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Endings and Beginnings

So, my company has laid everyone off, myself included.  I’ve put a lot into my job, my work has been the focus of my life.  I’m the last one out, so to speak, since I was in charge of shutting down operations, selling off equipment, etc. Now I am officially done.   So, what now?  No idea really.

There are many fantastic resources on the internet that focus on the logistics of surviving a layoff- filing for unemployment, cutting cost, making sure your employer honors the severance deal, etc.  They even touch on some of the emotional aspects- feeling like a failure, grief, and more complicated feelings.  I admit I’m processing a complex set of emotions right now.

While I’m lucky to have enough savings to be okay for a while, none of us got severance, so I am draining my bank account every day.  I’ve also never worked a job that had any sort of retirement benefits, so I’m worried that if I use up too much of my savings now, I will be suffering badly in 20-30 years.

There are logistical difficulties around getting another job. I live in an expensive place with not great job prospects for my field. I re-signed my lease a few months ago, after being assured that my job was safe for a year, and there is no way to break it.  So a job that requires relocation basically will require paying off my lease, which is ten thousand dollars or so down the drain.

I have all the usual doubts that follow a layoff- I’m not good enough, I won’t get hired because I screwed up this job, that my bosses and coworkers won’t give me a good recommendation, etc.

And it is sad- I am grieving!-, that so much passion and hard work went into the company for nothing.  We all worked extremely hard and it wasn’t enough.  All that we built and accomplished will be lost.  We learned cool things, we made awesome discoveries, and no one will know about them.  The end.

So there is a lot of fear and panic.  Yet, at the same time, part of me is excited.  I have some time to work on my own interests and hobbies (like this blog).  I’ve focussed so much on my job over the last 5 years that I’ve become a boring person.  Now, I have time to explore and rekindle my passions.  In the short term, I have plenty of savings, so I can relax a bit.  There is a whole new beginning ahead and I have complete freedom to design my life.

Why Blog?

I don’t have a strong vision for what the blog should be.  It is a playground for me, a place to try different styles, tone, themes, etc.  It is a place to be creative.  I imagine at some point everything will jell, and the themes will narrow, my style will coalesce, and the blog will be a more definable thing.

But for now, it is a random mass of thoughts and that’s okay.  It actually bothered me that I didn’t have a theme, and it stopped me from starting for a long time.  Then I finally started, and I thought it would be about writing and productivity.  But then, when I didn’t have anything to say on those topics I didn’t write at all.  When I restarted the blogging/writing habits, I gave myself permission to write about anything.  This is actually pretty scary, since I am revealing multiple facets of my life.  I very much compartmentalize various aspects/ realms of my life, so discussing all of them in a single place is somewhat stressful.

Not only is it scary, but it is a slog.  I don’t necessarily know what I should write about.  I’m not happy with my content or my production schedule.  Having a blog I’m proud of seems like something from the very distant future.  I keep telling myself that I need to keep posting, and I’ll get better, but this habit is running on will-power alone, which is not a good place to be.

I don’t have any great ideas on how to make it easier, other than to keep writing, and hope that things change…


I’m only happy when it rains…

Or so the song goes.  Most people aren’t happy when it rains though.  It makes life harder.  Commuting is more difficult and potentially more dangerous.  (And I commute by bike, so multiply the difficulty and danger by 100x.)  Getting wet in work clothes is yucky, probably no matter what your job (unless your job involved getting wet), because you know you cannot change to dry clothes until the end of the day when you get home.  If you have a professional job, your shoes are unlikely to handle puddles well.  On the weekend, it spoils whatever fun you had planned.

But as a kid, rain was fun.  It rarely stopped any of our outside play.  We didn’t mind getting soaking wet or muddy, and maybe we even especially liked it.  At various times in my childhood, my brother and I built shelters/hideaways/forts.  Rainy days were awesome because we could “hardness test” our construction.  One of our more complicated efforts was in the woods near our house- a buffer between the highway and our community.  We built our shelter into the hill.  The roof was made of branches, stolen industrial strength garbage bags, and leaves.  Our goal was that our hideout should be completely camouflaged so we used lots of leaves on the roof.   We had no idea what we were doing, but I seem to recall doing “water-proofing” with stolen bacon grease.   I don’t know why we weren’t eaten by rabid raccoon or rats drawn to the yummy bacon smell, but somehow we never saw large vermin.  (There were bugs of course, and probably small snakes, but that was the default for the woods- I don’t remember anything specific infesting our fort.)   Since the shelter/fort/whatever was dug in to the hill, dampness came up from the ground as well, and we had few technical skills to deal with that.  Maybe we sat on garbage bags?  Needless to say, our shelter was not the driest place during storms.  Yet we loved it, and were super-impressed with our construction skills.  We spent many rainy days in our pit of mud with raindrops filtering through the leaves of our roof to drip on us.  And we were happy.

It is now pouring rain.  I’m sitting on my balcony and watching the rain pour.  I’m assessing the odds that I will get scolded by the condo association if I go out and play in the rain and come back in the building muddy and wet.  I’m thinking about what my neighbors would say if we met in the elevator, and I was soaking wet and had no rain gear.  As a woman, I’m wondering what type of reaction I’ll get when my entire outfit it soaking wet and plastered to my body.  I’m thinking about what I could wear that wouldn’t be indecent soaked.  I’m watching the lightening and wondering about the dangers.

I’m wondering, even if I ignore all this, would it even still be fun?


TGIF, but what do I do tomorrow?

I still haven’t quite gotten back to a normal schedule post- “spring-forward”.  While the extra light at night is nice, especially since my work officially ends at 6:00 pm and people frequently work late, my body and brain haven’t gotten in sync with things yet.  I’ve been sleeping until the last possible minute in the morning, and unable to get to sleep at night.  I’ve been eating meals at all sorts of strange hours due to some weird scheduling at work; I’m sure this isn’t helping things any.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I prefer routines and habits over willpower.  This week has been all will-power, and not very successful either.  It has lead to increased frustration with my fellow man as well.  Not a good state to be in.

The weekend lies ahead.  I used to have a routine around weekend, but that was centered around my life with my (now ex-) partner.  I’ve never really figured out how to rebuild a weekend routine, and have found myself frittering away my time.  I thought I would go bike riding this weekend.  But now the weather is saying rain, and the trail where the nice riding is is far away.  I could see myself spending the day getting there, riding, picnicing, journaling in the sun.  I can’t see myself spending the time to get out there to eat lunch huddled in a shelter and racing from shelter to shelter ahead of storms.

So I’m left with no solid plans for the weekend, which probably means two days of impatiently waiting for the dishwasher or washing machine or dryer to end so I can start the next load.

You are inside a f***ing cloud!!!

Today has been generally shitty.  I think my colleague’s processing of yesterday’s weird call was lot worse than mine, so lots of “Every decision you’ve ever made is wrong.”

That said, today’s post title isn’t metaphorical, but literal.  Right now, my part of the city is inside a cloud.  A stratus cloud to be exact.  [and yes, looking for a silver lining as we speak.]

I’m sitting on my balcony, which sadly isn’t within the cloud, and hearing my neighbor babbling on the phone about how her plans changed because “it is so foggy”.  It took all my restraint not to shout out the title of my post, followed by a brief lecture on the difference between low-lying stratus and fog.

I will show no such restraint for my imaginary readers and my loyal cohort of casino spammers…

Fog forms from the ground up.  It is extremely low level (like person level) and also has the cool characteristic of collecting in hollows and low spots.  Stratus is an actual cloud, which for some reason, has decided to visit us.  It is higher than fog and the area closest to the ground is clear.  It looks especially awesome when it covers the top (but not the bottom) of a building.  Part of the stratus may be low enough to feel at person height (cool/ droplets of moisture), but the visibility isn’t usually obscured at person height locally.  The decrease in visibility is only obvious when looking towards the horizon or at a tall building.  And honestly, it looks more like you are heading in to rain than fog.  The moisture also feels more like a drizzle than the softness of fog.

Satellites cannot tell the difference between fog and low status, so a lot of websites treat them as a single category.  But to the cloud lover (or the fog lover) they are clearly distinct, and each worthy of celebration.


Do you understand what just happened?

So I had a weird incident at work.  Luckily, I had a witness to the oddness.  We were on a conference call with another company, in the middle of answering a question that they had asked, and we were hung up on.  By both other people, located in completely different offices.  It was baffling.  Neither one of us on our side had any idea what happened.  It wasn’t heated, no one said anything rude or profane, we were just answering a mundane question about how our technology could be used.   They just blurted out ‘bye’ and hung up.  My colleague asked me, “Do you understand what just happened?”

I’ve had calls wrap up quickly before as the meeting approached the end time.  I’ve had calls end early because there was no mutual interest, but usually at that point there are excessive pleasantries to end a call scheduled for an hour seven minutes in.  This was neither of those cases.  It was just weird.

I guess I am grateful that it was so bizarre that even my colleague noticed.  If it had been a more polished exit, I might be spending the evening wondering what I did wrong, or how to hone my pitch to close the next call.  If the call had gone pseudo-normally, I’d be worried about how to persuade them to partner with us.  I’d be turning over the conversation for clues and planning our next move.  Instead, I can completely let it go.

I don’t know if there is a lesson here.    Should I strive to treat all calls in a more detached way?  Should I leave work at work?  Should I randomly hang up during boring conference calls?