Miss Again

4 Comments

I’m perched on a higher table at a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble.

Wait. That makes it sound like I’m poised on top of the table, ready to strike out at the old lady checking out Moleskines in front of me. Forgive me; I haven’t done this in a while.

I’m sitting at a taller table in a Starbucks wrapped inside a Barnes & Noble, overlooking a couple women in Hawaiian shirts who are pacing up and down the main aisle looking for specific people to give name tags and adorn with leis. I have no idea what’s going on with that; only that–in intentional J. Alfred Prufrockian fashion–I do not think  they have a lei for me.

The strangest part of it all is that I’m currently outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. And that I now live here.

I’ve been looking for new freedoms for some time: to move out from under my parents’ roof, forge my own path and leave a job whose flexibilities were bending me over backward more often than I liked. The problem with trying to find a new job to move to, however, is that most places are understandably hesitant to extend a chance to someone “foreign” when they have capable people living right next to them. Almost 3 months ago, however, I finally received a chance from a company here in the Grand Rapids area. Admittedly, the only reason they bothered with me was likely because my cousin also works for the company, but that’s another life lesson: connections are everything.

Grand Rapids is a mixed, religious and overall quaint city, possessing the charm of its hometown president, Gerald Ford.

FACT: Gerald Ford may be the only U.S. President who has ever fallen out of Air Force One and survived.

It has its good sections and bad sections, of course, but luckily I’m in a good apartment complex with a fitness center and access to walking trails. Above all, I have a home in this complex that is mine. Sure, I’m responsible for cleaning it and ensuring it doesn’t catch on fire, but the newfound freedoms far outweigh these responsibilities.

Michigan has also decided that major intersections are not for left-hand turns. You need to drive past it to a designated U-turn area, go back and then turn right. It’s weird, but I can’t say it doesn’t work. I’m sure traffic looks more like a ballet from above Michigan than nearly anywhere else.

Anyway, the plan has been simple: use my new job as the stepping stone and foundation to build a new life, find new friends, love, success, etc. All those things that, when you’re old and looking back with the question of whether you lived life well, pat you reassuring on the back and say, “Yeah. Not bad, pal. Now hurry up: it’s bingo and mashed prunes night!”

Unfortunately, I didn’t expect that my stepping stone would be the first thing to grow unstable. I was hired on as a temp with several others in an apparent work force boom. We were to work for 3 months, then they would decide whether they would hire us on fully. It was generally implied that we were shoe-ins, and we did perform admirably–they even said as such when they told us yesterday they’re going to keep us on as temps. It seems somewhere within the 3 months between our hiring and the present, the company as a whole decided it should experiment with localizing our departments, meaning spreading people away from Grand Rapids. We were offered the chance for position openings in San Francisco and New York City, but even if I wanted to go to these places, the 1-year contract on my apartment tells me no.

So I’m still working, which I am definitely thankful for, but the added security of benefits, insurance, retirement plans, paid time off and bonuses that I was so earnestly working for I will now not be receiving. It’s be in a precarious position (a near panic, actually) that I may have placed all my eggs in one basket–and then set this basket on the Titanic.

I will continue working, and do my best, but all wisdom says to be looking for another job in the meantime; for while there’s a chance things will work out and they will fully hire me in the future, they also have the right to cut my strings at any time and send me out without so much as a farewell wave. Please note that I don’t really blame the company or anyone I work with for this. I’ve actually gotten along with my co-workers well, but falling complacent with your position as a temp can be very costly. Hey, that sounds like a pretty good metaphor for life itself, actually. I’ll see if I can register that.

Within all the uncertainty, however, there’s this seed of a thrill. For once I’ve placed myself in a position where I have to make things work no matter what. If I’m cut from my current job, I do at least have a temp agency to fall back on, and I’m still living somewhere with so much more opportunity than where I previously lived. Even if it’s not the biggest, it’s a city, and I may finally find The Right Things here.

And even if that all fails, through the tiniest graces I have never had a better opportunity to play this clip:

If you have any advice, I would certainly love to hear it. And you know what? Updating this blog after so long has felt good. Doing it here in B&N on a Saturday with a Green Tea Latte also feels good. I think I’ll start doing this weekly. Just, you know, probably with fewer humongous life updates.

Simple Saturday: Scantily blogged

2 Comments

I know I’ve been rather lax on the updates recently. The usual upspike in work and commitments is upon me. Case in point, I’m working 6 days per week the next two weeks. It’s nothing too bad, since I’m banking days for upcoming excursions into the world, which I’m much looking forward to.

I’m also investing some more time into my health and losing weight, having recently joined SparkPeople and taking advantage of their fitness and nutrition trackers. You totally don’t realize how much damage those five innocent packages of Ding Dongs between meals can wreak until you see the numbers on the screen.

I do have ideas, but I just need to scrounge up the time and will to get them down. I’m still hoping for at least one post per week, though–Simple Saturdays excluded. That’s for my health, too!

Simple Saturday: Ups and Downs

1 Comment

This week literally felt like a roller coaster, to which I blame work and Potter County, Pennsylvania.

First of all, though, I must mention great news on the video game journalism front. UGTV.ca, the site I’ve been writing for since the middle of the year, has finally emerged from its binary cocoon into the beautiful (and burgandy-ish) LeftStickRight. The general format and offerings are the same, but the interface is more reader-friendly and we will soon have a communal Twitter account for quick impressions and news. It’s one step closer to class, professionalism, and a cushy job in the industry.*

(*Cushy job in the industry not guaranteed.)

OK, so the week started off beautifully. I was still on my 6-day vacation and went out geocaching with a friend. We chose Potter County in the Keystone State to pick up on a series promoted by the tourism departments.

Potter is nicknamed “God’s Country,” and it’s not difficult to see why. Most all of it is open forest and state parks; unpopulated and pristine. Unfortunately, God apparently loves long uphill climbs and Potter County geocachers love placing their quarries at the top of them. Sure, the first few are a little exhilarating and the vistas up top were satisfying, but by the end of the day a sidewalk ramp was enough to make me quake in despair. All said, geocaching is a great exercise aid, since I never actually turned back from a pursuit all day and ended up with quite the workout. Amazing how Tupperware and ammo cans can motivate the addicted.

I recovered before heading back to work and I’m glad I did, since I received a fun surprise: hey, you’re in charge tonight and half the newsroom is out sick! I’ll spare the languishing details, but I ended up spending 14.5 hours working pages and pondered just sleeping on the floor at the end, curled up in my own creation.

The week’s over, though, and things have balanced out. I even have a few new entry ideas rattling about my synapses, so I’m feeling good about the next. Have you ever had a ridiculously long work period? Feel free to talk about it; I’m interested in hearing about them.

Simple Saturday: Plane Tired

2 Comments

The blog hit a new pageview record on Oct. 21, with 71! Once again, thank you to all who bother to take a look–it really inspires me to keep the writing up as best I can.

Speaking of which, sorry for not having anything yesterday. Work just beat me down. Left home at 3 p.m., got back at 2:30 a.m., and, unfortunately, I have to go back today. You know you’re in the wrong state of mind when you think becoming sick would be a reasonable alternative to attending the workplace.

So I’m tired, but that’s OK. I mean, I know my job isn’t as crucial as, say, an airline pilot’s, but I’ve never been accused of falling asleep on the job.

It feels the skies have been full of lies recently, hasn’t it. Why am I not believing the pilots right now? Because, according to an NTSB report, “The crew stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness.”

Come on; that just screams “Busted!”

INVESTIGATOR: What were you doing up there? Why did you never respond to the tower for 78 minutes?

CO-PILOT: We were slee–er… talking! Yeah, talking!

PILOT: And not, like, about the Vikings/Steelers game, to pull a completely random example out of thin air! We were talking airplane stuff!

CO-PILOT: Yeah! Super-important airplane business-type stuff!

PILOT: Around the time of approach! For 78 minutes…

INVESTIGATOR: …

CO-PILOT: I wouldn’t believe us, either…

I would be more willing to lampoon the whole affair, but frankly the situation’s pretty scary. It was a loss of “situational awareness” that brought Flight 3407 down in my region earlier this year, killing 50 people, and how many stories have there been now of public transit crashing because the people in control were on the phone or texting? I know people make mistakes, but more needs to be done to ensure those who have so many people’s lives in their hands at one time are fit both physically and mentally to do the job.

2 Mindless Jobs that Could Be Fun

2 Comments

In the toilsome routine of the average working individual, times may arise when one looks over all they have accomplished in their career to date and wonder, “Gee, there has to be a job out there that offers more fame or fortune for an equal or lesser investment of brainpower.” Then the devil appears and offers you this desire in return for your soul, so you hesitantly sign only to realize, of course, you’ve been tricked and must employ all your cunning to beat Beelzebub at his own game and return things to exactly the way they were, only with a newfound appreciation of your meager yet ultimately worthwhile life.

Sucker.

You don’t need unholy legalese to open yourself to the world of satisfying idiotwork. All you need is an open mind and an eye for opportunity. Why not pursue one of these two examples below?

Inept Infomercial Example
The point of infomercials is to convince you, the consumer, that the traditional way you have capably handled mundane tasks your entire life is complicated, inefficient and potentially lethal and that you need this new, mass-manufactured item to get with the times and become a shining example of human progress and ingenuity—until your next garage sale.

The problem with convincing people their old ways are horrendous is that it often just doesn’t feel that way to them. They need to be shown how bad it is; they need to see for themselves how they must look attempting their obsolete methods of getting through life.

That’s where you’d come in. You would be the persuasive mirror convincing the world how stupid they look trying to mop a floor with a mop, of all things! And how come they never injured their fingers trying to chop carrots the old way like that? It just seems so simple to do if some sort of frontal lobotomy-simulating condition struck you while you were in the middle of making dinner!

Ah, how much fun it must be to take everyday objects and inflict as much mayhem upon yourself and others in grand displays of exaggerated clumsiness. There’s a sense of pride about it among the career players, with the crown still going to Herbet Nacker, who managed to annihilate three city blocks and lose seven of his toes with nothing more than an ordinary nosehair trimmer.

TV Show Concept Regurgitator
It’s incredibly difficult to break into show business, it’s true. But why is that? Because the jobs you actually do are so ridiculously easy!

Let’s say you’re in charge of the coming network lineup. Should you try one of those risky original shows that critics rave about yet no one seems to watch? Not unless Tina Fey is holding members of your family hostage, apparently. So what’s an exec to do?

Well, people like to watch three—and apparently only three—things: doctors, lawyers and cops. It used to be that you had to shake these things up a bit to keep people entertained; you know, things like changing the jobs and motives of the main characters, most of the words in the titles, etc. But not anymore! CBS alone has the crime drama market cornered in just two properties. Heck, the original “CSI:” came pre-loaded with a colon, just begging for spin-offs!

Off the top of my head, here are all the crime dramas currently on CBS. If any are canceled, they’ve run at least two seasons and were airing new episodes within the past year:

CSI: (Finding killers with science)
CSI: Miami (Finding killers with science and sunglasses)
CSI: New York (Finding killers with science and accents)
NCIS (Finding killers with science in the military)
NCIS: Los Angeles (Finding killers with science in the military, and I honestly don’t know the quirk)
Criminal Minds (Finding killers with psychology)
Numb3rs (Finding killers with math)
Cold Case (Finding old killers)
Without a Trace (Finding missing people… before they are killed)

That’s nine whole hours of CBS’s broadcasting week, all sewn up. And if crime is not your scene, there’s plenty of room in the fields of medical dramas; sitcoms featuring dumb, fat men with smart, attractive women; shaky-cam mockumentary comedies; reality shows featuring over-reproductive families and, as The Onion exposed not so long ago, the huge success of the fledgling cake market.

Any other jobs out there that fit the bill? Let me know what you think.