darth vader

Day 50 – Celebrating 50 Great Days of Unemployment!

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.

Saturday – October 18, 2014

ID-10086740Day 50! Wow, what a milestone. I just never thought we would make it this far. I’d like to thank the job that let me go, and all of you who said “Brock, I believe in you! You can do this. You can be unemployed for 50 days straight!” You were right. There were times I didn’t believe, but… you were right.

What I hear from people who have been through this is that a months-long wait for employment is not unusual. It’s not just about finding the right position, it’s also about wading through the interview and hiring processes, which can be stressful and lenghty. Funny thing: most companies aren’t in as much of a hurry as I am. Go figure.

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Today was a Saturday and Saturdays are always a bit easier to take than other days. This is a day I wouldn’t have been working anyway, so I skip through it essentially guilt-free.

Yes, there is a bit of guilt associated with all this. Not because of anything I did wrong or any job performance issues I might have had to lose my job in the first place (nothing I did was the cause of the loss), but because I’m just supposed to be working. I feel bad for not working, period. It’s not a rational thing because it’s not like I’m living like this by choice, but at least I have Saturdays when I know I wouldn’t have been working anyway. It’s a small relief to engage with life without looking at the calendar and thinking about where I would be otherwise.

I used my blessed Saturday for a mishmash of things. I took Cami to go ride her horse out the Heart of the Horst Therapy Ranch, moved the treadmill out of our bedroom to make room for a desk so I can stop writing and drawing and working at the kitchen table, and I did a bit of pro bono design for the upcoming McKinley Ward Halloween Party. Always feels good to do stuff like that, even if it takes me away from my own stuff for a few hours. The sacrifice, actually, is what makes it worth it.

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Today I posted Day 42 – What Happens When You’re Unemployed and Working Too Hard. Eight days ago I was having a pretty tough time balancing home life and the other projects and freelance work I’ve got going on while I wait out this storm. It’s encouraging to look back and that blog and realize that I’m doing much better with all that now. I’m spending less time on the computer and paying better attention to my family.

The consequence? As I feared, I’m falling behind. This blog is getting tougher to turn out and other projects aren’t as far along as I’d like. But it’s probably a fair trade off.

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Erin told me this morning she applied to a job for me here in Fresno that could be great for me. This is encouraging because I can almost never find anything in my field here in town. I looked at it and it has a crazy amount of qualifications and requirements. I don’t know anyone who can do all that and knows all of those programs.

She reassured me it’s just a wishlist. After all, she only got half of what she wanted in a husband.



Violet (age 3), who had been watching Return of the Jedi this afternoon, ran up to Erin with the most broken-hearted little look on her face and choked out the following:

“MOMMY! Darth Vader… is Luke’s father. IT’S JUST SO SAD!”


I agree, Violet. It’s a real tearjerker.


The Asthma Killer, Part Four (of 4)

With the healing effects of the caramelized onion coursing through their bodies, the room started to glow and light shot from the tips of their fingers as their bodies were lifted magically into the air and spun. Once set back down again, they each stated in turn, “I’m cured.”

Except of course for Pete who said, “Whoa. I can’t breathe.”

Okay, so that didn’t happen.

What did happen was precisely nothing. Aside from the horrible tastes in their mouths and the stink produced by their exhaling, neither my wife Erin, nor our friends Danny and Pete them reported any difference that night whatsoever.

As soon as it was over, we ate the dessert and pointed and laughed at them. Just as we had planned.


Today the effects of that night can be easily observed by a quick survey of the participants.

DANNY: It’s been several years since we’ve talked to Danny. He reported no asthma-related symptoms for 3 weeks after that night, but soon enough he did experience a shortness of breath and an attack or two. As far as I know he suffers from asthma to this day.

PETE: He never did get asthma, but he did receive our admiration. He married a few years later and travels the world with his wife as often as possible, breathing all kinds of air with no trouble whatsoever.

ERIN: After dealing with asthma and asthma attacks all of her life, since that night Erin has not had even a hint of lung power loss. She never used her inhaler again and has never been to a doctor or to the hospital for any asthma-related reason. Her last attack was shortly before ingesting the sugar onion and there were a string of severe attacks before that, but none since. No one is more surprised than she, and it’s not something she really likes to talk about because the only explanation we have sounds so ridiculous. However, she is my wife and I have been able to personally observe her and I can confirm that it is true.

Make of it what you will.


Watching Star Wars with Elora, Part Two

Back when Elora was very, very young and before her long term memory really kicked in, Attack of the Clones was her favorite of all the Star Wars films. It was released the year of her birth, 2002, so maybe that had something to do with it. The original Star Wars was released the year of my birth, 1977, and that one was always my favorite. Elora responded to ‘Clones’ this time right away and gasped at the big explosion that kills one of Padme’s doubles.

A lot of the early politics were lost on her, but her suspicions about Chancellor Palpatine were raised. She didn’t like the cut of his jib. I pointed out that he was Anakin’s friend and seemed nice, but she wasn’t buying it. There was something fishy about that guy. When Obi-Wan when off into his own little detective story, she was fascinated–though I had to put the pieces together for her.

The romance she had no patience for–so she said. Elora still hides her eyes when people kiss on screen, but she loves movies with romance. She just won’t admit to actually liking the romance aspect of the movies. Of course, saying there’s any real romance in ‘Clones’ is a bit of stretch. While I found myself really admiring the imagination and much of the action, the love story plays worse and worse each time you see it. That’s just not how human beings fall in love. That’s not even how aliens fall in love.

The end battle scenes were Elora’s favorite part. Because that’s what kind of a girl she is.

Revenge of the Sith made Elora nervous. She knew this was the PG-13 one and she knew this was the one where Anakin burns up and turns into Darth Vader. She did not want to see those parts. I assured her I’d mute the sound and tell her when to close her eyes.

The opening battle remains stunning, if confusing to look at. Elora wasn’t terribly impressed with it. It was only once Anakin and Obi-Wan jumped out of their starfighters and took on Grievous’s ship that she was in. She thought R2’s antics were hilarious. And the crash landing on Coruscant? Made her eyes pop out.

Her suspicions about Palpatine continued to be raised, though she couldn’t quite figure out what his play was. She finally decided he was completely evil about five minutes before his big reveal and then was wowed by the revelation he had been Darth Sidious the entire time. It’s funny because that wasn’t a reveal that even seemed like much a reveal to me. It was always so obvious. But to her? It was extremely satisfying.

She didn’t quite understand Anakin’s turn to the dark side or why he would go so far so fast. It is abrupt and I did my best to explain, but I don’t think she was ever completely satisfied. I know I’m not, so that’s not surprising. When the big moment at the end of the big fight came, sure enough she hid her eyes.

The other big reveal for her was that Luke and Leia were twins. When Padme had TWO babies, it blew her mind. It was a lot of fun seeing her jaw drop like that, and, I think, much more satisfying than if I’d let her watch ‘Jedi’ first and find out the same time Luke does. That’s one twist that’s much improved watching the films in the order we did.

Finally, we reached the end and joined back up with the original trilogy with Episode VI, Return of the Jedi. I’ll admit that the one drawback to watching them all in the order we did is that by the time you get to ‘Jedi’ you’ve kind of lost the plot of the original trilogy. Three movies is a loooooong flashback. However, we got caught back up rather quickly and I’ve got to say that ‘Jedi’ resonated in a whole new way with me. When you have all the history from the prequels swimming in your head and realize that, essentially, Luke and Leia are all that’s left of what everyone was fighting for, it really gives the events of ‘Jedi’ a whole new weight. Plus, there’s a lot of symmetry between ‘Sith’ and ‘Jedi’ and that plays really, really well when you watch them back-to-back. It was the most satisfying viewing of ‘Jedi’ I’d had in quite a while.

Jabba was gross, of course. But Elora loved all the interplay with C-3PO and R2-D2. It was like having old friends back. (Side note: I’m surprised the nudity in the scene where Jabba’s slave dances for him wasn’t edited out. On Blu-ray, you can see it much, much more clearly.)

Far and away the thing Elora loved most about ‘Jedi’ was the Ewoks. She thought they were HILARIOUS and cute and wonderful. She laughed and laughed at the idea that teddy bears could defeat stormtroopers. She stopped laughing once the Ewoks started dying. By then, she was attached and wasn’t expecting that. Honestly, I get it. I’ve never hated the Ewoks and always thought they were really cool. That the Empire is defeated by a bunch of small teddy bears isn’t stupid, it’s fitting. Quintessentially American, even. I dug it when I was six, and I still dig it now.

To Elora’s credit, even she noticed how odd it was for Anakin’s ghost to look like Hayden Christensen when Obi-Wan and Yoda had to be old men.

Elora went nuts for Star Wars. It took us about a week and a half to get through them all and not a day went by that she didn’t bed me to watch “just 10 minutes” if that was all we had time for. She’s hooked, but she’s spoiled. She can’t even comprehend the amount of time I had to wait between movies.

Now, she’s moved onto The Clone Wars. She’s already watched the 2D short series that came out years ago and is working on the current, CG series right now. They’re pretty fun, so I try to watch them with her as much as I can.

When was the last time you watched all the Star Wars movies? What order will you show them in to your kids? Will you show them the prequels and risk them loving Jar Jar? Love to know what you think!