Heading into winter I always have a foreshadowing of dread, not knowing if it will be relatively smooth sailing, or tempestuous and brutal. By this time of year I try to have my ducks in a row, a plan of action, the ways and means to confront and manage the inevitable melancholy. This year brings a few added challenges. I have had house guests since August, my son and his family, and their two dogs. As you might imagine this adds a bit of strain, since my house is small, and I am an introvert who craves silence, order, and solitude. We are managing. I am having to readjust a lot of my carefully structured, slightly neurotic, OCD routine that has kept me relatively sane the last two years or so. Knowing how easily I tread the edge of the abyss, especially in the dark of winter, has forced me to adopt a regimen that to outside eyes probably seems every bit as crazy as the inner turmoil such a regimen helps manage. It is a fine line, balancing inner crazy with outward neurosis. Right now is rather challenging, but I have done well, for the most part, and nutrition, exercise, and trying to maintain some order have helped me stay upright and moving forward.
Last winter was one of the easiest winters I have had in over a decade, due largely in part to finally having a job that makes me happy, working with people who are upbeat, and being surrounded by the gleaming chrome of hundreds of motorcycles. I love my job. Last week my office mate and I were called into the owner's office for a meeting with him and the GM. Knowing this is never good I had a million scenarios play through my head in the few minutes it took to walk from my work area to the boss' office. We were informed that they are closing our department, and we will be out of jobs by the end of the year. I can't say I didn't see this coming, but it is a brutal blow nonetheless. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that after having reviewed our resumes, and already having laid off a number of other folks, there was no other positions we were qualified for. None. I can't say we didn't see this coming. We have had a string of problems with internet feeds, website issues, changes in corporate regulations about internet sales, all of which have effected out bottom line. We had finally managed to get everything smoothed out, about 10 days before the announced closure of our department. Of course, we were not given any opportunity to defend our jobs, it was a done deal before we even walked into the office. All things being equal, I think I am allowed to be a little pissy about the fact that I finally get out of a seven year stint at a miserable job, working with miserable people, for a company that was always on the verge of closing their doors, and start a fun job, with fun people, for decent pay, with a company that should be rock solid, and I get laid off after a year and a half. I want to throw a tantrum and scream at the universe, "This is just NOT FAIR!!" It has been a rough ten days, as we work through the shell shock of feeling pole-axed, while having to keep up our level of customer service, and wear a facade of cheer. I can't even imagine the rollercoaster of stress and emotion that I will be riding for the next eight weeks as we approach the closure of a department we have worked so hard to keep viable. Honestly, I am fucking pissed. I don't want to job hunt. I don't want to risk ending up in another office job with miserable people. I love my job, and hate that it is being taken away from me.
Being me, the eternal optimist, I am trying to put a good spin on this, especially going into winter when I know I am one mis-step away from finding myself in the fetal position on the floor, feeling as if my world is in absolute tatters. I will be job hunting, of course, but not with any real vigor for now. I am getting paid decently well, and have full medical benefits until Christmas, at least. I will take full advantage of this. I am grateful to have an eight week head's up so I can be budgeting now, instead of hitting the end of the year broke and with bills to pay, and suddenly being on unemployment. My next few paychecks will allow me to get ahead on bills, and stock up some essential supplies. I had already started paying down the few debts I have, even paying off one credit card the week before I found out I will soon be jobless. If I can get to the end of the year with a little money set aside to offset the 40% decrease in income I will have on unemployment I will allow myself the luxury of a little down-time. Time to get caught up on home projects, my writing, and maybe start working towards a sideline business that can supplement my income. I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my skull. I know that as long as I have "A Plan" I am more likely to stay positive. No, I don't want to have to job hunt, it is a self-esteem killing, soul-sucking endeavor that can make anyone feel unwanted and worthless. If I allow myself to take my time, search for a job that will be less soul-sucking than most, all the while working on creative avenues that will have either monetary or spiritual benefits, I may just survive the winter. But it will be tough. Very tough. All I can do at this point is try to be prepared for what may come. It is going to be a rough winter.