Day 5 – It’s Not Nice to Snap at Your Wife When You’ve Both Been Fired

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.

September 2, 2014

This is Erin's angry face. I'm... not entirely sure why she took this picture, but I think my duty bound to share it with the world.
This is Erin’s angry face. I’m… not entirely sure why she took this picture, but I think my duty bound to share it with the world.

I woke up with lots of anger today. I’ve maintained a mostly even keel through all this unemployment business, but days like today it all just gets under my skin and just the… crushing unfairness of it all weighs me down. Which is stupid. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from so many who have reached out in the past several days it is that just about everyone has gone through a bout of unemployment. Some for an incredibly, heartbreakingly long time. Those people, every time I talk to them, I think “Please, not me. Not us. Let it end soon.”

I think of “me” first. Then my family. I don’t like thinking that way. We’re all in this together and even though my two youngest may not be able to even process or understand what’s going on (and why should they? All they know is Daddy is available to play “Hotel” 24/7 and turn on Frozen more), they’re affected nonetheless. I also need to remember I’m not the only one who lost a job. Erin makes it easy to forget. She has such utter confidence we’re going to be okay and though she has her moments, she handles the whole situation with much more grace than I currently am capable of.

Case in point: I snapped at Erin this morning.

I tried to do the morning drop-offs at schools. With Violet, I got completely lost. She’s attending preschool in a home in a neighborhood with the most convoluted street layout devised by man. I half expect to run into a minotaur every time I venture in there. That wasn’t the real problem though. The real problem was that I completely forgot where this labyrinth actually was. I spent 20 minutes driving in a circle. Violet was late, so Erin asked what took me so long when I finally returned home. This is when I snapped.

Erin didn’t retaliate. She knew as well as I did my morning’s “ordeal” wasn’t the real issue.

For the rest of the day, we tried to keep as busy as possible by playing games both video and tabletop with my brother and his wife before they return to their home in the Portland area. The constant diversion served its purpose well, so we did it again with friends this evening. Other friends brought by another gift basket, complete with an offer to babysit and movie tickets. This is our life right now: surrounded by generosity and friends who genuinely care for us to a degree we perhaps don’t deserve. I can’t comprehend with anything other than aching gratitude.

At the same time, I know these kindnesses are somewhat temporary. I’m reminded of my father’s death and funeral and how much attention was paid to my family at that time and how it all went away eventually. People will have to move on as our new state of unemployment becomes old and normal. This is how it should be, I think, but I doubt we’ll be any more okay with it all than we are now.

* * *

I’ve dropped a lot of weight since this all started. About three pounds since Friday. I was actually dieting before I was let go, but I haven’t seen this side of 180 in about a year. It’s hard not to think of it as a good thing even when I know I’m probably terribly unhealthy right now. Even as I sit here typing with my stomach screaming hunger pangs at me, I find I have no appetite.

Tomorrow I go back to work to say goodbye. Not everyone knows I’m leaving. Maybe I’ll eat after that.

Road Trips and Dragons Who Want to Eat Me

This one time, I was driving down the road at night when a gray, mossy cave rose up in the middle of the highway. A dragon emerged and opened his jaws wide to receive my vehicle. I could see its tongue flicking around its sharp teeth. I was pretty sure that if the dragon failed to swallow me up then his giant wings would envelop and trap me and everyone else in the car with me.

Then I shook my head and the dragon and his cave disappeared. I should have known better than to try to drive home at midnight after spending the previous fourteen hours at Six Flags Magic Mountain, but I’m an insomniacs and insomniacs think their lack of sleep give them superhuman powers.*

*We don’t like to brag about this to you ‘normals’, but it’s true. We’re amazing and we know it.

The View from Vern’s Driveway

Ever since that night the road has an adverse effect on me, no matter the time of day. I get hypnotized by the painted yellow strip far, far to easily. Couple days ago I drove my Grandma up to Pilot Hills, CA to see her friend Vern. After dropping her off, I drove right back home. It was 10-hour trip, all during the daylight hours, and, sure enough, I nodded off.

I’m smarter about it now. I’ll pull off and grab a cold drink or some candy to stir me. If I’m really desperate, I’ll buy some Diet Mountain Dew. This is a HUGE deal for me. For religious reasons, I don’t drink caffeine. Caffeine is not technically forbidden by my religion, but addictive and mind-altering substances are so I’ve always figured caffeine was part of that. I’ve now come to believe it is better to drink half a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew* than die in a ditch with a car on top of you.

*A half bottle is MORE than enough when you you’ve gone 30+ years without caffeine of any sort. I’m a friggin’ coked-up rodeo clown after half a bottle.

So, no dragons after dropping off Grandma. No hallucinations of any sort. It’s shame it’s come to this though. I find highway driving relaxing and enjoyable when I’m lucid enough to enjoy it. I particularly enjoy night driving. But when I get sleepy, it’s just misery. Lots of slapping my face, turning up the air conditioner and ruining my diet.

Okay, so ruining my diet is kind of fun. Have you guys tried the Hershey Air Delight? Man, that’s a good candy bar.

How do you stay awake during road trips? Doesn’t being a trucker seem like one of the hardest jobs ever?