It was only Thursday of that week. Only two days since I had been laid off.
In those short 48 hours, I suffered a major identity crisis. Was I just dreaming it all? Was I one of those crazy sociopaths who perceives himself as awesome, but in reality is just a cacophonous fool too stupid to realize it? I was desperate for answers, looking deep into my own soul, trying to see if I had just imagined my strong performance records, steady attendance, and previous compliments from my superiors.One day, you'll be a floor lead, I just know it
. Memories of previous bosses taunted me. The things they said, the sincerity of it...were those memories even real? You're the best I've ever seen
. More goading. What happened? Did I let these get to my head, and assume this superiority complex?I will shine! Shine! Shiiiine!
As terrible reality started crashing down on me, the realization that I might have unknowingly dropped the ball somewhere down the line and adopted a haughty image of myself, a grim realization descended upon me that attire, attendance, and job performance doesn't mean a damn if your countenance is too proud to be in the realm of tolerable.Geez, David, only forty reports today, that's it? Heh, heh, I'm joking, I know, awesome job
No, stop it.Production's taken notice of you, Dave
I can't let this get to my head.Ha! You? Worried!?
But, what if it already has gotten to my head?They're keeping you through December, that's obvious.
Was it too late!?Besides, YOU don't have to worry about anything, I'M the one who is going to get laid off next week when the game's released.
These can't be real. I distinctly remember them so, but...in those days afterward, I couldn't bring myself to apply such tight-knit memories to a threadbare grasp on reality. I could feel myself losing it. Slipping. It had only been two days!
Not even a weekend! Why so soon!?
"I can start immediately!" I squeal through a tight grin to Poopgoblyn
the next day. We were interviewing for the internship position over lunch at Fab's Hot Dogs, and it couldn't have been any more obvious that the weight of the week was eating away at me more furiously than I was eating away at my garlic tater tots.
"Well, we don't quite have the spot...ready yet."
"Ah, yes, of course," I utter, trying to keep my smile from extending to the kingdom of Insania, twiddling one of the tots between my fingers. "Yes, well, if I have to wait until tomorrow that's-"
"Monday?" I drop the tot.
"Of the week after next."
God help me, no.
"Yes! I can do that!" I swiftly grab another tot, hoping its stinging bite of garlic slays the scream bubbling up my trachea.
"Great, see you then, ten o'clock!"
You remember that time when you were a child, and you realized that when you grew up you could have ice cream for breakfast? Every day if you wanted to! You could watch Saturday morning cartoons all damn day! Every day! And then remember around high school, you're taking that economics class, and you're taught about social security, unemployment insurance, and all those other random checks that come in the mail rewarding you for not working?
Remember that lesson?
Remember how awesome you thought it would be, just to have that year all to yourself, sleep in as late as you want? Not even have to shower or get dressed? Just unwind and do all those things you've been wanting to do! Read that book series. Catch up on Breaking Bad
. And Justified
. Take up painting, maybe try writing a novel or two, you have all day to do whatever you want, and with no stupid job to keep you hunkered down, you get to find your true potential!
On Wednesday, eight days since getting laid off, I woke up to the same feeling of dread and hopelessness. "Guh. This again." Dammit, it was already 10:30am. Internship begins in another
grueling five eternities, when the hell is Monday. I get in the shower. For nothing. I comb my hair. For nobody. I get dressed. For no occasion. I'm fresh and ready to take on another day. Another day of lounging around, waiting for Kotaku to update. Still obsessed with news on last week's release, I found myself constantly re-reading every article on Metacritic about that project I had been on. Oh sure, I bet the whole remaining crew was already deeply engrossed in piecing together some downloadable content, how behind the times I already was, because I was locked in time attempting to re-live the moments of last week. It was only one week ago, and already, taking in the praises and commendations from top tier reviewers and national publications were losing their thrill.
There was no going back. This was my new reality.
I opened up commissions on deviantArt the day before. Still no bites. I decide to cast the line again, updating the journal hoping it pings just the right person seeking a colorist. I needed something to do, anything. I needed busy work. Real work. Something new to be proud of for just a little while longer.
There it is again. I'm never going to shake this damn thing.
People laugh knowing that pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Maybe because the overwhelming majority have control over their's. Sure, it's easy to fall victim to greed, to lust, to vanity, but pride? Give me a break, what kind of weak-hearted ponce gets suckered into making pride look like something evil, right?
On Thursday, nine days since getting laid off, I woke up to the same feeling of dread and hopelessness. "Guh. This again." It was already 10:40am.
On Friday, ten days since getting laid off. "Guh. This again." 11:00am.
Saturday. "Guh. This again." 11:15am.
Sunday. "This again." 11:30am.
Unshowered, unshaved, uncombed, barely dressed, I flip open my laptop. Open the Email inbox, yet again. Nothing. Check my RSS feed. Nothing. Log on to deviantArt, just a few new messages and...a note? Commission Inquiry
My eyes light up! In a sporadic blur of flailing limbs, I shake off my morning stench with reinvigorated strength! Gods be praised! I finally
have something to do! In my excitement, it takes me three attempts to click on the message!
Hi, I was wondering, can you draw my OC? I can't pay with money, but you would be credited on my Facebook!
I shut the laptop. It's 2pm. I flip twice through the assortment of channels, knowing there's nothing on, and after three cycles through the listings and thoroughly verifying my "nothing's on" hypothesis, switch the TV off and decide to finally jump in the shower. Keep holy the Sabbath day my ass. I decide, if God can rest on the seventh day, He won't mind if I leave for my morning coffee at 3. After pressing F5 a few times on Gizmodo, I went to get my coffee at 4pm. When I got home with it, I took two sips, parked it on the desk, and forgot about it.
I open up my deviantArt page again, and go back to the morning's commission request. Like pretty much everything else, the continents, the speed of Congress, my to-do list that's been untouched since last Tuesday, it hasn't moved. Might as well be courteous about it.
Thanks for the offer! However, I
The words are in my head. I can't believe I'm about to type this out.
However, I can only afford time for paying commissions.
Yeah, because I'm so busy lounging around waiting for Joystiq to post some two-paragraph balderdash about video games or something every hour.
Also, I'm just a colorist, not a line artist.
And here I am, all the time in the world, I can eat ice cream for breakfast, watch cartoons all day, catch up on all my TV, and write that novel. But I'll be damned if I branch out and attempt my hand at doing something out of my comfort zone as a favor for somebody else.
But I do know somebody whom I work with who does line art.
Who also never works for free, but actually has a day job and a tremendous backlog of commissions...you know, an excuse.
So, if he's okay with that, we'll get something going!
So if instead of working for you for free you'd be perfectly fine with paying a few weeks' allowance to not one but TWO artists, we'll get you started.
I'm such an ass.
For about the third time that evening, like most other evenings, I thumb through the video game collection. Still confirmed. No desire to play video games ever anymore. The feeling of that controller, the whole sensation of being in a simulated world...just feeding the Blu-Ray Disc into the Playstation triggers the memories.Besides, YOU don't have to worry about anything, I'M the one who is going to get laid off next week when the game's released.
I flip open the phone. No new texts. No missed calls. Nobody has called me in the last four days. Just one voicemail, one that's been there since the morning...of November 9th. Mom. I listen to it for probably the fiftieth time.Hi honey! Dad's been reading up on your little game thing, four million pre-orders is it? Anywho, just sending along our congratulations for finally getting that thing done, we know you've been putting so much into it.
Her words make me smile. The world flashes in roses and fuschias for a blink.Anyway, dad and I will be in Sacramento this weekend, so no Mexican Food this Saturday, maybe next-
I close the phone shut. I close my eyes and bang my head against the wall behind me. All this talk I've been saying about working hard and doing so much better than everyone else? About being guaranteed a position there, finding my calling, finding my niche? Had I been lying to them as badly as I was lying to myself? Had I dragged them into my own self-deception?
I bang my head against the wall again. I haven't even told them I got laid off.
Retreating to the bedroom, the piled up sheets beckoned me to sweet forgetful slumber. They always do. After a few rounds of switching channels on the TV, thumbing through music, begging the denizens of deviantArt to give me a little something to hold me over, I always glance at those alluring covers, their graceful folds and ruffles promising warm embraces to shelter me away from the torturous reality of infinite time conspiring against me with mounting chores and zero motivation. Go on
, they call to me. Just one more day of doing nothing, you have all year, right?
It had only been just a smidgen more than a week. And I was being seduced by bedsheets.Very good,
they coo as I lumber to the bed, stripping down before slipping to that great fabric maw. Just another day, you have all year, don't worry about a...a...what are you doing?
I reach over to the bedside clock, and flip the alarm switch.What is that for? I thought we could push sleeping past noon tomorrow!
Tomorrow.You don't have to wake up, you're getting checks from the government now, remember?
Tomorrow the nightmare ends.Imagine, just being all comfy-womfy and so well rested and relaxed, and hey!
Tomorrow.Hey, hey! Just think, the more you sleep, the less you have to go through these sooooo boring days.
Tomorrow, I'm interning at a start-up video game company.