~Meniscus Archives~
Winter 2003
Issue #2

November - February 2004

Link to Issue #2 Home


Bynum's Corner Word Games

The Dissapperance of Childhood
Sarah Trachtenburgh

There's something about Crystal Boots
Drayton Patriota
Debate/Retort by Little Lamb
The Apothecary and Mr. Cesnek
Chrystie Hopkins
A Stroll Down Shakedown Street
Caleb Estabrooks
Out of the Box, Into my Hands
Derek Gumuchian
Travel Log of a Colorado Girl
Erin Hopkins
Santa Fe
Chrystie Hopkins
How to find your friends at IT!
Rob Hansen
Meniscus New Years Picks
Sound Tribe Sector 9: Focusing the Light
-Jon Heinrich
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey: Take a Trip with the Wild and Wooly Masters of the Jam-Jazz Scene
-Brian Gagné
CD Review:
Solar Igniter
CD Review:
Cadillac Jones-
Junk in the Trunk
Through Glass
and Grain

-Aiden FitzGerald
four poems
-Brandon Rigo
-Pete Pidgeon
Art Model
-Julia Magnusson
-Julia Magnusson
Dead dog
-Julia Magnusson
-Julia Magnusson
Those games
we'd play

-Julia Magnusson
Ode de Toiletté
-Aron Ralston
-Stephanie Laterza
-Stephanie Laterza
-Stephanie Laterza
Meniscus is...
Meniscus Premier Launch Party
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 14, 2003

Metro Saturdays hosts
Meniscus Portland Launch
Sky Bar @ The Roxy
Portland, Maine
August 30, 2003

State of the Art
Lounge Ten
Boston, Massachussets
October 23, 2003


Out of the Box, Into my Hands

Derek Gumuchian
Published 11/15/03


We have all thought about it. What do I really want to do with my life? What would I be doing if I wasn’t in this cubicle? One man has recently taken that journey and tested the water for us all. He’s here to report a safe transition; the water’s fine. Derek Gumuchian guides us through one man’s tale of finding his own path.


Okay, here it goes.
I suppose I could romanticize what I am doing these days by telling you the circumstances of my writing this. And I’m romantic as all hell, so here it is, right this second. I read a message sent by the Mothers of Meniscus—my boy Heindog and girl Chrystie—outlining the content of the much-anticipated issue 2. My article was in parenthesis. This is easy to understand; I haven’t yet written it. Enter the first four words in this paragraph. These words are quite important to me, and consistent with the rippling spheres of energy surrounding the two most recent years of my life (25th and 26th), and I figure (like usual) that this approach has not failed me yet, so I’ll milk the hell out of it until it does. That was my preface. This is my article.

I had been working diligently for one day less than three years in the biotech field. I was in a laboratory, doing my share of high-quality work. People above me on the ladder liked me, I was making more money than most of my buddies, and had a very solid benefits plan. I had a reasonably flexible sched-hey! Why the hell did I quit anyway? My family was proud of my apparent ‘seriousing up’ or something after focusing primarily on the band and traveling a tiny bit for a year after school. I had a bright future, by many standards. Routinely, dedicated people who do quality control work in biotech can make upwards of 80K by the time they are 29 years of age. That would have been nice, huh? Plus, on some level, I could imagine that what I was doing was helping someone get the treatment from the creation I was supporting. All the bennies and some heart to boot. Sounds good, non? Well, it was. That’s not the point. The point is that I was simply not happy about it. It was good, but not the kind of good that keeps me interested every day.

Very few people in the lab wanted to be there. There were two incidents of mass exodus claiming about half the staff twice while I was there. You make thirty ‘work friends,’ and they all leave. You make thirty more, and they all leave. You just can’t love a place where that happens.

And I can’t spend so much time working at something I don’t love. Thankfully a great many people do, otherwise we wouldn’t have a lot of the advantages we have these days. Still, it was not for me.

I got to thinking, what should I do instead? I have, as have most people, developed a set of financial obligations. They are substantial, and I was used to making enough cash to support them, and have plenty left over to do whatever the hell I wanted. And I did. I had a blast when I wasn’t at work. I had the opposite of a blast when I was. But, I thought, there must be ways to get what I want out of this world. People take risks all the time. No one is any better than anyone else. If success is possible for one, it must be possible for everyone. I have gambling in my blood. I have lost some money at casinos, but those places are fixed for the house. But, if it’s me I’m gambling on, I’ll bet the proverbial farm. I had been regarding change as fleshy and beautiful for a good long time, but never applied my faith to change until I decided to explore life outside this box I was in.

I determined my financial needs, concentrating on necessities. Then I began thinking about a far less concrete—and much more scary—question. I was finally demanding from myself an answer to that most dreaded question: What do I want to do with my life? I started fantasizing about spending all summer outside. With most noble procrastination, I decided to take care of the short term and chew on the whole ‘life’ thing during the summer. I felt a cosmic encouragement when my fantasies crystallized immediately in my mind. “Camp,” I thought, and invisibly vibrated with faith in myself.

I made a series of phone calls to the recreation department of a town about a half hour outside of Boston. I had previously worked at the summer camp program in this town. The management was stellar. In fact, they were so stellar that I had been comparing everyone for whom I had since worked, to them. No one came close. I was welcomed back with open arms. The trouble was that I made these decisions sometime around March, so I had to either work through the spring as though I wasn’t looking to get out of the lab, or make it known right away that I was going to commit to a summer outside, surrounded by eight year-olds. I chose the latter, wisely.

I discussed all my feelings with my bosses who weren’t totally psyched that I was leaving, but had no choice but to accept it. We were friendly enough too, so I felt like telling them so they could hire someone to come in such that I might train them. I ended up giving something like three months’ notice, and in that period of time, I did some serious meditation and explored potential career shifts.

I spoke with friends and relatives in all different industries. I did want to preserve some aspects of my previous career. I wanted to help save the world and make a decent living. I wanted to have flexibility in my schedule. I also wanted some things to change. Since elementary school, I have been chastised for being overly social, right up through my career in biotech. One reason I wasn’t promoted after two-and-a-half years was because I ‘wasn’t as focused’ as someone on the next rung should be. I was always talking to people. Well, blah freaking blah to that. How about a job where my ability to communicate helps? Those jobs are out there, I figured. After having these thoughts percolate for two of the three months notice I gave, I narrowed my focus on a career in bodywork.

I have friends who are doctors and others who are chiropractors. They are all wonderful and help people all the time. I eliminated medical school immediately, you know, the whole ‘eight years of killing yourself’ thing. I also eliminated chiropractic for a couple of reasons, for now. It is my understanding that most of the best chiropractic schools are far west of here. I perform with a band I love, and did not wish to leave it. Also, I feel like many people have a strong disdain for doctors and chiropractors, but very few, if any, have a problem with therapeutic massage. There was my answer: massage therapy.

I attended an introductory day at a therapeutic massage school in Cambridge, and knew right away it was for me. All the participants sat on the floor and removed our shoes. Nobody in the room knew each other. We started with some light breathing exercises to center ourselves. Soon we were partnered off and had begun to work on each other, on tables, without shirts on! The beautiful thing about this was that there was complete trust on everyone’s part, and that there was nothing unsafe or even P.G.-rated about the whole thing. Everyone undressed in private, and only exposed that area which was worked on. On the introductory day, it was the back. This portion of that Saturday was only a couple of hours long, but the therapeutic effects lasted all day. Therapeutic touch, even by a well-intentioned layperson, invigorated me. When I found that I would be learning hundreds of techniques and having hundreds of techniques practiced on me, I was hooked. My decision was made only weeks before my final days at the lab. In the coming months, I applied for and enrolled in massage school, and took out student loans. I was ready to commit to two years of Saturdays and Wednesday nights learning incredible techniques of therapeutic massage as well as anatomy and physiology, how to develop a practice, and a myriad of communication skills that would put me in a place where I could comfortably work in any number of scenarios. And that work would be massage! (School is great, by the way.) Making all of these moves coincided quite poetically with the final days in the lab, and though I had to say a lot of goodbyes, I was jumping out of my skin to get started with my new life.

Summer rolled around and I became the head counselor for a group of around fourteen eight year-old boys and girls, some with handicaps and some without. All of them were as crazy as they were excellent. I actually am pretty sure I’m going back this summer, as I currently am still employed one afternoon per week. I had gotten the career monkey off my back, and was thrilled to Valhalla that I had. Spending all day outside, going on field trips, hanging out with kids, and working for this great team quickly became the arguments against missing the old job. I was making enough to survive. I was having more fun than I had in years. I was more tan than I had been since the last time I worked at this camp four years earlier. But most of all, I was in a pool of three hundred potential nanny/babysitting opportunities from which I hoped to derive a living after camp ended. And wouldn’t you know, three days before camp ended, a random discussion with the mother of one of my campers resulted in a full-time (31 hrs/week) nanny position!

The world provides, friends.

Yes, I am a male nanny. Though there are sacrifices (all those fine benefits and fat checks!), I can tell I have made the right decision. I am immediately helping someone with their situation, and my rewards are a front-row seat to the ridiculous antics of a four year-old girl and a six year-old boy. Their parents are happy with my performance to this point, and I am only developing better skills. And yes, I do love my work.

Massage school began the same week I began nannying full-time. Most days, I have some time to for school work. I am literally getting paid to do my homework. This is a stroke of efficiency, the likes of which I’ve never known. And it is all because I had grown so frustrated that I did some serious thinking, sought a better situation for myself, and made it happen.
It was easy.

So, there it is.

That’s the other four words I have invoked most often over the last six months. These happen to be the four words I use after I do something that interests me. I’m not saying what I have done is for anyone other than myself, but I am saying that it is well worth your time to consider the path you are on, and demand an answer to the question: Does this satisfy me, or does it satisfy a version of me that doesn’t really exist? By doing so, I was able to find an inspired freedom I never would have found in a lab.

Inspiration becomes us all.

-Derek Gumuchian

Meniscus Magazine © 2003. All material is property of respective artists.