Summer Vacation

Spending a summer home with the boys. Exploring and adventuring and looking for work. Lets hope we all find what we need.

Daddy-Charlie-Mommy-Teddy GraduationI’m spending the summer home with the boys. I know that I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to do so. That reality is not lost on me though at times other issues are taking up more primary real estate in my brain and in my heart.

I lost my job. Technically I resigned. This technicality allows me to ascribe far more intent to the action than was necessarily present at the time I wrote the letter, packed up my office and walked out. But in reality, I was canned.

It was the first day of summer vacation yesterday and we got off to a great start. We are home bound until at least July 3rd as we have a fairly major repair due on the car so the boys and I spent our days the way I used to during the long, lazy summer days that feel like someone else’s memories by now. We watched some TV with cereal on the couch in our sleep clothes. We hung out in the backyard hitting wiffle balls and bouncing on the trampoline. We even dragged some music out there and played in our tiny, portable, makeshift sandbox.

For the first few weeks, while the boys were in school and I had at least a couple of days home alone I was able to send out mass resume’s and cover letters. I’ve even gotten a few interviews which have gone well but may not lead to anything and certainly won’t for some time. Which is increasingly fine. Frankly, if I could match my income, or even approximate it from home I’d prefer it. I’m not one of those people who will hate retirement. It suits me. If it weren’t for the nagging, inscrutable loss of a sense of self worth that accompanies this part of the journey, when an income is most critical.

We actually did a couple of boxed science experiments that we picked up a few months back. This morning the plaster has set on the citric acid and baking soda volcano we are set to detonate out back. Crystals should be forming in a dish in the garage. We’ll see about that in 4-7 days. I’m dreadful with science. It was actually a fairly comic scene actually, watching me try to pour 13 ounces of water in the bag of plaster/sand mix as instructed seeing as there was about 4 ounces worth of space in the bag to pour into it.

‘Well, the sand is porous, so surely they wouldn’t give us a bag to use for this without it having enough space within it to follow their instructions.’ I said, foolhardily. Though in hindsight it was obvious that the bag, minus the mix, simply empty, could not have carried the water it instructed us to add. Learned that trails of plaster mix can be cleaned up pretty effectively with wipes. So that experiment turned out at least.

I’m not defeated but I’m probably a perfect dupe for someone pitching me the secret to making a six figure income from home with only a couple of hours of work a day and a modest $399 investment upfront. I would be real receptive to that kind of pitch right now, so please, have some mercy my friends. Also, if I come at you with such a pitch in the months ahead, please say no but be kind. I’m a little lost these days.

Teddy PreK GradI am so happy to have this time with the kids. I just hope I don’t blow it. It’s a strange time in my life and in the world at large to wallow in self-pity. I don’t really have the oomph for that kind of thing right now. The self doubt may grow, but let’s face it, I’m in a house, with my kids who are 5 and 7 and want more of me than I can give. Kind of the ideal time to get an unexpected break from life, so long as I land on my feet on the other end having landed this midlife Triple Lindy.

If there’s one lesson I can take from how it ended it’s this. I brought myself to the edge months ago. I knew it was not working. The work was good, the people were great and by most measures I was doing very well. Unfortunately the relationship between me and my boss, the CEO, was broke. I certainly did my part to break it and was at a loss to fix it. I tried, but it wasn’t fixable. Not by me at any rate. I had prepared and interviewed, had been for a good 9 months. I’d turned down offers because they weren’t enough. Enough money, sure, but I think it was more than that. I think I needed pushing. In the end I’d packed up and prepared to jump and then I waited to be pushed. I won’t do that if this ever happens again. I don’t think it will, but next time, I’ll jump.

Today is day two of summer vacation. We have spent our boxed activities and run out of lunch ideas already. Netflix will take us to 10 but then it’s out back to adventure and explore. Let’s hope we find what we’re looking for, whatever it turns out to be.

Life Slips Past

How am I doing?

Oh, I guess I’m doing fine

It’s been so long now,

But it seems now, that it was only yesterday

Gee, ain’t it funny, how time slips away

~Willie Nelson


This morning I drove to work listening to NPR. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal for me at this point in life. Most mornings I don’t have the chance to do this. It happened to be morning two of the pledge drive but even that didn’t bother me. 

Recently I’d taken to fine tuning the spring loaded knobs that normally lay flush to the dash so that only the speaker in front of the drivers seat worked. This way only I’d hear the news of the day and the most recent happenings from the campaigns or the long form stories on bureaucratic minutia of New York life. If I didn’t do this and it was at a volume loud enough to hear in the back seat I’d immediately be told what to do. 

‘Play the ‘Ghost Monster’ music.’ One of the boys would say. 

That was it. I’d be driving to work listening to the same ten Halloween songs we’ve heard a thousand times. I mean, it’s May. No bother, it’s a reasonably decent compilation and every tenth song I get to hear Screamin’ Jay Hawkins put a spell on you, so, you know, no biggie. 

But today, today I heard news and it was great. It was grown up and engaging and stories were interesting and they were told by curious, intelligent adults. It was delightful. 

You should know that I was once a bit of an NPR-head. I loved NPR way before it was cool. It started with my dad listening to bluegrass on Saturdays and A Prairie Home Companion on weekend drives in the station wagon. By the time I got out of college, in my very early twenties it was pretty much what I listened to all day. When I moved to the mountains with my college girlfriend in our ill fated attempts to avoid splitting up, it stayed on whenever we were home. That was VPR then, Vermont Public Radio. Later, when I’d live for years in the Catskills it was my constant companion as I worked in the Executive Director’s cabin in a makeshift office on weekdays organizing logistics and communications to families we’d serve on weekends through the winter all to the sounds of Dr. Allen Chartok (Sp?) and the entrepreneurial and enthusiastic crew of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. I had gear. People that knew me bought me t-shirts and mugs and knew I’d love them. Thanks, Christen! I still miss both the mug and the t-shirt. 

I felt so personally connected to the people. The wonderful, smart, cultured, grown up, funny and serious people that explored ideas and were curious about things I never knew could be anything but boring. People who were fascinated by history and it’s meaning. Art and it’s feelings. Science and it’s implications. It broadened my horizon’s and became a badge I wore on my psyche. I have a vague memory of once trying to mock a cheesy, vapid, Atlantic City cover band (think of Jack Black’s original band in School of Rock when they play at the battle of bands at the end of the movie. Just unbearable. At least that’s how I remember them, but I was pretty drunk. Like come down from the mountains and go straight to A.C. with a bunch of other like minded weirdo’s for a ‘work’ conference drunk.) by standing silently in protest to their cover of ‘Living on a Prayer’ by shaming them and pointing endlessly at my cool, smart NPR t-shirt. I think I made my point.

Then a thousand other epochs of life happened and somewhere along the way I’d lost that time. Those experiences that seemed like a permanent part of life passed to the past. It was still a part of my life, but I no longer looked forward to Tuesday nights at 9:00 for the Selected Shorts rebroadcast. Long Saturday drives to the country while listening to Garrison Keillor and the Guys AllStar Shoe Band were replaced with bottles and feedings and naps and confusion. The life I had that was so much who I was was gone and in it’s place was something new to get lost in. My wife. My kids. Family. 

So today, driving in to trainings at an off site locale for a new job and a new adventure, it was delightful to have some time listening to an echo of a life that had been relegated to the dustbin of my personal history when I wasn’t looking. That I left behind happily to start a new adventure. That recycled itself into the air to be caught by another at a different stage.