Employment Chronicles: Reality bites

realityIf you haven’t seen the movie referenced in the title or don’t recognize the above Slinky-fondling characters, or hear the song “Stay” by Lisa Loeb playing in your head right now – for the record, my favorite songs on the outstanding “Reality Bites” soundtrack will always be “Locked Out” by Crowded House, “Tempted” by Squeeze and  “When You Come Back to Me” by World Party, but I’m pretty sure “Yooooou say, I only hear what I want tooooo,” is the echo this iconic 1994 Gen-X coming-of-age flick sent bouncing through the ages – well, I’m not going to tell you to stop reading. This blog isn’t about the movie.

Do yourself a favor, though, and at least download that soundtrack.

I’m just sitting here unwinding on the night before another job interview. It’s my third actual interview in three months of applying for jobs, and those are my first three months of being without a full-time job in journalism since the year 2000, when I was probably as old as Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke, et al, were supposed to be in the aforementioned movie. And I’m agreeing that, yes, REALITY BITES.

My severance package from my previous job is about to run out. I’m 0-for all my applications in related fields thus far. The “part-time” retail job I took to “be around people” because I was “getting depressed” with the job search – I’m using quotes because I’m pretty sure these are things I’ve written previously on this very blog, but it’s late, and I don’t feel like going back and looking – has taxed me physically, mentally and emotionally to the point that I’m not sure it was a good idea to even go there in the first place.

Wait, let me re-phrase. I let that happen. It’s not the job that did it. In early October, when I had just busted free from 16 years at the same company, and I was learning new things and meeting new people and being given opportunities at the job that I thought would lead to something more AND I still had my old paycheck coming in every two weeks, the whole experience, while challenging and very, very different, felt exhilarating. It felt like I was being shot out of a cannon of freedom into a scary, but exciting, abyss of promise.

In layman’s terms, I believe that’s called the Honeymoon Phase.

And now, I’ve crashed down to Earth, and despite pretty good dietary choices over the past month, I’m still heavy enough to make a good-sized crater.

I was both unable to clearly understand the reality of my situation, and to reconcile my high expectations and hopes with that reality. I didn’t think I was naive, at 40, after moving all over the country and covering all levels of sports for half my life, but I guess I was.

I mean, I don’t want to act like marriage isn’t an awesome thing. But there are definite parallels to adjusting to everyday married life after the wedding/honeymoon and adjusting to the everyday real world when you’ve felt pretty unique and special throughout your career and then realize you’re just another cog in a wheel – dispensable, replaceable, with passions that will take great effort to keep burning as you go through the motions of just trying to make a paycheck.

Down here in my crater, the passion and energy I should have for pursuing a new career path, and continuing to apply for jobs, has dwindled after the rejections I’ve experienced so far, and the long days I’ve spent at Shady Brook Farm, seemingly endlessly sweeping the floor, or cleaning the bathrooms (which I’ve been told I’m good at. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.)

I’m not sure what the remedy is for the entire situation. But I do have a job interview tomorrow, and we’ll focus on that as a potentially promising start.

In addition to laying out my favorite black dress, I’m going to dig out my “Reality Bites” CD and blast that sucker in the car on the way there.

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