Loneliness Descending

Horse farm in NC

A gray day at a horse farm in North Carolina.

 

 

“At other times, she could feel her loneliness descend like a nuclear fallout, a whiteness that obscured her completely.”

 


 

 

 

Skinny Love

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For some time now, I have been dancing the dodgy two-step with this guy — an older man who is by turns charming, irascible, and sometimes, just plain tired. Together, we skim the surface of things, unlikely conspirators in a plot to eke out a little happiness.

I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon this bit of a dalliance, this little preoccupation. There was that phone call in the middle of the night. He made me laugh and yell at him until about 2 in the morning. I couldn’t make up my mind then if I liked his gruff manner. But the next night he called again, and it was hours before the phones got turned off. We call or Skype each other most everyday now. Sometimes he just grunts at me over the phone, at a loss for words. I kind of like that.

Details began to emerge, photos were swapped, bits and pieces got shuffled around to make room for us. This little preoccupation, it passes the time. It consumes me just enough to make me feed the fire day by day, to tend to it just so to preserve the spark. It is what urban kids nowadays call a ‘skinny love.’  A love that’s not fleshed out enough to be substantial, not solid enough to be defined as a sure thing, or as anything.

I don’t mind it, I mean not too much. There is a connection here that I can appreciate, no matter how tenuous, no matter how brief. But, the both of us, we’re not bothered too much by it. There are no unreasonable demands on time, no shallow arguments, no intrusions into privacy, no intense moments of feeling as though your heart will explode. None of that nonsense.

No, it does not eat us up. It is, after all, just a skinny love.

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A Trick of the Light

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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.

 

39 Is The Number For Me

Hello world, I am 39 years old today. It feels exactly like the number—it feels like I am on the verge of something bigger. It doesn’t really feel like my birthday, save for the flurry of greetings on FaceBook and the ringing of my cellphone.

I woke up early this morning to get to a job interview, but Fate intervened and waylaid me. Now when Fate suggests I abandon my plans and go elsewhere, I am wont to agree. So early in the morning in Monday-rush Makati, I paused for a coffee street side and watched the rest of the world go by, drinking in the rush of the day, but not joining in. It’s a skill I have, just sitting still and being an avid observer. Not so marketable, but a skill nonetheless.

On the verge at 39, and yes, I can feel the ground shifting again. I got a call last week that promised a change is going to come. It did not surprise me, this promise of a change rearing its head all of a sudden. My first (and often truest) impulse is to accept it, to make room for it. I feel more than ready for a change, the same way I felt when change sidled up to me 2 years ago and invited me to pack up and move my life to Manila.

At 39, fear does not strike me as sharply anymore. My life has shown me that there is nothing much (oh please) that I cannot survive. Maybe my edges have been blunted, maybe I just have a heightened sense of denial, or maybe I’ve grown an exoskeleton—who knows—I just don’t seem to feel as much anymore. I am not sure whether all this is good or bad. I’ve just resigned myself to it, that is all.

So the 39th year is begun. Alright then, bring it on, give it all you’ve got. I’m more than ready, I’m raring to go!

Job Stats: Current Count

bantayan loungeLoafer’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.

Job Stats: Back to Square One

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It’s now 11 days since I’ve been let go from my job. I recovered pretty quickly from the shock of it, and I haven’t been idle. I’ve pounded the keys sending resumes online as well as the pavements of Manila going to that one interview, so far. I’ve even polished a few resumes of my lost team members in an effort to help them land good tech writing posts. I send them prospective job opportunities I see online. I’ve renewed membership in online job search sites, made several versions of my resume (4 at last count), and have begun some subtle networking among my contacts.

These numbers illustrate my attempts to be part of the working masses for the last 11 days. And yes, I am counting the weekends for job hunting. I got no job, ergo, weekends don’t count for much.

And so, willy-nilly here we are:

3 applications in process

3 applications kept for reference

2 applications withdrawn (unsuccessful)

1 interview in person so far – most thrilling, but no call as yet

22 applications sent through JobStreet

6 applications sent through JobsDB

6 applications sent directly to companies through their career sites

3 referrals (helpful souls who forward my resume or try to sell me to employers)

I keep my new shoes on hand, clean and polished, ready to roll. My resumes are proofread to a crisp. Job interview outfits are ready in the closet, wearable at a moment’s notice. I would like to have another interview soon, if only to restore my faith in the recruitment industry—that companies are indeed recruiting.

I’m beginning to master the art of dressing up as though you have an office to go to. I leave as though to go to work in the morning, spend time in net cafes sending out resumes and checking job posts, do some window shopping to while away a few hours, write in my notebook, plan my household budget, take my kid to school, hang out at book stores, think about going into business, try to entertain only positive thoughts. I do this everyday.

Today is Tuesday, practically just the beginning of a work week for those that are lucky enough to still be employed. I am optimistic that the job is out there, waiting to meet me. I hope I can keep the positivity and the energy up, even as the days unwind and my savings are that much closer to dwindling. I am more than just a skilled worker, I am educated, multi-faceted, quick on my feet, and with the proven ability to forward plan. And yet, I am out of a job.

I have so much to offer, I handle people well, and I am loyal to a fault.

For God’s sake, hire me.

Seeing Things

the eye

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.

Bum Tummy Today

blue tea set

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.