If there wasn't meaning outside of work, I'd never have left the office. But I did, every day, even when shit was going down. Bad guy on a plane? "Do you really need me?" I'd ask. Nine times out of ten, the answer was no, and I'd bail. I worked hard while I was at work, so that I could make sure that when the work day ended, I could get back to what mattered. And that wasn't countering terrorism.

Read More

Farewell to the Ghost of Christmas Future

As is typical for me, with a new dawn springs a fresh slate on the "mood" front, and I'm in a much brighter place than yesterday's depression-fest. Still facing the same problems with figuring out what to do with my life, but it's not psyching me out quite so badly.

Photo credit: rayarooo (Flickr)

Tomorrow had dawned into today, and the black cloud has dissipated, leaving the stark realities behind. I still have to figure out what's next. I've had advice from several corners, most of which has served only to make me cranky again. That isn't fair at all, and I'm actually doing pretty well at getting myself past the grumpiness and taking advice in the spirit that it's offered. I'm still just not sure about anything.

Am I failing to find jobs because I'm selling myself short and not applying for stuff at a similar level to my last job? Or am I failing because I'm under-qualified and need more training and education? Is the weirdness of my background coming through too strongly in my resume, not emphasizing my skills well? Or am I not doing a good job convincing people that my differences are strengths?

It's still confusing, is my point, and I'm still not certain what it is that I need to be doing. Add to that a complete lack of insight into what it is that I want to be doing, and I'm kind of a mess.

I had meant to take this time where I'm getting unemployment benefits and use it to position myself for a career that I actually wanted. Six months of partially-subsidized existence is a lot. But I haven't done anything that I need to do in order to figure my life out, and now we're to the point where we would like to be making long-term plans like buying a house, but we're stuck by my indecision.

I hate making decisions. Fully-committing to a course of action closes off all other actions, and I've got a good imagination: choosing a thing means losing all those other things that I can see so clearly in my mind. Sure, it's gaining a real thing from a sea of phantasms, but those possibilities are almost better than the real thing.

They're hope. They're the promise of the future. Without that promise, what's the point?

Which of course is ridiculous, when taken to its logical limit, as I'm doing right now. If you never make a choice, then all those possibilities remain ephemeral forever. You can dream of their sweetness, but never taste it. And while you're dreaming of sweetness, the things around you spoil.

I wish that knowing that made it easier for me to bid adieu to those dreams, but it doesn't. I still hate making choices. But it's time to cowboy up: I'm miserable, I'm making those around me miserable, and I'm standing between my family and our dreams of the future. No job, no house, and we have such dreams for our home. Until I let go of a few of mine, at least for the near term, by choosing a career path, we won't have that kitchen with the concrete countertops, or the playroom where you can see the kids while you're making dinner. No swing set in the back yard or place to chuck the ball for the dog. Just... limbo.

I turn thirty-four tomorrow. Maybe I'll get myself a sense of direction for my birthday.

I didn't write this for you

I hate doing blog posts that are all bad news, which is why I haven't posted for a while.  But sometimes you just need that metaphorical scream, and this is the best I've got. It's September.  I've been collecting unemployment since June, and my last week to collect comes in December.  Three months down, three to go.  No job.  If I don't manage to turn things around in a few months, no job, no money.  We can coast on Elana's salary, but something like buying a house would be difficult if not impossible.  I actually get along quite well with my mother-in-law, but everybody's going to be happier when we've got our own space.  Which means I've gotta find a job.

I don't know how.  Every time I've tried to find a job that doesn't require a security clearance, literally every time since I was nineteen years old, I've failed.  I turn thirty-four in two days.

Photo credit: e-coli (Flickr)

Fifteen years of failure is a lot.  That much losing gets into your head.  Fifteen years in which, every time you've gotten your hopes up, they've been dashed.  Stuff you wanted so badly, like when we were in Portland and I just needed some job, any job, in order to be able to stay at a place we loved, a place that represented freedom and joy and living life without being yoked to the only place I'd ever been a success.  I got turned down by Wal-Mart out there.  Wal-Mart.  This latest time was at least a higher category of rejection, but when they're telling you that you can't sell an iPod to someone who came into the Apple Store already wanting to buy it, it's an unlovely feeling.

I see myself as talented and capable.  At every job I've ever had, I've excelled.  When I talk to people from my last job, which I left almost four months ago, they tell me that they still miss me.  I could give you a set of sterling references as long as my arm.


So what's next?  Flipping burgers?  I almost don't dare hope to think I could convince someone to let me make a latte.

Fifteen years worth of failure are a lot.  They live inside you.  They tell you that you can't.

I'm not one to believe that I can't.  The very first job I ever had, I got by cold-calling my way down the "computer" section of the phone book, because, well, obviously I could do that, right?  And I was right.  I could.  Just like I could sell you an iPhone or stack pallets of toilet paper that would let you save money and live better.  I am capable.  That isn't the issue.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the issue is.  I thought my interview yesterday actually went pretty well.  After all the times I hadn't even gotten as far as an interview, I'd been telling myself that once I got to that point, I'd be a shoo-in.  I speak well.  I communicate a can-do attitude and personal standards of excellence.  People remark on my confidence.

I'm confident that, if I could just figure out what the fuck is wrong with the world, I could fix it.  I'm running out of confidence that I can do that.  And I don't know what to do.

Because I have three kids.  Because I don't want to live in my mother-in-law's house for another six months.  Because I want to move on with my life instead of just coasting along aimlessly until the heat death of the universe.

Just whining about how hard everything all is... that's not helpful.  I know that.  I hate whining.  I hate being a whiner.  When I write, I like to tell a story, something that isn't just all middle.  Hell, writing is the one thing that I've always been able to count on.  It feels dirty to pollute it like this.

If you've read through this, I'm sorry.  It's a profoundly selfish act that I've committed, putting these words down.  I didn't write this for you.  I'm not trying to give you anything.  I'm just praying that, maybe, possibly, getting these words out of my soul and into the world will help cleanse out some of the gunk down there and make room for something better, something breathier, something that rhymes with but bears no resemblance to "mope".

Someone once promised me that there's always a way, and I believed him.  I mope he was right.  I mope.  He was right.

We'll see.