Monday, February 2, 2009

Strange Twists and Turns

The end of the 2008 was a bit different for me this past year. Something that I hadn't had to worry about in almost 13 years. Being unemployed (especially right now in the midst of Michigan's economic woes) was very disconcerting and frankly...quite scary.

It's hard to appreciate the security blanket that having a job means...until you lose it. All that security, that safe feeling you have but are not necessarily aware of, just disappears. Everything is day-to-day; sometimes it almost feels like it's hour-to-hour. Being unemployed is not a vacation. Sure, you don't have to go to work...but it isn't a vacation. I'd say my perspective is a bit skewed at this point, if only because I'm only supporting myself. Luckily, I don't have to worry about a family. There would be no time for self-pity because I'd be acutely more concerned with the welfare of my family.

You're more acutely aware that, even though you lived pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck anyways, the money isn't coming in anymore and it might not be there tomorrow. You budget every single penny.

You don't do anything that requires money unless you absolutely need to. Going to the movies or going to a restaurant is pretty much out of the question. Fast food? Forget it! That package of Oreo's that you buy (because you absolutely love Oreo's and milk) every time you go grocery shopping? It stays on the shelf because you can't afford it. You do without the amenities that make you comfortable. Every physical thing that you just took for granted previously, that made you feel gone.

I quit smoking the day after Thanksgiving. After 20 years, it's still a major struggle, every single day, every single hour. But that's besides the point. I bring it up because it's one of those things that make you feel comfortable. Honestly, I don't know why I stopped. I wasn't planning on it. I was averaging more than a pack-a-day until that point. I was on my computer playing World of Warcraft that night and I just ran out of cigarettes. I forgot to go to the corner store that day. But I started running around the house checking all my hiding spots, looking for another pack. I didn't find another pack. I signed off of WoW and went to bed.

To be honest, I'd tell you that I was just plain lazy and I didn't feel like going to the corner store. Looking back, I'd say that maybe not having the money to keep supporting the habit was sitting in the back of my mind. I know that I had the money in my pocket. I could have easily paid for another pack. Kinda one of those times when the angel on your shoulder says you don't need them anymore...without really needing to say anything. My little angel kicked the devil sitting on my other shoulder in the chops and that was it. I woke up the next morning and I haven't had a cigarette since. I wake up every morning looking for that cigarette.

I'm not proclaiming my victory over smoking just yet. It's only been two and a half months, for God's sakes. Maybe in a year...maybe in 20 years. I don't know. All I know is that it's a daily struggle.

As far as the self-pity thing goes...yep, I was probably a bit depressed for a while. There was a stretch where I didn't do too much. I think that was pretty much a normal reaction. The problem becomes a problem when you let your life be encapsulated by it. Luckily for me...that's why I got friends. I know that I would have had a rougher time of it getting through some of the tough spots without the support of my family and my friends.

In many previous blogs/letters/posts, I've tried to acknowledge the importance that my family and friends have in my life. I don't know if you can truly appreciate it or not. I don't know if I can truly appreciate the importance of it. It's not something that you can quantify or qualify. Having X number of friends might mean something when we're growing up, especially when you have X and I have X+1 and I'm gloating about it because we're playing "I'm better than you!". You can't qualify it by saying that X friend is better than Y friend. At least I can't. Sure, I have a best friend...heck, I got two. But every friend is truly special and purposeful in their own special way and I can't categorize or qualify a friendship like that.

John isn't my best friend just because I've known him since sixth grade (that's 1979 for those of you keeping score). Nicole isn't my best friend just because we've known each other and went thru God know's how much in EMT Class back in 1994 and at Medstar in the years following. All my other friends aren't in second or third or fourth or even 50th. They're my friends, plain and simple. And no matter who you are or where your are, be assured that you've done something to enrich my life and make it better and more meaningful. I couldn't even begin to describe what you might have done or what you might have said, but it meant something to me.

Life took a drastic turn for me in October. Even thought I like to reminisce and laugh about the "good ol' days", I've since realized that I can't go back. Life works because you go forward, never backwards. Probably one question that I've heard more than any other is "If you had the chance, would you go back?" I've thought about that question a lot in the past couple of months and I've gone through the "woulda, coulda, shoulda" stage too.

As much as I miss my friends at Medstar and the fun (and the seniority and my meager pay), my answer is an absolute "NO." We all kinda answered that question once or twice when we were growing up: "What would you do differently if you could go through high school again?" (or a similar question). I don't think I can answer that question any more, because I wouldn't want to. I don't need a "do over." I don't need a rewind button (well, I might need a rewind button for those times when my mouth gets me in trouble).

Everything that has occurred up to this point in my life has occurred for some reason, some purpose. That means everything that I've ever done, every thought or word that I thought or spoke or heard or read, or every person that I have ever encountered was there for some purpose or some reason. I can't give that up. That's who I am.

I'll keep moving forward and see what life has in store for me. I have a new job, with new challenges and new experiences just waiting for me. But I also know that I have lots of friends and family that got me to this point, that helped me to this point of my life. That is something I cannot...will not...forget.

I'm not rich, at least not in the monetary sense. I'm not perfect, not by any simple definition of the word. But I am the richest person I know with the most perfect life I can imagine.


  1. Anonymous2/2/09 23:45

    Very interesting mike, you always did have a way with words, I know you inriched my life just by the knowledge you in lighten me with, (Medic Class) If it was for you it would be very interesting if i would be where i am today, I thank you Micheal, Medstar lost a good one.

  2. I'm so glad you're here.

    BTW... I've surpassed my withdrawl time in algebra at MCC. I actually understood your equations, lol.

    I can totally relate on the job front. I just left a job I loved, in December. I would have done anything for the owners of that company. Sadly, they did not feel the same about me. But we keep moving forward, and to me, the sun shines brighter every day. I am over it and I have moved on.