The best way to lose your job

This has been an unusual year for me in the world of work.

After having a successful first year with a company, I started the second year full of promise in a new role that I thought was going to be a great fit. For a variety of reasons, things didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I still have very fond feelings for the company, the people, and the product, but the gap between what I was being asked to do and the resources I was given to do it was too wide to be overcome by hard work and enthusiasm alone.

As the pressure to produce gradually increased it became apparent that my “new role” was a solution without a problem and there was a clock ticking for me to find a new job. So I looked for work, but not super aggressively because I was still getting paid, and still sort-of trying to accomplish the impossible. Along the way I was sleeping in, exercising, spending a lot of time with the kids, and writing.

Some weeks I would do, at maximum, an hour’s worth of actual work.

The checks kept coming, and I kept doing the same things. Summer came, and I did maybe an hour’s worth of work a month.

I knew the end was coming though. It had to. No one was this nice.

When the end finally did come in August, it was a relief. It was the shortest layoff conversation I’ve ever had.

September was really nice, all things considered. We had enough money that I could put off looking for work for a little while longer, so I did. I wrote a ton of posts. Got started on my book.

Fortune smiled on me again when a lunch led to a phone call which led to coffee which led to an interview which led to an offer to start at the beginning of November. So I did. Happy ending.

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In this holiday season of reflection and introspection, I have plenty to introspect on. I am grateful that I’ve written something that was read over 50,000 times (and it was over 2500 words too, so everyone who says long form writing doesn’t work on the Internet can suck it). I’m excited that I was featured on Freshly Pressed twice. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to spend the past year closer to my family than they would probably want, helping with the car pools, making dinner, and just being there.

I started writing in a large part because I was desperate to create. Along the way I learned a lot about myself and who I really was. I have always been a “live to work” kind of guy, and this past year really made me question that assumption. Now that I am working again (and substantially more occupied) I have a new set of assumptions to question around how to balance my competing priorities of work, family, and self.

I used to think roller-coaster years were the anomalies. Now I’ve seen enough years to know that every year is full of ups and downs. All you can do is hope your ride stays on the rails and doesn’t get stuck.

Thanks for riding with me.


I’d love to hear your stories of being lost and then found too! Leave a comment and share.

When Chaos Reigns

I have always been convinced that my parents were crazy. I mentioned it to my dad at one point, how I thought he had a loose grip on reality and all.

“It’s contagious. You get it from your children.”

I don’t think I ever really appreciated those words.

Until The Day and the Night of Maximum Chaos.

Or as most people call it, Tuesday.

12:30AM-5:30AM

Awoken through the night at roughly 45 minute intervals by (in order):

  • 11-year old complaining he can’t sleep
  • 11 YO again (still can’t sleep. Now neither can we.)
  • The increasingly more urgent click click clickclickclickclickclick of dog nails on hardwood, indicating the Grandma Dog was about to poop on the carpet (decided it was easier to clean it up in the morning). Grandma Dog just don’t care, and neither do we.
  • Our youngest son (Because it’s time to get up. In Athens.)
  • Youngest son again, crying. (Because his older brother hit him. Because he climbed into his older brother’s top bunk and kicked his older brother. This is the classic case of what we parents in the Rationalist School call A self-correcting problem).

6:30-7:30AM

Wife (who is also sick) sucks it up, gets up, drives oldest son to school because he missed the bus. Because he couldn’t sleep. He might have mentioned that.

I pull the pillow over my head and go back to sleep.

9:00AM

I am awoken by ear-splitting silence. Sick Wife has gotten everyone out the door and, no doubt, gone out to do some Krav Maga while pretending the bag is my head under a pillow.

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9:30-10:00AM

Suck down a cup of coffee while answering a few work emails. The day is looking up!

10:00-10:40AM

Take a glorious shower without anyone trying to hold an incoherent, dinosaur-centric conversation with me. Then clean the downstairs out of guilt for totally shirking morning kid-wrangling duties. Surprised to note that with no one in the house I can thoroughly clean and disinfect half the house in 20 minutes. Left vacuum cleaner wheel-marks in the downstairs carpet extra obvious on purpose, because nothing says “I cleaned” like vacuum tracks on a carpet.

Reward myself with a second cup of coffee.

11:00-12:00PM

Get an un-interrupted hour of concentrated work in. The only sounds are the clacking of fingers on keyboard, the slurping of coffee, and the occasional gentle hiss of New Dog letting one rip. Heaven on earth.

12:00PM-3:00PM

Sick Wife returns home with Sick 11YO Son via Middle School Health Room and Hurricane 3 Year Old. She notices that I cleaned.

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Spend next three hours attempting to concentrate on work, mostly failing because every time I start to get back on track someone wants to talk about dinosaurs.

3:00 – 4:10PM

Oldest son is screaming in pain and crying due to sinus pressure. Hit “ENT” on the speed dial (entry 4 on my “Favorites” list). Luck into emergency Ear Nose Throat doctor appointment (we’re on the guest list). Rock-paper-scissors with Sick Wife over who gets car pool with 6 kids for swim team and who gets the crying 11 YO. I win, or possibly lose.  Haul ass to ENT, who injects child with ground koala penises directly into sinus cavities.

Screaming subsides.

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4:10PM- 5:10PM

Get back from ENT. Pick up lovely daughter for her swim team practice at the other pool across town. Drive there in traffic, drop her off, drive back home.

5:10-5:45PM

Stop at the grocery store to pick up garlic bread for dinner and more ground koala dongs from the pharmacy. Stand in line behind white-haired old lady trying to get her prescription filled for her Lady Problems. Convince her to try ground koala nobs instead.

5:45-6:10PM

Loop  back to the house to drop off ground koala junk and garlic bread. Drive back across town to pick up daughter from swim practice so we can go straight to an after school group project that the nine-year old group leader (a.k.a. the most Popular Boy in 4th Grade) decided to call today for a project that is due tomorrow for reasons not entirely clear to any adult.

6:10-6:20PM

Arrive at pool to discover a Wardrobe Crisis in Progress. While waiting in the reception area, nine-year-old daughter’s friend comes out of the women’s locker room.

“Um, she can’t come out because she doesn’t have a shirt and she’s crying.”

“What do you mean, ‘She doesn’t have a shirt?'”

She forgot to pack a shirt, and she’s going to a boy’s house.”

The unsaid DUH was left hanging in the air.

“Please tell her to do the best she can and hurry up.”

Moments pass. Friend emerges again.

“She’s really crying. She’s afraid you are going to take her to the boy’s house without her shirt.”

Despite clear instructions to pack swim bag and snack because we were going straight to Popular Boy’s house for after school project, Mistakes Were Made and essential items of clothing were omitted. Briefly considered telling my daughter that the boy in her group wouldn’t mind at all if she showed up without a shirt, but decided to save that advice for a few more years.

Parental embarrassment, like fine wine, gets better with age.

6:20-6:40 PM

Arrive at Popular Boy’s house via changing at our house. No dinner. Expecting group project to be nearly done considering it started at 6. Arrive to find 3 other 4th graders performing Team PowerPoint by standing behind the 4th kid watching her type.

Slowly.

Adult direction seems to be minimal. Popular Boy’s Mom appears to be distracted with a crisis involving Popular Boy’s Sister, and possibly also wardrobe and another, different, Popular Boy.

Project scope is poorly defined.

In other words, just like every project I’ve worked on professionally for the last 15 years. I study the situation and come to two conclusions:

  1. I am really hungry.
  2. For the life of me I can’t tell why Popular Boy is so Popular. He’s a doofy 9 year old with hair that looks like it was cut by a Doberman Pincher with a seizure disorder. My 38 year streak of not understanding women is intact.

6:40-7:00 PM

Return home and eat dinner by myself.Try hard to ignore the alarm bells telling me everything will not be all right. Get a call from my daughter that, in mid project, they have to get up and go to strange-friend’s-house-who’s-family-we-don’t-know because the crisis involving Popular Boy’s Mom and Popular Boy’s Sister has escalated to the point where Popular Boy’s Mom has to leave the house and go get Popular Boy’s Sister from wherever she is across town because somethingsomethingMY LIFE IS RUINED.

Feel a brief flash of pity for Popular Boy’s Mom. Break out into a cold sweat with the realization that I am on the threshold of having my own Popular Boy’s Older Sister.

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7:01 – 9:30PM

Decide that this fustercluck has fustered long enough. Deliver dinner to my daughter at strange-friend’s-house-who’s-family-we-don’t-know. Introduce myself to strange-friend’s-dad. Wonder what strange-friend’s-dad is doing married to a girl half his age who’s wearing jeans with sequins on the butt. Discover girl is the nanny. Make a mental note to look into hiring a nanny. Notice continued lack of adult supervision. Barge in, take charge of project, manage to narrowly avoid doing entire project for children and instead only do most of it. I am now also extremely knowledgeable about trailblazing computer scientist Mark Dean.

9:31 PM

Discharge duties as Project Dad after completing 50 PowerPoint slides, which is kind of like STEM education in that you are using technology to bore the crap out of someone, instead of doing it the old fashioned, analog way. Drive home. Crack open the box o’wine. Complain to Sick Wife about day.

“How did our life get to be so crazy?”

We live in a fairly dense area. All of this driving was within a 5 mile radius from the house. I managed to spend enough time in the car that I could have been standing in the Atlantic Ocean had I driven straight east (and had it not been February). I suppose with four kids, complexity is normal– it’s almost mathematically certain.

“How did our life get to be so crazy?”

“It’s contagious. You get it from your children.”