No not the literal one, the figurative one. This is a post almost two months in the making. Only I didn’t realize what it would cover until today.
Way back at the end of February, a couple of marketing efforts resulted in One Night in Bridgeport suddenly flying off the shelves. Well, that’s definitely figurative. What exactly do you call it when you suddenly sell a couple hundred e-downloads of your book in a handful of days? There’s certainly no shelf involved. Ah, well, that’s a post for another day.
At the same time, I received my first positive response from an agent for my next novel. I was positively glowing with all of this good news, posted about it, and let slip that there was even more good news coming at the end of the month.
The end of February rolled around and the good news was postponed. Here’s what was going on. I applied for a new job. It was working for another state agency, a brand new one, developing a great new government program that would positively impact millions of Californians. I hoped to be their General Counsel, helping guide the creation of this incredible thing. Being in at the ground floor. Working with dynamic people on an exciting project.
My efforts actually started back in October. I volunteered to help this other state agency to help with a contractor selection process. Getting involved in it made me realize just how much I wanted to work on the larger project being developed. It was time for me to challenge myself. Get into something new. Escape my comfort zone and get my game back on. I applied. I interviewed and interviewed and interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. I did more than I’ve ever done to set myself up for a new job. I wanted the damn thing like I’ve never wanted a job.
At the beginning of February I was told I would be recommended for the position to the agency’s board. They’d consider the recommendation at their meeting at the end of February and, assuming everything went as expected, I’d have an offer the next day.
Here’s another thing about this job … it would have resulted in a significant pay raise. Something critical for me as my oldest heads off to college, my youngest gets added to the ol’ auto insurance policy in a few months, and the expenses of life just continue to expand instead of contract.
So, board meeting rolls around. No announcement, no phone call. Instead, a couple of days later, I get the news. The board didn’t get to it and … there was a second candidate now. I knew what this meant. I have a lot of relevant experience, and strong credentials and qualifications for such a position. What I didn’t have, however, was experience in the substantive area that this agency swims in. When offered to consider my credentials, somebody on that board said, “well, what about person X, who has that experience?”
I was told they would try to make a final decision the following week — i.e., the first week of March. I waited. I waited. I waited.
Last Wednesday, I called to get an update. I got an email first thing the next morning “will call you ASAP.” I waited. I waited. I waited.
This morning I got another email and on my drive into work, got a call. “Well, a couple of weeks ago, we offered the position to the other candidate.” Apologies about the delay in telling me, apologies for this and for that. All so gracious, but … damn.
I wanted this thing. For so many reasons. My nose was at the wire, ready to cross the finishing line in first place, and it was snatched away from me. It sucks. It really sucks.
But, here’s the deal. The longer it took for this to happen, the more reasons I came up with for not wanting the thing. It would have involved more stress and more time at work (meaning less time to write and do all of the other things I enjoy in the “rest of my life”). So, I’m torn. It’s a good thing. It’s a bad thing. All I know is that I wished this had all happened cleaner and quicker. I was in limbo for far too long. Limbo sucks.
What sucks is what came the rest of today and here’s where the cycle comes in. I want off.
In those initial moments after I disconnected on that phone call, I cried. You know, men cry in one of two ways. Either their eyes water and they wipe it away before it gets to be too much. Or they become a blubbering mess. I went with the first option. I had no choice. I was driving a car down a freeway in heavy traffic. The blubbering mess would have resulted in havoc.
I wanted nothing more than to turn around, go home, crawl into bed and become the blubbering mass. And, I don’t know why. I just felt such a sense of utter loss at this thing that I wasn’t sure I even wanted anymore.
I went to work though. I shared the news with my co-workers who knew about my efforts and they said all of the right things. Life began to get just a bit better.
Until at 3:52, I got a text from my wife. “Call me.” I called. Our oldest had a flat tire and was on the left side of the freeway, scared because of the traffic, and unsure of what to do. “Well, you know he has the insurance information. He should call for roadside assistance.” Interesting thing is where he ended up is almost exactly where I was when I got the morning phone call about the job.
Everything ended up fine with my kid, but for about an hour, while I left work early to possibly meet him at a tire store, or who knows what, all I could think of was where he was stopped, what the traffic was like, and the possibility of somebody crashing into him while he waited. It was an hour of living a parent’s nightmare. There is nothing scarier to imagine than something horrible happening to your child — even if it’s the one that leaves you permanently pissed off these days.
Nightmare over without harm, I got home and that’s when the biggest hammer fell. I decided I would go for a bike ride. While I was preparing for it, I got a text from a friend. He’s very private, so I’m not going to share any details here. But, what he told me is one of those things that just absolutely hits me at my core. It’s the kind of news that is preliminary, but scary, without a final answer for a couple of weeks. After crying this morning, I ended my day, typing out a text to another friend, letting her know of this news, and crying as I did so.
I went for my ride. It’s one of those times I have where I feel like the only thing to do is push it as hard as I can, to go harder than I normally might, to punish myself, to make myself hurt, to just get it all out because maybe if I do, this bad thing won’t happen. It’s completely irrational, and the reality is that I didn’t really do that … at least not to an extreme. But, I so wanted to.
I want off this cycle. I want a level plain. I’m tired of the ups and downs. It’s odd, I have always believed that life is about both the good and the bad. I scorn the people who don’t want to, or can’t, deal with the bad. I’ve talked about how part of life is burying yourself in the bad, soaking it up, living it. Rather than turning your back on it.
Eh, not so much today. I’m done with the bad news. I need some good news. That leads to more good news. And more. That ultimately leads to something that changes the nature of my life in a foundational and positive way.
I want off the cycle.