Friday, June 14

Versayce

Today at work I had a chance to meet the guy who used to do the job that I have now. Basically he’s moved up a step on the ladder to a better position, and I’m the guy they tapped to take over the wheel.

But like so many other things in corporate culture – it's not like you can always just leave your old duties.

So even though this guy has a whole new job, he’s still pretty much the resident expert on all this work that I’ll eventually end up doing. I’m too new still, and the girl who is basically covering the base while I get up to speed is a little out of her element (especially since she was actually hired to do something else, which they're still expecting her to do anyways).

So having access to this guy is an obviously important deal. Here’s a clear source of information and expertise directly related to the work I’ll be doing. Plus by all accounts (he wrote most of the training materials and report samples I've been reading as part of my ramp-up period) he’s a pretty sharp guy – and even if none of these things were true, having more allies at the office is always a good thing, especially if you’re the newbie in town.

Too bad he’s sort of a cunt.

So I’m at my desk just sorta chilling the way I have been most of the week – reading over stuff I've probably read a million times, waiting for the real work to ramp up as it clearly will sooner than later. And this guy shows up to visit and help out the other gal who is covering the reports for the moment – and of course that leads to an introduction.  Handshakes and small talk – where are you from, how long have you lived in Jacksonville, what sort of work did you do before this – pretty standard stuff.

But then he was like, “what’s your degree in?” – and when I told him English degree, he sort of stopped and looked at me, then said:

“How can you be a technical writer if you don’t have a technical degree?”

Guuuuuuuuurrrl..

Dude, I just met you. This is how we’re gonna play? What do you want me to do next, get back in the kitchen and make you a sandwich? Bring you a martini and your slippers? I’m sorry, can you dumb that language down a little bit so I can understand it over the sound of how awesome my tits are?

What do you mean how can I work in this field that I've been working in for more than 10 years without taking the exact same path you took to get here? Perhaps the better question is how did a serious piece of eye candy like me find my way into YOUR esteemed seat when clearly it’s only reserved for bitches in knock-off alligator boots with pissy attitudes?

I mean literally this was like a minute into the conversation. Which was our first conversation of any kind at all. Not exactly the kind of introduction I was expecting, or one that I appreciated. 

I mean, in the end what are you gonna do? Everybody likes to feel like they’re king of some little castle – and clearly this job used to be this dude’s own private Idaho or whatever – but that doesn't mean I’m gonna piss all over the drapes just because I didn't go to the same schools you did.

I don’t know – maybe the dude didn't realize how petty his comment came off, but this is a good example of the reasons why I’m still a little chafed over the way my last job ended. Because all of this bull, all this posturing and learning curving were all things I’d already done somewhere else. Whether or not anyone thought I looked the part or was legitimately qualified didn't really matter, because I had clearly earned my stripes and shown my value. 

But now I've got to take shit from this jackass just because he's the only one who knows where all the research materials are kept?

It’s just kind of infuriating to think about. It’s sort of maddening that there are still hoops I need to jump through to get my final checks and stuff from my old gig and when I call to ask about it the guy on the line (who I had worked with many times) asks how to spell my last name. Like I’m some sort of stranger now.

I mean yeah, I played my part. I’m certainly not without some level of culpability in all of this. But this walk of shame shit is getting old, especially when it’s coming from some schmuck at this new gig who doesn't know me from a hole in the ground.

How can I do this job without a technical degree?
Because I’m a writer, bitch.


[Now Playing:  The Safety Fire - "Red Hatchet" ]


Wednesday, June 12

Lukather

The first few weeks at a new job are always so weird -- especially with big corporations. They make you jump through all these hoops to get the gig, but when you get there you find out that you don’t have a computer.

IT is working on it, they have to build one.

Then when you finally get one you have to get access to all these different databases, so there’s forms to fill out and protocols to follow – and when all that is done you have to wait for the requests to go through.

Compliance is working on it, they have to set you up.

And so you sit there. And then you sit there some more.

There’s gonna be a point in a few months where I’ll be disappointed in myself bitching that I have nothing to do at work, but for now the fact remains that I've got next to nothing to do – and the monotony is starting to get to me.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad gig thus far – but more to the point that it’s not very high impact. Things seem (at least so far) to move pretty slow around here. There’s a very deliberate pace to things that probably helps the work go by without piling on too much, but it doesn't make for much of a spectator sport.

I don’t know – it's hard not to feel like this is sort of a rebound job. I might not have always said so enough when I was there, but I liked the way things were with my old gig, and as a result (combined with all the idle time I've found myself with during the days) it’s next to impossible not to constantly compare this job to my previous one.

The quiet here is unnerving.

At my old job, the headphones were to keep the noise out – the constant political bantering, Tebow talk, and industrial sounds – music was a way of insulating yourself from the cacophony. Here though, Spotify has become my daily way of reassuring myself that other people exist, even if it is just Mackelmore.

But there’s this interesting sort of side effect thing happening, which I don’t necessarily think of as bad – where all this music I’m taking in is mixing with my recent push to see if I can actually get out there and play with other people for a change to leave me really conflicted about working in an office at all. I mean (even if it is just a temporary thing), if I’m getting paid to sit around all day in preparation for work to come, wouldn't it be all the better if I were just at home working on phrasing or songwriting in preparation for some jam session or a practice or something.

Speaking of that..

About a week or so back I threw an ad up on craigslist announcing myself as a guitar person who was looking for other musicians to make noise with. Nothing too serious, mainly just fishing to see what responses I might get.

To my surprise, the emails started coming in pretty quick. A lot of it was throwaway responses (one guy said “you should call me” but didn’t leave a number), but at least a few of them seemed worth exploring further.

But here’s the dilemma. What I really want (at least at this early stage) is just to find other players and start making noise. Not really worry about changing the whole world of music right out of the gate -- but instead just dip my toe back in the water and make sure I still have the chops to hang with with strangers before I take any definitive next steps to start playing and writing music I like.

But what that’s left me with is a quick reminder of what one the underlying musical spectrums of the town I live in really is:

Matchbox 20 <---------------------------------------------> Godsmack

Call me old fashioned, but Matchbox 20 blows goats. Living between headphones like I do and not listening to the radio, you tend to forget that a lot of guys my age truly do believe that the bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and Train were like.. Important. There’s a place for soft rock songwriters, and I do like my share (although most of mine seem to be more 70’s based) – but a huge hunk of the 90’s was a wasteland for mainstream rock. Even the metal from that era was subpar compared to where it was before and after – and I like a lot of that stuff anyways.

But not Godsmack.

Oh man, save for Creed or Nickelback – there were few hard rock bands I've ever found more cloying and useless than Godsmack. During their brief stint of popularity it was constantly bewildering to me what people ever saw in them. Their songs literally go nowhere.

Granted, my taste in music isn't exactly conventional all the time – but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg compared to my feelings about bands I CAN’T FRIGGIN STAND -- and yet it seems like these are the songs everybody wants to jam on.

So it leaves me with this interesting dilemma. I want to make music and jam with other people. But other people (at least so far) seem content, even excited to play junk. So do I bite the bullet and dive into stuff I don’t really enjoy for the experience, or do I hold out for that thing I really want?

I’m kinda going through the same thing as I investigate open mic jam sessions around town as well. There’s an awful lot of Mustang Sally and Johnny Cash dressed up as Rockabilly going around, which can only really be interesting for so long.

And while I understand that there’s plenty of people that equally wouldn't enjoy a jam session that was nothing but hackneyed Djent rip-offs or Steve Vai licks, but you’d think there’d be a middle ground.

I think in the end if I want to meet players and get my face out there I’m just gonna have to get my feet wet and bite the bullet – because after all the more you play (and show you’re willing to play) the better it is for the scene, but still..
If people start getting the impression that I’m down to play
Dave Matthews Band, somebody’s getting punched in the face.

[Now Playing:  Steve Lukather - "Flash in The Pan" ]


Monday, June 10

The Reflex

Every day lately, unfortunately a little like clockwork after I have a cup of coffee or a meal I get this feeling in my gut like heartburn. My throat tightens up and my chest feels like someone’s gone at it with a cheese grater. When I was younger I had a bout with acid reflux-type symptoms, but it’s not something I've had to deal with in quite a while. It goes away after a while, and if it doesn't I douse it with pepto, but I honestly figured it would have gone back away by now that I’m back working and trying to get things back on track in my world.

Not that the issue (whatever it is) is solved, but that sometimes you just have to plow ahead. Tack a direction and set the sails. A little rough water (or stomach acid) is to be expected when you’re essentially jamming on the gas pedal from a hard stop. You can’t ignore the signs in the road, obviously – but you can’t just sit still either waiting for the wind to change, either. Bills need to get paid and things have to be done.

I was never one for doctors.

My dad goes to the doctor all the time, it seems. The older he gets, the more specialists it seems he picks up – and in what seems a bit of an uncharacteristic move for him, he just keeps piling them on. I say this because this is the same man who’s been told by almost every doctor he sees to quit smoking and get in more exercise, and he sort of tells them in his own polite way to go screw. And yet he still makes a concerted effort to see every one of them, even though he surely knows what they’re all going to say. As much as we’re alike, I never really got this compulsion of his.

If all they do is charge you money to say the same things over and over that you’re not going to listen to – why bother? He might as well be seeing psychics or buying lottery tickets the way he’s going.

But it’s also kind of his thing, too.

I think sometimes we draw these little lines in the sand. Draw boundaries to lock onto for our own edification. My dad likes to smoke. He knows it’s bad for him, he knows everyone who ever loved him from his sons to his grandchildren have tried to get him to quit, but for whatever reason he doesn't want to let it go. And while it certainly doesn't help any of his health issues to keep the habit, very few of the issues he’s dealing with are (at least in his estimation) the kinds that are a direct result of the habit. That’s not to say it’s right or that he’s justified in pumping that poison in his lungs, but that in his mind he’s been doing it for close to 60 years now and it hasn't gotten him yet – so why the hell not live a little?

It’s the same sort of mental math all smokers go through at some point I suppose. Especially those of his generation, when it seemed like everybody was doing it.

Nowadays people look at the whole enterprise differently, but a lot of them still make the same choice.

We live in a world where more or less we have a good idea of how to live perfectly healthy. When you get right down to it you could easily plot out a map of the habits to avoid and the right organic foods to eat and the exercises to do and the places to live that would provide you with as much of the optimal conditions you could get to keep your body and spirit in good shape. It’s all right there, and I’m sure there are people who follow those disciplines. But the rest of us seem to live in grey areas that at some point we’re old enough to choose on our own. Sure we might have grown up with parents that microwaved every dinner and lit up at the dinner table in front of their kids, but after a certain age you start to see all that for what it is and really re-evaluate the way you cook or the habits you choose to keep.

It’s such a bizarre part of being a human being – this crossroads where personal happiness and optimal health don’t necessarily have to be connected. Lots of people live their lives with at least one little self-destructive flavor mixed in – and still find love and prosperity in spades.

I know we've all probably known (or even been related to) someone who did everything “wrong” and still lived to be 100 years old or whatever.  Like some kind of cruel joke, just thumbing their noses at nature and science – smoking and eating junk food and not recycling and sitting too close to the TV and drinking booze like crazy people while everyone around them tried to be vigilant about watching their health and catching fucking cancer left and right. When you look at it all through a certain prism, none of it  makes any goddamn sense. Our bodies are wonders of bio engineering that seem to like it better when we treat the plumbing like crap.

Sometimes you have to scuff the soles of your shoes a little bit so you don’t slip all over the place when you wear them. Perfection is an ideal we strive for that doesn't seem to really do us any good half the time.

I wish my dad didn't smoke. I wish my hair had never fallen out. I wish this frigging heartburn would go away. I wish cancer hadn't ever been invented and the people it stole from all of us were still here telling me to eat my vegetables and turn down the music in my headphones.

But the world isn't perfect.
Or maybe it is, and the things we put ourselves through are just life’s way
of roughing things up a little on the edges so we can all get a better grip.


Wednesday, June 5

Space

It's like we've gone back to our own corners. Started living our own lives like they were before. Almost like it didn't happen at all.

It's frustrating. It's a splash of cold water, a harsh reminder of a big reason why we're here in the first place, proof that no matter how I process things or deal with circumstances, it effects everything around me.

Eventually there will be a breakwater. Eventually something will be said.

But until then, there's nothing but space.

[Now Playing:  Frank Ocean - "Swim Good" ]


Monday, June 3

Castles

You can't hold on to water. You can immerse yourself in it. You can be cleansed. You can let it rain all over you and be invigorated by the touch. But if you clasp your hands around it, if you encase it in your fingers it will drain to nothing and slip away.

And all you'll have to blame is yourself.

It's been a trying few weeks. A period of time where so many things were possible, so much time was available -- but all I could seem to do was look back over my shoulder. I should have seen the writing on the wall, but getting laid off from my job a few weeks back honestly came as a shock. Like I was watching Game of Thrones and hadn't read the books and HOLY CRAP WHO DOES THAT TO THEIR MAIN CHARACTERS?

I didn't love that job. My manager was an ass, the bureaucracy was stilted, there were times when it felt like the executives at the top were actively instructing people to row the boat in two different directions. Worst of all, despite all I'd done above and beyond my job description, I never felt like I was moving in any direction that felt like up.

But I liked the way the job fit into my life. At the end there the work was easy. The free time and the internet access was vast, and I could spend all day long if I wanted to writing or listening to music or chatting and making jokes with my girlfriend, which I frequently did -- leaving me with the sort of catbird grins on my face that coworkers would notice and ask about.

You might have thought that with all the "actual work" being taken out of the equation and nothing to do during the layoff period but to job hunt and hang out on the internet that it would have continued to be that way, maybe even escalated more.

But I tried to put my hands around the water. Tried to hold on too tight.

I've made some colossal errors lately. I've been losing my cool in ways I shouldn't have. Snoozing on things that I never fall asleep on. Trying to take everything on my own shoulders. Risking the one good thing I have in my life in the process.

I'm frustrated. I don't have all the answers. The water wont stay in my grasp no matter what I try. And yelling at it certainly hasn't helped.

I start a new contract job today. It's the kind of thing that could turn into something really good if I can manage it. It's the kind of thing that suggests that there was more to me as an employee than just some slacker who blogged a lot on the clock.

But if at the end of the day all you have left is an empty beach and a trail of water retreating from where the castles you once built seeped through and faded away, what's it all worth?

I know I'm not being very clear. I know it seems like I'm talking in circles. But that doesn't mean I don't want to you listen.

It doesn't mean that I still don't need the water.


[Now Playing:  The Safety Fire- "Huge Hammers" ]


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