- Finished the motorcycle trip at the end of 2012.
- Screwed around for several months.
- Went to Europe for a bit.
- Spent the summer of 2013 in a sublease in SF, looking for a job (both technical and massage), had no luck.
- Moved back down to San Jose.
- Did the "advanced program" at my massage school, from October of last year to the end of April this year.
- Got a job as a massage therapist a month ago.
It took me a long time to find a job as a massage therapist. Long enough that I was genuinely scared that it wasn't going to happen, and with the savings dwindling, I set an end date after which I was going to move back home to Minnesota to regroup. That would have been good in some respects, but terrible in most. The first half of this year was rough.
My job doesn't really pay the bills, but it almost pays them, which is a lot better than no income. If I'm able to run my own practice in a few years I'll be able to live off about 15 hours a week of work. That's living pretty cheaply, but still. And yes, even in the bay area.
For now I'm just starting to look for a 2nd job, and that was planned as I knew I wouldn't be making enough out of the gate. It would be nice to do something tech related, but given that it will have to be part time and I'd like to avoid corporate stuff, I have no idea what it will be.
This is where I am a little bummed that comp sci didn't make sense for me back in college. You still have to land the jobs of course, but versus engineering gigs it's an order of magnitude more flexible in terms of part time work, short term contracts, working remotely and from home, and plugging in to already extant teams. A six month contract doing what I used to do would net me two or two and a half years worth of living expenses, but they don't exist from what I can tell.
There are definitely growing pains at work. Out of three massages one will go really well, one will be ok, and one will go poorly (in terms of their response). The massages that go poorly are hard to deal with. Unlike engineering there is no easing in to the work. I tend to work in one specific way and for those who don't like that style it tends to not go well, so I am trying to learn different approaches and how to read what clients want (usually you can just ask them, but that doesn't always work).
That said I really enjoy the work, and it's good for me mentally. That's why I chose it along with the potential for working far less hours. Even at $franchise_spa it's low stress, no boss telling me what to do, and I can set whatever hours I want.
While in the advanced program I got into nerve-biased manual therapy and pain science in particular. Pain science is pretty fascinating in that our current best model of pain is 15 - 25 years old and it is extremely poorly integrated into medicine, much less physical therapy, massage therapy, or chiro (which I now hate with the passion of 1000 suns, maybe you saw my rant about it on bookface a few weeks ago).
It also turns out that manual therapy can't do much more than convince the nervous system to relax muscles and downregulate pain - either through placebo / non-specific effects and (maybe) helping entrapped nerves untrap themselves. You can't press on someone really hard to get rid of knots or "soften" tight muscles. You can do that with dead tissue by tenderizing it with a hammer - you can't do it with living tissue, not without destroying it in the process. This is pretty much sacrilege, and like everything else in a society / culture there are multiple levels of inertia that keep the dominant model in place.
Anyway in the long run it would be cool to have my own practice teaching people pain science and doing some minimally invasive massage to go along with it - something like a light version of what good physical therapists do. There are a ton of pretty difficult steps I will have to take to get there, but it's a worthy goal.
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