Crossroads

crossroads

I find myself at another crossroad in my life. I used to think there was only one crossroad where the pivotal choice would make or break a life. While I see the gravity of that choice, I no longer think there is only one point on the path—I think there are several. I am at such a place in my life as I write this and my brain is completely rattled because of the stress and anxiety slicing my veins with their claws and pressing my head to pop like a bubble. I have been laid off from my previous position, and the loss of my employment had nothing to do with my attitude or how I conducted myself in the office; but I’m “not a good fit.” If any phrase could become a motto in my life due to frequency, “not a good fit” would be it; and it’s something I have heard since high school before I am directed to a menial task beneath my abilities and intelligence. After years of living like this, I became sick to my stomach by those incessant syllables. The implication is I am not to be more than assumed due to my stature because people who are 6”8 are not well read or academics. No, people who are 6”8 should play sports like basketball or football depending on their girth, and if they do nothing athletic then they have wasted their lives. They are fit for warehouse work or manual labor. I am not implying anything negative about warehouse work or manual labor, but telling me I am nothing more than a laborer because of my size—regardless of education—is an insult. I’ve been facing that insult when I’ve gone into interviews or rejected by temp agencies. I found myself at a low point when Spherion told me I needed all my work experience from high school. To them all the hard work I put in to earn my humanities degree in literature and religion were irrelevant.

I don’t know what Spherion is like in the rest of the country, but in Indianapolis, Spherion is the bottom of the barrel—an agency to go to when you have exhausted all other options and you need to have fancy things like shelter and food. When they rejected me and told me I was a “hard sell,” the weight pulled my head to the ground and everything went dark. What do you do when all your efforts are pushed aside and ignored? I returned to school because life had been on a constant negative cycle of one meaningless job after another, and I needed a change. The wake-up call came when my father died, and I watched him die as he lived: on his terms. His life was a hard life, but it was a life of his own choosing, and his departure alerted me to the patterns of my own life. My life went lower as my fiancé slandered me and cheated on me, convincing our church that I should be shown the door. As I went lower, I decided the best way to change the direction of my life revolved around finishing my education; and I enrolled in a local community college. After two years of the community college, I transferred to a private liberal arts college in central Illinois where I spent three years under the tutelage of three great scholars in literature, religion, and philosophy. I spent many pots of coffee and late hours researching for my academic projects while meeting with my academic adviser and meeting deadlines. I had been expected to do well under my workload, and I did by ending my academic career with a GPA of 3.415—almost a full point of being on the Dean’s List for the third time in that institution.

I met my wife while at school, and we were married a week after graduation. A week after our wedding we packed up our things into a rental and drove across the country to Portland, OR where my wife had friends–one of whom said we would quickly find work and an apartment . An arrangement had been made where we would stay at one of the friend’s house while we hustled for a place of our own and the income to pay the bills. Portland’s transit system is exceptional with buses and modern street cars running every fifteen minutes making a car unnecessary to get around town. Things began to dissipate in a little over a week when the three roommates of my wife’s friend were behaving with passive aggression towards us. To our knowledge we had done nothing to them, respected their space, and stayed out of their way while we took care of our errands. We asked one of the roommates, who was friendly towards us, if we had unknowingly slighted them. She shook her head and told us we had done nothing, but my wife’s friend did not tell them we were coming. Not only did she not tell them, but she had a habit of never communicating to her roommates, dropping things on them at the last minute, and expected them to be on board. That made sense to us, and I had empathy for the roommates’ situation because I would be just as hostile if I had a roommate who let people I didn’t know into my space for an indefinite period. Within a few days, my wife’s friend behaved the same way towards us, and kicked us out of the house. Fortunately, my father in law had bought us a used 2000 Dodge Minivan so we were able to pack our things, and go across the river into Vancouver, WA and stay at a motel for a week to figure out what to do next.

We decided to venture out of Portland to Eugene, and try our luck in a different town; but nothing happened there as it did in Portland. I became flummoxed, but my wife reminded me that we didn’t have to stay in Oregon. We had a little money from our wedding gift so we went back to Vancouver, packed up our things, returned the key, and left Oregon. We decided to go east with no destination in mind other than putting down roots in an area complementing our personalities. We drove through Northern California into Reno, NV because my wife had an uncle there who helped us on our trip by letting us use his points for hotels. We decided to stop by his place and thank him as we passed through, but he became belligerent, accusing us of looking for another handout. We were both dejected, and as we sat in a Del Taco looking up good deals on hotel rooms—which we found for $27—we decided to go to Lincoln, NE because the city advertised plentiful employment and affordable housing.

We stayed there for a year because of our lease, but I was fed up with Lincoln after three months. There are good jobs if you have a medical or financial background, but otherwise it’s NelNet lead by a Tea Party CEO who demonizes the poor as he chokes them out of their homes to expand his little pond. Most of the people there are bullies who are not used to people standing up to them. I come from a tougher background than many of these people, and in my neighborhood when somebody picks a fight you push back and prepare for anything. When I pushed back in Lincoln, the agitators were horrified and ran. The complacency of the culture infuriated me when people would complain but do nothing. Shrugged shoulders and a “what can you do?” attitude followed by more complaints. There were some good parts of Lincoln, though, like The Coffee House two blocks south of the University of Nebraska campus, Cultiva Coffee & Espresso, Meadowlark Coffeehouse, A Novel Idea Used Bookstore, and The Co-op; but these were not enough to stay, and when our lease expired we were on our way to Indianapolis. My wife’s job allowed her to transfer to the Indianapolis office, and a friend helped me find a position at his company in the help desk department. My employment lasted six months before I had been let go.

The patterns were repeating, but this time I have a person in my life who is directly affected by whatever I choose or by whatever happens. Needless to say, I was dejected, but she suggested I find an alternate means to make income. I had been trying the mainstream way of securing work and a paycheck, and I would have the job for a short amount of time before being terminated. I had to sit down and think about the strengths I had and how I needed to capitalize on them. I am a writer, and I am also well read. I’ve had blogs before, but I would write about wherever I happened to be, on religion, or on literature; but, the theme was never consistent. Blogs are a good tool to network and get noticed when used properly, and I decided to take the first few steps to have my writing noticed while I work on one novel and one piece of creative nonfiction. This blog will be used for my discussions of literature and reviewing books—current or past. Maintaining a professional blog such as this requires work and dedication—some sites I’ve researched called for posting three to five times a week with fifteen hundred to two thousand words at a time. The work sounds daunting, but, if you made it this far, you can see I will have no trouble keeping up on my site. Maybe this will turn into something, maybe not, but what I do know is that I need to own who I am and what I do–come what may.

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3 thoughts on “Crossroads

  1. Must admit that I can really relate to what you said about being 6’8″! I’m 6’3″ (maybe more, but why check now?!?) I just recently got interviewed for a different position within the company and the hiring manager who interviewed me was well under 6’…the job was given to someone much shorter than him! The thought did cross my mind that maybe my height had something to do with it, though actually the person who got the job truly was more qualified than I. Sadly, I don’t think “height discrimination” is a thing yet! I was always too uncoordinated for sports, and yes, people do assume someone who is tall must have played basketball in high school!

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