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30 January 2010

Weekend Warrior

Saturday has quickly become my least favorite day of the week.

Of course, when I working, the weekend used to be the best time – a time to catch up on the busy week and just enjoy the precious time with my wife and kids.

Now, as a member of the unemployed, Saturday is a time to re-live the misery of the previous five days as we analyze my wounds.

It usually starts first thing in the morning, with my wife going over a checklist of how the week went.

Update on the kids. Check.

Update on her work. Check.

Maybe a chat about a movie or something in the news. Check.

But the whole time, I hear a clock ticking in my head, like I am watching 60 Minutes.

Then, as it always does, BOOM -- a bold, underlined, italicized reminder that I am unemployed.

Let me make one point very clear, my wife has been the most supportive person during this miserable episode – constantly giving me a positive face and positive reminders of what we have.

I know she means well and genuinely understands that I got screwed.

Well, WE got screwed.

But no matter the circumstances of my demise, the message is, we need to push forward.

I try to remind myself of that every time our Saturday morning pep talk ends.

But even with all the positive support, every time she gives me more feedback on what I should be doing, it makes me feel like a failure.

“Did you call this person?”

“Did you follow-up with that person?”

“What do you think about ________?”

I don’t consider myself an insecure person, but each time I hear those questions, I feel like I am on the witness stand.

Believe me, I know how lucky I am to have somebody in my life asking me those questions --- every week. It will really be sad the Saturday that those questions stop.

Of course, even with my genuine appreciation for what she has to say, the bottom line is it just makes me feel bad.

I must be living on Denial Avenue, but I truly believe I have done everything I can to find a new job.

I have made the calls.

And followed up with the emails.

AND reached out to people.

Again and again AND again.

Today’s reminder was timing is everything. You want to be on their mind when the opening comes up and sending a “checking in” email can do that.

She also said, you don’t want to stalk them.

Fine line there.

I’ve been on the other side, when the “checking in” emails are in your inbox, not outbox, and she is right about one thing, timing is everything.

I have hired persistent people, who won’t take no for an answer.

I have also refused to hire people, who won’t take no for an answer.

As for my situation, I really don’t know what more I can do.

Knowing that “something is going to work out” is really not something I can buy into anymore.

Do I believe something is going to work out? Yes, I really do.

Am I tired of hearing that something is going to work out? YES!

What’s really sad here is that the one person who has been the most supportive is the person who has the most invested in this and I am not embracing it.

Saturday is usually a day for partying, but I just wish it wasn’t a pity party.

28 January 2010


Performing under pressure in front of a crowd is nothing new to my 12-year old daughter.

In fact, just three days ago, her dance troop was the opening act at a packed arena before an NBA game.

This afternoon, the crowd was in the hundreds, not thousands, but the pressure felt like no other.

It was her school spelling bee, attended by the entire student body.

She was one of a dozen participants looking to win the title and represent her school in the district championships.

In the past, work has precluded me from being able to attend such events. But as they say, unemployment has its benefits.

Like many of us, I’ve enjoyed the National Spelling Bee, watching kids sweat it out and in some cases pass out, from the competition.

But I’ve never had anything invested in it.

Until now.

I can guarantee that being a parent during a spelling bee is 1,000 times worse than being a participant.

While I was sweating out EVERY letter, my daughter was calmly cruising through her words.

I was sitting there spelling each word in my head like it was going to make a difference, but she certainly didn’t need my help.

One-by-one, the contestants fell.

One of the rules that eliminated several kids was that once you started spelling your word, you had to keep going. No turning back.

That would’ve knocked me out, about 10 times.

As they moved from round-to-round, the crowd started getting into it. More oohs and aahs than a fourth of July fireworks show.

In the end, it came down to one other contestant and my daughter, in that order.

The school principal made it clear that if contestant #1 missed a word, my daughter would have to spell the next word correctly, plus one more word to win the title.

On cue, girl #1 misspelled the word, Scholarship -- I’m not that sharp, but there’s an irony in there somewhere -- which set up my daughter for the win.

Two words later, we had a victory.


Now for the record, I am NOT one of “those” parents.

I was truly prepared to take my daughter out for ice cream for finishing 3rd or 4th. I was proud of her for just trying.

But when it got down to the final two, I started rooting. Quietly.

Unfortunately, the girl who finished second took it very hard, as if she had just lost a spelling scholarship.

My daughter on the other hand took it all in stride.

Not a sweat mark anywhere.

Except on my face.

27 January 2010

Father Knows Best

When my father passed away nearly eight years ago, I lost a lot.

I lost a friend, a father, a fan, but most of all I lost a voice of reason.

Many of our conversations included nothing but sports and “how are you”, but somehow I ALWAYS walked away learning something.

I learned that reading an online newspaper wasn’t as informative as getting the ink on your hands.

I learned that non-fat frozen yogurt was good for you, but ice cream wasn’t.

But most of all, I learned about life.

One of the many lessons that I still use to this day is when there is a big decision to be made, take a piece of paper and write the good things in one column and the bad things in the other.

Majority wins.

Well, it’s not always that simple, but it sure does make sense.

In the last eight years, I’ve had several opportunities to apply his words, even without being able to hear his voice.

A month after he died, I was offered a job to work for his old company. It would’ve meant relocating, my wife leaving her job and my family taking a leap of faith.

Honestly, I think the job offer was a coping mechanism for the owner of the company. He and my dad had been friends for more than 40 years.

I got cheated. He was only with me for 35.

I thought long and hard about making the change, but ultimately, the bad outnumbered the good and I took a pass -- a decision that proved to be correct.

Throughout my current days as a member of the unemployed, I have searched for faith in any shape and color.

If you are not careful, EVERYTHING seems like a sign.

Today it was more than a sign, it was real. A real job interview -- my first since becoming unemployed 14 months ago.

It was for a job with a hunting company. A good friend of mine works there and he suggested me for the job.

In case you missed my Blog #14, I a Jewish and this just in, Jews don’t hunt.

I took the interview knowing that I could certainly do the job, but I didn’t know if I really wanted it.

The interview went very well, the company seems sharp and the job would definitely help pay the bills.

But there was a moment midway through the interview that really caught my attention:

“If I gave you a gun, would you shoot an animal?”


I’ve been asked a lot of questions before, but never that one.

My immediate response was “it’s not at the top of my list”, which is true.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would pretty much eat anything that was put on my dinner plate, but how it got there is another story.

Honestly, I don’t know the real answer to his question.

I’ve never tried hunting and I really don’t miss it. I know A LOT of people enjoy killing animals, I just may not be one of them.

While a formal offer has not been extended to me, I left with the feeling like the job could be mine.

If it is, I guess it’ll be time to take out the pen and paper.

Thanks Dad.

26 January 2010

Bed, Blog & Beyond

Did you know that an Eastern King Bed is the same exact size as a Standard King Bed and that a Western King Bed is the same exact size as a California King Bed?

Neither did I, until last week.

I learned that while searching for a new pair of bed sheets -- my big project for a Wednesday.

Not quite a Power Point proposal, but it’s a job.

My destination was Bed, Bath & Beyond, where I was fortunate to meet Suzanne.

She helped me understand the thread count formula, the higher the better -- the difference between Egyptian Cotton and Italian Cotton, go Egyptian -- and most important where the clearance items are located.

While I cruised through the store, I decided to check my email.

Good move.

While I was comparing colors, I received a reply from the editor of a popular website where I had blindly sent my blog.

The way things have gone lately, any email is an exciting moment for me, but when I saw it was from the business world, I kinda expected confetti to fall from the ceiling.

You see, it was just one day earlier that I sent out a bunch of emails to introduce people to my blog.

Some friends, some shots in the dark.

The guest list ranged from those who have also been out of work for awhile to Oprah Winfrey. Wide range, huh?

(Don’t tell anyone, but Oprah’s private email address is


You may find this hard to believe, but Oprah has not replied, but to my surprise, the editor of website with more than two million hits per month did.

In fact, he said that my blog was “interesting and often moving.”


He also said that, if I was willing, he would like to publish some of my blogs on his website and asked if “that would be okay?”

Hmmm, let me think about it.


The way this whole thing started, I was hoping that writing a blog would give me the chance to use my brain again, while getting some things of my chest.

I’m not saying that thread count is not interesting, but I am saying that writing this blog is.

And to hear that a complete stranger actually liked it, meant the world to me.

Unfortunately, this story ends like most of the others during my unemployment -- with serious disappointment.

I’m really not sure why, but after trading emails for several days, the editor has stopped corresponding with me.

I was really looking forward to introducing my blog to a brave new world, but that will have to wait for another day.

Hey, at least I got some new sheets.

24 January 2010

Why Me?

Why me?

I’m sure those two little words have been uttered by millions of unemployed people in this country just like me.

Why did I lose my job? What did I do to deserve this? Will I ever get another chance?

Why me?

As I sat on my leather couch, watching the Haiti Telethon, featuring two free hours of the top entertainers in the world on my big screen television, all I could think about is, why me?

What did I do to deserve a completely different life than those currently suffering from the earthquake in Haiti?

I understand that I was born in a country that has more than anyone else in the world.

I understand that I worked my rear-end off to gain all of the luxurious possessions that sit around me, from my wife to my children to my big screen television.

But why was I born into this life and more importantly, why did I have not have to suffer like the Haitian people?

I went to college in Northridge, California, the site of one of this country’s most famous temblors.

I lived a mile-and-a-half from the epicenter.

Actually, I had lived a mile-and-a-half from the epicenter, before moving 3,000 miles to the east just four months earlier.

Why me?

Why was I one of the lucky ones to avoid that disaster that claimed the lives of 61 people.

61 people! A terrible tragedy to say the least, but not on the same richter scale as the estimated 200,000 who will lose their life in Haiti.

The images, the pain, the destruction are things that cannot be put into words.

Television news has been accused many times, and many of them accurately, with sensationalizing the way stories are told.

In this situation, that is not possible.

The human life that has been lost by a group of people, who had very little to begin with, is something that none of us can truly relate to.

I am not ashamed of what I have.

I will not be turning in my car or moving into a concrete slab, like the ones that Haitians called home.

Like many of us, I too take for granted everything we have.

Tomorrow I will wait in line to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, demanding that they open another Starbucks across the street.

I will sit at a red light for 30 seconds, annoyed that it is not green.

I will lose my temper when my cell phone drops a call.

I truly wish that I would not lose sight of the luxuries that I enjoy every day.

Unfortunately, I will.

And you will too.

Because of the horrific nature of the photos and the emotional stories that we have seen, it may take a little longer than usual to forget about Haiti.

But I will.

And you will too.

I don’t go to bed at night wishing for pain and agony and I certainly have no regrets about what I have earned.

Like most of the unemployed, I do wish my life was different.

But if you can watch two seconds of what the Haitian people have endured, and not appreciate every single moment of your existence, you are not human.

Why me?

Thank God for me.

Dance Fever

I’m guessing that my 12-year old daughter was not the inspiration for the Jackson 5‘s hit Dancin’ Machine, considering that “I” was only six years old when the song came out in 1973.

But like the song says, she is “movin and groovin” pretty much every day of the week.

Whether it’s in our kitchen or in the dance studio, where she spends more than 12 hours a week, she loves to dance.

Hip hop, jazz, pom. You name it, she’s in.

Last Friday night, she took on a new kind of dance -- a middle-school dance.

My wife and I chaperoned, giving us a night out and giving me a chance to forget that I was unemployed.

The theme was 80’s night, which was right up our alley.

One of the first songs we heard was Bryan Adams classic, “Heaven”.

Except, it wasn’t Bryan Adams. It was a dance version released in 2002 by DJ Sammy and Yanou.

Totally not the 80’s.

As the evening went on, we heard Journey and Wham, Miley Cyrus and the Black Eyed Peas.

Perhaps, the song that got the biggest reaction was the Village People mega-hit Y.M.C.A, released in 1978, oh by the way.

Totally, sorta the 80’s was more like it.

Many of the 7th & 8th graders dressed the part, with leg-warmers and polo shirts with the collar up.

The celebrity look-a-like contest was won by an a suburban white kid, dressed as M.C. Hammer, parachute pants and all.

For the record, “U Can’t Touch This” became a hit in 1990.

But, who’s counting?

I certainly enjoyed the night and enjoyed watching my daughter enjoy the night, but I still brought my smart phone, you know, just in case I needed to check sports scores.

At 8:44pm, on a Friday night, I was alerted that a new email had arrived.

So I opened it.

And for the first time since becoming unemployed 14 months ago, I had received a notification from my state’s job line that a job meeting my criteria had been posted.

At 8:44pm? On a Friday night?

Of course, I had to see what it was all about. Sure enough it was a job in my field.

The job requested three years experience. I have 25.

The job pays hourly. I have always been salary.

But hey, it’s a job.

I immediately applied, even though realistically, I am probably one of too many who put in for it.

But considering the struggle I have had to find anything, as Kool & the Gang would say, it’s time to “Celebrate”.

Released in 1980.

22 January 2010

X-Ray Vision


That was my 10-year old son’s reaction at 12:31 this afternoon.

No, we were not at Toys R Us or Cold Stone Creamery or even Costco.

We had just entered the X-Ray room at a local clinic to take pictures of his injured shoulder.

I thought, that he thought, the machine looked really cool, but later he admitted that he was just trying to have a positive attitude.

Wow, where did he get that from?

At around 10:30, I got a call this morning from my wife, a teacher at his school, that my son had hurt his shoulder playing a game called “Capture the Golden Egg”.

Once I detected that there was just concern in her voice and not fear, I reluctantly asked the question that any father of a future major league baseball player would ask, “which shoulder is it?”

Unfortunately, it was his throwing shoulder.

So I dropped everything I was doing -- actually I’m unemployed, I wasn’t doing anything -- and I called his doctor to make an appointment.

Thirty minutes later, I had picked up my son and we were being seen by the good doctor.

The doctor was encouraged by his range of motion, but he wanted to see x-rays, just in case.

We went across the street to get the pictures taken, but were told that they were not doing x-rays today.


So, about 20 minutes later we arrived at their sister clinic where we were greeted by a sign on the closed door that had more instructions than an Ikea table.

The hours of operation on M,W,F were different than Tu,Th.

The lunch break one day is different than the lunch break on another.

With all the letters on this sheet, I felt like I was visiting an eye doctor instead of an x-ray facility.

When I finally figured out their schedule, I realized that their lunch had started seven minutes earlier.

Too bad it took me eight minutes to figure that out.

I searched high and low for Ashton Kutcher, but this was not a joke.

I knocked on the door anyway, expecting nothing, but surprisingly someone opened from the other side.

In the most successful three second pitch of all time, I spoke of our tour of the city and we were rewarded by them letting us in.

If only getting a job was that easy.

Then again, if I had a job, who would’ve taken care of my son?

We got the results back four hours later and were told by the doctor’s office that the shoulder was normal.

They also informed me that for some reason the clinic didn’t x-ray the clavicle.

That’s what you get for interrupting someone’s lunch.

Of course, this is Friday and they said that the clinic is closed on the weekend, so our only option was getting my son to the hospital.

I called our insurance company, to find out which hospitals were approved, my wife drove to get a new order form from the doctor’s office -- before they closed in 10 minutes -- and presto, chango, we were back in business.

After seven hours of phone calls and x-ray clinics, doctor appointments and running around town, the results were back and my son is going to be fine.

He’ll be in a sling for a week, courtesy of a minor separation in his shoulder, but the good news is he’ll be ready for spring baseball.

And that’s awesome!

21 January 2010

Guilty Pleasures

If there is one thing that I learned from the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, it’s that guilt is a dish served by every culture.

As the child of an Orthodox Jew and an Italian Catholic, who converted, there was always plenty of guilt in our house.

A whole bunch of years later, I have really tried to NOT bring my three kids into that miserable cycle.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped me as a parent from feeling the pain.

Take this morning as an example.

My fifth grade son had an assembly in school where he was being given an award for perfect attendance during the second semester.

Nice touch, sure.

Pulitzer, not exactly.

The FIRST thing he said to me this morning -- at 6:42am -- was, “are you coming to my assembly today?”

In a deep daze, I replied, “I really don’t want to sit there for 45 minutes to hear the names of a bunch of kids I don’t know.”

That sound you hear is my “father of the year” nomination flying out the window.

An hour later, I dropped my son off at school.

Ten minutes later, I returned to attend his assembly.


Let’s be honest, that was the ONLY reason that I turned around.

I kept hearing that not-so little voice in my head saying, YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED, WHY AREN’T YOU GOING?

Wow, that voice is loud.

As I walked into the gym, the first thing I heard was the voice of the principal saying that this was a record crowd of parents.

All I could think about was if those other parents would’ve taken the same approach as I did, at 6:42am, it would’ve been a not-so perfect attendance.

I made immediate eye contact with my son, as if he was staring at the entrance from the moment he sat down.

When he saw me, it looked like Christmas morning.

His smile was as big as it could be and it immediately validated my decision, not that I needed that.

I also made eye contact with one of the dads that I knew.

He is recently divorced and definitely looking to take every opportunity to bond with his kids.

Unlike my work situation, he is VERY employed. Too employed actually.

His job takes him around the world, from Africa to Abu Dhabi and everywhere in between.

I’m sure he makes plenty of money, which means he can buy great gifts for his kids while he gone, weeks at a time.

Several months ago, he asked how my search for employment was going at which point I responded, nowhere.

He then asked if I was willing to relocate, at which point I told him that I had applied for jobs from Chicago to China, literally.

He said, what about the Middle East? Saudi Arabia... Dubai... “I’ve got lots of contacts over there.”

My heart started fluttering. My palms began to sweat. That’s like, all the way over there.

My wife has made it clear that she is willing to relocate anywhere, but I’m not sure that 7,814.19 miles away qualifies.

But, with her blessing, I sent my resume to him.

He sent my resume to them.

They didn’t reply.

Wow, it works the same all the way over there.

Imagine the guilt.

19 January 2010

Madden or Mirtazapine?

According to, there are no fewer than 24 medications for depression.

They run from A to Z, or technically Adapin to Zoloft.

I am happy to say that medications have not been part of my diet during my 25 years of employment OR 14 months of unemployment, but in the last year, there have been days where I could’ve used the positive energy boost in my Jamba Juice.

Today was one of those days, but instead of giving Amitrityline or Imipramine a taste, I used a prescription that wasn’t on the list --- Madden.

As in, Madden 2009, the video game.

Today’s mood swing was a quick one, but thankfully it was adjusted with the help of the Wii, instead of a dose of Wellbutrin.

My son and I completed a game where the Colts defeated the Chargers 34-30 on a last-second hail mary. The outcome was insignificant, to me, but in less than 20 minutes, one game of Madden picked up my attitude quicker than Lexapro or Norpramin.

And with none of those amazing side effects that make us all giggle.

Don’t let my sense of humor confuse you, the last few hours were some of the toughest I have had since becoming unemployed.

I’ve had my share of pity parties during this unemployment episode, but depression has not really been an issue.

To be perfectly honest, today looked a whole lot like the rest of the days with lots of family time and very little stress.

That all changed in a sixteen minute phone call with an old friend, actually a former boss of mine.

This former boss is one of my favorite people in the world and somebody who truly showed me how to succeed in the business world -- until I lost my job of course.

I don’t get a chance to talk to him much, but when I do, it usually ends with, “if there is anything I can do, let me know.”

And he means it.

He also meant what he said during the phone call when he gave me a swift kick in the pants.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, IT’S TIME TO START KNOCKING DOWN DOORS instead of leaving flowers on the doorstep.

He made it clear that this journey of finding a job wasn’t going to happen on its own and I needed to force the issue.

His words cut into me like a steak knife, leaving an immediate mark in my medium-rare skin.

I certainly understand his nothing-to-lose, go-for-it mentality, especially from someone who has a job, but the bottom line is he is right.

Well, just like when I worked for my friend, he still knows exactly what buttons to push to get me going.

In the end, I’m guessing that his challenge will motivate me and hopefully have some positive results.

Unfortunately, the immediate reaction to the phone call sent me into a three-hour tailspin.

The bottom line is he made me feel bad, a feeling a felt through the entire afternoon. I’m sure that was not his goal and to be quite honest, I’m not sure what I felt bad about.

Just like depression, lack of confidence has never been on my resume and I certainly don’t doubt my abilities.

For the last year, I have made every effort to find a job. I really have, despite the lack of results.

Searching the internet, emailing my contacts, following up with phone calls, reaching out to pretty much everyone I know in this world.

Well, we’ve seen where that got me.

Maybe it’s time to try another prescription.

18 January 2010

The Grass is Greener

It’s amazing how much we all want to be someone else.

Whether it’s somebody with a better job. Somebody with a nicer house. Somebody with a better looking mate.

The grass is truly greener on the other side, right?

This week, while I was searching for a job, I spoke with three different friends all searching for their happy ending.

There is my friend who took a “dream-job” a year ago that has turned into a nightmare. Everything it was supposed to be, it is not.

Micromanaged to the paper-clip.

My phone said that I spoke to my friend for 64 minutes and 26 seconds. Hearing the pain in his voice made it seem like a lot longer.

And let me tell you, this is a VERY accomplished person, who has succeeded in every job he has had.

But now, for the first time in his life, his career is a job.

Friend #2 is somebody who several years ago decided to pursue a graduate degree to take on a job that would help her husband and kids live a great life.

Well, that great life is being lived... without my friend.

These days, she is working more than my keyboard.

Sure, there’s the professional reward of moving up in her company and I’m sure the money is good, but its a big price to pay for missing dinner with the family EVERY night.

I know, I’ve been there.

Moments ago, I just got off the phone with one of my best friends, somebody who has been my voice of reason every step of my employment and unemployment.

He is as grounded as any appliance in my house.

For the last 25 years, he has been with the same company, earning awards, praise and more friends than a lottery winner.

He is also socially active, dating a different woman every week.

That may sound like fun to you and me, but it’s not to him.

He has tried internet dating, being set up by friends, giving his number to strangers, but so far he has not found his match.

I have no doubt that he will, like he has no doubt I will find a job.

The view can sunny from the other side, but whether its a dream-job, lots of money or the freedom of being single, be careful what you wish for.

16 January 2010

The Pep Talk

Throughout my time as a member of the unemployed, I have had a very good support system.

Between my wife, children, mom and a handful of very close friends, not too many days have gone by without a pep talk.

I think I’ve heard every cliche in the pep talk handbook, from “just be patient” to “it’s not your fault, the economy is bad” to “nobody hires during December.”

“Something good is going to happen.”

I’m not sure where I can re-fill my prescription for a bottle of faith, but for the most part all the pep talks must be working.

I’m still standing, right?

Well, this morning I woke up to the extended re-mix version of the pep talk.

“This is going to be our year.”

Ok, where do I sign?

For 45 minutes my loving wife reminded me that I am good at what I do, reminded me that I have a wife and three children who love me and most of all reminded me that I was still unemployed.

Of course the last part wasn’t her intention, but as anybody who goes through a breakup knows, it doesn’t take a whole lot to remind you of your ex.

For the most part, I think I’ve been doing ok -- somedays are definitely better than others.

There is SO much about my time at home that I have truly enjoyed, but when I take the time to think what has really happened, it definitely makes me sad.

No other way about it.

The good days are really good. Time for myself. Time for the family. Time to enjoy life.

The bad days, thankfully, have not been too bad. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some terrible moments in the last year, but very few terrible days.

I think of those bad times as a functional depression.

I am able to get to the gym every morning. I’m still motivated to search for a job, but all it takes is that one hint of what used to be and life feels empty.

I could be watching Phineas & Ferb on the Disney Channel, laughing with my kids, but when that one voice comes on that reminds me of somebody I used to work with, the show is no longer a comedy.

Perhaps the worst part of this miserable roller coaster ride are the high points.

Like the three different conversations this week I had a possible lead on a job -- but just like the dozens of others before it, they just disappeared.

Giving up is not really an option, nor is it a consideration.

I’m in for the long haul, ready to fight the good fight and any other cliches that apply.

“Hang in there. Keep your chin up.”

15 January 2010

Man At Work

To this day, I still worship side one of Men At Work’s Business As Usual. Side one, wow! Can somebody get my walker.

From the first drumbeat of “Who Can It Be Now?”, I was hooked.

I’ve always been a little bit of non-conformist, so for me tracks two and four -- the ones that did NOT get much airplay -- were my favorites.

I must’ve listened to that cassette more than 1000 times.

Well, this morning at the gym, with my ipod on shuffle, two different songs from Men At Work came on and within seconds, I was back in my high school bedroom dreaming of what will be.

Of course at 17, those dreams included girls, money, girls, a job making money and a family.

Here we are 25 years later and I have it all -- except the job.

A great wife. Three great kids. Money in the bank. But no job.

I believe it was Meat Loaf who said two out of three ain’t bad, so by my calculations, three out of four is even better.

And it is.

For the last year, I’ve been at home with the family, with all the time in the world.

Time to take the kids to school. Time to make them lunch. Time to go grocery shopping. Time to do the dishes. Time to help with homework.

Wow, I do have a full-time job.

To be perfectly honest, I probably could have done many of those chores when I was working, but I didn’t.

Of course, I had a built in excuse, working from 9ish to 9ish, five days a week.

Plus, a man’s gotta kick his feet up and watch ESPNews, right?

Well I still watch plenty of sports on TV, but I must say that taking care of the things at home can be very rewarding.

And challenging too.

For example, try using expired coupons at the grocery store. Now, that’s a challenge.

Or, re-organizing the dishwasher to get more in than my wife. Bring it on!

Don’t forget the satisfaction of successfully completing two loads of laundry in one day, including the folding.

The more time I spend at home, the more I appreciate Barbara Billingsley -- and not just because she learned Jive for the movie Airplane.

This house-husband thing might just be my next career.

Now that’s a Man at Work.

An Extra Shot of Reality

In the last decade, Starbucks has taught us more new words than Webster.

There’s Baristas and Frappuccinos, Tazo and Vivanno.

During final exams in college, I drank “a lot” of coffee, but a latte, never heard of it.

Of course, if you are looking for a lot of coffee now at Starbucks, don’t order a tall or even a large (grande).

You’ll need to get the Venti. (For the record, there is no result for Venti at

During this time of unemployment, I have done my best to stay away from Starbucks. If I am ordering a $4 drink, I want a little umbrella to come with it.

But this week, I decided to meet an old colleague for coffee at Starbucks to catch up on the good ole days.

Little did I know that I would learn another new term -- Ulcerative Colitis.

For those of you scoring at home, Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is my friend was told that this could be the early stage of colon cancer.

That announcement woke me up faster than my Skinny Extra Hot Soy Sugar Free Vanilla Latte, with an extra shot.

My buddy is in his early 40’s with a great wife, two fantastic children and plenty of money in the bank.

He’s just starting the second half of his life -- this can’t really be happening.

This can’t really be happening?

Wow, the same exact thought I had when I became unemployed.

Did I just compare unemployment to Cancer?

Talk about a reality check.

In the last year, I have thrown a pity party or ten because I had lost my job.

Unemployed? Me? How could I ever survive?

A real kick in the gut.

Well, not literally -- it’s my friend with the REAL kick in the gut.

He says that no matter how much he eats, he’s always hungry. And whenever he feeds that hunger, it’s ALWAYS a trip to the bathroom.

It sounds like the circle of life, but hopefully not death.

Anytime a doctor throws out the c-word, Cancer, everything comes to a stop -- I don’t care if it’s an early stage or the final phase.

To think, while I was surfing through the job sites, my friend was getting a colonoscopy. I was eating humble pie, he was drinking barium.


All of a sudden, unemployment was not that scary.

The truth of the matter is, my friend only has one life to play with. For me, there are plenty of jobs in this world.

I could always be a Barista.

I’m praying for you buddy.

14 January 2010

False Alarm

When you’ve been out of the office for as long as I have -- approaching 14 months now -- it’s pretty easy to get excited when a possible job comes your way.

It really doesn’t take very much. A phone call, an email... sometimes, even a billboard on the side of the road can give you some hope.

Well, last weekend I got a major lead and this time, it wasn’t another mirage. This was the real deal.

A former colleague of mine, who has helped me get work in the past, sent me an email asking if I would be interested in a job with him.


Uh, in a word -- of course.

The description of the job spoke directly to what I had been doing for the majority of my career.

Of course, I have been through this sudoku puzzle before -- job comes my way, I get excited about job, job runs in other direction as quickly as possible.

Wow, that reminds me of my dating life in college.

Well, this time it felt different. This was my reliable friend, not some temp agency.

That was Saturday. This is Wednesday, NIGHT.

I’ll bet whoever said patience is a virtue, must’ve spent most of their life on the unemployment line. If you can sit still without a job, you can sit still anywhere.

For those of you counting -- the initial contact came on Saturday, now, here we are, nearly five days later with nothing.

(Actually, it’s closer to four days later, but this glass half full thing has left town.)

Is there really a chance that this will be my golden ticket?

47 hours ago, I thought that answer was yes, but who’s counting.

Now, I have no idea.

Even with all the bruises of this process, I still have not lost my desire to work. I have not lost my confidence to work well. And I have certainly not lost my hope that there will be a happy ending here.

I am very talented, creative and motivated -- skills that didn’t wash away with my last paycheck.

But why is this happening? Actually, why is this happening TO ME?

I know there are millions of Americans being hazed on a daily basis in this horrendous fraternity, but I’m the only person I have to wake up with every morning. Well, me and my wife.

And as amazingly supportive as she has been, I think it’s starting to take a toll on her as well.

Like me, she bought into this phantom job.

She bought in on Saturday morning.

Bought in on Sunday.

Asked if he called on Monday.

Wondered why he didn’t call on Tuesday.

Started to get mad on Wednesday.

I can’t wait for Thursday.

It's All Working Out

Becoming unemployed is the perfect recipe to crawl into a ball and spend your days doing nothing.

If you want to watch season four of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, start-to-finish, bring plenty of popcorn.

If you want to eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream, don’t forget the hot fudge.

If you feel like a beer at 10:00am, enjoy!

If you are looking for a challenge, do them all at the same time.

Of course, if you feel like crying, there’s time for that too.

I, have done all of those, including the crying.

Fortunately, for me and my Calvins, my mornings have taken on a new schedule.

Working out.

As you might imagine, based on my references to ice cream and beer in the AM, you won’t be seeing any pictures of me in GQ anytime soon.

That being said, instead of sleeping in until Noon and not getting dressed until 2, I have chosen the Gym as my new workplace.

By 8am every weekday morning, I’m in the gym doing my 60-minutes on the eliptical machine -- even though the limit is 30.

I’m such a rebel.

That is followed by the 15 minute tour through the weight machines. 15 reps here, 12 there, do a couple of those, a little of these and BAM, my day is started.

One of my all-time favorite sports is people watching and there truly is no reality show better than reality itself.

If you don’t believe me, go to your local park, grocery store, diner and just sit back and watch. You’ll see drama... comedy... and plenty of REALITY!

My favorite place to people watch now is the gym.

In fact, I believe they could re-name my gym Noah’s Ark, because we have two of EVERYTHING.

Fat, skinny. Old, new. Men, women.

And that’s just the people who work there. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

A couple of weeks ago, a guy on the treadmill dropped his radio. So, like any unemployed guy looking to meet his next boss, I picked it up.

Before I could hand it to him, the 50-something man, notified me that perhaps I may have recognized him.

In my mind, I recognized him as the 50-something man, who should’ve given up his dreams of growing a full head of hair and just shave off the mullet in the back to match the glare on the top.

But before I had a chance to respond, the man told me that he was recently on the news for opening the first medical marijuana store in our state.

Wow, a real home-grown celebrity!

I promptly handed the man his radio as I watched my dreams of finding my new boss go up in smoke.

No need to fear, there were plenty of other reality stars in the gym.

There was the woman who stepped on the scale -- located in the middle of the gym -- was clearly unhappy with the results and promptly stepped off, removed her shoes and tried it again.

There was the man who was determined to lift more weight than he could handle -- snapping his head to the right and making a face like he’d been shot with each of the three draining reps he attempted.

We’ve got sweaty ones, determined to leave their mark on EVERY weight machine and ones with more tattoos than an NBA game.

I’ve seen leg warmers and dolphin shorts, walkmen and REO Speedwagon t-shirts. I miss the 80’s.

No matter what you are looking for, the gym has it.

Fortunately, my gym has plenty of eliptical machines too and I’m glad to say, it’s all working out.