Archive for category Job

Gifts from the motherland


My boss went to India for a few weeks a couple months ago to, well, I guess, spread his self-perceived awesomeness (hush it, you lurker, I haven’t said you were off… not yet at least). I can’t say for sure what he did over there because I’ve never really known what goes on here, but I bet he thought it was pretty dadgum spectacular.

The offshore crew, in an obvious attempt to elevate themselves above the boss guy in the estimation of the rest of us, somehow persuaded him to mule a shipment of handcrafts back to us. The picture, above, sucks. What it’s supposed to tell you is a beautifully intricate tale of a pregnant mama elephant and the dedication of the craftsmen who brought her to be, but instead it’s just muttering something about a gray rock with some holes in it. Oh well. So I’m not a photographer, either.

Their attempt succeeded too, at least at first, because I was ready to forget my boss’ name and learn theirs instead. But just about then my keen and beautifully blue eyeballs picked out the little elephant’s true story: a dirty, yucky, nasty one involving at least a hundred little spiders-to-be. Arachnophobe that I am, dear reader, that was almost too much. My black little heart almost went still right then, but since true evil can’t ever really be stopped here I still be.

Whew. I’ll be glad when these elections are over and we have an empty suit in the office–old or new, it won’t really matter–and I can go back to just being a guy and not the devil on the rational side of the fence.

ANYWAY, here I still be, and I there at work still lives my pretty little elephant. Now only if my boss’ problems could also be eliminated with a can of compressed air…

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Top 11 reasons why I can't move to Canada

My good friend Philbin Dobby (who used to work here in town with my sometimes-buddy Keiler) up and got married to a Canadian girlie a few years ago, and the two of them migrated north, never to be seen again.

OK, well, I’ve seen them once since, but I don’t think that’s quite as dramatic a statement.

Anyway, he toiled in the oil fields of NoCanDu (that’s Northern Canada, for all you non-French-speaking-yuppie types) for a time before finally getting back into his chosen field: create-ery. First, he and his wife, Petra, worked independently for a while, putting out some really neat stuff. Then, fairly recently, he took a wicked gnarly job with a subsidiary of Bill Gates’ Corbis Corp. in Canada, doing UI create-ery.

I know how much he makes, but I’m not supposed to say because it would make Keiler vomit.

The perks are nice – great salary, discretionary cash for personal fitness and office purchases (like, an allowance for whatever he wants), high-end computational machines for both work and home, some of this, a bit of that, a little of the other AND free beer on Fridays. And some things I forgot, too. But what mostly makes me sick is the free beer on Fridays. And I don’t know why. But the twerp started IMing me last week as he was guzzling down a Guinness. Not always my drink of choice, maybe, but it’s good and refreshing and expensive enough to merit a gold on free drink day.

Anyway, so he’s been teasing me about moving to Canada for years now. Something about all Canadians sucking, and how my being there would turn his life around, etc., and something else about my presence causing the sun to shine, and how I was just the best and perfect, or something along those lines. I can’t remember all the arguments now. Then last Friday he cranked up the knobs on me, but still under the guise of jokery. I’d say he kicked it up a notch, but kind of in an Emeril-on-a-drunk sort of way. I think it was the Guinness. All fun, all fun, but the whole time he was encouraging me to watch for open slots at his company, the top 11 reasons why I couldn’t move to God’s deep freeze kept running through my mind (OK, so I didn’t actually think of any of them until later, and as I write this sentence I know of only 3 reasons. But they’ll come, and there will be 11 of them. Big Carter says top 10 lists are fantastic… so 11 should be even fantasticker):

11. I’d have to turn my cats out into the street.
The huge fat one would have a heart attack if we tried to move him that far. He nearly expired during the 10 minute car ride from Mom’s when we first got him, and would most assuredly do so in the future if he had to climb into another box or see another outside or meet another human being. And the smaller ones (just big fat, not huge fat) would be pissy for months.

10. French folks make me nauseous.
They just do. And I get a bad taste in my ears. But I’m full of American-style excuses for that particular bit of causal upchuckery. Until recently I believed that my father’s family came from Germany or thereabouts, and anti-French sentiment was always abundant in the day-to-day of my early life. My recent discoveries tell me that my not-German family were probably French after all, though, and the whole denial thing about that makes me want to keep all the separate more from the fictitious monsters of my troubled past.

9. I’d probably just get deported anyway.
Canadians don’t like me for some reason. Petra tolerates me some because I’m nice to Philby, but not many do. Deep down they know I’m just one of them pesky right-thinking conservative types, and that’s far worse than an unbathed Frenchman.

8. European travel would lose its zing.
The hate always stops pretty quick if the ‘Trashers think you’re not an American. And to me, really, the hate and narrow-mindedness of our loving and open-minded cousins across the many waters is the best part of traveling through Europa. I mean, a visit to the local pub just isn’t quite right if you don’t get a little German, French and/or Italian spittle on you. But that happens even when they’re pleased with you.

7. I’d have to learn to drive on the right side of the street.
I hear them Mounties wouldn’t take too kindly to my alternative driving style.

6. I’d have to sell all my shootin’ irons.
Barack Obama says that when white folks get frustrated, they buy guns. Well, I guess I’ve been frustrated about 6 times now, and I’ve finally got a fairly decent little collection of keepsakes and home defense implements put aside. But of course our friends up-North-a-ways don’t cast too many kindwise glances upon that particular freedom I so enjoy. I wouldn’t want to have to get all moved up yonder just to discover I need to learn to swing the nunchaku. Oh, but wait… those are illegal in Canada as well. Hmm… I guess I’d just have to train myself an attack moose.

5. They don’t know how to play hockey up there.

4. It would be a heck of a drive to come see my kinfolk.
I’d be completely cut off from everybody. It’s not like I could just jump in the car and drive for 36 hours to see them anytime I wanted to. Plus, with the price of gas, that would be one expensive trip.

3. I’m not ready for socialized medicine yet.
It’s true. But Obama’s zombies might get him into office this coming November, though (where he would continue to be completely unqualified, but make his peeps feel oh, so warm and fuzzy inside), so this list may become a proper ten-pointer someday soon. One thing’s for sure, though: I might actually consider moving up to Philby’s neighborhood if that ever happens. I’d much rather deal with Canada’s broken healthcare system (which is at least somewhat stable by now) than to go through the birthing pains of the ugly bastard of a social system that would replace our current medical machine.

2. It would be a salary cut for me.
Philbin tells me that a house equivalent to the one I own now would cost more than 3x what mine is valued. the $15k bump I’d get in salary wouldn’t cover that. Plus I’d have to deal with selling this one into a crappy market. Of course, if reason #6 weren’t on the table, I could shoot and prepare my own moose, thus saving big at the grocery store.

1. I would have to go by myself.
Seriously. Lynn just about freaked when I suggested moving to a different part of town once. An out-of-city move would be out of the question for her, not to mention an out-of-country one. And let’s face it: “No” wins every time. 

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Totally and Completely Crushed

I’ve been working on a couple of long-format science fiction stories on and off for the past several years, but have only in the last six months become really serious about finishing them or dreaming (beyond hope?) about laying the foundations for a new career as a novelist.

In recent history my work life has actually been one of the biggest boosts to my writing life. I couldn’t find the creative job I had imagined for myself after finally getting my bachelor’s at the end of 2005 (Mass Communication, Middle America State University, cum laude even!), though I spent nearly four months actively trying to find it. Back when I was doing the Internet marketing development thing I had a lot of satisfaction with where I was and where I thought I was headed. At the same time, though, I knew I wasn’t creating anything upon which I’d ever be able to prop my feet; whatever mediocre talent I had was being spent on somebody else. That it went toward making scads of money for my employer wasn’t really a problem since I wanted it to do the same for me, but I was always strangely jealous of the time and effort the company “stole” from me. I got paid pretty well, sure, but around 2004 the pay started losing ground as a “good enough” factor for me. I’ve never had aspirations of running my own business or anything like that, but I really started feeling the need to build something–in the creative sense–for myself. Problem was, I came home so mentally exhausted every day that there was no way in the world I could even think of writing or repairing my butt-ugly website or anything else of that nature during my downtime. Ever. So, after I finished my re-education and found that my “dream job” didn’t exist… and after the couple weeks of second-guessing my decision to become a software loadtester instead of something better suited to my perceived abilities… I started settling back into the work-eat-sleep pattern with which I had become so accustomed. It didn’t take long to realize, though, that even after a long day at the office the part of my brain that can create (and wants very much to do so) was–shocker!–not tired and cranky and fed up! So… short story long, late last year I started writing again in earnest.

I discovered at some point that my friend Julius, a big director/producer/digital effects guy here in Middle America, was (on top of everything else) also a very talented writer. He propped me up but good with some encouraging words and started talking about a writers’ workshop with which he’s been involved for many years. It really looked like a pretty good program and I was excited to attend, but it was too expensive in terms of dollars and time away from the job hunt to be a viable option for me last year. I learned they had full-pay scholarships available for first-time attendees, and so I decided the best way to get in this year would be to win that. It’s a ten day event but since it spans across two weekends and Memorial Day I would only have to take 5 days off work to go. That’s half my vacation time for the year, but it seemed worthwhile considering all that I stood to gain from the [potentially free] seminars and lectures.

And so it was that I worked my butt off to polish the first chapter of my current novel, Project One, the name of which serves double duty in meaning, in order to meet the scholarship submission deadline this past February. I made myself physically sick with worry over it and even missed a couple days of work so I could finish in time. It didn’t surprise me, though, that as soon as I overnighted my finished package to the judging committee the deadline was extended by two weeks. It also didn’t surprise me that they lost my entry for a few days. Why? Because I was confident I would win, and bad things always happen before the good… right? That’s how my mother always felt, anyway, and it seemed she was usually right about those kinds of things. There was nothing to do but wait at that point, and since the winner notification date got pushed back along with the submission deadline there was a whole lot of waiting to be done.

So I waited and waited and waited, and the knots in my stomach got bigger and tighter and more clearly visible from the outside every day. As my wife would say, I had knots that gave birth to knots. Every time I got done waiting, it was time to wring my hands a few times and then wait some more.

The notification day was supposed to be Monday, but here it is Wednesday and I haven’t heard anything. I can only assume this means I lost, but along with being totally and completely crushed I’m also aggravated beyond measure that the losers weren’t contacted as well. As fellow writers, the committee should understand what an investment we applicants each have in our stories, and the eagerness with which we submitted them in the first place. Simply put, this was a very big deal to me, and I’m confused and disappointed by the sounds of silence. Nothing from Julius, either, who was one of the judges again this year. He did ask a question a few weeks ago about my going even if I didn’t win, though, and at the time I sort of took it as an indication that he felt I wouldn’t be getting the scholarship. They say the waiting is the worst part, but I think waiting unnecessarily trumps everything else. The conflict between hoping for victory and assuming loss is terrible, and I just wish I could have the bad news already. This stinks. Actually, this fracking stinks.

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