Dear Class of 2017, Fix The World Why Don’t Ya

The future is in front of you. Well, duh! If you think that statement is a no-brainer, here’s another one. Your diploma, whether you got it for free or spent tens of thousands of dollars, will only get you so far. You’ll have to be fearless and inexhaustible to make a splash. Want to be a big fish in a little pond? Good luck. That pond is fully stocked with mediocrity and hypocrisy. Want to be a little fish in a big pond? Good luck. That pond is full of piranha and garbage and toxins.

So, what’s a shiny new graduate to do? Better not expect trigger warnings. It’s a swim at your own risk world out there. If you plan to strap on some Kevlar and dive in, be prepared to sink. Sure, battling it out against seasoned professionals who are simply trying to keep their heads above water won’t be that hard. Some of them already have one foot out the door. It’s the ones who are still paying off their student loans who are your real competition. Of course, there are also some who have their kid’s college to worry about, and they are the fiercest, so it might not be so easy after all. Experienced workers have seen the future. They know they can’t get ahead of it.

What you need is useful information. Well, here it is…

Generations who came before you made enormous progress toward solving the problems of disease and poverty and the “isms” that plague humanity. Some of them died trying. Corruption, greed, and ignorance still contribute to chronic crisis for too many. Slavery still exists, sometimes in plain sight. Substance abuse, child abuse, and spousal abuse permeate all socioeconomic and cultural classifications in all nations. Homelessness and food scarcity, behavioral and mental disorders, and, yes, drug dependency affect an ever increasing number of the world’s population. The world is old. Its inhabitants are aging. No matter how much you spend to delay the inevitable, no anti-aging gimmick will change that fact.

It’s all up to you now to fix this screwed up world. Good luck with that!

Waltzing Through The Storm

As the job search continues, dirt under my nails makes me feel productive. A constant reminder that while I may need to scrub up at a moments notice, life is in the doing. Pulling weeds and planting seeds, a metaphor for life to be sure, keeps me grounded and gives me purpose. These humble tasks are important. Removing obstacles, cultivating relationships, sharing the fruits of our labor – this is work, this is life.

FLOWERPOWER (2)
Wake Up and Smell the Awesome!

 

Not Your Mama’s Fiction

We live in a world of confusing messages about what it means to be a woman. Are we supposed to be diamonds, daisies, or snowflakes? Tinsel on a tree? Chasing rainbows?

Then there’s the question, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Women in the workplace, beholden to benevolent counterparts for their willingness to allow us onto an equal playing field, just without equal pay, are not a thing of the past. This remains an unfortunate truth.

Now our daughters and sons are out there on their own. The days of ramen noodles and cold pizza are behind us, and yet, we still feel it, that uncertainty that makes us ask what the hell is going on here? This week I experienced one of those moments when I watched a young professional deliver one of the worst presentations I’ve ever had the misfortune to endure. Five minutes into the talk it hit me, I could do a better job than this guy. I felt sick. Why? Because I inquired about the job a year ago and wasn’t even considered.

Throughout my life, it has been necessary for me to be highly flexible and adaptive to change for the benefit of my family. I’ve done double duty and made the best of bad situations. I’m not ungrateful. I just feel cheated. I am not that girl. I’m that other one.

dale-rogerson-pizza
Copyright Dale Rogerson

Women’s Work

Every guy she had encountered eventually became someone she wished she’d never met. Long days, proving herself on the job, enduring endless mansplaining and indecent proposals bled into even longer nights. Instead of waiting by the phone, she studied. A choice she knew would pay off one day. A thousand broken promises had left her with only one to keep, one she made to herself. Then he came along and everything changed. The guy who made her life worth living and gave her a reason to work harder. The one she would love forever. The one who called her Mom.

*****

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I realize my mixing fiction with reality is difficult for some readers. I make no apologies. If you want to read something better, check out the Friday Fictioneers. Thanks, Dale, for another inspiring photo. As always, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields brings it to life with her own take on this week’s prompt.

One more thing. Elinor Burkett’s article, “What Makes A Woman?” in the New York Times is brilliant, articulate, and every single thing I think about the difficulties of presenting a united front for gender equality. Thanks for reading.

One Hundred Words 101

Friday Fictioneers has become a staple on my blog. Creating a story using only 100 words has impacted my writing in ways I did not expect when I first discovered the group of talented writers led by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Now everything I write goes through a rigorous edit to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I’m often knee deep in chaff.

A photo is where the story begins, usually. There are times, however, when an idea that has been percolating in my mind mingles with the prompt in mysterious ways. The result ends up on the keyboard. I don’t question it. I just close my eyes and let it fly. Winging it is what we pantsters, as in fly by the seat of one’s pants, do best. There is no outline or structure, no discernable method to the madness that ensues when I am writing. That is why editing is an indispensable skill. The key most used on my laptop is the backspace, second only to delete.

I had a professor once who tried to instill, or was it impose, rules to be followed when writing anything. I resisted as much as my GPA would allow, but in the end, what she had tried so hard to get me to understand stuck with me. I use it, but probably not often enough. I’ll share it and you can decide for yourself if it is as easy as she made it seem.

Each idea must be supported by a sentence that answers one of three questions about the idea. How is it true? Why is it true? In what way is it true? The simplicity of this practice is deceptive because it can be difficult to admit that you are making a claim that cannot be supported.

I hate when that happens.

Today I did a lot of writing. I published a blog post. I wrote an article that will most likely never be published. I wrote two versions of a cover letter for my ongoing job search. A deluge of ideas caused me to work on several documents simultaneously. I could not separate my ideas fast enough to bother asking how or why or in what way any of them were true. As a consequence, I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening editing. Right in the middle of all of it, I had to stop myself so that I could start this post. It was nagging at me to be let out, like a sneeze that stings so bad it makes your eyes water.

That’s it. Be open to possibilities. Decide for yourself what is good and what isn’t. Let others help you along the way. Know that sometimes you’ll need to let go of one thing in order to accept something better. Know the rules. Know that you can bend the rules. Know that some rules aren’t worth the torment you feel obligated to endure for them. Know that it isn’t a sprint, it’s a summersault sometimes followed by a face plant. Have the courage to stare failure down and make it pay you back with interest. That’s how to write a story using only one hundred words.

Here is my story prompted by the prompt courtesy of Sarah Potter.

january-snowfall-nighttime
Copyright Sarah Potter

Since You’ve Been Gone

My mug is piping hot. I take out the biscotti, leaving one in the jar. “I’ll be back for you later,” I whisper. My heart flutters beneath layers of wool and flannel. The flashes are gone now, but the covers still end up on the floor. For old time’s sake I guess, when lava in my veins forced me to open a window. He hated that. The silence is louder than ever. I won’t miss being stuck in this place. The checklist, still on the kitchen counter, is incomplete. Perhaps I’ll have that last biscotti. Tomorrow might be too late.

*****

Lately my mood, and my writing, has been bluer than blue. I make no apologies. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Thanks for reading. I owe you all a debt of gratitude for the generous comments and thoughtful support.

Will Work For Life

An unsettling thought occurred to me while I was taking a break after completing six online job applications in a row. That may not sound like many, but it is. The process for jobs I am interested in is excruciatingly tedious. I won’t bore you with the details of my search and rescue mission on dot coms dedicated to helping us find work ’til we die.

Which is closer for some than others.

There seems to be a trend for people of a certain age to humble vent on LinkedIn. Humble venting is a bit like humble bragging, you know, when someone tells how grateful they are for something in that false modesty language with the undertone of “OMG, this awesome thing makes my life so much better than yours and now everyone will want to be my friend so that they can be amazing like me, but they can’t, no one can, not even you.”

Yeah, you know exactly what I’m saying.

ANYWAY, humble venters are people who tell you that they have finally found their dream job with one of the ten best ever companies to work for. A company that values experience and rewards thought leaders and sends fairies riding unicorns to their house in the middle of the night to lay out their business casual wear and set up the coffee maker so that all they have to do is press the button and hop in the shower.

THEN, they go on to say how horribly rotten the job search experience was for them. How a thousand man hours produced hundreds of applications that yielded only a few dozen interviews and how their ego was dealt a deathblow every time an email, thanking them for there interest, but to NEVER EVER expect to get so much as spam in the future, came after hitting refresh on their phone, iPad, AND PC fifty-two times each, oh, but now after torturous months, their faith in humanity has been completely restored.

Humble venters use run-on sentences.

I’ve been cautioned, thank you Mr. Petruska, not to post anything that might be construed as negative or derogatory or damaging or even halfway accurate about organizations that seem to only hire nit wits, dim wits, and knuckleheads for HR recruiting. So, I won’t.

I will, however, say that there are some serious issues with talent acquisition in the corporate world today, my friends, and until somebody makes that great again, there’s gonna be a whole lot of valuable resources wasting away in Margaritaville.

I’m just sayin’. What? Too negative?

The thought that occurred to me is that this experience must be a lesson in humility. This is based on that annoying premise that everything happens for a reason. On the other hand, there certainly have been plenty of humiliating moments in my life for no reason I can think of. Well, I have learned my lesson. Digital rejection is as bad as human rejection. I promise to never humble brag again. I do need to get hired so that I can humble vent. It’s on my bucket list, and if I don’t do it soon, there may never be an opportunity because I intend to get a job or die trying.

Have humility, will travel.