Day 16 – When Money is a Ticking Time Bomb

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 13, 2014

FYI: That oven timer is set to explode.
FYI: That oven timer is set to explode.

Woke up waaaaay too early today to go pick up the kids at their grandparents (they stayed overnight while we entertained friends last night). Elora has Cross Country practice every day except Sunday, so today, at 8am on a Saturday, I drop her off. This is a ridiculous time on a ridiculous day. Shouldn’t the one perk of not having a job be that you get to sleep in?

And then Elora shaves 3 1/2 minutes off her best time for the 2-mile and my beauty sleep seems less important. Nice to see hard work pay off.

Speaking of hard work. If I’m not sending out resumes or securing services or updating my LinkedIn profile or, like today, attending my Father-in-Law’s birthday celebration, I’m doing freelance work to help our money stretch a little further or securing more freelance work. Today, I exhausted myself doing 13 silly (not in a pejorative–they were supposed to be silly) drawings for a website. I will be paid for my efforts, but the entire time I was thinking, “I should be applying more. I should be networking. I should be blogging. I should be writing my book. I should be playing with my kids. I should be talking with my wife.”

I think I’m actually working more and harder now than I was when I had a job. I’m definitely putting in more than 40 hours of work a week. Despite whatever frustrations I may have, lucky me, for the most part, I’m doing the things I love.

New plan: get someone to pay me to do the things I love. I need patrons.

The truth is, no matter how much I may love that I now have time to do the things I enjoy (thank you for being patient, mistress blog; I have been a cruel master), I can’t truly take pleasure in any of it when nothing I do is part of a job I don’t currently have. Our money is a ticking time bomb. It will go kaboom if we don’t find a way to bring a heavy foot down on the fuse.

* * *

I read back for Erin my “No Income” story from yesterday’s blog. Made her double over, struggle for breath, and laugh hysterically through tears. Nice to know I can still do that. I’ve got a heckuva partner. Even if none of you laughed (since I’m writing this a week before you’ll see it, I have no idea how you’ll all react to a story that could just as easily read as terribly sad as it does terribly funny), the fact that she did is worth more than gold.

To clarify: it is worth more little bit of gold. I will trade Erin’s laughter for lots of gold.

(Don’t judge me. There’s a need.)

Seizure Two (Part One)

This is from a few years ago, but this is its first appearance on this blog.

Cami in a blanket fort

She wouldn’t eat her french fries. I should’ve known something was up when the fries just sat there on her plate and she demanded rice. Who the crud prefers rice over fries? Not Cami.

“She didn’t get much of a nap in today,” My wife said.

“That’s weird,” I said.

After we left the restaurant, I set Cami down on the ground as soon as we entered the house and she dashed (in her own way) for her bedroom, following her big sister.  Erin and I stayed in the living room so she could perform her wifely duty and point out my faux pas at dinner (lesson learned: don’t play iPod games at the table).

No, wait.

That’s wrong.  We debated my table manners in the car on the way home. The conversation we had in the living room I can barely recall at all because everything that happened after leaving the restaurant is obscured by the memory of our oldest daughter Elora cackling in the hallway.

“That’s funny! Hahahaha! That’s funny, Cami!”

What was so funny? Elora just kept laughing. Erin’s curiosity moved more quickly than mine and she went to see what was going on. I started taking keys and change out of my pockets for my big, post dinner lay down.

“Brock! CALL 911!”

“What? Why?” Dang it, was my first thought. I really wanted to play Guitar Hero. Instead of grabbing the phone, I rushed over to see what was going on first. The Digital Guitar Gods demanded I find out if there was a chance Erin was overreacting.

Erin was crouched low over Cami, panicking. Cami had fallen, having lost control of her body. I knew this sight well. A year ago we were on our way to Los Angeles when by chance I looked over at Cami in the backseat, only to see her staring directly into the sun.

“Cami. Cami! Don’t look into the sun, sweetheart. Don’t do that.  Cami!  …Cami?”

Then I noticed that she wasn’t looking into the sun at all. She couldn’t, not with her eyes rolled into the back of her head. She was shaking, too.  Every limb was flopping about like so many out-of-water fish. Now, in the hallway, she was doing it again.

For the first time in my life, I called 911. Cami has special needs. She’s too small for her age and can’t say but a few words. The best neurologists in San Francisco don’t know what’s wrong with her, but they told us if she ever had another seizure then we should call for an ambulance immediately. Sure, the first one was a febrile seizure (a common attack of the brain brought on by a sudden fever than happens to lots of young kids), but with Cami it could always be more than that. A seizure could be the sign of something horrible.  A deterioration of her already puzzling physical and mental health.

“911. What is your emergency?”

“My daughter–she’s having a seizure! She’s very small and has special needs and she needs a hospital right away.”

The 911 operator confirmed my address and dispatched an ambulance immediatley. I gave real-time updates on the phone as Cami stopped shaking after about a minute and then lay very, very still. Erin stayed right with her. Knowing what was coming, she ordered Elora into her room to change into pajamas. She didn’t know where Elora would end up in all this, but it sure wasn’t going to be the hospital. Plus, it kept our laughing daughter busy.

The operator on the phone assured me that Cami was progressing out of her seizure just fine. I hung up the phone and went into the hallway. Erin scrambled to get ready to leave, putting her shoes back on.  I took over with Cami, scooping her up into my arms and sitting with her on the floor of the hallway while she moaned and cried softly.  I hadn’t cradled her with such trepidation since the day she was born. The look of confusion on her face broke my heart.

The dog and the cat were agitated. The sirens were getting close. That’s when it hit me.

“Erin! The dog!  They’re here and the dog is out!” Elora, age 6 and freshly dressed in her PJ’s, walked by and stepped over us to make her way to the drama-free living room. “Elora, put Plato in his kennel!”

“How am I supposed to do that? I don’t know how! Sheesh.”


“What?” Erin shouted back from the bedroom.

“They’re HERE. The DOG!” Plato is a good dog, but he likes to greet all new visitors with a bark and a climb. That wasn’t going to happen. Erin got him into the kennel not five seconds before the men in their we’re-here-to-help-you suits knocked on the door.

Elora answered. “Hi!”

“Hi, sweetie. Can you tell us what’s going on here?”

“My sister fell down. She had a seizure in the hallway.”

They came in quickly, kneeling with speed and care in front of us. I thought of E.T. and how he was lying next to Elliott as the scary men in hazmat suits rushed in to take him away.  Cami had just started saying her second word that week. “Da” or “Dada.” Now this? How fair was that? Can your brain be damaged by a seizure? Even frickin’ E.T. has a bigger vocabulary than her. There would be no magnificently huge tubes leading us from the door of the house to the ambulance.

Several questions were asked of me about Cami’s current state, all of which I answered on autopilot. I made sure to appear calm, but inwardly there was one thought that overtook all others: Please don’t let this be the one that takes her from us.

Read the rest of the story right here.