Not Broken, but Sprained

The last two weekends, I went to see Midnight Thunder, a Country band that features my old high school classmate, Jimmy, on the drums, and my new music buddy, David, on the keyboard. The first show was at Billy Bob’s, where they’d been performing as the house band all week; the second was a benefit in Dallas; and Midnight Thunder is supposed to be the topic of this post – once again, life has gotten in the way. I’ll have a small novel’s worth of glowing praise for my new favorite Country band in a few days – right now, though, I need to get real.

The last couple of months have not been kind to me.

I started a freelance gig just before Thanksgiving way out of the other side of Arlington, just almost to Fort Worth. I live on the East side of Dallas County, just a couple of highway exits from the county line, so one-way to the job site was 45 minutes; and not 45 minutes of stop-and-go traffic, but 45 minutes at 70 mph – throw in rain or an accident, it jumped to over 60 minutes quick. At the end of the workday, it was that same 45-minute haul-ass back home. With all the time spent on the road and all the wear and tear I was putting on my car, it was not my intention to stay at the job any longer than necessary – I’d do the gig, collect my fee, and head back to the house for a return to telecommuting in my jammies.

I fell in love with the place. The work was interesting, the projects were varied, the atmosphere was creative, and the people were professional, yet open and playful. One of the very best working environments I’d seen in a very, very long time – didn’t take long for me to decide the pros outweighed the cons of the God-awful commute and a salaried expectation of my availability for nights and weekends, nights and weekends I’d already pledged to others. When the job listing for the position popped up in my email, I asked to apply – after cobbling together a spec campaign for The Powers That Be, I had my interview.

My interview didn’t go as well as I’d liked, even though I’d been on the job for almost month at this point. I was asked questions about management I wouldn’t have applying for this particular position, but would have for the job titles above it, so I tanked on suit experience; my spec campaign and the explanation of my creative decisions got rave reviews, so I aced the talent portion. After 90 minutes, I walked out of my poobah’s office, giving myself a 50-50 shot at the job, at best – it would come down to what they thought was most important criteria for the position: management experience or creative talent. A week later, I got my answer: experience. I wasn’t offered the job.

I also wasn’t not offered the job. Out of everyone who was not right for the position, I had been the most impressive – I was First Loser. The Powers That Be asked me to stick around and keep temping while they spent another month interviewing – if no one better came along, I’d probably land the full-time job. I needed the money, so I stayed, not knowing what my fate would be four weeks down the line, fretting that if I did finally get the nod somebody somewhere would feel they’d settled for me, not chosen me.

I spent most of January with my life on hold, trying not to le the situation get me down, trying to do solid, in not inspired, work while I waited to learn what was in store. Just as I was beginning to think I was going to be asked to stick around for yet another month, I finally got word – the Powers That Be had found who they were looking for, and just as I had suspected, it was not me. January 31st would be my last day. Good news was the complete upheaval of my life I’d been willing to perform if I got the job would now no longer be necessary, and I’d be going back to driving inside of Dallas County; bad news was the full-time paychecks at my current rates would be ending in a few days, with no freelance gig of equal hours and pay lined up to pick up the slack. I was disappointed I’d missed this opportunity, but relieved to know the uncertainty and the prospect of being someone’s second choice were finally over.

One of those upheavals I’d been willing to make was my wine instructing gig, which has been on hold for two months. The first couple of weeks of the Arlington job, I’d kept teaching, spending hours in traffic to get to events on the far North side of the metroplex. After a Monday night event went disastrously, I took an email from my wine boss asking about the gig snafu all wrong, ripping her head completely off. It was clear I couldn’t handle contracting as a wine instructor while freelancing in Arlington, so I put the wine instructing on hiatus for the duration. Sent my wine boss an update of my situation as soon as I found out the job would be ending, letting her know I would be available again in a couple of weeks – finally got a response back a week later that there really wasn’t anything to send my way, and that the new guy she’d brought in to do those Saturday events I refused to do because of band commitments was doing a bang-up job for her.

Life lesson learned – if you’re going to scorch the bridge, you might as well burn the muthah-suckah to the ground; it’s not going to support you anymore anyway.

Yesterday, I had what I refer to as a “Dooce” moment. Early in her career as a blogger, Dooce wrote some posts that didn’t go over well with her family – a little too much information, a little too much honesty, and a little too out of the blue – and while the intention might have been transparency for her readers, the result was a lot of heartache and feelings of betrayal; Dooce now keeps the more potentially hurtful and embarrassing aspects of her family life confined to the family.

In the last few weeks, I had no less than three friends break my heart – not hurt my feelings, not bruise my ego – break my heart. I’d been shaken to my core, and I was now questioning my judgment. I had just finished describing in great detail the first episode and was starting the second when I took a break to cook dinner for my Lady Fair; it was while flipping the bacon for the baked potato soup that I realized I couldn’t post what I’d written: my first friend had no idea what he’d done; another suspected, but didn’t understand the impact of his actions; and the last knew because I’d already ripped his head off, and he was now doing what he was able to rectify the situation. All three would be hurt if I aired my grievances; worse, since I knew they’d be hurt, going ahead and posting my brilliant explanation of the events would be spiteful and petty.

I may be many things, including spiteful and petty, but I am not vindictive, despite what some people thing – I have never chosen to be spiteful or petty, and I never will. As much as I’d prefer to spill my guts to a blank page, any and all confessions of my heartbreak will happen one-on-one.

As I said, one friend is attempting amends, and I am grateful just for the effort; I’ve told another friend when he feels up for a heart-to-heart to give me a call and I’d go out to his place to clear the air, the call being contingent on being able to handle one mega-dose of honesty, as I am in no frame of mind to be tactful or even gentle – he wisely hasn’t scheduled a date; the third friend gets cornered soon. Out of the three, this is the one I’m dreading the most – he honestly doesn’t realize what he said or what it meant, and I’m afraid telling him how he broke my heart is going to break his heart. If I could eat the pain and leave him blissfully unaware, I would – the hurt cut too deep. So he gets told, and the chips will fall where they may.

I be working to get my mojo back, hoping the band rehearsal today and the gig next weekend will help: got a couple of projects in the planning stages, hoping to go into more detail about those sooner rather than later; got a couple of favors I’ve had on hold since Thanksgiving, hoping to get at least one of those accomplished now that I’ve got down time; and once again, I’ve got some serious soul-searching about the person I want to be.

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