2023 is halfway over, and by all intents and purposes, it’s probably the worst year of my adult life. That’s a bold statement — I mean, there’s still the other half of the year to go through — but the combination of events I’ve lived through so far ain’t making the latter part of this year look too rosy. However, in the spirit of perseverance, here I am still pushing on. So that’s something, I guess.
Here’s a recap of what’s happened since my last post.
- In January, a tornado hit my hometown in Alabama. No casualties, thankfully, but the town is never going to fully recover from the storm. My aunt, who moved back home shortly before Ma’dea passed, is fighting with my mother. Ma’dea‘s house is falling apart, and the two of them — along with my brother — are still living there and everyone’s fighting with each other. (Misery loves company, I guess.) I got news on Mother’s Day that my mom was planning to move to Dallas, but at this rate, I doubt that’s ever happening.
- I’m still out of work. It’s not the longest stint of non-full-time employment I’ve had — 2008-2017 holds that record — but it is the first time I’ve had to go job hunting in a market this bad. I ran the numbers on how my job search has been going. Since getting laid off in August, I’ve applied to 451 jobs. Out of those, I’ve gotten 14 interviews. That’s a 3.1% success rate. And the number of interviews I’ve gotten from last year to this year has decreased by 33.4%. It’s hell out here. I’ve gone back to freelancing for the time being, but it’s such a different beast doing this at 42 than doing it at 28. The main issue is that I don’t want to freelance, so I’m cautiously picking up work on the hopes that any of the jobs I’m applying to will actually hire me. It’s a weird tension — totally self-inflicted, mind you — but it’s not making the days go by any faster. I joined a job search council back in February; it’s a 10-week peer job seeking cohort designed to help you find a job quickly. Everyone in my cohort found work at the end of it but me. And even though I have a pretty substantial professional network, that hasn’t helped me uncover potential job opportunities any quicker (even for freelance work). So for now, I’m just taking things one day — and one freelance project — at a time.
- I’m treading water on the book. Remember when I said I was working on a book of essays? I ended up shelving that project due to lack of motivation. But I’m now working on another book with two co-authors centered around design. It’s been a Herculean effort, further compounded by my lack of motivation to write since I don’t have stable work, but it’s getting done…very very slowly. Luckily, my co-authors — both older Black women — are very understanding of my situation, so I haven’t been a burden on them or on the project. But we do have a signed contract with a big publisher, and there’s the promise of a cash advance once we get the first few chapters in, so I’m still working towards the goal of continuing to write. At this rate, it’s probably not going to be published until I’m 50.
- I started turning my phone off on Sundays and people have lost their fucking minds about it. 2022 left me absolutely wiped out in terms of my capacity for outreach to anyone. In an effort to set some boundaries and give myself time for myself, I started turning off my phone once a week for an entire day. Sundays seemed like the best day since it’s the end of the week, and so far, the benefits to my mental health and well-being have been excellent. I have time to cook for the week, I can catch up on shows or podcasts or YouTube videos, or I can just take a fucking nap and not have to think about getting up to do something on my calendar. Other folks, however, have not taken that one day lack of access to me very well. I’ll spare you the long and drawn out details, but since I started No Phone Sundays, I’ve been cursed out by “friends” (quotations necessary), lost one of my mentees, and caused some men I met on #theapps to think that I’ve written them off completely just because I didn’t message them for one fucking day. Granted, I’m not making any promises to anyone to contact them on Sunday, and I’ve been upfront to everyone I talk to that I’m doing this. But what this has done is basically given them a reason to act like a complete jackass and find an exit out of our relationship, in whatever form that is. Sounds like a fair trade to me.
- The dating pool continues to have piss in it. Given everything else going on, I haven’t really had much of an appetite for men. I mean, men bring drama and stress — two things I already have enough of in my life right now. Why tempt fate on the off chance that some random dude might enter my life and possibly change that? (That’s a rhetorical question, BTW.) On my latest stopover on #theapps, I met someone named Leo. And while he wasn’t my physical type — a twink, basically — he had great conversation, we had a lot in common, and unlike many dudes I’ve chatted with over the past few years, he was actually down to meet. (I don’t care what anyone says: the pandemic has made gay men very fucking weird about socialization in ways I think we won’t unpack until decades to come.) So I met Leo and we went out on a couple of dates. Nothing fancy, mind you — we did dinner and a movie once, and we did a cute little bookstore jaunt with dinner and ice cream afterwards. I was enjoying getting to know him as a friend (again, not my physical type), but over the last few years of general romantic inactivity, I was open to seeing what this budding friendship might blossom into becoming. For our third get-together, which was the weekend before Memorial Day, I asked if he’d be interested in coming over to my place to hang out. This wasn’t me trying to make a move on him or anything like that — this was me not wanting to be out and about in the city on a busy holiday weekend with tourists and concertgoers. He said he wouldn’t be comfortable with coming over, then said we should “just be friends.” That was fine with me because I figured that’s what we were doing up until now anyway. I mean, do friends not hang out at each other’s places, or is that some more shit television and movies have lied to me about? But he ghosted me shortly after that and we haven’t spoken since. It sucks, but after doing some post-date research on him, I discovered he pretty much lied to me about everything — his name, his living situation, what he was looking for…you name it. Also? He’s a triple Sagittarius. Talk about dodging a fucking bullet — Jesus Christ on high.
All things considered, there have been a few wins.
- My graduate school loans got discharged, and I received back all the money I spent trying to pay them down. Talk about a financial windfall! And it couldn’t have come at a better time, because my unemployment insurance ran out in March, I just finished up a hellish six-month freelance project, and I needed some downtime. (Not too much though — I am still looking for work.) It’s nice to have some room to exhale for a bit. I didn’t have any loans for undergrad, so in terms of my education, I’m completely debt free. Hello, let’s celebrate that.
- I started streaming three times a week on Twitch. What started out as a brief experiment during the holidays last year has now turned into a weekly exercise in self-care. I don’t have a big audience there, I play whatever games I like, and I’ve already met some pretty cool people. I don’t plan on trying to turn this into a stream of income, but at the rate my job search has been going, that might not be a bad idea. I was posting my stream dates on Instagram and Twitter — you know, in an attempt to bring over some peeps from there into this new thing. But I decided this month to stop doing that because it felt a little too rah-rah, if you know what I mean. I do have a dedicated gaming Twitter over at @karshgames, so follow there if you like. I stream Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, for the time being.
- I am going to try and post here more often. No promises yet, but I’m doing this to kickstart myself into a regular writing habit so I can get this book done. And with the current fractured and frenzied state of social media, I’m spending less time on Twitter and Instagram because I feel like I need to take control of my own corner of the web even more fiercely than before. I already have some posts in draft — no shocker there — so hold me accountable, y’all.