Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,
Chuck
charlesofcamden

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Plus One, Minus One

I marked another birthday yesterday. Historically, I have tended to disregard birthdays; indeed, to barely notice them. But this one was somehow different, and I’m not entirely sure why, though I can offer some facts and a few theories.

How old am I now? Well, I’m not going to say, but let me put it this way – I was born on the same day of the same year as actress Linda Blair, and she turned 50 yesterday. As for the rest of it, let me break it down for you:

Turning 50 — Doesn’t matter a bit to me. I view the significance of these round numbers as an accident of evolution. It’s like this: We evolved with ten digits on our hands, so when we began to devise number systems, we made them base ten. If we had evolved with, say, six digits on each hand instead of five, our number system would probably be base twelve, in which case the momentous ages would include turning 24, 36, 48, etc. Okay – turning 60 would still be a big deal, since it matches up in both base 10 and base 12 (written as 50 in base 12), but I think you see my point. A birthday – at any age – simply means that you are the same age you were before, plus one.

Getting older — I’m fine with it. After all, getting older has always been a goal of mine. I hope to continue getting older for a long time to come!

Being older — Here’s where I have more of a problem. Yes, I know 50 can hardly be considered “old,” especially nowadays – but it ain’t exactly young either. I mind the fact that my body can’t do everything it could 20 years ago. Now some of that is potentially within my control, i.e., I could exercise more and generally take better care of myself, so a lot of that isn’t inherently age-related. But some of it is very much about the aging process, and while I recognize the inevitability of it, that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

Ultimately, I suspect that my displeasure is more linked to the fact that I was just let go by my long-time employer. Yes, you read that right – the job that induced me to move to Chicago in 1992 will be no more at the end of January. Continued expansion of my employer’s offshore production facilities has caused them to dispense with my position. There are several of us who currently hold the job title of “Graphics Specialist” and we are all being let go at once.

I was given the option of either leaving immediately or working through the rest of the month, with my compensation unaffected regardless of which option I went with. I chose the latter, believing that it would ease the transition for all concerned – especially me – if I didn’t suddenly disappear. I have a lot of friends there, some more personal and some more professional, and I wanted to take the time to say goodbye properly, and to do some last-minute networking so that people would know I was looking for work. I think I made the right decision, to stay through the end of the month, but it hasn’t been easy to keep coming in day after day these last couple weeks, seeing the approaching end of a job that has been a huge part of my life for over 16 years. I have gotten extremely comfortable with the illusion of security granted me by this position, and I now have to get my head and energies re-aimed into the real world. I’ve seen this moment coming for the past several years, so I would characterize it as shocking, but not at all surprising.

In case you’re wondering – I moved to Chicago from the Detroit area for this job. My father and many siblings all still live there, so a few people have asked whether I will be moving back to Detroit. The answer is no. I am a Chicagoan now. I have some dear friends here, and I also think my professional opportunities are, without exception, richer and more varied if I remain here. You might also wonder if I am in desperate financial straits with the loss of my job. The answer is, not at this time. I will receive a fairly generous severance package, so I don’t need to rush out on February 1st and find a job. That being said, I can’t wait too long before finding something, particularly if the economy continues to head south. The good news is that I will have time to pursue some potential options that I couldn’t have considered while constrained by the gilded cage of my old job. I won’t go into detail about any of that just now, since it would tend to be rather vague and speculative, but I’ll keep you posted about my new situation – when I have one!

In the meantime, I’m doing well, and I’m still feeling full after a large and lovely birthday dinner last night. FP treated me to a terrific Japanese restaurant on Belmont Ave. She even had them bring out a scoop of green tea ice cream with a candle in it! I may not be one to fuss over my own birthday, but I’m delighted and honored if someone else wants to!
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