Monday, September 27, 2010

This New Life

It wasn't supposed to be this hard.

Sure, I knew leaving my life in Los Angeles, then moving to Portland without any hint of a job, or even a place to live, was a risk. And I knew it would probably present its challenges. But this is getting ridiculous.

Last week, I applied to be a part-time custodian, because the job was located within walking distance of my apartment. But I guess I don't know enough about sawdust to fill that position, so mark another one off the list. And I have responded to dozens of different "office assistant needed" ads, all to no avail. Typing ~100 wpm is of no value to anyone? Really?

The real problem is likely my résumé. I suppose when one receives a million different responses to one open position, there's a weeding process that must occur right away. And I would imagine that if one is looking to fill a management position at, say, Target, one doesn't look at a résumé, see a job history of "Costume Production Assistant on The Last Samurai" and immediately assume the applicant is Target material.

So I write cover letters. Lots and lots of cover letters. Heartfelt, poignant, desperate (but not too desperate) cover letters. I explain myself and my situation. I list myriad reasons I'd be perfectly suited for the position.

And still nothing. I was not joking when I said that the only response I'd gotten so far was for a position at Home Depot, for part-time work at $8.80/hour. That was about a month ago. I suppose I should have taken it, huh? At least it would have been something.

This is a far cry from hanging out for six weeks in Venice. My life is so incredibly different than it was this time last year, or even six months ago. I have never been this stressed for this long. It is absolute torture.

But don't be confused -- I know I made the right decision. I didn't do everything the way I should have, and that part I regret. But despite all the crap that's raining down on me at the moment, I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I just need to get an employer to agree with me on that one, and start paying me to be here.


And just to add to the stress and make this all the more fun, the boy decided to get sick last week. Really sick. Like, Friday afternoon I took his temperature and the thermometer read 106. Katie and I haven't slept through the night since in almost a week. At urgent care last Thursday, the doctor said it was just some sort of virus, and the good news was that Merritt's ears looked fine. No antibiotics necessary. Just a regimen of Tylenol to keep the fever down. He said 100 mg every four hours, and I wrote it down; he also wrote it down on a card for us to take with us. 

Later, after purchasing the Tylenol, I was a little confused, since a liquid medication is not measured in milligrams (now I know that there are 80 mg for ever ml of children's Tylenol). So I pulled out the card to see if the doctor had written down the same thing I had.

Katie looked over and said, "Oh, no. You were wrong. The dosage is '100 years every Thursday.'"


I miss my dog. It is a painful, awful feeling, because it's like she's dead, but I know she's not. I just don't get to see her ever again. So at some point I'm bound to forget what her belly feels like, or how it sounded when she really got going on the wood floor. But for now, even almost three months after I last saw her, I still expect to hear her following me every time I stand up to walk from one room to the other. When there is a loud noise, I brace myself for her bark. But it's not coming. She's well taken care of, but I'm just not the one doing it. And it sucks. This is not a face one gets over easily:

Oh well. I guess the depressed and the unemployed make up a large part of Oprah's audience, right? So it works out perfectly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Four Days in October

I'm not going to lie -- I teared up.

Friday, September 17, 2010


UPDATE: It's official.
From the Dodger press release that just came to my inbox:

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that former American League MVP Don Mattingly has been named the Dodger manager for the 2011 season and that Joe Torre has stepped aside from the position. Mattingly becomes the ninth manager in Los Angeles Dodger history and 27th in franchise history while Torre is expected to take time to determine his plans for 2011.

Mattingly probably had his soundbite ready for when he got the job in New York, but someone was kind enough to replace "New York Yankees" with "Los Angeles Dodgers."
“The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor,” said Mattingly. “There are few organizations in the world with the history, tradition and track record of success as the Dodgers. I’m looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe and that’s to win a World Championship.”

Now I can go back to hating Joe Torre, since he was the man at the helm of that late-90s Yankees dynasty.

Don Mattingly to Replace Joe Torre

Of course, this just means another former Yankee in charge of the Dodgers, so I can't win for losing.

It just gets harder and harder to be a Dodger fan.

If you think I've broken my word about posting every day, you're wrong. You're just in the wrong place. Watching Oprah is up and running, and Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts was even kind enough to give me a plug on his Variety television blog.

And I promise -- if you think you could not be less interested in Oprah, my new site is exactly where you want to be. I'm not pulling any punches over there, and I think you all might enjoy it.

If not, tell your wives.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Lifting Required

There are times -- rarely, but it happens -- when job hunting can be pretty damn entertaining. Mostly it's just depressing, like when you see the same Netflix call center job posted day after day, even though you've applied to it (twice!), but are apparently not good enough to answer phones and tell people that the movie they're looking for is C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D., which was directed by the guy who was Chairman of the NYU film department when I attended.

What you should take away from that above paragraph is that I went to the best frickin' film school in the country, and I can't get a job at a Netflix call center.

Oh, and don't get your hopes up. C.H.U.D. II is not available on Netflix.

Back to the point. The job search is not always devastating to one's self-esteem. Sometimes it's just funny. Like when you find the listing for "Crematory Operator."

Training wage starts at $15/hour! No experience required!

But that's not the best part. No, the best part is what you'll find listed under the "Physical Demands" portion of the listing:

This job will require active movement around the facility including the operation of electric lifts and handling deceased individuals. Some lifting required.

Emphasis mine. Because, really? At a crematory, where dead bodies are returned to ashes and dust (from whence they came, biblically speaking), you're telling me that the zombies (because, come on, if you're working at a crematory, all you're thinking about all day is the god damned dead returning to life to murder you and yours) don't just hop into the incinerator under their own power?

Okay, wait. I just went back and looked at the listing, and I found something even worse (or better), under the "Duties" heading:

"Light cleaning and facility maintenance."

Sure, I suppose the cremated remains of loved ones aren't all that heavy, so I guess that cleaning would be "light." But the day the crematory breaks down in the midst of its one and only job is the day I quit. And never look back.

Um, yeah. So I've submitted my application.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Directions

I can't believe I forgot to post so soon into my "I'm going to post every day" promise. I'm sure you expected it; I had just hoped to defy those expectations.

I might be able to make up for it, though. Because I've had an idea.

You ever watched Oprah? I have, but never regularly. I think it's impossible to be of a certain generation in this country and be able to claim you've avoided the woman altogether. But I think for most women under the age of 40, Oprah is more useful as the butt of jokes than as an entertaining, enjoyable talk show host.

When Katie (more about her another time) turned the channel to Oprah the other day to see what was happening (the answer: a repeat with some dude -- Nate, maybe -- who decorates houses or something for Oprah), I made a joke that I would watch every episode of the final season of the show. Oh, you haven't heard? Yeah, Oprah is returing after this season, never to be heard from again.

Except she's starting her own network. Literally. It's called OWN, as in Oprah Winfrey Network. Or, as in, "one day I will OWN the world."

So today I was flipping channels while hanging out with the boy, and I happened to notice that the premiere of the final season airs today. I quickly set a season pass on the DVR, and then I started thinking. Maybe I actually can watch every episode of this final season. Maybe it's important that I witness every moment of this pop culture phenomenon before she rides off into the sunset.

And then I wondered why the hell I would do that to myself, unless I also chose to write about it. Instantly, the blog title "Watching Oprah" popped into my head. After that, I remembered I had heard something about a woman who dedicated a year of her life to worshipping Oprah living the Oprah Winfrey way. She blogged about it, too, at Living Oprah. That's cool and all, but I'm not interested in following Oprah's advice. I'm mostly just intrigued: Can one human as sarcastic and skeptical as I am actually get through an entire season of this self-righteous billionaire's advice and condescension?

Which is not to say I'm going into this with any bias.

I'm annoyed that I may be perceived as stealing this Living Oprah woman's idea. After all, she got a book deal, so maybe I'm just looking for that level of fame, right? Well, I'm not. I'm just looking for something mildly entertain to write five times a week. I know this may be regarded as a dumb idea. I'm willing to accept that. I also know that most of my readers are men, so it's possible you won't all feel like following me, thinking you'll be getting Erin's version of The Vagina Monologues or something. All I can do is ask you to trust me about that, and give me a chance.

The gist of all this is that I'm treating it as a writing exercise. At some point, Oprah is bound to do something not completely annoying, and I won't be afraid to admit it. But I also won't be afraid to take on the media giant and her terrible, awful, no-good interviewing skills.

Listen up, Oprah. I have maybe nine readers, and we are a formidable lot.

Watching Oprah (the layout is a work in progress, so please don't hold that against me)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Go Rangers??

Mathematically speaking, the Dodgers and Red Sox are not yet out of the race. But let's be realistic. They're both done. The Red Sox have just been decimated by injuries all year, and it's hard to climb out of that hole. And the Dodgers have just sucked. So now I'll have to spend October doing nothing but rooting against the Yankees, or picking a temporary favorite team. I hate it when I spend the postseason doing that, but that's what happens when your teams blow it.

Is this what it feels like to be a Pittsburgh Pirates' fan? I guess the good news for me is that my teams at least waited until halfway (or more) through the season to show that they weren't going anywhere; in Pittsburgh, they have a pretty good idea by spring training. Or the season before.

I'm just trying to look on the bright side here.

In other news, Merritt and I had a day that I feel I should carefully document, lest I ever forget. But this isn't turning into a "mommy and me" blog. Don't worry.

This afternoon, there was a nap (for him), some bathroom cleaning (for me), and some dancing and hugging (for both of us). Seriously, the hugs were ridiculous. He snuggled up and even made the happy "mmm-mm" sound while he hugged me. And his dancing resembled head-banging more than anything else, but I got the point.

The kid and I fell even more in love in the last few hours. I didn't think it was possible, but it happened. I spent time just staring at him while he was happy and smiling, and I tried to memorize his face as best I could. It seemed like the right thing to do in those moments. I hear they grow up fast.

He likes to play in the bathroom cabinet. This morning we watched as he dumped all the makeup out on to the floor. Then he picked up the eyelash curler and stared at in his hand for a few seconds. And then he just threw it down on the floor, like he had about as much use for it as I do. Maybe it doesn't sound all that funny, but we couldn't breathe, we were laughing so hard.

My one concern is that his favorite toy seems to be tampons. Unused ones, of course. It's not that I'm worried that somehow this means the kid will turn out gay; I just think it's a little early for him to be starting his period.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Meet Merritt

There's a new man in my life. It's a long story, but the gist of it is that I'm now helping to raise a child. And while I've always wanted children, I certainly never wanted a boy. But now I've got one, and he is eleven months old, and he is a handful. Only in the best sense. Most of the time.

Now I figure, if I've got a boy, I might as well make the most of it. So we're working on some things. Eleven months old is a good time to start teaching him the fundamentals, right?

Give me 21 years (he's going to college; no drafting straight out of high school for this kid), and we'll see what happens.

First step: Work on getting him to pick this thing up with his other hand. I'm looking for a lefty with a 95-mph fastball and a devastating curve. Cha-ching!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

It Hasn't Rotted My Brain (Yet)

When I was about seven years old, I was watching an episode of I Love Lucy when my dad told me I had to turn off the television because we were going to dinner, or I had to go to bed, or whatever. I happily agreed and told him, "That's okay. I'll just watch the rest later." After a few questions, my dad had to sit me down and explain to me that the television keeps going even after we turn it off, so Lucy would not, in fact, be there waiting for me when I turned the thing on again. I was, needless to say, both devastated and confused.

Today, I'm just pissed.  My tiny seven-year old brain invented TiVo, damn it!

My love affair with television goes way, way back. My granddad likes to tell me that I was the only one of his grandkids who, as a baby, would just sit with him in his chair and watch television. Of course, this is the same man who tells me my parents found me under a rock and felt enough pity to take me home with them, so maybe I should take his stories with a grain of salt.

1980. Possible proof that the old man hasn't been lying to me all my life.

2003. I clearly no longer fit with him in his chair, but there is a couch just outside the frame of the picture, and I've been known to watch some television from there.

The man has nineteen grandkids, and he could only find one willing to sit and enjoy some fine programming with him. I was just born to love television, apparently.

Three years ago, I gave you my all-time top ten list (be advised that several of the links in that post are broken; one of the perils of including YouTube clips), and though I don't love the writing style of that piece, I think I pretty much stand by those shows today. The only thing that sort of feels like an odd man out is The Amazing Race, but it's such a quality show that I don't think I can  remove it from the list. I will say that as much as I loved the first four seasons of The West Wing, it wouldn't take much to convince me to replace it with something else. But at the moment I can't think of a replacement, so it will stay.

The fall 2010 television season is upon us, which I know because Entertainment Weekly's fall preview issue comes out tomorrow. This issue used to be my bible. I first subscribed to EW in 1997, but let my subscription lapse last year. Sorry to be yet another consumer accepting the death of the print media, but I mostly just got annoyed with the changes the magazine went through over the years. But I digress. I will most likely be buying this single issue because it really is the best resource for planning one's television schedule. I used to build spreadsheets based on the information provided by this issue. I was intense about my television. In college and for several years after, I had two VCRs dedicated to my primetime programming. When I got DVRs, I had two televisions working, each with two separate signals. And sometimes that still wasn't enough.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I Want to Dance!

During my senior year of high school, I was supposed to read Jude the Obscure in AP English, and then, with my group, teach the book to the rest of the class.  Two days before this lesson, I realized I hadn't read the book yet, and didn't even know the plot.  Oh, and I had to write a 1500-word paper to boot. So I found my friend CliffsNotes, did a little skimming, wrote the paper, and then taught the shit out of that book.

I will tell you right now that I have no idea what Jude the Obscure is about. Not a clue. And that's not just the fog of time; I literally had no idea what I was talking about even while I was telling my fellow APers how to write about the book should it show up on the big test. Sorry, Mrs. Aycock. But thanks for giving me an "A" on that paper.

I could once bullshit my way through anything. In high school and (to some extent) college, I did it with my writing. I could throw together a paper in a heartbeat, or write an admissions essay without thinking twice, or write an email that got me in or out of trouble with a friend (depending on what I preferred at the time), or maybe even got me out of an assignment or a class.

It seems there's a chance I have, somewhere along the way, lost this gift. Because no matter how many amazingly clever or poignant cover letters I write, I can't find a job. Beyond that, I can't even get someone to acknowledge I exist. I have applied to positions for which I am perfectly qualified, and I have applied to positions that a one-armed monkey could accomplish with his eyes closed. I have poured my heart out about starting my life over, and I have made jokes about attaching résumés written in invisible ink. I have filled out cookie cutter applications for Starbucks, Apple, Target, Barnes and Noble, Netflix, and countless others. I have applied to small companies in this area. I have applied to bigger corporations based in this area.

And still nothing.