Message in a Bottle

imageI had a horrid day on Tuesday, and I can’t even tell you why.

It was one of those days where things didn’t go wrong, but they seemed hard for some reason. Very hard. I felt… I dunno. Panicked, I guess. I felt like there was a tremendous amount of pressure on me to perform, to do things well, right, perfect even. I felt I had no room for error, no room for a miscue of any kind. (This would make sense if you knew what I had to do. Suffice it to say I could cost the company money, put my boss in the middle of a fight he didn’t want and doesn’t need, make our division and team look bad, and piss off a bunch of customers, all in one fell swoop.)

So I ground my teeth and knit my brows and tensed my shoulders. I prayed, a lot. I walked away from my desk more than once, just to get to a point of being able to face the never-ending task again. Only this time there’s more of it, more to do, more building and demands. This one’s urgent, that one requires a twenty-four hour turn-around, I’m about six days behind all of them and they just keep coming, moving forward. The flow doesn’t care I’m having a bad day, having a hard time, struggling to do the work of three people as one. Oh, and keep up my regular duties too as well as get some other stuff going which isn’t part of my normal routine.

On the horizon is help, but that horizon line keeps moving… or at least that’s how it looks from here. I can’t seem to gain ground on it, to close the gap at all, and that magical “soon” drifts agonizingly away from my outstretched hope.

imageBut for now, it’s me and only me. Another one comes in, then another. Seventy-one, -two, -three… I gain a little ground, get it under seventy. I do some of my other duties and come back. Seventy-four, -six. I race to close them, solve them, do them right, make no mistakes, get them out. I came in Monday and there were ninety-two waiting. I worked hard, got a breath of fresh air with some help, and kept going. Monday is a heavy day for me. Reports to generate, data to scrub, again no mistakes! My boss sends this to internal and external clients. It has to be right. Get it right!

The early afternoon I turn to it and hit as hard as I can. Help. Someone to contribute; we get it down to about 54. Tuesday back to seventy-one to start. I don’t know where it will go the next day. Stay on it!

Emails demanding my attention be diverted to other things. They press me, hound me, pressure. Call my boss when I don’t respond. I can’t do both, customers have the priority – I take my chances, try to explain.

Why can’t I go faster, do more in a day? Why is this so much harder for me than for the people who taught me to do it?

Back on it. Over and over. Some of them start to look the same, I get confused, which ones did I do? Which can I leave for another day? Who’s the one I need to respond to in twenty-four hours? Is that reasonable? Possible?

I came home disoriented, drained, discouraged and defeated. My loving wife greets me with my smiling children and the hugs melt some of the pain away, and I cling to her for a few moments. Later I can talk about it. Some.

Then I decide to ignore my responsibilities, ignore my duties for a bit, and just play on the Internet. I open an email and find… It’s from God. And He tells me I can call on Him anytime when things feel too hard for me to do it alone.

I cried a little. Not much. But a little. And I knew then my evening was going to turn around. To top it off I had a lot of fun playing a silly game and set a personal best, then broke it two rounds later. Not earth-shattering, but fun. And I went to bed smiling. Wednesday nothing will be different, the demands will all be there. But I’ll be different, perhaps.

Perhaps.

-JDT-

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track
.
Proverbs 3:5-6 [The Message]

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

Wondering

I spent a little quality time surfing my former associates and “friends” on one of the professional networking sites I belong to. It seems I don’t make good enough use of those tools and don’t leverage myself to the best degree possible.

As I cruised through my past work places, I noticed  how many past associates I’d worked with had jobs. They all managed to either retain the jobs they had or get new ones. Most no more than once, but others have hopped a couple of times. They seemed to be moving upward or at least laterally in their careers, and they kept a steady income stream flowing while they migrated from one position to another.

For a moment, I smiled to myself and wondered how they were doing, whether I should reach out to some of them or not, whether they’d be interested in making a renewed connection. Then I started wondering how many of them even remember me, how many could recall my face even if they recalled the name.

And I wondered how I’d answer the “how’s it going for you?” question which would inevitably follow the brief greetings. These are people with whom my only connection was a workplace. It’s unfathomable how fragile that connection is until it’s not there. People you thought you were close to suddenly seem very strange and new – sometimes uninteresting – when removed from the common context (or enemy) of the workplace.

It occurs to me now that they’d snicker behind their hands at me if they could see me. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been. I’m unshaven, wandering around in our home playing “writer” with a freelance authoring gig which isn’t going to sustain me, and I’ve been on unemployment for longer than anyone – me included – ever imagined I’d be. They’d perk their brows and wonder what’s wrong with me that I’m still out of work, haven’t been offered at least a contract position if nothing full-time, when all of them have their secure positions and benefits and paychecks.

I’ve wondered that same thing myself. What IS wrong with me? Why CAN’T I get a job?

I realized, looking over one profile after another, that I don’t have the answer to that question. I do what I think I can to get myself into the best position to be offered a job. I hear all about the “recovery” happening everywhere. I see others getting jobs and they’re not spending literally YEARS out of work. I see them snatched up and employed almost at will, and I sit and wonder: Why can’t I do that? What’s wrong with me that no one seems to want me?

I know my technical savvy’s not what it used to be, and I can’t do much about that right now (money). I can’t change horses mid-stream even though this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so (income requirements – money again). I can’t take a deep pay cut to get a job (guess what? right, money again). So I’m almost trapped into doing what I do for a fixed salary which isn’t a draw to a lot of companies, and can’t do much about that right now.

“Right now” seems to be interminable where my circumstances are concerned.

The story seems to end, if I draw this line of reasoning out, with my wife and kids living in either a homeless shelter or with friends of hers if we can get them there, and with me living in the car trying to find work by pounding the pavement the way things were done in the 60s and 70s. Funny, but I never imagined that would be how things ended for me, but lately, I’m having a harder and harder time getting away from it. My few prospects come far between, and they dry up as quickly as spit on a hot sidewalk. When they evaporate they don’t leave a residue of hopefulness behind; only a stain of disappointment.

But maybe the story doesn’t end there. Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye, and maybe there’s something just around the corner. I can’t tell you what the weather will be like in an hour, never mind my life, so there’s no surprise in recognizing that somewhere beyond my field of vision, which is limited to the end of my nose (for more of us than would admit it), perhaps there’s a change of fortune. Perhaps out there is a chance, MY chance, the one chance I’ve been praying and hoping for.

No, maybe this isn’ t how the story ends. Maybe this story has an epilogue with a happy twist.

I wonder.

-JDT-

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Good News … Sorta

Yes, Yellowcat – actual good news this time. 🙂

Yesterday I had a job interview.

On the upside, it was an interview with all of the hiring team for a company about 25 miles away. That means, if they make a decision in my favor, there won’t be any need for a second interview, most likely. Also on the upside, they liked that I’d had a book published and asked me if I brought a copy with me. (Note to self: Bring a copy with you next time. *Sigh*) Also on the upside, one of the three decision makers opted out of the process (not just my interview) due to workload, so the amount of time I spent interviewing was reduced by about 45 minutes.

On the downside, it’s 25+ miles away and there’s no good way to get there from here. All the ways you CAN get there from here are under construction and show no signs of being finished any time before I die. So if I get the job, my commute will be hell. At least for now. I may be able to move when the lease ends, but that takes serious money and I can’t see having serious money available by then even if I started work tomorrow, which I won’t. Also on the downside, there was no talk of salary and I wasn’t going to broach the subject on my initial meeting. There’s a salary range and they didn’t share it. I took that to be significant and let it fall. I did successfully drop hints about what ranges I’d turned down, so that’s something, but I’d still like to know if it was all waste of time and gas. Oh well. Further on the downside, this summer has been significantly warmer and more humid than last year, so I had to travel in a car with no air conditioning through pretty heavy traffic for an hour solid. Not the worst thing in the world, but a little nerve-wracking when I think of the potential drip- and stink-factor. *Sigh*

Still, I think the interview when positively, and because of my concern about the weather and how I’d make myself presentable for an interview, I never had a chance to get nervous about the interview. Therefore I was as suave and smooth as Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots. I could’ve conquered the entire Tri-State Area I was in such control.

I still said things I don’t think I’m supposed to say in an interview, but by the time I realized they’d fallen out of my mouth it was too late. They also said they were appreciative of my honesty, so who knows? Maybe it’ll work in my favor, right? Right?

Oh, and one of the biggest surprises was how the hiring manager to whom I would report told me she didn’t actually think I’d be a good fit for the position I was interviewing for. She said she had a technical writing opening and was more interested in me for that position.

I said, “Great!” And I smiled like the Cheshire Cat, my lovelies, because you know what? God knows I don’t really want to be a technical support rep any more. He knows I’d MUCH rather be a full-time, permanent, technical writer. And so, there you have it. (Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sure the technical writer job IS full-time permanent. Hm.)

In addition to the interview going (mostly) well, God is up to His usual amazingness and doing stuff behind the scenes. I couldn’t have made the trip, and been in the shape I was in when I got there (and back!), if not for His Divine intervention. The things which happened aligned too well, too easily and perfectly and things went just as we hoped and prayed. I don’t believe that’s coincidence. I just don’t.

Anyway, I should know something by the end of the week, or maybe next week. The company’s interested in moving quickly, so I should hear soon. If you’re the praying type, here’s one you can toss up for us. 🙂

Thanks y’all! Hope you had as great a day as I did.

-JDT-

Yeah, You Read That Right

You’re not imagining things. I didn’t have a post up this morning. I know I try to be consistent with you all, and put something up Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but this weekend, my wife and I got some really, really incredible news and a happy turn of events for the first time in a long, long while. NOt as exciting as a full-time job or winning the lottery would be, of course, but pretty exciting just the same, and it happened JUST IN TIME.

God sure knows what He’s doing, y’all.

So, rather than knock myself out and try to come up with an entertaining post for today, I decided to take the weekend off and just bask in the flow of the provision of God and enjoy it. Grocery shopping hasn’t been that much funin a long, long time. I’ve had a stupid grin on my face all weekend,  and then I turned around and it was Monday. Ha!

So, sorry it’s late, but you know how it is. 🙂

I’ve made some decisions about my writing this weekend too. I talked to my first fan and long-time supporter Raga and took her advice: I’m going to publish some of my not-likely-to-be-published work and put it up for a reasonable price (because I can’t set the price to “free”) on the Kindle store and Smashwords.

That’s right, Bryce, I’m going to self-publish an eBook. Ha! ME! Of all people! But you know what? Why not? I’m giving it away right now. Why not see if someone will pay for it? If not, no loss, right? So there ya go. I’m going to be editing and stuff this week to try and get it up there before too long. If anyone’s interested in editing and being a set of eyes for me, send me an email. You can use the contact form on this blog to do that if you’re interested, but I’ll need to hear back from you by Friday, August 6, 2010.  No biggie if you can’t do it.

Anyway, that’s it. Nothing else to report today. I’ll see you all Wednesday, hopefully. 🙂

-JDT-

Painful Rounds

I’ve been to a few blogs over the last couple of days to find people I dind’t expect to reveal their pain revealing their pain.

Seems the world has been less than kind to a lot of people recently, and while a few I know seem to make a habit out of stepping into a barrel full of scat and coming out smelling like a rose, it’s been sort of eye-opening for me to find most people are as vulnerable to pain and suffering as I am. I guess misery really does love company.

Not that I’m wishing anything but good fortune on those I see and follow. In the blogosphere, the only real friends I have, I don’t like finding out how much agony there is. I pray for them when I know they’re hurting, but I’m learning a lot about prayer right now and well… I don’t know.

How about the faithful readers and commentators here? Any of you have something bothering you you’d like to unload? Anything hurting you right now, keeping the smile from your face, keeping the spring out of your step? Or maybe it’s more serious and is weighing heavy on your heart. Dragging you under, so to speak.

You’ve all been good to me, now I want to try and return the favor.

This is your thread. I’m not going to answer, but for everyone who leaves a little bit of their pain here, a little piece of your heart laid bare and hurting here, I’ll be praying over the weekend for you.

It’s all I can offer to do to help you, if that matters to you, and it’s the least I can do for those for whom I have cared so much.

Sound off if you’re of a mind to. And God bless.

-JDT-

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