Day: June 21, 2017

365 Challenge: Day 101 – Sullen

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Sullen: bad-tempered and sulky; gloomy; depressed

sullen

“I did not get the job.” Most of us have said that before, and if you haven’t, it’ll happen one day. It’s rare to always get the things you want, especially when it comes to big things like an apartment, a house, a date, or a job. And when that happens, you probably get a little upset or depressed. That’s how I felt yesterday afternoon and was hoping it would dissipate by the time I woke up this morning. But it didn’t, and I was feeling a tad sullen as I arose from bed.

A bit of backstory to set the stage for those who don’t yet know me all that well. When I graduated from college, just as the country was preparing for Y2K, I had an English degree with minors in communication, Spanish, education and business. I wasn’t certain what to do with my career, but I wanted to be a writer during some part of it. The weekend I drove home after graduation, I faxed my resume to a bunch of jobs and was called immediately to come in for an interview as a project administrator and technical writer at a local company in my hometown.  Seventeen years later, I had parlayed that initial position into 6 or 7 promotions, culminating in the SVP of Technology role in one of the sister companies, owned by the same family. For a variety of reasons, not necessary to go into here, I left that company and role last year.

I was going to take some time off, finally do some writing and decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In that time, I wrote a book and it’s been well received by some friends, family and beta readers I met via the Internet. I created a bunch of websites and blogs, connecting with thousands of people. I’ve read hundreds of books and drafted 500 book reviews. I’ve gotten a break from the insanity of the corporate technology life I was leading, where I worked 80 hours a week and could never put my phone down or ignore my email. I felt really proud and accomplished for all that I’d achieved since leaving my position to focus on the things I’d always enjoyed but never had time for.

The Christmas holidays came and left, and I started to get a bit bored. I began searching for a literary agent to help find a publisher for the book. I started looking for a job again, for a variety of reasons. Boredom. Money. Keep up the skills. Money. Connections. Money. By February, I had the resume in a good place. I started networking a little more. And I went on a few interviews. None of the jobs felt right, but it was important to practice the interview skills and to be open-minded. Nearly 4 months later, I’m still searching. I had a really strong series of interviews in the last month and I know it had come down to me and another person. A call was setup for yesterday to discuss next steps. I wasn’t feeling strong about it, as something told me this was a great job but I wasn’t going to be selected. Took the call late yesterday afternoon. “I did not get the job.”

Sullen. A bit sad. Tired. Depressed. Concerned. Scared. Lots of emotions and thoughts rolling around in the old cage at the top of my head. First, to set expectations: I’m totally fine. I’ve been told “no” before, and I’ve been told “yes” before. This isn’t about money. I’m not worried that I’ll never find work again. I don’t take it personally. I’m not looking for someone to help or even tell me it’ll be OK. Today’s post isn’t really about me feeling sad or depressed as much as it is a voluntary acknowledgement that my mood was affected by the call not because I didn’t get the job, but because it made me feel like I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked in the last 11 months since leaving my former position.

And as I come upon the one year mark next month, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned. I started the 365 Daily Challenge to push myself to be honest and truly analyze everything going on in my life. I wanted to be more open and connect with people around the world. I needed input on how everyone else made decisions in their lives in the hopes it would trigger a moment where I would figure out my own. I am a very happy person. I am very lucky. I have a wonderful and supportive partner. I am healthy. I have friends and family. I have a good outlook on all these things going on. But today I felt sullen over the call… sullen because after almost one year, I’m still unsure what’s next.

Do I continue looking for corporate positions where the money is good and I have a very structured life? Do I stay on a path for another year with writing and take short-term jobs to pay the bills? Do I truly try to break into a different career where I love my job and have passion all day? Where’s this 365 Daily Challenge going? I actually feel that maybe I do have something of value to say to my friends and acquaintances who read my posts. I’ve been so happy writing the book reviews and reading, maybe that’s where my heart is for the future.

Most of all, I am grateful that I have all these positive things going on in my life. It’s rare that people have this opportunity to step away from reality and give an alternate life a chance. And that’s why I am keeping my minor frustration, depression or disappointment in check. But I’m still human… so today I am sullen. Tomorrow it will get better. And well… that’s good enough for me. Sorry for the dull and possibly depressing post today. But you’ll always find the truth on ThisIsMyTruthNow.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Marriage Pact

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The Marriage Pact4 out of 5 stars to The Marriage Pact, a thriller and suspense novel written by Michelle Richmond and set to be released on July 25, 2017. Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Bantam, for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). I really enjoyed reading this novel and felt it had a lot of contained suspense, as I couldn’t put it down but it wasn’t the kind where you were scared; you just desperately wanted to know what was going to happen.



Why This Book


I’d seen the book on a few people’s Goodreads To Read or Currently Reading lists, and it looked interesting. I requested a ton of books on NetGalley to try to earn my 80% badge, and I got lucky when they approved this request.



Plot, Characters & Setting


Alice and Jake had been finalizing the list of 200 guests for their upcoming wedding when she won a big case at her law firm and felt compelled to invite one more guest and his wife: Liam Finnegan, a client who made a point of telling Alice’s boss how instrumental she was to winning the lawsuit. When they arrive home from their honeymoon, Jake and Alice open the Finnegan’s gift, an invitation given only to a select few to join “The Pact,” a group of married couples who call each other “Friend” and help ensure everyone’s marriage is successful. At first, it seems a bit odd but given their history as a couple, both think it’s a good idea and jump in with open arms. They meet Vivian, who is their guide for the initial few months, and begin reading the bylaws, a huge tome of a contract that dictates how often they must give each other gifts, plan vacations, see other Friends, talk to one another, et al. And if they do not, there are consequences with differing levels of punishment. As the weeks go by, Alice and Jake don’t take the group too seriously and begin accidentally committing minor infractions. The punishments begin, and it starts to completely unnerve them both. When they push back and try to leave The Pact, they’re essentially told “No one ever leaves The Pact. And The Pact never lets anyone go.” Alice and Jake attempt to follow all the rules, but work gets in the way, and Jake meets another Friend, whom he once knew before he was married. The woman tells him about the dangers of The Pact, but it’s too late to save themselves, she warns. Weeks go by where Alice and Jake try to balance everything, but frequently find themselves with intrusive and harmful punishments… all culminating in Alice’s disappearance and Jake flying to Ireland to find the creator of The Pact, in hopes he can convince the strange woman to let them leave.



Approach & Style


I read the novel through a Kindle Reader on my iPad. It has about 5200 lines, which works out to about 400 book pages. There are over 80 chapters, as each one is short and focused on a multitude of events happening in Alice and Jake’s lives.

The novel is told in past tense (with a few exceptions for present tense) and with Jake as the first person narrator whose point of view and perspective dominates the story.

It took me about 5 hours to read the novel. I read 20% the first day and then 80% the second day. I couldn’t put it down on the second day and only did so to go out for dinner. I found myself so interested in the middle section that I sometimes skimmed pages to get to the action, as I was shaking trying find out what was going to happen.



Strengths


The idea behind The Pact and the story is excellent. The divorce rate is too high. People take one another for granted. You’re often left on your own to solve marital issues unless you push yourselves to attend therapy. It sounds like a fantastic idea: a group of Friends meant to help you focus on your life as a couple, some rules and guidelines to ensure you are constantly thinking about the other person and minor punishments meant as little reminders not to get off track. But when it gets out of hand, and you realize this is more like a cult who like to torture one another, wow… the subtle actions and words really leave you right on the line, trying to decide is this really happening? Is this one bad apple making the group worse than it really is? Are they truly a cult or is it all a game? Who is behind this? And it quickly becomes a page-turner, where you don’t want to put it down.

The book can seriously play on someone’s fears about marriage. It makes you think what the point of it is, how and when you separate yourselves as a couple and two individual people. You see the love between a newlywed couple being ripped apart over minor issues in the hope that it will teach them not to ever let something big or bad happen between them. The intricacies of how The Pact always knows what’s going on, how they simply just accept what happens to them and the balance of power between all the couples… really gets you ignited and passionate over what’s right and wrong in this book. All good stuff, especially when you have such an emotional gut reaction to what’s happening. The descriptions of the behavior, the punishments and the setting really help create the suspenseful drama.



Concerns


When I read a book, I throw myself into it, usually letting most unbelievable things go if they are meant to drive the action or plot forward. I’m pretty forgiving when a situation happens that probably wouldn’t or couldn’t in real life. It’s a book. That’s what drama is for. If I want reality, I’ll look at my own life. And that’s what readers will have to do with this book — let some things go —
as there’s a 1 and a million chance something like this could ever happen, but there are at least 10 situations where some readers are going to say “No way. That’s ridiculous.” And they’re right, but then again, this is a story meant to entertain and scare you. So… I worry that some readers are going to be disgruntled with parts of the plot, and I can’t say much as I don’t want to give away spoilers. But a few easy examples… (don’t read the next paragraph as it’s not really a spoiler, but does give a bit of action away).

Why would a lawyer sign The Pact without reading it? How could they not go to the police? How did The Pact know things about Jake and Alice’s past? Why would you not ask the question to the leaders: “What should I do? If I don’t attend your meeting today, you will punish me. But if I miss this court date, I lose my job. It’s not that you aren’t important… but without a job, how do I live?” That last comment is in reference to a major part of the plot where Alice is asked to do something by the same person who is helping her move forward at the law firm… and if she does do what they ask, she’ll get in trouble at work. Something just didn’t jive well for me there. I kept thinking to myself…. ask them what they want you to do and stop saying “I just won’t show up to the meeting with the Friends.” At that point, they’d already been punished a few times… why??? And they also hadn’t read the full bylaws. I wanted to smack them for not reading the whole thing.

I loved the first 80% of this book. I put it down to go to dinner at a point where it was absolutely unreal and intense in the suspense and drama. I was so excited to finish it when I got home. And then I did. But the ending was not sufficient for me. It’s a good ending, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. Alice and Jake are essentially faced with a choice in the last few chapters, one which as they learn more about The Pact, they realize what has truly happened in the last few months. And they have a decision to make which is a good thing, but wow… I think I might not have done that if I were in their shoes!



Author & Other Similar Books


Michelle Richmond has several other books which I will definitely peruse, as I enjoyed her writing style, characters and plot very much in this one.

The story felt like a cross between “The Stepford Wives” and the movie “The Gift.” The people in The Pact all feel like a cult being controlled by someone behind the scenes as the Wellingtons do Stepford. And Jake and Alice receives strange gifts with scary alternative meanings and consequences as occurs in the movie “The Gift.”



Questions & Final Thoughts


I really like this book despite a little concerns with the ending. It’s the kind of book where I want to keep talking about it. But I won’t give away spoilers. So… a choice for you: (1) Read the book and then let’s talk about it, as there is a lot to say, or (2) Don’t read the book and we can talk about it but I’m gonna reveal all the spoilers so you totally understand it!



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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