Working, man

As you may or may not recall (because it’s been so long since I actually, you know, wrote something here), I got laid off back in May … and although I was courted by a Big Financial Services Company and briefly flirted with the idea of becoming the new Aflac duck, I passed on both of those opportunities in the hopes that something better might come along.

Prior to my layoff, Wonder Woman and I had already decided to move our family from the Boston area to the Philadelphia area, so the week I was laid off, I haphazardly fired off a couple of résumés to some Philadelphia-area companies, one of which was looking for a full-time web-designer/web-developer.

I was laid off once before, back in 2002. It was at that time that I bought a stack of web-design books and taught myself how to build one o’ them there website thingamajigs, because I had a hunch that this whole Internet thing might catch on.

The interview process for the aforementioned web-designer/web-developer gig involved roughly four phone interviews and a three-hour on-site interview here in Pennsylvania … and at no time during any of this did I feel like I was qualified for the position, and at no time during any of this did I have even the slightest intention of accepting a job offer if, in fact, they were foolish enough to make me one — both because I felt like I’d be getting in way over my head, and because, seriously: Who the hell would want to work for people stupid enough to hire someone as grossly under-qualified as me?

And yet, as the weeks wore on, and I focused on our relocation efforts, and did very little job searching, it occurred to me that I was probably going to need to have some sort of income once we finished moving into our new house. And when it turned out that they were, in fact, foolish enough to offer me the job, I decided I should seriously consider it.

Wonder Woman and I discussed it one night while driving from Boston to Philly.

“They’re willing to pay you [five figures] more than you were making at your last job to do something that you taught yourself out of some books you bought on Amazon,” she said.

Good point.

It was somewhere near the Tapanzee Bridge that we passed a work crew comprised of several men using jackhammers to bust up the road surface, and several other men whose job was to lift the massive chunks of concrete and rebar, and shuffle them onto a flatbed truck … at about 11 o’clock at night.

Suddenly, the prospect of earning a pretty damn good salary for playing on a computer all day seemed not entirely awful.

During that same visit to Philly, my father-in-law and I had what I didn’t realize at the time would be our last-ever one-on-one conversation. He had long been a major supporter of my writing career, and of my dream to some day earn a living from my own creative-writing endeavors, and he was well aware of how difficult it would be for me to give up my completely autonomous lifestyle and take a jarringly unexpected detour into a corporate cubicle for a non-writing gig.

“I get it, Jon,” he said. “And I’m quite sure you’ll find your way back to making a living as a writer. That is, and should be, the goal. In the meantime, this job sounds like a good opportunity … and you don’t have to do it forever.”

That last part really hit home. He was right. Up until that point, the thought of accepting the job felt tantamount to being slapped with a life sentence, and, for better or worse, felt like giving up on my dreams — dreams that, until age 40, I’d successfully managed to build a career around.

Eight weeks ago this past Monday, I, for the first time in roughly a decade, rose from bed at a time not of my own choosing, showered, shaved, put on business-casual attire, kissed my wife and kids goodbye, drove a number of miles away from my house, and set up shop in a fluorescent-lit cubicle where I have since spent 40 hours per week. And, yeah, I know: most people don’t have the luxury of working from home, nor get paid to go to a fairly nice office building, sit around listening to an iPod and code websites, so I should shut the fuck up and deal with it — and, believe me, I am … but it is a massive shock to my system at this point in my life to suddenly not be able to do whatever the hell I want to do whenever the hell I want to do it.

So now I am the Lead Web Designer (also, incidentally, the Only Web Designer) for a publicly traded corporation that employs 5,000 people … a job I landed with a résumé that basically said I hung with Van Halen for a couple years and then spent the past decade working as a music journalist. Go figure.

Of course, given that that’s the case, it should come as no surprise that I was having full-on anxiety attacks during the first week or so at my new job … because I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to do anything … and I was certain that, at any given moment, someone was going to call me on it, and tell me that they realized they’d made a massive mistake by hiring me, and would I please put all my shit in a box and beat it. So sure was I that things were going to end badly that I started fantasizing about walking into my boss’ office and telling him that he’d made a massive mistake by hiring me, and that I would presently be putting all my shit in a box and beating it.

I’m not kidding. It was a very fortunate thing that I had placed on the wall in my cubicle a picture of my family in order to remind myself of why I was making such a massive compromise … because there were several moments during those early days when the dread and panic and terror washed over me in waves so large that I literally was on the verge of standing up, walking out of the building without saying a word to anyone, getting in my car, driving right the fuck away and never going back.

Fortunately, I hung in there, and things seem to be going pretty well. The steady paycheck definitely takes some of the sting out of it.

The big challenge now, however, is finding some way of balancing this workaday-shuffle routine with the ongoing pursuit of my dreams — a major part of which involves writing for this blog on a regular basis.

Thing is, I know there are other bloggers I follow who seem to manage working full time jobs (The Muskrat and Dad Gone Mad, for example) and still find time to do plenty of writing. So I’m open to suggestions. If you people wanna see more writing around here, then y’all need to help me figure this shit out. Thoughts?

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Posted in Life, Writing | 24 Responses

Wherein I compare my life to a hayride

Wherein I compare my life to a hayride'

The thing about not posting a blog entry for an unreasonably long time is that…… [read the rest]

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Posted in Featured Photo | 23 Responses

Keepin’ it klassy

Keepin' it klassy'

Spotted while I was out grabbing some lunch today. The thing that astounds me is…… [read the rest]

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Posted in Featured Photo | 52 Responses

Keep on truckin’

Keep on truckin'

Now, here’s the thing: I am arrogant enough to consider myself a more capable person than 90 percent of the general population. A military background and an overly healthy ego will do that to you. And, be that as it may, I was…… [read the rest]

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Posted in Featured Photo | 12 Responses

I’m not sure that this changes everything, but it’s definitely better than the gloom and doom that have lingered around my blog for the past several weeks

Yes, yes, I know: You were hoping for another entry filled with death and despair and angry screeds about the unfairness of life in general, because that’s always a good time, but indulge me for a moment while I reminisce about my funky-fresh trip to Atlanta.

You see, back in February, I went to the Mom 2.0 Summit, which was my first-ever blog conference … and it was awesome … but, by the end of that event, it was quite clear to me that, despite rumors to the contrary, I am not one of the girls. So, when plans for this month’s Modern Media Man Summit — colloquially billed as the first-ever daddy-blogger conference — were unveiled, I knew I had to be there. And when I found out that the men behind Muskrat and Clark Kent’s Lunchbox were attending, I knew I had to dress pretty and get them liquored up and take advantage of them. (Mission accomplished, by the way. Schwing.)

And I almost didn’t go … because, as you may have noticed, my life has been a massive pigfuck the past few months, and we’re still living out of boxes, and the people who sold us this house apparently were from the 1800s, so there’s a ton of shit that needs updating in order to transform this place from the set of “Little House on the Prairie” into an actual functioning home, and the clock is was ticking down to the start of my new job, which I report reported to next Monday TOMORROW today (yeah, it took me a while to finally finish and post this entry) … none of which is conducive to spending three days drinking networking with a group of fellow “daddy bloggers” (a phrase that doesn’t make me cringe or want to puke because, quite frankly, I have bigger things to worry about; get over it already).

Thankfully, my wife — who knew I was disappointed about canceling my planned trip to BlogHer last month — encouraged me to go to M3 … so I did.

Now, if you’re looking for a recap of the conference itself, you came to the wrong place. Yes, I thought it most definitely was worthwhile, and, yes, I absolutely will go again if the organizers should happen to pull together a second edition … but I’m not here to regurgitate the info put forth in the various daytime sessions, nor am I here to to debate the virtues of pimping your blog for The Man (Ron Mattocks, proprietor of Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, has already taken care of sparking that discussion); I’m here to talk about the good stuff … you know, the drinking networking with my peers.

You know what’s dangerous? Being a galactically stressed-out 40-year-old father of two who rarely leaves the house and suddenly finds himself at an open-bar cocktail party with a bunch of other dudes who also find themselves in the rare circumstance of being unencumbered by wives and children for a few days, and, yeah, sure, I’ll have another, thanks!

And so, a few short hours after arriving in Atlanta, Michael, a.k.a. Muskrat; Ron, a.k.a. Clark Kent’s Lunchbox; and Danny, a.k.a. Dad Gone Mad, were pressuring me to consume alcohol, and I was too weak to resist. (OK, so maybe I was the first one at the bar, and I actually started drinking before them — tequila, no less — but, still … those guys are a bad influence.)

In between sips, I managed to shoot the breeze with baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr., whom I could tell envied me and my hardcore-blogger lifestyle. I assured him that if he worked hard and stayed committed, he might one day make something of himself. (Actually, Ripken mentioned during his speech that, while playing in the major leagues, in order to help his pitcher and catcher, he would call pitches from his position at shortstop using a system of covert signals … which I found fascinating … so, despite having to pee so badly that I was sure I’d wet myself halfway through his answer, I asked him to expound upon that, which he did … and he was even kind enough to pretend not to notice when my bladder exploded.)

Of course, by the time we finally sat down to dinner several hours later, I had been imbibing like a mad man for a good five hours on an empty stomach — which, nonetheless, didn’t stop me from downing Hopsplosion upon Hopsplosion, a microbrew beer that, moments after seeing its higher-than-normal alcohol-by-volume content listed in the menu, I promptly forgot was likely to whup my ass. You would think the guy who wrote this would know better. (Having a chugging competition with the waitress didn’t help matters … and the fact that she soundly kicked my ass didn’t help my already-fragile ego.)

And so it was that, the next morning, after logging perhaps four hours of sleep, I looked like the daddy-blogger version of Jeff Conaway from “Celebrity Rehab.”

Amazingly, however, after willing myself to attend the 9 a.m. opening keynote speech whilst sweating and shaking and wondering how I was going to live for another hour, I was able to push straight through until about 1 a.m. (it’s good to know all that Army training paid off; you’re welcome, America), which allowed me to join Muskrat, Doug French (a.k.a. Laid Off Dad), Justine Meek of Brand About Town and several other folks for a private screening of documentary filmmaker Doug Block’s forthcoming flick, “The Kids Grow Up,” which documents his daughter’s last year at home before moving off to college, interspersed with footage from throughout her life … none of which made me almost bawl like a fucking baby multiple times as I visualized my own daughter someday becoming a young woman and leaving me. *sniff*

Thankfully, I took it easy enough on Friday night that I logged enough sleep to feel like a champion by the time the final shindig took place on Saturday night on the roof of a sports bar called Stats … a location that afforded me, Muskrat, Ron, Doug French, Jason (a.k.a. Pet Cobra/DadCentric) and my new BFF, John Cave Osborne (a.k.a. And Triplets Make Six), a terrific view of a completely sick-ass lightning storm (which reminds me: I have a lightning story I’ve been meaning to tell you … and, at the rate I’ve been going lately, I might actually get around to it sometime in the next decade or two … so stay tuned).

But enough about all of that debauchery. The point? The point is that it was way cool to hang with a slew of blogging dudes I’d never before met, and whom I now consider friends. Looking forward to the next time we cross paths, and hoping it’s soon.

Shout outs to some of my new tweeps:

@themuskrat
@CK_Lunchbox
@DadGoneMad
@LOD
@PetCobra
@johncaveosborne
@DadCentric
@DadOfDivas
@thekidsgrowup
@calebgardner
@DadLabs
@jeff_pugh
@cheimbuch
@MOTH_editor
@daddyclay
@daddybrad
@cbarger
@BenSparks
@cc_chapman
@JayGaddis
@kevingainey

I’m SURE I missed a bunch of people … and for that, I am truly sorry. Don’t take it personally; I’m a scatterbrained mess who can’t keep track of my own keys and wallet, let alone the names and Twitter handles and blog URLs of a few dozen dudes. Mea culpa!

PS: I’d show you some pictures of us all partying, but I found out that, unlike the women who attended Mom 2.0, “daddy bloggers” apparently can’t be bothered to pose for group photos. The best I can do for you is a really shitty camera-phone pic of Muskrat and me:

We’re kinda like the Batman and Robin of nerd-dom.

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Posted in Life | 12 Responses