I tell no one, but it’s been two, no — three months now — that I haven’t been sleeping straight through the night. My sleep is haunted by random thoughts and images, flashing memories that I can’t seem to control.
It’s better when I am at work, because work, mundane though it be, requires a focus that serves to rein in the random thoughts. But at night, the controls fall away and my consciousness becomes a dark, swirling current that sweeps me, helpless and drowning in the flood of memories. Sometimes I’m not even sure if the memories are real, or if they are only imagined, a trick of the light, the cunning creations of a mind that wants a different ending to the story that was.
Trick of the light or true, I just wish I could stop the thoughts, it would be such a welcome rest.
Loafer’s paradise, or mocking photo for the intrepid, yet so far luck-challenged jobseeker? These days, for me, that photo is more of a mockery.
It’s now 21 days since I was last gainfully employed. I was just daydreaming yesterday, as I went about my lack of business, that I could get used to this. I mean, I could go on with this kind of life—the waking up with not much purpose to one’s day. The 2PM lunches. The unmindful dawdling over coffee. The slow descent into madness.
But before plunging into all that, here are my current job search stats:
34 applications sent through JobStreet
9 applications sent through JobsDB
12 new applications (no views as yet)
5 applications under consideration
5 applications in process
5 applications kept for reference
5 applications with no updates
2 applications withdrawn (unsuccessful)
1 interview in person, still no call
1 phone interview that did not push through (who does these things, anyway?)
8 applications sent directly to companies through their career sites
3 networking efforts (sending resumes to kind folks who promise to pass them on)
I still hang out at the mall, go to internet places, seek out networking possibilities, obsess over grocery shopping. Right now, the adverts for cheap passage into Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. get more and more attractive as each day passes. How I wish I am financially set up to be able to just drop everything (kids, rent, responsibilities), and travel aimlessly for 6 months. I could do that. I think I can.
Precognition? Premonition? ESP? A mirror that opens a view into the future? Or just logical deduction? I don’t know. What I know is that I wrote about this ages ago—about the strange quality I seem to have— the ability to somehow see things with such clarity. Half blessing and half curse, this spider sense allows me to intuit things beforehand, and oftentimes I use it to prepare for the eventuality of them happening.
Part logic, part intuition, and maybe a large part common sense, this inner antenna gives me a crucial head start in averting or coping with dire events in my life. I learned quickly enough (deduction?) that when I ignore my instincts, I get into trouble. Or at the very least, become inconvenienced. Knowing about things before or as they are about to happen is often painful, and prolongs the agony all the more because you know about it in advance. This post, for instance was written Monday, 15th of June 2009, but I set the published date to Saturday, June 20 since what I will refer to here needs to be kept secret until after the publish date.
I will be starting over again, after close (so close!) to two years of being gainfully employed. That monster which goes by the name “global economic crisis” has devoured me. Or more accurately, devoured an entire team, no survivors left. And so I find myself, at 38, out of a job, resume in hand, peddling my skills to a market that’s not just hesitant, but oftentimes unable to make any purchases. I saw the end coming, saw it months ago even before earlier cuts were made in the company. I knew in my gut that time will be the only variable, the inevitability of it seemed long ago decided.
That’s why most of the major decisions I did the last few months have all been influenced by the monster coming to get me. I made plans to get the major financial needs taken cared of, migrated most of my files online, updated my resume, even brought home most of my office stuff. I began considering different fields to explore. I opened a new savings account and tried to set aside a small chunk of my income each month. I made only one major purchase, an item that was absolutely necessary. I stopped window-shopping, I gave up expensive treats. At work, I finished a project even though I knew my efforts on it would be all for naught. I made sure my team not only met, but exceeded, our goals. I made a presentation that pushed for my team’s retention and asked for it to be taken as high up in the chain as it could go, feeling as though I was battling giants armed only with a slingshot.
But clarity being all that it is, I also knew that all these preparations will not spare me from the pain of having to face 9 people and telling them one by one that they are no longer needed. I am not especially sentimental, but I feel as though these people have been family to me. I know them. I know the names of their husbands, kids, boy/girlfriends, their affairs at home, their plans, preoccupations. I built this team, I wish I could save every single one of their jobs, even at the expense of my own.
Sadly, that is not to be. No amount of productivity will save you, I know that now. In these uncertain times, decisions are about the bottom line, and when the margins are shrinking, you do what you can to cope. I will not speculate about the wisdom of the decision, since nowadays conventional wisdom no longer applies.What I can do is get the team out as quickly as I can, to spare them the pain as much as I possibly can. I asked for the meetings to be done Friday, end of the week so that those who went on leave (how unfortunate) can come back and so that I can tell everyone myself. I expect most of them to be crushed, but I know each one will leave with dignity and perhaps some optimism. Small mercies, yes.
I will get talking points and some help in getting the bad news out, but really, nothing prepares you for this. This is not “business as usual” anymore, and don’t I know it.
After a weekend spent doing mommy duties and getting a much-deserved foot massage, I capped Sunday night with a meal of squid adobo. This dish is my long-time favorite, squid cooked in its own ink with vinegar, salt and pepper, onions, and lots of garlic. Now, squid agrees with me, for years and years now I never had problems with eating it.
So I’m guessing that the culprit for my bum tummy is that iced coffee I had at the mall before going home. Serves me right for buying from a little stall with no other customer except me. No wonder their cashier was grumpy. Arrrgghhh the twisting pain! I’ve been to the bathroom 3 times already. And the cramps are still coming in waves. Owners of Auntie Anne’s, may the fleas of a million camels and warthogs infest your sensitive areas without let up for a year! Ooooh my tummy! It hurts, hurts, hurts.
This is a not-so-glam excuse to break out my new blue ceramic tea set at work. I’ve been downing copious amounts of green tea in an attempt to calm the waves of turmoil in my stomach. It made me burp, so there was some relief for a while, but the heavy stone pushing on my belly from the inside is still there. I want to go home already, but I got roped in to conduct a meeting at 9 tonight. Bad, bad luck.
The tea set is pretty, alright. But now I know I’m going to associate it with a bad stomach ache so the joy of looking at it is much diminished. Awwww.
What comes to mind today is how deeply sad it is to realize that I have first-hand knowledge of the phrase, “a life of quiet desperation.”
I thought I’d just jump in and get back on the blog horse, after quite a dry spell. That explains the picture here. I was wishing for a drink, and that night, my wish came true.
A friend took me to the San Miguel Octoberfest launch, and the onslaught of rock music, alcohol, and people out to have a good time seemed to trigger a response in me. I had been in a tepid, debilitating, lowest-slung depression for months. I was plodding along with my eyes glazed over, going through the motions. It was not very sad, just exhausting. It felt like a desert spread out inside of me, covering every inch, eating through bone, leaving only dust. Outwardly however, I appeared the same. And testament to my ability to morph and blend in with the herd, no one noticed.
I think I’m coming out of it now, though. Perhaps contact from long-lost friends helped, or maybe the oblivious jollity of new ones shook me out of it. Slowly, I’m finding the resolve to come away from that dark, dark place that swallowed me whole, and yet felt the safest. Rising from these slumps always feels like moving through traffic, gel-like, in slow-motion. But, I am moving now, and for the most part, that’s all that matters.