Back Again

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been away lately because I’ve had my hands full. I had a job. I wanted to write, but after a day of sitting in front of a computer screen, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of another one. That has changed I’m afraid. Today I was informed that I have been fired. I have three days left and then it’s over.
I realize that life isn’t fair. I understand that, I do, but I have to say that this is almost criminally unfair to me. I spend 4 years looking for full time employment, I finally find something. The pays no good, but it was close to where I live and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. It was actually not a bad job and 5 months later it’s ripped away from me just like that. Of course in those 5 months, my car insurance has gone up. My phone bill has also increased and I have no idea if my length of employment will qualify me for benefits. Maybe some, but not enough I’m sure. I actually have to re-learn how to live as a jobless person. I forgot what it was like not to have income. I became so used to that bi-weekly paycheck. I was looking forward to this year’s holiday season. I was going to have money to buy gifts. I was going to get into Halloween. I was enjoying being able to splurge a little at the comic book store once in a while. I liked knowing I was able to like a shirt in a store, see that it was maybe ten bucks or so and I could just buy it, guilt free. Now I’m back to worrying over every last dollar. I have to wrestle over a five dollar purchase.
At this point I should say that I am aware there are people out there who are far worse off than myself and if put into perspective, my problems may not be so big. Be that as it may, it makes my pain no less valid. I’ve struggled and fought in ways few could understand just to keep my head above water. How many times do I have to drag myself up only to be slammed back down? How many times do I have to fight this same battle? When will it ever be enough? When will I finally move forward in this world? I’m tired. I’m just so tired struggling just to maintain this Hell I find myself in, and in some cases actually making it worse. Anyone else putting this much into it would be in a very good place by now. I feel like a car stuck in the mud. The wheel spins faster and faster, but I only sink in deeper. If I stop, I go nowhere. There doesn’t seem to be any way to win at this game, but I can’t stop playing. I can’t quit. I wish I could, to be honest, but I can’t. I just think in the universe, effort at some point should be rewarded. I want to cash in now. I don’t know if I can keep doing this over and over. It’s getting tiresome.
Sorry for the downer post, but my head’s in that place. I’ll try to think of something better to write about next time. Promise.

The House Of Stolen Light #freebookfriday

Another week gone by and another free book Friday. I have decided that I will post the first 5 chapters of the book I gave away the previous week, if only to give those who failed to get a copy a little taste of what they missed out on. This past week’s offering was a tale of mystery and mysticism in a small Northern California town. I wrote this one years ago and rediscovered it recently. I dusted it off and have since put it out for the world to read. As I went through the manuscript, I began to see how the story and characters nearly reflected current situations in the world today in concern with the economy and employment. I think it gives clear voice to my own personal struggles with unemployment, and maybe someone out there may see this as well. At any rate, enjoy.

Chapter 1

Carson was alone in the elevator. He could feel a slight, chilled jet of air coming down from above. He felt the lift of the car beneath his feet as it began rising through the shaft up to the twenty-fifth floor. As it approached the twentieth floor, it began to slow and his stomach began to lurch up. As the elevator eased itself to a stop, he had the same roller coaster feeling he got before the first big drop.

The doors opened slowly and he stepped out into the hall. It seemed endless, stretching out to infinity. Bright, white lights lined the walls and created a ghostly glow. He slid on his sunglasses and began to walk. The only sound he could hear was a dull thud with every step he took. He looked down at his watch. It wasn’t even noon, but it felt to him like it was the dead of night. As he passed by each door, he tried to listen for any sounds behind them but they were all silent, although he could hear the television in a few of them. He finally stopped at suite 2576. He slid his card key through the lock and opened the door. The cool air of his room shot out at him like a gust of new life. The unmistakable smell of nothing filled his senses. The beds had been made and all the little niceties had been returned to their original state as if by magic. Even the pens on the nightstand were positioned exactly as they had been when he first checked in at the beginning of the week. The pen caps were turned to face the north end of the room and the name of the hotel printed on the body of the pen was clearly visible.

He laid down on the bed and his head fell down upon the firm, freshly dressed pillow. He reached for the remote but as he was about to turn on the power, he suddenly was overtaken with his own fatigue. His eyes became heavy and the previous night’s events began to catch up with him. He dropped the controller and soon was adrift in his eyes.

The phone’s ringing shocked him back to life. He bolted up and soon got his bearings. He looked down to his watch and saw that nearly two and a half hours had passed. He was still tired beyond all reason, despite that.

“Hello?” Carson asked as he picked up the phone.

“Are you still asleep? Check out is in fifteen minutes!” Errol whined over the connection. Carson fell back upon the pillow.

“Don’t remind me.”

“I’m sorry, bud, but the real world beckons. The sad reality is vacations do end.”

“I know. Just one more day?”

“No. We were stretching it by staying the week.”

“I got lucky last night. I won almost a thousand dollars in Blackjack.”

“I drove and I need to get back to my life.”

“You don’t have a life! You’ve got an aquarium full of fish you got at Wal-Mart!”

“Hey! They are still quality pets. I need to get back to them. I don’t like leaving them to Trish’s mercy.”

“She’s taking great care of them. One more day.”

“No, I just would feel better if I was back with them. Besides, I have to be back at work Monday.”

“It’s Saturday! We could leave tomorrow morning.”

“No! I need at least a solid twenty four hours to decompress before I go back to work.”

Carson threw his head about in a fit as he realized he was fighting a losing battle. He had been surprised Errol hadn’t petitioned to leave earlier.

“Fine. I’ll meet you in the lobby.” Carson said through gritted teeth.

A few minutes later, Carson trudged down to the lobby. He carried only a small leather bag that contained a few shirts, his toothbrush and toothpaste and a few select thongs he had liberated from some exotic dancers earlier that week. He saw Errol standing amidst a sea of people. He stuck out quite plainly as he stood among his large, bulky suitcases wearing a rather gaudy Las Vegas t-shirt with his clunky camera slung over his neck. Carson walked over to him; half hoping he would just become invisible before anyone drew the connection between them.

“Ready?” Errol asked.

“Barely.” Carson adjusted his sunglasses. Errol grabbed his bags and began to lead the way to the exit. Carson followed along at least two full yards behind him. He was beginning to actually look forward to the trip home. It was dawning on him as they weaved and bobbed through wave after wave of people that he couldn’t spend the rest of his life in Vegas, as much as he wished he could. Reality was calling and it had to be heeded.

The crowd became less an obstacle when they reached the parking structure. Errol zeroed in on the car almost instantly. Carson stood by as he watched Errol carefully load his bags into the trunk. He had barely been able to fit them all in when they left and somehow it seemed as though the trunk had shrunk. There didn’t look to be enough room for even a rag much less Carson’s modest bag. Errol examined his configuration carefully and his brain began to pulsate.

“It’s okay,” Carson said, knowing full well how long it would take Errol to figure out a perfect arrangement. “I’ll just toss it in the back seat.” Errol agreed with a shrug and walked over to the driver’s side and opened up the car. Carson threw his bag into the empty back seat and then settled into the passenger side seat. Errol had his seatbelt adjusted and was sifting through his CD collection in the arm rest compartment between them. Carson would have suggested something to play but Errol only had classical and new age CDs. He needed to put himself in a Zen-like state when he drove long distances. He soon settled upon a disc and popped it in. He twisted the key in the ignition and the car hummed to life. Carson’s eyes had closed before they even hit the street outside. He could hear some piece of classical music that he thought any self-respecting college graduate would be able to identify by composer and year, along with Errol’s humming to accompany it.

Carson’s eyes opened. The music didn’t sound like it had changed, although he knew it was a different song. Errol had stopped humming though. Carson looked down to his watch. It was nearly six and it seemed they were driving through a large stretch of desert. He looked out the window at the passing scenery. Cacti and brush whizzing past his tired eyes in a blur before a perfect blue sky that stretched out as far as the eyes could see. He kept trying to get back to sleep but his eyes wouldn’t cooperate.

“You okay?” Errol asked. Carson sat up and looked over to him. His glasses were steadied on the tip of his nose as he looked intensely through the windshield to the horizon before them.

“Yeah. I’m fine.”

“You’re kind of quiet.”

“Sorry. Just tired.”

“Look, I understand why you aren’t exactly happy to be going back. It’s not easy I know. Unemployment never is.”

“It’s been a month. I’ve already burned through my severance pay. I don’t even know what I’m going to do about rent.”

“You said you won a thousand dollars.”

“I did, but I’ve got bills to pay. It won’t take the whole thousand, but it’s not going to leave much.”

“Well, you know if you need any money, I….” Errol began.

“No. I’m not borrowing any money. I learned a long time ago; never let money enter into a personal relationship.”

“It’s not a problem. I’ll give you the money. Don’t even worry about paying it back.”

“You say that now, but what about later? No. I can’t do it.”

“Fine, but if you change your mind…”

“I won’t. I’m no one’s charity case.” Carson said in a rare glint of self-righteousness. He slumped back over to his window. The scenery hadn’t changed much. Still miles of desert and lots of dried out dead plants. He looked down and saw the asphalt below.

“What is with you?” Carson sat back up and shot a hard glare at Errol that nearly bore a hole into his head.

“When we get back home, you go back to your job and your nice condo. I go back to unemployment and my crappy apartment complete with annoying roommate,” Carson barked. “Not much to look forward to.” Carson settled back into his slump.

“I’m sorry.” Errol’s tone was timid.

“No. I’m sorry. I’m being an ass and I’m sorry. I appreciate you taking me on this trip. I really do. I’m just not in a good state of mind right now.”

“It’s okay. I realize this isn’t a good time for you. I just thought this trip would kind of get your mind off everything.”

“It did. Going home is kind of ruining it though.”

Carson heard a small chuckle escape Errol’s lips.

“This is one of those bumps in life that turns into a good memory eventually.”

“You’re a good guy, Errol,” Carson said. “You’re full of shit, but you’re a good guy.”

Work Please

Well, I feel a little bad this week. I kind of flubbed up the other day. I got a call from a perspective employer about a resume I had sent out and I made a fatal mistake. I was honest.

I’m sorry, but it had been a long time since I spoke with someone about a job and this kind of took me by surprise and add on to that the guy asked me one of those questions I hate to be asked. “What kind of work are you looking for?” I’m sorry. My fuses burst when that question surfaces. I know we all should try and strive for a job we want, but right now I’m not living with that reality. The kind of job I’m looking for is the job you’re looking to fill. I don’t care what it says on my resume or what previous positions I’ve held. If I didn’t want that job, I wouldn’t have sent you my resume in the first place. To ask me this question only shows the ignorance of the employer, at least from my point of view. It shows they don’t realize what it’s like out here in the job searchers world. It shows me that they haven’t picked up a newspaper or watched the news in the past 10  years.

The jobs are coming fewer and further between. My unemployment benefits are gone and frankly, I’m skating by right now by the skin of my teeth. I need work. Part time. Full time. Contract. Whatever! I’m not looking for my dream job. In a way, I already have that because I am a writer and that’s something I can do whenever and for as long as I wish, but unless my book sales take a very sharp spike upward, I’m going to need a job to fill in the gaps. Right now I’m looking for a source of financial support. I’m not going to love your company as you do. I’m not going to sacrifice my life for your profit margin. I’m sorry. That’s just not going to happen. I will show up to work and perform my duties as described to me to the best of my abilities. I will arrive on time and stay until the end of the day. I will help with any duties that I can in the course of the day. I will assist you and my co-workers in moving the gears of commerce along as smoothly as possible. I know a lot of experts say that you have to be that golden child in order to get ahead. They say you have to be willing to mortgage your whole life for the sake of the job. It seems like you can’t get a simple entry level position without proving to the employer you are the second coming brought to life. Which I hate.

It feels like the economy has given employers a chance to turn up the tension and by doing so we, the job seekers, are turning on each other and stabbing at each other while the fat cats sit upon their thrones watching the carnage from their safe perches. We seem to be at war with each other, trying to outdo the next guy at every turn for a meager crust of approval.

I wish I could skip out of this  part. I want to just get to the part where people love my work and my books are selling at a steady pace and I have a few solid deals in ink all over town. Or maybe my books become a sensation over in Japan and the craze incubates over there, and comes back over here big time. I’m just tired of this struggling because it seems I’ve been here a few too many times. It’s like I find myself wandering around the same woods and I find the same brief solution but eventually I end up lost all over again. This isn’t working, but I’m not really seeing what could work. Everything fails. I had a good week with my books. An improvement over past performance, but nothing to write home about. I’m kind of hoping that HBO show ‘Looking’ inspires something because I noticed my Jason Of The Valley books were the most popular sellers, I must admit. I hit double digits with the second book in the series, and I’m definitely going to finish the fifth book soon. I just wish things could start going my way. If only for a month or two. A week. Give me one week of good mojo. I guess last week I felt so good because I felt like I was finally winning. Seeing all those new numbers on my revenue page. For a brief moment, I thought I knew what it was like to touch victory and it was good. I want more. I need more. I’m ready for this fuckin’ life of mine to start getting on track!

Let’s hope.

Frustration

Now that I’m without a net (Thanks a heap state of CA. YOU SUCK EDD!!!) I am in need of a source of income ASAP. So I need to accomplish in the immediate future what I haven’t been able to over the past year. Find a job. People have said the market has been improving, but I’m not seeing it. I have a college degree and a lot of experience with a lot of different skills, but despite all that, there just aren’t that many jobs available. Every day I check the boards and find nothing. What few jobs I find that are within my scope, I send out my application/resume but days drag by and every day that phone doesn’t ring, I get closer to a totally uncertain future. I’m just at that point where I don’t know what to do. I feel like tearing my hair out sometimes. I feel like my hands are tied and my whole world is on shaky ground. I need work and I need it now. I don’t have time to wait any longer. I know I’m not the only one in this boat, but just the same. Sometimes I can’t believe this is happening. I feel like my life is coming apart at the seams. It puts a lot more  pressure on the success of my upcoming book. I’m reminded that the book is coming out in November and that’s great, but what am I going to do between now and then? What if it flops? I mean, I hope it doesn’t, but it’s a possibility. And even if it’s a smash hit(Hoping) that doesn’t do any good to me now. I can’t pay my rent with future earnings. I’ve even started to sell stuff on Etsy. I make earrings. A friend of mine sells his stuff on Etsy and he does great. I don’t try to do it on the scale he does it, I just need a little extra income. Maybe if I do well with it I might expand, but that’s too far away to worry about now.

I just go to bed every night with all this stress, but despite that, I try to convince myself that the next day will be better, but so far I have been wrong. It just keeps getting worse and worse. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I think the worst of it is how much I hate feeling like I can’t support myself or manage my own life. I feel like less of a man, to be honest. I hate everything about this situation I’m in. And I hate the fact that I can’t really do anything to change it. All I can do is work through it and keep pushing forward. But for how much longer?

Been awhile.

Wow. It’s been a while since I posted anything. I guess that’s due to how distracted I’ve been. It seems my unemployment insurance has been halted and for the last few weeks I’ve been stressing about what to do. I was led to believe by all the letters I had received up until now that I had at least four extensions, but it seems the government in  their infinite wisdom has decided to throw me to the wolves. It’s a very scary feeling. Working without a net. Everytime I whip out my card to pay for food or gas, I remember how there won’t be any new money coming in. It’s all going out. I’ve gone on financial lockdown.  Cutting corners at every turn. What really makes me mad was not entering a screenplay contest that I was actually pretty excited about entering, but I can’t afford the entry fee. One would argue it would be like betting on yourself to win, and while I appreciate that, I’m not quite that confident yet. Although, it would have been great. I adapted “Spectrum” into a movie and since the contest was specifically for movies with a  gay/lesbian slant, I think it might have done well.

As for the bigger issue of the lack of income, there was some good news. I did secure a  job interview this very week and I think it went well. I’m anxiously awaiting the call for interview #2. That turns out to be even more nerve racking. Every hour, every minute, that ticks by I can’t help but wonder why they aren’t calling. I was confident and well spoken and I did well on the typing test. They have to call back. They have to. I don’t know what I’m going to do if they don’t. I  shot out some other resumes just this morning. This is just so frustrating. It feels like no matter  how many resumes I do send out, it won’t matter. There are just too many people out there in this job market. The competition is just too much for me. I’m just one drop of water standing amongst  tidal wave.

I also have the idea of selling jewelry on Etsy. I’ve been looking into it and I can make simple stud earrings and maybe clear a few bucks, if I’m lucky. I’m starting to think the days of traditional employment are over and that scares me too. It’s all I know, but I guess it’s time to evolve. If I had the money, I’d go back to school, but even with financial aid, it’s way too expensive for me to do that.

Although, as stressed and depressed as I’ve been for the past few weeks, I find right now as I write this, there’s an indefinable optimism bubbling inside of me. I have no idea why, but that little voice in me is saying it’s going to  be all right. Somehow, someway, it’s all going to work out. I have no idea how, but I’m grateful for the brief moment of positivity.

One’s Worth

I was up last night and unfortunately I was thinking. I was thinking about my life and my path and where I am versus where I could be and out of all that big thinking I began to wonder why we as a society place the value of what we do with our lives on the money we receive to do it. Some of the highest paid people out there do horrible things while the lowest do work that brings us all up as people. I mean, I’m doing what I want with my life, but I feel worthless because I have no steady income. I’ve been looking for work for over a year now and I guess getting a job filing  papers will make me feel better about myself than finishing a 30+ chapter book or new script simply because there’s a check in it for me. It’s something we’re conditioned with, I guess, because I really do feel completely worthless without a job to go to. Everyone else goes out and takes on their role as a productive member of society and I’m stuck at home doing my writing, or at least I try. This week has been real bad for me.

This was just something that ran into my brain and forced me to write it out.