Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Yesterday I went to a Career Expo. I try to take away something positive from every experience I have. I can usually say that if nothing else, the experience was worthwhile because I learned something new, met someone new, had a good time, got to experience something exciting, etc. I hate to say this, but yesterday's experience was a complete waste of time. Several of the booths were occupied by colleges looking for students; I already have 2 degrees and I really don't want to spend any more time in school. Most of the employers were looking for very specific individuals: people in the medical industry (nurses, e.g.), people in the transportation industry (truck drivers). There were also three casinos there and though I'm not against gambling, it's not a place I would like to work. Oh, the Navy had a booth, too. There were only two employers that were worth my time to talk with. The first one told me they only accept applications online. That was no help to me because I've applied with them online twice. The second told me that they only accept applicants through a particular temp agency and work on a temp to hire basis. That wasn't really any help either because I'm already registered with that temp agency (it's one of 3 I am registered with and call on a weekly basis).
I was really depressed when I left that career expo yesterday. I've seriously been looking for work for a long time now. I'm still young, college educated, and have a life of experiences that would make me a valuable employee at any company. Yet, I can't even seem to get an interview anymore, let alone a job. Last spring I had a job interview with a company where over 900 people had applied. I was one of about 30 people who were invited in to take a test and have an initial interview. I got a second interview and the people at the company informed me that I had the highest test results of everyone who had been tested. One of the people I interviewed with told me straight out, "You got an interview because we wanted to see if you were the real deal and not someone who just got lucky." I asked him afterward if I was the real deal and he said, "Yes." I didn't get that job and found out later that it was probably because of my experience working in radio and theatre; one of the interviewers doesn't like people who are "entertainers".
I keep clinging to hope, but as the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, I find myself struggling to cling to hope. I've done all the things I was supposed to do. I've even done some things I wasn't supposed to do, but tried anyway because sometimes "thinking outside the box" brings better results. Yet, there has been no results. In my adult life (I had an old soul before I ever hit puberty), there have been times I've really struggled with the darkness. The past few years have been really difficult ones and it just seems that I can't get a break no matter what. And the unemployment eats away at my soul like a cancerous worm.
I try to look on the bright side of life. I can still go to church where I like. I can still read books, watch movies, visit with friends. I still have freedom. But, when you've been in the situation I'm in and it's gone on for so long, it's really easy to lose sight of the small things that are capable of bringing such joy. Instead, you see the rising gas prices, something you watch on a daily basis anyway, and think, "Good Lord! What if I don't find a job soon?; how will I be able to afford gas?" You hear the clock ticking because unemployment compensation only lasts so long. You're living expenses are already at a bare minimum and you keep wondering what are you going to do when the "charity" (that you didn't want to accept in the first place) runs out. Contrary to what they might say publicly, places like Wal-Mart and McDonalds don't people like you because, as they've told you to your face, "You're overqualified." You read economists who say that "the economy is slowly recovering" but you know that's not true because you've been searching the help wanted ads and the Internet for over a year and there are the same number of listings now as there was a year ago. It's hard to keep hope alive when you're in such a situation.
But, somehow you do. You keep pressing ahead. You keep looking and searching and praying. You fan that flame of hope because that's one light you don't want to ever see extinguished. You keep telling yourself that something has to give, that the damn of blessings have to gush forth soon. When you tell yourself this, you feel a flicker inside and it gives you the strength to keep pressing on. As Andy says in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." Amen.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s and have been reading comic strips my entire life. My two favorite strips of all time are “Peanuts” and “Calvin and Hobbes” (“Pearls Before Swine” is my favorite currently running strip and “FoxTrot” would be my fourth). For a brief span of about six years, I received one or two “Calvin and Hobbes” books a year. I, like many people, loved “Calvin and Hobbes”. It was the smartest strip to run in the comics. In some ways it changed the industry, for instance I don’t think Stephan Pastis could get away with some of the stuff he has in “Pearls Before Swine” if it hadn’t been because of “Calvin and Hobbes”. “Calvin and Hobbes” had a glorious ten-year run and then it disappeared off the funny papers forever. I can’t quite remember what I was doing when I learned that the strip was coming to an end, but I remember being disheartened. I was having a rough time at my first year in college and the strip was one of the things that helped keep me focused. I remember talking to my Mom about it and making the comment, “Well, at least “Peanuts” is still here.”
There are a lot of people that feel the same way about “Calvin and Hobbes” as I do. Nevin Martell is one of them. He went on a journey in an attempt to unravel the story about “Calvin and Hobbes” and shed some light on the strip’s creator, Bill Watterson. LOOKING FOR CALVIN AND HOBBES is that story.
Through a series of interviews with family and friends of Watterson and some very detailed personal research, Martell pieces together a mini-biography of Watterson’s life and the ten-year run of “Calvin and Hobbes”. I learned some things about the strip that I never knew before, such as how it had evolved and how long it took Watterson to get the ingredients for the strip correct.
I enjoyed the book and felt it a worthwhile read.
However, it does have a few faults. The first is that the author was unable to actually get an interview with Watterson. Martell gets lots of interviews with other comic strip artists and creators, friends of Watterson, and even an interview with his mother. Yet, there's nothing actually from Watterson himself. I understand how difficult it would be to get an interview with Watterson. Watterson is one of the most private artists on the planet. He’s devoted to his art, but he has no desire for accolades and fame. Instead, he’s used his celebrity to build privacy. Still, if you’re going to write a biography about a person who is still alive, the critical part of the search is to get an interview with your subject. Martell realizes this and tries to incorporate it into the story of the book, but it’s still kind of a downer.
Martell also seems a little too-in-love with the subject he’s writing about. Author’s should be passionate about their projects, but you should try to avoid letting that come through too strongly when writing a book of this length. Since none of the strips themselves could be copied in the book, Martell spends a lot of time discussing various comic strips. That’s not a bad thing. However, he tends to gush when it’s not necessary. I admire the passion, but in places, it’s a little too much. For example, I found the part of the book when he describes the day he actually got to look at the original drawn strips a bit overzealous. It was more like reading about a religious epiphany than anything else.
Despite these faults, LOOKING FOR CALVIN AND HOBBES is a worthwhile read. There are tidbits that even the most devout “Calvin and Hobbes” fan had probably never heard of before. There’s also a fairly lengthy section where Martell gives the impressions about Calvin and Hobbes from a large number of comic strip artists, including Stephan Pastis, Lynn Johnston, Berkeley Breathed, and Harvey Pekar.
Recommended for those who enjoy “Calvin and Hobbes”, anyone interested in what Bill Watterson has been doing the past fifteen years, and comic strip enthusiasts.