Unemployment Nine: Summer is my favorite time of the year but, so far, this one truly sucks

I love summer. I really do. It’s by far my favorite time of the year. But I feel like the economy, Mother Nature and some other cruel forces are conspiring to make sure this summer ranks among the worst of my life.

My mood this summer

I knew I was likely in for an emotional come-down following our wedding and honeymoon. I mean, two weeks in Hawaii represented the trip of a lifetime, so I never expected the summer to compete with that. But I also didn’t expect it to suck a big, fat one, like it has thus far.

First off, there’s the lingering unemployment situation. I’ve been on a whopping total of one interview since returning from our honeymoon in mid-May, and I’ve also had one phone interview. In both cases, I knew right away that the respective positions and I were not good fits. So it’s been months since I’ve even sniffed any hopes of a full-time job, and a very sobering anniversary is quickly approaching. Unless something drastic happens between now and Oct. 2, I will have hit the dreaded two-year mark of unemployment. In my absolute worst assessments of my situation, I’d have never predicted coming close to that milestone.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that I’m not sitting around eating ice cream and watching soap operas. But I’m a little frustrated with both of my freelance jobs, as well.

The one I began recently basically destroys my Thursday and Friday nights, and I hate the fact that the pace is glacial, and I have no control whatsoever over it. There’s absolutely nothing I can do but sit and wait, and wait, and wait. It’s good in one way, because I get paid by the hour, so obviously, the longer I’m there, the more I make. But there are times when the hourly rate isn’t even remotely fair compensation for the activities I’m giving up, just to sit there and listen to people debate over every last clause that will appear in a medium that I am completely over: print. I don’t believe in what I’m doing, which makes it very difficult for me.

And when it comes to the one I’ve had for a little more than one year, I’m frustrated because I don’t get the sense that any improvement in my situation is imminent, whether it’s an increase in the amount of money I get paid per post, or an offer to come on board full-time, although those were mentioned as possibilities when I started. I feel like I’ve been bypassed by other people, albeit many of them worthy and deserving, and it seems like I’m speeding down a dead-end street. And the vibe in general has been far more negative than positive. I’m not a dog, and I don’t need someone to pat me on the head and say, “Good boy,” after every story I post, but receiving e-mail after e-mail of negative feedback without one positive note is not doing wonders for my attitude or my outlook.

The problem is, with my current financial state, I can’t even remotely afford to give up either job, so I have no choice but to solider on, regardless of how unhappy I am and how unrewarded I feel, whether monetarily or just in terms of fulfillment and getting some enjoyment out of my work.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m very happy to have both opportunities. Having something to focus on and being able to contribute at least some money into the household are both valuable commodities. But I’m just not happy doing what I’m doing right now and, as I said, I’m doing what I can to keep both jobs out of necessity, not out of pride in my work, or enjoying what I’m doing.

Summer, however, usually provides the cure-all, as I usually spend it doing some of my favorite things: going to baseball games, playing softball and going to the beach. This summer, however, has not been very good for any of those activities.

My wife and I are finally going down to Long Beach Island for a long weekend in a few days. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I fear that it will only whet my appetite for what I’ve been missing all summer.

And this obviously affects everyone, not just myself, but the weather this summer has been about as miserable as any summer I can remember in my 42 years of existence. It seems like the two weather conditions are high 90s-low 100s with suffocating humidity, or raining, and the latter usually comes up if I have Yankees tickets or a softball game. This weather just makes it nearly impossible to enjoy anything.

Softball is usually one of my best escapes from drudgery, but I just can’t get on track this season. Between having to miss games due to the newer freelance job, or games getting rained out, it seems like every time I start to feel comfortable at the plate, I end up not playing for two weeks, which sends me right back to square one. I’ve been trying to hit the batting cage regularly, but even in slow-pitch softball, there’s a big difference between getting it done in the batting cage and getting it done on the field. And I take it very personally when I don’t play well, often because my game that week was the one activity I’d been looking forward to for days. And naturally, when I don’t play well and my team loses, I feel like I’ve let my teammates down.

The weather has taken its toll on my Yankees experience this season, as well. It’s just that much harder to enjoy a ballgame when you’re coated in sweat and you feel like the sky is pressing down on you. Plus, I’ve had to sell my tickets for a few games I really wanted to attend, thanks to, you guessed it, the newer freelance job. I love Thursday-afternoon ball games, but I can’t afford to give up a day’s pay to go to them.

Look, I know things could be a lot worse. I could still be single. I could have no money coming in at all. I could have jobs that are a lot worse and that don’t even resemble what I’m trying to do. But sometimes it’s difficult to rationalize the fact that just because things could be worse, it doesn’t mean they don’t pretty much suck right now.

I really hope things turn around and I get to at least enjoy the second half of this summer, because Oct. 2 is looming and getting closer and closer, which will not do wonders for my mood or state of mind.

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Wet wedding bells

Sunday, April 25, is just like any other random April rainy Sunday, except for one minor detail: I’m getting married!

My mental state is pretty much where it was four weeks ago. What I wrote then still stands: “I’m 100% calm, focused, and at peace with our decision. I have zero doubt that I’m doing the right thing, and I’m not the least bit nervous.”

Rainy Wedding

I had a great time at the rehearsal dinner last night, as well as at my bachelor party two weeks ago, and the best part for me has been getting to spend time with some close friends that I don’t see as often as I’d like, whether it’s because of location, family obligations, or whatever. I am pretty much ready to post this blog, get in the shower, and head to the hotel where everyone is staying with my tux, bagels, cream cheese and a Box O’ Joe from Dunkin Donuts.

The only thing I wish I could change is the weather. Right now, it sucks. It’s supposed to warm up a bit, and the rain is supposed to taper off, but any hopes of an outdoor ceremony have been dashed. The venue — Liberty House in Liberty State Park in Jersey City — will still have an awesome view and, as I keep telling everyone: Rain or shine, the bar is open!

But seriously, I feel good. I almost feel nervous that I don’t feel nervous, if that makes any sense. My iced coffee is kicking in, and I slept well, despite some drunken asshole ringing my intercom at 2:30 a.m. and again at 3 a.m. I am ready to attack the day and get things started, and I can’t wait for the “first glance.”

So rather than waxing poetic (Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam), I leave you with my message to Mother Nature:

Dear Mother Nature:

Enough is enough. Now you’ve really done it, and we are no longer on speaking terms.

I’ve gotten used to rain or the threat of rain every time I have Yankees tickets. I’ve gotten used to the same sort of behavior every time I have a softball game. I’ve even gotten over my summer vacation at the beach house on LBI a few years ago, which you destroyed by making it rain every single day from Friday the weekend before Labor Day through Labor Day itself.

But rain on my wedding day? Was this really necessary? This may have stuck a fork in any chances of salvaging our relationship.

But, since I’m in good spirits (you can’t break me, no matter how hard you try), I will offer this compromise: My fiancée, who will be my wife in a few hours, and I are heading to Hawaii tomorrow, for 14 days. If you make at least 12 of those 14 days picture-perfect, postcard-like Hawaii days, then maybe — just maybe — we can open talks again. Deal?

I’m not even going to try to post a list, but thank you to everyone who was involved in this wedding in any way. Everything is appreciated, and you are all loved.

Now it’s time to do 110-plus guests and whoever will be working at Liberty House today a huge favor and drag my ass into the shower, in anticipation of what will be the best day of my life, rain or not. Much love!

The New York Yankees: As fan-friendly as ever

I don’t know why anything the New York Yankees organization does surprises me anymore, but today was a real whopper.

Rain delay at Yankee Stadium

Rain delay at Yankee Stadium

First, the 1:05 game against the last-place Washington Nationals was delayed not one hour, not two hours, not three hours, but five-and-a-half hours. I understand that the Yankees already have three games to make up, and I realize that the Nationals don’t come back to Yankee Stadium this season, but five-and-a-half hours? Really?

Then, after waiting out the rain delay at Yankee Tavern, when the rain finally let up and they started preparing the field, I entered the ballpark to find out that they had cut off beer sales. Why? If there was such a concern that the 10,000 or so people who were dumb enough to wait out a five-and-a-half-hour delay (myself very much included) were going to be that angry and unruly, maybe that should be a consideration the next time a decision is made on whether to postpone a game or not. Naturally, the people in the Legends Suite had plenty of beer, but I guess those of us who don’t fork over $1,250 per game don’t count.

The one nice thing the ball club did was let people move downstairs, but even that struck me as a public-relations ploy. With all of the abuse the Yankees organization has gotten about the premium seats being empty on TV, the last thing they wanted was another game where the field level was about as sparsely populated as Montana farmland.

Then the capper was the big announcement that in gratitude for the fans waiting out the delay, every ticket to tonight’s game could be exchanged for one free bleacher, grandstand or terrace seat for a future non-premium game. Sounds great, right?

I picked three random midweek games against marginal teams and, just as I suspected, I couldn’t get two seats together in the bleachers, in the grandstand, or in the terrace level. The cheapest pair of seats I found was in the main level, for $125 apiece, and they’re not covered by tonight’s generous gift.

So what exactly did we get in return for waiting five-and-a-half hours to see the Yankees get shut out by the worst team in Major League Baseball? I mean besides wet, sober and irritated?

This organization really needs to be gutted.

I hate April baseball

Don’t get me wrong: Opening Day is my favorite day of the entire calendar year. But as someone who has had tickets to at least 40 Yankees game per season since 1997, the part of the schedule between Opening Day and Memorial Day is a never-ending pain in the ass.

Old Yankee Stadium in the rain

Old Yankee Stadium in the rain

Why? Mother Nature is a filthy trollop. Weather has been an issue for almost every April game I’ve had tickets to. Nobody wants to sit in the rain, and nobody wants to trek all the way up to the Bronx only to find out the obvious: The game has been canceled. Gee, does the fact that it’s been pouring all day have anything to do with that? Yesterday was one of the rare times when the Yankees actually called a game early enough to save people the futile trip.

Sure, you get your occasional gorgeous day in April. But that’s the exception, not the rule. Even when you’re not dealing with precipitation, which is rare, you often have to dress the way you’d typically dress for a football game.

And all of this, folks, makes April tickets nearly impossible to get rid of. Trust me on this one.

At least the traditional Tampa Rays @ Yankees April series won’t be a factor anymore, with the Rays actually becoming a good team. It seemed that for several seasons in a row, one of the Yankees’ earliest home series would be against Tampa, a then-putrid team, in God-awful weather. The best salesperson in the world couldn’t talk someone into going to see a minor-league baseball team, in 40-degree weather, with rain in the air.

I just hope the weather changes for the better by the time the Yankees return from their upcoming road trip at the end of the month. I don’t have the patience for this crap anymore!

Unseasonably warm

I love surprise good-weather days like today. It’s not often that you wake up in early February and hear 61 degrees, unless the heat in your apartment is on the fritz.

bacon, egg and cheese on waffle

Dunkin' Donuts: bacon, egg and cheese on waffle

I generally can’t stay indoors on a day as nice as today, and I was feeling guilt after having the new Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich — bacon, egg and cheese on a waffle — so I got on my new bike and headed out for a ride.

I quickly discovered a few things. For one, my bike is in far better shape than I’m in. Also, while I love beach cruisers, they sort of suck when going uphill. It’s a very, very heavy bike and it takes a lot of work to navigate even short hills.

My bike

My bike

Still, it was great to get out there, get some exercise and fresh air and enjoy the sights of Pier A in Hoboken, both of the canine variety and the female human variety.

Even though it was only one day, going back to the normal cold weather of February will be very, very tough.

It’s almost baseball season

Yes, I know, the Major League Baseball season started one month ago with the Boston Red Sox-Oakland Athletics series in Japan. And every other team has been playing for about three weeks. But to me, it’s not quite baseball season yet.

Depending on whether the Yankees open their season at home or on the road, there are either three or four stages that mark the beginning of baseball season.

If the Yankees open on the road, stage one is Opening Day and stage two is the home opener. If the Yankees open in the Bronx, stages one and two are one in the same.

The next stage is the first home game against Boston. It’s not really baseball season until the venom begins to flow. The Tampa Bay Rays just don’t elicit the same kind of emotions.

But the final stage, which I have yet to experience this season, is the first time I can go to a game in shorts. April baseball can be brutal weather-wise, and this April was no exception.

So I’m hoping that Thursday, May 1 at 7:05 p.m., when the Detroit Tigers visit Yankee Stadium, I will be in the House that Ruth Built, holding the cold beer that Miller brewed and wearing the shorts that Old Navy made. Then, and only then, will it be baseball season.