My Parachute

On Father’s Day I will enter my second month of unemployment.

My wife is about to kill me. Apparently hours and hours of hanging out with me is not a good thing. My constant presence has greatly disrupted the frantic yet manageable routine that has become our lives over these past few years. And while I do enjoy the opportunities I now have to deliver the occasional squeeze smoosh or do nothing but savor a well-written and challenging book, I confess I’m getting sick of my company too.

So I scan the Employment Weekly. There is this or that job fair where applications are being taken and initial interviews granted for people experienced in welding or brazing or machine operating. I’ve operated machines. I really don’t want to do that again.

There are professional positions for people with degrees. I’m close. If I can manage to make it through my second year of Spanish, and squeeze in a couple more upper-level philosophy classes, I’ll graduate sometime in 2009 with a double major in English/Creative Writing and Philosophy. Let’s raise a glass to my pathetic and naïve hope that some snazzy, gilded document will be worth more that the paper it’s printed on. Still I study. Think. Ponder. Press on. Write papers.

And try to figure out, in these middle-to-late innings of the game of life, what the hell color my parachute is.

My resumé is a patchwork quilt of shot-in-the-dark pit stops. (For those of keeping score, that was three clichés in one sentence.) There are human service positions in group homes, nursing homes and developmental centers. There’s a ten-year career in radio as an operations manager, music director and on-air personality. There’s my stint in manufacturing, building circuit boards so you can sit in your comfy, air conditioned home and watch the sun scorch your grass. Only no one’s buying ACs anymore, or so they tell me, so I’m laid off.

I remember a time when I felt confident enough to go after what I wanted. Now I’m resigned to taking what I can get. I put myself in this place, snapped the lock closed with my own apathetic hands, and now I fight the chains. Yes, the ring of brass eludes me simply because I’ve given up reaching for it.

Can I do this again? Start over? Take the scraps of my labor and fashion something new?

I fear I don’t have that much imagination left . . .


11 thoughts on “My Parachute

  1. Can you do it again? Start over. Undoubtedly yes. If your blog shows nothing else, it shows that you are curious, intelligent and driven to improve. And insofar as your degree is concerned, you are so close, don’t stop now. Having gone back to school later in life (after the Navy, 3 years installing radios on private planes, working at a hard store) I can say emphatically that a degree will open many more doors and opportunities that you never dreamed existed.

    And lets be honest, 80 is now 60. 60 is now 40 and middle age they say. Which means you, must be around 25. Certainly not to old to to start over.

    It is hard to deal with joblessness and it is really easy to get down. And God knows I didn’t take this advice when I was laid off. But keep positive. You certainly have a lot to offer. I confident things will work out soon.


  2. you def can do it. your blog alone shows your hard work and imagination.

  3. Oh you have plenty of imagination.

  4. Hang in there cuz.

  5. We have some common ground here. I’m working toward my third major career. First real career was in computers/network engineering (with OJT only…no degree). Then I moved toward technical writing with a stopover in engineering project management and product marketing. Now I’m a successful technical writer for a software company (I work with a lot of people who do what I used to do). I finished my degree (BA/Technical Communications) last May just shy of my 45th birthday (and I’m very proud of the ol’ gilded piece o’ paper).

    Hoping to get my MFA/Creative Writing next and start writing the kind of stuff I want to write…and not just in the blogiverse. Yes, Virginia, it can be done. I have no doubt you’ll do it, too.

    Peace – D

  6. I’m amazed (again) how the universe brings me what I need. Just when I thought I was the only one … well, I’m not that egotistical, but you know what I mean. You can’t just walk up to the other Dad who looks to be the right age and ask, “so, are YOU satisfied with the way YOUR life is going? No? Me too! What a coincidence. I’d love to hear what your experience is like.”


  7. maggie, dammit June 9, 2008 — 11:20 am

    You could be a freelance writer….?

    Oh wait. You probably need to make some money.


    Hang in there, friend.

  8. First, with all due respect, I would throw the Parachute book out.

    There is not a human who has read the whole thing but the guy keeps revising it, has made millions , because when you feel like this you want to think there’s something you can hold on to and something that’ll show you the way.

    And, this book and the myriad exercises appear to do it.

    I suggest to you that you already know what this book is trying to help people discover.

    You have found your talent: communication of depth and humor is one big gift you have and you know that it suits you. Your house is one of books. Your kids and your wife are children of books. You have found a voice with the help of all these books you have consumed and the life you’ve lived.

    Blogging is one way to mine this gift. Working and finishing your degree is another. As Maggie, dammit, says above, the need to make money really doesn’t go hand and hand with freelance writing. But, that doesn’t mean it is not a road you should travel.

    So, my lucy five cents is get a job which meets the financial need as well as the need to make the domestic chemistry work! But, dont’ think about it as your life’s calling. You’ll work on that when you come home, on weekends, late at night…But, work on it you should because it is your parachute. It may not pay your bills now, but if you respect it and work on getting better, put yourself out there, something will happen. This I truly believe as I am trying to do it myself! So, it’s not idle advice I’m throwing your way.

    But, what is not going away is that you have already found your parachute thingy so just find a job now that meets other needs.

    I feel sure if you follow this path, one day when you fill out your passport application and you’ll put down “Writer”.

    Why am I so sure of my advice? I used to have a private practice as a career counselor!!

    When you fill out the passport application as Writer, send me $150 dollars.


  9. Thank you one and all for your kindness and encouragement. All you tweakers rock!!


    You are a treasure. When are you going to move closer so we can have coffee and I can grow up a bit . . .

  10. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

    I think you can do whatever you set your mind to – its the setting that’s problematic!

  11. My parachute has some big holes in it for sure. Most glaringly, an unfinished double major in English and Communication. )Planning to go back to school now in January, I hope).

    I hope you find something that’s palatable for right now, until you find something that really makes you want to get up in the morning. In the meantime, keep writing. You have a lot of fans who like what you write, so you should take our word for it.

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