Posts Tagged With: blogging

The View From Over Here

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So… around about 1991, I was a professionally miserable student in high school, suffering avidly and expertly through the idiotic rigamarole of the usual vicissitudes of High School Life. I listened to The Smiths, The Cure, Ministry, Social Distortion… and Johnny Cash. I drew pictures. I painted, I wrote terrible long winded stories in fantasy or sci fi. I played role playing games. I lived in my basement. I read books. Basically your usual High School Existence(tm).

And I took an art class.

I was considered ‘talented’ in Art. I could draw pretty well, but it may also have had some effect that i had an ‘artistic temperament’ which meant that, throughout this art class I was mostly unsupervised. This meant that art class was sort of a haven for me. I spent my time making canvases i’d probably never use, pushing ink and paint around on things, and working on the borders for an illuminated page i’d begun working on.

Somewhere within my time in this art class i meant a friend. The first openly gay person I had ever met. Oh sure, there were rumors about this or that person. Rumors that eventually turned out to be true. Such rumors were always ALWAYS delivered with a sort of vicious derision that only High School students and certain political candidates can muster. Some of those folks about whom those rumors floated were accepted amongst tightly knit cliques who accepted them for who they were, but outside those groups there was a free for all. It was the wild west.

Anyway. I’m laboring the point. The fact is that my friend brought a LOT of life into my world. We’d sit around art class with giant books of Monet or Van Gogh, flipping pages and just ogling the pages. She had this gorgeous style. I can’t even describe it. But I seriously wish I had some of her paintings now. They were awesome. Full of color and light, with these intricate designs that i was envious of and am still inspired by to this day. You have no idea how much I STILL want some of that art.

I should say, we weren’t close friends. She was a year ahead of me in school, and aside from that one class, we didn’t hang out much outside of it. I was, and still am, a nerd and a seriously introverted one at that. And she was a bit more social. But I can say that she opened my eyes and i absolutely adored her. And do still, to this day.

Fact is, life was not terribly easy for her. She got a lot of hate. As in notes stuffed into her locker threatening her life. Over the course of the year I could see it weighing on her and on more than one occasion I had to threaten serious bodily harm to those who were tormenting her (when I found out who they were). Unfortunately, there were too many and she ended up leaving school. I can’t imagine, now, just what sort of crap she was enduring that I never saw. But the fact was that it pissed me off to no end. I’m not the fighting sort – as you might have noticed from the opening paragraph – but I would have gleefully battled the entire school, including every football player, wrestler, etc.) for the chance to give her the space to make her absolutely precious (to me) art.

So that’s where it started.

Two years later or so and i’m hanging out during a break in my acting class in college and another friend asks me casually what I’m doing this weekend. She was a bit of a firebrand – a ruthless feminist with molten lava for blood. Intense and awesome. Again, we weren’t great friends. Smoke buddies basically. We didn’t hang out, we didn’t see each other at parties (as I would have had to actually be invited and the idea of a college party at the time was kind of EEEEEK). Anyway. I had no plans that weekend. I figured I’d be doing what I usually did – studying, trying not to be annoyed by the hoedown in the hallway of my dorm, evading the pools of vomit that suddenly appeared in the hallways over the weekend. And I said as much. No plans.

She said she and a few other people were heading to DC for the gay rights march. Of course, I had no intention of going. I mean… drive from Stevens Point, Wisconsin to Washington DC for a weekend? That’s crazyness. And I was anything but crazy. Cautious would be more apt a term. And I persisted in this until thursday night, about 20 minutes before the caravan was to leave when I suddenly found myself standing in the parking lot and much to my surprise, loading myself into a car packed to the gills with people.

That march was… well… life changing. From the moment we got there, and the hostile reaction we received from the Dorm where we were being put up in a study lounge, to the march itself, it was an assault on everything I knew and thought about the world. From hanging out in Dupont Circle and first hearing the term ‘asexual’ – which, i thought at the time, was a sort of a joke. There was a spirit of community. There was this intense vibrancy of life. There were the speeches and I remember there was a sense of hope. Bill Clinton had just been elected president and folks had a feeling, I guess, that it would be different this time. That it would be better.

And it was. A little. But the thing is, a little better – at that time – was a lot. It was a celebration. The AIDS epidemic that had run rampant over the community seemed to be winding down. People had heard of cocktails of drugs that didn’t cure it, but gave you a chance to live longer. You could see… well… joy. And hope. And it reminded me of that gift my friend in art class had given me. There was color everywhere. And there was remembrance. And it was absolutely beautiful. I think, for the first time, I experienced the world I wanted to live in.

I don’t know. Maybe it was all an illusion. Maybe it was situational. I think about it now, all of those people living their utmost in those short days and then putting it away and going to jobs that didn’t accept them, or back to families who hated them. But that’s kind of what those moments are for, isn’t it? To show you the world as you want it to be. And, my God, did I want to be a part of that world.

I got a little closer to the folks on that trip after that. Trevor with his brilliant flamboyance. Mike ‘the gay dad’. I was still very much an introvert, but it somehow opened a little crack in the walls that I’d built. And I let a little more light inside after that. I auditioned for, and got, a part in a play. I smoked a little weed. I went to a few parties and as quiet and closed off as i was, I considered them friends. I allowed myself to experience things: openly, clearly, with more curiosity than judgement.

Anyway… this blog is about my experiences in Norway. So here I am at Pride in Oslo. And let me tell you something. If you haven’t been to Pride in Oslo you need to go. It’s the second largest official parade in the city just behind their national day, Syttende Mai. And it’s a beautiful celebration of color and beauty and being and I absolutely love it. There is still, sort of, that feeling of ‘not quite there yet’ but there is also a feeling of beaming… well… pride. There is a feeling of accomplishment. That, somehow – at least here – LGBTQ have created something special – a space where they can actually be themselves freely and openly.

And it’s not simply for a weekend or a day. It’s 365 days a year. At least here in the city. I have it on reliable authority that the same does not apply further out in the country and that many of the small towns have about as enlightened a view of gay rights as my own small town did back in 1991. But this is Oslo. And it’s here. You see as many people lining the streets cheering the parade as are those who are actually in it. Here you see the chief of police – a lesbian – marching in the parade alongside those that the police actually DO protect. You see trade unions, firemen, the army, the navy, the entire government represented proudly alongside their LGBTQ countrymen. There is this feeling of solidarity that is breathtaking and wonderful.

Let’s put it this way, they rename a park near the palace Pride Park during the festival. In it you can find all the major political organizations represented. Including Norway’s FRP – who are hardly recognized as friends of Gay Rights. We walked through the park, bought a baked potato (it may sound weird. It sounded weird to me, but it was freaking amazing – a baked potato slathered with corn, thousand island dressing, bacon and cheese. I’d never had a baked potato so amazing in my life). We bought a few other little things – an Ace flag, the usual rainbow stuff, etc. And as i turn to get to the exit so we can watch the march my wife says ‘Oh look. There’s the Prime Minister.’

I turned. And sure enough… the Prime Minister of Norway is walking through Pride Park with a small entourage.

LGBTQ rights are enshrined here. You see representation on the posters on city buses and trams. The pride flag waves during the pride festival from every tram you ride on. It’s flying from flags on many of the major streets. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is literally against the law. And though Pride might be a little ‘extra’, you get the feeling that the people you see marching are not so different from the people who work their 9-5. When they go home after the celebration, there might not be so much of a disconnect, that their lives can be as full and open and as beautiful as they want to be. And that’s a great thing. I find myself wishing i could drag all of my LGBTQ friends here to see it. Hell… all of my friends – just to see what kind of world this world CAN be.

After we managed to penguin walk our way through the crowds by the march, we stopped by our favorite bar, Politikern and had a few outside in the sun. Because, of course we did. This is Norway. It is summer. And outside drinking is a national past time. In the square in front of us was the national headquarters of Arbeiderpartiet – the workers party as well as an LGBTQ art gallery. I should have gone in to see if my friends artwork was there. It should have been. But I didn’t. We were both tired. Exhausted actually. But as we left several different groups of people asked us what our flag was for and I remembered how many questions I asked of people in DC. We carried the Ace flag. Apparently it’s not quite as well known. But in answering the question we continued in the process. And that’s such a beautiful thing. Broadening understanding. Answering a simple question. Sharing.

This is the world I want to live in.

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The Quest for Unemployment

I am probably not in the proper mindset to be writing a blog on the art of being unemployed. But then again, perhaps the rage, frustration, and nearly comical quixotic-ness of the whole thing is exactly what i should be writing about. I don’t know. Let’s just say when i get into a furious snit over the mind-boggling stupidity of it all i just have to take a few moments and write my way through it before things start getting broken or becoming airborne and seeing as it is physically impossible to launch websites or job postings from a catapult while tied to a Buick, it might be a good idea to at least TRY to write through it.

So as you probably have surmised from many of my other scribblings, i fancy myself a fairly capable and talented writer. For reasons that cannot be adequately explained in a small amount of time, i have never been able to pursue a career in following my talent on a professional level at the expense of the pitiful amount of shrapnel i have been able to glean from working at my ‘real’ job. It’s absurd really, but the fact of the matter is that the eleven dollars an hour that i have choked down like regurgitated offerings from the proffered beaks of my employers has been a necessity because the alternative is an unpaid internship somewhere – which i can’t afford.

Well, as so often happens in my unchosen line of work, i am once again unemployed. For fear of incriminating myself i will not relay what employment i did not chose to toil in for 12 years – as it seems these are the only jobs i am even remotely qualified for and i would actually like to be employed again.

But that brings me to my point. I have just found a job posting that i would like to apply for. So i started doing just that. It’s for a copywriting job in Redwood City working for EA Games. This sounds absolutely perfect even though i don’t know much about copywriting. I mean, i’m a pretty talented writer as you can obviously see, i enjoy playing video games, i would really like a discount on the upcoming Mass Effect 3, i have interest, drive, talent, untapped skill, and generally a positive outlook on things.

But here’s the problem. For almost every job you CAN apply for out there there is a different method of applying for it and each method of applying for it is designed by evil goblins from outer space whose only qualification is to cause the greatest amount of psychological damage to any soul who dares apply. The website which i was supposed to go through to apply for this rare gem of a job is a huge waste of space (and if you’re wondering so you can avoid it like the brain plague that it is it’s caljobs.com – the website that is supposed to help provide jobs to californians, which i am not one but in this day and age and given the drain of Wisconsin’s jobs it helps to cast a very, very wide net.) It doesn’t work. You cannot upload a resume much less look for the particular position that was advertised. They require you to fill out ‘their’ resume which barely qualifies as a Burger King application, and then their forms and fields allow so little information that you are forced to abbreviate whatever experience you might have as if you are writing a tweet.

This is not the only problem with job searching. Every job site, job board, posting, what have you generally has their own particularly sadistic method of applying which will eat your time and your mind for absolutely no result. On average you will revise and rewrite your resume for about two to three hours EVERY time you find a posting that is suitable at which point you will rapidly become aware that the courtesy expected is entirely on your side. The prospective employer is in no way obligated to give you even the meager hope of a cursory response to your submission.

And finally there is the tiresome issue of job specificity. As an example i will happily hyperbolically concoct a scenario of a job posting:

Pooptech Publications Inc. is looking for an experienced wordsmith with 2-4 years of experience in articles relating to animal fecal matter. Please provide samples of your writing. We are interested in Bovine Fecal Matter, and Equine Fecal Matter specifically, though Canine and Porcine is also acceptable.

If you do not have 2-4 years of experience writing quality award winning articles about Bovine Fecal Matter please do not apply.

Do not contact, call, write, or submit an application on this site. Go to etc. etc. etc. and fill out our thirty page, proprietary application, upload twelve writing samples, submit yourself to a drug test, take our psychological battery questionnaire and then wait for the rest of forever for us to possibly, maybe, someday, contact you if and when we feel like it.

If we contact you it in no way obligates us to speak with you, nor does it preclude the possibility of an interview.

Now, of course this is fantasy but it isn’t all that far off. Go look. I’ll wait. Better yet, see if you can withstand three hours of job searching, including sending out a resume.

In short. If you are wondering why we have so many employment issues, or unemployment issues in this country it’s simple. We don’t know how to adequately use the people we have, we don’t know how to find the people we need, and the people who are capable for our employment can’t find us. That and the economy is a nonsensical train-wreck run by bumbling, idiot greed, infused hobgoblins who would much prefer finding intelligent job candidates in far off lands so that they can regurgitate morsels of western wealth into their beaks while ensuring that their bellies remain full on the offal of the rotting carcass of the middle class.

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