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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fringeville #131, July 05 2015: Out of the Wilderness

...Trekking out of the wilderness...

My good friend David Yonki, author of the LuLac Political Letter, has said more than once that the secret to blogging is "being there." People won't follow your blog if you don't show up. He is out there blogging, often daily, and has been at it since 2006. He is closing in on 3000 posts. He's a legend.

I've got a measly 131 posts, counting this one. Clearly I haven't "been there"on a regular basis since I started back in 2011.

Last year, though, the blog improved. It became more personal. Some of the posts were difficult to write, as much of last year I was fighting prostate cancer. My last post for the year was on November 23, 2014.

And then I fell off the map until April 03, 2015 where I posted that I was going to post on the upcoming weekend.

And then I promptly fell off the map again.

Why? In short, nothing kills creativity more than working 2 full time jobs and doing some side work as well. I really didn't have a choice. After successfully (so far) winning the war on prostate cancer I faced the reality of recovering financially from both the disease and the plunge in my income since 2011. I'd planned to look for a second job at the start of last year. I finally had a day job that had great (but expensive) health care. The plan was to find a 2nd job by the spring. But first I decided to get an overdue checkup now that I had health care again.

And it's a damn good thing I did, because the blood work rang alarm bells for my doctor. In a very short period of time, my PSA level had jumped significantly. Instead of hunting down a 2nd job, I found myself recovering from a robotic prostatectomy.

It's a testament to modern medical science that I have not only remained disease-free to this point, but that I recovered sufficiently to take a full-time 3rd shift job at a local hospital starting December 1, 2014 (which was about a week after I vanished from the blogosphere).

Financially, it was a very smart move. I was able to go on the hospital's benefit program, which was vastly less expensive. The money is lousy, but the strategy of shifting the benefits far more than made up for the low hourly wages. Plus, I once again had life insurance, dental, disability, a 401k and more. The wife wouldn't have to bury me in the backyard next to her cat if I keeled over.

The only thing I didn't have was time.

I went to work for 3rd shift, then immediately to my day job (where I was also hourly). I had to get 40 hours at each job, each week, to start getting ahead of things. But I was only sleeping about 3-5 hours most nights, and had to pull off the occasional 28-hour stretch to meet my few remaining outside commitments.

The job at the hospital was very physical. I was posted in the ER (which I loved) in the housekeeping department. The pace could be incredible at times. I literally never stopped moving from the moment I punched in until I left (with the exception of breaks).

What I didn't take into account was how long it takes a 57-year old man to recover completely from major surgery. Frankly, I struggled. I fought a losing battle with weight, consistently dropping pounds despite eating anything in sight. I perspired so heavily you could wring out my uniform and fill a bucket or three. I repeatedly got sick, usually some type of bronchitis

I felt trapped. I had no choices. I absolutely had to have the second job with its benefits. The first job was essential because the hourly wages were significantly higher. I found myself making occasional Facebook and Twitter posts about looking for balance in my life.

It was eluding me.

But as I often have in my life, I began to look for my own personal Kobayashi Maru (a nod to Star Trek, for those of you who are not science fiction fans). I had to find a solution for a seemingly unsolvable problem. It didn't seem to make much sense to overcome cancer and literally work myself to death.

...I didn't cheat, but I DON'T like to lose.

Two things happened to make my Kobayashi Maru a reality: First, came an opportunity to transition into a different role on the night job, doing housekeeping in another department. Still hard work, but at a sane pace. And better yet, it's a Monday-Friday job. Weekends and holidays off. (If you have ever worked in a hospital, this is the crown jewel of schedules.)

The second critical piece was shifting from hourly to salary on the day job. I have been functioning as office manager for a long time. I'm responsible for A/R, A/P, Payroll, Taxes, tech stuff and more. A salaried "manager hat" isn't a stretch here.

The net result (and this ties directly back to where I started ...with "being there") is that I'm sleeping more, and have a block of time each weekend to both blog and resume writing fiction. So, David, I'll there at least once a week. I can't match your production and would never try.

But I'll be there each weekend. Starting today.

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