When It Rains...

April 26, 2004

The past week has been long and stressful. On Tuesday Michele got an e-mail from her prospect in Chapel Hill asking her to call and set up a face to face interview. A time was open on Thursday, just two days later, so we scurried around Tuesday afternoon and evening making our preparations.

I, too, it appeared, had a potential opportunity in the Raleigh area. I had gotten an e-mail about a technical writer position, and had filled out a skills survey. We were both thinking it would be fantastic to move to a new city with both of us having jobs. By the end of the business day Tuesday however, I had received an e-mail saying that while I was a strong project management candidate I didn't have the technical writing focus they wanted.

Wednesday we drove for 14 hours to cover the 865 miles between our home and Chapel Hill. Much of it in heavy rain. By the time we arrived there were were both utterly exhausted and spent. Luckily her interview wasn't until Thursday afternoon so we had time to sleep in in the morning.

Michele had a long night, awake several times with worry and excitement, about three a.m. she finally managed to fall asleep and stay asleep. In the morning we scouted out the location of her interview and then relaxed in our room. I dropped her off just before her two o'clock interview and went back to the room to wait. We had picked up a street map for Raleigh, and also one for Durham and Chapel Hill. I was going to scout out high end apartments for us to look at on Friday.

She called my at 3:40 saying she was through. When I picked her up she said that the interview had not gone well. Over the phone the company gave the impression of being small and creatively focused, with flexibility towards its employees. In person it was obvious that there were some growing pains as this company was rapidly growing. The overriding sense that Michele got while there was that upper management was struggling with how to scale from a small company to a larger one. Money was tight and getting tighter. In the end Michele decided that she didn't want to move just to work for them. If we already lived in the area, maybe.

So we started home early. Not wanting a repeat of our 14 hour drive we left Thursday evening around 5:00 p.m. and drove for about five hours. Along the way we talked through her experience at the interview and it became clearer with every mile that it wasn't a place she wanted to work. We were both disappointed.

Friday we were up at 5:00 a.m. local time and started driving. Our conversation this day was about the potential contract option I had cooking. Through a friend I had learned of an open contract that needed filling for two months, with a potential for a year long contract in July. We were both pleased to have this parachute to use now that a quick move to Chapel Hill was out of the picture.

Imagine our dismay to get home that evening only to receive an e-mail saying the agency had gone with another candidate, one with prior experience there. Now, not only didn't either of us have a job in the Raleigh-Durham area, we didn't have our parachute here to fall back upon. I also was informed via e-mail that an instructor position I had applied for with a local consulting firm had been given to someone else.

We spent the weekend licking our wounds and worrying about our future. In the span of a few days we had gone from upbeat and optimistic to crushed and fearful. We are back to where we started over 5 weeks ago, only now we were exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Finding the energy to keep going would be tougher than ever.

Sunday night during dinner Michele discovered one of her molars had cracked. She had been complaining that the tooth, which had been sore due to a sever maxillary sinusitis infection, had felt funny since the infection cleared up a week or so ago. Not painful, just funny. I went to the drugstore and got a little dentist's mirror and probe. Sure enough, the tooth is cracked. So today we have to call the dentist for an emergency appointment to have the process of repairing it started.

We are battered and beaten mentally from the strain of trying to figure out what to do next. We have worked extremely hard to keep as many options open as possible, but the toll of not knowing where we'll be or what we'll be doing is blunting our once sharp thoughts.

We are spent physically, and starting to breakdown. Michele's tooth being cracked isn't a result of our situation, but it sure feels like an indication that we are falling apart physically. I've only had two decent night's sleep in over a month; both of those were aided by Tylenol PM.

We are wiped out emotionally. The roller coaster ride from potential job e-mail to a thanks, but no thanks letter, has been repeated enough that we are losing our ability and desire to care. Depression is setting in, and setting in deep. Add to our situation worry over my brother and his family ( he is also out of work ) and we get no respite from our fears anywhere we turn.

All we need is one or two lucky breaks and we'll be fine. My fear this morning is that we are too far gone emotionally, physically, and mentally to recognize a lucky break even if it presents itself. When this whole mess started in March I was afraid of the future, afraid that ending this life might be the easier way out. Now I am too tired to see beyond making it to lunch today. I've lost my fear of ending this life. What scares me in a very detached way are these two questions: Have I lost my fear because at some deep level I know it'll all work out? Or have I lost my fear because I just don't care anymore?

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.