interview

Day 39 – Losing a Friend and Impatience with the Rest

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.

Monday – October 6, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 12.30.10 AMI finally figured out I lost one of my very good friends after he unfriended me on Facebook. I pleaded with him to tell me what I had done or how I had offended him, just so I could apologize. I can’t imagine what I’ve done–I’ve thought and thought and thought about it and I can’t come up with anything–but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that I’ve done something. He is silent. He will not return my calls or my emails. One day he was my friend, now he is not. And I don’t know why.

Today, he sent me a brief, factual email on a particular point having nothing to do with our friendship. There were no details, no explanations. I have lost a friend. And I don’t know why.

Additionally:

One of Erin’s opportunities, the one that looked the most promising, may have in fact been a scam. She can only get a voice mail when she calls the place, no matter the time of day. They’ve vanished. She did some research only to find that the circumstances surrounding her interview mirror some hiring scams other “businesses” have pulled. It’s a discouraging thing to be jerked around like that. We really had a lot of hope for this one. And we still don’t know how her San Francisco audition went.

All of this is probably why I felt so raw today, and I should have known better than to try to engage with people.

I got uncharacteristically tired of people’s advice and was probably more impatient on Facebook than I should have been. This is stupid because we all know Facebook is laced with an addictive chemical that spurs aggression (they’ve tested monkeys on this) and I know by sharing my garbage in this blog that I’m inviting people to give advice on how to clean it up–and usually I’m way cool with that–but today I just had my fill of all of it.

All that said, I still ill-advisedly offer the following by way of your enlightenment as to just what the heck I’m talking about:

The Facebook conversation had a lot to do with how I interact with God. People were imploring me to temper my expectations of answers to prayer. They told me to not necessarily anticipate an answer, that when it comes down to it I may just have to make a decision about where to work and where to live. Jobs come and go anyway, so it may not even be that important. They were speaking from their own experiences and I respect that, but I just can’t pray like that.

I can’t pray thinking the answer may or may not come. I know that’s sometimes the case–sometimes God’s silence is what we need, but to actively engage with that possibility WHILE praying and trying to utilize my faith, no, I can’t do that. I believe God is compelled by faith. I believe–and have seen–that when faith is sufficient he cannot hold back from revealing Himself.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to submit to silence. I’m willing to submit to whatever I need to in order to endure properly this trial of unemployment, but I also know my past experiences in seeking answer to prayer. I know how God communicates with me, and I will put my faith towards a definitive answer. I can’t muster up faith for anything else.

There’s a story in the Book of Mormon of a young prophet, Nephi, whose brothers bound him with cords (his brothers were jerks). Nephi prayed to God that he could “burst” the cords and assert proper control of the situation, but instead God made the cords loose and they fell off instead. That was fine. It got the job done, but it’s clear Nephi had the faith to break the cords. The Lord simply went a different, less demonstrative way.

If God needs to do the same to me, I will submit, but meanwhile I wanna burst me some cords.

After a day like today, I wanna burst a whole bunch of cords.

Day 34 – It Can Never Be How it Was

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.

Wednesday – October 1, 2014

Spent the morning doing something I wouldn’t have done while I had a job: taking care of our friend’s daughter and Violet while her mom and Erin went out to run some errands together. I’m not a terrible babysitter, but I probably seemed like one when mom came to pick her little girl up. At the time, I was doing my best impression of the undead as I looked practically passed out on the couch. I wasn’t, of course, but I made almost no attempt to make it appear otherwise.I slept terribly last night, but couldn’t even muster up enough energy to explain that before they were both gone. Had to send mom an explanation and an apology later.

* * *

I want to look as good as this guy. (Oh crud, that's a mannequin. I want to look like a mannequin...)

I want to look as good as this guy. (Oh crud, that’s a mannequin. I want to look like a mannequin?)

Had an exercise in futility this morning as I tried to shop for interview clothing. My Mother-in-Law, Lynn, was kind enough to pick up some clothes for me with Erin’s help, but I pretty much hated them. I have a severe prejudice against gray blazers and sport coats. Hitler wore gray sports coats, did you know that? You can’t tell because the photos are in black and white. There was no way Erin and Lynn could have known about my extensive Nazi research beforehand, but I didn’t feel right about lying and saying I liked them. So, I told them I hated the outfit. This made me feel terribly ungrateful.

Lynn was perfectly fine with it and encouraged me to exchange the clothes for something more my speed. Tried and failed. All the clothes in Fresno are boring. Dead boring. I’m not a particularly flamboyant person or anything, but I like the needle to move at least a little off “drab.”

I find I don’t really care about clothes (and you can tell) until somebody asks me to. Then I care a lot.

* * *

I spent the afternoon writing and feeling fulfilled. Writing does that for me. I can push everything else away and just give myself over to the story and the process. Feeling less fulfilled today? Erin. There are good days and bad days and today was a bad one for her. She’s really struggling with the change to our lives. She wants things back to the way they were before, when I had a job that supported us sufficiently and we had that security and I was gone for most of the day and she got at least a few seconds to herself. She was used to having her own space, but now I’m home. All the time. Not that she doesn’t love me, but my presence is, I’m sure, a constant reminder of what we’ve both lost, and it changes things. It changes her schedule to have me there, and it robs her of her “me” time.

This is partly why I left the house today to go hang out at Panera to do my writing–to at least imitate how things were before when I would leave and not come home until 5pm. Today was bad enough that she wasn’t exactly helped by my absence, but there’s always tomorrow.

Though, hopefully, not very many of them.

Day 32 – Why It’s Important to Write Like No One Cares

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.

Monday – September 29, 2014

Wait... am I writing the blog you're reading right now?? But how--how is that even POSSIBLE??????

Wait… am I writing the blog you’re reading right now??

Today is the one month anniversary of my unemployment, and none of you got me a gift. I’m hurt, but I’ll try not to take it personally.

One month into this and I don’t have a job. Today, anyway, I’m surprisingly okay with that. I still have great faith the right thing will come along. A day like today helps me keep that faith.

I woke up late to discover Erin had already taken the kids to school. That was a gift. I average about 4-5 hours of sleep each night and I do okay with that, but when I get to sleep in it’s like a life-altering experience. I was well-rested for our morning walk and then I was able to settle in for a long morning of writing while Erin and Violet went to a meeting. Also a gift.

Heard back from the company up North about my interview. Apparently, I didn’t botch it bad enough that they ran away screaming. I will be doing a second interview, though not for another two weeks. Their hiring process is a little involved, but that’s good. We’ll both know if I’m the right fit or not by the end of it and if there’s one thing I don’t want it’s getting into a situation that isn’t right for me. That will just make everyone miserable, including my eventual employer. Money is important, but personal happiness and fulfillment is far more crucial and those things don’t cost a thing.

* * *

Okay, that was the update. The rest of this blog is going to be a bit of a rant about writing. Feel free to get off the train now and I’ll see you again at the station tomorrow.

* * *

Got chewed out on Facebook (goodnaturedly) for not posting a blog today. Occasionally, for a variety of reasons, there are blogs I write in this unemployment series that I choose not to make public. Some people are not okay with this, and that is fantastic.

If I’m going to ever be any kind of writer or author (obviously a goal), I need people to want to see what I’m coming up with. That may seem obvious, but I’m often amazed at how many blogs I read where it feels like the writer is just talking to themselves. What I mean is, if you want to be a writer–and I’m going to define writer as someone who writes things they want others to read–then you’ve got to, in some way, write to an audience. Even when writing deeply personal things, which is what I tend to do, you have to make your written word appealing in some way, i.e. of benefit to the reader. Either to entertain or to inform or both.

Basically, you have to write as though no one cares. And then make sure they do.

I’m not going to pretend I’m always successful at this. But I do try, and that’s the point. If you’re not trying to write for the benefit of others and are writing simply so you can get something off your chest or in the hopes that people will find you accidentally brilliant* and stroke your ego, then you’re doing it wrong. Why are you even hitting ‘Publish’ on your posts? You’re putting your thoughts to the wind, and the wind doesn’t care. The wind will treat your writing badly (as it perhaps deserves), tossing it to the gutters.

*And let’s face it, every amateur at anything hopes they can be accidentally brilliant. They hope that they’re an untapped talent that will be amazing at whatever it is they’ve chosen to do straight off, without putting in any of the time and learning necessary. Basically, we all want to know kung fu.

The issue of writing what is relevant to the reader is one I wrestle with constantly as a memoir writer. An interesting story is only half the challenge. The second half is how to present that story in such a way that it reaches people where they are. It has to be meaningful to them in some way, even if it’s deeply personal to me. This goes to theme and zeitgeist and a bunch of other things that I don’t want to get into in a blog that’s supposed to be about unemployment, but suffice it to say that there’s a real challenge to try to write something (memoir) in such a way that people will pay for what they can get a million times over on the internet for free (personal blogs).

My hope is that what I can do in a book length project is far more accomplished and thematically complex and interesting and entertaining and satisfying than what I can do in a blog. This blog traffics in the disposable, as do all blogs with posts ever getting archived and pushed down the list. A book should be a cherished thing, I think, and greater than the sum of its never separated parts. That can only happen when you’re thinking outside of yourself even as you may obsess over yourself (in memoir) or the story (memoir and everything else–don’t get so deep into your story you forget to bother with whether anyone else can understand it).

To bring it all back around again: instead of a blog, today I posted a short excerpt from my new book, Worlds Apart. I’ve been working on this book for a few years now and I’m so close to the end I can smell the ink on the pages. Posting this excerpt isn’t the case of a writer sharing what he intends to do (never share too early), this is something I’ve mostly already done and I want to share a piece of it with you. I think it’s a pretty good piece.

Did I do it? Do you read that and think, “Yeah, that’s interesting to me” or “I can identify. I want to see how it turns out?” If so, then I’ve done my job with you in the teaser. If not, then maybe it wasn’t your thing or I’m still finding my way towards the thing that will make my story special to anyone who isn’t me. Time will tell.

Thanks for indulging me.

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 25 – Better 37 and Unemployed Than 21 and a Schmuck

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.

Monday – September 22, 2014

I'm roughly 21 here. I'm being much more mysterious than is warranted.

I’m roughly 21 here. I’m being much more mysterious than is warranted.

Erin had an absolutely fantastic interview this morning with a local company. The position she applied for was entry level, but they took one look at her and her snazzy business-appropriate outfit and decided she might be a much better fit for the level above entry. Because these people are sane. We’ll see where it goes.

While Erin was having this success, I was with Violet at home when I got a call from my Sister-in-Law, Karen, about a friend of her’s looking for an Art Director for a company up in Northern California. I jumped on this one fast with an email and a sent Resume. An hour later I had a phone interview for tomorrow scheduled. Obviously, this is a perfect match and I’ll have the job by this time next week.

It feels like things are ramping up. Erin and I have both got so many different leads and they’re all rising at the same time. At some point, they’re either gonna crash into each other and we’ll have some hard decisions to make, or one of them is gonna break the surface of the water first and come out on top. The question isn’t: Will we find something? It’s: Which one of us gets a job first?

Oh, and there’s one other question: Where will we go?

Central California and everywhere else. These are the twin poles of our job hunt. I’ve known for the past 16 years of my professional career exactly what I was going to do and where I wanted to be. Now, everything is up in the air and there are moments when that’s more than a little disconcerting.

The last time I was this uncertain about the future and this unsettled in my life, I was a fresh-faced 21-year-old just home from his mission, trying to make a go of it with a Sister Missionary from that same mission, not looking for a job, and with absolutely no desire to attend college (while absolutely needing to).*

*There, now you don’t have to read the first five chapters of WORLDS APART.

Okay, when I write it all out like that I realize that I’m actually much better off today than I was back then. That guy–that young guy?–he was kind of a schmuck. He got stuck a lot. He was too hyper focused on what he couldn’t do. He had a self-punishing belief that he would never be good enough for anyone and always be alone. He was terrible at love, barely entering relationships before he either offended his way out of them or they ended with literal disasters. Like that one time with the car wreck.*

*Like I said, first five chapters.

This was taken earlier this year. Look at that confidence! That unshaven face!

This was taken earlier this year. Look at that confidence! That unshaven face!

I’m so very much not alone now. I’ve got a wife, and a fantastic one at that who has not left me after any of the times I wrecked or otherwise damaged the car. I’ve got three beautiful daughters. I’ve got amazing friends and a college degree. I’ve got a tried and tested Faith. I’ve got three pets, and only one of them pees on me with regularity. And, really, he’s doing a lot better. I’ve got brownies in the kitchen right now.

Basically–and I realize this is a recurring theme at this point (and it darn well better be)–I’ve got blessings. I may possibly be more blessed now than at any other time of my life. And I’m unemployed.

Go figure.