Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Scrying Using the Diaper

I should've known that yesterday was going to be a momentous day when it began by my toddler, Pollux, using the potty for both No. 1 and No. 2. You may think that's a little overkill. After all, one could rightly claim, haven't you had good days where no successful potty training has occurred? Well, yes. But having a day start off with successful potty training just gives the day a fortuitous kick start that is hard to ignore.

Now, there may be some folks out there reading this (ha ha!) who are already concerned by this post. After all, my only other post of note also references earthy biological functions. Believe it or not, I'm not unusually preoccupied with thoughts about the human digestive tract. However, there are three humans in my household (including me) for whose clean bottoms I am directly responsible. That's an important job, requiring a lot of awareness, so I can't help but to mention it a time or two. Anyone who disputes how important it is should pause a moment to reflect on a time when their biological functions ceased for an unbearably long period.

But, yet again, I digress. The point was, Pollux had a good potty training day, which made me happy. I was made happier by Castor doing some tricks on the rug, namely rolling over several times. Ah me, what could make my day more complete?

Yes, a call offering me a job beginning this coming Monday!

As mentioned before, I have been involuntarily unemployed for six weeks now. I say "involuntary" because I wouldn't have quit if I hadn't been laid-off. But, even from the first, I've had a pretty philosophical bent about the whole deal. My job at EmbodyEl Corp. was kind of like a humdrum relationship with your boyfriend. You don't really plan on marrying the guy, but you would've liked to be the one to end the relationship first. Now that it's over, what really bothers you isn't the absence of the boyfriend, but all of the people you met through him who you really liked.

Addressing the whole unemployment deal has consumed much of my time daily and it is frustrating to say the least, in spite of the support lent by family and colleagues in the same boat. The job search effort is like one of those itches that you feel but can't scratch. You just can't put your finger on the successful formula because it's different for everyone. Should you spend time just applying for jobs online, or networking with other professionals? Do you work with recruiters or do direct hire only? What impact will a contract job have on your resume and unemployment payments? There are many permutations with mind-boggling possibilities.

But, at the end of every day, the decisions made really just depend on what my mental state was. Basically, did I have a good day or a bad day? As a reasonable stable and sane person, you always hope for more good days than bad, and that's generally how it works out. But the bad days can be rough, and the snake-like tentacles of your funk can permeate even your strongest relationships, including the one you have with yourself.

There's a lot more that goes into that "good day/bad day" scenario than you might think. It's really not just about diapers or infant carpet tricks. You question your value as a person and a professional, your life's decisions to this point and as far back as your grades in high school, and more. At its most ridiculous, you ponder, "Maybe if I'd been invited to Little Janie's birthday party when I was 7, I would've built better social skills that would've helped me ensure I kept my last job." A bad day can pivot to a good day so quickly that it'd make a bipolar person shocked...and vice versa.

Bad days as an unemployed person are characterized by the little things that wouldn't be seen by even the most intimate companion. It's the decision to not have that coffee at Starbucks because that $3.50 cuppa joe is an unnecessary expense. ("Only water and stale bread," cry the Old Hollywood-style Biblical taskmasters in your mind, "until you demonstrate your worthiness!") It's looking at the people who are homeless and panhandling on the highway: you simultaneously thank your blessings that things aren't that bad, and then feel selfishly guilty because even at your worst moments, your life is light-years better than those poor folks. At its most ridiculous, the insecurity of an unemployed person manifests itself in a thousand little petty economies, like reducing the heat by a degree or saving on that extra rinse cycle for the laundry.

But, there are good days, similarly inscrutable to the average person but characterized by a dozen little luxuries: an extra large dollop of premium shampoo in the shower, doing some window or Web shopping (without purchasing, of course), or treating yourself to a $1 ice cream cone at McDonald's.

So, today I'll not only have that ice cream cone but probably that coffee, too, as I foolishly cavort with Pollux singing the Potty Celebration Dance and praise Castor's acrobatic talents with words so gooey that a honey bee would get diabetes. And on Monday, I'll start a new job.

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