Hello. My name is Greg, and welcome to The Gothic Nomad. Let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I began working as a bankruptcy attorney in November 2006. And in July 2009, I opened my own solo practice. However, I never enjoyed the work. I had gone to law school for reasons other than an ambition to practice law. Those reasons evaporated part way through my law school career, but the student loan debt did not. I could see no other way to pay off that debt without practicing law.
Almost as soon as I began practicing law, I vowed that I would retire as soon as my student loans were paid off. And that’s precisely what I did. In March 2017, I made my final student loan payment. A week later, I formally announced my retirement which took effect July 1, 2017.
Haunt Entertainment Industry
Before my retirement, I began working on the side in the haunt entertainment industry. My intention is to turn this into my full-time job.
In August 2015, I joined Terror on the Fox in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Hired as an actor, I also volunteered to assist on the construction. In so doing, I became consciously aware of the larger industry. After the 2015 haunt season, I began working on a small haunted house in the basement of my home modeled on the movie Evil Dead 2. I designed, built, furnished, and decorated the entire thing on my own (with two short assists where I needed a second pair of hands). The house included special effects lighting, sounds, motorized props, pneumatic props, and programmed controls. The idea was for me to dip my toes in the water of as many facets of the haunt industry (short of the actual business operations) as possible.
In doing this project, I discovered that I was particularly fond of building props and building corpses. In fact, what I really did was discover my passion. When I build corpses and props, I get lost in my work. I forget to eat and sleep.
Minimalism & Nomadism
I wanted to live a richer and fuller life with more experiences. I also realized that my material possessions were bogging me down. Working in the haunt industry doesn’t pay as well as being an attorney, and I wanted the freedom to do work that I enjoy.
In 2016, I began to travel more. Over the course of the year, I learned how to travel cheaply, with very little luggage, and with very little advanced planning. Many of my trips were spur-of-the-moment road trips. I maintained a pre-packed “go bag”, slept in my truck, and had virtually no additional expense except for fuel.
At home, I embraced minimalism and began selling, donating, and trashing a lot of my personal possessions. When I shut down my law practice, I also sold my house. Homeless and jobless, I took to the road and toured the western United States and Canada on a 15,000+ mile road trip. All of this was to effect a “hard reset” on my life so that I would be comfortable taking my life in a radical new direction post-retirement.
As I update this – on August 5, 2017 at the end of my North American Road Trip – I still have no job and no home. That will likely change in the next few days. I have, however, changed as a person. I’ve met new people, had amazing new experiences, learned new skills, set new priorities, undergone hardships, toughened my skin, and bonded with nature.
I do not want to wake up in another ten years still working a job I despise. Although the industry is competitive, mostly seasonal, and doesn’t pay that well, I am determined to figure out a way to make this a sustainable career for myself. The American Dream isn’t my dream. I’m more than happy to abandon wealth and material possessions. I would prefer to live cheap and poor in exchange for doing work that I am passionate about and live.
The transition has (and continues to have) its challenges. But the decision to do it was not difficult.