One Week In and Still Too Long to Go

It’s now been a week since I turned in my letter of resignation. If it was a normal, two weeks notice scenario my work life would be winding down. Unfortunately, I gave 30 day notice so I have too much time left to really start to feel any relief.

The timing was terrible. We started two new initiatives at work this week. This means that even though I am on my way out I need to learn the basics of these initiatives to do my job over the next few weeks. Instead of a feeling of relief and winding down, I am feeling stress about the new duties and how we will navigate the work expected with no increase in staffing.

I will still be scheduled to work the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Not a huge deal since I will be home anyway, but it would be much better to have a four day weekend. After Thanksgiving I will still have two weeks of work left. I think that is when I will finally start to feel a little relief and my stress level might start to go down.

Of course, there is still a little sadness about leaving a place I have worked at for so long. A sadness about not seeing friends. A sadness about a loss of easy access to books.

I know it was the right decision. I know it will be good for me, I’m just not close enough to the end to really feel it right now.

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What Now?

Yesterday was a big day. I announced on my blog and Facebook the news that I resigned from my job. I still have a month before I am actually free, but the end is nigh. The blog post gave me my second highest views ever on the blog. The highest is still the day a Twitter celebrity retweeted my post about Michael Vick. So now I face the question What Now?

Obviously, the question applies to real life, but it also applies to this space. What do I write about when my life is spent at home writing? How do I use the extra writing time to make my blog posts better? How do I find the discipline to sit in a room and work on writing projects when it will be so easy to let things distract me? How do I decide when it’s time for me to merge from the distraction of writing to look forward another real job? How to I keep myself from getting depressed about my lack of success? How do I stop myself from second guessing my decision to leave my job when things get hard? How do I coexist with my wife who is working from home full time when she needs quiet for work and I can’t work in silence?

I’ve always used the excuse that my blog isn’t great because I don’t spend time on it. I vomit words into a post in the morning before I go to work. I don’t edit anything. I hit publish and I’m done. Now that I have the time to actually work on it, plan posts, edit, etc. how do I cope with the fact that it probably won’t change anything about the number of readers I get?

As I deal with the what now in life I’m also dealing with the what now for the Common Tater.

Every End is a Beginning

Regular readers of the blog know that I have been in an unhappy situation. I felt stuck. I was depressed. I knew I needed a change but I wasn’t sure if I was able to make a change. Today, I have news.

I started talking to Mrs. Tater way back in June about the possibility of me leaving my job. I was unhappy before the pandemic. I was even more stressed and unhappy during the time I was working completely from home. I knew then that things would not be great for me when I did return to in-person work. I was correct. Most of what I liked about work was gone. All of what depressed me about work was still there and magnified. I started to feel physically ill at the thought of a new work week. I was depressed. I started going to therapy to deal with it. I knew deep down I would never get right while in this situation.

I had talked to my wife several times about it. I had pretty much given up hope of her being on board with me leaving my job with no landing spot. It is a giant leap of faith for someone to be OK with losing part of the household income for an undetermined amount of time. I wrote up a plan for how i would spend my days and how I would try to spend my “sabbatical” trying to wrote something that could be profitable. I did admit that I am 99% sure that I will not find a way to make money writing, but at least I would have the opportunity to know for sure. Then there were weeks of nothing. I would occasionally ask about the email and she would say she had not had a chance to consider it. I was losing all hope.

Sunday evening we went for our dal walk. I decided to bring it up one last time as I was already getting more and more stressed out about the end of the weekend. As we walked and talked she surprised me by saying that she agreed that leaving my job was the best thing for me to do. I made sure several times that she was really saying what I thought she was saying. She was telling me to leave my job. I called my kids when we got back to the house and they were both happy and in support of my decision. I texted my brother and sister to tell them. They were also happy and supportive. I told a small circle of my friends. Same story. I guess they all understood how unhappy I was.

So, Monday morning, while feeling like I was going to vomit, I wrote and sent my letter of resignation to my boss and HR. After 25 years with the same organization and years of doing the safe thing I took a leap to the unknown. As of December 12 I will officially have no job. I am taking a chance on myself that I will find the right place for me moving forward and that I have not doomed myself to never finding another job.

Life is too short to be miserable.

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How to Turn the Page?

So, yesterday, I wrote about turning the page and starting a new chapter even if the new chapter is a mystery. That’s easier said than done.

If I was the only person my actions impacted I would likely pack my bags and move back to my home state. I don’t know that I would consider moving back to my actual hometown, but I would go somewhere smaller and quieter than the place I am right now. As I’ve written before, I hate the burbs. I would find a job to pay for my living expenses and lead a quiet, secluded life. That would only work if I had no family. This option is out because my family lives here and has no interest in abandoning their lives to move to the country with me. Even if  I could convince my wife to do it, I would never voluntarily live hundreds of miles away from my kids. So, that option is obviously out.

Another option that is out is me quitting my job and taking a sabbatical while assessing my options. That was the dream for a little while during isolation. I would dream of talking to my wife and telling her that I needed to quit my job and take a break for a while for mental health reasons. In the dream version, she would agree that we were able to absorb my not working for 6 months and that I should do it. As long as I never talked to her, I could continue to dream about this. Unfortunately, I eventually had to actually have the conversation with her and thus ended the dream. I can’t just quit my job without my wife’s blessing. That wouldn’t be right. I guess she is not interested in having a house husband for a few months. Also, apparently quitting my job and taking a break while doing work around the house isn’t a real life plan.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me not turning the page because this is a terrible time to try to make a major change in life. Finding a new job is hard in the best of times. Finding a new job when you are over 50 is hard in the best of times. Starting a new career over 50 is almost impossible even in the best of times. I’m wanting to do it n the middle of a pandemic. That just isn’t going to happen. Thus, my initial plan of a 6-month sabbatical in hopes of things being better sometime in 2021.

It’s too bad no one will pay me to write a mediocre blog. Page turning will have to wait for a bit.

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I’m My Own Worst Enemy

A lot of this still holds true today. I still won’t make the effort to write someone substantial because I’m afraid I can’t. I desperately need to change my work, but I find a reason not to apply for many jobs(a lot is still thinking I’m not good enough), I seriously think I need an entire career change but I’m afraid to even talk about it with the people with whom I need to talk about it. If I keep it up I will be sitting in the same place 5 years from now still unhappy.

The World's Common Tater

This is true in a variety of ways. One of the current ways is the fact that I am very close to hitting 1000 views on my blog this month and I suddenly have no desire to write anything. I’ve never hit 1000 view in a month. All I need to do is average 14 views a day for the rest of the month and I’m there. This is not one of those blogs that gets 14 views in a day with no new post. I’m never going to be that blog that gets random visitors. There is no good reason for anyone to ever click on my blog, especially when there is no new post. When I got close to my milestone my mind went blank and I had no idea what to write. I think my brain is rebelling against my small success.

I’m my own worst enemy…

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On the Other Side of 50

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 51. As a friend helpfully pointed out on Facebook, last year was so special and now I’m just old. The only thing special about this birthday is that I once again get a four day weekend. Today we are closed and tomorrow I am using the birthday leave MPOW gives me.

We did go out to eat last night, but last night was to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday. It was Wednesday, but yesterday was the day both kids were available, so we did the celebration then. We went out to the restaurant of her choice and she got a free slice of cheesecake from the restaurant. It was mentioned once that it was “technically my birthday” and I did get cards and a gift from my kids, but it really was back to the typical it’s just another day type of birthday. Big difference from last year when we had lunch in DC and spent some time walking around after.

I will spend today and tomorrow getting my free food from various places. I have a free Firehouse Subs sandwich and a free Mission BBQ sandwich so meals are covered for my days off. I will try to relax as much as possible and not find myself thinking I should clean bathrooms are something. I will probably spend my time out during the day longing for the day that I can retire and have all of my days free. I’ve spent the last 30 years or so working in some sort of job. I feel like I should get to quit now so I have plenty of years to enjoy not working so it will equal out. That seems logical. 51 seems old to be out there looking for a new job, but that’s where I find myself.

So, how does 51 feel? Not much different than 50. 51 for me is a time to reflect on where I am in life. 51 for me is time to find a career where I can be content until my career days are over. 51 for me is the time to stop letting others steal my joy. 51 for me is the time to cut ties with people and places who don’t respect me and my contributions. 51 for me is the time to forget the fear of the unknown and take that leap.

Here’s hoping for a good year and good news.

Some Morning Off Contemplation

I was fortunate that my day back to work after my sick day was my evening day. I had a few more hours to rest up and be ready to return. I was able to sleep until 8 and then ease into my day. I’m still not 100% but I feel physically able to return to the real world. Mentally and emotionally is another story. A day and a half off gave me time for contemplation during my time dozing on the couch and watching TV.

The contemplation actually started on Sunday when the Kobe news coincided with my daughter moving back to school. I can’t claim to have been a big Kobe fan. I watch a lot of college basketball, but never really watch the NBA. My reaction to the Kobe news was more a reaction to the loss of someone 10 years younger than me and then to the news of the kids who were killed along with him. My reaction as a father was how terrible it must have been knowing your daughter was going to die and you could not protect them. I don’t even want to think about that, It makes me physically ill.

The loss of Kobe and the other adults made me think about how short life can be and how you never know how much time you have left. If you knew your time was up would you be happy with how you spent your last days? Would you be happy with the way you are leaving the world? If not, maybe it is time to make a change. I can’t say that I can answer positively to those questions. I spend my days in a situation that makes me physically ill at the thought of leaving the house. It negatively affects my physical and mental health and has made me a difficult person to live with. I’m sad and depressed and on edge and not pleasant to be around. Is this the legacy I want to leave? Why am I spending my days in a place like this? A change is in order even if it means a total change of career.

When I’m not at work am I doing anything that makes a difference in the world? I no longer work with a youth group at a church. I no longer coach youth sports. I don’t really do much of anything. I work and then I go home and never leave the house. I think I probably need to change the above before I am ready to change this one, but I need to feel like I’m doing something that matters.

I saw an article today about Shaq saying he was going to call people he has beefs with and make up before it is too late. I need to think about my relationships with people and consider reaching out to those I need to reconnect with or make amends with before it is too late. I need to be better at maintaining friendships and making friends in general. It’s too easy to become isolated and hermity and not talk to anyone. While I say I am a future hermit I don’t really mean I never want to talk to anyone. What I mean is that I want to experience the world and people when I choose not because it is my job. Friends are important.

So, how much of this will I really change? I hope this isn’t all just words that I forget about when I’m rambling about something else tomorrow. I hope I use this contemplation to start moving toward a happier and healthier me.

I Am Waking Up Today

I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop for a while. I typed some stuff. It was all sad stuff abut how I’ve only got four more days until my daughter goes back to school and I spend more time alone. I had some sad stuff in there about how my daily life sucks and I feel physically ill at the thought of leaving the house. I deleted it all. It’s all true. It’s also true that it may get worse in the fall when there is a chance my daughter will study abroad and my son will be in school a couple of hours away. I didn’t delete it because it isn’t true. I deleted it because it was poorly written and isn’t really helpful. All the stuff above is stuff that will happen. I can’t change any of that. I will have more time alone soon. I might have even more time alone in the fall. I’m heading in the direction of my kids permanently living somewhere else. I can’t change it but I can change some things.

I can change my daily life issues by finally taking steps to find something new even if it does mess up my retirement date.  I can’t do this for five more years. I would rather be happier at work and work longer than be miserable for five years. I just need to find the right job for me or convince my wife we can live on her salary alone.

I can change my after-work life. I don’t have to sit at home alone for several hours. I can get out of the house even if it is just to take the dog for a walk even if it is cold and dark. I can treat myself to a movie on my Fridays off. I can do more to take my mind off my day until I fix my days.

I can convince my wife to so more day trips and fun stuff on weekends. Too many of our weekends have become days to clean the house or for my wife to spend more time working.  I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking weekend time to refresh and recharge.

I’ve said all the before. I need to move from saying it to doing it. I’ve let other people and situations drain me to the point that it is easier to sit and mope than to do anything to fix it. I can’t change toxic people and toxic situations. Others who could won’t.  It’s time for me to practice more self-care and do what I can to remove myself from the toxicity because maintaining the status quo is slowly killing me. It’s time to wake up and make some changes.

Is It Time to Jump?

So, I was thinking about this again this week as I’ve hit a point where I dread the start of each day. I received an email yesterday that opens up the opportunity to make a jump. If this opportunity does arrive, I will need to decide if I overcome the fear of the unknown and make a jump or if I trust that some changes will eventually lead to where I am being better. I hate that the jump possibility comes at this time of year. I need to get through the holidays and my trip home before I do something that might limit my time off. Regardless of what happens with this opportunity, I am making an early New Year’s Resolution to consider what I need to do to make me less sad to leave the house in the morning and how far I’m willing to go for a happier life.

The World's Common Tater

I recently read For Every One by Jason Reynolds. It was very good and one of the messages of the book was to make the jump, whatever that might be. It even included the message that even if you are 50(I’m close) jump anyway.  I would love to be able to take his advice. I feel like there is a jump I need to take, but there are a few issues with this:

  1. Jump where? – It might be a midlife crisis. It might be stress over a few specific things that could be over soon. It might be any number of things, but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel less and less like I am where I should be in my life. The problem? I have no idea what a jump for me would be. Is it as simple as taking the time to find a new…

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My Week In Review

This is a different week in review than I normally do. Generally, my week in review focuses on what I read and watched over the week. You would think a week of constant rain would lead to an increase in reading and watching, but I can’t think of one thing of note I read or watched during that time besides the one book: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.  It was an interesting book and a quick read(all day rain on Saturday helped with that) but was not written in a style that I love. The rest of the rainy days I read some more and watched TV, but nothing of note. We finished the latest season of Lucifer and watched multiple episodes of the recently canceled Code Black, but I think I watched more Parks and Red than anything else. It was a weird week as far as reading and watching goes.

My main takeaway from the week are the multiple signs that seem to be pointing toward change for me. I said in a recent post that one option after my daughter goes to college next month is to not make any major changes, but I’m starting to think that I will be leaning in the other direction. Of course, I will need others to help me in making that change. I need the right job to open up in the right place or the winning lottery numbers. I would prefer the lottery and sometimes it seems the odds of my winning the lottery is higher than the odds of me getting the perfect job(have I mentioned how much I suck in job interviews?) It might also mean that instead of an outward change what I need is an inward change. To learn to be at peace with my circumstances. That might be my only option. All I know is that all of the recent signs seem to be exit signs.

Then again, maybe all the rain just made me more depressed and all I need is time in the sun.