Looks at dates on blog posts. Oh…other than my Google Sheets thing, it’s been…almost three years since I last posted…

Oops. 😅

What have I been doing in that time? Well…

Got A Job…And Got Laid Off From Said Job 

In late 2021, I had a full time job opportunity fall into my lap. I’ve been a member of Gun.io since like…2019 or something like that, back when I first started doing serious freelancing. Sometime during 2021, they started offering more full-time positions, and the account manager there sent me a message about one at a little (“little”) company called Custom Ink.

Uh…yes please.

I remembered them from Laracon circa 2014, when they were the company that printed the shirts. To this day, I still have that shirt. Granted, the shirt itself has fallen apart, but the design is still as pristine as ever. I also remember the organizers raving about the hands-on help from the designers at Custom Ink. Even just meeting the people behind that was something I didn’t want to pass up.

So, I interviewed. And the director of engineering was champing at the bit to get me through the hiring process, so I could start as soon as possible. Thanksgiving was in there, though, so my first day wasn’t until December 21st.

Side note: I don’t recommend starting a new job in the last couple of weeks of December like that. It’s hell to get onboarded, because half the company is out. Also, it makes taxes annoying.

But, I made it through the first holidays, got up and running with a shiny new M1 MacBook Pro and started firehosing all the tech. The first year was basically that, because there was just…so…much. That was fine, though. I got to visit the nearby in-house production facility, meet my coworkers and my users, and build a solid foundation within my team, and in year two, I really started taking off. I went from just doing stuff in my team, to working on a number of side initiatives with people from a bunch of teams – and not just engineers. One of my first outside-the-team “work buddies” was actually the engineering manager of one of the other teams, with whom I worked closely to help get better documentation going (as it happened, he was one that voted to hire me), and more recently, I was the only non-manager on a kaizen team, until I pulled on a junior engineer who was looking into parallel work (yeah…I did a double-take on that one, when I first got the calendar invite and did ask the organizer if that was right 😅 ). When my manager needed to do the quarterly review, I got to challenge his initial assessment with a page-long list of accomplishments. Suffice it to say, that assessment got bumped up.

Fast-forward to now, and…I’m again without a job. Unfortunately, I was among the hefty chunk of people that got laid off as part of a strategic move. I wasn’t really surprised by this, given the fact that they closed the in-house production facility where all my work was with.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo giving a “hmm, oh well” reaction as he turns back to hotwiring the door

I swear, I’m cosmically disallowed from having a job for more than 2 years.

It’s not that I don’t want to work for the same company for more than that. It’s just that something always seems to come up by that time. Maybe one day, I’ll have a job long enough to actually use two hands when measuring my tenure in years.

But it is not this day

Ah well…such is life. On to the next thing, I guess.

A Mental Health Side Note 

That Star Wars gif reminded me of something – ironically from the very post I shamelessly pulled it from. When I first wrote that post, I was dealing with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria after being rejected for a job I wasn’t even looking for and had zero stakes about getting.

At that time, that was the best case scenario I’d ever had when it came to employment in general. I was doing work I liked, my house had enough income to handle bills, and I didn’t need the job, it just looked like neat work to pick up for however long it worked out for. By all accounts, it should have been a big nothing burger, and yet it took me a full 24 hours to dig myself out of the funk the rejection put me in.

And I’ve lost jobs many, many times before. Technically, only once was a strategic layoff like this, but several others were due to toxic environments where cutting ties was very much a good thing. But regardless of the circumstances, the immediate aftermath would trigger the dysphoria and the grief cycle (ironically, something I touched on in that post, too; I guess some things don’t change).

This time around was starkly different.

Even as I watched my co-workers go through the grief cycle, Han Solo lived rent-free in my brain for like two weeks after that, because it was exactly how I felt. In fact, I had to hold myself back from kicking into high gear on “the next chapter” stuff, since I immediately wanted to update my resume and start poking the job boards, not because I needed to (even without the tail-end income due to paperwork timing vs payroll, severance, and so on, I’ve positioned us well, financially), but because I…well…wanted to. Well…that and ADHD plus LinkedIn when I’m trying to write recommendations for people meant I ended up on the job list on occasion, where I found intriguing, high-profile opportunities that I didn’t (at the time) want to pass up.

Am I saddened by the loss of the culture we had? You bet. Am I frustrated at yet another job falling through within 2 years? Yep. Will I miss the coworkers that I’ll inevitably drift apart from? You know it. Am I frustrated that I was just starting to take off, and now this will set me back in some ways? Uh huh.

But for the lost job itself and the fact that I was one of the ones caught in the net? I literally could not have cared less. In fact, I got more annoyed by the condolences every time I had to tell people, because even as empty platitudes, it felt like they cared more than I did, and that’s saying something.

Almost a month since I got the news, and I’m still marveling at that fact.

Okay, but why is this the case this time? Honestly, I have no fucking clue. My only guess is that it’s a combination of everything that has just overwhelmed that part. It was undeniably a good gig for me while it lasted, and I ended up with a laundry list of things to prove it.

  • I started getting recommendations in LinkedIn (unsolicited! And before I recommended them!)
  • I have pages and pages of accomplishments, not just in code work, but also in tangential/“glue” work
  • I can attach numbers to the impact of my core work
  • I was able to arrange household expenses such that we can live off one income without issue (yay, no stress about making ends meet!)
  • I was one of a great many people who also got laid off (which further amplifies how impersonal it is and feels)
  • I did a bunch of work that I’m proud of, giving me plenty to draw from in the future
  • I learned a ton of useful stuff that I can carry forward

Arguably, this shouldn’t mitigate dysphoria, because it’s not really a “logical” thing. It’s like Depression – there’s no “logical reason” to feel it, you just do, because brain chemicals and adrenal system and central nervous system stuff. The act of receiving the news that I no longer had a job should have itself triggered it, and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to care (in a good, “water off a duck’s back” sort of way).

Dealt With A Delinquent Former Client (Kinda) 

That was an adventure…

As I wound down my freelance stuff, since working full time took all of my energy, my last client started getting super flaky. Some half a dozen unpaid invoices later, and I had the… ahem … “pleasure” of attempting to serve him for nonpayment.

That’s stupidly harder than it should be.

I ended up out some $1500, because we couldn’t actually track him down at the known addresses we had, and the notification about that always came after the court dates. 😡

Lesson learned on that front. I’ll deal with the overhead of being on a platform like Gun.io or the one I had started with that client on if it means I’m not the one that has to chase down payments. The other frustrating part, too, was that they had been good about paying for years at that point, until one day they just…weren’t.

Got Student Loan Forgiveness Stuff 

The DeVry settlement finally went through! 🥳

And because I was dirt poor when I got those loans, I got a decent chunk from the Biden thing, too. It wasn’t the full advertised amount, because of what I make now, but that’s okay.

Between that and the “we’re sorry for the former administration’s asshattery about this” interest forgiveness, my student loans are now about half of what they had once been. I can work with that (which is good, because that also means the forbearance is over, unless I apply for the regular kind…but I don’t want to if I don’t need to, and I don’t need to).

On the personal finance front, I got a couple of bills paid off! 🥳 …Though I did add a couple others. Still a net gain, though.

Previously, I mentioned getting a home equity line of credit. It was great for why we got it, and it served its purpose, but it was a variable rate loan.

…you can probably see where I’m going with this one…

It recently became my highest-interest loan, something I saw coming as soon as the rates started rising. And at a whopping 10%, it became financially better to dip into my savings account to pay it off. So I did exactly that back in November (perfect timing, I know; story of my life).

I paid off a few others, too, though I’ve forgotten what they are at this point.

They were replaced with a loan for solar panels and a new bed. The bed was needed, because we weren’t sleeping properly anymore on the old one.

The Solar Panel Debacle 

The solar panels were intended to be essentially cash flowed with the electric bill savings. That one…partially worked.

My house is actually quite ideal for solar panels, and the panels produce even a little more than what they’re estimated for. Unfortunately…the company we got them from did not estimate for 100% of our usage. That’s…its own story for another time. I don’t regret getting them, though I do wish I’d gotten them from someone else.

Ah, well…live and learn, and hopefully, in a decade or so when their efficiency drops off, there’ll be better options with which to replace them. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the discounted electric bill.

Bought A Car With Cash 

This was just fun, I’ll be honest. With the pandemic winding down and the family doing more things out of the house, we needed a second car, but I didn’t want another loan. The car didn’t need to be brand new, since we mostly needed it for the occasional time when we were both out of the house for one reason or another.

So, I figured out what our budget was, then we checked out the “under $15k” options at a few of the local dealerships. We eventually found one that worked for us, and had the joy of writing a check for the amount and driving off the lot owning it outright.

Behold! The power of money management!

I’m glad I did it that way, too. The car’s been solid for us so far, with only a little bit of maintenance cost that wasn’t unexpected, given the mileage. And now, in light of my current lack of a job, owning it outright means I’m not sitting on a relatively new loan that I have to worry about paying on top of all the other stuff.

Started A New Chapter 

One thing I’ve learned about the timing and nature of the jobs I’ve lost is that there’s very often a reason it happened when it did. In the distant past, it was because I needed to shed certain toxic things from my life. More recently, it’s been because a unique opportunity is about to arise for me, and I need to be ready for it. In some cases, things were rough for a bit, but in all of them, my life has improved in some way. This time is no different.

In the Discord group with a bunch of my former coworkers, someone asked, “has anyone thought of doing something completely crazy career-wise?” I replied that I have on more than a few occasions (no surprise, really, right?), which prompted another coworker to reach out to me about a friend of hers who’s working on getting his gaming company off the ground and got me in touch with him. We hit it off, and since I’m in a position to take a risk on something super early stage, I agreed to join! 🎉

We’ll see how this going. I’m looking forward to the ride. 🙂