Monday, July 6, 2015

One Hell of a Year: July 2014 - July 2015

In December of 2013 I decided my 18 month period of unemployment was going to end. It would end in one of two ways. Either I was going back to retail work, or I was going to get a job at Blizzard Entertainment.

I knew my art would never be good enough to get me to Blizzard. Maybe, I thought, I could use my two years as a technical writer instead. So when I saw the posting for a technical writer position in December, I wasted no time redoing my resume and writing a fresh cover letter. Less than a week went by before I received an email expressing interest in an interview. I danced around my house a little bit.

My first interview (January 2014) was great, and the recruiter scheduled me for a two-part video interview. I was to meet with the phone interviewer and his team in round one, and then the managers and director of the department in round two. Round one ended and I felt great. Round two ended and I had my doubts. Weeks went by without an answer. Eventually I gave up and stopped sending emails. I assumed that they’d filled the position without letting me know. Fine, whatever, they’re a big company and I understood.

A week after I gave up hope, another position identical to the first opened up. This time in a different department. I sent my application in on a Friday with a fresh cover letter tuned for the new position. On Monday I received a call asking if I was still interested and available for work. Because I was a final candidate for the previous position they wanted to contact me first. My new application hadn't been seen at this point. I danced around some more.

After a couple more interviews, I was offered the job. I’ll admit, I had my reservations about accepting. “How can I afford California? What if I fail? Where will I live?” I shook those negative thoughts out of my head and accepted the job with a start date of July 7th. This was in early June. I had about a month to pack up what I could, say my goodbyes, and leave home for a new life.

Saying goodbye to my friends was mostly easy. There was one gathering, and I did tear up at the end of it as I said farewell at the end of the night. Hardest for me was saying goodbye to Matt. He’d been my best friend since freshman year in high school. Even though we’d started to drift apart after he got married, saying goodbye to him was almost as hard as saying goodbye to my parents.

I said goodbye to my dad with tears and hugs and many promises of visits from him that I knew would probably never happen. It was sad, but not soul crushing. That crush was saved for saying goodbye to my mother.

I’d held strong throughout most of the packing and other goodbyes. Tears would come and they would go. I finally broke down the morning I left. I have never, in my life, cried as hard as I did while hugging my mother on the stairs in her house. If I hadn’t had someone to pick up and drive with me out to California, I would never have stopped.

Goodbyes all done with, it was time to leave. And so off I went, my friend CJ in the passenger seat. I stopped often to smoke, and to cry a little out of sight. Lord knows I needed to do both things as often as I could. About seven hours after leaving Arizona we pulled into our hotel for the first night. That weekend I’d meet his friends for the 4th, and then say goodbye to the last person I knew on the 6th. On the 7th I was alone.

My first home in California was an Extended Stay hotel in Irvine. It served its purpose well enough. I was able to plug in my computer and browse the most basic of websites (Reddit, NeoGaf, etc). There was a coffee machine, a TV, and a fully functioning bathroom. What else could I possibly need? During my stay, I developed a perfect morning routine—that I'd ruin as soon as I found a slightly more permanent place. Every morning I'd wake up, turn on ESPN for their morning radio shows, make a cup of coffee, and have a cigarette out in the morning sun. It was fantastic, and it was freeing.

Sadness still persisted, but my god was the freedom amazing. Everything I did was new and I did it all because I wanted to. Not because I felt I had to, or someone told me to. Sure, that included the bad things like bills and loans while getting used to a new income. Still, I didn’t care. I was happy and I was free from my past life.

Work was amazing from the start. I can gush for hours, days, weeks about how great Blizzard is as a company and how amazing the people I’ve met are. I was immediately accepted by my peers, and that made all the difference in the world. Suddenly there was a group of people I like seeing every day. They make each day at work fun, but the challenge of working for a fast paced company still remains. I love it.

A little over a month later, I moved into an apartment with a coworker. It’s an ordinary situtation; we get along and he pays his half of the rent and bills on time. I can’t complain too much. Nothing else changed drastically over most of the year. I fell into a routine, visited friends and family both on major holidays, and got acclimated to the California climate and way of life. Then, in May of this year, everything else changed.

Twitter has become, over the last year, one of the greatest networking and social tools I’ve ever used. I’ve made new friends, met coworkers in other departments, joined a wonderful community, and, most importantly, met the girl I love. We’d flirted a bit for a couple of months through replies on each other’s feeds, but all it took was one direct message from her to send me to the moon. We exchanged numbers one day later, and had our first date the following week. It’s now been two months since then, and it has been the best way to end my first year in California.

My journey from July 2014 to July 2015 has been amazing. They can’t all be this great, I know that. A year full of nothing but highs? That’s never going to happen again, I’m sure. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try to make every year from here on out as good as this one has been.

Thank you for reading all of this, and hopefully next year’s review will read just as well as this one. Who knows, maybe it might be better.

~Joshua "sqwarlock" Ehlers