One scene comes to mind whenever “Dead Wrong” by Trey Songz and Ty Dolla $ign plays. It was the summer of 2014. I was in Lower Manhattan, headed north on Bowery towards 14th street to catch the L and E trains to Penn Station. I could have walked two blocks west from what was the former punk rock club, CBGB’s, to catch a simpler route to the Long Island Railroad. However, it was a beautiful August night in the greatest city in the world; and I opted to take the long way to enjoy it.
The universe saw my efforts and gave me almost everything I wanted. I had a pretty cool job in a pretty cool industry and paid a pretty cool salary. After years of posts, essays, lists, and articles written from my front porch, late-twenties Chad Milner itched for reasons to get out of Long Island and be in the city. Most of my social circle lived in Harlem-Uptown Manhattan for my non-New Yorkers-so I could finally do things like go to happy hours and feel like someone my age.
Aside from my day job, I still freelanced as a writer and had my second major flirtation with success (it also gave me a second source of revenue). Right before I took the 9-5, I received a direct message on Twitter from Good Morning America, who inquired to do a whole segment about me right around Father’s Day. It didn’t pan out; but it planted a seed and foreshadowed what and how life could be very soon.
The writing thing was going so well, I was answering all kinds of phone calls, texts, and emails. I was so in demand, one morning, I did a preliminary interview with a radio show on BBC before I walked into my office building. It felt as if the almost two years of consistency paid off; maybe sooner than later, I’d have to leave my job for an editorial position somewhere.
I hadn’t had the time to process how great the past couple of months had gone and took all of it in the August night after CBGB’s.
Everything changed the week before Labor Day Weekend. Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, one of my supervisors called me into the office. They told me I hadn’t learned the job fast enough and it was my last week. It was bullshit and my manager knew it. He stuttered through his whole spiel without a glace of eye contact. He and I both knew I did my job well. So well, I had time to do my other job they knew little about as I waited for management to do their part to hand back invoices. I was a project manager who liaised and facilitated the money flow between finance and creative departments. In other words, I knew they’d gone over their proposed budget and had to protect their bottom line; I was the scapegoat.
I’ve been on the “budget cut” end of jobs many times and the range of emotions one goes through never gets old. I had to come home to the family who’d seen me have so much not go may way. And after every time it looks like things were on the up and up, I was right back where I started. That evening, Cydney made me a drawing to put on my desk at my still-brand-new job. I told her “I’ll have to save this for my next job. I just got let go and my last day is Friday.” I didn’t want to go home that evening.
More than I was upset about the actual job, I was sad I had to put a pin in my days in Manhattan until another opportunity presented itself. It was back to the hustle of written essays, articles, and the hopes people would Read It Because I Wrote It to make money and get by. I needed to be something other than a dad; the rest of who I am often gets looked over by the public, no matter how much I’d tried to showcase my other sides.
On the last day of work, I left my key card on my desk and walked out without telling a soul “so long.” I called a couple of friends, and we drank from about 2 in the afternoon until I got on the final Long Island Railroad scheduled before 5am. I got into an argument with the girl I had a complicated relationship with and headed back to Long Island with all-but the memories-left in the city.
In retrospect, I needed things to play out the way they did. None of the big interviews over the summer panned out. Things were over with the girl I was crazy about. My job was gone and I couldn’t afford to parlay in the city often. Then sprouted the earlier-mentioned sewn seeds.
Right before Good Morning America didn’t pan out, my friend, Kia told me I needed to work on at the very least, a small e-book, so I had something to sell while I had a spotlight on me. I ceased production after GMA didn’t happen because I had my job to focus on and a summer to enjoy.
Without distractions from people, money, and socialization, I got busy. I had a spark of inspiration and began to write, like Kia told me to. I wrote 20,000 words in one week, 30,000 the next, and another 20,000 over the next three or so. I still wrote six days a week for Single Dadventures and two-to-three times a week for Madamenoire. I banged out the first draft of the manuscript of my memoir in six weeks. I’ve let a handful of people read the 2014 iteration my feedback was it’s something unique. While I haven’t finished it, this binge was how I developed my style as a writer.
The previous paragraph put something in perspective: so much content sits on my hard drives. There are drafts of three manuscripts (100k, 50k, and 40k words), videos I’ve forgotten about, and multiple albums worth of music. I’ll toil and toil away at work with intricate detail, only to not release any-or very little-of it. On the surface, I have told myself I’ve stockpiled content to build leverage. I’ve had these situatonships with success on a national stage and had yet to blow, on other peoples’ terms. When it was time, I’d unload all of this insightful work and barter the rest into creative partnerships. This is still part of the plan. However, I’ve been through this cycle a few times and it’s time for something new. Hell, the whole purpose of this exercise is to find these realizations. So I will take a moment to tell myself “Good job, Chad.”
I received a call from my former place of employment a few weeks after I got let go. The head of human resources informed me they never did exit interviews; but she called to find out what happened Labor Day Weekend while most of the staff was away on vacation. We discussed the shit show and she informed me it wasn’t personal and I did my job well…so well, she had had to give an exit interview to ask me how could they access and to interpret the intricate spreadsheets with financial information in them. About three weeks ago, I received another email from the job about financial stuff too.