This week, 2014 vol 4

Home became an ice world this week— the kind that comes to this part of the country regularly enough, but rarely stays around this long. I’ve thought, “this must be what it’s like to live in Canada.” One of those places where the snow stays through the whole winter and when it melts, that when you know it’s Spring. Most of us like the slow down that ice and snow bring in the beginning. Walking around in layers, face wrapped up like gauze, your thickest shoes that are attached like prosthetics. Taking small, ginger steps so you don’t slip and fall. It slows you down so you look around at this landscape that isn’t normally all one reflective color. It’s beautiful. The trees here look like they are made of glass.

The icy wonderland in my backyard.
The icy wonderland in my backyard.

But the world can’t sleep too long. We have to make that money, learn our lessons, sell some merchandise, peddle those coverage plans. And, after the world decides we must get on with our lives, the pretty ice and snow become a battle between man and nature. I have been out just about every day this week, walking to one place or another, and I’ve managed to keep my footing and feel, a little, like I’m in a different place, maybe some parallel universe Murray, Kentucky where a new Ice Age has set in. In this post-apocalyptic world, I’m one of the few who survived. Because I had so much experience walking in the first place, and because I keep my heat set low, I was able to survive the Winter of ’14 along with a handful of other brave walkers.

One of the first news headlines that came my way this week was the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was found dead in a hotel room with a heroin needle still in his arm. I had known Hoffman was an addict before this, and it always bummed me out. I like to think that feeling isn’t coming out of a judgmental sort of feeling of, “oh, I thought he was a good guy. I guess he’s just a dirty druggie,” because really all I know about the guy is what I saw in movies and that he was addicted to heroin. It’s gotta suck to only be known for one thing you do really well and your greatest weakness.  For some reason, he has stayed on my mind this week. In the movie, Almost Famous, Hoffman plays a rock critic who sort of mentors this teenager who manages to travel with a band and write an article. In a phone conversation, he’s explaining to the kid not to let the band make him feel like he’s cool and then compromise his writing. He says, “the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” I knew what he was talking about. I spent high school and most of college knowing I was uncool, searching for how to do it. But, the way he talked, there was still a place for the uncool, for the outsider. In fact, the outsider was the only one with the real shot at doing something extraordinary, not just average good. I always felt like Philip Seymour Hoffman played roles like that—a guy out on the fringes who managed because he embraced that. It’s sad to see the toll life on the fringes took on him.

As I think of this, I look out on the trees coated in ice. It looks like the evergreens are tired or upset. Their shoulders sag and heads are hung down. Branches that are normally above your head almost touch the ground. The campus magnolias have dropped some pretty heavy branches, and as you walk, you smell this wonderful woody aroma, then look over and see a 7 foot branch blocking the sidewalk. Such a mix of sweet smells and broken branches. Crews were out nights with floodlights and chainsaws, clearing the roads. The rain created these ice rivers that cut out mini canyons and lakes that froze again overnight. This must be what glaciers are like on a much larger scale. These pieces of ice, flakes of snow, drops of cold rain come in small pieces, but they stack up into a big thing over time that gets heavy and makes its own new world.

I’ve been on a job hunt the past several weeks and the frustration of the search got to me a little this week. I’m not worried about finding a job—I know that I will soon enough, and Allyson and I will be fine financially until then. But, I’ve just been put out with the way people get hired for jobs, especially all the politicking that is sometimes necessary. When I was at camp hiring people, I always just wanted the best person for the job. I wanted to do everything I could to find out the information I needed to make a good decision. But, I feel like many employers, using the systems that get used, really don’t know that much about the people who put their names in. Just using a resume, the only thing you know about a person is where they’ve worked before, their degree, and if they are a good resume writer. How many jobs are dependent on this? I listened to a podcast that talked about how statistically, past job experience and education have very little correlation with job retention: Will a Computer Decide whether you get your next Job? Most of the things that have to do with finding the ideal worker are never covered in the application and interview process. Yet this determines the success and failure of businesses and households.

I hit my boiling point when I sought help from the on campus resume assistance group (which is great, by the way, that Murray State has this). One of the comments about my current resume was that I needed to have a different email (my current is sadlexicon@gmail.com) using my name instead. Just as a side note, the email comes from an early 20th Century poem about the Chicago Cubs called “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.” The comment said something like, “this email should be your name. Are you sad?” Now, I know that she was being helpful, that she’s right, and it’s all just playing by the rules of the system in place. It’s a little unreasonable, I know, but this just infuriated me. So, I have to get yet another email address in addition to the spam email, school email, online shopping email, and regular email, just so I can receive emails from businesses who might look at every qualification I have and pass over me because my current email address has the word “sad,” in it? How idiotic is this decision making process? You’d pass over a person because you see the word “sad,” in a resume, really? And, of course, the answer is probably yes, and that is what has me frustrated. There really should be a better way to find out who’s qualified to work for you. And, I say this, not just so I can get an interview easier, but so businesses have a little more to go on for the person they will hire and pay money to than what they chose as their email id.

Don’t worry, family and friends, I’m not so adamant about this that I’m launching a campaign against work or anything. I actually even have a few interviews coming up despite the fact that my email address has painted me as a depressive, possibly suicidal, malcontent who’s probably only doing the work to buy whiskey and Dashboard Confessional records. I might have to bring in a copy of “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” just to make sure if I’m hired, they don’t recommend I go through intense counseling.

All jokes aside, I know we do what we must to fit into our world as much as we need to. For all of us, though, we have to find some wiggle room to figure out who we are, because we inevitably won’t fit in comepletely. I hope I can wiggle enough to be happy. I hope the ways I find to comfort my frustrations lead me to a unique happiness, not down a dark path. I hope I walk into something great. We must be careful out there. In a world made of glass, you might reach out to touch the branches and taste pure water on your tongue, or, if the branch is too heavy, it may break and come crashing down on top of you.

Beautiful, delicate ice branches.
Beautiful, delicate ice branches.
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