Unemployment Soundtrack: The River Monks – Home is the House

An empty Doritos bag makes a perfect toy for a one-year-old. The crinkle is an entrancing noise that he seems to love. It is different from the electronic beeps from his fake iPad, the singing kitty cat and the Tom Cochrane sampling motorcycle. He grabs the bag and shakes and smiles a five-toothed smile, does that stupid little baby laugh of his, “huh-her”, and throws crumbs all over the black hand-me-down rug we have in our living room while our puppy laps up the mess. I should probably take it away from him, but he’s enjoying himself and not currently screaming in my face.

It has been 12 weeks since I was laid off, and it is beginning to wear on me. When I first lost my job, I was nervous but also a little pumped. I figured I would take a month, hang out with my son, write a bunch of stuff, and then just swoop in a get a new job wherever I wanted. I finally had experience outside of retail, my resume’s solid and I have quality references pouring out of my orifices. So, this was going to be my big awakening. This time was to be my coming out party where I could do whatever I wanted and try to discover a way to make what that thing my profession.

Here is the reality. I don’t have a job yet. I haven’t even had an interview. What I felt was a solid resume, great references and a charming cover letter, is in fact a bullshit resume and a lazy cover letter that I can’t seem to overcome. Where I thought this would be a good opportunity to re-discover myself and learn to be self-motivated, I have mostly worn out the cushions in my couch with my ever increasing posterior while my phone explodes with people looking for money and the mailman delivers collection notices. I discovered that the thing I wanted to do most was drink beer, eat chips, watch wrestling, get fat, and hit refresh on my Facebook page 40-50 times a day while my son toddles around and throws stuff on the floor.

So, this is the first step towards making a change. The days I don’t write something music related I’m going to try to journal. I know, I have been through this where I say “Hey! I’m back for good now!” and then I disappear for weeks at a time. I’m hoping that by documenting my thoughts often, it will help motivate me into doing more than just inhaling chips and watching professional wrestling. So as to keep this music-ish, I will also post what I am listening to, with the hope that you will also listen to it.

(Author’s note: I am eating chips as I type this.)

I took my son to a park in Windsor Heights. Whenever I go to Windsor Heights I always think of my Comp professor. He was a grey-hair man from Ireland whose face showed an exasperation with life that his personality worked hard to overcome. He told lots of interesting stories about his life with such youthful vigor that forced you to ignore that most of the stories he told took place decades before many of the students were even born. He handed out lots of compliments and vicious criticisms when he needed to. He also was probably under-qualified to be teaching the class. Well, his qualifications may have been there, but when it came to actual technical knowledge, he probably shouldn’t have been teaching Comp. He was convinced to the point of argument that the plural of sheep was sheeps.

(Funny thing is, the woman who taught the Creative Writing class I took probably was better suited to Comp. She was a complete ball-buster about punctuation and grammar and kind of hated creativity. Also, she once yelled at two other students and I because we were two minutes late to her class, then invoked 9/11 as to why we should be sorry for being late to her class. Something about how since the tragic events unfolded, we should all have more respect for authority. To be fair, it was 9/13 and we were all a little edgy, but come on. Sorry, I’m digressing.)

Since he was Irish, he took exception to Windsor Heights, due to the British Royal Family. He thought Windsor Heights was trying to be more high-society than it actually was. Now, while being pretty much correct about a large portion of Windsor Heights and their delusions of grandeur, their name comes from the founder of the town and has very little to do with royalty. He also once got Will Smith confused with James Earl Jones, so this kind of silliness was expected.

Though I poke fun, he was instrumental in teaching me my strength as a writer comes less as a technical writer, an ad copy writer or a journalist and more as a storyteller. At the time, I was writing a column for a professional wrestling website, and I absolutely sucked. I discovered some of those recently and I realized just how bad I was then. I was atrocious. I started one column off with a happy birthday to my now wife, which I assume was both an easy way to avoid buying a gift and a cheap way to show my readers that I had a girlfriend. Through him I realized that I needed to drop the schtick and just write with honesty and an occasional attempt at humor, whether it worked or not, and avoid trying to write like everyone else. To get rid of what doesn’t work (everything) and embrace what does (being myself and accepting the ulcers that come with putting myself out there).

I think I need to embody that idea a little more. I need to embrace what works for me and what doesn’t. Currently, what doesn’t work for me professionally is everything, so I need to tweak what I’m doing. Maybe it means more effort or maybe it just means a different effort. I guess I just need to figure that out.