This is going to run long. I apologize. Please bear with me. I have a lot of emotional and mental unpacking to do and it’s too long for Facebook so I’m going to do it here. Perhaps this will turn into a new beginning. Read on and we’ll see.
My wife says I am an extremely negative person sometimes, and she’s right. I am. I have horrible self-esteem, low self-confidence, a terrible work ethic, and am lazy as all hell. I am increasingly antisocial as I get older, and I am pretty sure I suffer from depression and one social anxiety or another. In short, I am a mess.
It’s been getting worse over the last few months. I lost my job at the end of July. My company was sold and I was not selected to move forward with the new combined organization. It’s just as well; I had been in my job for nearly six years and it was wearing on me. Just walking into the building each morning was enough to raise my blood pressure. My stress level was through the roof and I was ready for a change.
Unfortunately, change has been slow to come. I have been applying for jobs since last January, when we first found out that the company was sold. In all that time, I have had exactly five interviews. Five. And two of those were sequential, for the same job. Only two of them were sit down at a desk, face-to-face interviews. The others were on the phone.
Why have I not had more luck? The problem is, that my skillset, built over the last 15 years, is obsolete. I have worked data analysis jobs using Microsoft Excel and Access as my analysis tools. No one cares about those technologies any more. These days it’s all SQL and Oracle and Big Data and I don’t have any of that stuff. I know a little basic SQL, but I never bothered to really sit down learn it and use it, because I didn’t need to. I could use Access.
I have been looking for analysis jobs that don’t require SQL, or that don’t seem to hold SQL experience as a priority. They are few and far between. I asked a recruiter, if I take a class in SQL, will that make me more marketable? She said, not really, because you still won’t have the experience working in it. It still won’t be on your resume. She’s right. It would be like I was coming fresh out of college with a class on my transcript. The only SQL job I could get right now would be entry-level, and I can’t afford the pay cut.
I could take an entry-level programming job. Ben suggested learning Java or Python and moving into that field, with the caveat that I would be competing for jobs against 23 year old freshly minted Computer Science graduates. Would I stand a chance? Would 15 years of solid data analysis experience, however antiquated, mixed with newly learned programming fu, be enough to overcome youth and a specialized degree? That seems my best route, to go and find out.
So fine. I learn to program Java. Or Python. What do I do in the meantime, while I am actually learning this stuff? I need to make money. Do I take a data entry job, or work on a help desk, or wait tables, or what? I have no idea, but I have to do something. It will take some time to learn one of these languages well enough to get in the door somewhere, even at entry level.
That brings me to my other big bit of unpacking for today: laziness. I am, unquestionably, lazy. The older I get, the lazier I am. Part of it is a reaction to my other emotional issues, which I desperately need to sit down and talk to someone about before I go off the edge and start chewing the insulation. I have very little self-confidence and self-esteem, and the avoidance behaviors I have practiced because of that since my early twenties have morphed into sheer laziness and lack of work ethic. This is the real reason why I’ve never written the way I want to, why I have gained back the 50 pounds I lost a couple of years ago, why we always have dirty laundry piled up at the house, and why I don’t have a job.
So how do I get past it? I don’t know. I’ve been avoiding things for so long that I have forgotten (assuming I ever knew in the first place) how to move past them and get them done. That having been said, I’ve set some goals for myself for 2015. This was originally my list of New Year’s resolutions, and as I looked at them, I realized that they all have something in common: to achieve them I am going to have to overcome being lazy. A lazy person will never get any of these done.
When I first came up with the idea for this post, I decided not to call these “resolutions”. I am famous for listing resolutions and not following through on them, so I decided to call these “intentions” instead. That’s a cop-out, though. Saying that you “intend” to do something sounds to me like it’s implying that you don’t think you’ll do it. That’s lazy thinking. That’s low self-esteem thinking. That’s lack of self-confidence thinking. I’m going to change that this year. I’m not “intending” to do these things. I’m going to do them.
With that, then, here are my “going-to’s” for 2015. I have three: a physical, a creative, and a professional.
PHYSICAL: GET IN SHAPE
Last year I set a goal of running a 5K at Thanksgiving. I got out there and I ran and I got in shape, and I pulled it off, running somewhere around 37:30 on a chilly November morning. Since then, though, I have fallen off the wagon. At first, I was resting a sore ankle, but I have gotten back in the habit of not running. I have gotten lazy. This must stop. I am going to start running again. I am going to run at least two 5K’s before the end of the year. I will run the one at Thanksgiving again, and at least one other one in between now and then.
I’m not really looking to lose much weight. I am about 223 right now. 220 or so seems to be a good place for me. If I can get down to 215-220 and tighten up what’s here, I’ll be happy.
To that end, I am also going to push to get in total-body shape. Not just running, but full-body workouts. A couple of weeks ago I saw a TV special about something called Spartan Race. These folks are nuts! Spartan Races are obstacle races. Military-style obstacles requiring strength and full-body coordination, mixed with running. They have three lengths of races. Sprints are 3-4 miles, Supers are around 8 miles, and Beasts are around 13 miles. I want to run one this year. There is a Sprint in Atlanta in March, but I don’t have enough time to get ready for that. I don’t want to die. In the August-October time frame, though, there are Sprints in NC/TN close enough to travel to and a Super in Atlanta. I am going to get in shape and do one of those, then next year I am going to shoot for what they call the “Trifecta”, finishing one race in each distance category. I think that is pretty much the opposite of lazy. This is going to be one of my big tests. Can I get in shape? Can I do one of these? I say I can. Now it’s time to go do it.
My other big test is going to be making time to write. I haven’t done any real writing in over two years. I bailed out on NaNoWriMo 2012, then didn’t do 2013 at all. I decided at the last minute to do 2014, and wrote about 8 pages on November 1, then never went back to it. I have said all along it’s because I don’t have any ideas. I have been lying. Truth is? Who has two thumbs and is stupid lazy? This guy!
I said, I don’t have any ideas. Really? I sat down yesterday and started counting. Going back to a couple of ideas I had waaaay back my Air Force days, coming up through all the stuff I wrote and trunked, but could pull back out and rewrite, and up to a couple of small ideas I had just last year, I counted no less than TEN idea nuggets. Yes. Ten. I can find something to work on somewhere in that lot.
Also, there is The First Line. This is a magazine that accepts quarterly submissions for short stories. Each issue features 10-12 stories, all starting with the same first line. I sumbitted to them a few times in 2012-13, but in most cases it was old stories that I dragged out and repurposed. I am going to submit brand-new stories for their prompts this year. The first deadline is 2/1, which is Sunday, so I many not get that one done in time. I am going to do my best, though, and will certainly hit the other prompts going forward.
And then, my blog. In the past I updated this blog with updates on my writing, and had another one for posts like this one, or for reminiscences or whatever else. I’m going to post everything on this blog from now on and put Nowhere out to pasture. It’s still out there for people who want to go read the old entries, but I’m going to make this one my one-stop shop. I originally separated them to have a blog dedicated to writing for marketing purposes and another one for more “personal” stuff. Upon reflection that’s kind of silly when you consider that I don’t actually have a writing career to be marketing. Because I’m lazy. But you knew that already.
I’m going to blog more often. At least once a week I will post something substantial, meaning, not just a one-or two line update, but something long and epistolary. Most of the little updates I used to blog about show up on Facebook these days. I will put things on here that are too long for Facebook. As I post them they will be shared to my Facebook so you know to click over and read. In concert with that, I will be giving this place a facelift. If it’s not going to be just a “writing blog” any more, I will have to make some changes to the decorations. I will, of course, post an update when it is done. Keep an eye out on your news feeds for me!
PROFESSIONAL: JOB SATISFACTION
So now we’re back where this entry began, with my job search. I am going to find a job in 2015. It’s going to be a job I can wake up in the morning and be proud to go to. Whether it is programming Java or Python, working QA, help desk, some kind of data analysis, or something completely unexpected, is yet to be seen. I am going to find it, though. It’s out there, and I’m going to do what it takes to find it.
I don’t want to be lazy any more. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the stress of not having a job. I don’t need the emotional toll of knowing I am letting my family down, that I am not doing my part in keeping us afloat. I don’t think I’ve ever had an anxiety attack, but I ‘m pretty sure I’ve been >thisclose< to one, and I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I want to be able to enjoy my life and feel good about the way I am living.
So where does this leave us? If you’ve read this far, it leaves us at the end of this blog, and at a new beginning for me. You’ll recall that I said it might.
The title of this piece is, “I have no idea what is going on here.” That is, of course, a pure canard. (“What’s a canard?” “A prevarication.” “What’s that mean?” “A lie.”) The truth is, I know exactly what is going on. I have always known, but never wanted to admit it. Now, though, I have not only admitted it, but brought it out here to whoever is still reading this. I am a lazy son of a biscuit eating bulldog, and that’s why my life is a shambles right now. I’m going to do something about it, though, and by the time this year closes I’ll be able to look back and say that 2015 was the best year I’ve had in a long, long time.
You read it here first.