Nine-and-a-half months.

Forty-and-a-half weeks.

Two-hundred-ninety-eight days.

The past.

The first offer just came. It's better than I had any right to expect. I asked them to give me a day to consider my options. They said that was fine and that they'd be awaiting my call.

This morning, another recruiter from a month ago had called me out of the blue, telling me he thought he could get approval for the position he had offered me in January, and wanted to know if I was still available. I told him I was expecting a verbal offer today. He said he'd get me news by this afternoon.

Monday, I signed and returned a contingent offer letter for a contract position. I'm going to have to call them tomorrow and tell them how sorry I am that I'm not going to be able to accept their offer because someone else has extended a permanent position to me closer to home.

After all this waiting, to have my pick of positions. All of them are QA; none of them involve code.

I don't care. I have a job. 

So much has happened in the last nine months, and I have said nothing of any of it. When I first silenced my journal, it was with the idea that my period of unemployment would be brief and that I refused to fill the pages
with angst about my job situation when so many of my other friends had had it so much worse and actually deserved the bitch space. 

I had a home, a car, roommates, and unemployment benefits. I really didn't need to waste space over how rotten I felt that I wasn't working or how much hurt the lack of productive activity caused. I was managing to make ends meet, and everything was going to be okay.

Then the disasters started. The free health insurance vanished in July. The unemployment compensation ended in October. The sewer trap died on Christmas day. I totaled the Volvo early January. Aly committed suicide a week later. A credit reduction on one of my cards caused a bounce on a checking account that's led to an ongoing battle between two financial institutions over who is responsible for an error that keeps me away from my money to this day. Just in time for one problem to begin to fade, another rose to take its place.

Through it all were the interviews. The first job went to someone with twice my experience. The second to someone asking half my wages. The third decided they weren't really hiring anyone who didn't have a doctorate. The fourth went to someone with fewer skills but was fresh from college and didn't need much compensation. The fifth found a volunteer to do the same job for free. The sixth changed its mind at the last minute and decided they
needed someone with more marketing skills. The seventh needed skills they never mentioned in their application that I didn't have. The eighth and ninth just... never called back. Those are the ones I remember. There were
more, but they're lost in the haze that is "the job search."

I won't lie and say I faced this happily or gracefully. I broke down at times and wondered if I would find another job. I did, at one very brief moment, despair on my paper route and wonder if the Easy Way Out was in fact what the name suggested. The thought lasted all of thirty seconds, perhaps. Then I talked with Bear, and suddenly it all seemed... manageable. Not good but endurable. I chatted with Coyote and Rabbit, too, and spent an hour in conversation with them on my paper route, the part-time job I had found myself to keep me busy in the interim. It was the first time I had laughed in months.

There were good times that happened through it all, too. My parents came for a visit, and they brought me a vehicle and some money to help me make it through the hard patch. Anthrocon was a blast despite my work situation and the fact that I'm staff. The impromptu wake for Aly that Charmdown Park brought with them kept me cheerful through a rough patch. The weekend of smuggling twenty kilos of fairy dust past the Boston Banality Patrol. A four-day stretch of alcohol, Apotheosis and random gibberish. Far too many hours of Disgaea and other games. The kindness of my friends both online and off. The hopes and thoughts and prayers of countless people that I won't try to name. Thank you, every one of you, for your support. You know who you are.

If I get a second call today, I have a decision to make. Tomorrow, I have an offer to accept, and at least one I must regretfully decline. After that, the setting of a start date and the signing of an offer letter. After that... it's time for me to start putting my life back in order, and giving to all the people who gave to me during this period of hell.

I have survived Chapel Perilous. Only time will tell how it has changed me. 

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