The Pains of Unemployment and Three-Dimensional Street Fighting

It has been a very long five months.

 I could have really used an Ouendan's help.
 I could have really used an Ouendan's help.
This past December, my employer deemed it necessary to become my former employer and laid me off less than two weeks before Christmas.  I'm not going to get into the details of why the layoff occurred beyond saying that the company simply needed to cut staff in order to remain financially stable.  (Never mind that they were recently evicted from their office space after not having paid four months of rent.)  What I will say, however, is that getting that news was a real punch to the gut for a lot of reasons, though they mostly boil down to the question of "What am I gonna do now?"

The answer was, of course, look for another job.  Unfortunately, the end of December is one of the worst times of the year to be job hunting.  New job postings tend to be scarce and there's no way to determine if people you send your resume are actually reading it or out on vacation.  Happy Holidays?  Yeah, not really.

The hunt for a new job is a job in and of itself.  Scouring job listings for new openings, writing up cover letters and e-mailing resumes is just the start.  Then comes the phone screening interviews, where you have no visual contact with the person asking the questions.  If that person also happens to have the apparent emotional range of a robot, it becomes impossible to gauge how well the interview is going.  Then, if you're lucky, you get called in for an on-site interview.  Out of five months of searching, I was invited in to a total of three such interviews with different companies, and each had their own process of conducting said interviews.

And between all of these steps, there's the constant anxiety.  The anxiety of waiting for someone, anyone to respond to your application.  The anxiety of waiting for post-interview news of any sort, good or bad.  The abject disappointment that comes with learning that you didn't get a job despite feeling you did your very best at every stage of the interview.  It's hard to simply sit down and relax, because what is there to relax about?  I've got a mortgage to pay off and unemployment checks that have just barely allowed me to break even.

But not anymore.  Starting a week from today, I'll be starting a new job in a position very similar to my old one with comparable pay and benefits that should allow me to continue where I was abruptly forced to leave off five months ago.  I actually signed the offer sheet last Monday, and the week since it was finalized has been absolute bliss.  The need to search for a new job is no longer a burden, and I can get ready to walk into the office on my first day with a refreshed body and mind.  I feel fantastic, and I hope that everyone that's in the same boat that I occupied until only recently is able to find new opportunities of their own very soon.

But what of my games?

 But as bad as things were, they were never even close to
 But as bad as things were, they were never even close to "Dan Hibiki" levels of financial insecurity.
Naturally, being out of work for this long put a strain on my ability to buy and play new games.  Though I was able to work the occasional new purchase into my budget, I also felt the need to scrimp and save.  In order to pay off my 3DS, I had to trade in a large number of games; sure, I can't say how often I'd play most of them anymore, but it stung.  I ended up paying for the handheld in its entirety through trade-in value.  Not something I'm particularly proud of.

That being said, having a new job lined up has allowed me to feel more compelled to open my wallet.  I recently picked up Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, which frankly surprised me because I played the PS3 version for all of maybe five hours when it was brand new, if that.  Weirdly enough, I've actually had more fun with the 3DS version than the console version, though I've mostly stuck to the offline modes at this point with a very slim online record.  The game looks gorgeous as a 3DS launch title and actually, for the first time in I don't know how long, I'm actually enjoying a Street Fighter game again.  On a handheld, no less.  Fancy that.

Granted, I'm not a skilled player.  I don't have arcade reflexes and so far have limited myself to the easiest difficulty setting, wracking up points to unlock figures.  I'll probably hit the wall at some point not long after I've exhausted the single-player content and dive further into online; the component that really crushed my interest in original and Super on the PS3 under a barrage of Ken players and frequent rage quitting.  Until that times comes, though, I'll still be burning my way through single-player and formulating a StreetPass team in the event that I come across anyone ready to do battle.

Also, PAX!

 Man, what.
 Man, what.
Before I close this blog entry, I should mention that I also managed to get in and reserve a three-day pass for PAX Prime 2011.  I've attended the show in '09 and '10, and I'm really eager to see what insanity that this year's show will bring.  2009 was filled with panels.  2010 was mostly spent on the show floor, and was dominated by the aura of the Duke Nukem Forever booth that had mysteriously materialized when no one was looking.  Fun stuff!  Assuming that Giant Bomb holds another panel at PAX Prime this year, I'll probably see you there!