Category Archives: Life in Random

Burning coffee and Liminal spaces

There is something strangely comforting about the rest stops on the major highways of the East coast. It’s something about the sameness or maybe it’s just the liminal spaces are there to be filled with a repeat of memories.

I have been in these spaces with every conglomeration of family and friends. I have been sick and well. I have burned my tongue of vending machine coffee and gone back for more even knowing that I will do the same damned thing.

\A much beloved coffee machine whose favorite offering is easy to see. Photo by Kate Ressman. 2022. Virginia rest stop.

I am an American and driving is part of our national identity. These truck stops are pauses. Spaces without real identity, but I can tell you that Chesapeake House is better than Maryland House and that Clara Barton doesn’t have the good vending machines.

I know that When I put two dollars into the coffee machine for lightener and sweetener that my coffee will come out not great, but good. Consistent. My first real memory off coffee is from one of these machines.

The bathrooms are universally either under construction or being cleaned so are always only partially opened. There are rarely lines, but when they exist they are usually related to the passenger busses if tourists or high school sports teams.

This is the rhythm of life. Of birthdays and Christmas, Thanksgiving and funerals, college commutes and road trips.

America thrives on a steady diet of motion and travel. And there is such beauty in the stream of traffic and life that pulses, stopping to rest for a moment. To have a picnic lunch or walk the dog. For toddlers just learning the ins and outs of bathrooms and crowds. Families and friends taking pictures to record a ridiculous moment at a rest stop that has a pretty sculptor a special historical sign.

And yet I know that I will never see these people again. We are part of the same stream, the blood in the arteries that separate and bring us closer together. But we are not friends. We are simply molecules sharing the same space for a moment. Maybe sharing a laugh or a smile. Being a little grumpy or tired, waiting our turn for the caffeine.

But sharing still a time and place. And I can never not love that.

Even when the coffee burns my tongue again.

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A List of Things I Would Have Taken a Picture of If I’d Had a Camera

1. The perfect Mt. Fuji the foaming soap made in my hand. 

Obviously, I couldn’t take this picture because, repeat after me, “we do not take pictures in the bathroom.” This is not completely a hard and fast rule, of course, but I don’t like to use my phone with dirty hands. Especially not in this health-economy.

2. The beautiful texture that the repeated scraping of the door-lock on my bathroom stall made.

Please see the above reasoning for this. It was a lovely texture of silvers and greys, more shades than I can name and it sparkled in the harsh light of the public bathroom. One could see that the latch had actually been worn down as well and nestled tightly in the holder. It was wedge-shaped and worn by time and use. The distillation of time and change and entropy, but also belonging and the way we rub together to build something bigger. Two halves of a whole made of shiny chrome. 

3. The sunset as I walked out onto the top of the parking garage.

It was perfect timing as I walked out. The last warm rays of the sunlight were still lighting the clouds from underneath and the blues and reds were incredible. By the time I could have gotten the shot, it was gone. Like I said, it was perfect timing and I’m glad that I just experienced it as opposed to trying to capture it. 

4. The winter stars from atop that same parking garage.

The benefits of parking on the top of the parking garage include being able to see nearly to the mountains and all the stars from above the majority of the streetlights. The light of winter is crisp and cold and it was too biting to stand out and watch for long, but it was a clear night with a silvery moon and the stars were just rising. If I’d been a photographer, I would have set up a time lapse camera and tried to get a sense of it from my back porch. As it is, I’ve stored it away and will probably try to paint it some day, if only with words. 

5. The texture that my sparkly mask leaves on the back of my hand when I’ve been resting my cheek on it.

I work in an office as my day job, and I am required to wear a mask when I’m not actively eating. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with boring black masks that make me look like I’m up to something. Instead, I have a series of sparkly masks. (Don’t worry, the sparkly layer is either glued on or an additional mesh layer on top of the others.) The back of my hand starts to get properly spaced little red divots in it though which makes me look like I’m trying to become a new Star Trek species, or I’m discovering my long-lost dragonborn roots. In any case, I never think to replicate it at home and pictures at work are also a no-go for many reasons. 

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I Didn’t Buy a Franchise Today

I didn’t buy a franchise today. Let me be very clear about that. 

But I was sorely tempted to investigate it and consider it and even weigh it against the financial goals that I’ve got. 

It was an estate sale business and it includes mailing lists. And websites. And employees. It’s a well-established name and it has the functionality for bidding that means it will thrive even in the current COVID climate. 

I’ve been to their sales and I’m on their mailing list. I’ve run downsizing sales and resale is one of the things I love. (Seriously, ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I love turning a profit on small things and not so small things. That early in 2021 I was trying to make a go of this exact type of thing.)

And yet, I walked away without even asking for more information. I walked away because if I didn’t, I would have put myself into a frenzy trying to figure out how to afford it. Or be willing to pull the trigger without really thinking about it rationally. I deleted the email that offered it because if I had responded and asked for more information, I wouldn’t have thought too much about why to get it and not enough about why I should walk away. 

And I should walk away. I have enough to do in my life. I don’t need one more thing to divide my attention. I’ve been working diligently to sell things on, to clean things up, to make room, to prepare for the inevitable downsizing, and to work off my debts. 

I recently turned 45. That means I’ve got thirty to forty years left. I have books to write and short stories to pass on. I have non-fiction catalogs and a biography I haven’t even started to touch. I have a death pile for eBay that’s the size of a small (large) storage unit and a half dis-assembled piano to use for art prints and strange sounds to make. I have dollhouses to renovate and miniatures to assemble. And forty years is not enough. 

I have to safe-gaurd my future. 

And to do that, I had to not buy a franchise today. 

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Boring Writing is Annoying

I’m tired of boring writing. 

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction articles lately and the largest, most annoying fly in that ointment is that a lot of it is just boring. 

I place the blame on several things. 

One, grammar checking programs that “suggest” changes in grammar that are plain wrong. (An Aside: Dear Microsoft: “to who” is incorrect. I have aggressively turned off your grammar checker for years, so I don’t know if you’ve bothered to *fix* this annoyance yet. But please, if you run across this, fix it.) 

Two, teachers who, for years, battered into our heads that we should not write above an eighth grade level and even that was pushing it. Anything for public consumption should be readable by your average tween. Unfortunately, I internalized this and my writing now sounds like Hemingway. I hate Hemingway’s writing. I keep trying to expose myself to more unusual styles, like Cat Valente, and China Meiville, and poetry. It doesn’t generally creep into my writing though. I still have hope. 

Three, “assistant” programs that make you “write better.” By “better” they mean that you now write like a journalist for Buzzfeed. These assistants will suggest word choice changes, eliminate “redundancies” even if they are placed for emphasis, and in general will dumb down your writing so that it fits into the rules of journalism. This might be helpful if you’re churning out articles for content mills. It is not helpful if you’re trying to write the next lyrically beautiful novel that will bring tears to the eyes of all who read it. 

Four, the internet in general. Writing for the internet and trying to make a living at doing that is hard work. There are a vanishingly small number of writers who can make blogging (or its cousin content creation for sites such as Medium or Vocal) a paying job. Out of all of the blogs in the world, how many do you actually read? How many of those can actually pay the rent with the money they generate from the ads on their blogs, tips, and such? Not nearly as many as we’d like to believe. It’s hard work. And for every Boing Boing, there’s something like Willful Wanderer (my theoretical travel blog that’s dying on the vine because I haven’t actually gotten around to making content for it.)

Five, social media. We’ve gotten to a point where everything needs to be expressed in extremely short forms. “tl;dr” which, to its credit, uses a semicolon correctly, is the short form of “too long; didn’t read.” This can be applied to anything: Stories, meditations, social media posts, emails, epic poetry of long-forgotten battles, and political rants. Especially the political rants. 

I don’t think I have any advice to change this prevailing inability of authors to really make non-fiction lift off of the page. Except, maybe to stop reading earlier?

If you have a solution, please let me know in the comments below. 

(See what I did there? That’s called a “call to action” and is required for all media these days. So, like, comment, and subscribe or the blog police will cut you off from the net for three hours.)

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A Drive

Driving home from Maryland the week before Thanksgiving is nerve wracking, frustrating, and infuriating. If there is a moon, it’s hidden by cloud-cover. And the only things that look like stars are actually the lights on the top of radio towers. 

The few streetlights that exist are stuttering out a weird morse code that translates to “I have a fault in my wiring. Please help.” But they are not my responsibility. And I cannot help them regardless. 

The street is illuminated by headlights and tail lights and the occasional painting of blue and red from a police car on the side of the road. I have been watching as cars weave and forget that the 18 wheelers can’t actually see them hiding next to them. I’ve seen too many close calls as people forget that physics tells us that two items cannot exist in the same place and time. Or maybe they’re just pure scientists and want hard data more than theories.

Or perhaps they’re experiencing time slips as alternate timelines coalesce and merge making it possible that they didn’t see the car there. The car that in another lifetime they crashed into, stopping the traffic dead and ruining multiple lives. 

There is a frozen turkey in my trunk and a crumpled styrofoam cup that held warm cider a few minutes ago.

The internet radio is pumping out dark blues and rock that’s going through an emo phase. It’s filled with murder ballads and broken hearts that spiraled into anger rather than sadness. There’s sinners and vigilantes and a world of stories that want to be told. 

My brain spins with stories and characters. An old character I haven’t really thought of outside of porting into fanfiction because I didn’t think he was actually viable. I think that’s wrong. He and his wife and his child and his adoptive father who thinks he’s a vampire. And who knows, in a different story he might be, but for now, he’s just a nightclub owner who never gave up the goth phase and agreed to let his son get enamel fangs when he was a teenager because he never heard of appropriate limits. 

And stories or scenes from works in progress. 

Anything to not be tensingly anxious about being surrounded on all sides by cars that want to be going much faster than they are and following closely enough that a stunt driver would be cautioning them that they need more safety gear if they’re going to do that. 

I swallow my cursing when a car almost cuts off my front bumper because they’ll get a whole car-length ahead if they cut me off. I slow down to have at least a minimal ability to stop when the next idiot tries to commit suicide and take me with them. 

I take the express lane and feel my shoulders loosen, even as I have a pang of white-girl with a good salary guilt. I revel in the privilege of not being surrounded and feel as though I can breathe again as I barrel down the expensive drive. Is it worth the money to pay for it? Once I would have snorted and told you no. Now, though, now, I am okay with paying to drive and wishing social distance meant cars as well as people. 

It’s dark and the music is throbbing and maybe, if I weren’t navigating through a minefield of other vehicles, if I were instead rolling through a deserted desert moonscape, or abandoned city streets, I might even enjoy it. 

If you enjoyed this, please buy me a cup of ko-fi.

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Burnout and Recovery

There’s something incredibly freeing in knowing that you’ll not be able to look at your phone for eight hours. 

No, I’m not kidding. I’m not allowed to have my personal phone with me during work hours. So, you see, that eight hours might be more like nine hours. 

I’ve learned a few things being back in the office though. That I need the bustle of an office, or the noise or music, or something in the background during my day. Sitting in silence and working is doable, but my focus is shot. 

Don’t get me wrong. I still hit my deadlines and my daily goals. It’s just… a struggle to focus. I do a bit here and a bit there and I get to the end of the day and I’ve done what I need to do, but it feels as though I’ve been working scatter-shot and not actually been as productive as I should be. 

And there’s the trap. That not-so-little word “productive.” 

I have a problem with being productive. I take on more and more responsibilities because my brain stays active all the time. I don’t get to shut it off and I crave new and exciting things. I like to build businesses and find improvements in the system. It’s actually why I burned out so badly that my friends had been pushing me to leave my job three years into a five year stint. I wasn’t just doing the job I’d been hired for. I was also doing three or four other jobs on top of that. 

There was the process improvement initiative that needed someone on it. 

And the safety briefings that needed to be done. 

And the change management initiative that needed a cheerleader. 

And the team lead on the five year project that I’d been there for the first step of and needed to see through before I left it. 

And the leadership development course that I didn’t need but looked good on the resume and let me meet senior leaders.

There was the manager leaving without notice, and someone had to step in. And then they needed to hire someone though the outside process, because gods forbid they just promote from within. It wouldn’t be “fair.” 

Ask me about the fact that everyone assumed I’d have the job. Ask me about the fact that I was doing the job in addition to my other duties. And the fact that HR dumped my resume without it going to the hiring managers at all because I didn’t have the “manager” title anywhere in my background.

I answered the screening question honestly due to my understanding of the question and the manager who was doing the hiring told me “you could have asked me what I meant.” 

Um, I thought this was supposed to be a blind process from outside? So, to my mind that meant I couldn’t talk to you.

Turns out this is a female thing. It comes from how we’re socialized in the US. It’s why we end up outside of the old boy’s network trying to figure out how the social structure works. We swallowed the lies that our accomplishments and our achievements would be enough to push us forward. 
No. It’s networking. It’s asking the hiring manager questions that the person on the street can’t because the system isn’t fair. 

And the manager that was hired was from the team I was working on, so great! I knew them. I could teach them everything I was doing. Three months of me as the interim manager meant that we could trade off as The Great Unpleasantness meant we were suddenly doing shift work. 

Get that through your head faster than I did. Maybe you won’t burn out working a 60 hour work week trying to figure out how to make everyone safe in the office during The Great Unpleasantness and get everyone back to work at full staffing because the hybrid model would not work. 

No pressure. 

And give me a status on why you’re working so many hours on this project where we’ve changed the goal posts approximately every two hours since you’ve begun. And we won’t let you see the studies or the guidance, just let us filter that for you. 

And then, the headhunter called. And I left. Two weeks notice after the job letter was in my hand. 

That’s been another adventure. And a stop-work order that popped up in January. It took until September before I had steady work that didn’t make me want to stab my eyes out.

But those months of scrabbling and starting a new resale business and trying to set up for freelancing and cutting the budget to the bone so I could rely on my savings to float me until unemployment kicked in?

They were scary. 

They were also the rest point that I needed to recognize that I needed to get my head on straight. I needed at least a month to do nothing productive. To get my energy back and to look for something that would cover my actual needs every month. 

And I’m not recovered from the stress yet. I still have trouble being creative (though that haze over my brain is starting to clear, just a bit.) I have trouble self-motivating. I’m tired all the time. 

But I have a plan. 

I have been consciously trying to take care of myself. 

Increasing exercise. Downsizing. Clearing debts. Cleaning the house. And getting ready for the next big adventure. 

I don’t know when it’s going to hit. But I’m not just bracing for the waves. I’m putting up sandbags on the perimeters and boarding up the windows. I’m installing a sump pump. 
Part of me thinks I should go back and edit this piece about five times before I post it. 
But I’m not going to.

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09-10-21 Well, that was a fail

eBay Sales: 1 Nancy Drew book, 1 additional book

#MilWordy Update: 157,421 words total that I tracked.

Craft progress: Working on a phoenix cross-stitch. It’s going well.

Photo of cross stitch progress showing a red phoenix wing and head on white background

So, I suppose we should start with the summary of what didn’t happen over the past few months. I did not actually track all of the words I wrote towards my MilWordy. What I did track shows that I did 157,421 total for the year. I will not be trying this experiment next year.

I did my 3-Day writing retreat. I will say that I did many fewer words than I usually do. However, I am counting it a success because I actually write on the sequel to one of my books that has been stuck. And I figured out what the last few beats need to be in order to tie up the main story. There will still be a larger story point that isn’t resolved because it’s out of scope of the book. That may become a stand-alone, but these characters will be retiring. Who knows maybe there will be a wedding in the final reel of this book. Then again, maybe just a coronation.

I am no longer working the part-time gig. I am really glad about that. I made it through almost four months and it was already killing me. I was burning out and literally dreaded my appointments. Things did not end the way I wanted them to though. All of my clients were transferred to others, but I didn’t get to tie up with the majority of them. It was not the ending I wanted for them, but it was likely better for all concerned. It could have been more damaging in the long run. I did discover that I really enjoy helping people who are starting their businesses though. So, that’s a direction I might end up heading into: Business Coaching for New Entrepreneurs. I’m not sure if I want to specialize in authors/creatives or just early days businesses, but we’ll see. I didn’t immediately set up a website & a business plan, so that’s probably telling me a lot about my actual gut reaction. I’m going to have to give myself at least until January to properly make the decision.

I do have a full-time job once again. Though, I’m going to keep my current health-care for reasons of continuity and preference.

I have started painting minis, though I have none completed right now. I need to order some red paint or maybe pink before I can properly finish my current character’s mini. I did do a good undercoat and I’m starting on details. We’ll see if I stick with it. The detail part is not my favorite, for all I love pen and ink detailing. I think my real passion is in a different art-form.

I think I’m going to tie up here. It’s enough to just get started on doing things again.

If you found this interesting, or you’d like to support my content, please consider buying me a coffee.

  • Goal: Finish 2 books & 12 short stories — 3 short story complete. 1 in edits.
  • Goal: Keep a journal, even if it’s only one line per day — *Insert laughter here*
  • Goal: Take a photo every day and make myself a book at the end of the year. — Behind on this one, but still more pictures than I used to take
  • Goal: Complete MilWordy. — See above.
  • Goal: Blog every day. — And Mark!
  • Goal: Modified eBay goal: List $200-$300 per day. Got $0 worth of listings today, so far

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05-09-21 Step by Step…

eBay Sales: 1 sticker, 1 GS badge, 1 book

#MilWordy Update: 136,621 words (7,641 words/day to complete)

Started working my part-time gig. I was really nervous before the first appointment. Now, it’s as though my emotions have recognized that this is something I know how to do.

I got an email from a former boss. They have a possible position open. I’m going to listen. I’m sort of enjoying the new gig, even though it doesn’t pay the best. (Especially not for the area I’m living in.) It lets me stretch muscles I haven’t used in a long time.

Creatively, I still haven’t gotten much of anything written and I don’t know why. Writing used to always be my go to for relaxation and yet, I’m still having issues putting pen to paper. Or maybe that’s it. I’ve started writing on the computre mostly and I need to shake it up by using a notepad. I’ll have to give that a try.

My new computer chair showed up and I am so happy. I can’t wait to uncrate the darned thing and get it upstairs. This Victorian chair… well, it’s nice, but I’m not wearing two layers of petticoats to sit on it, so it’s a bit unforgiving. And no, I’m not going to take up wearing petticoats just to keep the chair. I’ll probably keep it for working on my weaving because it’s the right height. But I generally don’t have to spend 6-8 hours sitting when I’m weaving. 🙂

Spent time around a campfire last night and it was good fun. The marshmallows were the size of a fist though, which made the toasting of such slightly unwieldy. Tasty though. Sort of warm marshmallow fluff with the nice sharp bite of them on the outside where they charred. And to my friends who think that the burning of them is wrong – my marshmallow, my toasting method. Nom. Nom. Nom.

My new gig uses a sort of… let’s call it a business Discord forum. This is very helpful in one sense because you can ask for advice, reach out to people and it’s a BBS so you don’t have to worry about when you post something because it will generally reach the other party as needed. However, the problem with this lovely system is that it buzzes you all day. Even when you’re off doing something else, the workplace is in your pocket. This feels very boundary intrusive. On the other hand, given the nature of the work, sometimes there are emergencies/urgent items which need to be handled. I still think that downloading the app was a mistake though. It means that I don’t disconnect at all. I check it even when I’m not on-shift, as it were. That is a problem. And the stupid little buzzing bugger can break concentration at will. I’m sure there’s some way to mute it that I just haven’t found yet, but it’s a frustration point right now. There are worse things, of course.

I had a weird experience yesterday. I checked my phone and there was what amounted to an email saying “yo, there was an issue with this thing. Keeping doing what you been doing, but we’re investigating.” from the employment commission. This freaked me out a bit because I’ve been trying to navigate the evil site appropriately. And, of course, due to the fucked up priorities of this country, they are always seeking to throw people off of unemployment. Don’t even get me started on the stupidity that is our welfare system. They shamed my grandmother when she had 6 boys and a husband who was disabled. She went for food stamps when her husband could no longer work. They shamed her to the point that she left and never went back. Fuck that shit. *deep breath* Well, anyway, that’s not the oddness. The oddness is that I cannot find the message I thought I saw. Not on any email account I have. I have check the inbox, the trash, the spam, and the archive. No message. I am to the point of believing that my brain just created it out of nothing. Or, it got pulled back somehow. I don’t even know. Maybe it’s an anxiety dream. Still, it’s weird.

Goodnight y’all.

If you found this interesting, or you’d like to support my content, please consider buying me a coffee.

  • Goal: Finish 2 books & 12 short stories — 3 short story complete. 1 in edits.
  • Goal: Keep a journal, even if it’s only one line per day — This did not happen much more than the blog posts
  • Goal: Take a photo every day and make myself a book at the end of the year. — Pretty close to caught up on this one.
  • Goal: Complete MilWordy. — At least I can count blog posts toward it.
  • Goal: Blog every day. — And we try again.
  • Goal: Modified eBay goal: List $200-$300 per day. Got $0 worth of listings today.

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05-08-21 The Triumphant Return??

eBay Sales (this will be a long list): 4 figurine, 23 books, 1 ornament, 1 record, 2 trolls, 1 Snoopy, 1 McDonald’s Toy, 1 Star Wars toy, 2 necklace, 2 kitchen tools, 1 cake stand, 1 set of slides, 1 vase, 1 belt, 1 pr shoes, 1 paper doll set, 2 magazines, 1 plush, 1 set of thimbles, 1 pair of shelves, 1 collectable keychain, 1 pitcher, 1 rubber stamp, 2 fandom collectables, 1 set of coasters,

#MilWordy Update: 133,086 words (7,339 words/day to complete)

Well, it’s been a month. I have been busy looking for a new job. And I’ve taken on a part-time gig, but I’m still looking for something full-time. It’s better to have something than nothing.

I am ramping up my reselling as well. I have a goal to pay for health insurance through the reselling. That will be my first goal. Then, enough to support my car payments as well. Slow build until I don’t have to worry about holding an external position at all.

I am still working on publishable items, but I just haven’t had the brain capacity to actually be creative. And I’m sure that’s probably a stress reaction rather than anything else. I do have an old story coming back to haunt me though. I think I’ve got the ability to write the story now, but I need to figure out where to start it and from what POV I want to show it. If I write the backstory part in full, it probably will turn into simply fodder for the real story. I don’t know if I’m willing to devote that much time to it. If I don’t write up the backstory, I will completely forget it all. And there are themes from the backstory which I’m using to inform a different character in a different universe. I don’t want the two characters to be too similar in the end. And I don’t want the only different characteristic to be the availability of magic in one universe. Which, I suppose, means I need to sit with my MC for awhile longer and get into his trauma reactions more completely. Not really a comfortable place, but I think one that needs to be explored carefully.

On the other hand, I’ve actually started a book in an old series that I’ve got plotted out. That’s a step in the right direction. I can work on that while I test play my other character. I’ve finally found the place to use a plot that I’ve been working through several times with no success. It’s always been an issue of why would the main character actually say yes to the situation she’s moving into. I think I’ve got a reason for it now. We’ll see if it works out or not, but for now, I’m going to run with it.

I haven’t even been keeping up with my digitization project. (I am trying my best to get the overwhelming amount of paper out of my life. But I swear, every day, there’s one more piece of paper that needs to be kept as proof of something. *shakes head* Modern life was supposed to make it easier to live without those things wasn’t it? Well, that and flying cars.

And seriously people, everyone who wants a flying car? I want you to think a moment about the last time you were driving. The last time someone swerved through the lane or cut you off or just about smashed into the back of your vehicle. Now, think about adding another dimension to that. Now, instead of being cut off in two directions, you’ll be able to be cut off in four. And there are enough people who shouldn’t have licenses out driving right now. Can you imagine that future with flying vehicles? And what sort of failsafes need to be on a flying car?

Obviously my practical side has had too much coffee today. I’ll convince her to take a long warm bath to calm down and we’ll reexamine the idea later.

Because flying cars are cool.

And so are blasters. Especially if the blasters are actually shooting plasma instead of light beams. Hmmm… that would mean that they would actually need clips, yeah? You’d need actual material to create the projectiles.

I’ll… I’ll be right back. I have a short story to draft.

Goodnight y’all.

If you found this interesting, or you’d like to support my content, please consider buying me a coffee.

PS: Newly Published Game Review on Money Garden

  • Goal: Finish 2 books & 12 short stories — 3 short story complete. 1 in edits.
  • Goal: Keep a journal, even if it’s only one line per day — This did not happen much more than the blog posts
  • Goal: Take a photo every day and make myself a book at the end of the year. — Pretty close to caught up on this one.
  • Goal: Complete MilWordy. — I haven’t written a word in a month.
  • Goal: Blog every day. — First day back at it.
  • Goal: Modified eBay goal: List $200-$300 per day. Got $0 worth of listings today.

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eBay Sales: 2 figurines, book, MLP accessory, Super 8 film, candle, Poochie item, 2 plush, 1 paperweight

#MilWordy Update: 133,086 words (5,938 words/day to complete)

I most certainly did not plan on missing so many days.

I had my first vaccine shot on Monday and I have to say that I did have a side effect — fatigue. The first day it was most obvious, but the next two days, I just felt… off. Like my head was filmy and I wasn’t getting much done. I tried, mind you, but I couldn’t concentrate in the way that I prefer. And I ended up taking naps. More than I’d planned on.

I talked with a recruiter today, helping her brainstorm how to find someone to fill one of her openings. And it was nice to talk to someone and give them some help. I enjoy that sort of thing. It also made me think about job titles and the fact that you cannot just rely on a job title to tell you if someone is the right fit for a job.

For example: One of the titles I held was “Administrative Specialist Senior.” What the everloving hell does that mean in the real world? Not what you’re thinking and I’m sure of that. I know that because I get calls about becoming a secretary (I use the old term specifically here) all the time. Like, no Bosco, please read what my job duties were because they were not being an Administrative Assistant. That’s a different skill set. For one, Administrative Assistants have to have a much higher threshold for bullshit than my job did.

As an Administrative Specialist, I did everything from purchasing, to space planning, to writing procedures, to database work. I had the same title from the day I stopped being a receptionist and started being the assistant to the assistant and everyone else on the team, to the day I left the position as a space planner running a nationwide project to consolidate IT functions. I sort of wish that I was kidding, but I was also an hourly employee and, as it turns out, not paid nearly what I was worth.

Still, when I was talking to this recruiter, I mentioned that I knew folks who had started as Janitors in order to get a foot in the door and then, after a year of that, were looking for other work. Her actual reaction was “you’re kidding.” I was not and I am not. The problem is, once Janitor is on your resume, you have to fight to get recognized as another type of professional. I’m hoping that I just helped someone change their mindset about who they’re searching for when they do their database mining and reaching out to people.

Job hunting exposes just how limiting job titles and database searches are. If I put in a search for a space planner, for instance, I get jobs ranging from the planning of the park system for the county to move coordination in an office. Those are completely different skills, but they have the same name.

Also, I am perfectly capable of managing engineers to get their jobs done without having to be an engineer. Why? Because managing means that I help get obstacles out of people’s way. I sit down with them and figure out what’s going on in their schedule. I take the time to realize when someone is overworked. And I don’t have to be an engineer to take a look at a drawing and say something like — you know you can’t actually read the information in this note because it’s overlapping right? Or — where does this piece of the design actually meet up with the other piece of the design. Or — the customer wanted a door opener on this door here. It’s in the requirements document, let’s make sure it happens. In fact, as a manager, there might even be a layer between me and that requirements document. This is a long way of saying “I have a Psychology degree. I know how to talk to people and gather information.” and “I can manipulate as well as anyone else if I need to.”

However, a lot of my skills fall between the cracks. I know just enough to be dangerous in a lot of different topics. I am what is usually called a Polymath. However, people don’t recognize that I have that information when they look at my resume because while I am always learning, I don’t have a piece of paper to say that I know that information. This is probably something I need to figure out how to document or change, but that’s a problem for future me. I don’t want to get derailed right now.

So, in summary. Job Hunting is difficult because trying to determine what a job actually entails from the title or the description is often iffy. And Hiring is difficult because HR systems want something quick to sort through resumes before they get to managers, and if the applicant doesn’t check a particular box, they get booted before a the hiring manager ever gets to see them.

This is why networking is so important in the traditional realm. The people who know you can recommend you to people if they know you’re looking for a job. And if you don’t burn your bridges, you can reach out to your past teams and shake the tree a little bit.

This has been a PSA and kvetch system about the current methods of finding a job and hiring.

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  • Goal: Finish 2 books & 12 short stories — 3 short story complete. 1 in edits.
  • Goal: Keep a journal, even if it’s only one line per day — This did not happen much more than the blog posts
  • Goal: Take a photo every day and make myself a book at the end of the year. — Last photo that wasn’t related to auction prep was on Monday.
  • Goal: Complete MilWordy. — I don’t think I’ve written a word since Sunday
  • Goal: Blog every day. — First day back at it.
  • Goal: Modified eBay goal: List $200-$300 per day. Got $0 worth of listings today.

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