Thanks to those you reached out to me about last week’s blog post, “Pulse“, wanting to read the rest of the story. Right now, for that particular post, there is no fictional rest of the story (written in my best Paul Harvey accent), but there may be a real-world ending. Allow me to explain.
By now, thanks to Father Time and COVID-19 (aka the ‘Rona), Summer 2019 seems a lifetime ago. To be honest, as bad as the first half of 2020 has been for the world, the first half of 2019 was worse for me personally and perhaps my family, too. The loss of my mother-in-law in February was a huge, unexpected kick in the gut, and knocked our family for a loop. As an added bonus, my job was pure misery. I tried to outrun my troubles, which is better than out-drinking them, I suppose.
In an effort to keep up both my interest in running and my sanity, I set three goals for the summer of 2019: break a six-minute mile, finish the first draft of my second fiction novel, and find a new job. On one of these, I had pretty good traction. My running coach was putting me through the wringer, and by mid-June, I was running faster and stronger than I had in quite some time. I ran a 6:06 on my first attempt at breaking 6:00. However, my arch-nemesis summer humidity was settling in, and I knew shaving off those final six seconds would be tough. I was also three years older than the last time I broke 6:00. Father Time is a relentless foe.
I was also three years older than the last time I’d been successful in the job interview process. My confidence was pretty low, too, as I was zero for two years on the job search front, having been casually looking for some time. In the rare instance where I’d actually land a face-to-face meeting, I wasn’t able to seal the deal.
And that writing thing? After an early summer flurry of a blogging streak, the pressure of the job search and the intense dissatisfaction of the current job zapped any mental energy I had for writing. Maybe it was an excuse, but it seemed like a reality. This author was done, run over by Bill Cross. I abandoned the keyboard and hit the job search harder, submitting more resumes and attempting to network.
Of course, I didn’t abandon running, since I viewed this as my lifeline. Another month of hard training went by and on July 14th, I gave the mile another crack. Unlike the previous 6 1/2 months of 2019, I was finally successful at something. I managed a 5:56. Greg’s fantasy running world seemed alright again. Soon, I had grand delusions of future PR’s in the fall, once the South Carolina heat and humidity faded. Greg 1, Father Time 0.
One bright spot of my existence from 2016-2019 as I commuted across town to my daily misery was the fact I passed Chick-fil-A on my morning drive. I stopped in occasionally. OK, maybe more than occasionally.
Also, there were three Chick-fil-A’s within a few minutes drive of my office, and I tried to visit one of these once a week. Obviously, I like chicken, and Chick-fil-A is my favorite of the chicken chains. (Editor’s note: Zesto in West Columbia, SC serves up my favorite chicken, though. And burger. But I digress. This is about chicken.)
Well, summer ended officially on 9/23/2019, and I had not met the new job goal. However, it was still oppressively hot in South Carolina, and I was actually in contact with two companies. There was hope. I declared summer was going into overtime, and the goal date still had a chance.
Well, wouldn’t you know it? Some stars aligned or a blind squirrel found an acorn or some divine intervention happened. Whatever it was, I didn’t care. I actually landed a new job in October in the poultry industry, at Amick Farms in Batesburg, SC. Proof that IT is everywhere these days.
More good news – the new commute was much shorter with no Interstate travel. However, there was one problem: there was no Chick-fil-A on the new route to work or within 25 miles of my new office. So, I went to work in a facility that produces one of my favorite foods but had to give up my occasional lunchtime trips to my favorite chicken chain. A small sacrifice, I guess. I can attest the Lexington, SC Chick-fil-A drive-thru has worked really well on Saturdays during the pandemic, though.
So, here we are in May of 2020. Memorial Day is almost here, signaling the start of summer and of course, Yacht Rock season. The first six months of my new job have been a whirlwind, with plenty of ups and downs, as I adjust to a new culture. Overall, it is going OK, and I have some mental breathing room again. The new job is tough, but not pure hell like before. Sure, there are moments, but everywhere has these. Another bonus: Sunday nights are not as depressing as they once were.
In addition to the mental uplift, summer always brings me a new burst of energy, maybe a leftover Pavlovian reaction to grade school summer vacation. Consequently, the desire to complete that second novel has returned. Arther Dunn has a pulse, after all. I’m a little out of writing shape, and that was another purpose of last week’s “Pulse” post – a little writing exercise.
Now, for the rest of the story, you’ll have to stay tuned and help keep me accountable. It’s helpful to the side job. And, of course…
Eat more chicken. It’s helpful to the day job.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Unfortunately, those 2019 fall running PR’s didn’t happen. Out of the blue in September 2019, one of my hamstrings went on strike. Greg 1, Father Time 1. This year’s primary running goal is 2020 miles in 2020, with no hamstring injuries. As of this writing, I’m ahead of schedule and the hamstrings are cooperating.