If you follow me on any social media, you've seen that a friend of mine is dying.
The last part of that sentence was really hard for me to write. I don't deal well with death. I don't mean emotional collapse, I mean failure to even find a handle. Just writing such a simple statement, admitting this is happening to someone I have known for the better part of a decade feels surreal.
This essay is adapted from the podcast episode originally published on 2010-01-27.
A couple of weeks ago, as I walked in from the Metro to work, an album to which I was listening brought me to tears. The stresses I have been feeling for the past year had reached a crescendo pitch. Music has become a key part of how I cope. I started playing guitar back in January, inspired by my older son's intense musicality and some of the fondest memories of my dad when I was growing up.
I woke up late this morning, at least late for a weekend. Despite sleeping in, my mind and limbs felt heavy. I skipped my usual habit of making myself breakfast from scratch, instead throwing something frozen in the microwave. Out the window, the neighborhood was gray, wet from overnight rain. I felt unmotivated to keep at another, more recent habit, of taking brisk walks on as many days as I can. I will be traveling this coming week, I knew I should get out of the house to walk when I have the time and space so I feel less bad if I have to skip a day later on.
As you might guess from my recent posts, I am doing some stock taking and house keeping, both in my life and on the site. I just cancelled the three remaining recurring donations initiated when the podcast in particular was much more regular and frequent. One of those donors sent me a note, confused, so I am sharing my thought process here for anyone else who is curious.
Yesterday I took what ended up being an epic walk. I have already written about how I have been walking more lately. Walking more has been easier over the last two months. I had been taking days off or at least working from home while focused on my job search. The other week, I had a sudden run of days in DC but hadn't yet come up with attractive walking routes to help me keep up my new habit. In looking around an online map of what was nearby, I found Constitution Gardens. The Gardens truly are one of the hidden treasures of DC and I wish I had found them sooner. There is a huge water feature within which is a small island that has a ring of stone engraved with the signatures of all those who signed the Declaration of Independence. The Gardens are a decent half hour walk from where I work. Worked--today is my last day and my new gig is located much closer to home, in the suburbs.
I used to hate travel for work. I'd be stuck in the pressure cooker of modern air travel with people with whom as often as not the only thing I had in common was a job. Can you imagine, long spans of either awkward silence or endlessly rehashing work? For those jobs of the past, the purpose of any given trip was likely to involve some customer glad handing, a chore under the best of circumstances. The destinations were always uniformly nondescript, beige, corporate, even industrial.
For a variety of reasons, not all of which I have discussed, this has been a tough year.
To be fair to others, I have only spoken of the positive reasons for my job change. The story is always more complicated and those complications took a great toll on me and my family. A job search is exhausting under the best of circumstances, let alone when you are dealing with some incredibly difficult personal issues. I have been touched directly by the spectre of mental illness that seems to be rife in the world of technology and only now is being more openly discussed. I am not prepared to share details though there are some broad topics I will discuss in a more personal way when I am ready. Suffice to say that everyone in my family is safe.
I sat across a table today from an account manager at a staffing firm. I didn't expect to be there. I had taken a phone screen the week prior, my first in-depth technical assessment, that I thought I had completely fumbled. Looking back at my notes from right after the call, I wrote in big block letters, FAIL.