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Archive for June, 2009

Yes, dog of mine, now would be the perfect time for you to get some sort of skin ailment. No, I can’t afford to take my wife out to dinner, but sure, you go ahead and scratch yourself raw. I’ll just call the vet and schedule an appointment for you. Would you prefer morning or afternoon? Cash or charge? Will you need sedatives because you act like a gorilla on LSD whenever you’re in public? Sure, I’ll pick up some of those for you, too. Don’t worry about paying me back – I’ll put it all on a credit card and when the bill comes, I’ll fake my death and buy a new identity from one of those Mexican coyotes. You can get a new identity, too! How ’bout we turn you into a dog that CAN GET A JOB AND PAY FOR YOUR OWN DAMN MEDICATION? But in the meantime, you just sit on the floor all doped up and we’ll watch the rash magically disappear over the course of the next few weeks. Hey, It’s time for Maury! You like Maury! Go ahead and lie down and watch TV. Can I get you anything? Milkbone? Rawhide? Punch in the Face? Some best friend you are. You did this to me on purpose.

Other than charging 300 smacks on a vet visit for a dog who likes to rub salt in my financial wound, I’ve been working the mall job and applying for employment like crazy. This week’s city of focus is Raleigh, North Cackalacky. Yes, scenic Raleigh, the City of Oaks (because of all the oak trees, I guess). The job listings in that city have been blowing up for the past few weeks and I want in on the economic boom. Know someone in Raleigh? Put me in touch with them and I’ll knock their socks off with my expertise, talent and ravishing charm.

The job I interviewed for last week may be slipping out of my grasp. I haven’t heard anything back yet and the job listing has been removed from the website. An email inquiring about the position has yet to be returned. What is the proper etiquette on a follow up phone call, anyway? Are people still doing that? How long am I supposed to wait? A week? A few days? I don’t want to seem too desperate, but I’ve already counted my chickens. They haven’t even hatched yet! By my count, I’ll have 7 chickens this time next week.

For now, I’m sticking to the game plan and sending out my credz and networking like a champ. Trying to remain positive, but it’s tough – especially when I see people around me getting all the things they deserve. Houses. Babies. Raises. Recognition. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. But my little sister is about to buy a house at 23. I’m 30 and can’t even afford a car payment. I’m very happy for her. But really, what did I do wrong? I can blame myself all day long (because my poor educational and financial choices have put me in this situation), but I’m trying to look at as a new beginning and the start of something great. I’m ready. My wife is ready. Let’s do this. I’m gonna get me a jobby-job that will allow me to live a somewhat normal life. Who’s with me?!?! Hello?

This is Day 76, folks. I’m poking my dog with a stick. He doesn’t even blink! He’s so doped up. This is great. More résumés to be sent. Get ready, future employer! You’re about to lose your socks.

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First things first, I’ll tell you that Thursday’s interview went well. Nothing concrete came out of it as of yet, but I’m hoping to hear something Monday or Tuesday. The job has something to do with coordinating medical conferences and creating content for the marketing materials associated with them. Could I do it? Hells-to-the-Yeah, I could do it. I’m not sure how many candidates they’re interviewing, but I’m hoping none of them are as awesome, articulate and devastatingly handsome as I. If they offer me the job, I’m taking it. Okay, at this point, if Burger King offers me a job, I’m taking it.

The following has to do with Michael Jackson. Feel free to stop reading now if you’ve had enough MJ-talk.

Okay, so Michael Jackson died. Pretty big news, eh? I feel like part of my childhood died, too. The first memory I have of music is rolling around on the floor with cassette player listening to Thriller. I remember telling my great grandmother to “Beat It” when she came to the door for a visit (because I gave her such a hard time and I was a hilariously devilish child. I probably kicked her Alzheimer’s into high gear). Anyway, I kept being a fan of MJ all throughout my grade school and even high-school years – when it soooo wasn’t cool to be an MJ fan. But I made people laugh with my imitations and my dance routines. I even entered a MTV contest where I shot a video of me dancing in the hopes of winning a trip to Neverland Ranch. My mom still has the tape. We bust it out every couple of years so my siblings and wife can make fun of me. Good times. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t win because of the whole Jesus Juice debacle, but still – saying I was a big fan is an understatement. In 1991, I bought MJ’s Dangerous and Pearl Jam’s Ten at the same time. The direction I went musically was toward Pearl Jam, but I always respected what MJ could do on stage and what he did musically as a child and with Off the Wall and Thriller. Off the Wall is an amazing album – totally underrated in my opinion. But I digress…

To this day, I still rock out to the Jackson 5 or the old MJ albums every once in a while because, put simply, it’s just good music that brings a smile to my face. Hell, we were even introduced at our wedding reception to “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” and later on in the evening I moonwalked to “Billie Jean”. His music has been with me my entire life, and the influence those songs – those beats – those sometimes silly lyrics – had on me is enormous.

So, he was an odd fellow. No doubt about it. He destroyed himself, image-wise. I saw the Martin Brashear interview where Michael declared that he didn’t see anything wrong with sharing his bed with other people’s children. I’m sorry, what? Obviously, something was mentally wrong with this dude. On so many levels. I mean, really, really wrong. Really. But still, the music and how he performed it is phenomenal. You can’t deny that. I spent the past couple of days shuffling through my MJ collection and dancing around the house like a fool, just celebrating the music of my youth. That’s all.

This is Day 73, folks. Hoping to hear back from the folks who interviewed me the other day. I get the sense that the economy is starting to build itself up again. I hope so.

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I took the advice from Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and have been chilling ’til the next episode, and I think the next chapter of my unemployment is about to begin. The next episode is here, dear readers, and it’s freakin’ scary.

Truth: After our wedding, we compiled a small amount of savings to which we contributed if we ever had an extra few bones lying around after our fancy dinners at Mexican restaurants and our exotic and extravagant weekend jaunts to Buffalo. It wasn’t much, but it was a start to what I hoped would one day become a down-payment on a home or at least a super big TV. Whatever that money was destined to become, I’ll never know. Instead, it became rent, car payments, insurance payments, credit card payments and groceries. It’s almost gone. In about a week, it will ALL be gone. Nothing. Not a dime.

Truth: Some bills will not be paid this month. Sorry, but I can’t. I don’t have it. I would gladly offer you another form of payment, but last time I checked, you don’t accept a pillowcase full of dog hair. I have to decide which bills to pay and which ones to forego. I suppose I’ll skip the ones that will have the least negative impact on my credit. Like the electric bill. Heh… don’t turn me off just yet, Dominion Virginia Power. I need the internet so I can write blogs and apply to jobs. And speaking of the internet, I’m sorry to say, but that’s next on my cancellation list – which is hard for me to swallow because I use it for some freelance writing gigs (that obviously aren’t paying enough for me to keep the service).

Truth: My wife and I each have an iPhone, which was a stellar and affordable choice this time last year. However, I’m embarrassed to pull it out of my pocket now. I feel like one of those people who are buying their groceries with food stamps and claim to not have enough money to feed their babies, yet they have professionally manicured nails, designer clothes and drive an Escalade with big shiny rims. How the hell can I afford the service plan for our phones, but still risk having the power turned off? Well, I can’t afford it. But we’re under contract. I’m not sure if I can swap out our phones for a basic phone with a minimal plan, but I need to look into it. But, by golly, I’m going to miss this phone if I ever have to give it up. They’re gonna have to pry it out of my hands with a shoehorn and try to stifle my public screaming sobs.

Truth: I have an interview tomorrow morning. Yup, it’s true. I awoke to an email inbox that had a couple responses to some of the résumés I sent out recently. One of those responding companies offered me an interview. We set it up for tomorrow at 11am. So wish me luck. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical, though. In truth, most people who have been responding to my emails have represented some sort of scam or door-to-door sales job. Maybe it’s just me being cynical, but I approach all of these potential job opportunities with a high degree of caution. But at the same time, I need a damn job with a paycheck. So I’m gonna get all suity-suited up and put on big smile and find out what deal is with this company. Maybe it’ll be great. I hope it is. I’m telling myself it will be. It will be. Right? Cross your fingers for me.

This is Day 70, folks. I know I seem upbeat and hopeful and cheery and fun and silly and optimistic. For the most part, I am. That’s me. That’s my natural personality. But come visit me at 3AM when I’m laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, wondering when our lives will get back on track.

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Hey, here’s an idea!

Write a blog about not having health insurance and how terrified you are about injuring yourself because you don’t want to be financially ruined. Then, the following day, invite some friends over to your neighborhood pool for some good ol’ fashioned lounging, laughing and libations. Remember to ignore the stern “No running!” warnings that every lifeguard you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in your entire life commanded, and run – run like there’s no tomorrow and giggling like a school girl – around the perimeter of the pool before leaping, Mikhail Barishnikov-style, into the water.

And as you leave the ground, slip awkwardly and jam your big toe into the pool ledge, causing you to flail wildly in mid-air before splashing down on your friend Brandon (played by Telly Savalas), who originally intended to play the part of the jumped-over-guy, but now is playing the part of trying-to-protect-himself-from-your-flying-crotch-guy.

Other than the unfortunate and accidental manbits grabbing (which falls into the category of ‘Things We Don’t Speak Of’), you seem no worse for wear. A little embarrassed, sure. But no real damage done… until you climb out of the pool.

“You’re bleeding.”

“What? No I’m not.”

“Uh… look at your toe.”

[Looking at the bloody puddle you’re standing in] “Hmph… It appears I am.”

“You okay? Does it hurt?”

“What? Yeah, no. I’m fine. Just a little scrape.”

“You might wanna get some peroxide or a band-aid or something.”

“Don’t tell me what to do. Now… who wants cheese on their burger?”

Hours (and I mean HOURS) later, you realize you’re limping. Your toe is swollen and looks like a black and blue Megan Fox thumb. This can’t be good. But you don’t have health insurance – and really, what can they do for a broken toe? Tape some popsicle sticks around the biggest piggy and tell you to elevate your foot? No thanks, Doc. Sell your medical snakeoil to another sucker. You’ve got band-aids, a bag of ice and a freezer full of popsicles at home. It’s like your own personal free clinic – without all the gonorrhea and coughing.

After a couple of days, the swelling will subside and the pain will recede. It’s probably just a sprain, anyway, you big baby. The discoloration? Oh, that’s totally normal. You’ll know it’s gangrenous when it starts to stink like a burning raccoon. So cowboy up, Nancy. I challenge you to a game of horseshoes.

A game of horseshoes! Brandon?

This is Day 68, folks. Really – the toe is fine. I hope. It’s just God’s way of showing me he has a sense of humor… and reads my blog.

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Talked to my buddy, and best man in my wedding last year, Thomas Jay (AKA Tom, TJ, T-45, TJ-Quick) last night. He is getting ready to tie the knot in October. His fiancé has been unemployed a little longer than I have, and recently suffered a nasty injury in which a horse knocked her down and stepped on her knee. That’s right. A horse. Stepped on her knee. With its hoof. A horse. Crushed it.

Medical bills? Oh yeah. It’s going to take months and months of rehabilitation, too. For someone who doesn’t have health insurance, you can’t even begin to imagine the amount of debt and financial strain you’ll be forced to endure. Now, luckily for her, she has the Cobra insurance coverage, whatever that is… something where you still can pay for your insurance for a while after you lose your job. So, good for her. She’ll be taken care of and will (hopefully) be able to get all the medical attention she needs.

But this whole situation got me a-thinkin’. What if a horse steps on my knee? I don’t have insurance right now. I’m not covered. My wife isn’t covered. Not right now. For the first time in my entire life, I don’t have some form of health insurance. I could be stepped on by Mr. Ed and have my whole financial future destroyed, not to mention having to settle for second-rate medical attention, if I’m even lucky to get ANY medical attention. Surgery? Yeah, you need it, but you can’t afford it, so… here are some crutches. Bye.

Scary stuff, people. I chopped a tomato this afternoon (for one of my exta-spectacular sandwich creations, The Kimmie Gibbler™, which consists of Tuna, American cheese, dill relish, onions and secret seasonings) and consciously tried to NOT CUT OFF MY FINGER. The fact is, I’m terrified of doing anything that has the potential to cause injury. Driving to the mall job? I’m like a little old lady out there on the roads. Really. I have to drive down a busy interstate in my Saturn Ion while all the suburban moms who can’t see over the steering wheel of their gigantic SUVs come barreling towards me and I think to myself, Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, please get me to the mall safely so I can sell these rich people khakis.

It’s like that with anything I do, and it’s getting worse. I’m even afraid to take the dog for a run because the last time I did, he jerked me awkwardly and twisted my back all funky. I’m fine – it only hurt for a little while, but back injuries are nasty – and costly. I don’t want to become a shut-in, but I really don’t want to risk becoming sick or injured. Maybe investing in bubble wrap and one of those Swine Flu masks would be cheaper in the long run. Or someone can hire me and these paranoid delusions of contracting Small Pox from the neighborhood pool will go away.

This is Day 65, folks. Staying away from horses. Wearing a face mask. Still making sandwiches named after second-banana sitcom characters. Also – I’m not going to be titling my posts Unemployed, Day [whatever] anymore. I’ll keep the running tally down at the bottom, if you’re really that interested.

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Unemployed, Day 63

I would totally move to Atlanta, just so you know. I mean, I know nothing about Atlanta. I don’t like the Falcons or the Braves. I’m really scared of anything more “southern” than Virginia. But I would still move there.

There are a lot of job opportunities in this sprawling urban mecca of business and media. I’m talkin’ real jobs that are modern and seem profitable. Social Media Coordinator? Duh. I could totally do that. What I’m doing right now? This blog? It’s called coordinating my social media-ness. Communications Journalist? Again – what do you think I do all day long? I communicate and I jounalisticate. Lead Online Marketing Manager? Puh-leeze. With. My. Eyes. Closed.

Digital Media Director? Web Content Editor? Viral Marketing Manager? Yes, yes and yes. All these and more, in the fine city of Atlanta.

So why aren’t these companies calling me back? Is there a certain keyword I’m missing on my résumé? Are they put off by the Virginia address? I guess I just don’t know what else I can do to make my résumé stand out, other than include a cover sheet of a shirtless Carrot Top lifting weights.

The main point I’m trying to make here is that I will move to Atlanta for the right job. I have no qualms about packing up my life and moving across the country. Not just Atlanta, either. I’m talking to you, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, New York, Tampa, Phoenix and Denver. I’m talking to all of you. Offer me a great job, and you’ll receive a great employee. My wife, on the other hand, may take some time to get used to the new surroundings. But she’ll be fine. Don’t worry about her.

In the meantime, I’m off to the mall job to sling cargo shorts and polos down the throat of well-to-do shoppers who have real jobs and can afford them. True story: the other day I had a male customer say to me, “Aren’t you a little old to be working here?” I replied by explaining to him how I need extra money and am doing whatever I can to get by until I find a job. Mid-sentence, he cuts me off and shoves a pair of chinos at my chest and says, “Whatever. I need to try these on.”

This is Day 63, folks. Also just updated my iPhone to 3.0. Should come in handy for the next few weeks before it gets disconnected because I can’t afford to pay the bill. Already digging the Voice Memos app – great for logging twitter ideas while driving. Copy and paste will be useful, too.

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Unemployed, Day 61

You could not even begin to believe how pumped up and motivated I was when I jumped out of bed this morning. I did one of those OPEN EYES, SIT STRAIGHT UP, PUT ON SHORTS, BRUSH TEETH – all in the span of about 30 seconds. It’s like someone gave me a shot of adrenaline straight to my heart while I soundly slept in my comfy bed in the wee hours of the morning.  And I was whistling, too. Because you can’t jump out of bed, high-steppin’, without whistling a happy tune. By the way, that is totally unlike me. I’m usually not a pleasant person to be around in the morning.

So there I am, the new day’s first cup of fresh coffee barely touching my lips, sitting down at my computer ready to grab Monday by the round ones and pound out some articles and send out a few job applications, when I hear what I thought was thunder (it was raining at the time). Just as I glance out my window, I’m blinded by an enormous blue flash, accompanied by a sound that I would imagine an alien spacecraft sounds like when it shoots a laser-blaster-death-ray. The power lines behind my house are shaking violently. The power goes off. The computer goes black. The dog jumps into my lap.

My first thought? DRINK THE REST OF THE COFFEE BEFORE IT GETS COLD. Which I did. Almost the whole pot. I figured I might as well be caffeinated when the power returns. But the power did not return. Long story short, I took the laptop to a coffee shop and got a few things written. When I returned a few hours later, my house was still powerless. Nap? On a Monday afternoon? Yes, indeed. Jealous? Finally, it was restored about an hour ago. I’m almost saddened that I don’t have to drink the beer in my fridge before it went skunky.

So the job-front… not looking too good right now. Monday might be the day when companies send out their rejection emails because I received 4 of them today. Disheartening, to say the least. I do appreciate being responded to, though. If anything, it tells me that companies have received my emails and my hours of sending résumés are not entirely in vain. Somebody is reading it, right? Even if they stamp a big REJECTION label on it.

This is Day 61, folks. Early on, around Day 10, someone told me “talk to me when you get to day 60-something.” Well, I’m talking to you now. Still unemployed. Still trying. Still freelancing. Still hungry.

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