Some Long Overdue Catharsis

freedom-fistWhile working at my old job, I had a set of tabs open on a Chrome window that more or less never changed. After I was laid off, it felt weird to close that window and lose them. As time went by, I felt more and more like I should, but I felt I needed to mark the event somehow. That it would represent a turning point I needed to write about.

Today, just shy of a full year later, I finally close that window.

The story of the Window That Never Closed isn’t particularly remarkable, but I’m betting I can tell it in a couple of paragraphs, so I’ll relate it to you. It really all changed in May. For the first few months of my unemployment I’d just been using the same Chrome window and ignoring the old tabs (which were pinned and tiny), but then suddenly it just… disappeared. The window was gone. I hadn’t closed it, I didn’t know what happened, and I felt… a little empty. Like it was a sad thing that the window passed from existence without a fonder farewell. I then opened a new window and went about my business.

Then it came back.

The window had been hidden, not appearing on my Windows 7 taskbar, but it was still running in the background. My taskbar stopped acting screwy and showed it to me again after a day or two, and since then, I’ve had two Chrome windows open – one with the old tabs, plus the jobs I was looking at last May, frozen in time, and another for daily use. Seriously. I just put up with it as it lurked there. Around the same time my computer fan blew out and it became just generally a big pain to deal with, so even though I was on it for many hours a day job hunting/freelance working, the window was just one more thing.

Today though, my fan snapped back to life. After about 7 months and a whole lotta frustration, it’s just back. I won’t gripe to you about my computer, but among the biggest benefits is the fact that I can stop throttling my processor, finally use the sleep function instead of having to put it in hibernate, and update my computer without worrying it will literally melt.

Also, I’m very much ready to deal with that window. As I’m updating everything on my computer, it’s just one more thing.

This is a long overdue cathartic experience, but this sort of thing can be hard. Those tabs were part of my life for years, and even today, represent the vast majority of the visual experience of my professional life. I didn’t particularly love using them for work, and they’re not hard to find or especially useful to me now. But still… it feels significant, somehow. Having been laid off from my last gig, I never really got the chance to say goodbye to my work. When they let me go around 2pm, I even offered to finish up my day, and they said no thanks, I was done. All I had left, in a sense, were those tabs (well, and the work emails I continue to receive, which I filter directly into my trash).

I’m at a point now where, beyond having a higher-functioning laptop, I have also begun to establish myself at my new job. Though I’ve been working there for months rather than the years I worked at the old job, it represents a growing portion of my professional identity. I’m no longer saying goodbye in anger or in shock. I’m saying goodbye because I’ve passed it by.

I’m talking a lot about my computer, but it’s honestly where I used to spend at least ten hours of my day five days a week, including personal use before/after work. This same computer lasted the entire duration. Shortly after losing my job, despite having to keep using it all the time, the experience became vastly worse. Once I got my job, I noticed myself having a hard time forcing myself to use it for much of anything if it could be avoided. Some of this was because it was honestly difficult to manage, and part of it was because I was busy having a new job. But part of it, hardly acknowledged, was that the bad-experience-laptop was a symbol for a bad experience in my life. It represented being laid off, having everything be harder and not having the money to fix it. Sure, in hindsight the layoff was a good thing – that’s the point of this blog – but my broken down laptop just filled me with dread at times all the same.

But now, I’m shedding the memory of it (in more than one way – that old window took up precious, precious RAM). It feels like fate, with my computer returning to roughly the state of usability it occupied while it was my professional workhorse. But now it’s working as well as it was, without having to be bent towards my previous job’s requirements, or towards finding a new occupation for me. Though the fan may crap out again at any time – who knows why it came back to life – the experience of using it has become something new, something more current.

(As a brief aside, I actually spent a good chunk of time last weekend researching new computers. The new job presented one of those catch-22 type scenarios: perhaps I now had the money to buy a new computer, but I was also no longer using it nearly as much, making it harder to justify. I was just about at the point of buying, but stopped short of pulling the trigger. If the fan holds up, I’ll shelve the replacement plans, and it will have saved me hundreds of dollars – a nice feeling when I’m trying to save towards retirement again and the market takes its biggest weekly dive in years. Though that’s really a good thing for me. But I digress. The point is I got to a place where I was mentally prepared for it, and now get the luxury of having taken the mental leap without having to spend any time or money migrating to a new computer. Hopefully that beautiful resurrected fan holds up.)

All things considered, it was high time to move on, and a miraculous little bit of good fortune has helped give me the motivation I need. It’s a new chapter for me, and time to embrace it. At the risk of ending with a seriously bad pun, a door has opened up for me, and it’s time to close a window… now.

*Update: This may be funny just for me, but despite how much I built up that Chrome window, I almost forgot I had a set of pinned tabs of the same nature set up in Firefox (they’re actually even more work-specific… when I began working there I used FF more than Chrome, which has since switched). While they won’t get their own post, I figured they still deserved a line of recognition as well.

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