I hadn’t been home to Wisconsin in the winter for many years. I prefer to visit in the summer when you can do things outside like bike and fish. Although it was mid-November, temperatures were already in the single digits:
On the campus where I had my job interview, the students were riding about on their bikes in those temperatures unaffected, wearing neoprene facemasks. Hardcore kids.
The interview went well I think. The interview committee had good poker faces though, so it was hard to tell what they thought. I have TWO job interviews in DC today. The first one is for communications stuff supporting a DHS program (with a lovely short commute from home), the second is to be the spokesperson for a nearby county deer management program which would be challenging and interesting. So something ought to come out of this soon we hope. Two. Fucking. Years. Of un- or under-employment. It’s been ridiculous.
Anyway, mom’s dog Andy was cute, and he loved his squeaky burger and fries:
Andy is probably a lot more well-behaved than the spoiled vermin owned by our favorite swamp hag.
Since there wasn’t much to do, I went down to the river’s edge and took artsy photos:
I found a hardware store where you could get the tools needed to make Scandinavian treats like sandbakkelse and krumkake:
I ate cheese curds every day. On the last day of my trip we found the place in LaCrosse with the largest cheese curds ever, possibly of this whole world:
Of course the eating does not end, as Thanksgiving approaches. I plan on eating even more.
So it’s been a year since I’ve returned to DC, two years since I moved to Portland. I moved back to DC under the assumption that there were more jobs here than in Portland. That’s somewhat true, but there aren’t as many jobs as there used to be here. Fewer organizations are hiring because money isn’t flowing here due to legislative gridlock and no budget. With the Republicans controlling the senate I think we’re going to get more of the same for at least three years. So nobody has any confidence they’ll have money for new or continuing positions.
The new job reality is in contracting. Fewer companies are hiring “permanent” positions. And salaries are lower, despite all the sunny news you hear coming from the White House these days. It’s ironic that in the past year I’ve had more interviews for jobs outside of DC than in. Two of them were for jobs in Portland. Next week I’ll be interviewing for a job in Madison, Wisconsin. It would be working for the state extension offices marketing their environmental programs. It would be a good fit, but of course the position is a 2-year contract, so that gives me pause and I would probably have to get a car too. But then again everything is contracting these days. But it is the first job interview where they are paying for my travel for an interview in person! However, I owe them a marketing presentation in return.
I had mentally resolved to “be” in DC, to accept the fact that this is where I should be. But opportunities may take me elsewhere. This sorta pisses me off because I felt very empowered to take the leap to Portland, but failed. It makes me feel like I don’t have any control over my destiny. Then there’s the constant anxiety about my career/job/bills. Two years of worry and watching my savings run out. I think a lesser person would be crushed by two years of this instability.
Granted, I’m working now, actually like the job I’m in, but it ends in December. All I’ve been able to get in DC are these short-term contracting gigs, and my resume looks like a mess now. I get interviews when people see my resume, but I think there are still hundreds of people applying for jobs these days and my resume is buried under hundreds of pages and names. It’s really tight out there.
The photo was of the shiner I got during rugby practice last month. It’s all better now. Rugby was fun this season. They have enough players now to form a third team. It’s mostly brand new players and old, decrepit players like me. Still fun to get out there though, but man it takes longer and longer for me to recover from a match.
Well the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant was a lot of fun. Much love to Miss Veronica Blake for doing up Charlene. Actually the process for getting made up was made efficient by an assembly line affair before the show. At one station the heavy foundation was plastered to my face. At the next station the fine details for a fine lady, and finally the wig was put on at the last station. Charlene was a hit, as the people expected and demanded. Don’t be jealous. In the photo to the left we see the lovely Jim Lande and Miss Charlene Hilton in all her smoky glory.
I must note that the production value for this pageant seems to get better every year. It’s quite a DC institution. DC doesn’t have a reputation for being a crazy town or particularly artsy, but when we do put on a show it’s well-organized. In a town full of Type-A personalities this is an inevitability. Like I always say, “Maryland is for crabs, Virginia is for lovers, and DC is for former class presidents.”
Now the beard will grow back again. My dry, featureless face hates me for shaving.
Oh I want to point out that our painfully cisgendered blogger friend BrettCajun is OBSESSED WITH CHARLENE. He was constantly asking questions about her, offering makeup advice, and lewd comments about what he wants to do with Charlene. Brett just do drag already and GET. OVER. IT.
I shaved my glorious russet beard for an upcoming appearance of Charlene, and now the beard gods have punished me with a pox. It’s probably razor burn, but it sure does itch. Beards keep your face moisturized and happy. I will begin the regrowth immediately after Charlene has left the stage. Shaving is bad.
Bryce Harper does not shave, and he is full of testosterone and manliness, as evidenced in this photo:
The beardy Washington Nationals made it to the Major League Baseball playoffs again but they did not make it farther than that. I am sad.
Fuck fuck fuck the proposal I was on to support a major U.S. government website did not win. So it’s back to square one. I have been temping at a great place and the commute – a 10-minute bike ride – has been great. But the pay is crap and I really need to get off the temp train. My resume is a mess from all these short-term contract and temp gigs and I look like a job-hopper on my resume. I have been applying to permanent or long-term jobs since I got to DC. But I rarely get a response, and I’m even starting to see jobs I applied to in the past year opening again. How did that person you hired work out for you? Guess it didn’t work out for either of you. YA SHOULDA HIRED ME!
This week marks the one-year anniversary of my return to DC. I knew it would be tough reestablishing myself but I didn’t expect it to be this tough. Our economy is rotten, money is not flowing through DC, salaries are lower than they used to be, everything is more expensive and firms are reluctant to open new positions. Have a nice day.
Lucas wasn’t at practice last week and no one had heard from him. He was supposed to play a forward position in the scrum. We practiced lineouts and he was supposed to be in the second pod of lifters. When Saturday match day came around he was still a no-show, and we improvised with who we had rather than sticking to what we practiced. We won the game, but still needed Lucas.
Last night the team president shared the sad news: Lucas had passed on, probably by suicide. It must have happened last weekend, or early in the week, thus his absence from practice.
It’s hard to get into the mind of a suicidal person to understand what drove them to do the deed. You really can’t understand the spiral downward that’s kicked off by a bad thought here or difficult interaction there. All you can do is hope you were there to stop the descent.
I have been going to rugby to get my mind off my situation. For two hours twice a week I can forget that I’ve been sidetracked from my career path, and not think about paying bills next month on my paltry temp salary. Even though a grave injury might put me in deeper financial crisis, I feel it’s worth it for the couple hours of mental respite from otherwise dwelling on my problems. It’s those breaks that help a lot.
Something as simple as “we need you in the lineout on Saturday” may have helped Lucas. We need you here for this one little thing may have sent a shaft of light into the darkness. I don’t know. You can’t know what they were thinking, but you also can’t blame yourself for what happened. I’ve dealt with that before and won’t again. It may sound cold but we have to move on with the living.
Several of my gay friends are getting or have recently gotten married. Some of them have been together for a long time, others for what you would compare to a heteronormative length of courtship before nuptials.
I am glad for them all. The typical media/TV stereotype of an extravagant, elegant gay wedding is already out there. Yet at least with my circle of friends, that has not been the case. Sometimes we had to beg them for a ceremony, otherwise they would have just gone to the Justice of the Peace and got done with it without telling anyone. They have been subdued affairs. Maybe all my friends are cheap. I don’t know.
As I get older and my marrying friends get older, the ceremonies or parties become more relaxed and less complicated. This is good. I’m starting to think we do not feel this pressure to be Bridezillas and put on an extravagant affair, because there are fewer expectations of us. I think it’s liberating that we don’t feel the need to put on an overpriced affair that will put a couple in debt for years. It seems to be we’ll do this our way, and we’re being chill about it.
Have we learned the lessons of the heterosexuals and know that expensive weddings aren’t worth it? Have you been to an over-the-top gay wedding? I haven’t yet.
What do you think? Come out of the woodwork, lurkers. It’s time to discuss.
Getting back to rugby has been fun, a great way to socialize, and it restores a much-needed sense of normalcy to my life after these past two years of upheaval. However me olde body does not recover like it used to. Even a mere practice has me physically wrecked for days. After this season (yeah I keep saying that every year) I will certainly question my continued participation in the sport. Still, we managed to smile for a moment a few weeks ago during play:
This summer’s weather has been remarkably cool. With the exception of a week or two here and there, it’s been really pleasant. But cooler temps are on the way, as evidenced by that fall smell that we encountered on our hike in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia this past weekend. We didn’t see any bears, but there were plenty of otters on the trail:
It rained Saturday morning but that’s about it. They say it’s gonna be a cold winter this year.
I have a new roommate. The other one was great but he followed his girlfriend to NYC. Strangely, this new one was my roommate when I lived upstairs, so I know we get along. BUT he seems to have gathered a tremendous amount of stuff this time around. Either that or the first time he never intended to stay for long. He’s still unpacking and I don’t know where it’s all going to go. I hope he has a toaster because I left mine in Portland somewhere.
I went to the premiere of “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. I know a few of the producers and was contacted by the director for consulting regarding a very brief scene in which Cheyenne Jackson is playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a good movie and you should go see it.
I’ve been so busy on the job hunt and travelling, I didn’t realize I hadn’t been biking or going to the gym as much as I usually do. On Labor Day I got to the gym and a long bike ride, and it felt real good. I also got caught in a rainstorm, but there was a rainbow afterwards, even though congress does not deserve a rainbow:
I forgot to mention I’ve gotten back to rugby. Of course I first had to get health insurance, as it would be stupid to play rugby without it. I went through the DC health exchange (“Obamacare”) and I must say that process really sucked. It took about 2 1/2 days to process my application, and that was with a specialist trained in holding people’s hands through the process. That and the website sucked. I mean, I just finished a webmaster gig so I know a few things, and found out I had to log-in or log-out on this or that screen, or clear the browser cache before this screen worked. Extremely user unfriendly website. And what if I was a struggling mother working 3 part-time jobs? I wouldn’t have the time to navigate this system that takes almost three days to process.
Anyway, rugby has been good. I’m slower than I used to be, but my body is still intact. Getting back to rugby has given me a sense of normalcy and practices offer two hours where I’m not obsessing over my career recovery. And the guys are nice to look at, of course.
So after about two months between jobs I got a very sudden offer for temp work at a SCIENCE nonprofit a very short commute from my house. I can walk to work, which is very nice. The offer happened in the course of an afternoon and I reported to work the next day. This was fine with me because I was getting bored out of my skull and was ready to get to work. Now sure I was in Provincetown and Wisconsin for much of July, but as August ticked by I was starting to sweat. Yes there’ve been lots of jobs to apply to, but few responses – it’s a very tough market these days, even in job-laden DC. Although my name is on a project proposal to support a major Federal agency’s website, that proposal must win the bid first, and doesn’t start until October. So I’m going with the bird in hand for now.
This temp gig was a blessing from the skies. So far I’m only doing stakeholder relations and PDF pushing but will soon have access to their CMS (content management system). I’ve already impressed the boss with my super-fast learning curve, for my last job involved two other, more complex CMS’. Blogging with this here blog also involves CMS. While I’d prefer my career progress onward in the public affairs field I’ll take a web content producer job as it seems to be the way to pay the bills these days. At least I have a diverse skillset to support myself.
These webmaster skills also involve tracking site visitors so that we may understand who is visiting our site, to better design future websites suited for target audiences. I can use these skills and tools to track emails too. So lets say some nut has been sending me weekly harassing emails debasing me for being unemployed, and/or decrying my opinions on things. Let’s say they continue to send me such emails. I could for example locate the city (or even building!) where they live, track down where they work, identify the insane metaphysical blogs where they contribute, and make that information public. Or bring to light where said crazy harassing person works at his family grocery store. These are the useful tools a webmaster has at his disposal to respond to really mean, attention-whoring, or otherwise bored people who keep sending crazy and mean emails.
And no I’m not talking about BrettCajun. His brand of crazy can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart. Plus when Brett tries to sound mean he just ends up sounding like a little puppy who got his paw stuck in a mousetrap. So I’m not talking about Miss Suzanne Sugarbakker of the Swamplands.
I went back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. It was a lot of socializing and remembering faces I hadn’t seen in a while but a lot of fun. A few of us went up the Brady’s Bluff trail at Trempealeau State Park. It was hot that day (for Wisconsin) but a great view of the upper Mississippi River. That’s Minnesota across the river:
I helped my brother a little building his new garage. I mostly held things in place and let him do the hammering and nail placement.
Then off to my family reunion. Even more faces and names I couldn’t place right away, since the last family reunion I’d been to was 20 years ago or so. Someone brought a photo album where I could see pictures of ancestors Homer had traced for me a while back. I took some hasty photos to put names to faces. Most of the males on that side had excellent mustaches, like my great-grandfather Michael:
I finally learned why my father’s dad’s nickname was “Pumpy.” We would always say “We’re going to Grampa Pumpy’s house” when he was alive. It turned out he got that name because he worked for his father’s drilling and pumping business and often ran the pump, thus the name “Pumpy.”
The week before I arrived there was another giant swarm of mayflies, which is a fairly unique occurrence in that area once a year. By the time I got to Wisconsin there were only a few swarming here and there, but you can see more of the amazing peak swarming in this article.
Then it was back to the job hunt in DC. My roommate moved out so I had to cover August rent myself, which was tough considering my last contract job ended in June. I have a few possibilities in the works, and also had a phone interview which I think went well. Although it’s a slow time in DC as many are on vacation and hiring is slow.