Two days ago, my company laid everyone off. And it’s messing with my head in ways I never would have imagined.

Pages from the 1966 children’s book “You Will Live Under the Sea.” Image found via Google: http://www.fitacola.com/fc/images/7497d_5416329214_31a64d353d_o1.jpg

Just about 48 hours ago, my company, Gigaom, laid off its entire staff. What’s followed has been one of the weirdest emotional experiences I have ever had.

  1. I see two parallels so far. One is having a baby, but mainly in the way that, in the days after I had my daughter, I felt like the same person living on a very slightly different planet. I felt displaced.
  2. Massive adrenaline then, massive adrenaline now. In the hospital after she was born, I woke up every couple hours, even when it wasn’t time to feed her, feeling as if there was something I needed to do. Similarly, I’ve woken up at 4:45 the last two mornings. When you have a new baby, it seems insane that you’d be so awake. When you have no job, it seems insane that you wouldn’t be taking some naps. In both cases, you sense that a crash is coming.
  3. Ironically, getting laid off is a massive amount of work. I worked probably twelve (unpaid duh) hours yesterday tying up loose ends. Some of the loose ends probably didn’t need to be tied. I moderated over 90 comments on this post (more irony: that post got so much traffic!); I deleted and deleted and deleted masses of email, as if I was cleaning something up or setting something in order. I still feel like, if I get everything organized, things will somehow seem “right.” To get back to the pregnancy analogy, it’s sort of like nesting, but I’m not sure what the release is supposed to be.
  4. I am not sure how I’m going to get the Girl Scout cookies I ordered from my coworker’s daughter.
  5. I said there were two emotional parallels. The second one, fairly obviously, is a breakup. The only good thing about this has been my awesome (former) coworkers, who now feel more than ever like extended family. It’s as if the same person broke up with all of us and only we understand each other. It’s comforting but we’re clinging to each other desperately. Being laid off, but just you, would be so much lonelier.
  6. It comes from being a tech journalist, I guess, but it feels as if this is a news event and there’s no time to take a breather—I need to move fast because same-day is over and we’re on to the next-day angle, but pretty soon the story’s gonna be too old. From talking to my (former) colleagues, they feel the same way. Everyone is writing.*
  7. In that way (along with 1,000 other ways), we are so lucky. Our jobs were to write and edit. We can still do those things after being laid off; we can still “go to work.” Not sure how a surgeon handles this situation.
  8. My brain’s a little nutso. Twice today I read my daughter books and accidentally repeated sentences. This morning the fever dream that woke me was that a baby (not mine) had pooped in a pool and I was frantically trying to scoop the poop out.
  9. Today was the first really warm day New York City has had in months. Like we got laid off and the weather immediately changed. This has heightened the feeling of suddenly living in a place that I had not been living in before.

*Derrick Harris
Stacey Higginbotham
Mathew Ingram
Kevin Tofel
Janko Roettgers

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