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July 31, 2002: Coming to terms

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There are times when a completely blank sheet of paper seems a challenge I'm happy to meet, but then there are the other times, when I am facing that blank sheet and trying desperately to find the words to put onto its pristine surface. Times like now when I am attempting to craft cover letters - brief descriptions of why the reader should be willing to skim through the few sparse paragraphs I offer and turn to what is attached beneath. Letters telling these anonymous readers why I am exactly what they are looking for.

The resume itself was simple. It's still fairly up to date since the last job hunt, not even a year ago, when I ran screaming from the world of consulting into what seemed like a quiet and stable career. Perhaps I spent a good part of my time at work bored, and perhaps this was a difficult thing to get used to, accustomed as I was to the break-neck pace of work as I'd known it before. But it was a job and one I quickly discovered I was good at. And it was a means to an end. I'm not sure what the end was supposed to be, now that I look back, but that's of small relevance now.

I flip through job sites and find only a small handful of positions that I might possibly be qualified for, and of those, only one or two are permanent positions. At least when I was a consultant, I might move from project to project, but I was always assured of paycheck and benefits even if I wasn't actively working that week. To slide into the world of contract work might tempt me if I was still single and renting, but I need more than this. Yet still I apply. It would at least be work. A paycheck for a few months. A little more time to avoid draining the savings account.

I play with scenarios in my head. What if we'd waited to build the house? What if we moved to another place? What if when we go to Ireland next year, we just stayed? Logically I realize that these are nothing more than a simple desire to run away from the rather onerous problem that is currently hanging over my head, but even that realization does not keep the thoughts from tempting me.

I am off to a family reunion soon. This trip was planned months in advance. I find amusement in the fact that there was concern over my plan to be absent this coming week, right before a scheduled release of the software. The vacation request was only signed a week or two ago, months after it was submitted.

It has only been a week, and thus not nearly enough time for the full demoralizing effect of job hunting to wash over me yet. That will come later, after months of fruitless searching, although my fervent hope is that perhaps other alternatives will present themselves; other dreams will come to fruition. In a sense, my abrupt and forced exit from the world of employment may have shut doors firmly behind me, but it has also opened others. And I stand before them, frozen with indecision, unsure of what to do even though they sway open invitingly before me. Should I pursue freelancing? Should I return to consulting? Should I climb back into bed and pull the blankets over my head and pretend that this never happened?

I didn't want this. I am strong. I can handle this. But I have a difficult time with uncertainty. I need things planned, at least to some extent. I need to know how long this will take. I want dates and numbers and charts and logistics, typed neatly before me so I can plot my progress and know that eventually the end will come.

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