Archive for the ‘log’ Category

Been busy! Managing is mentally draining, and most of the time when I get home I just stare at the wall as I drool. Plus I may have been avoiding blogging because my current work involves massaging and moving web pages. So the last thing I want to do when I get home is work on more web stuff.

But anyway I’ve been managing people, and I think I kind of like it. This is good because I have a Master’s degree in management, so I’d better like it. But like I said it is mentally draining and keeps me fairly worn out. When most Fridays come around I do not feel like going out. I previously thought I had no previous experience actually managing people, but I’ve found this to be untrue. My experience on the board of the Renegades rugby team had me making decisions, managing a budget, and occasionally approaching difficult club members. This is management.

And don’t laugh, but dungeon mastering (game facilitation) for years has me practiced in quick decision making under pressure, facilitating our “meetings” and understanding different types of people and how they can fit and work better. So I’m not as inexperienced as I thought.

The new stuff that’s challenging me is finding tasks and assigning them out. This is a big part of managing a website redesign and page migration, and takes a lot of time and thought. Especially to do it in an organized fashion.

Other than that I haven’t been doing much else, but am looking forward to a trip to West Virginia in early may.

Trimming the beard for the job interview earlier this week was somewhat of a relief. I was getting tired of the overgrown ’stache doubling as a coffee/soup strainer. That and this sinus cold I’ve had since NYE made boogers and beards problematic:

That said, I still love having a fur-bearing mammal attached to my face. I’ll admit the shorter beard looks better, but as y’all know, I like big beards and I cannot lie. It will grow back again.

The interview went well. It was a basic first-round interview at an institute of higher learning where I worked many years ago. I recognized many of the people on the 7-person interview committee, and recognized the questions since I had been on several similar committees. And by now I know how to answer them the best I can. We’ll see how it goes. There’s a few other irons in the fire, and things have picked up in the job department as I expected they would now that the holidays are over. And with the government passing some budget, more opportunities may come up as organizations become confident they can afford to hire.

My room has dried up from the flood for the most part but I think the cold snap broke the heat exchanger outside. I’m not quite sure what it is for, but it doesn’t always work now and the house seems colder than usual. Anyway my cheap-ass computer desk did get some water damage, and my renter’s insurance is paying for a replacement. I put the soaked rugs outside in the two days of rain that followed, dried them out and put some carpet freshener on them and they seem fine. They may rot later, we’ll see. But like I said before most of it is crap anyway and is no great loss.

China Wall Sunset2013 was great in terms of the travels and hikes I went on. My trip to the island of Oahu, Hawaii was most memorable. I am grateful for the exciting adventures I had and I hope to one day get back to that volume of travel and sightseeing again. I really love to travel and get outdoors.

But in terms of meeting goals and, well, getting a job, 2013 sucked. My timing could have been better – I saw the writing on the wall with an economic downturn on the way, and knew I was moving to a more depressed region in terms of employment. But I thought my credentials were robust enough to thrive and had finances to fall back on in case things didn’t turn out. And they didn’t and I retreated back to familiarity and a better promise of employment.

Despite my contracting job that got me through the holiday months, I am still looking for long-term employment. What I am doing right now for work may or may not work out, and it’s best to keep looking, and I have been. Things have been slow as expected over the holidays. As a former government worker I’m aware that not much gets done between Thanksgiving and January. Let’s hope our government gets going again so people have the confidence in the economy to hire again.

In 2013 I went to Seattle, saw snowy owls and Jinkx Monsoon. I made cute beet cupcakes. I had a snowboarding ’stache. I saw Prince in Portland and was disappointed by the audience. Hiking, lots and lots of glorious hiking. Interview with an out, gay NASCAR driver. Lampreys at Bonneville Dam. I got stopped at the Canadian border because I’m unemployed. I caught up on the entire season of Game of Thrones and True Blood. I moved back to Washington, DC.

Just got a call from the last place I interviewed and they selected someone else. BUT at least I got a call, and he did say I was a contender for the position. That’s better practice than from other places I’ve interviewed, and I appreciate it and said so to the search leader who called. Such calls – while utterly devastating – are an opportunity to give a parting positive impression and leaves the door open for potential future opportunities. They know you, and if you think they liked you there could be openings in the future. And I will not be mad at anyone who has the balls to call me with bad news. If I’m ever on a search committee myself I will push that such calls be made, however difficult and awkward they may be.

That said, I had just gotten out of a three-day k-hole from my Canada rejection. Although I had a feeling a while back that I wasn’t going to get the position anyway and was somewhat mentally prepared to be resilient to the bad news.

The K-HoleThe term “k-hole” is from the old Circuit Party days when someone would do too much ketamine and become unresponsive. This state was highly mythologized but I witnessed it happening from time to time: “Oooh gurl Paul fell into a k-hole on the dance floor right when the DJ was playing some Kim English!” These days I use the term with endearance when I fall into a depression due to joblessness. When I find myself despondent and making lunch seems to be an insurmountable effort, I say to myself “Oooh gurl you in a k-hole.”

Knowing you’re in a k-hole is a good way of finding your way back to a better mood, and I have proven ways of getting out of it. Socializing with friends, exercise, being outdoors and applying for more jobs give me a sense of empowerment and positivity. Staying in and reflecting on the overall hopelessness of it all does not help one get out of the k-hole.

I recently read some article about the Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief, and am fairly certain I’ve been to the final stages of it. But one goes back and forth on the scale and here’s how it’s gone with me:

  1. Denial: I can’t believe I haven’t gotten a job in 11 months.
  2. Anger: Fuck Portland.
  3. Depression: I will never get a job again.
  4. Bargaining: Maybe if I network more I will get a lead.
  5. Acceptance: Ha ha I will never get a job again!

And so it goes back and forth, sometimes on a daily basis. The final stage has been an odd one for me lately. Sometimes I feel like I’m at this Zen state of joblessness, which can be a relief sometimes. “Well fuck I can’t get a job here, I made a gamble and lost.” The reports of the heat wave back in the Mid-Atlantic combined with the fantastic dry, sunny weather with cool evenings here still has me resisting the idea of going back to DC. But there are jobs and a robust network for me back there, and here I seem to be hitting my head against a very sturdy wall. Sometimes when something isn’t working, it’s just not going to work.

Great Scott moverFour moves ago in DC, I hired the help of a Scottish-owned and operated moving company for some help. It’s a luxury for one with a bad back. During the move one of the Scottish guys looked at a piece of furniture I had planned to move and stated abruptly in a thick brogue, “Yuir furniture is crap! Are ye shore yew wont me to move this?!” Admittedly, it was crap, but move the goddamn furniture cuz I hired you to do so. On that particular piece of rotten particle board I relented. But still – STFU and move my crap!

CarrotMany years later as I pack again for another move, I realize the Scotsman was right. Most of my shit is crap. You realize this when you live with someone else for nine months and don’t really need most of it. Granted I’m living in a furnished situation, but most of it is still crap. Three large boxes are kitchen stuff that will come in handy once I settle, but most of my furniture is indeed crap. I guess I was counting on the likelihood that I would meet a guy with better crap. It’s 90% probable that a guy I move in with will have better crap than me. The hitch is I haven’t met a guy I want to move in with yet. So I settle with my crap and move my crap from place to place and will spend money to store my crap too.

Still haven’t heard back from the design firm in Hood River after my second interview last week, so I’m planning on moving in with two friends outside of Portland by the end of this week. Most of their furnishings are not crap, so I will bring very little of my crap into their home. All I really need for the short term is my clothes, outdoor equipment, computer, bike and Dungeons and Dragons books.

Picture of me was taken last week while I was showing a friend the neighborhoods of Portland. I look skinny, but have been in excellent health during my time in Portland. This is fortunate since I haven’t had health insurance. The bike rides to and from my volunteer gig have kept me trim and I’ve had plenty of time to work out at the gym as well. I’m at a weight I haven’t been in a long time. I hope wherever I land I’ll be able to continue to bike to work. It’s a lot nicer than driving or taking a bus and is good for my mood.

I’m home in Wisconsin for a visit and came across this abomination:

The words “Cajun” and “cheese curds” should NEVER go together! It’s wrong! It’s Against God! It’s Against Scripture!

And there are…things watching me wherever I go. I can feel their eyes following me:

I drove from Minneapolis to my hometown in that snowstorm. It was quite harrowing for quite a long part of the trip, but eventually the snowstorm thinned out. But it snowed for almost 24 hours, making it necessary to go over mom’s driveway twice with the snowblower. And today I vacuumed up the basement. Mostly because there’s nothing else to do around here in the winter, which reminds me why I try to visit Wisconsin in the summer.

Heeey! It’s been a while. Apparently some people are complaining that I haven’t posted in a while. I was surprised to discover that the holidays are still busy even when you don’t have a job! Still haven’t heard from that job I interviewed at before the holidays. I’m hoping it’s just state government and post-holiday lag. Until then, still on the job hunt around here.

For my 42nd birthday we went to the coast of Oregon where a rare parliament of snowy owls had gathered for the winter. Snowy owls prefer open space and were very easy to spot and photograph:
Snowy Owl at Astoria, Oregon
Apparently it was a good (i.e. warm) year up in the tundras of Canada and life was good for the snowy owls, so more owls mean more space for winter competition, driving more owls further south.

Later that week we went to see two contestants from the upcoming Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race perform at a local club:

Jinkx Monsoon (right) sings her own songs – lip synching queens beware! Alaska Thunderfukk (left) was good too, and I love her name.

I went to Seattle to celebrate the New Year. I caught up with a number of friends, many of whom had also just moved to the Pacific Northwest. They’ve had better luck with jobs, but then again Seattle is a bigger city with more opportunity. Anyway, the weather was clear and I even got a tan (on my face). Here’s a lovely picture of the Seattle skyline. I think that’s Mt. Rainer?
Seattle cityscape
We watched the fireworks go off from the Space Needle, which was cool. It’s too bad they can’t as easily shoot fireworks off the Washington Monument, as more people could see the fireworks from afar.

I also found the place where BrettCajun gets his hair done:
Bigfoot Car Wash
In other Northwest news, someone is changing Portland stop signs to “Poop.” I swear it isn’t me!

Hmm…so the world didn’t end today despite what the Mayans said and gays getting married all over the place. Anyway, moving on…

I signed up for a gym near where I’m living. I know lifting helps burn off stress and lift my spirits in the dark grey gloom of Portland’s winter. It’s not very crowded and has enough machines and stuff to keep me busy too.

Good news: I just got an email for an interview. The bad news is the job is in Salem, about an hour drive south of Portland. Obviously it’s too early to count my chickens but my hope was to live in Portland. But it’s an interesting job doing crisis communications for the whole state of Oregon during emergencies. However, it’s only part-time, which confuses me. Either the state doesn’t have enough money to fund a full-time job, or they think the job doesn’t take that much time, which I question. But I’ll ask about those aspects in the interview, and my interview suit is all dry cleaned and ready to go. Time for a haircut soon.

Last month me and the grrrls went for a hike in the Tillamook State Forest, and we stopped by the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I’m no stranger to the smell of manure, but the whole town reeked of it. They must have just spread some on a field or stirred it up that day as it was almost overwhelming. That’s why I’m grimacing in this photo, but I don’t know why Mary was smiling so much:
Tillamook Cheese

On Sunday we went out with the Portland Pink Pistols for some shooting out on a safe range in the Tillamook State Forest. To be honest I had just as much fun setting up the clay targets on the range as I did shooting them. It was like hiding Easter eggs, but putting them out in the open instead:

While I had considered getting a gun after my home invasion two years ago, I didn’t know of any shooting ranges where I could practice in DC. Plus guns are expensive and you need to maintain them and practice, so I decided against it. I still don’t really want a gun and would rather stab or tackle a home intruder than shoot one, but it was fun to get out and test my accuracy:

I was most accurate with rifles, but not so good with pistols. Apparently that is not unusual as rifles are easier to aim. I used a H&R 622 in .22 caliber (above left), a Taurus 851 in .38 special with wood grips, a 1970’s Yugoslavian SKS in 7.62×29 (that one had some kick) and a Ruger 10/22 in .22 caliber. I did not get the chance to use the good old fashioned 12-guage Mossburg pump shotgun or the Glock G17 in 9mm as my shoulder was starting to ache and I had enjoyed what I did get to shoot.

This Robyn song was going through my head the whole time, where she compares herself to a .22 caliber Ruger:

Sorry for the writing absence lately, I’ve been busy on the job hunt. When you write about yourself constantly on job applications, resumes and insincere cover letters it’s hard to build up the energy to write some more.

There are jobs here in Portland opening on a weekly basis that I’m qualified for, but it’s a very competitive market. My primary target job would be to continue work similar to what I did at the U.S. Department of Agriculture doing public affairs. I like workin’ for the government and I have a good chunk of years vested in retirement savings with them as well. And I’m good at it too. But those jobs are competitive here due to a large number of returned veterans and federal employees displaced from layoffs elsewhere. I’ve sent out a number of applications to U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Soil & Water Conservation Service and other similar agencies. I like doing my public affairs work for organizations that have something to do with my biology/wildlife/natural resources background.

I had an interview a few weeks ago with Portland’s major medical university but did not get the job despite having a lot of people put in good words for me. I think they had someone else in mind to start with as I got the feeling during the interview that I wasn’t The One. I’m pretty good at interviews and feeling out interest. But I’m not too heartbroken about it as it was not entirely in my realm of interest anyway. I’ve applied to a different job at the same institution that I’m more interested in.

What made it easy for me to find jobs in DC was that there are always a lot of jobs there being the HQ for many federal organizations. That and I had 14+ years of contacts built up from knowing so many people there from either the rugby team or other organizations I did things with. Here I’m out of my major network but have been working on that. I know some people cringe at the concept of “networking” but it’s one of my strong points and I’m not hesitant to do it. I’ll talk to anyone about what I want to do and where I want to work, so I have that going for me.

From an emotional standpoint I should chill out though – I’ve only been in Portland for two months and I have money saved up to survive on. I’m living with friends and not paying rent so there’s no looming need to start work immediately somewhere. So I’m not desperate and have been choosy about what jobs I want to apply to. I only apply to jobs I know I’m qualified for and interested in, rather than blanket the area with impersonal broadcast applications and resumes.

But it’s hard to explain that to my inner Midwest Scandinavian troll who gnaws at my psyche on a daily basis telling me I must work to have value. I’m trying to be aware of that inner troll so I can also enjoy this down time going hiking, exploring Portland and meeting people.

During some of this down time I went to one of those paint-your-own ceramic shops to make this fabulous sunshine coffee mug:

Mug Shot

I am an artist. This is my work.