Tag Archives: Job Hunting

The Whole “Silver Linings” Thing

I’ve recently discovered that I’m not a fan of the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” Not only is it cringe-worthy in both text and tatt form, it’s perhaps the most unhelpful way of cheering someone up. I’m sure the phrase originated from a place of love and good intention, but after years of abuse and whimsical iterations in wall art, I believe it has been reduced to a semi-PC way of telling someone that shit happens. And that their situation is in fact so shitty, that you honestly can’t think of anything else to say.

To be sure, I’m not knocking anyone who believes everything happens for a reason. Who am I to judge someone or something when I can’t see the bigger picture or what lies ahead? All I’m saying is that it’s become a blanket consolatory statement that’s used too often for too many kinds of situations, both trivial and life-changing. I know this because I have been both the deliverer and receiver of this message many, many times.

And yet, to further contradict myself, I must say that there is some truth to the general idea of the phrase. No, I’m not sold on the fact that every single thing happens for a reason, because there are far too many horrendous, devastating and inexplicable things that happen in this world; insinuating that there’s a specific reason behind every catastrophe and tragedy is both insensitive and impractical. But when you look at the phrase from a different perspective—from more of a doors-closing-windows-opening angle—it starts to look more like the whole “silver linings” idea. And that I can get behind.

I started to realize this a few years ago when I was mercilessly rejected from every single job I applied for. Looking back, I now see that emailing a Chicago ad agency a PowerPoint file for my “creative portfolio” was a bit of a stretch, but it felt appropriate at the time. For what it’s worth, I even included a disclaimer that read something like:

“No, I don’t have the tools or Adobe products I need right now, but give me a job or a Mac Lab and I’ll do these print ads again…but better.”

But other than that particular instance, I couldn’t understand why each and every company would reject me. I mean, wasn’t I a catch? My pet-sitting clients seemed to think so. As did my mom. What better references could you ask for?

All-time low: Posing at a Battlestar Galactica exhibit. And the answer to your question is yes, I am still available for spaceship modeling. Message me for details.

Attending a Battlestar Galactica exhibit in Seattle was perhaps one of my nerdier moments in life. Here I am, modeling a bonafide Colonial Viper.

I fell into a pretty dark hole for a while, one that consisted of Battlestar Galactica, a brief stint in the power-washing business, and many nights spent coercing my first love, Buster, to name me his favorite family member. At my lowest point, I began stuffing cat nip in my pillow to trick him into sleeping with me. I started house sitting more frequently and—in between useless job applications—poured myself into becoming one of Greater Louisville’s most prestigious pet-sitters. For a time, I considered taking it up professionally; I have an unusual connection with animals, and I am incredibly comfortable using other people’s expensive kitchen appliances and entertainment systems. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most lucrative career, but in the off seasons, I could pick up a side gig as a dog-walker. College tuition well-spent, indeed.

Buster and his catnip pillow.

Buster and his catnip pillow (in my former bedroom/parents’ home office).

But as you might have guessed, tending to other people’s critters only fulfilled me for so long, and so I decided it was time to do something different. I decided to start documenting my post-grad progress (or lack thereof) so that rising college graduates would be better prepared for what was to come — a commencement speech ripe with ridiculous proverbs, promises and plugs for alumni donations, followed by a humiliating beating from the job market and a bed in your parents’ office. I wrote about moving back in with my mom and dad (and their bearded dragon, cat, rat, bird and meal worm colony), because I wanted people to stop calling my generation lazy and unmotivated. I wrote about all my crazy (often gruesome) adventures in pet-sitting, my forehead vein and my somewhat unsettling obsession with cats. I wrote about everything, and I came to realize that I loved it. And that I wanted to make a career out of it.

So what I’m trying to say is that being rejected from all those jobs was really, really painful. And scary, to be sure. But it also opened a lot of doors that I didn’t even know existed. It helped me rediscover my love of writing, and it led me to a lot of really amazing people and self-discoveries. I grew closer to my family, I fell in love, I stumbled into an awesome job and I got to be with Buster in his twilight years of life.

So no, I still don’t believe that every single thing happens for a reason. Instead, I think that—at least in my case—a shitty situation created new paths and new possibilities that I hadn’t otherwise considered. And that’s something I’ll try to remember in 2015.

New Year’s Resolutions

Since it’s almost the second week in January, I’ve decided to make some New Year’s Resolutions. Actually, I’ve decided to make some New Year’s Aspirations, which seems more appropriate since my father just informed me that paying rent is somewhere in my near future. So, it would appear I need to aspire to a few things in order to avoid homelessness by 2013.

Here is a countdown of all the things I hope to accomplish in 2012:

5. Get a job. A real one.

I included this aspiration just for formality. I don’t expect to land an actual “Big Girl” job by the end of 2012, unless of course someone decides to take a permanent vacation from their pets.

4. Make a Music Video

My roommates (former college roommates — not my parents) can attest to the fact that I’ve been dying to make a music video for years. It’s actually become a fantasy of mine. When I’m on the treadmill and find myself struggling for motivation (about 5 minutes in to my power-walking routine), I hit my inhaler and picture myself starring in a music video. The thrill of the dance and the spike of Albuterol in my bloodstream usually sends me into a shaky, adrenaline-riddled spastic jog. Although this combo does give my face a pale, cold-sweaty sheen, the results are undeniably comparable to those of today’s leading diet supplements. Sort of.

Pre-Spring Break sophomore year of college, my music video fantasy of choice was Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave for You.” Mid run, I would envision myself starring in an elaborate video montage of the “I’m a Slave for You” VMA performance and raunchy music video. Spray tans, extensions, body glitter, wildlife…this production gave me everything I could possibly want rolled into one sweaty fiasco. It was pure Gym Rat gold.

For the majority of 2010, I pictured myself performing in an NBA halftime show to “C’mon N’ Ride it.” Those were good times.

Last year, my song of choice was Llyod’s “Lay it Down.” This song came out as I was training for a mini-marathon, so you can only imagine the amount of time and effort that went into this particular hallucination.

3. Travel Abroad

I’m going through a quarter-life crisis. Maybe it’s the fact that I spend my nights drinking bourbon on the rocks and watching Downton Abbey with my parents. Or maybe it’s the fact that I wear knee-highs 5 days of the week and recently bought a pack of nude “Trouser Socks”. In sum, I’m on the fast track to becoming a 75-year-old man, and my crusty, winter paws don’t do much to help my case. (The cold weather wreaks havoc on my hands. I look like a dehydrated witch from the wrists down.)

The knee-high value pack my mother bought for me at Costco last Sunday. You can see I've already tapped into the Nudes.

So needless to say, I’ve got an itch. An itch to do cool shit, if you’ll excuse me. This year, I need to travel abroad somewhere. I need to do something awesome.

Since I’m a hypochondriac, traveling to a Third World country is out of the question. Now, I have no idea which countries are “Third World” — or what “Third World” even means exactly — so I’ve narrowed my choices down to Australia and France.

I’ve looked up some volunteer trips to Australia, but so far none have whet my whistle. I’d like to be a part of some sort of crazy, intense animal protection project — something reminiscent of The Amazing Panda Adventure, but with a koala cub or sloth as my damsel in distress. I also wouldn’t mind having a tranquilizer gun to snipe the SOB poachers from the get-go, but alas, beggars can’t be choosers.

2. Write a book

This is my number one goal for 2012. My blog started off as somewhat of a joke — mostly as a tribute to Buster in his twilight years of life. But writing my blog has become one of my favorite things to do. The support and feedback I’ve gotten from friends and family has been incredible. My fear is that I’ll run out of things to say, but I’d like to give it a shot anyways. We’ll see what happens.

1. And lastly, for 2012, I aspire to never make these faces again (P.s. I told you I was into the closed-mouth smile)

5th or 4th Grade Yearbook photo -- I'm assuming this was a retake of my platypus/DUI mugshot incident.

My professionally taken headshot for acting school. Yes, acting school.

 

Footnote: After writing this blog, I did a little research on endangered species in Australia. Apparently sloths don’t even live in Australia. I might have to take my mission elsewhere – I’m pretty into sloths right now.

Life in the Nest

Yesterday morning, I read an article in the Courier Journal that made me so mad I nearly ripped my sleep tank from my chest. I think it was my first experience with roid rage. I’m not usually one to throw a tantrum over a newspaper article, but this one really upset me. I’ll probably sit in the dark later and fume about it in my diary .

The article is called “Adult kids can need a push to leave the nest,” so right off the bat I questioned this columnist’s sanity. I’m 22 years old and living in a nest, do you really think I want to be here? I don’t need a push, a nudge or even a passive-aggressive verbal cue to get me more motivated to ditch this unfortunate situation that I can only refer to as indentured servitude. I’m sleeping in an office for crying out loud. My days consist of grocery shopping, picking up family members’ prescriptions, grooming Buster, feeding Buster, cleaning up Buster’s vomit after he eats too quickly, lawn mowing, unpaid internships, dog sitting, kitchen cleaning and other miscellaneous requests. I’ll probably start wearing a visor and headset sometime soon, like I imagine personal assistants and PTA-executive-board-members wear.

Cranky

Buster: Cranky & waiting to be fed

My nights consist of a part-time restaurant job or, if I’m off, watching Battlestar Galactica, the Tennis Channel, and/or ridiculously depressing indie movies with my parents until 9 p.m. when they call it a night. I can’t handle depressing movies and my parents know it. For some reason, they insist on watching these disturbingly heavy films anyways, leaving me alone on the couch, hyperventilating and contemplating the meaning of life after they’ve gone to bed. I’ve started dressing in all black for family movie nights, and I’m considering purchasing a beret for added theatrical emphasis. I’ve really gone off the deep-end here, people. The fact that I’ve spent the entire summer pining for a fictional spaceship pilot does not help my case. For the record, I’m talking about Helo Agathon. I’ve moved on from Captain Apollo (see 8th & 9th paragraph in this post). He turned out to be a sentimental basket-case and I just can’t handle all of that romantic, emotional turmoil. I’m rapidly becoming a graphic-tee-wearing teenage boy who spends his days googling World of Warcraft cheat codes. I’m moments away from subscribing to Gamefly and ordering Halo.

Do you think I want to be here?

The author of this article really throws herself under the bus with her opening line: “One of my favorite movies is ‘Failure to Launch.'” Woof. Any journalist intending to write a meaningful piece who begins their article with a sub-par Sarah Jessica Parker movie reference should really reconsider where things are headed. I’ll admit I’m a huge fan of SJP. I’m overjoyed when I’m able to watch her in something that doesn’t involve any scenes with her sourpuss, redheaded friend Miranda. However, no matter my feelings towards Ms. Carrie Bradshaw, ‘Failure to Launch’ is not a starting point I would use to begin an intellectual argument.

The author goes on to explain that parents are suffering because they can’t gather the strength to “cut the financial ties” with their children. She states that about 60 percent of parents have given or are currently giving financial support to their college grad kids. How unreasonable of them. Especially with this booming economy and incredibly fertile job market. I’m working unpaid internships during the day and a part-time paying job at night. I apply for jobs multiple times per day. I spend hours drafting cover letters and job applications, sending emails and searching online for any connection that might lead to another internship or potential job. I even call random companies and leave incredibly uncomfortable voice mail messages. I work very hard to earn my “rent” (as my dad calls it). I’m entirely grateful for all my parents do for me, and they are well aware of it.

I have no doubt in my mind that this author worked very hard to get to where she is today, but I bet if she quit her job and put herself in my shoes, she’d change her tune faster than Buster scarfs and spews his mid-morning snack. I respect her opinion, but surely things aren’t the same today as they were when she graduated from college. I fully acknowledge that there are some post-grads living at home, refusing to grow up and putting more effort into rolling joints than finding jobs, but from where I’m standing, they are the exception. Not the rule.

One of the many sanitation problems in our household. Please note my dad’s repulsive footwear.

I’d like this woman to have a conversation with my parents. Although I’ve already admitted a strong desire to fly the coop, my parents are adamant about keeping me here until I can financially support myself. Also, I’m fairly certain they need me here for their health. My dad doesn’t believe in expiration dates, or germs for that matter. Last week, we were making homemade pizza and he dropped nearly every ingredient, including the dough, on the floor. “425, Jo. 425 degrees,” he’d say every time he brushed an orange tuft of fur from a sliced tomato. His rationale was that we’d just bake the hell out of every pathogen, and the remaining floor residue would “boost our immune systems.” Needless to say, I supervise about 90 percent of all kitchen activity.

If my parents kicked me out, there’s no way I’d be able to completely support myself while fully focusing on job-hunting. They’re 100 percent okay with me living at home until I get on my feet. If not, I’d probably end up living in a cardboard box in the backyard, feeding on mulch and whatever scraps of food they toss into the compost pile. Perhaps I’ll try it and write a blog about it. Then I’ll send a letter to this author and ask her for money.

In the last paragraph, she does admit that she’s “all for helping but not enabling.” I’m not a drug addict, so I’m not entirely sure what she means by that, but I appreciate her less than enthusiastic support.

Side note: I realize this post sounds a little spiteful. I understand that for the most part, she’s probably referring to college grads who stay with their parents for years on end. Nevertheless, it’s still a sore spot. Don’t take my rant too seriously, I’m not an angry person. Unless Goodfellas sells out of cheese pizza anytime after 2 a.m.

My recent trip to Chicago

(moved from previous blog)

I haven’t posted any blogs lately because I’ve spent the last four days in Chicago. I plan to move there soon, and so I went to hunt for jobs and places to live. My goal was to peruse the city in perfectly tailored business attire to better blend in with Chicago’s professional crowd, so my sister took me shopping to help me find a few outfits. I have a terrible time choosing outfits for myself, which is why most of my friends seriously question my sense of style. In my opinion, looking put-together means pairing a clean t-shirt with a crisp pair of yoga pants. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find me in anything other than yogas, as I make an effort to incorporate a pair into every ensemble.

For me, finding acceptable business attire proves to be very troublesome indeed. Although I’m 22 years old, I tend to look more like a prepubescent 7th grader, and so I look absolutely ridiculous in business clothes. I will never wear them while holding a tri-fold poster board for fear of being escorted directly to the nearest Science Fair.

So, I came to the city armed with several copies of my resume, a few reference sheets and a pair of freshly ironed pants, courtesy of my mom. I returned home as unemployed as ever, but I am not disheartened; I found something even better, which can only mean that I found the Holy Grail of fat cats.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled upon her; she was sprawled out on a bed, sitting so still that I initially thought she was a Pillow Pet. I assumed mirages only happened in deserts, but since I was slightly dehydrated from the road trip and perhaps a tad delirious with excitement, I reached out my hand to make sure her fur was indeed real. When she slowly rolled over onto on her back, I was taken aback by the full force of her midriff and immediately began plotting how I was going to get her into a crop-top.

I think my obsession must have overwhelmed her, because she didn’t take to me as well as I would have liked. I tried to play it cool, but the manic gleam of desire in my eyes gave me away. For the first 10 minutes, I followed her everywhere, crawling on the floor beside her to snap pictures with her at every angle. I couldn’t find one flaw; she was 12+ lbs of full-figured perfection.

After several photo shoots, she started to avoid me. I grew tired of this juvenile game of hard-to-get and thus devised a plan to lure her back into my lap. I found a bag of cat treats and began to make a trail. Never one to turn down a delicious snack, she fell directly into my trap. For this, I will call her Gretel.

I knew the real reason we went to Chicago was to explore the city, but I couldn’t fathom leaving Gretel alone in the house while we were gone. I cursed myself for not bringing my LL Bean backpack; it would have made an excellent tote. I can see it now: me, navigating the streets of Chicago, resume folder in hand, Gretel on my back. I’d zip her in with an opening just wide enough for her disproportionately small head to poke through the top.

We’d be unstoppable.

In the end, it’s probably best that I didn’t bring her downtown with us. Chicago’s a big city with many opportunities, and I’m certain she would have been discovered and landed a gig as the face of a new Fancy Feast portion control snack line. While I have no doubt in my mind that she would have enjoyed the fame, fortune and lavish lifestyle, I fear she’d crack under the constant media scrutiny and spiral out of control towards a life of self-destructive partying and late-night drug scandals.

Gretel at lunch

A sit down meal

Rejection and Tough Love

(moved from previous blog)
Yesterday I got my first job rejection email of the summer. I immediately went upstairs to cry in bed. I would have sat in the dark and listened to the most depressing song I have, but I couldn’t find my iPod, and Faith Hill’s “Where are you Christmas?” only really makes me tear up during the music video. So I curled up next to Buster, who has now taken full control of my bed since I’ve been away house sitting. I’ve heard how some pets can sense when their owners are depressed, so I was hoping that Buster would offer me a little bit of TLC. This was not the case. He glared at me with his good eye, apparently pissed that my bed-shaking sobs were disturbing his sleep and that I had not provided any snacks for the waterworks matinée.

Buster's good eye

Instead of consoling me, he turned over on his back and hit me in the face with his tail until I agreed to pet his stomach. Buster always looks like he’s just given birth. He used to be incredibly overweight – his stomach would swing back and forth, sweeping the ground as he walked across the street. Sometimes he sounded like a broom. In his old age, he managed to lose the weight but not the extra skin, leaving him with a loose, furry gut.

Somehow, his tough love ended up making me feel better. Slightly less emo, I scooped him up and carried him downstairs for his post-breakfast feeding time.