Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Unemployment Logs, Chapter i

~ 3/13/2018 ~

Currently listening to an audiobook called Nomadland about American seniors forced into nomadic living and migrant work when their finances failed, and the more I listen the more I realize that I could never live this kind of life. Mostly it's the migrant work that I just know I couldn't handle. They travel from place to place working for a few weeks or months in an Amazon warehouse or harvesting sugar beets or working as campsite hosts in national parks, and from the stories in the book they're treated like shit, paid minimum wage, work mandatory 12+ hour days, frequently perform unpaid overtime, and expected to grin and say, "Thank you, sir! May I have another?"

I couldn't do it. Companies who break the law - many of them contracted by the government who is supposed to enforce that law - and then expect their employees to be grateful for it send me into a rage that - were I in that position - would probably end in murder. Am I just spoiled?  According to the people profiting on the backs of senior labor I am, and apparently those companies are staunch vertebrae in the backbone of the economy!

I don't think I can ever work full-time for somebody else again anyway. That is my goal in life at this point: Find a way to work only for myself from now on. That is the central theme that all my post-layoff plans revolve around. I'm both excited and terrified to see if I can make them work.

On a related note, drug tests piss me off (*drum fill*).

Seriously though, it really is the ultimate violation. If I were an employer and asked a potential candidate to drop trou' and let me inspect their genitals, I'd be driven out of business overnight and probably locked up, but when a potential employer demands to look even deeper inside, at the fluids and sometimes tissue produced by those intimate parts, that is not only considered completely reasonable in the minds of the public, but to some that employer is looked upon as a stand-up member of the community - a bastion against a propagandized plague they've been taught to revile and fear their whole life. Forget that, provided it doesn't affect my on-the-job performance, what I do in my private time should be my own business. Forget that I should be able to do whatever I want with my own body, so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Forget that uncounted millions of Americans ingest intoxicants every single day and yet still manage to be productive, contributing members of society. Forget all of that, because we have to stop drug users from...what? Getting jobs so they don't have to steal to support their either recreational or habitual drug use?

Fuck that. I'm never taking a drug test again. If I starve, so be it. I'd rather be dead than live in Gattaca.

We should boycott companies that conduct routine and/or random drug screenings. Of course it would mean boycotting damn near every company, but maybe we could all just start with one and work our way out to the others in turn.

Yeah, and maybe people will start thinking for themselves instead of blindly accepting what the media/government/church/society tells them to.

I need to stop thinking so much. I need to learn to turn off my brain, eat my heaping bowl of shit, smile, and say, "Thank you, sir! May I have another?" I'd probably be a lot happier that way.

~ 03/15/2018 ~

Had a meeting with WorkSource when I got to the office today. They're the company that handles unemployment for my state, I guess. Is every government program contracted out at this point? I don't know which is more disconcerting - the idea that I'm going to have to apply for a government program every week for the next few weeks/months/who-knows-how-long or knowing that my ability to collect unemployment benefits rests in the hands of the lowest bidder.

(I feel I should note at this point that I don't actually know whether WorkSource is a private contractor or a government agency, and I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I do. All I know is that it kinda feels like one, and I worry about that sort of thing. If it turns out that I am wrong, I apologize. Don't take my word for this shit. How 'bout a little due-diligence on your part, slacker!)

On the upside, it turns out there are programs available for people like me, who hold grand delusions of self-employed success and would rather suck crabs off a camel's sandy sack than have to apply for the privilege of doing a job we hate in order to fill someone else's pockets with the fruits of our labor. 

Did that sound bitter?

Well, fuck. I guess I am a little bitter. Maybe I would be less so if there were some individual or small group of individuals that I could convince myself were responsible for the sorry, cock-biting state of affairs that is the American job market, but there isn't, and consequently there is nowhere to aim my frustration, so all it can do is stew. This cluster-rape of the local economy was carried out by dozens - if not hundreds - of individuals spread out all over the country and was facilitated by laws and oversight that every American of voting age (myself included) allowed to spin out of control like a freebasing figure-skater and kick up the whirlwind of middle-class devastation that currently ravages the socioeconomic landscape.

Which begs the question, whom am I to blame for this mess, when the pool of those responsible stretches as far and wide as the borders of this country and is saturated with the apathetic urea of three hundred million citizens, none of whom seem to have read the sign about not pissing in the water?

In the end, I guess I can only blame myself for staying mired in a puddle of lukewarm safety when what I should have done years ago was pull myself out and lay something on the line. Yeah, it could have ended badly, but at least I would have been striving for something worthwhile. Now it's still ending badly, but all I can say is that I risked nothing for nothing to no end.

On the bright side, I'm still eligible for unemployment.

~ 03/17/2018 ~

Submitted a story for publication for the first time in nearly two years!

Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about a new story. In fact, it's the same story I submitted almost two years back. Yay progress!

I'm not proud of this level of procrastination and I realize I should have been submitting my finished stories left and right until I either found someone to buy them or exhausted every market and had to resign myself to the fact that they are unsellable, but I'm doing it now which is a step in the right direction, so fuck you for being so goddamn hypercritical (he said to the one actually leveling the accusations at him - namely, himself)!

Now I just need to get some actual story writing done


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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I'm Back, Motherfuckers!

Yeah, I know, opening a post by implying that all of you good people are secretly doinking your own mothers is kind of an aggressive way to announce my return to the blogosphere, but after such a long absence I figure the first post I write is going to set the tone for everything that comes after, and I don't want anybody wandering in here thinking they're going to find the same old posts by the same old Gabe they got so comfortable with all those years ago. I am NOT the person who wrote those old posts. I am older, I have more scar tissue on both my body and my soul, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to tiptoe around the fragile sensibilities of the more conservative people I'm friends with on Facebook. No disrespect to you if you're one of them, but if the word fuck is too much for you to bear, please just block my posts from showing up in your feed. We can still be friends, but these posts are for people who are interested in what's going on in my head, and my head is a place where fuck is one of the kinder, gentler words getting bandied about on a minute-by-minute basis.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I expect anyone still reading is cool with me just being me, for better or (maybe especially) for worse.


- Year One -


No writing.

- Year Two -

More love!!!

I write two short stories, neither of which reaches the point of being fit for publication. Net result: No writing.

All my favorite celebrities die.

My mother dies.

Creditors assure me that, due to my extreme credit card debt, I have qualified for emergency assistance and, provided I do not miss any future payments, interest will stop accruing and my debts will be paid off in no more than five years. I breathe a sigh of relief and they immediately charge-off my account and sell the debt to a collection agency. FUCK!

My son has been accepted to Stanford!!!

The company I work for gets bought-out. The corporation that did the buying tell us to expect business as usual and that nothing will change, but I read between the lines and determine that there's a Texas-sized downsizing on the horizon. Corporate denies everything. Business as usual, they say. I refuse to be lulled into a false sense of security.

Trump wins the election.

At least next year can't get any worse.

- Year Three -

Trump takes office.

It gets worse.

Corporate informs us that our entire department is going to be outsourced to North Carolina, but they're not telling us when. We'll just have to wait and find out. I hate to say I told you so, but...

Romantic love cools and solidifies into platonic love.

I haven't written anything worth submitting for publication in years!%&@*!

False starts at new novels, all of which fizzle out after a few chapters. Net result: No writing.

Platonic love isn't enough. The love of my life and I break up the day before I drive my son to California to begin his first year at Stanford. It is mutual but nonetheless crushing. I don't think I believe in romantic love anymore.

Several attempts at dating with absolutely no positive results.

Turns out the breakup wasn't as mutual as I thought it was. I feel like a steaming sack of shit, and the worst part is that I can only blame myself.

I forget to pay my property taxes for an entire year! Yay!

Hanging in a professional and personal Limbo the like of which I have never experienced, I want to believe 2018 can't possibly get any worse, but I seem to recall having a similar thought before.

- And A Half -

I turn thirty-nine.

Notice arrives in the mail that a collection agency is suing me for my credit card debt. Panic ensues. Lawyers are consulted. I spend three weeks enduring sweaty terror-shits.

My boss calls me into the conference room and tells me that the hammer has finally fallen, that I will be out of a job by May 11th, maybe sooner (depending on how many people in my department up and quit between now and then).

With the impending end of my fifteen years of dedicated employment no longer just an amorphous doom cloud floating hazily in the future and my faith in the redemptive power of romantic love completely shattered, my fight-or-flight sense kicks into gear and I realize that if ever there was a moment to pull my head out of my ass and start pursuing my dreams seriously, this is it. In the words of Black Cougar Shock Unit (they're a band, I swear), I'm done fucking around.

What better way to stop fucking around than to update my blog?

Yes. Weep. A blog post as a life-affirming declaration of intent. This is the future, and the future is fucked.


And now you're all caught-up (or as caught-up as I care to get you)! Where does it go from here? Who knows. I have plans, but as Public Enemy once titled an album, Man Plans, God Laughs. I'll keep you updated. And this time, I might actually do it.


Remember, you can FOLLOW me on Twitter (CLICK HERE) and Instagram (CLICK HERE), LIKE me on Facebook (CLICK HERE), and SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel (CLICK HERE) if you haven't already. Hope to see you there!