Dispatches from the Suburbs of Hell

Heaven is for the obedient. Hell is for the wrathful. What of the ones in between? We wind up in the Suburbs. Our sin is individuality. Our punishment is boredom. But at least we're in good company.

Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Too Am Spartacus

Those of you versed in blogspace are no doubt aware of the flap surrounding Shakespeare's Sister. One of my dear friends, Kodos, a sometime collaborator on Shake's, informed me of the situation. I have come to add my voice to the list of Bloggers who support Shakespeare's Sister.

Let's get something straight: I entertain no delusions about what I do here. I'm not a journalist; I'm a guy with an internet connection and too much free time. Nothing I post here is intended to be high art or words that will stir men to mighty deeds (although if I rouse a little rabble, I get a perverse little kick out of it). The thought that someone might find life-changing wisdom in my tirades against the tiny annoyances of life is frankly laughable. Nevertheless, the Written Word is a powerful thing, and always will be, whether it comes in print or electronic form. A story, a turn of phrase, can inspire great things in man, for good or ill. This has been true as long as language has existed. I'm not so pretentious as to compare my blog to the likes of the Saint Crispin's Day Speech or the Gettysburg Address as a call to arms, but I will say this: what is happening, here and now, is DANGEROUS.

What we are witnessing here is nothing new: a concerted effort by a confederacy of the small-minded to silence a person they have judged dangerous. What is new here, however, is the SPEED of the effort. That is the gift and curse of the Internet: information travels instantaneously to all points of the globe. Now, a blog piece can be posted, and immediately a response can be made. This, I think, is in detriment to the process of political debate: rather than respond to a criticism with a reasoned, well-thought-out argument, the norm is to respond quickly with a sound bite or a piece of prepared propaganda. Now, instead of rational dialogue, we have tempers flare and insults hurled back and forth, and the results are instantaneous. Now, a politico or a religious leader who find a line of thought objectionable can immediately stir up a group of followers in a remote part of the planet. Now, a dangerous person can be INSTANTLY snuffed out, without a chance to defend themselves and without a clear paper trail as to who gave the order. This is dangerous, and this is what's happening. This is detrimental, not only to the concept of free speech, but to the concept of a free society. This, boys and girls, is how democracies die. When its citizens are afraid to speak their minds, afraid to do anything other than toe the party line, freedom is lost. Rational discourse is lost. All the things that made the Dream That Was America great, are lost. And we spiral down toward oblivion.

As I said, I entertain no delusions as to the clout or power I wield in blogspace, but all that power, such as it is, is behind Shakespeare's Sister and its ilk: those who provide a rational alternative to the hooting primates that seem to run things these days.

Freedom Forever.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Back At It

Well, Monday I start my new job. I'm frankly looking forward to it. Two weeks ago I was laid off from my previous position (for a certain well-regarded political magazine who shall remain nameless), and frankly I don't miss it. I don't miss the long hours, I don't miss the primadonna writers, I don't miss the complete and utter lack of respect. That's how a magazine works, of course: the writers are the princes of the bloody universe, and the support staff are just there to serve their whims. That's what I hated about the job: the utter sense of futility. I am a Prince of Hell, and so bureacracy is near and dear to my heart. I am ALL ABOUT the red tape, baby. It fell to me and my fellow bureacrats to create a system, to design procedures, to set limits on spending and so forth, that would keep the company stable. And of course, writers are ARTISTS, and don't care much for procedures or staying on budget or turning in their receipts. My precious, precious systems, all trampled upon...oh the pain...

So I won't miss it. I'm sure they'll miss me; they'll never find someone willing to take as much abuse as I did. And so, after two weeks of unemployment, I will be employed again. For more money in a more cooperative and pleasant environment. And, get this: I was hired ON THE STRENGTH OF MY EXPERIENCE. Wow. Wasn't hired because of who I knew, or where I've worked, but WHAT I've done. Man, I thought they didn't give out jobs like that any more. At any rate, I'm optimistic. I'm glad that all the work I've done has not been for nothing. I'm glad I'm going to be working for a company doing good work. And I'm glad to be working, period.

You'd think that two weeks of unemployment would be something of a vacation for me; I didn't see it that way at all. I like to work. I feel at peace when I'm being implemented. So the last two weeks haven't really been "time off" for me: They've been jam-packed with interviews and shooting off resumes. I must have sent out fifty resumes in the last month. Must have gone on ten interviews in the last WEEK alone. LOOKING for a job, quite frankly, is more grueling than actual work. The writing of cover letters is exhausting; you can only describe your attributes in so many ways. And the interview process, where you REALLY sell yourself, is ridiculous. I've answered the same questions a dozen times. I can easily tell you some of the challenges I faced at my last position, or where I see myself in five years (it'd be nice to be at a job for that long, actually...). It gets both montonous and frustrating at times. I have become far more intimate with the details of my own life than I frankly ever really wanted to. My greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses. My interest in this industry. What three things I think my past supervisor would say about me. All these interviews started blending together toward the end. I can't remember half the names of the people I interviewed with.

So, I'm glad it's over. I can stop scouring the classified. I can stop composing five to ten brilliant cover letters a day. I can stop being bright-eyed and enthusiastic for HR Managers. I can stop arguing with temp agency reps (the slave traders of capitalist society) about trying to get ten years of financial and HR experience all on a single page (excuse me if I'm overqualified for your frigging envelop-stuffing job!). I finally have time to send my suit to the dry-cleaner. And finally, I can get back to business of earning a living.

Given all that, going back to back to wok will be like a vacation for me.