I bet some of you thought I was dead or that I’d just decided to stop spewing my every thought onto the interwebs like a dog that ate too much watermelon. And for that matter, I’m sure there are a few of you nut-nuts who hoped I finally went crazy and was now traveling across the country burning down closed Blockbuster Video’s and Border’s Books. Alas as fun as that sounds, and let’s be honest boils and ghouls that really does sound fun, I have not been doing any such thing. What have I been doing for the last six months?
Josh has been working a “real” job.
Let’s back up a little for some explanation.
When I was forced to close down my publishing company (Gorillas With Scissors Press) at the beginning of I was devastated. That’s not even hyperbole, I contemplated suicide on more than one occasion but I never even tried to act on it. Why? Because I have the best friends and family in the world. My wife, my kids, and my close friends kept me centered and helped me weather one of the worst personal storms in my life.
There were other factors to my depression, factors concerning my middle son and his wife. I’m not diving back into all of that. One of the last essays I wrote in 2017 delved deep into my failures as a father and the near implosion of my family. If you’re curious, go to the archive and check it out. But I warn you. It’s a really depressing read, so I recommend a stiff drink or a solid dab before you crack that seal and walk in.
Okay, in May of 2017 I took a job as the Dayton area floor tech supervisor for a mid-sized contract cleaning company. The job was hard, the job was dirty, and the job required me to ride herd on a group of mouth-breathing assholes. I would’ve been very happy there except for one small item. It was the single most unprofessional company I’ve ever worked for. I won’t go into the issues but suffice it to say after six months I would’ve been very happy to burn the main building down. I wish I could name the company because people need to be warned never to hire them but I signed a nondisclosure agreement, and I don’t feel like being sued. They are notoriously litigious. So I quit the job, but I did it the right way. First I found another job. Then I gave two weeks notice. Then I worked every day of those two weeks. I did it the right way even though I’d come to loathe the sight of the place. I did it, it’s over, and never have to go back.
As many of you may or may not know, I’ve worked in the field of housekeeping/maintenance for my entire adult working life and some of my nonadult life too. Since 2004 I’ve worked in medical settings almost exclusively dealing with elder care. At first, I took jobs working with the elderly because they tended to both pay better and be more peaceful settings then I stayed because I liked the people I worked with. After the experience with the contract cleaning company, I knew I wanted to go back to where I fit in. I was going to look for a simple cleaning position, something I was comfortable with and overqualified for.
That’s not what happened.
At the end of October, I was offered the position of Head of Housekeeping at an assisted living facility close to my home. In the past, I’d toyed with the idea of going for a supervisors position in my field, but I always felt uncomfortable. Now I felt like I was ready. Even though there'd be a pay cut, I took the job and for the last six months, that’s what I’ve been doing.
In the process, I’ve realized two things about myself. The first thing is I like having a say in whats happening. The second, and most important, the thing I realized is that I really love working with the elderly. I feel like I’m doing something the actually matters helping to take care of them. Yeah, the job is hard, and there are days I just want to say, “fuck it” and walk away. But the good days far outnumber the bad ones. The only truly horrible thing is also the best thing. You are working in these peoples home, you get to know them, and in some ways, you become part of their family. Then they die and it feels like a piece of your heart was gouged out. I’ve been through it a few times, and it never gets easier.
“But Josh,” you're asking, “This is all very interesting but what about your writing?”
Fair question and I think I finally have an answer. In the last fourteen months, I’ve made a few stutter-stop attempts to get back into the game, but I’ve always retreated back into my safe shell. No more, I’ve been practice writing, i.e., short little vignettes nobody will ever see but might be incorporated into larger works later, and also posting some Flash Stories to WattPad. Also, I’ve been reviving my social media and looking into some serious business changes. The first, and most significant of those being getting a new editor. I wish I could continue with my longtime editor and friend Jennifer Tovar (I love you Jenn!) but she has retired from the editing game, and even though I’m sure she’d come back for me I know she’s happier doing her own thing now. Next, I need to find a good cover creator, not a hard job with all the pre-made cover creators out there but it’s still something I need to do. At some point, I want to do a website redesign and hire a personal assistant (PA). And finally, I need to get out there ad whore the fuck out of my work. Ultimately I’m going to get an agent I can work with and get some of my insanity traditionally published. But I’m still Indie as fuck until the day I die so no worries. I write what I WANT to write.
So whats next in the writing queue?
For the next couple of months, I think I’ll be concentrating on short stories. After I have all the rust knocked off the machine and the gears oiled I have half a dozen unfinished manuscripts sitting in my WIP file (works in progress for you nonwriter types) begging for me to return. I have several series I need to get back on (The Preserve, Summer Camp of the Dead, Frankenstein King of the Dead, and The Shores of the Dead) that all need some love and attention.
Alright, that’s it for this one kids, but I would like to point out one thing. Nowhere in this essay was there a mention of religion and politics. That’s not because I’ve decided not to rant and rave about those subjects even though I’m sure some of you were hoping that was the case. No, it’s because this is a happy essay. Lately, things have been coming up Millhouse for me, and I didn’t want to jinx it by venting my frustrations here.
Never fear, those essays will be back.
- Josh (3-27-2018)