Hanging by a Thread

December 13, 2004

I feel as if my future and my life is hanging by a thread today. After months of waiting and hoping, it appears that I maybe given an opportunity to return to Illinois and work on a contract there. This would allow us to retain our house, and the considerable financial investment it represents. It also gets us out of the stressful situation of living in an apartment. Neither of us is thriving in the closed, dark, intrusive atmosphere of community living.

I know that coming to Kansas saved our lives. The situation last spring was getting desperate and we had both reached the end of our individual ropes. Coming here removed us from the quicksand situation we found ourselves in after I lost my contract in March. The circumstances around that job loss left me reeling, and destroyed my confidence. Not finding employment for almost 100 days only contributed to my downward spiral. Michele, too, was getting rejections to her employment overtures. Although we both felt forced to move to Kansas (as evidenced by our waiting until two days before my job started here to even start moving), I think we both feel like being here gave us time to heal ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Now we are ready to take life on in earnest again. We are ready to remount the horse and give it another go.

And so I submitted my name to several employment opportunities in and around Springfield. The most promising long-term engagement would have seen me as a manager of a brand-new development department for a small company in town. Their current development work is outsourced and they wanted to bring it back into the fold to regain control. I was very excited about the possibilities this job represented for me. It was professionally challenging and would require personal growth on my part. It was also something that would last for years, perhaps long enough to see me retired. After a promising initial phone interview there were delays and more delays. After almost two months of waiting and being patient the recruiter finally admitted that an internal political struggle had broken out, and that the new position was, apparently, hopelessly mired as a result.

Even without getting the position the experience was a valuable one for me. I could see that my former confidence had returned, and that I was perhaps even more self assured as a result of the experience here in Kansas. I no longer felt beholden to some recruiter or employer to give me a job, rather I felt in charge of my destiny, and in control of my options.

Applying for a project manager position was my next option. This position would have required a daily commute of nearly 160 miles, but it felt like a doable situation. As luck would have it, my neighbor in Springfield worked for the prospective client, and ride-sharing would have eased the travel burden. This client was far more responsive in their selection process - I knew almost immediately that my resume didn't quite match the criteria they had laid out. My disappointment was eased by two factors: (a) I really wasn't looking forward to a 2 1/5 hour daily commute, and (2) I had another iron in the fire, one that would let me work in town at my old billing rate.

During the two weeks or so that this project manager position was a possibility I allowed my name to be submitted to a state agency as a contractual resource. This resulted in two phone interviews, which both went very well from my perspective. The client manager and I had several mutual acquaintances, and at least one mutual friend. The systems analyst who conducted the technical interview is the brother of a man I used to work with. They assured me that their decision would be made by December 13th, which is today. Of course I don't know how quickly the consulting firm I hope to be sub-contracting for will inform me.

So I am hanging by a thread today. I feel as if the past 6 months were necessary to help be regain my confidence and self image. I know they allowed Michele to enter a new phase of her career as a college adjunct instructor, complete with an online teaching certification. We have done our penance here in Kansas and learned our lessons well. Now we wish to return to our home and straighten out our financial future. All I need a signed contract.

The waiting is hard; imaging the wrong result is easy. My fears are constant now and I really don't know what I'll do if this option doesn't result in a return to the life I want.

Author's profile picture

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.