Day 31 – On Whether Erin Gets Final Approval and the Judgment of Others

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Sunday – September 28, 2014

Was hoping for an “APPROVED” stamp, but when I did a free photo search I got this guy instead.

Woke up tired and a bit ill the throat today. Never fully woke up, either. I was half-lidded all the way until dinner and then finally I kind of came around. Can’t rightly say I know what that’s all about. I hope I’m not getting sick. My last paycheck said I was all out of sick days.

* * *

California is in the middle of severe drought right now. Most of our lakes have dried up to a considerable degree and it’s just always dry and awful here. This is a potentially a dire situation in the Central Valley. We feed the world from here, and our crops aren’t getting what they need.

Yesterday, I washed our family van. Today, it rained, finally, after I don’t know how long. I am now convinced that washing my car is the sacrifice the Rain Gods have been demanding all this time. All due apologies to everyone, everywhere.

* * *

My fast for a job continued today. Lots of praying for it as well, of course. Ended my fast at dinner with another prayer. I don’t have any real insight on what to do or what will happen, but I at least feel good knowing I’ve made another, small sacrifice to a proper end.

Come to think of it, I wonder if fasting is why I felt weird and sickly today? We’re not supposed to complain about such things lest we invalidate the fast with our long, forlorn faces, but you’re not going to read this for another week and some change, probably right after I’ve eaten a healthy lunch. There’s gotta be a moratorium on that sort of thing, right?

* * *

Apparently, my blog was a topic of conversation at church today, in a meeting Erin attended without me. From what I hear, good things were said–things people don’t feel comfortable telling me to my face because I might think they’re horrible. “I like your blog” could easily be misinterpreted as “I like that you lost your job and are funny about it.” While I would welcome that, no one actually wants to say it.

Not heard from: people who hate my blog. They can be hard to identify because they blend in so easily with the people who hate saying the word, ‘blog.’ I want those people to know–both groups–that I respect them and their opinions. 

Erin admitted to those gathered at the meeting that the blog has been a source of arguments for us. Erin is a more private person than I am and she told everyone there have been some things along the way that I thought were perfectly okay that she wished I hadn’t shared–and she certainly wished I hadn’t tagged her on Facebook when I posted it.

Mockingly, someone exclaimed, “What, you don’t have final approval?”

To which Erin replied, “I do now!”

And, yes, she does.

* * *

Erin and I talked a lot today about what terrible benefit to our souls unemployment has been. Every one of the bigger trials life has thrown at us have giving us greater empathy towards people who had been in circumstances previously unfamiliar to us, and that is only a good thing.

I used to not understand how someone could compromise themselves by dating outside their religion. I used to be fearful of people with special needs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I judged people who were unemployed, but I certainly didn’t understand how they could let that happen or stay that way for extended periods of time. I thought maybe they did something wrong and were continuing to do wrong by not taking a job at McDonald’s, at least.

We both understand so much better now. This is a daily, spiritual and temporal battle. It has to be fought in a smart way, and not always at the most convenient times or in a way that makes sense to others. As many people as there are who have had to deal with unemployment, there are just as many if not more particulars to that rather broad circumstance so as to render any blanket judgments inapplicable. Not to overstate it, but we’re fighting to live* and that’s rather exhausting.

*Nope, that’s definitely overstating it.

We have to do what we have to do to move from one day to the next, and we hope to focus on those things that will bring us closer to the best situation possible for us. I think it’s easy to be distracted by other things, to chase the immediate money when later money would serve us so much better. That might mean making a move that will bring the judgment of others, but that’s okay.

Day 26 – Kindergarten was Right: Why Sharing is Important

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Tuesday – September 23, 2014

file5591268154864Big stuff this morning as I had my phone interview for the job up in Northern California. That’s the second phone interview I’ve had since this all started and I think I’m getting better at this as it goes on. Felt a bit tongue tied here and there, but it seemed to go well overall and it’s looking good for moving on to the next step. Would be a dream to work for them.

Crazy thing: just an hour before the interview I got a lead on another job in Maryland that is another just flat-out amazing opportunity. I think it would be bad form to say exactly what any of these jobs are at this point, but I sure wish I could.

And I wasn’t the only one to interview today–Erin had one this morning as well and it went quite well. I think we’d be shocked if there isn’t some sort of follow-up or offer or something from them.

Unlike Erin, all of my best leads are coming from other people, not from applications I’m filling out and sending into the ether. I have to think–because I do that sometimes when I’ve had enough sleep and Vitamin C–that this blog is no small contributor to my ability to acquire these leads in the first place. Typically, when a tragedy occurs, people rush to you to comfort, console and support. This is one of the big benefits of having friends and family, and it’s the kind of support we need in hard times. But not all hard times end as quickly as that support often fades. It’s not that people are cruel or don’t care anymore, it’s just that other troubles or needs or their own concerns rise up, and it can be easy to forget or think that the suffering family is no longer in as much trouble or has as much need (which can often seem especially true when that family is receiving so much help and assistance from others in the first place). This blog seems to help make it so that, rather than just forget about us, we’re present in people’s minds and they understand the reality of the situation without us having to explain it over and over again. That would make this blog effective enough in and of itself, but the other, bigger bonus is that we’re present in people’s minds enough so that when they stumble upon a potential opportunity, they remember us. Next thing you know, an interview gets set up.

In a very real way, the single best decision I made on the day I was let go was to immediately start writing about it.

I’ve talked about this before, but really the worst thing you can do in a situation like ours is to shut up about it. We’ve got an innate need to share, and I think not sharing this struggle in this way would have been not only suffocating for me, but also would have simply gone against how things are supposed to work.

We are supposed to share one another’s burdens, but if I don’t tell you about my burden, then how are you supposed to share it? You can’t, so I’ve got just as much a responsibility here as you do. That is actually a very hard thing to wrap my brain around because my inclination (despite all evidence to the contrary) is to hide my burdens and deal with them myself. I don’t want to be a burden, so that’s something I have to actively fight against. This blog is how I fight it.

If I see someone in trouble and I can help, then I will. If you see me in trouble and you can help, then you do that. This is very simple stuff, but it’s important stuff. We share because it’s important to share. It’s maybe the most important thing because it is quite simply the most Christlike thing we can do. He took on the ultimate burden by paying the price for our sins, but he spent years beforehand exploring and understanding those sins and the great weights we all carry. He allowed us to share with him, and then he shared every part of himself with us.

Sharing is how we connect with others, it’s how we learn from each other, it’s how we help each other, it’s how we know we’re not alone. It is, ultimately, how we eschew selfishness.

Again, this is very simple stuff.

Day 19 – The Work/Life Balance of the Unemployed

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I’m a complete jerk when I don’t get sleep. Erin likes to tell the story of the morning soon after we returned from our honeymoon. After a week of sleeping in for as long as we wanted and eating breakfast for lunch, we both had to get up early to go to work. She set the alarm for 6am and we needed to be up at 7am. When it went off, she hit snooze. When the alarm went off again 7 minutes later, she hit snooze again. When the alarm went off again 7 minutes later, she hit snooze again. And so on. After five or six times of this, I got up on all fours and started pounding on the bed like a gorilla, screaming “STOP HITTING THE SNOOZE! STOP HITTING THE SNOOZE! STOP IT!!!”

file0001558998064Erin started crying. Who was this beast she’d married? After calling her a crazy person for hitting snooze so many times, I calmed down and apologized. I explained that what she thought of as little reminders that she was still sleeping were devastating wake up calls for me. It takes me a full half hour to fall back asleep, if I get to at all. I’m an insomniac, what should be and what I’d rather doesn’t always matter.

So, when I say that today I woke up after only four hours of sleep for the second time in 48 hours, you can understand how potentially horrifying that could be to those I love. I’m not rational when I lack sleep. I’m not kind. I’m a gorilla.

Why so little sleep right now, when I have no job? I’m just so dang busy. I can’t sit around and wait and look for the right job. That would be have me busy in and of itself, but it’s not enough. I have to work. Whether on my own stuff or someone else’s, I’ve got to work. The freelance projects are coming in and last night I was up way past midnight working. This new self-determined schedule and extra time I have during the day, it’s so tempting. I can use it all working on things I enjoy! As someone who struggled every night after everyone else went to bed to get all my side projects done with whatever energy I had left over from my 9-to-5, I love being able to do things during the day.

However, there’s a cost.

My lack of sleep is wholly indicative of my struggle to achieve balance in my life right now. My schedule is so thrown out of whack and there are so many things to do. This blog, which I regard as important and accidentally great for networking, is one of those things that I must get to, every day. I have commitments to my online comic, The SuperFogeys. I have my kids. I have my wife. I have a book I’m writing. I have a job I’m looking for. I have a church calling. I have friends and extended family. Books I’ve read halfway. A grandmother I don’t ring up on the phone enough. Freelance.

None of these things are in the right order. Getting them in the right order is a minute-by-minute exercise I seem to always be failing.

Erin noticed this today. She confronted me directly and woke me up to the fact that I can’t do it. I can’t satiate my frenetic need to be constantly working. There’s always going to be more to do and more efforts we could make, but a break is sometimes necessary. Interacting with and taking care of the kids and cleaning the house is sometimes necessary because, newsflash, I’m not the only one with the no job problem. She needs to work on stuff, too. It’s an aspect of us both being out of work I’m ashamed to say I just didn’t consider seriously until now.

Of all the advice we get from those who have been through unemployment (for which I am grateful), no one has much to say about what to do when both spouses lose their jobs right on top of each other. There’s a different emotional component that comes into play, and further considerations that have to be made. I feel like I’m just beginning to understand that.

Making the Rounds on the Web (and Why)

Hey everybody, I’ve been poppin’ up in some spots you may have missed and I wanted to give you all a heads up!

First off, I recorded a podcast last week with my good friends, Tom Racine and artist Marc Lapierre. The ‘cast was mostly about the online comic Marc and I do together, The SuperFogeys, but we also talk a bit about my memoir and, of all things, Star Wars 3D. In any case, it’s a chance for you to make fun of my voice. You can listen to it right now.

Second, just yesterday one of my blogs from a couple weeks back, What is a Memoir? (And Why I Wrote One) has been passed along to many a person, and Wayne Groner just went ahead and reposted it to his site in full (with my permission, of course–Wayne’s an upstanding guy).

Lastly, power blogger Angie Mizzell invited me to do a guest blog for her as she gets ready for the birth of her third child and I was only too happy to oblige. That guest blog, which went live today, is entitled Cami and is a rewrite and update of a piece I wrote up years ago about my special needs daughter and the awkward conversations I sometimes have about her. I’m particularly proud of this one.

Why is this all happening?

One of the purposes of this website is to try to get myself out there a little more and to be more, well, known. When my book comes out I’d like it to see some success (imagine that) and the only way to do that these days isn’t just to have a great book that’s well-written and well represented by a terrific agent (though I have both of those things and they’re very, very important), it’s to have PRESENCE. Or, if you’d prefer I didn’t use my own word to describe a known thing, a platform.

To that end, I’d like to put it out there that I’m available for guest blogging, podcast shows, link exchanges, etc. Hit me up in the comments or contact me directly and we’ll see what’s shakin’.