Do you know why I love Angela Merkel? Because she's attempting nuclear fusion, that's why.
I really need a Twitter account.
Friday, January 29, 2016
I am in the throes of getting my book ready to go to press.
It's been coming along quite nicely, thank you. I've had a terrific editor who - having once worked for the Red Cross and is therefore used to catastrophes - has gotten me under control.
That being said, I can now say with some confidence that turning a blog into a book is no easy process. I would advise any of my friends and followers who have the same idea to first make sure they have no weapons in the house. And then move to a state where marijuana is legal.
Complicating the project is the upcoming United States presidential election, which my friend Jan refers to as the "clown car". Trust me, there is no more of a buzz-kill to the creative spirit - or any other human activity - than Carly Fiorina. Maybe Donald Trump. For sure, Sarah Palin (in a very good impersonation of a college student on her first bender) introducing Donald Trump to a room of rabid, foot-stompin' yahoos.
Donald Trump. A man who can't handle Megyn Kelly, for chrissakes. This is a man who's going to take on Kim Jong-un? Try to write something fun and witty with THAT scenario running through your head.
It's enough to envy Matt Damon on Mars.
So here's the help I need: Reviews.
I am now working on the cover design and need some reviews from people who have read my work. The book is also called Underemployed Is the New Organic.
Yes, I can pay my relatives and probably will, but if any of my dear friends from the blogosphere could take a moment and send me a line in Comments? I would be very grateful, plug your blog, and maybe fly out and buy you a cocktail.
When I'm rich and famous, of course.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I have just come back from seeing "The Martian" and am in the sort of anxious state that can only be produced from eating an entire box of Mike and Ike while watching a charismatic young man trying to survive on Mars.
Seven years of underemployment allow me to empathize with that situation.
No more. Before I started whining about the upcoming presidential election (and who can blame me? have you seen the Republican candidates? this is why people are afraid of clowns), I related that I finally had my dream job at a museum, though it was only for the summer. Well, my summer job at the museum ended and I declined the offer to make it permanent. Instead, I signed on with them as a volunteer. Because I am inspired. And my volunteer experience will support what is now my new life's quest: to become a scientist.
You read that right.
Why a scientist? Because I learned this summer that I like scientists. And because it is possibly the most preposterous thing I can do.
I am studying like a demon. Math, astronomy, and physics. For now. Chemistry next. And Italian, just to mix it up. The volunteer experience will provide training, and my goal is to one day be worthy to join the museum education team. My brain is in mega-fucking-hyper-drive.
And I am very, very happy. Who knew?
At first I thought I'd keep things at amateur status, because I have sworn to never write another academic paper. But now I'm thinking that there are probably math and science courses out there that might benefit from the presence of a grey-haired old lady.
What a wonderful luxury to have the choice.
In addition, I'm in the process of preparing this blog to be published. In two books. The first will be titled "Underemployed Is the New Organic" (surprise!), with the second title TBA (I'm thinking "Pass the Vodka"). I thought I had already done the hard part by writing the thing. Silly me. As usual, I gravely underestimated the new task. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many-a-time, my naive underestimations lure me into the undertaking of absurd tasks, and vanity (also not necessarily a bad thing), dictates that they be completed.
Works for me.
So watch this space. And thank you for your patience. Someday (hopefully) soon, people be able to purchase copies of my books as presents for underemployed friends and family. Much, much cheaper than therapy.
And it will support my math habit.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Thursday, August 6, 2015
The minute I saw the Republican candidates all lined up on the stage, chomping at the bit to get debating, I knew who the nominee would eventually be.
And how did I know this?
Hair. It was all about the hair.
Needless to say, my vision of next November's election began with noticing that Donald Trump's hair looked a little weirder than usual. Donald Trump's hair has always befuddled and, dare I say it? disturbed me. It has befuddled me because it's not like he's poor, or clueless, or doesn't care. He's a gazillionaire and goes to great lengths to get his hair to look that way, which can only be described as "surreal". And I have been disturbed, because it creates an eerie connection with Bill Gates that can't possibly be coincidental.
Jeb, I promise you, Woodrow Wilson would never have been elected president if TV had been around back then. Along the same lines, Mr. Huckabee, your likeness to Hubert Humphrey is doing you no favors.
Rand. Dude. If that's a perm, stop it. If it isn't a perm, cut it.
Chris, are you trying to look like "Big Boy"? I mean, is it necessary to have the hair, too? You haven't noticed? Don't get me wrong, darling. Personally, I find the resemblance rather endearing on account of the nostalgia I always feel when I see you. Because I knew, as a small child, that we were near Grandma's house as soon as I saw that jolly guy smiling down at me from the top of his restaurant.
Scott Walker? A walking ad for Hairclub for Men. To be fair, some of the hair on the back of his head may have defected and moved to Megyn Kelly's eyelids.
Ben, your hair is okay. But you're going to need more than okay to distract people from the growing suspicion that you hear voices.
(Where did this Kasich guy come from? Did I spell that right?)
So who's going to be America's Dream Date?
Marco Rubio, of course. With Ted Cruz (the thinking man's Donald Trump) right behind him.
It's so obvious.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Merriam-Webster defines underemployment as: "the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs."
That's a pretty fair assessment, though I would argue that one may not be a trained burger-flipper, but a job flipping burgers may hasten the onset of dementia in those who are predisposed to it. In other words, you can be intellectually underemployed, too. This type of underemployment occurs in many positions where one is dealing with the public and is provided with a "script" (the most imbecilic of which always begin with the word "welcome") created by people with marketing degrees and very little knowledge of how Earthlings actually talk.
You can also be morally underemployed, and these are the people in fields like politics, law, medicine, entertainment, and education who find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, pondering what sort of assholes they've become as a result of their daytime activities.
Then there is age-related underemployment, where you are required to do things on the job that are ill-suited to the mature person. This can be:
- Physical ("Can you be on your feet for nine hours, with one 45-minute break?" "No. Do you know anyone who can? I mean, without repetitive stress trauma?");
- Cultural (listening to FM radio "lite rock" all day. Every day);
- Experiential ("I know what happens when you cut back on payroll. It's not good.").
The underemployed geezer is a class all its own.
If you think I'm talking about the AARP crowd, think again. I am using the word "geezer" in accordance with the evolved meaning currently in use by our society i.e., anybody over 40.
This is especially true in the workplace, where very young and inexperienced people are often given supervisory and management positions beyond their abilities because:
- They make an attractive dating pool;
- They perform their jobs acceptably if you take away their smartphones;
- They are more flexible with their work hours, because they haven't yet reached the age where they need to sleep;
- They're cheaper than old and experienced people. At least in the short-term;
- They don't question authority. Mainly because they don't take it seriously. I would say with good reason.
- Are, by definition, undateable;
- Want more money. Sometimes, lots;
- Need to eat and sleep. Sometimes, lots;
- Are usually recently-fired refugees (which they desperately try to sugarcoat during the interview process), or moms returning to the workplace with computer skills the same age as their oldest child;
- Will, often as not, greet corporate mandates with responses like "Really?"
Hence, it is difficult to find any employment when you are a geezer, which is why geezers so easily settle for underemployment. But once the 24-year-old hiring manager gets over his or her complete lack of personal interest in giving you a job, what happens next on the career path of the underemployed geezer is both a blessing and a curse.
Here's the blessing:
If you have anything on the ball at all, within one month at your new place of underemployment you will be enthsiastically embraced as the go-to, relied-upon, can't-live-without, employee-of-the-year. I promise you. Not that you will be offered a full-time position with a decent salary and benefits. You won't. But this is a wonderful thing if your self-esteem is dragging in the dust due to the dismissal circumstances of your previous job and/or the more visual effects of menopause. And you will happily respond by turning in a stellar work performance.
Which leads to the curse:
At that point you will be scheduled for exactly 34.5 hours a week. Every week. Given the work typical of most underemployment, this is not so wonderful unless you are desperate for money. Even if you ARE desperate for money, being at work almost full-time, all the time, tends to rule out any attempts on your part to look for something better. Or, if you're not desperate for money, to enjoy any of the potential benefits of underemployment, like free time. Furthermore, you will never take a sick day because you've already had, and are immune to, most of the endless cold and flu bugs that take down your younger workmates. (Yes, geezers get broken hips and have oral surgeries. But we bounce back quickly, having had practice with bouncing back from things like childbirth.)
In summary, you just can't win.
I write this after working 60 hours in the last seven days, most, cleverly arranged to straddle two weeks so that I wouldn't go into overtime.
Being a geezer, I'm tired.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Last Sunday was, officially, not a good day.
Or maybe it was the best day ever.
You decide. I had to work, so the day began with getting up at 5:00 am, facing a ten-hour workday, and racing the clock to make the train. More importantly, I was racing to get to the Starbucks across the street from the train in order to grab a cup of coffee to comfort me on my ride into the city. A cup of coffee is crucial at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, and timing at Starbucks is everything. You have to be there early in case the place is mobbed by joggers ordering "skinny" decaf vanilla lattes.
There were no joggers when I got there. In fact, nobody was there. Starbucks was closed (!) and I stood at the door reading the note that said - apologetically - that they were remodeling and that there would be a beverage truck to attend to the needs of their cherished customers. I turned around to look at the street. No beverage truck. Though I did see a man with a cup of coffee who, upon questioning, admitted that he bought it at Einstein's Bagels, a block away and on the far side of the train tracks. There would be no time.
(I believe Starbucks is remodelling in response to the threat of a Dunkin' Donuts opening soon just a few steps away. Dear Starbucks, this is not an effective response to that threat.)
No big deal, I finally decided after a few deep breaths, thinking of how much cheaper Dunkin' Donuts is than Starbucks. I could be at the exit door and waiting to dash off the train as soon as we reached Chicago. I would glom some coffee in the station.
Then there was an announcement (also apologetic) from Metra: The train would be boarding from the OTHER side of the tracks, so if their valued passengers would please make their way to the other side...?
In my town, making one's way to the other side of the tracks involves going down a block to the next street, crossing the tracks, and then walking another block up to the point where the train will stop. In doing so, I passed within 50 feet of Einstein's Bagels, where coffee was surely perking merrily away.
But I still had another block to walk, and the train was coming.
Once on the train, I fought against caffeine deprivation to stay awake. If I was the first one off, I could score coffee. I tensely awaited my moment.
As we neared the station I sprang to my feet and sprinted to the vestibule. But a mere seconds before pulling in, the door opened.
And in walked, not one, but two blind people. With canes and service dogs. And the need for space. And courtesy.
I would be the most evil bitch in the world if I:
- didn't back way off and give these people the consideration due to them; or
- resented their very existence.
Caffeine deprivation can seriously mess with your mind.
I went back to my seat and did what the nuns told me to do in grade school: I offered up my suffering for the starving children in China.
I wondered if my commute was a bad rehearsal for a fabulous performance, or an omen of things to come. Upon making my groggy arrival at work, I learned that three people in my department had called in sick and that the computers had crashed. Which pretty much answered my question.
At the end of the day, my legs hurt. Specifically, my left leg was killing me and it was difficult to walk from the bus stop to the train station. My left leg has been bothering me ever since I began working again, but I chalked it up to being old, washed-up, and not lately used to being on my feet for ten hours, the hallmark of underemployment. I was exhausted, too. I mean really exhausted. Kaput.
As I walked, my mind was focused on the pain. Suddenly I realized that it centered around the area where my large crossbody bag was slapping against my thigh with each and every step.
When I got home I weighed the bag: 4.5 lbs. Four-and-a-half pounds?? Pounding against the same nerve in my leg for weeks? I weighed my backpack, too: 7.5 lbs. So after ten hours on my feet, I was putting on twelve pounds worth of equipment and walking up floor flights of stair, a block to the bus, six blocks to the train, and another block or so to where my chariot awaited.
Being a contemplative sort, I contemplated, "Why do I need to take twelve pounds of shit with me every day to go to work?"
And I looked in my closet. An overwhelming wall of STUFF. I checked my dressers, too. I was swimming in stuff.
It's one of the few downsides of thrift store shopping. One can afford everything. Thus, I have been buying everything.
All at once, I felt suffocated.
I realized that having stuff, and having much of it accompany me everywhere I go, is my way of exerting control over my environment. No blame, because my experiences with life are such that I have been, at times, transported suddenly to places where I had little or nothing of my own for long periods of time. As a result of those experiences, I have been trying to be eternally prepared for any eventuality so that, if it ever happens again, I will have something of myself with me for solace.
I have now come to the conclusion that I could accomplish that with a flask and a credit card.
Since then I have been downsizing. Before I buy, schlepp, eat, drink, or smoke anything, I asj myself, "Do I actually need that?" The answer is almost always, "no".
The results have been encouraging.
And the next time I have some time on my hands, I will be doing a major "stuff de-tox". I'm at the age where I can accurately determine whether or not I'll be using something in this lifetime.
Hopefully, my "loss" will be other people's gain. A lot will be recycled back to the thrift shops.
Except for my purses. I no longer have any desire to own leather bags, and I have a veritable treasure trove.
Girlfriends, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Purse party at my house!
You'll be doing me a favor.