After months of enduring mind-shriveling futility of writing responses to Internet job ads, I finally landed an interview the old fashioned-way: cronyism.
May 16, 2010
April 3, 2010
Living your life from whim to whim does terrible things to your consciousness. Over time, it saps your ability to even think about doing anything, let alone doing it.
The antidote is simple, yet as difficult as telling a fat man not to eat: add structure to your life. Establish a bedtime, and set an alarm for 8 hours later. Stick to regular mealtimes. Pick the leading unproductive time-waster in your daily routine and quit it cold turkey. And most importantly: hold yourself accountable for doing these simple things every day, without fail (a chart posted prominently on the fridge helps).
After a few days of this regimen, I am now able to think more clearly than I have in months. It’s amazing.
And it’s terrifying to see how easily one can slip into a mental fog.
March 30, 2010
So, one day, you notice that you don’t have any spare time anymore. You still don’t have a job, mind you. But a dozen different forms of habitual goofing off have now calcified into the kind of 80-hour week that would make a workaholic proud. After sleeping-in until well into the afternoon, compulsively surfing the web, compulsively eating, and taking the odd walk about town, I find I don’t have time to do anything else. And, after months upon months upon months of doing this, it feels like work.
When goofing off feels like work, it’s time for a change. Time for a job.
March 22, 2010
We passed health care reform.
Despite the best astro-turfing campaign money could buy.
Despite appeals to the basest racist and classist motivations.
Despite a political system driven entirely by two questions: “how will this look in a 30-second campaign ad,” and “will this convince anyone to give me money so I can buy more airtime?”
Despite a debate that never delved into the boring, television-unfriendly substance of the issue, but consistently remained at the level of a grade-school playground argument.
Despite all the signs that the American system of governance was so completely dysfunctional that government would never be able to achieve anything great again.
Despite all these things, we did it!
February 10, 2010
To all the Washington bureaucrats who have been homebound by the snow for the past week: welcome to my life. Welcome to days upon days of unshaven over-sleeping lazing about the house while occasionally pretending to ‘telework.’
Yeah, not everything it’s cracked up to be. But at least, you guys are still getting a paycheck.
January 28, 2010
Having no job sucks.
But, having just listened to the festival of bi-partisan demagoguery that was tonight’s State of the Union circus, replete with aparatchniks on both sides of the aisle buffoonishly acting out for the cameras every 20 seconds, I’m glad that I’m no longer employed as an agent of that dysfunctional institutionalized feces-flinging contest.
Some things are worse than unemployment.
January 26, 2010
My resume sucks and I know it.
It reads like a bunch of job descriptions, with very few quantified accomplishments.
Of course, that’s because I had very few accomplishments.
A well-meaning friend urged me to punch up my resume, add in some of the many “achievements” documented in my dozens of performance appraisals.
But I can’t bring myself to do it.
I hated the entrenched culture of fictionalized performance appraisals. I didn’t hate it enough to do the right thing and quit over it. No, I hated it in a “well, this is evil and wrong and soul-sucking, but it’s a living, and besides, I’m just following orders” way.
But now, no one is ‘ordering’ me to use bogusly triumphalist verbiage on my resume. And without that moral fig-leaf, I just can’t do it. Or maybe I’m just lazy.
So my resume reflects the bald truth: I warmed the seat and got nothing done.
And my phone still isn’t ringing. Shocker.
January 25, 2010
It starts off innoccuously. The worst things always do.
A newspaper story moves me to write a comment. A carefully considered, well written comment. I’m very proud of it. Maybe a non-unemployed person will read it, maybe even an influential policymaker.
A few days later. I write another comment. Then, the comments start coming more often. One a day. Then several a day. Then, on pretty much every story I read.
It gets to the point where I click on stories, not to read them, but because merely reading the headline has made me think of a biting comment, and I can’t bear to not share it. Half the time, I don’t even read the article before commenting.
I learn the handles of all the other chronic commenters, and they, in turn, start commenting about how predictably repetitive my comments are. This gives me my first twinge of awareness that I may have departed the realm of conventional behavior.
Then come the comments I regret. The comments that I later realize might genuinely pain the reporters, or, worse yet, the poor slobs that they have chosen to write about.
Then comes the paranoia. After a particularly scathing comment about government acting stupidly, I wonder: might this comment cause my erstwhile colleagues in officialdom to unleash their near-unlimited police powers in an effort to identify me? And then, the paranoid thoughts grip me ever more often: is this the comment that will hurl me into the Kafka-esque no-win dungeon that is the American legal system, where a mere accusation will ruin my life just as surely as a conviction? Or have I merely earned myself a spot on one of the less-prestigious secret watchlists, the FBI’s D-list as it were?
Along the way, a few of my fellow commenters start labeling me, and, as I see the label more often, I realize they’re right. I am a troll. I’ve become that stereotypical guy in his underwear who spends all day getting his kicks by dropping verbal cherry bombs in Internet forums and then compulsively hitting ‘refresh’ to watch for a reaction.
And finally, like a drunk who thinks he’s hit rock bottom, I swear off. No more commenting. And just like a drunk, I go right back to it the next day.
Until I really hit rock bottom.
I’m JoblessBureaucrat, and I’m a Troll. I’ve been clean and comment-free for three days.
January 24, 2010
So, I get up around noon. Strangely, I am able to do this consistently, without using an alarm clock.
Within 30 seconds of getting out of bed, I am seated in front of my computer, getting my first and best info-fix of the day. Hitting that bookmark that causes 38 sites to load, knowing that each site will have fresh content (unlike the stale stuff I’ll be getting during the rest of the day as I compulsively hit refresh), well it just doesn’t get any better than that. Not for me, anyway.
This first pass through my bookmarks takes a couple hours. It’s almost three now. Almost rush hour. So, forget any notions of going out, I tell myself: the traffic’s too bad. Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow. Which is what I’ve been telling myself for weeks.
I open up a few cans for lunch. I eat my slop in front of the computer, while I pick over the blog entries that seemed too boring to read the first time around.
I stack the dirty dishes in the sink, then go check for any updates on the sites I follow. Any updates at all. Please. This goes on for hours. Then it’s time for dinner.
And then, more compulsive refreshing, until the dead of night, when all of the web sites have stopped posting new material.
Then, to bed, thinking tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow, I’ll do something. Maybe.
January 23, 2010
So, my last entry was nearly six months ago. Nothing has changed.
Still have the skillset of an experienced bureaucrat. Which is to say: I have no skills.
Nowadays, even casual e-mails to former co-workers go unreturned. The stench of long-term unemployment permeates the very electrons I send them.