Onward and Sideways

Time in its aging course teaches all things. – Prometheus Bound

In my previous writings I compared my current situation to Greek Tragedy, particularly the ever present Fates. Yes, I admit, an overblown estimation of my own importance. I am quite sure that neither Zeus, nor any other God, is personally interested in my plight.

At that time, I proposed to tempt Fate by starting a course of self improvement and study, which (I hoped) the cruel Fates would block by bringing a reasonable job offer my way. “Oh, such tragedy…forced to put aside my new life in order to make money!” A little like “please don’t throw me into that brier patch,” isn’t it?

Didn’t quite work out though, and the job search seems as Sisyphean as ever (there, I did it again). I started by applying for jobs that matched my experience and abilities. I later applied for jobs that would seem well beneath my experience and abilities. I have taken tests for positions where I could easily have written the training manual. Nothing is working. The way seems to be barred.

I did manage quite well on my previous goals. I finished an Introduction to Programming (Python) course, rose up to Level 8 Soccer Referee and reached 33% fluency (so says Duolingo) in German. Along the way, I founded the Borussia Dortmund Los Angeles Fan Club.

Putting aside my grandiose plans to trick Fate, these goals have kept me stable, if not cheerful, over the last few months. This is the most productive time of unemployment I’ve ever experienced. With that in mind, I’m moving the goalposts for the next few months.

So there…once again casting my spear to pierce the Heavens! Or maybe just preparing to be a Junior Python Programmer. Hard to tell.

The Supposed Calm Between Jobs

“The gods were moved; but none can break the ancient Sisters’ iron decrees.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses 15

Being between jobs often feels like a Greek Tragedy. The actions are fated and the result is already written. I’ve noted to friends in this situation that “you will send out 40 resumés with no response, but only then will you get a call from someone you don’t know about a company you had never thought of.”

Today I signed up for a Programming Course on Coursera.  Yesterday I threw myself into an hour of German on Duolingo. It really feels like time to dive into all the things I never had time to do in the last few years.

loadin-trussesBack when I was touring, everyone lamented the same situation.  When working, we put in 16 hour days and looked forward to the end of the tour when we could relax.  When not touring we sat staring out the window wondering where our next tour was coming from. It would be difficult to decide which period was more stressful.

I often declined commitments during my off time. I did not join a band. I did not play for a rugby team. I always knew that, sooner or later and probably at the most inconvenient time, I would be called away to live on a bus for six months.

My current situation is quite different, yet the result is the same. The biggest difference is the time scales. I worked at my last position for over three years, using two weeks of vacation time. I was not looking forward to any “down time” in the future. It just happened.

The result for me was throwing myself into the search for my next position: two weeks of contacting everyone I knew, two weeks of disappointment, two weeks of renewed battle, and then…

whosviewedyourprofileI’m not good with sudden shifts, but I recognize patterns when I see them. I’m more stressed now than when I was last working. Sometimes hard to sleep at night. All my usual stress reducing activity (tai chi, meditation, refereeing) put on the shelf while staring at my Linkedin account. This is not a healthy time!

I’m hoping that the answer is setting goals that have little to do with my career. In my experience, as soon as you plan the future, Fate will step in to ruin everything. Here goes (preliminary list):

  • Finish Programming Course and get shiny certificate (three months)
  • Finish Duolingo German Tree and continue to Fluency (seven months)
  • Cross over to USSF Referee Level 8 and move towards Level 7 (six months)

So I tempt the Fates! Stop me if you can!

The Faithful Servant Wakes Up

Two days ago I was driving to the store for milk and lettuce to support my (fairly mundane) eating habits.  I turned left on Slauson and into the on-ramp for the 90 to Marina Del Rey.  Suddenly I woke up.  This is not the way to the store; this is the way to the job that I felt happy and secure in, three days ago.

Yes, I have been “laid off.”  This is a first for me and I was unprepared for the emotions that it brought up.  I needed a little refresher on the Five Stages of Grief to make sense of it.  Hopefully I won’t be getting to Stage Four.  I’ve never been prone to depression and don’t expect it now; but I didn’t expect the others either.

The experience itself?  I came into work on Monday to find the parking lot less full than usual.  I got my coffee as always and went to my desk.  It was eerily quiet everywhere in the office.  I answered three emails from London, knowing that they would be leaving the office soon.  I checked for new projects in my queue.  I went for another cup of coffee and noticed that my section was empty.  Ominous.  My Manager saw me, seemed flustered, and said “do you have a minute?”

Skeletons_Funeral_David_GoodrichDown the hall and into an office, seated across from the head of HR.  She got straight to the point and continued on, but after the first few sentences I was sealed in a cocoon of numb shock.  Vacation pay, severance, COBRA and finally reaching behind her desk while asking if I needed a box for my things.

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