Monday, December 31, 2012

One Happy New Year, Ready to Go!

Ever since the crossing from 1999 to 2000 “Ready to Go” by Republica has been my favorite New Year’s song. 

When Republica’s self-titled album came out in 1996 it was hailed as a fine example of the Music That Will Finally Force You to Get Rid of All Those Guitar-Based Band Records and Acknowledge the Electronica Revolution (because a half-dozen big-city club twinks writing for Rolling Stone and Spin know more than you ever will, you stupid flyover country peasant) but what makes “Ready to Go” endure is the galloping acoustic guitar intro and the electric power-chord builds that drive the chorus. It has all the best elements of a rock power anthem—and what do we need for our New Year’s Eve? That’s right, motherfucker. Go home, club twinks. You’re drunk. 

So Happy New Year! Enter dancing, and let’s make this one for the books!


2013: Is That a Promise or a Threat?

Twenty-Twelve was a landmark year for my family. We came to terms with many important realities, namely, that unless I can make things happen on the writing front, we’re going to continue to be pulled into the Great Metaphorical Space Amoeba of Financial Oblivion. 

Like this.

Yet, this was also the year I discovered that I can finish a book. If I can finish the other two books in that trilogy I’ll have something I can sell. Then I can finish The Crisis That Was Christmas and make my definitive statement on a season no one should dread or merely “get through.” I can get going with Cringe City, the novel I’ve wanted to write since 1982, but never knew how to fill the large gap between the already-written beginning and end.

With all that, and two books of poetry I’d like to complete just to say I did—Nymphomagic Electroshock and Other Middle-Aged Complaints and my biker-novel-in-haiku God and Country Miles—it’s no wonder I’m excited. 

Of course, all of this has to be rolling and rolling fuckin’ gangbusters before the end of the first quarter or we’re as good as killed by that giant space amoeba come summer. So far, momentum is on my side as far as getting everything finished. The main thing is to keep writing, keep finishing things.

Twenty-Twelve is also the year my wife and I came to terms with the fact that we’re too old and tired and cranky to put up with the slave-driving misery of the working world. So it’s this or nothing. Maybe I’ll learn how to write a decent blog as I go along. I’d sure as hell better: I need to get at least two more Web sites up promoting my material by the end of February, if not sooner.

So it’s back to work for your never-so-humble scribe. Fortunately, another thing I learned in 2012 is how to party and work at the same time. This newly acquired skill should serve me well after January, when I’m done with the Great Post-Holiday Detox. Yep, 2o13 should prove to be something. What that ‘’something” is depends on how well I pull off what I’m about to do next. And then the thing after that. And after that.... You get the idea.

See you next year!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Music for a Cold Sky

I woke up with this song in my head. It’s been haunting me all day. I stepped out for my mid-afternoon constitutional and immediately understood why.

“Eggs and Their Shells” is from Cocteau Twins’ 1985 EP Echoes in Shallow Bay, but the best-sounding version you’ll likely find outside of a vinyl bin is on Volume 1 of the 2006 collection Lullabies to Violaine. Play this while looking at these photos I took along my very short, very frigid walk. Now you can be haunted, too! 

Pikes Peak through the branches

One of many attempts to capture the layers of sky-color through the naked branches

December sun angling down behind the stratus clouds


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sunday Devotional

Here’s your Sunday morning sermon—at 2 a.m. Sunday! You’re welcome! Listen to Brother Van preach it before staggering away to pass out and sleep Sunday away as God intended. Church? You live it, man!

The Simple Joy of Taking Out the Trash

so what are you waiting for? permission? you got it!

The key to keeping your New Year’s Resolutions is to get started on them early. Don’t wait until the first or second of January to begin cold. Do it that way and I can almost guarantee you’ll fail. 

You want to lose weight? Start cutting back on the portions and the not-so-good-for-you stuff now. Looking to get in shape? Start developing your routine now. You don’t have to go all out. Just start getting into the groove. Indeed, now is the perfect time to find that groove. After New Year’s Day you’re going to be caught up in the Everyday Ordinary. The holiday buzz will be gone and so will your drive to change.

Start your changes now, however, and you’ll carry that a piece of that buzz with you throughout the year. Especially when you catch yourself actually accomplishing your goals.

Right now I’m high—as in “stoned out of my freakin’ mind euphoric”—on having accomplished a major item in Operation: Take Out the Trash 2013: I closed my LinkedIn account. 

I wish I could say “deleted” but that doesn’t seem possible—apparently one phone call is all it takes to get my profile back up (albeit without all the recommendations and endorsements, etc.). But it’s off the Web now. Nothing to do now but see who notices, and tries frantically to get in touch because, gosh! It’s LinkedIn! What about your career?

Right now I’d like to take the opportunity to practice my rant on that:

Career? When you’re 51 years old and haven’t been working for some time, let alone consistently at one job description, there’s no such thing as “career.” 

For all the diverse experience on my résumé, for all of the examples of my work I’d made available on my page, the only contacts I got were from HR people who could do no more for me than the usual $12-an-hour shit—if that. A few of these HR slags were downright rude, too. I remember responding to a request for more information to one lady, noting that all the information she was asking me for was right there on my résumé. She replied, “I am not interested in your résumé. I want you to write up your work experience for me.” 

I suppose I could have cut and pasted said experience from the very résumé she claimed not to be interested in. Instead I wrote the lady to tell her I didn’t appreciate her tone. It was then I decided I should delete my LinkedIn account, because, fuck this, I’m sick of it. That was sometime in 2011. 

Over the last year a feature came up in which people could endorse you for various things. I got loads of endorsements for my public speaking work. Which is unsurprising, as anyone who’s seen and heard me emcee an event knows I can energize a room. But did I get any public speaking work? No. 

No offers for writing gigs, either. I’ve got CompTIA certs, A+, Security+, Network+. I’ve learned the hard way that, unless you’ve been working in IT for years to begin with, CompTIA certs are utterly meaningless. Despite everthing the salespeople from places like New Horizons and other diploma/cert mills will tell you, they will not “get your foot in the door.” You know what a Microsoft Certified Systems Admin certification got me? One offer for a two-day $11-an-hour gig swapping out RAM in the computers at an auto dealership. All I had to do was drive five miles from my house, pee in a cup, and the job was mine. For two days. And maybe they’d find me something better if I turned out to be an agreeable enough slave. I’ve fallen for that enough times, thank you. Forget it.

That also was 2011. This is 2012. As of 29 December my LinkedIn account is closed. Rant concluded.

Obviously (and in case you’re retarded), the problem I have isn’t with LinkedIn. It’s with the job market, and coming to terms with the harsh reality that, save for the occasional call center job (which, having done, I refuse to do anymore), I am unemployable. I’ve got to find another way to make money.

Losing the LinkedIn account was an important step towards acknowledging this reality, and, in the spirit of Operation: Take Out the Trash 2013, getting rid of the superfluous in my life. I’ve got a ways to go yet. But check it out: it’s not even 2013 and I’ve already got this behind me. I hope to get more out of the way before singing “Auld Lang Syne” a couple of nights from now.

By that point I’ll already be in the habit of success. Success is a hell of a drug. Even in the smallest quantities, like I’m doing here, you’ll find you can’t stop grinning. Try it sometime. You could put worse monkeys on your back.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Crisis That Was Christmas

...was no such thing here. The Christmas 2012 After-Action Report.

I’m still reeling from yesterday’s warm and easy—and even productive!—Christmas Day. Given our negative cash-flow situation, anxieties among all of us in the family where we’re going next (both children are on the brink of young adulthood), we had no right to be mildly amused, let alone jolly. We made it happen anyway.

Recycling our gift boxes - by
putting them away for another year!
It helped that we stayed home, kept the gifts reasonable, and made up our minds to enjoy ourselves regardless. We’re not homeless. We’re not gunshot, sick, dying of cancer, etc. So far, so good. The furnace works, and we’re running it. There’s ham and sweet potato casserole with monster marshmallows on top; cranberries cooked with half an orange and regular mashed potatoes with gravy on the stove. No one’s going hungry.

[Sidebar: I am astonished at my good fortune for being married to a woman who knows how to shop, knows how to cook, and likes to cook. There’s no perfume like the smell of holiday cooking in the home.]

To all of my readers, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’ve got one down and a good head start on the next. Here’s wishing you all the best with yours.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Being Angry Means You Still Care

according to our late Brother George Carlin:

“There is a certain amount of righteous indignation I hold for this culture, because to get back to the real root of it, to get broader about it, my opinion that is my species—and my culture in America specifically—have let me down and betrayed me. I think this species had great, great promise, with this great upper brain that we have, and I think we squandered it on God and Mammon. And I think this culture of ours has such promise, with the promise of real, true freedom, and then everyone has been shackled by ownership and possessions and acquisition and status and power. And perhaps it’s just a human weakness and an inevitable human story that these things happen. But there’s disillusionment and some discontent in me about it. I don’t consider myself a cynic. I think of myself as a skeptic and a realist. But I understand the word ‘cynic’ has more than one meaning, and I see how I could be seen as cynical. ‘George, you’re cynical.’ Well, you know, they say if you scratch a cynic you find a disappointed idealist. And perhaps the flame still flickers a little....”
 — George Carlin