Category Archives: Careers

It’s True: I Read Playboy for the Articles

imagesHugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, died at age 91 on Sept. 27. Loved, reviled, admired, despised, seen as an icon of sexual liberation and a pornography promoter, few people stood in middle ground when discussing him, his empire and his life.

My dad was one of those millions who bought Playboy for something other than the words, and then hid the magazine, figuring the kids would never find it.

He was wrong. And not very good about his hiding places. I found his stash and actually did read them. The naked ladies didn’t mean much. I did not, and do not, look like them, and never associated with anyone who did. I don’t recall feeling personally slighted by the photos. I just never made any real connection to them.

What mattered were the words: the poetry, fiction, short stories and essays by the influential and still unknown. Renown writers I later studied in high school wrote for the magazine: Joseph Heller, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez contributed to Playboy. Women’s writing appeared as well: Ursula Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates and Germaine Greer. And there was The Interview, where the famous, the illustrious and the controversial agreed to a let-it-all-hang-out-sit-down: Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump, Miles Davis, Bette Davis, Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Siskel and Ebert…the Interviews comprise a time capsule of  history as no other print publication ever captured.

If I write well today, it’s because I was influenced by those early readings, and I am grateful for them. I don’t know how the history of the sexual revolution will handle Hugh Hefner, whether he will be embraced or excluded, but this is one writer happy to acknowledge his daring, at least as far as the written word is concerned.

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Filed under Careers, Current news, death, freelancing

Day One of a Next Life

enjoylifeIt rained all day, courtesy of Tropical Storm Emily. A surprise storm that the TV weather wonks did not see coming, despite their constant bragging about using the latest in advanced radar technology.

But a surprise like this is fine. It’s been a good first day of a different kind of life. I ran, had breakfast and got down to the business of working on what I love – writing. I took a break to clean the bathrooms, went out on some errands, had lunch, worked some more and rode my bike on the indoor trainer before dinner.  My life is still as disciplined as it was when I punched a time clock, but now it is ruled by lists on a legal pad and a pair of white boards in my home office.

I have two interviews for part-time work scheduled this week, along with a volunteer gig that I have looked forward to and missed for a long time. I have given up contact with the standard nine-to-five world, but I’ve already gained a measure of calm and purpose. It’s not the same when you don’t leave the house and go to the same job every day. There is some sense of imbalance, a lack of the sure and steady grip on life. But this is part of the process of scaring myself into doing something bigger, different and more challenging. I was very good AT my last job, and I think I left the office in a better place than it was when I started. But I was not very good FOR that job. I was not forced to think or amaze anyone or use any of the skills I’ve learned in life. I thought about taking a holiday, a kind of “gap week,” to regroup first before moving on. But my energy is good and my mind is ready to head out and get to whatever is next.

 

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Filed under blogging, Careers, charity, employment, freelancing, unemployment

She Called Her Daddy…

dadd

How bad is it when an “adult” coworker decides not to face the reality of their adverse job situation and reverts to calling their parental unit to get involved in the issue?

I witnessed this happen at my place of employment. Aside from the words on this digital page, I am at a loss for most others.

When your folks foist you on the working world, it is hoped/assumed/prayed that even if you are not completely ready for all that can happen, you have  the basics mastered. You can write business letters, speak clearly into a phone, understand elementary etiquette rules, address your superiors properly and most important, you can tell the truth whether you are right or wrong, give credit where it is due and display sufficient spine to stand up and sort it out for yourself when things get tough.

I have a coworker who is not even remotely ready for work in the realm of reality. Pouting, cursing, ignoring ringing phones, insisting on time off when none is earned or available, long lunches, leaving early and forgetting to get work done are some of the notable characteristics displayed on a daily basis.

And the shake-your-head-in-wonder moment of the week: when her demand for time off was refused, she called her father to ask him to call the boss on her behalf.

No, just plain oh-no-it-did-not-happen.

Yes, it did.

How does a person lack the common sense in a case like this? Which part of the adult brain just shuts off, and which part moves backwards into childhood, thinking, “I’m telling on you! I’m getting my daddy to fix this right now if you don’t give me what I want!”

I’d love to phone a friend, a parent or someone when life takes a hard left. Mom and Dad are gone, and I think my friends would have me committed if I did to them what this coworker did. I can commiserate with my brothers, of course.  But asking them to step up to the plate because someone picked on their sister?

Note to coworker: grow a set (and a spare set) soon. It is a mean world out there. And your daddy won’t be around forever.

 

 

 

 

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Stress Relief And My Version Of “I” Candy

baby....RUTH!

baby….RUTH! (Photo credit: Rakka)

How stressed do you have to be to think a Baby Ruth Bar is a good idea at 9:30 am? I am, and this morning Baby looked fine to me.

As if the fact that it’s Election Day isn’t enough, I have a swim meet, two freelance assignments and a 5K this week as well. Still no word from my brother as to what he plans to do for the holidays (am I cooking for ten or for two?) and there’s the aggravation of the dumb-as-a-rock coworker who thinks it’s just fine to come to work sick. By the way, she thought my pissy state of mind at her arrival was quite amusing.

As if I would laugh at the sound of her coughing and hacking up phlegm. Frankly, she sounded like a cat with asthma and a hairball the size of Houston lodged down there.

I did not ask her to go home. I told her I was leaving if she didn’t. I have things to do this week that I’ve paid for, and there’s no way I’ll miss them. I’d never give her the satisfaction. And I’m learning that no one will stand up for me and how hard I work to keep myself healthy, unless I do it.

Folks, no one is immune to illness. I spent most of January chasing a bacterial infection from nose and throat to jaw and eyes before I finally dispensed with it. It fought back, courtesy of a drug reaction (turns out I’m allergic to the prescribed Z-pack), but I prevailed. I hate giving in to anything that makes me look weak, sick or otherwise vulnerable in the eyes of the universe. But sometimes, contrary to those TV commercials that promise you’ll be powering through with just one OTC dose and a good night’s sleep, it just isn’t the case.

When sick happens, just stop. Go home, go away, go hide somewhere. The world will continue to spin on its axis without you. Modern technology will at least let you answer emails from home, if you really feel that desperate or dedicated. The rest of us will get our flu shots, drink our OJ, wash our hand and keep the heck away from you.

Oh, and that Baby Ruth? It was a mini-sized one, and I drank a pink lemonade Emergen-C 1000 as a chaser. Not a bad combo. During cold and flu season, it could even be my new breakfast of champions. I’m not sick, mind you, just taking post-exposure precautions. I’ve heard good things about the antioxidants in chocolate.

Note to my readers: Sadness Day is still on track for Saturday. The plan is to take a beach chair, drinks, snacks, a notepad, pens and a few things to remember Mom (and Dad) by and just sit, write, cry and have a talk with the folks. I miss them both.

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When The Door To Your Happy Place Is Locked…

When the computer craps out, the kids are sick, the husband runs out of ways to fix things and your friends have seemingly taken up residence in the Witness Protection Program to get away from you, it’s pretty easy for stress to start to pile up just a bit.

Notice I put the item about the dead computer first. Most of you know I don’t have kids, but I know many of you do. I was trying to be fair on this. My “cubicle work” computer, which has been on its long, slow death march for weeks, finally bit the dust today. A new one is on order, and I have another to use in the meantime, but you know how that is. You like what you’re used to using, and it’s a pain to change.

I’ll be fine until the new one arrives. It’s not the main reason I’m tugging on the door to my happy place, wondering why it won’t budge. I’ve been working that door for a while, between a death in the family and working on too many things I don’t enjoy and not enough things that matter. I admit it; I’ve gone over the details of what to do next, why I should do it and of course, the big annoying “WHAT IF” questions. What if I don’t budget right for this move? What if I do this next thing, and find out I hate it? What if I do this next thing, and find out I’m not good at it?

What if I fail?

Lots of people have failed at new lives, new jobs, new inventions. It’s been said that defeat is not the worst of failures; not to have tried is the true failure. Losing a loved one has certainly sharpened my focus, not only on what’s important, but how much time there is (or isn’t) to get things done.

It’s time to clear the way, I think. Time to remove the safety net of this current life. An ugly thought, to do this at my age. But the words in my blog title, “My Next Life,” need to take on their true meaning. The Husband asked me what I wanted for my upcoming birthday. It’s time to tell him the truth. It’s time for something different. I need and want to work, but not at something I hate, just for a paycheck. And it’s not about going bigger, it’s about growing better.

 

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Filed under blogging, Careers, death, inspirations, mental health, Uncategorized

Don’t the kids have to do some work, too?

I swim with a local Master’s team, composed of adults from all walks of life.  A considerable number are teachers in both private and public schools. A conversation I heard among several of them this morning really got my attention, and reminded me of how much has changed since I was in school.

The demands on teachers are different, thanks to standardized testing. The notion of  personalized lesson plans and a teacher having a decent amount of freedom to teach the curriculum have apparently disappeared, in favor of  rote instruction on set subject matter, so that tests given regularly can be passed by as many students as possible. This standardized testing is apparently a serious point of pride with schools, and a method by which principals are judged competent – or not. No longer are the students the only ones getting grades; the schools get one too, depending on their test performance.

I also found out that teachers must answer in writing for student performance, before the school year begins. They have to explain their plan to ensure student success. I asked if the students have to fill out the same paperwork, and explain what they will do to ensure their own success. My query was met with wide-eyed stares and silence. I got the same response when I asked about parental involvement. Apparently, the percentage of parents who actually pay attention to their kids’ school issues is pretty small, unless it involves participation in sports, or the child is in real trouble. Parent-teacher conferences? Most of the parents want the information by text or email; they’re too busy to come in. Their child has discipline issues in the classroom? The parents say that must be the school’s fault, since their child is perfectly behaved at home. Child not getting good grades? Has to be the teacher doing a poor job.

What happened to change things since I was in school? I cannot imagine coming home and telling my dad that a bad test grade was because my teacher was failing at her job. His response would have been a stone-cold glare and the back of his hand.  Standardized tests? We had a few, but nothing like today, and they were not something that would mean keeping a child back a grade if a passing level was not obtained. Our parents went to conferences, they signed teacher notes, and they knew our homework was done, even if they did not understand the intricacies of algebra or the timeline of Civil War battles.

Are kids too smart for our education system, or did the system get so dumbed down thanks to laziness and an unwillingness to make them work through the boredom and tediousness of hard academic subjects? Are parents, school boards and the media giving in to feeding kids more popular culture and social media entertainment and less proper education, in order to make school days more palatable?

I hope not, but when I hear the news day after day, and hear about how unprepared today’s school-age children will be for running this world in ten or twenty years, I worry. I don’t have kids, but I will still be living in the world they will run. I’m in favor of obtaining the highest education possible;  you will likely find better jobs and earn more money. But to get there, you have to suffer the small stuff first: reading, writing, ‘ rithmetic, and do them with a disciplined attitude.

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Filed under Careers, Children, family, social media, technology, thought, Uncategorized

Life was a bad video game today

I admit I am a complete loser when it comes to current digital game technology. I grew up in the era of pinball, Pong and Super Mario, and my game-playing days pretty much ended after high school. Not for lack of available options; more due to lack of time.

But today felt like one of those endless Pong games, when you and a friend would watch the little white dot bounce back and forth on the screen. Or like a pinball that keeps hitting the low-scoring bumpers, yet you refuse to let go of so you can start with a new ball. I left work early with good intentions: get to the eye doctor, the community center, grocery store, drug store and home. The basic components of dinner were already prepared and waiting, so what could go wrong?

Try traffic, miscommunication with the doctor’s people, other people leaving their store early and closing up for the day, and traffic.

Days like this make me wish I could train my better half to do a little more around the house. OK, a lot more, like maybe everything.

Days like this make me wish other people listened to me. Or actually stayed at their jobs until the quitting time posted on their doors.

Days like this make me wonder why all these people are on the road at the same time I am. Is it really necessary?

Days like this make that Fresca-and-vodka-over-ice taste really good.

Days like this make me work harder towards my goal: writing better, working towards My Next Life, and the opportunity to call my own shots. It’s easy to stay off track when you get sidetracked by life’s potshots and potholes. You have to remember to duck one, jump over the other – and run like heck with a sense of humor.

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