Series: It’s a Bitch, Yo

This page is home to my not-in-any-way popular nor famous or infamous “It’s a Bitch, Yo” series.  These writings appear occasionally in the bloggy part of the blog, but are kept here as a not-at-all subtle reminder that many things in life? Well they can be a bitch, yo.

Unemployment? It’s a Bitch, Yo.

I thought the pit of despair was literally, like, just a pit.  Now I know that’s just fallacy—there is much more than the pit of despair—there are also the chair of despair, bed of despair, shower of despair, toilet of despair, kitchen of despair, and barstool of despair.  This unemployment shit?  It’s a bitch, yo.

Look, we all know it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there (or as my sister says a doggy-dog world).  The only question is which dog ends up with a happily engorged belly and which becomes Alpo.  Lately, I’ve been feeling like the latter dog.  At my age, trust me, there is no joy in being jobless.

When you’re young, of course, a stint of unemployment is like damned sunshine in the sweet sweet summertime.  No rules, restrictions, curfews.  As long as you’ve got enough bread for a sixer of Special Export, an Arby’s roast beef sandwich, and a little gas in the tank, it’s smooth sailin’, Jack.  But when you’re older, this crap gets old after about…oh, five minutes.

Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwich = Reason to Live

I mean for Pete’s sake, here’s my typical day.  Sleep WAY too late, so late I end up tired!  Stay in bed with bed-head and check iPhoneScrabble games.  Check email accounts to see if there are any fresh rejections (positive anticipations are perhaps needless to say long gone).  Itch anything that needs scratchin’.  Scrabble.  Lay on bed and stretch out some (yes, in bed).

After a while, even this gets tiring, so I wander out, pee, brush, shave, shit, shower.  This feels good, as does fresh pair of underwear.  Grouchily meander down the stairs (which feels like the Bataan Death March) to make coffee and whatever breakfast I can muster. Retreat to air-conditioned bedroom, as I live in a climate where it’s too hot to live.

Scrabble check.  Email check.  Blog views check.  If you too are a blogger, and have as few subscribers as I do, you know that in real time this can be very, very depressing indeed.

By now it’s nooner, and I gotta get down to some business.  Scrabble check.  Okay, now I mean it.  If I just get some tunes going should be good.  Okay! Starting to feel it!

Run through same job sites as I do everyday and amaze at how little is new.  Look at resume for reassurance that I’m a worthy candidate.  Apply to a few things that seem off the mark or below me, fairly certain I’ll hear nothing and confident I’m probably better off.  Write something to take my mind off things.

Determine hunk of writing is piece of shit.  Scrabble.  Look at more job postings.  Organize or update jobs search files.  Think back to childhood, when jobs didn’t matter.  Indulge feelings of longing in a brief moment of silence.

Strum guitar.  Decide to put on pants or at least shorts.  Put on shorts and fresh t-shirt.  Instantly feel more employable.  Look at a few more off-the-mark postings.  Eat lunch (if saltines and peanut butter count).  Check email.  Move any rejections to appropriate spot on job leads spreadsheet.

Realize day is getting away from me.  Ponder what activity will give me maximal feeling of productivity or at least small shred of self worth.  Do that activity.  Question value of said activity.  Ponder having beer, but conclude 2:30 is too early unless there is NFL football on television.

Begin random, unsatisfying internet surfing (like the old commercial, I “reached the end” of the internet long ago).  Read “Freshly Pressed” and feel either inspired by the powerful ideas of others or pure bitterness regarding their intellect and insights (it’s a crap shoot!). Actually consider logging into Facebook. Reject impulse.

Think back to the days when you could “pound the pavement” for a job instead of meandering around the void that is the internets.  When if you wanted to, you could reach right out to Rhonda from HR and politely inquire as to the status of your application.

Realize how much I like working, even with pants requirements.  Consider doing something physical.  Reject impulse as it is clearly too much effort.  Mentally beat self up for laziness.  Ponder whether this is at least small form of cognitive exercise.  Crack open beer.

And that’s a wrap!

Now, I know parts of this might strike you, dear reader, as enjoyable or desirable what with the underwear living and the cold beer, but man, this sucks!  I started this search out like a hungry Rambo armed only with a 16-inch bowie knife and an insatiable appetite for gainful employment.  Now I feel like an overweight fisherman plunked down somewhere on Lake Nowhere, hoping something employment-ish impales itself on my listless hook before that spot between my plumber’s crack and t-shirt bottom gets any more sunburned (and of course before the beer runs out).

And it’s not like I’m unemployable.  It’d be one thing if I was a no-skill, three toothed Cletus more interested in sexing farm animals than finding work.  But I’m not (three toothed)!

I am indeed well educated and trained.  I’ve made real contributions to my community. Just not lately, in this sweltering heat factory of a country, and not in my skivvies.

I know something will come along and at that point I’ll be right here to complain about the old jobby-job.  But for now, this unemployment shit? It’s a bitch, yo.

Author’s Update: the encouraging beep of an incoming email message came in just as I was finishing writing this.  Subject line was something about Social Security, and below is a photo of the critically important text.  Pondered clicking on the clearly virus-carrying super link just for something new but was too bored and unmotivated to do so.

Food Poisoning: It’s a Bitch, Yo.

Wonder Bread (Canadian packaging)

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

I grew up on an unsophisticated diet of heavily processed foods. And despite the preservatives, additives, and whatever-ives, I came out okay. Don’t get me wrong, there were also plenty of potatoes, carrots, and MEAT, but I grew up mostly in the two-parents-at-work era and that meant it usually had to be quick, easy, and non-exotic. So say what you will about macaroni and cheese intermingled with cut up hotdogs as a proper meal for a growing boy, but IMHO not only will this leave your taste buds dancin’ but your belly happy too. To my moms, big ups!

Now I’m an adult of course, and as I’ve gotten older and done more traveling my taste buds have gotten more and more adventurous. When I moved to Asia, fuhgeddaboudit, everything went out the window. Ketchup used to be a spice, and “shit on a shingle”—basically ground beef, cream of mushroom soup and maybe some onions spooged down upon a piece of toasted Wonder Bread—was a rare and appreciated change-up. Perhaps a delicious dessert of half a Hostess fruit pie, carefully cut down the middle by my loving matriarch, might follow this culinary delicacy.

Today I eat more mussels and clams and prawns and fishballs than I could have ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong; the food here tastes the best, the best! But sometimes I swear the philosophy is “if it looks weird and has a weird texture but tastes okay, throw it in!”

So in my year abroad my stomach has been faced with some major change. Staples such as bread and cheese were largely replaced with rice, noodles, and prawns, mussels and fishballs. For the most part, my system seems to appreciate it. But once you cross a certain threshold, once you leave the comfort food confines of casseroles and fruit salads and PB & J’s, it’s like you can’t stop. When it’s put in front of you, described as “quite nice,” or available only for a short stopover in Vietnam, you want to eat it!

I think this adventurism is, overall, a good thing. I have discovered many delicacies. But I have also discovered there can be a stiff fine: food poisoning. And I’m here to tell you that food poisoning? It’s a bitch, yo.

Now obviously food poisoning isn’t an Asian thing—far from it. Nor does it necessarilyresult from adventurous eating. But in my case it came from adventurous eating in an Asian country, so that’s good enough for blogging.

Ugh! This sucks! For three days now my stomach has felt simultaneously crushed from the outside by a sumo and like there’s a melon ball scooper randomly at work inside. My stool (sorry) is bloody and runny. And the malaise! I’d tell you not to get me started, but I’m not startin’ shit (because of the malaise!). My head aches, my back aches, and I haven’t had any tasty mussels or clams for three whole days!

The culprit? A buffet (notorious for food poisoning) boasting lots of shellfish (notorious for food poisoning), exotic soft cheeses (notorious for food poisoning), and Carpaccio (not sure, but it seems to lend itself to food poisoning). Perhaps surprising for you, dear reader, if you didn’t catch the Carpaccio hint, is that this buffet was Italian. It’s just that it was the fancy pants, anti-pasta side of the Italian spectrum. And I’m here to tell ya, those Italianos eat some hardcore crap, at least before the main course. My Moms cooked Italian too—a simple prepackaged noodle, bottled and preservative-laden sauce, maybe an added onion and a little salt, some uncontroversial cheeses, and voila, lasagna.

It’s enough to make me want to go back to the old country (the US, and at least for dinner).

Anyway, be careful what you eat people. If it seems undercooked, don’t eat it. If you suspect it wasn’t handled properly, don’t eat it. If it’s been sitting out a long time, don’t eat it. Take it from me. Food poisoning? It’s a bitch, yo.

Courage: It’s a Bitch, Yo

Half my life I’ve been convinced I lack courage.

But lately, I’ve been thinking I just worry that I lack courage.

It’s seems a fine line to be sure, but it’s an important one.

Lacking courage, of course, means not having the guts, will, or impulse to take on the hard things in life.  And, presumably, the harder the challenge, the lesser the chance you’re goin’ headlong into it…whatever it is.

But the second condition entails something entirely different, and that’s that courage as an inherent or learned characteristic is itself what is questioned, and the truly difficult part is all the time you spend worrying about whether you’ll rise to the challenge, if, presumably, you get off your fat duff and try to even do something.Sometimes I’m not sure which is more difficult, but increasingly, I suspect it’s the latter.

I mean, looking at it for myself, objectively…

Still alive. Have risked physical harm while defending the honor of a lady.  Been through many “sketchy” parts of many cities (even done some ‘bidness” there), and enjoyed it.  Guts to pull up the roots on several occasions.  Played on many a stage, screaming guts out and generally looking the fool.  Swam in several oceans after near drowning incident.  Moved to NYC where if you can make it, according to “The Voice,” Mr. Frank Sinatra, “Ol’ Blue Eyes” himself, you most certainly can make it “anywhere.” Quite sure I’d jump out of an airplane, given the chance. Posted and made available many of my intimate, quirky thoughts to wide swath of friends, one of who might just be you, right now. Moved whole life not once but twice, for love, to Singapore, and the other time, dare I say it, to St. Louis. Still play sports recklessly after two knee surgeries and two spine surgeries. Am positive when the spaceship lands, I’ll jump right on to get the probin’ started.

So I think it’s time to stop dwelling on the “Would I” and focus more on the “If I” or “When I” situations.  It doesn’t matter if I have the guts to be the Mayor of Chicago (my long time proclaimed dream job) if I’m never going to run for the Mayor of Chicago.  Furthermore, and importantly, if I were somehow amazingly in that position, I’d likely have a lot more courage than a) I expected, and b) I had before actually being in that position.  This is because when I’m actually doing things, I seem to handle them ably, coolly, courageously even.  I forget all the worry and just get into whatever ‘zone.’

Now that’s not to say I “can do anything.”  Personally, I can’t stand it when people say that, that you can do whatever you set your mind to, because practically speaking, it’s patently if sadly untrue.  As a general morale booster fine, or as a way to start your kid to thinking about life, sure, but a more plausible maxim might be “You can do anything you want, achieve any dream, that is within your personally maximized skill set and that is comfortable enough within your emotional, intellectual, physiological, and ethical beliefs and boundaries that achieving it won’t make you lose your shit.”  Ready to go conquer the world?  Or at least get off the couch?

I don’t think I have a lack of courage at all, and you probably don’t either (not sayin’ you think you do, just sayin’).  I have performance anxiety.  Going further, it’s performance anxiety that must be low grade because it hasn’t kept me locked up in the basement, worrying about what’s outside (most days).

In sum, if a guy comes at me with an axe, he better be ready, because I’m no wilting violet.  And, to boot, it’s very unlikely a guy’s coming at me with an axe.  Ergo, I’m not going to worry about whether or not I’ll have the guts to give him the old one-two then a quick Karate style “Ki-Yi.”

Bring it.

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