort itself out. If the PCT was important enough for me to set aside a summer for it, it was also important enough for a job search when I returned.
I'm glad I made that decision, because my career path has, in fact, been sorting itself out.
There were some moments of sweating, for sure. I underestimated the on-trip costs; getting into working footwear alone blew me through several hundred dollars, and town stays (especially when I had to twiddle my thumbs and stay in a motel while awaiting replacements for broken gear) stomped all over my projections. Then there were the out-of-pocket costs for treating the patellar tendonitis (and, apparently, some delayed out-of-pocket costs because my f!@#$ing insurance company inexplicably denied payment for a visit that should have been textbook simple). So I found myself at the end of August -- settling back into the home routine after the knees gave out -- eyeing a bank account that was becoming as empty as if I had taken the whole trip.
That was some incredible incentive, that's for sure.
The upshot is that -- after some networking, searching of classifieds, hurried updating of resumes, and a week or two of low-grade panic -- I'm tied down to a schedule again. Or, well, schedules. I missed out on a full-time document production job after turning in a stellar resume and a lackluster interview; but the organic market near our house liked me, and that* opened the floodgates.
Within 24 hours of turning in my application there, I was swamped with jobs and leads thereto.
My dad asked me to do some formal (paid) freelance editing for his nonfiction book project, and I was happy to accept; that was Job #1. Then my old employers at the Journal begged me to return for a few weekends of piecework -- covering for the sports editor on vacation in Europe. Job #2. I drove down to the office to get some details on the sports layout schemes, and discovered that the web editor there (who I have worked with and like) was looking for a designer to expand his department. Lead #1. California Organics called back, and I told them I'd be able to slot them in around the piecework. Job #3.
Suddenly, I've gone from 7 days a week of unpaid time to one. (Zero if I have enough focus remaining to work on dad's story on Mondays.) The newspaper job has eaten two weekends and is extending to (at least) a third as I cover for a different editor's vacation; meanwhile, during weekdays, I head over to the cash registers at the organic market and separate satisfied customers from their money while I learn the store and prepare myself for a move upstairs to deal with some of their back-end system and advertising tasks.
This morning, I had my interview for the web design job. I'm optimistic, and it really seems like something I'd love to do and would be good at. If I take that, it'll be part-time job #4, and everything else will shuffle around accordingly. (Although the piecework should dry up quickly, so in reality it would just swap in to the #2 spot.)
I find myself amused by the fact that if I'm hired as a web designer, I'll hit the trifecta. Three jobs simultaneously -- one in a technical field, one with words, and one in customer service.
One thing I do regret about Earth is that there's no such thing as a job opening for dedicated generalists. I'm perfectly building up my resume for a position with no market.
* Truth be told, although the synchronicity does make it a tempting target of blame, I don't think that interviewing at the market had much to do with it. What did happen that day that has a great deal more potential relevance is that I picked up some good-money mojo from the new shop downstairs. Since I've so far only mentioned the Sacred Bee in passing, I'll pull this out to a post of its own.