Unemployment And Michael Connelly Books
How I survived my time as an unemployed worker.
Back in 2008 I was unemployed for eight long months. Silke and I had just moved in together. It was late February and my work week ended abruptly when I was laid off. Financially we were stable thanks to unemployment and Silke’s job.
Scroll down to read my story ‘How Michael Connelly Saved My Sanity’.
Mentally however, our relationship was put to the test and a real sense of our compatibility soon emerged. My demeanor of everything is going to be alright soon clashed with Silke’s fix the problem attitude.
Silke: “Nick, you must have forgotten how downcast and depressed you got within just a few short weeks.”
Nick: “You’re right, I was, I had no idea it would take me that long to find a new job.”
After numerous phone calls to the unemployment agencies for days at a time, they finally told me to ‘shove off’. They told me they would call if anything comes up. It was then that I realized I needed an outlet for all of the spare time I had on my hands.
Nick and Silke in Chicago for Michael Connelly’s book signing
My salvation lied in books, to be more specific, Michael Connelly books. Once I started reading his books I couldn’t put them down. I became less obsessed with what I didn’t have, i.e. a job, and more engrossed in fictional characters.
Silke: “Hey, you did quite a few projects around the house back then as well.” :)
Read the rest of the ‘How Michael Connelly’s books saved my sanity‘ story down below.
Well, by the time I started my new job we ended up with a remodeled kitchen, a stack of Michael Connelly books, a whirl-wind trip to Chicago and a renewed strength in our relationship.
Nick and Silke
*Update December 14, 2015: This story was originally published on HubPages and received over 50 comments. We closed our HubPages account recently and transferred the story here to be preserved. Leave me your comments below.
How Michael Connelly Books Saved My Sanity
Having worked for a steel manufacturing company for six years, it was hard dealing with the fact that I was laid off. The signs that things were slowing down were evident and common sense would say that you can’t afford to pay your employees to clean up the shop everyday. When I was called into the office I can’t say I was too surprised.
After a 10 minute visit to the unemployment office I found myself back at home already wondering how I was going to fill this void in my life. My wife Silke and I sat down and planned a strategy of places I could apply at, as well as a list of chores to keep me busy.
Monday came and she was off to her job. Before leaving, she was quick to add that I should stay busy and not ‘get into any trouble’. It was only February and I remember looking out the window at all the snow still on the ground and quickly began to feel cooped up. I walked back into the bedroom and looked at the list we had put together over the weekend. It already had a look and feel about it that I didn’t like. It seemed ominous and the thought of even tackling one of the projects seemed over whelming.
Still, I was determined that I wasn’t going to fall into a rut of sleeping in until noon everyday and start watching day time talk shows. The first thing I did was make the bed. Once the bed is made its a statement that says ‘You’re done sleeping, you are now going to start your day‘. I made coffee and found myself in the basement going through boxes of things that had been packed away.
An hour later, the list long forgotten, I had come upon a box of old paperbacks that had been stored away for years. I was surprised how many books it contained that had never been read. I have always enjoyed reading but the last couple of years I had never found the time to do it. This small box of wonders suddenly looked like a small treasure to me.
There was no room upstairs to bring the whole box up so I set upon grabbing three books that would keep me busy. The people who write the cover jackets have to grab you while you stand in the store. I was sitting in my basement and I started to get cold so I was relying on the cover jacket people to help me choose.
On the cover of ‘The Poet’ by Michael Connelly, it was advertised with a special introduction by Stephen King. Anything good enough for Steve was good enough for me. Among the three books that I picked up that morning, only one would get read and the rest would be forgotten.
It didn’t take long to get caught up in Michael Connelly’s world of Jack McEvoy, the Poets main character. The list that Silke and I had put together wasn’t forgotten but it wasn’t the only thing that I was faced with every morning. My routine soon became one of reading interspersed with a few chores and phone calls and more reading. When I was finished with The Poet it left me only hungry for more. I was standing in the used book store hunting for anything written by Michael Connelly.
There was a whole shelf of Michael Connelly’s characters; Harry Bosch, Mikey Haller, and Jack McEvoy were just waiting to be read. I felt like a kid at Christmas. I remember thinking, ‘there were so many to choose from and I had all the time in the world to read them!’ That last thought could never be uttered aloud. If Silke thought I was actually starting to enjoy my time off then she would really give me an ear full. I quietly picked out my next read and contained myself as I walked out of the store.
Winter gave way to Spring and my employment options still hadn’t changed. I would talk to my now ex coworkers once in awhile and get the same story from them. A lot of phone calls and applications but nothing solid. As time went on it became evident in their faces that they were growing dismayed. Did I have the same world weary look as they did? Taking unemployment is always a cut in pay but Silke and I were always able to make ends meet. I did talk to one of the guys from the machining department who actually had picked up a better paying job. A small window of optimism.
The head board on the bed was collecting books. I had now become a full blown Michael Connelly junky. Titles like: Echo Park, The Closers, The Brass Verdict, Angels Flight, and A Darkness more than Night, had taken their spots and left little room for anything else. I had become lost in the world of Harry Bosch.
This became evident when one night I dreamt of being on a highway in Los Angeles. The dream was very vivid, with the sounds and smells being very acute. I woke up wondering how this could all have been possible considering I’ve never been to California.
One of the projects on the list was redoing the kitchen. Our kitchen was small and really needed to be rearranged in a way that would make it more user friendly. I had never done any kind of house remodeling before and yet Silke seemed perfectly fine with me tearing it up. We purchased a custom built cabinet that would serve as a pantry and new doors for all the cupboards.
The doors needed to be finished so I did all of the staining and sealing that was needed. We got rid of the old florescent lighting and found a small, much warmer, track light. The microwave stand was replaced with a small wall breakfast bar. This was complemented with two bar stools.
After new paint, new floor linoleum and a false ceiling. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I would take breaks to read more while I waited for paint or stain to dry. The whole project was done just in time to get a phone call from one of the temp agencies in town. I was going back to work!
It would be a week before I could start my new job. I had found the Michael Connelly web site and learned that he was doing a book tour to promote his new book ‘The Scarecrow’. One of the stops for this book signing tour was at a Barnes and Noble in downtown Chicago. I researched a cheap flight through Sun Country to Chicago from Minneapolis and I would be able to cash in my credit card reward points for a car rental.
I pitched the idea of flying out there for the weekend and going to the book signing to Silke. She said ’Let’s do it.!’ without hesitation. Feeling like the luckiest guy in the world, I went ahead and sealed the deal.
Once we arrived in Chicago, there was plenty of time so we were able to visit the Navy Pier and walk around the downtown area. I had never been to a ‘book signing’ before and really didn’t know what to expect. The Barnes and Noble was big and they had an area assigned just for this event. After a brief introduction from the manager, Michael Connelly was introduced. Michael Connelly is tall, well spoken and he commanded the presence of the room.
He talked about how his newest book came into being and finding his character, Jack McEvoy, again after all these years. All these years? I had just discovered him in my basement a few months earlier. What was he talking about? The synopsis was given for the new book and then the audience was allowed to ask questions. The usual; ’How do you find inspiration for your characters?’, and ‘Where do your ideas for your books come from?’ were asked.
Then people starting asking questions about characters the way you might sit down and talk about old relatives or acquaintances. I remember looking at Silke at this point and she had the same ‘We‘ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone‘ look on her face as I‘m sure I did. It was then and there that I was able to put myself back into a normal perspective. Sure I was a Michael Connelly fan but at least I wasn’t one of ‘those’ kind of people.
At one point the conversation turned to book titles. The whole concept of what the author wants for a title and what the publisher wants are two different things. Michael Connelly normally consents to the publishers ideas about this but remained adamant about his book, ’A Darkness More Than Night’. The publisher thought it was too long, yet he felt it was right.
In the end he got to keep his title and it turned out to be the right choice. I had purchased the new book for him to sign but inside my backpack, laying at my feet, I had brought a first print edition of this very book. I looked down and saw that I had unconsciously moved it between my feet and was now protecting it from being stolen. You know how it is? You’re in a room full of your favorite authors fans, anything goes.
The manager of the book store then wrapped up the Q & A and the autographing would take place. We were told to form a line up to the signing table and to limit the amount of books for the author to sign also ‘please, no photographs.’ Everyone quietly got in line and then the rules got thrown out the window. Someone brought a whole stack of the authors books in to be signed. They must have brought a Sherpa with them to carry them all. I could see flashes out of the corner of my eye of pictures being taken.
Michael Connelly Book Signing in Chicago IL
We got up to the table and Silke was going to take my picture with Michael Connelly. The manager was there and must have had a change of heart about the whole picture taking business. He offered to take the picture so Silke could be in it as well. A quick signature and a comment about the other book I had brought and we were standing back at the front of the store.
It happened in a moment and it was over. The books were properly bagged once more and we were off to whatever the evening had in store. I didn’t really care at that point because I had gotten what I had come for.
All summer long I was engrossed in reading about Jack McEvoy, Mikey Haller and Harry Bosch in our ever growing collection of Michael Connelly books. Silke was finding them hard to put down now as well and we always had a book or two with us. Silke reads at a much faster pace then I and can go through a book in a couple of days when she really gets into them.
Between the kitchen remodel job and just plain looking for a job I don’t know if I would have survived those months without work. Having the outlet that Michael Connelly’s books provided was such a simple escape. Getting wrapped up in murder mysteries, I was able to escape my own situation.
I’m glad I found his book when I did, Michael Connelly’s writing saved my sanity and possibly my relationship during a very trying time in my life.
Thanks Michael Connelly!
Are you a Harry Bosch fan? Leave me a comment below.