Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Employ Me

Unemployment rates are on the rise in the United States and are the highest they have been in several years. Yours truly is counted amongst the not so elite company of the nation’s jobless community. My unfortunate inclusion with this group is not a result of layoffs due the current economic climate, although I suspect that could have played a part in the big scheme of things. Rather it was a premature, hasty, decision on my part to resign from my post due to circumstances that I will not relate here, as they are not particularly relevant to what I am trying to say in this piece. The point is that I am unemployed and currently seeking to become employed again.

I have been extremely blessed throughout my life as to not have had to work hard to get a job, and when I obtained employment I made damn sure to do the job well so I could maintain my status as employed. I have had three “real” jobs in my adult life; with some variations on the job it’s self. Throw out the fact that I did a tour of duty at the Sizzler starting out as a bus boy and within two months promoted to cook because I worked hard and took an interest in learning more about things. I stayed at the “Sizz” for 6 months before my mother pulled some strings to get me hired on with a residential treatment facility for adolescent females whose parents had a lot of money that they could throw at their problems. I worked as a maintenance man for the facility, fixing holes in walls, replacing light bulbs, that sort of menial labor. Thanks to my father, I was fairly handy which is not only a blessing but also a curse, but that is another piece for another time. This job quickly turned into a better job as a night watch counselor for a new adolescent boys program that they were starting up. I stayed with this job for 6 years before leaving it for a brief stint managing a pet store, which failed miserably.

Subsequently a friend put me onto a job working again, with adolescents, and it appeared to me that I had a calling to work with teenagers, which led me to obtain an education in Psychology to further my career goals. I stayed with this company for 7 years, through three different acquisitions by bigger corporations, and managed to not only maintain employment but also climb the career ladder.

Finally, as I could sense the changes coming in the air, I made a leap of desperation to work for the State of Utah. I took a big pay cut to make this change but it was better than the alternative, which was reveled to be the ultimate demise of this company. This would surely have led to my being unemployed for the first time since I was a young man, however it did not and I continued my status as an employed individual.

I worked for the State for nearly 10 years, which brings me to the aforementioned status of my unemployment. I gave you this history to help you understand my current plight, which has now opened my eyes to a world that heretofore I fortunately have not been a part. Being unemployed is hard work. Starting over, having no income, these things are difficult and I wish them on no one, well maybe someone but that again is another tale for another time.

The government has passed bills to funnel money back into the economy, giving it to huge corporations, under the premise that this would in turn help maintain and even “create” more jobs thus stimulating the economy, putting it back on whatever the metaphorical track it was or is supposed to be on, dependent on your views. Sure these things take time, it is a huge train to move, I get it believe me, I worked in a bureaucracy. My question is this…Where’s the benefit to the little guy? Meanwhile these big companies got all of this money while me along with hundreds of thousands of others are still unemployed standing here waiting for this to “trickle down” to the people.

I don’t presume to sit here at my desk and begin to imply that I am an expert on the economy; hell I can’t even manage my own finances. No, this is about the fact that it seems to me that the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. I don’t care if you are Democrat, Republican, or adhere to some other ideology, the fact of the matter is this, I have no job and not a dime of that money has funneled down to little ol’ me. And the thing that really chaps my hide is that I am still paying for that expenditure through the taxes I have paid and will pay through my wife’s income. Where’s mine Mr. President? Where’s mine Senator, Congressperson? Where the Eff is mine?

I just want a job people. I am a hard worker; I can do pretty much anything that is thrown my way, ok not anything because I can’t do math! I keep submitting my resume and keep getting told that I am not qualified. Give me a friggin’ break here. I guarantee that I could do the job as good as, if not better, than any other chump who happens to have had a job doing customer service or in retail for a year and therefore have the experience that you are looking for in a new hire.

So I say to my fellow Americans, who are out there treading water trying to keep their heads above the onslaught of economic despair, I empathize, I couldn’t say that before, but I can today. Keep the faith, here’s hoping that we get that life preserver thrown to us soon. Meanwhile I had better go get these resume's posted and dropped off to perspective employers so that I can get turned down some more. I sure wish my house would sell so I could get moved over to Hawaii and at least be poor and unemployed in paradise, but that too is another story for another time!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Man in the Mirror

The self proclaimed "King of Pop", Michael Joseph Jackson, is dead. A week later the frenzy over his death continues, and not unlike his predecessor and former ghostly father in law, Elvis "The King of Rock" Presley, the frenzy will undoubtedly continue on for the rest of my lifetime in one form or another.

Like the rest of the world, I too was a fan of Michael and mourn his passing as not only sad but tragic. Taken before his time, 50 years of age, just as he was about to launch his highly anticipated ascension to the throne. This would be the Michael that the world wanted to remember, the man who changed the face of the music world, not the altered face of his human form, going out with a blaze of glory, back on top.

However there is a part of me that wonders if perhaps he isn't in a better place now. I look at Michael in a way that I believe his millions of adoring fans did not see him. I have ruminated over his death now for a week as I have watched the countless reports on his life and people making feeble attempts at tying themselves to his legacy in one way or another. This is the same man who was vilified for being an accused child molester by the same media machine that is now trying to cover his passing as if it has affected them personally.

I didn't know Michael personally, didn't know anyone who did know him. I never saw him in concert, have a few of his albums, but not all, yet I like to think I had an understanding of this man. I appreciated Michael for the musical genius he was, but with genius comes a price. Michael was different than most of us. As with many who are considered to have genius, they are concurrently just as eccentric as they are brilliant. Michael was no different. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, Michael became a lost child. Accounts of his childhood tell tales of an allegedly abusive father that most likely had a hand in creating Michael's deficits that were so prevalent as fodder for the media that covered his every move while he matured before the world's eyes. My education and experience in Psychology and Social Work have taught me that an abused child will find a way to cope, however their coping does not always make up for the damage caused from the experiences they have.

The recording industry must have taken it's toll on Michael's psyche as well, perpetuating what was most likely started early on in his life. I have heard many, many so called stars recount their negative experiences with the industry. Imagine being a young man like Michael, thrust out of nowhere onto a world stage, in an industry that demands perfection. His childhood lost, he created a world of his own in which he could revert back to the childhood he so sorely missed out. He built the Neverland Ranch and surrounded himself with children in a mad attempt to reclaim that which was absent from his memories, but still he knew existed for others. He wanted that too, and sought it through means that were considered to be perverse and odd to those on the outside looking in to his world. Like Peter Pan, I suppose he didn't want to grow up because he knew what that was like and it was painful to him.

When Michael looked into his mirror, the man he saw was not the person he wanted to see. Though denying any modifications, the rest of the world watched as he changed right before our eyes. He became what some would say was a hideous looking soul, almost as if he were one of the zombies in his historic Thriller Video. Could his genius been born out of the nightmares that he must have suffered as a child, giving the world an album and video that was truly remarkable?

One can find meaning in anything, and art holds many meanings to those who not only create it, but to those who appreciate the works presented to them. The time I have spent listening to Michael's works of art in the last week have revealed a soul that I believe was not able to find its true Neverland. Michael lived in exile at times, sequestered from the world that once embraced him only to then turn on him like some cobra that has been grabbed by it's tail. One last attempt on his part to recapture the hearts and imagination of the world through a comeback concert ended prematurely. The world has lost a tortured soul, a genius, the likes of which may never surface again. Michael Joseph Jackson is dead, rest in peace. I hope you find your Neverland wherever you land in this universe.