Tag Archives: work

Who I Am

I recently took a sustained hiatus from writing. Actually, it was a hiatus from my writing on this site. I continued with some fiction writing and reviews for seperate sites but I ignored Founding a Father. For the past two months (which in our online world and blogging might as well have been 16 years) I kept my distance from the site I had once spent so much time. Part of it was a loss of inspiration despite being a husband and father of two girls. That alone should have spurred me on to writing something but the spark I had burnt out. Every time I sat at my dining room table in front of my computer, the words never could make it on to my computer screen. Part of it was a preoccupation with rediscovering how much I love to draw as I have penned a web comic series for my Dads Round Table site and have been busy preparing napkins for my kids’ lunches. Part of it was laziness. As a wonderful blogger recently wrote, “The bad thing about blogging is that it requires consistent time and effort.” – Abby off the Record (if you’re a writer/blogger/or someone who enjoys the written word, you need to go to her site…after you’re finished reading my stuff of course). I got lazy and wasn’t prepared to put in the consistent time and effort it takes to keep the wheels of a blog rolling. And possibly the biggest factor to my recent departure from the world of blogging had been a malaise in my career. My work was stagnant. I was making little to no money and my entire disposition had changed. Instead of wondering if I should write about my 11 year old or my 8 year old or relay a conversation I had with my wife, I was wondering (more like ‘consumed’) with trying to figure out how I was going to pay my mortgage.  I had set my sights on finding a new job.  I put everything on hold until I could figure out what I wanted to be.

Now, I have made no secret about my early aspirations about growing up to be Captain America. I spun a prose of such conviction on my 3rd grade ‘When I Grow Up’ paper, you would have thought I had already ingested the Super Soldier Serum and was just waiting to be fitted for my shield.

Life has a way of crashing us back down on level ground so unforgivingly, even for an 8 year old, it is easy to realize a career in the superhero business just isn’t going to be feasible. So as devoted as I was to the idea of becoming the Star Spangled Avenger, by the following year, I had rerouted my career path. In the years that followed my 3rd grade paper, I had bounced between ambitions of firefighting (until my Mom told me that was much too dangerous of a job), digging up dinosaur bones as a paleontologist (years before Jurassic Park flooded that job market), drawing comic books (the next closest thing to being the characters), teaching, joining NASA, archeology (I was 6 when ‘Raiders’ premiered and Indy had a whip and gun…of course I wanted to be an archeologist), Ghostbuster, Jedi Knight, politician, actor, chef, radio DJ, and stand up comedian

Once I had hit adolescence and found myself face to face with my high school guidance counselor, who asked me, ‘What do you want to be?’, the truth was, I had no idea. At age 18, I had run through scenarios for so many different careers, my mind quickly flooded with ideas.  Realizing there was no way I could major in the ‘Force’ and I couldn’t cook toast, I blurted out the next career that had spun to the front of my brain. A teacher.

I spent the next 4 years of college being educated on how to teach others. I almost changed my major twice in those 4 years until my mom reminded me the first 4 years of college were on her and my Dad. Any subsequent years spent in a 101 class I would have had to pick up the tab. I confirmed the length of time I would have to spend in college with my advisor had I decided to switch majors during what was my sophomore year. I don’t remember the exact amount of time over the 4 year threshold lain down by my mother, I just remember him telling me it would be more. He might have said years, months, he could have said days. It took 3 minutes of consulting my budget (which was being supported as a part of the janitorial staff at the University cafeteria) for me to make my decision.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. In 4 years.

Sixteen years later I am closer to being a bullwhip and revolver carrying archeologist than I am a teacher. And the truth is, I still don’t know what I want to be. Currently I am in the construction industry but that has only come after stops in car sales, office equipment, business consulting, HVAC installations, insurance, the healthcare industry, retail sales, unemployment, forklift operator, and car sales (a second go round). I’ve had enough W2’s in my lifetime to wallpaper a house. This year when I did my taxes and only had one job to file for, Turbo Tax prompted me if I wanted to add another positon with a ‘Really? Just one?’  I was waiting for the site to make me swear on Scouts’ Honor or offer up my oldest child.

I have changed jobs for family reasons, money, more money, the idea of being able to have a job title of some measure of importance, and out of necessity (also known as unemployment). Admittedly, I have found reasons to justify my moves between careers.  Sometimes it was beneficial and other times it wasn’t. I have spent so much of my working life in search of what I wanted to be I forgot something more important than what I want to be.  I forgot to remember who I am.

I first discovered it 11 years ago and again 8 years ago.  I am reminded of it every time I walk in to the house from work and I see my girls. Every time a scared voice calls me at 2 am to battle against nightmares or thunderstorms. It is crystal clear who I am when I spend a night on the sofa or floor while my sick daughter sleeps in my bed.  On my side of the bed.  Usually on my pillow. Each kiss good morning and good bye, every glance, every smile, giggle, and hug reminds me. Every time I get mad because neither of them seemed to hear me say ‘brush your teeth’ or ‘be sure to go before we leave’, I remember who I am.

I’m a father. It has been staring me in the face all along.  “Account Executive”, “Sales Consultant”, “Product Specialist”, those titles come and go. And as important as they are to making sure I can keep the lights and heat on in my house,  jobs are the reason we set our alarms for morning but its my kids who wake me up and get me out of bed (even when they don’t jump on me with their elbows aimed directly at my midsection).  Because of who I am, I stay concious of the examples I set, it is why I have been known to jump with jubilation over events normal folks (non-parents) would find trivial (any parent can rattle off a laundry list of those “trivial” events right here), it is how I learned what love really is, what my parents were talking about when they told me ‘Wait until you have kids’, and why it doesn’t matter what I want to be.

What I want to be doesn’t mean anything to my kids. They don’t care how many cars, copiers, insurance policies, services or widgets I have sold in my life.  They don’t care what my customer satisfaction scores are or if I’m an Associate or a Consultant or Executive.  They only care that I come when they call my name, I never get scared of the dark or thunderstorms or going in to the basement first.  I want there to be no question about just how passionately I take the role of ‘Daddy’ because it has been my daughters who have shaped and defined not what I want to be but who I am.

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The malaise is gone (and hopefully so is ever having to use the word ‘malaise’ again). The spark is reignited. There are stories to be told. Fish have died, we’ve had somewhere in the neighborhood of 44 1/2 feet of snow, I got a new job, I still have an 11 year old and 8 year old running around my house, and my wife and I continue to have conversations with one another. I hope to be back at Founding a Father on some level of consistency if for no other reason than for my own passion to write. Those of you who have hung around, I thank you. I knew I would be back, I just wasn’t sure when and it is great to see you all again. For those of you who are discovering this site for the first time, welcome. Consider this a great time to jump aboard.

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First Step

The journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step – Chinese Proverb.

I started a new job last week.  I had been fired from my last job in the beginning of May but instead of being content to solely work on my tan, I set out to find a new job. After almost three months of sending resumes, going on interviews, and deciding how far below a manual labor position I would be willing to dip in order to work (It was touch and go with filling out an application at the pool’s concession stand), I was hired.

Feelings of joy, excitement, and relief washed over me.  I felt good knowing soon I would be getting a check from someone else besides the PA Department of Labor.  I was looking forward to my new position (so long concession stand) and enthused about my new employer.  I was excited. My kids were excited. My wife was so out of her mind with joy, she was doing the Macarena in the living room (she spent the last 3 months with me in the house constantly…I’m surprised she didn’t throw a party).

Yet, despite all the good feelings, there had been a feeling of anxiety slowly seeping its way into my mind.  While I knew I was more than competent to do the job I was hired for, my brain began playing tricks on me.

“Dude, what if you can’t do the job bro?” Sometimes, when it wants to mess with me, my brain talks to me like it’s a 20 year old fraternity brother nursing a wicked three day buzz.

My brain began placing seeds of doubt.  Maybe because I had been out of work for so long and wasn’t sure if I could do anything but laundry, dusting, and the dishes anymore? Maybe I was playing a sick joke on myself?  Before long, I was afraid I really wouldn’t be able to do this job I was more than qualified to do. I became fearful I wouldn’t get along with my co-workers. I was scared I might forget to wear pants on the first day (I wouldn’t put anything past me). I became unsure if I should have taken the job at all?  What it all boiled down to, I was facing a new journey and my nerves were preventing me from taking the first step.

Ironically enough, there had been another time in my life when I felt this way.

My high school was small so consequently, we had 7th through 12th graders roaming the halls together.  It was like letting general population mingle with the guys from solitary confinement.  As a pimply faced 13 year old not yet showing even the slightest effects of puberty, I was thrust in to all of this.  On that first day of 7th grade, I distinctly remember my nervousness almost preventing me from walking to school.  Even though, up until that point, I had done well in school.  I was socially awkward but we all were, we were 13.  I had friends. I had an older sister and my mom (who was a teacher) in the high school. There was no reason why I shouldn’t do well. But my brain there was my brain, placing doubt: Locker combinations, 2 minutes to get to class, showering after gym, figuring out which side of the cafeteria was the safest.

As much as my stone washed jeans (rolled tightly at the cuffs of course) tried to instill an air of confidence, I was scared.  I knew I would never be able to pass any of my classes, my sister and mom were zero help, and we had heard rumors about the Math teacher. Seems he had thrown an unruly student out a window (True story. We heard it from a sophomore). I knew, I would never make it through high school.

But, like the proverb says, a journey has to start with a first step.  With my Trapper Keeper and stonewashed jeans, I readied myself, fought back the nervousness, and I took the step.  I figured out my locker combination, 2 minutes was plenty of time to get to class, I passed my subjects and my math teacher never threw anyone out a window (…again).  By the time my 1000 mile journey of high school was through, it had worked out just fine. That’s what I was thinking about, right as I was pulling in to the parking lot of my new job.