Friday, August 30, 2013

What Would I Die For?

At some point--many points--I have asked myself what really matters to me? Is there something I believe in enough that I would give my life for it? I think at this point, my answer is my daughter. My sons, too. And probably my wife. But definitely to protect or defend my daughter is the answer I can say for sure. She comes first to mind and my answer is without hesitation.

My faith should be one of my answers to this. For Christ I should be willing to die. To see people freed from slavery or suffering. To give others the same rights and freedoms that I have. That's what they show in the movies. That's what they write about in the history books. The martyrs, the heroes, the freedom fighters. They died for something that was larger than them, larger even than their family. For their fellow man. For a cause that they believe in. I believe that if I were put in that situation, I would be brave enough to make the right choice. I think that I'm the kind of person that would do that, too. I also think that the questions and issues that I deal with in my life are nowhere near that level of importance. My daily life does not touch on things of such significance.

The biggest item for me is my family and my marriage. That's what I have that I created, maybe all I have that's worth fighting for. I love Ginny. I have spent more than 10 years with her. That means that this girl who I didn't know until I was about 24 has given me more than 10 years of her life, her trust, her time, and her love. She has given me 3 beautiful children. She has subjugated or suppressed her own plans and her dreams to meet with mine. She moved with me to Virginia for my first job. She went back with me to school when I went for my MBA. She moved out to Utah with me when I went to work in advertising. She has loved me when I've spent hours and days at home because I'm out of work and I don't know what is coming next in my life. That's an act of faith, I think. To look at this man, this boy she met 10 years ago, and to let a good amount of her future be left to his decision. That is love.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's To Dos

Today's To Dos:
  1. Write "Thank You" notes to the managers I've interviewed with
  2. Complete my report to Utah Jobs to receive my unemployment benefit
  3. Follow up with hiring managers on current jobs I've applied for
  4. Apply for new jobs that fit my skill set
  5. Contact past recruiters and let them know I'm available for immediate hire
  6. Sign up to take the GRE this fall
  7. Study for the GRE
  8. Work on PhD applications for my top schools
  9. Finish writing my YA historical fantasy novel and get it to publishers and agents
  10. Get a handle on my very tenuous grasp of reality so I am able to distinguish between actual, realistic long-term goals and self-deluding fantasies that entertain my own, far-fetched, if not impossible, dreams

Monday, August 26, 2013

Every Day is a First Day of Something

My daughter started first grade this morning and I had the luxury of "enough free time" that I felt I could afford to be there with her on this milestone. Actually, she didn't think much of it, but her mom and I recognize it as a milestone. As you can imagine, the place was packed with moms. I was made especially aware of this fact when a woman singled me out and invited me to join the Watch D.O.G.S. ("Dads of Great Students") organization at the school with the purpose of increasing the amount of male role-models volunteering to work with the kids. I looked around me and saw that there were, in fact, very few dad-looking people there.

Now I don't think it's a case of dead-beat dads around our elementary school. At 9am on a Monday, there is a good reason for male role-models to be busy somewhere else. And it's a noble cause, I'd like to have one of my own, in fact. To tell the truth, if I weren't out of work, I'm sure I would have missed this event in a similar pursuit of "not losing my job" in exchange for getting to see 30 new first graders stumble through the Pledge of Allegiance.

But I feel like I was living a lie. The other dads were "ready for work," giving off the appearance that they'd called the office and told them they'd be in late. You see, there's a certain uniform that the modern family provider puts on in the morning, a certain look that they all maintain. It involves slacks and button-ups, pressed shirts, and shiny shoes. Often there is a cell phone carrier attached at about waist level. At any rate, there is a certain look that says, "I am a middle-manager in corporate America." It says many other things, at least to me it did. At least this morning. Things like: "I am engaged in work that requires me to look like a professional. I am wearing my 'I'm a professional outfit' along with my 'professional person' shoes, and this odd, but respectable 'professional cell phone belt clip' because that is what the people who hired me are paying for." I also heard, "I am here right now, doing what I gotta do, but I belong somewhere else, where everyone is dressed just like me."

Well, I was dressed nicely as well--I mean, I didn't look like a schlub--but I was certainly not sending out the message that I had somewhere to be or something I needed to do. My day will consist of following up on job applications, studying for the GRE, and planning my schedule of interviews and call-backs for the week, not to mention the crafting and publication of this super important blog post. I was a dad that didn't deserve to be there. I was not delaying my day of work or forcing my team at the office to wait while I performed dad-duty. I was just taking the morning off--unpaid time off, mind you--to do something fun with my family. I am on a stolen vacation.

My work ethic (which often sounds like the voice of my depression-era grandmother) tells me that I'm not a millionaire, that I'm not some playboy heir to a family fortune, that I'm not a good-for-nothing layabout (sp?) that lives off the government and charity of others. So, I should have a job and I should be at work. And she's right--I mean, I'm right. I need to get a job. And one of those clippy cell phone belt thingys.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Need to Make a Difference

Well, it's another Monday. I have plenty to do today, so of course I am going to procrastinate those important things by instead, resurrecting the blog. I already successfully invested 32 minutes in adjusting the layout, making a template change, tweaking things here and there, and then reliving some great moments of my blog past. Now it's time to get to work in earnest on my effort at delaying my work.

I have been unemployed for over a month. I spend lots of time worrying about that dilemma. And I spend a little bit of time every day actually doing something about it. The difficulty that I find is that I don't really know what I want to do next. I know it involves getting paid, and it most likely involves doing some sort of work for others that delivers value, which would lead back again to the "getting paid," but I don't really have many more specifics than that, you know, nailed down right now.

There are three paths that I'd like to follow:
1. I'd love to be an author. That would entail finally finishing my 80,000 word novel that I've been "secretly" working on for over 7 years. This seems like the most awesome, but also the most risky of my paths. Mostly because I would have to finish the novel, then get it to somebody that would want to publish it, then get lots of people to want to buy it and read it; all of which seem like lofty, ungrounded dreams to me at this point.

2. I'd like to go back to school for my PhD in Marketing. I have learned over my "long" career that what I really love doing is to figure out little puzzles and come up with clever, researched solutions. Then, I like sharing the case study of those puzzles I helped solve with others, usually in a presentation, report, case study, or client training. For a few years now I've been able to do that stuff in the guise of an Advertising Man, where it took the form of consulting, campaign planning, and client trainings. But I've since realized that these are also the things that marketing professors get to do most days, only they call the consulting "teaching" and they call their paying clients "students." And the results are quite similar.

3. I'd be happy to have a new job where I get paid to go to work and do something that I'm good at. The key for me is that, if I leave ad agency, I need to feel like I'm climbing up a new ladder. That I'm somehow starting something with a long-term, big picture-type of trajectory. Something that makes sense with what I've done and what I'm trying to do. I know it sounds selfish and that I may come off like a petulant child, but I don't want to have to go to work every day! And I need to feel like I'm getting more out of my investment of time and energy than a bi-weekly paycheck and a few paid vacation days. I need to be making a difference.

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