I’ve had so much free time on my hands lately that I’m frankly pretty ashamed of myself for not having written more during this pandemic. So, I sat myself down with my laptop and demanded that I put words to paper regardless of the end-quality of my output (that’s a disclaimer in case this sucks). After a short nap, I started compiling my thoughts into the messy stream-of-consciousness bit of writing that is to follow.
The first thing worth mentioning is that after nearly 5 years at the company I was working for, my job position was eliminated back in March. For anyone curious (which you probably weren’t), among other things my job duties included reconciling inventory inaccuracies, creating digital retail price books for product, maintaining a database of discontinued items with automatic markdown codes, and building from scratch a tracking sheet and algorithm for delivery success rate which was used to determine the pay scale of all the warehouse and delivery crews. I know, I thought that all sounded rather important too, so imagine my surprise when I (along with 12 other people) was told that my services were no longer needed. And while I may prefer to live my life offering self-deprecating insights about myself, I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s truthfully nobody else in the company that can perform those tasks to the same level that I did (in large part because I personally developed the systems and processes for most of those duties). In fact, it’s actually kind of weird to say that the position was eliminated because the work obviously still needs to be done, they just decided to split up and force those job duties upon 4 or 5 other people who are not familiar with what those tasks actually entail and who already had their own full time tasks to do, thus increasing their workload with duties they were never trained on while offering them no additional pay. Corporate America, yay! Really, it’s an absolutely brilliant strategy if your company’s executive team strives to make bad decisions (I’m not bitter), but I digress. I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old, so to be suddenly unemployed has been jarring and odd to say the least. Luckily, my wife is still working as an essential employee and both of us are pretty smart with finances to begin with, so we’ve been able to tighten the belt and make things work. And I guess if you’re going to take one thing away from this paragraph it’s that I’m a pretty skilled guy who needs a job if you know any open positions (*wink wink*).
References available upon request.
The positive aspect to me losing my job has been that I’ve been able to stay home with the kids to do all of their e-learning activities over the past 2+ months. Honestly, it would have made things much more difficult if we were having to find someone to watch the kids every day and then still do 3-4 hours of school work each evening after both my wife and I got home from work. In the grand scheme of things, me losing my job has worked out well for our family’s ability to navigate this pandemic (but don’t think I’m handing out any thanks yous for getting fired). Of course, playing teacher for two 8-year olds had had its own distinct set of challenges and stresses. It’s not easy introducing kids to multiplication when they’ve only ever seen that symbol used as the letter x, but having them count groupings of candy and cookies can help overcome that. And sometimes kids can really shed light on the general silliness of analog clocks as you’re trying to explain to them that 1 is 5, 2 is 10, 3 is 15, etc., but having a set time of day that they’re allowed to use their tablets can definitely help motivate them to learn how to read a clock. Needless to say, we got through the end of the school year together and I have hope that I did not do any damage that cannot be undone by their 3rd grade teachers in the fall.
Now, outside of being a drain on my wife’s mental health and a substitute 2nd grade teacher, what else have I been up to? Interestingly, unlike seemingly the rest of the world, I actually haven’t been drinking. See, I made the decision to take a sabbatical from drinking after my birthday (March 17th) just to ease up on some of the empty calories I was taking in and to be slightly healthier overall. It’s actually fortuitous that I chose to stop drinking after my birthday because the very next day was when I was let go from my job and I REALLY wanted to drown my emotions in a bottle but instead chose to pour all of that frustration into a job search that, while not being a fruitful endeavor thus far, was considerably more well-received by both my brain cells and my waistline. Not drinking during unemployment has also made me feel slightly less like a failure, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
But what have I been doing to keep myself sane-adjacent during this time? Well, for one thing I’ve been very deeply involved in running my first Dungeons & Dragons campaign (nerd!). Actually, if I want to get technical and firmly cement my dorkiness, my group actually plays Pathfinder (NERD!!). I started running my first campaign as Dungeon Master (NERD!!!) back around September, so I have been doing it for several months now, but our play was definitely sporadic as anyone who plays tabletop RPGs knows that coordinating schedules is a bastard. Well, with so many extra-curriculars canceled right now my group has been able to consistently play every week for the last few months. We’ve been doing it online so as to properly follow the shelter-in-place order, so I’ve managed to rig up a mount for an old dash cam I got for Christmas several years ago to display the game mat over Google Hangouts (Boom, product placement. Pay me please, Google). It’s honestly gone a lot smoother than I think any of us expected and I do think that it has allowed me to achieve an even higher level of nerddom, but we’re all still looking forward to being able to play in person again in the future because we’re nerds that like to get together to nerd in person; like a nerd herd.
Behold my command center!
Since I haven’t been seeing anyone except my family (who are already not impressed with me) and the video calls with my D&D group (also not impressed with me), and because there’s been no opportunity to get my hair cut, my hair is officially the shaggiest it has been since I was 20 (editor’s note: I got a haircut a couple days ago, but wrote this before that happened. Life comes at you fast, post your blog articles sooner). I typically get my hair cut like clockwork at the 5 week mark and have been rocking the same hairstyle for the last 13 years because it looks decent and I don’t see any reason to change up something that’s working just fine (I mean, my awesome hair did help land me a hot ass wife. Score!) My last haircut was on Valentine’s Day, so I was actually due for another cut right when the whole pandemic lockdown hit. Needless to say, I was long overdue for one; however, I wasn’t a complete dummy and felt no need to take to the streets protesting my right to get a haircut in the midst of a pandemic because though I may make plenty of jokes about being an idiot, I do actually have more sense than that. I’ve tried to have fun with my hair during this time. The first thing I did was have my wife dye it pink because I had kind of always thought it would be neat to have a fun color in my hair, but never did it due to the whole constantly having a job thing. Well, get that job out of the way and now I’ve got the freedom to color my hair as I please for all the couch-sitting on my schedule. After the dye faded away and the hair grew into an unruly mess, I decided to just take a blow-drying to it and bring shame upon my family by seeing how ridiculous I could like. I followed this up by routinely asking my kids if my hair was okay (they resoundingly agreed that it was NOT okay).
What else has been going on during this pandemic, hmm? Well, let’s get real for a minute here. For me, as I’m sure is the case with many other people, mental well-being has thrown some fun curveballs during this time. Personally, I’ve always been the type of person that keeps his mind occupied as much as possible because that is what helps me keep the sads away. That being said, with no job to go to each day and pretty much all of mine and my kids’ extracurricular activities (such as hockey and scouts) on pause, it is difficult to maintain my desired level of stimulation. Of course, there’s concern over when I’ll be able to find a new job with so many in the market looking and so few openings as business are trimming down their staff numbers (I don’t want to be a bum!), but there’s always the joy in having the extra time to spend with my kids that wouldn’t happen if I were working. I haven’t been sleeping well, so inevitably at some point during the day I pass out on the couch and I wake up feeling like a complete bum (exactly what I just said I didn’t want to be...damn) for sleeping in the middle of the day. We try to order takeout for dinner once a week, which makes me feel pretty good about doing our part to help local businesses during this time, but then I get worried that we’re spending money we don’t need to spend instead of cooking at home, even though we’ve been eating at home way more often than usual and we’re all sick and tired of all the foods we have in our pantry. And I'm super weirdly outwardly emotion about stuff right now, which has traditionally not been my style.
Clockwise from Top Left: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust, Surprise, Shame, Excitement. You get the idea
With a week left in the kids’ e-learning adventure I got all choked up because I wasn’t going to be doing schoolwork anymore (just kidding, we’re doing workbooks all summer!). In a similar (and more ridiculous) vein, I’ve been rewatching all of the Marvel movies chronologically and got the same level of choked up when I realized I only had 3 movies left until I was done. And don’t even get me started on the new Disney movie Onward. At least from what I can tell from other peoples’ reactions to the movie I wasn’t the only person who got hit right in the feels with it, but when I‘m already getting upset over being finished with 2nd grade schoolwork and Ant Man & The Wasp I am clearly not in the proper state of mind to deal with a story of elf brothers going on a quest to track down an ancient magic to resurrect their dead dad; It's just far too real and relatable for me, a human dude with no biological brothers, who has not gone on any quests, knows nothing of ancient magic, and who has a living father (hopefully you can see how the plot of that movie apparently hit a little too close to home for me).
Somebody is f#@%ing cutting onions near me again.
Certainly I would be remiss if I did not follow up that last paragraph acknowledging that many people are going through tough times right now by saying that if you’re reading this and you are deep in the shit and just need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone close to you; hell, my inbox is open and I will gladly let you vent as long as you’re okay with the fact that I literally cannot stop myself from making stupid jokes and song references at periodic intervals in the conversation. I’m fortunate in that I have both an amazing support structure around myself and numerous varyingly successful coping mechanisms. One of those coping mechanisms, naturally, is this blog and the jokes I write for it. I realize that this post itself is likely one of my least humorous bits of writing (assuming that you’ve found any of my writing humorous up to this point), but it had been a while since I’d written anything and this felt like as good a subject as any to write about. I mean, it is kind of hard to get a post about me sitting at home and not drinking to be anywhere near as amusing as stories about sleeping in a Memphis parking garage or paying a stripper with Kohl’s Cash, but I gotta work with the hand I’m dealt.