Sunday, September 24, 2006

Styles of Unemployment, Pt. 2

It looks like my unemployment woes are over. I accepted a job on Friday. I'll probably start next week, after I get some paperwork done. Then you can call me "Assistant Enclave Manager" and choose to remain unclear about what exactly that means. I'll be working at a company that provides services to people with developmental disabilities, mostly in the area of supervised employment. Which means one day I could be in the office, and the next I could be watching people recycling computers, and the next I could be watching people clean hotel rooms or tear apart cables.

One thing I did not expect was to have a career change within four months of graduating (seems like forever), but I think it's definetely for the best. Here's a list of "pro's" and "con's", "the mentally challenged" versus "journalism".


People inexplicably happy to see me
Less time spent isolating oneself on the internet
Consistent human interaction
Reimbursement for car mileage
Steady paycheck, no longer need to chase down employer for a check once in a while
Stories come to you, versus you searching for stories
Motivation to wash hair and look presentable
Less need to worry about what's going on in D-11
Do not need to continually justify myself to people who hide behind pseudonyms


Can no longer sleep until ten before starting work
Need to get out of bed before starting work
Fewer excuses to do random Google searches for hours on end
No more hiding behind inherent authority in media
Hourly pay instead of random spurts of productivity interspersed with hours of avoiding writing
Less reason to attend potentially amusing yet awkward community events
Fewer opportunities to receive free food and drinks

I'll be continuing to freelance in hopes of getting more free stuff.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Summer Reading Wrap Up

Now that we've put the beach blankets in storage, it's time to review what we all read this summer, and ask ourselves: Did we really do all that much reading at all? And why should we see summer as exceptional time for reading, versus winter, when curling up with a good book in a comfortable chair in front of a crackling fire is really our intellectual ideal? Well, some of us don't have fireplaces. We make do with whatever heat we can get without paying for it. And it is much preferable to sit outside, reading, than huddled up next to your heat vent. That's just not classy.

Moving on, for all the people who say, "I need a book," here's what I read this summer, with handy recommondations attached.

Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates

One day, hopefully a long time from now, you will approach the pearly gates in heaven. Peter, or whoever answers the door to heaven, will greet you, and you will make nervous small talk as to which you were accustomed to in more earthly waiting rooms. You will mention, in your attempt to sound noble and intelligent, that your favorite activity in life was reading.
"Oh gosh yes," Peter will gush, a heavenly smile playing upon his lips. "What was your favorite?"
You'll say something like Joyce, although you only borrowed Ulysses from the library and never read it, incurring about $2 in late fees.
"Mmmhmm," Peter will say, knowing your lie. "Did you ever read Revolutionary Road?"
"What's that?" You've never heard of it.
The smile suddenly flashes off Peter's face and is replaced by a storm cloud of anger. "Only the most underappreciated work of fiction in the 20th century!" he bellows. You shudder involuntarily. "It is a great testament to the craft of writing! It is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius!!"
"Uh, wasn't that Dave Eggers?" you offer meekly.
"Go!" Peter yells, and casts you down into the pit of hell.
Don't let this happen to you. Read it and become enlightened.

Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill

This book won lots of awards and mentions last year, yet I didn't pick it up until this summer. Then I read it in one day. It's one of those books that you can describe as beautiful. It's one of those books where you run across a particular sentence or phrase, and you just have to look up and say, "Oh." And then you read it again. You can read the first chapter here.

U.S.!, by Chris Bachelder

Chris Bachelder was my fiction professor, so I have to say I liked his new book, even though he packed up and left the Springs without as much as a glance backwards. Now everytime I hear about Upton Sinclair I kind of want to email him and say, "This article should reference your book!" But I don't. It's a good concept: Upton Sinclair is continually resurrected from the dead, and people keep trying to kill him. U.S. himself is a lovable idealist in a world where all idealists probably should be killed. Such is Chris Bachelder's worldview. Fiction 101: The world is a horrible, bitter place. He had hesitations in bringing a child into such a world. Maybe Amherst is a better world.

Identity, by Milan Kundera

Standard Kundera, characters formed around a small point of the human condition. Sophisticated. Franco-Czech. Classy.

Prep, by Curtis Sittenfield

My number one guilty pleasure is high school. Not going there, no, not that at all. But non-crap movies involving high school seriously could not be more enjoyable. For example, Pretty Persuasion, Election, Rushmore, etc. With Prep, I discovered books about high school are perhaps even more awesome. I know Prep had a really trendy PR campaign, and they came out with an actual belt like the one on the cover, but Sittenfield is a really good writer. She writes for The Atlantic, Salon, etc. She went to the Iowa Writer's Workshop! Please don't mock me.

Lucky Girls, by Nell Freudenberger

A collection of short stories that are pretty nice. I don't think by any means amazing, but pretty nice.

My Less Than Secret Life, by Jonathan Ames

Ames is a really amusing writer, but before I got through the various column collections, thinly veiled autobiographical fiction, and magazine pieces I was tired of his cutesy perversions and gratitious mention of the Mangina.

My Life in Heavy Metal, by Steve Almond

I took out this collection of short stories based around sex at the same time as Jonathan Ames, and only made it through a few. I liked the one about an affair between a Democrat and a Republican called "How to Love a Republican" or something... the whole Gore/Bush election indecision causes a traumatic breakup. So human.

First Person Rural, by Noel Perrin

I bought this at the Arc because I distinctly remember a friend owning it somewhere, but I am still trying to place who and where. A series of essays on being a sometimes farmer in Vermont. I found the one on buying a truck particuarly useful, and now I check my maple syrup for its grade. I'm ashamed of my Aunt Jemima.

A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving

I was inspired to re-read this when a childhood friend became John Irving's assistant. I still think it's his best.

Ah, book talk.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Best Music Review Ever

I saw Andrew Bird at the Bluebird in Denver on Saturday. I've been a fan of him for quite a few months now, and it just so happened that he was playing when we had already planned to go up. Shows are always kind of hit or miss for me, and by that I mean shows I go to because I'm already a fan of the music. I think this stems from disappointing experiences in high school, when I would love people on the radio who totally half-assed it in person. I prefer to have no expectations, or at least expect to be somewhat disappointed.

That said, it is more than rare that a live show can elevate the music you love to a completely new level. Seeing Andrew Bird live is not a matter of enjoyment, but being awestruck at just how talented one man can musically be. The enjoyment comes next. Here's a good representation of "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" via YouTube.

Look! He plays the fiddle two ways! He switches instruments in like .2 seconds! He is the best whistler in the world! He samples himself, then literally builds the song on top of itself! Look how he tics his head with the lyric! He's pretty much the best thing ever!

It's been three days and I still haven't gotten over it. Listening to the albums is no longer satisfying. You can download some live-ish tracks. And I never thought I'd say it, but thank God for YouTube.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Style of Unemployment, Pt. 1

Buy a t-shirt!

I spent all last night bookmarking freelancing jobs, and most of today writing worthless emails to Craigslist. Of course, a post for blogging for ski free passes took precedence over "real" jobs. I called the number and the woman seemed so incredibly indifferent to my interest that we actually had an awkward conversation.

Then I applied to this: Okay, fuckers. Now it's deleted. That's because it DIDN'T WORK. I was all excited to even possibly work for an "Animal-Themed Website" where the main requirements were:
Previous experience as an editor/journalist
Blogging experience

It really sounded perfect. Previous experience? Yes, two full months worth. Blogging experience? What do you call this? And loving animals? Do I ever! But do animal people love me? No, they do not. They think I am a horrible person and have considered killing my parents. This is the point of applying for this job: The irony.

Unfortunately, the potential irony was lost when it turned out to be a hoax.

I'm also thinking about writing disgustingly sentimental poems for greeting cards. They claim that they will pay $300 per accepted poem. If anyone feels like joining me in this pursuit, we can spend potentially useless hours together penning non-rhyming verse about our love for our sons and daughters and our sorrows for your loss. And then, we can rake it in.

But after my animal-love website job trauma, I don't know if I can ever trust Craigslist again. There are so many opportunities for fraud and gender-based housing discrimination. Luckily, I have an interview on Wednesday, but there is some self-doubt as to whether I'm qualified or not. And if that falls through, at least I can count on a $19 freelancing check coming through sometime next week. Sweet.

I headed on down to South Park this weekend

....and then I blogged about it on the Toilet Paper blog. I would do the whole copy/paste thing, but what is really obnoxious about blogging is that photos take forever to upload. So I'm going to do the easy thing and link to the post and say, go read.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What's the difference between love and herpes?

Herpes lasts forever.

Attractive guy w/herpes
I love when relationships come with lifelong perks.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We're good with the golden rule, too.

I've been living life as a regular Springsteen for about four months now. And while I feel like I know more and more people in the Springs, I have failed to meet any young people. Or, let me rephrase. Any young people who want to be my friend.

This has been a continual source of frustration for myself and my roommate, who consider ourselves fairly likeable, creative, and entertaining people who won't get on your nerves. In other words, good friend candidates. We don't hide away in our little cottage watching anime or playing video games on our computers. We like to get out and do interesting things like go to the county commissioners meetings and possibly dumpster dive Doug Bruce's garbage (possibly). We try to go places where young people might be. We are trying really hard.

My roommate is constantly coming up with friend-making schemes. Naomi proposed this idea back in July: "Here's how it's going to go. I'm going to come home from work and say, 'Lindsay. I just found this really cool event in 7 Days to Live. We should go.' And you'll say yes, and we'll go and eventually we'll meet people." We were supposed to follow this regimen about three days a week. I don't think we really followed up on that. So about a week ago, Naomi came up with another idea. A friend quota that started small. "Lindsay. We need more friends. We both have to find one friend, and then we can share." I asked if my friend who graduated from CC two years ago counted, because I did not know him while I was in school. She eventually capitulated, and now I'm just waiting on her for our friend-sharing program to begin.

It's not like we're totally friendless. In fact, I would say we have made friends. But they all happen to go to CC, and the point is to diversify. It just seems like everyone in the Springs either goes to high school, wears girl pants, is in the military, or is older than 25.

Case and point: Last night Naomi and I ventured out on the town, i.e. Old Chicago, to go to Drinking Liberally. Sounds like a great place for young, politically involved, interesting people, right? We even invited our young, politically involved, interesting friend Christy, who graduated from CC before us and is working on Mike Merrifield's campaign (quite the moustache, that Merrifield). But everyone in the back section of Old Chicago was over 40, asides from the hosts themselves and a poli sci major from CC. It was a worthwhile event and I met some interesting people, but now I'm pretty convinced that young, politically involved, interesting people do not exist in the Springs. At least that's what one of the candidates said.

But still, Naomi would really appreciate it if someone would step up and help her meet her end of the friend quota.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Life Without Pity

Today was the first day of classes at Colorado College, my very recent alma mater, and about three weeks from the day that I found out I no longer have a job. Today was a real juncture in my life. Do I envy those who are returning to the land of three hour classes and four day block breaks? Or do I scoff and pity them for how little they know about life, then pat myself on the back as congratulations for my own maturity, independence, and handling of adult-like situations?

I can't exactly bring myself to do either. As I said, I have no job and over the past few weeks have felt consistently unmotivated to get one. I have made a few freelancing connections, though, one being at KRCC and awfully close to campus. I left the building today and saw a few token hippies playing frisbee or something in the sunshine on Yampa Field. How fucking carefree. I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

As I drove home, I had the following thought: Why do we have to work? Or more specifically, why do I have to work? The world appeared to me, in that moment, as composed of billions of little worker bees, all toiling away in their offices or restaraunts or hotels or Disney Worlds or in their cafes on their iBooks, just making the world go round with their communal enterprise of capitalism. But also in the vision, the world looked gray and dreary, just as how I visualize communism.

When I got home, I looked up 'unemployment'. A long list of ugly sounding office links came up. I revised my search. 'Being unemployed'. If I had no immediate plans to look seriously for a job, and unemployment seemed like too hard of an option, I would plan to practice the style of being unemployed.

Several blog entries came up. The Confessionator described herself as an "out of work journalist" which I later found meant "never found a job in journalism" after graduating five months before. Well, at least I'm doing better than her. There is a difference between never having had a journalism job versus having one for two months and never being able to find one again. It's a small matter of pride.

Another one was more fitting - this blogger described being busy with freelancing for a few months, and then realizing she was utterly jobless and developed an addiction to thirtysomething. Then she applied for a job at Banana Republic and got rejected. Yes, eventually she got a job, and then left it for a better job, but at the time she wrote this entry she was facing unemployment again. But I figured out that this blogger also blogs for Go Fug Yourself, which is absolutely genius and they have got themselves a book deal, which I learned via Gawker. Gawker makes me feel well informed, and not feel bad for this chick no matter her past desperation at the feet of Banana Republic.

The thing about unemployment stories is that you come to expect a certain sort of happy ending - "And then I got a job!" For me, a happy ending would be, "... and I found out that I would never have to work again!" Not because I was marrying into money, or came into a lucky inheritance. But because I had decided to sucumb to my true desire to run off into the woods, living off the land, hunting for food, tanning buckskin hides for clothes, starting fires with sticks and stones, and fending off beasts in a desperate kind of survival. In other words, avoiding the daily grind.