Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 408: Go There

The first time I ever went snow skiing was at a place called Pine Knob in Southeast Michigan.

Being a flatlander from Texas, it was a strange "fish-out-of-water" experience for a 14-year-old. After acclimating somewhat on the bunny slopes, I got enough nerve up to ride the chairlift to what seemed at the time to be the top of the world.

Great skiers would laugh at anything Pine Knob could throw at them. But for a complete amateur, it was daunting.

At the chairlift drop at the top of the "mountain" skiers mostly would turn left. To the right was a very narrow turn that bordered the most vertical run at the park.

This drop seemed to me to be the equivalent of skydiving. It's probably not much of a drop at all. But at that time, it was white-knuckle terrifying.

I got off the chairlift and turned right. The precipice was so close. I peered over the edge at certain death. Well, certain embarrassment for sure. I was so scared and realized I was too afraid to try it.


And that's what's pissing me off today.

I need to take more chances. I need to do more things that are scary. Especially with my writing. I've got some great ideas, but they are notes without the rug to tie the room together.

Wish me luck.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 403: Scars

Not all scars are physical.

In fact, in many if not most cases, it's the scars you never see that take the longest time to heal. Some of them never really do.

These scars are mementos of something painful. They are images, songs, places, thoughts, tastes, smells... sensory reminders of something almost but never completely forgotten.

And they can come to you at the most random time, totally unexpectedly.

It's hard to see the good in these things, even though you desperately want to spin it into something positive. About the best you can hope for is accepting that no matter how something once sucked, at least you aren't there now.

The problem is, sometimes it might feel like the thing that left the scar is still too near, the wound still fresh. And that can be real or perceived as real. Something painful that happened years ago can still seem too near.

That's a tough one, because your mind sometimes resists letting go of something that can never be undone.


That's as far as I want to go down this road. Back into the sunlight...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 402: No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender

Day started off blue. I was discouraged, had an awful nightmare, awoke sad and frightened.

Well, pardon my French but fuck that.

There's no crying in baseball, and there's no value in licking your wounds. Put a bandage on them as needed, get up, and fight back.

Tomorrow, five bastards on the Supreme Court are going to tell millions of fellow citizens that they don't matter, that since they are poor or somehow disadvantaged, it's not right for their neighbors in society to help them. They're basically being told to just go ahead and die, and pipe down about it.


But what else would we expect from this court, the same group who decided who would be president in 2000, and the same group who declared that corporations were people in the Citizens United ruling... and the same group who had two members particularly (Roberts and Alito) who testified that they would let precedent rule (a rule of thumb for legal decisions FOREVER) and instead have ignored precedent over and over in their rulings?

Or a justice (Thomas) whose wife is on the payroll of the biggest Tea Party activists in the country?

We don't live in a democracy, folks. We live in a society that is ruled by money and those who have it. The rest of you (us) can just go to hell.

So stop feeling sorry for yourself. Find a way to fight back, because these guys are going to keep screwing you until you do.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 400: Let 'er Rip!

Just applied for a job I have maybe a 10 percent chance of getting.

I usually like better odds than that. I have a 100 percent chance of succeeding in the job, but that's almost never the bottom line.

Which is kind of crazy if you think about it.

I'd do well in this one because it's got a value system that aligns with my skills and personality across the board. The work, the voice, the mission, the location... all home runs.

A funny thing happened on the way to the future, though. For this one, knowing my odds were/are long, I decided to take some chances. I let 'er rip.

What I mean by that is, about 99+ percent of the time playing this damn game, you do everything by the book. You formalize the entire process. If you get to the interview, you wear a suit.

Now, I understand the idea of appearances, the business world, all that noise. But at the same time... it's inherently dishonest.

Like when you want to ask someone out for a date. And when they actually AGREE to go on the date. In all likelihood, you get gussied up. You may get a haircut. If you're driving, you clean up your car. You brush your teeth. You even floss. Then you do something to mask the taste of the blood in your mouth from flossing. You may pluck unsightly hairs.

You game the whole thing. And hope that you show the very best representation of someone very similar to you.

Because that ain't you. YOU are the person who doesn't fold the laundry, because what's the point in folding underwear? In fact, if you leave it in the basket, it's like a fruit-of-the-loom basket! Economy of motion!

Dates are mostly phony. And so is the job process. I crave a job where I can just be me, and let the work speak for itself. I promise: I'll kick ass. I may not always look good doing it, but I will never embarrass the company, and the work will be world-class.

Why would anyone care about anything else? But in the unreal world, there are a lot of considerations that have to be accounted for that having zippo to do with the actual work requirements. Mostly this is in the form of office politics.

I was never a good office politician, and I'm probably worse at it now than I've ever been. Or better at it. I'm better at it in the sense that even though it disgusts me and is completely phony, I also know that you'd damn well better learn that part of the job fast, and if office politics exist (almost always, they do) then you're going to have to play to some extent.

But I'm worse at it because I still find it reprehensible, and it's a burr in my unfolded undies that grates on me constantly. It shouldn't exist.

But whatever. In this case, I fired off a letter that probably better than anything expresses who I am and what I value. Whoever wakes up to it tomorrow morning will definitely have a laugh. I suspect they're going to call someone and share the letter. This will either be very promising, or very bad.

If it's bad, well, nothing ventured. If it's GOOD, then someone gets me. And if they get me, they know that I'm a truth-teller, and that I'll do what I say I'm going to do. And then things could get very interesting.

Ah, what the hell, they're interesting already. I had fun sending this one because the bullshit filter was switched off. It was kinda liberating, actually.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 398: Make It Great

OK, I loathe the cheery, uber-chipper types. "Morning!"

I understand and appreciate the PMA approach. A Positive Mental Attitude is a good thing. In moderation. A lot of times, though, it just gets on people's nerves. Not everyone is down with that stuff.

Having said that... it's June 20. It's the Summer Solstice. It's the Longest Day. Enjoy it. Put it in your mind that today is going to be good, somehow. Find the bright spot. If you have a hard task or hard tasks in front of you, just know that by the time you close the door on it, you'll have made some progress. It may not be all you need, or all you want, but it will be something.

Try and find something to laugh about. Laughter is great... find something amusing, be it your child, a pet, a joke, whatever. It's June 20, 2012... one of maybe 80-100 solstices in your life. It's special, but really, every day is. No matter how shitty you think your circumstance is -- and it may well be -- at least for a moment today, treasure it.

Even you, Curmudgeon Cam.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

(Still) Day 397: All-In

I just labored over a job application for (another) Best Coast gig. It's got all the keywords as far as ...


Seconds after I started this post, the song "The Only Place" by Best Coast came on my iTunes. I just finished a major upload... there are more than 9,200 songs in the library. That this song came on is just... eerie.

Just a moment...

This is one of those moments when it feels like the universe is SCREAMING AT ME TO BELIEVE.

Sigh. I just want to be back out there so much. My first try just caved in for a lot of reasons. I made the choice and I can't second-guess it, because a lot of amazing things happened in the aftermath of that decision that improved my life in so many ways. But it's been almost 12 years now, I'm a totally different person and I'm ready to get back to where I once belonged.

CanNOT believe this song came on. I believe in kismet, I believe in signs. This sure seems like one. Wow.


Anyway what I was going to write here was that, this job, which is in the right place, is a good fit. Not perfect. If I was scoring the match, I'd say it's about 85 percent compatibility. That's pretty good, but I have some gaps in my experience that I can't make up for except with enthusiasm and desire.

So. This kind of went off-course, but my point was that when you really tailor an application to a specific job... and you definitely SHOULD for every prospect... it takes something out of you. I described this to M, and she said "It's like asking 20 girls to marry you."

That's some intense speed-dating!

But, a good analogy. Hopefully, if you're ready to get married, you're invested. You need to mean it. You need to be all-in.

So when I write a cover letter, tailored job app, etc., it can be draining. It saps you a little. Or a lot. So be cool with taking a break from it if you need to push the reset button. Walk away, get some air. Come back later and climb another mountain.


I think this is an idea I could expound upon but my mind is a little blown right now.

Bob Break

If you don't love Bob Dylan, or at least acknowledge his extraordinary talent and contribution to American society, then we probably can't be friends.

I couldn't find a Dylan version of this song online, although I found many covers. Dylan is said to particularly like Elvis' cover of this, but I find it unlistenable. No Sweded versions for me.

Here are the words to the moving "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," recorded in late 1962. If it's available on iTunes, it's well worth $1.29 or whatever they want for it.

Bob Dylan
"Tomorrow Is A Long Time"

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again
I can’t see my reflection in the waters
I can’t speak the sounds that show no pain
I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps
Or can’t remember the sound of my own name
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again
There’s beauty in the silver, singin’ river
There’s beauty in the sunrise in the sky
But none of these and nothing else can touch the beauty
That I remember in my true love’s eyes
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

Day 397: Late-Night Snack

Well, it's nothing more than acknowledgement, but nice anyway.

There's a job back in Beloved Hometown that I applied to somewhat cavalierly a couple of days ago. I wasn't hopeful, mostly because although I am qualified completely, they'd prefer someone who can also speak Spanish. But outside of that, great fit.

Well lo and behold, a late-night e-mail says I've passed the initial screen.

Still a long way to go, but at least encouragement that I'm in the running. This one's out of left field, but would be an exciting job and a stimulating, historic organization. How about that?

So, that will make dreamtime better.

Monday, June 18, 2012

(Still) Day 396: Summer

I'm feeling summer...

A lot of things can mess with your internal clocks. It's like being in a Vegas casino... without windows you lose track of time. My extended workless situation has disturbed my natural rhythms. Some days seem to be Friday but are actually Tuesday. An irregular schedule has benefits... it creates situations where normally blah moments can be more special. But it also can make time seem a little imprecise.

May was such a crazy month... the trip to Texas and California, followed by another trip to Texas... and lo and behold it's June. May is usually a rainy month, but this one wasn't. Plus being on the beach makes it seem like summer, even though it wasn't. Argh. Confusing.

Summer has some very specific sensations common to most of us. You've got the heat, obviously, and the longest days. The smell of cut grass or a warm rain. Cookouts and chlorine...

But I haven't felt it much, until today. I don't know what it was. But it feels good. Maybe the end of this weird period is soon; it needs to be.

What are the things that make YOU feel summer? And we were talking earlier of "summer songs" that signify the season. For me, the Beach Boys are an obvious choice. And Sly's "Hot Fun in the Summertime."

Would love to get your thoughts, dear readers...

Day 396: Peeves

Just a coupla little things that drive me crazy. I know they shouldn't but...

"Loose" as "lose" -- Big difference. Loose is something that is not tight. Lose is the opposite of win (and also to no longer have possession of something). If you're going to make people who know how to spell "loose" their minds, then you need to know we have "loost" interest in talking to you.

"Your" misused when trying to say the contraction of "you are." "You're" doing it wrong means that you are doing it wrong, which means that while I guess you DO possess doing it wrong, it's still not right. Dumbass.

Carry on...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 392: News

Huh... that California dream just won't die.

I applied for a sweet position out there on May 2... almost three weeks before the LACOE interviews. I now have to adjust my percentages, because I got a note back today that the first step has been completed. Nothing indicating that an interview is forthcoming, but merely notification (from a real person, too) that I'm on the radar screen.

I'll take my chances with that.

What's particularly cool about this situation is that it's in a great location, and not in the maelstrom. That's all I'm gonna say about it for now, but of course, you the loyal reader will be among the first to know.


Any conspiracy theorists out there?

I am. Recent events have something percolating in my head about the way things are going generally and the nation's political atmosphere. Get out your tin-foil hat, because I'm all-in.

It's taking me days to write it, though. But I'm hammering away and when it's done, I'm hopeful for some feedback. In the meantime, where do you stand on these conspiracy theories?

1) The Reichstag Fire was staged by the Nazis.
2) The mob/CIA/LBJ shot JFK.
3) Courtney killed Kurt.
4) 9/11 was an "inside job."
5) David Stern rigged the Hornets' draft pick.

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 389: Blocketty Blockhead

So I fell in love with a little abandoned puppy in late January and by the first week of February we were fostering him.

That first day was difficult. He was stressed, we were stressed, Moose and Piper were stressed. I didn't know if it was going to work.

Now there's a family that is interested in adopting him, and it's really hard to envision him not being here. But if the situation is good for him, it's the right thing to do.

But I am sad thinking he might be gone soon. Because he's really a sweet little guy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 387: Rejection Etiquette

You can learn a lot about a company, its people and its philosophy by how they handle rejection notices.

Andrew Hudson is the Colorado-based creator of a well-done jobs list ( and writes on job-search issues. His most recent weekly report had a piece on what I'm now naming "rejection etiquette."

Anyone looking for a job the past several years gets the following response to a job inquiry:

1) An automated response thanking you for the application. Usually this has no further information, such as when the process will move to the next phase. About the best one can hope for is a statement saying in effect "If we like you, we'll be in touch."
2) If you were able to interact with a decision-maker, they may acknowledge receipt, and may provide a little more information about what happens next.
3) No response at all.
4) Snail- or e-mail notification of rejection. This sometimes happens months later. I recently got notification (in May) of a job I applied for in December.
5) Snail-mail notifying you of receipt and/or timing.

In the past year+, I've applied for literally hundreds of jobs. I've been logging them and tracking status. For just incrementally more than 24 percent, I've received official rejection notices. Here's how the rest of the categories break down in my experience:

1) Rejection notification: 24 percent.
2) No response: 66 percent.
2) Automated response, no details: 6 percent.
3) Personal response: 3 percent.
4) Snail-mail notification: 1 percent.

So almost one in four, you know your fate. Unfortunately in most cases, those are your best prospects because that usually means you passed initial hurdles to get closer to getting the job.

But the shocker is that for about two-third of the resumes you send out, you hear exactly nothing. Not that they got it. Not that they like you. Not that they DON'T like you. Just... nothing.

I've been a hirer before, and it never crossed my mind to not tell everyone who applied their status, especially after a decision was made. It's not just rude to not do so... it's unprofessional.

At the very least, a company should notify applicants of receipt of an application. Ideally they will say "we'll call you after X date if we're interested." That way, no call means no go and you move on.

Even better if they send a letter to applicants post-decision saying thanks, we've hired, maybe next time. How hard is that? Answer: Not that hard.

A job applicant usually has some kinship/affinity or at least a positive image of a company it seeks to work for. If that company or its representatives cannot be bothered to show some respect to people who regard it well, that's a surefire way to change someone's mind about that company.

Beware the companies that have no respect for the job-seeker.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 386: 7,000

That's how many page views this little baby has as of this moment. Whoever you were... thanks.

I'll try and make things more interesting, or at least interesting enough that you keep coming back.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 383: Optimism

I feel good about the future.

Things are going to work out. It seems inevitable. And one advantage to being beyond a year without work is that if the wait is 13 months or 16 months or whatever, I've already gotten through most of it. So every day is one day closer to the end of this.

It's kind of like the old movie cliche about someone marking days off the calendar. But now it's completely relatable... tomorrow is exciting, because tomorrow is nearer to the good stuff.

I may have told this story before, but I'm going to tell it again.

I moved back to Gawd's Country in late 2005 with the ultimate goal of getting back into school and finishing the last 26 hours I needed to get my long-neglected degree.

As part of the process to return to school, in the summer of 2006 I had to petition the Powers That Be at Beloved State U. to get back in. For several days, I did not know if they were going to let me back in. If they were, it was going to be scramble time... I would be notified, and then I would have literally about 48 hours to enroll and take at least one course. It was like awaiting a military mission: When they say "Go" you go right then.

At precisely the same time, I had an unanticipated job prospect arise in Colorado. This prospect went from nonexistent to fairly possible in a very short period. As it turned out, there were a matter of days where the result was going to be either return to school, or pack up and leave. Even more daunting: what if both prospects panned out, and the decision wasn't made for me?

I wondered what I would decide: fulfill a lifelong dream of completing school? Or take a job in a great location and substantially increase my income? It was going to be difficult.

Beloved State U. accepted me. Prospect did not. Decision made. I'm grateful, because going back to school was a great experience and very satisfying. Knowing what I know now, it absolutely would have been the right thing to do no matter how enticing another alternative might have been. My future is much better because of how that worked out.

So sometimes, you have to just roll with it, and trust that things happen for a reason.

Things don't happen in a void... you can't just passively hope for the best, you must take action... ANY action... to set things in motion. I pursued both of those prospects in 2006, and only one of them came through, but it was the best one. And it put me in a position to have options.

I continue to believe that my effort toward getting back in the game will yield results. And I also think it's quite possible that soon I will have to choose between multiple options that hit me at the same time. That's going to be a nice problem to have. But I also think that I've gained enough experience and wisdom to carefully weigh those options and make the best choice.

That's damned exciting. And it could happen tomorrow.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 381: Progress?

Everyone seems a little uncertain how to be around me, because I'm (apparently) taking this latest setback so well.

I guess that's personal progress. When you've had some near-misses, I think you can go forward one of two ways: It either crushes you, or you roll with it.

Naturally I am disappointed. Of all the ones I've missed on, this one would have been the best one to get. But I gave it my best shot, prepared like mad to be ready... overprepared, in some ways, because they never actually asked questions directly pertaining to the specific business, which is a little weird... and I did everything possible to be a strong candidate.

Of course I look for things I could have done better, but one thing that may have hurt me is what someone once called being "G.U." -- Geographically Undesirable. If it came down to a tossup between me and another candidate, and that candidate was local... well, it makes sense for them to make that be the deciding factor.

I don't know if that was the case, but certainly it's not unrealistic to think that could have been an issue. No longer wait, and no haggling over any relocation expenses.

But none of that matters now. That prospect, for now at least, is behind me. The future is ahead, so that's where I need to focus my energy.

I used my hours on the road this weekend to set some personal goals, not all of which are tied to employment. As anyone can attest, and as I understood throughout this most recent job chase, you can only control so much of things, and some things are simply out of your hands.

So I'm going to work very hard to master completely the things that I can control. And the rest will just work out, right?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 379: Ugh

Just got the word. LA isn't happening this time.

What can I say? It doesn't get any easier to not get the job. This one sucks a little more because I got close, again, but this time I had to pay my expenses to do the interview, and that's a $900 investment that just went up in smoke.

I didn't even have that good a time out there, because I was so focused on the goal I didn't really do anything "exciting" other than go watch the ocean for a while.


I have a 12-hour round trip the next two days. I guess if I am going to have to have a pity party, it's just as well that I do it alone. I'll get it out of my system and in 36 hours it will be history. Done with it.

Yeah, it's frustrating, but that does me no good to dwell with it. I applied for a good job this morning that would also be a great fit, but I know for a fact I have to wait on the process on this one and an answer won't come before July 4. So... yeah.

I'm really, really, really tired of this shit.

Have a great weekend!!! Smiley Face!!!!