Tuesday, January 27, 2015

* mic drop *


Greetings, Loyal Listeners.

By all accounts, January is a pretty depressing time of year. The last remnants of your vacation time have been frittered away. Everything is cold and dark and dead. Holiday bills come due with a vengeance. Theatrical movie releases suck even more bawlz than usual.

As such, January is probably not the best time for me to do my annual "year in review" blog entry. And it's certainly not the best time for me to ponder the last scheduled Emblogification Capture Device post ever.

A year and some change ago I started to look for a part-time job in order to avoid the inevitability of being dragged kicking and screaming away from my keyboard. In doing so I made the following three wishes to the Employment Genie:
  1. It Had To Be Mobile In order to have a hope in hell of continuing my writing "career" I had to find something that kept me on my feet and as far away as possible from a computer monitor. Why? Because previous experience told me that slaving away at a sedentary, computer-centric call-center job all day long would annihilate any remaining desire I'd have to go home, sit down and irradiate my eyeballs even further in the cold regard of a blank Microsoft Word document.
  2. It Had To Make Sense  In other words, I had to work at something that kept my conscience clear, something that I didn't have to fake aptitude or interest in. I didn't want to work for some greedy, monolithic, corporate giant again - especially one that seemed intent on wiping mom-and-pop competitors right off the planet with Borg-like precision and ruthlessness. I wanted to work for a small, independent, innovative business that was trying to do something different. I wanted to help this entrepreneurial David fend off all of the overbearing, hyper-competitive Goliaths out there. 
  3. It Had To Be Populated With Cool People Not people who rejoice at the beginning of every new cycle of Big Brother. Not people who keep paying Adam Sandler to take vacations. Not people who have an allergic reaction to the word "socialism" or barely tolerate the existence of gay people or get irrationally pissed off whenever the word "religion" is brought up for public scrutiny. With so many people my age and older throwing themselves upon the oblivion grenade for their kids or just making a conscious decision to preserve their outlook on life in carbonite, I started to crave fresh blood like Nosferatu with a mid-life crisis. I wanted to be surrounded by young, smart, creative, willful, work-in-progress people who are still striving to get better.
And let me tell you folks, I hit the freakin' jackpot.

I started working at a place which fulfilled all of my wildest expectations in spades. Unfortunately I'd neglected to lobby the Job Fairy for one other very important criterion:

You know...cash, simoleons, bread, funds, greenbacks - the precious pieces of polymer paper that help us poor, brainwashed, capitalists plebes distinguish between who's leading the pack in the rat-race. A.K.A. the root of all evil. A.K.A. the bane of my fucking existence.

No surprise, but most of my twenty-something co-workers are also living paycheck to paycheck. Even worse, many of them were still being fleeced by a greedy, opportunistic, for-profit education system that wants to see them buried in debt up to their sparkly eyeballs for the rest of their lives. If I had any say in the matter a college-level education would be free in this country and even the lowly fry-jockey would be able to earn a respectable living wage.

But since I'm probably not gonna be elected Emperor of North America any time soon kids in their twenties will continue to be poorer then church mice. Now, I'm not saying that we should just accept this as some sort of mandatory rite of passage, quite the opposite. What I am saying that it's more socially acceptable to be broke if you're just starting out in life. Christ knows that I was dirt poor at their age, but now my inability to be upwardly mobile along with the rest of my crusty-ass peers is starting to wear on me.

The sad fact is that we're all willful participants in a consumption-driven system that's designed to underscore how well you're doing versus someone else. Self-improvement, seeking knowledge and trying to make the world a better place through creative pursuits is pretty much irrelevant. In our society it's much more prestigious to be house-poor, lease a new car, breed like a rabbit or rent-to-own a shiny new sofa. That's the real barometer to gauge whether or not you're winning at life.

Well, I personally can't subscribe to this outlook. The perpetually-dangling carrot has never motivated me. Honestly, I don't want to live in a suburban cul-de-sac, crammed in between two other mouth breathers who are silently trying to goad me into some sort of perpetual lawn care competition. I don't want to bring kids into the world because the joint's a real dump right now. And I really don't miss buying future landfill just to feel a momentary rush of endorphins.

Although I don't want a new car I kinda need a new one because mine is over ten years old and both the engine and the airbag lights are on. I'm no mechanic but I'm pretty sure that's probably not a good thing. And although I don't want to live in the sort of cut-and-paste neighborhood where the Barenaked Ladies shot their "Call And Answer" video, I would like to stop throwing my money into the incinerator bin marked RENT. At this stage in the game I'd settle for a small lakeside cabin in the woods or a tiny bungalow on route to the beach. I'd also like to have a dog. Homeless people have dogs, why can't I?

Most of all I want to travel again. I haven't gone anywhere in the past two years and it's starting to get on my nerves. I'm this close to humoring the possibility of becoming a groundskeeper at some clothing-optional resort down south somewhere. I don't care; I'll provide my own towel, floppy hat and twenty-gallon drum of genital-friendly SPF 90 sunscreen.

Looking back over the entries here I've detected something that vaguely resembles a theme. If I'm working away at a job I like then I'm not going to get paid for it but if I'm toiling away in a mental and physical salt mine then I'm bound to make more bling than Croesus himself. Case and point: I'm currently working part-time and making less than half the money I was earning at my last "hit-the-feeder-bar-and-get-a-pellet" job. I'm not losing money but I'm also not making much in the way of headway either. 

Long before Frank Miller went nuts and turned into the sort of extreme fascist asshole that's parodied by connotation in his own books, he was a lean and hungry aspiring writer and artist. Determined to break into the comic book biz, he began stalking his favorite Batman artist Neal Adams. As Miller's ersatz mentor, Neal was pretty vicious in his appraisal of the young ingenue: 

“He told me that I was just no damn good, and I would never be any good,” Miller said recently. “But my problem is I got fired from every other job I ever had. So it was either comics or nothing.”

Even though I can't relate to Frank's more recent soundbites, this definitely resonates with me. I wish I could go back in time and convince twenty-year-old me to just suck it up, pay your dues and try to make a go of it. Now I find myself feeling old, tired, left behind and distinctly pathetic.

To make matters worse, whenever I look at all of these high-paying, so-called "adult" career jobs all I can think is "boring"..."boring"... "unqualified"..."boring"..."sedentary"..."I could totally do that but I don't have a piece of paper proving that I can do that"..."sedentary and boring"..."boring"... "suicide-inducing"..."hideously unqualified" ..."boring"... "boring".  To paraphrase Frank "every other job I've ever had either depressed me or made me sick so it's either writing or nothing."

But boo-fuckin'-hoo, amirite? A lot of people have the same "I'm better than this" *slash* "My destiny lies upon a higher path" delusions of grandeur. But then again, a lot of people don't. I remember asking one of my fellow managers at Sears what her dream job was and she actually replied: "Oh, I'd love to be a secretary at a nice office somewhere!" Honestly, I looked at her as if she'd just expressed a sincere desire to be the Lead Quality Control Taste Tester for the vomit, booger, rotten egg and earwax-flavored Bertie Botts Beans.

I'm not planning to post here again but, hey, crazier things have happened. I doubt that I'll be able to keep my big trap shut as we get closer to the next federal election. Or if more artists are killed for the mortal sin of parody. Or if ISIS gets close to establishing a caliphate. Or if American Sniper becomes the top grossing film of all time. Or if Kim Jong-Un is named the new head of the MPAA. In fact, I'd like nothing more then to explore every one of these topics right the falk now.

I'd like to think that I've written some pretty good stuff here. When I first started this blog almost five years ago (!) it was glaringly obvious that I couldn't write myself out of a paper bag but now I consider myself to be vaguely passable. And it's all thanks to the public forum that this blog has provided for me. 

I'll continue to maintain my entertainment and tabletop gaming blogs as best I can but I'm pretty much done with ye olde Emblogification Capture Device. Given a choice between posting a new entry here or finishing a chapter for my new book I'm gonna opt with the latter every time. At least I made a coupla bucks from my first book.

As I finish the final edit on this I can't help but anticipate the end of superfluous ol' January. The days are already getting longer and with that I feel inspired to end things on hopeful and positive note.

If a dude can make over four million dollars from a game about exploding kittens then surely there's still some room left out there for l'il ol' me.




Seriously, world...fuck you