Monday, March 30, 2009

Help Fight Bibliomnia: A Man's Quest to Save Magazines

Since I have done my part to save the automobile industry by buying an imported car, I am now moving on to save the disintegrating print industry. As a former student of journalism, I have a strong allegiance to the journalists who have made it. After graduation, I gave the job hunt the 'ole college try to find a job in the media, but the editors didn't want any of this. My duties were needed elsewhere.

Nevertheless, I have put my grudges aside and have decided to do my part as a college-educated, literate man to (orchestral fanfare) SAVE THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY.

Last week, the first phase began. A crisp issue of The New Yorker had arrived in the post addressed to me. Previously, I'd been doing the "poor man" subscription. I'd visit the library and check out the previous week's issue or the most current in the bin, or if that wasn't available I'd settle for Newsweek, or Economist.

No more wrinkled copies. No more stale current events. It was awkward when I'd bring up topics at work that happened a week or months ago.

"So, you see Obama was elected?" I'd posit.
"Yeah. Two months ago," they'd snidely retort.

Never again.

To round out my Yuppie starter kit, an issue of Atlantic Monthly arrived on Friday. If only I'd bought a Prius, I could be a full member of the Elite literati. Alas, my sedan need not be plugged in or rely on battery juice. Instead I'm just a regular lackluster card-carrying member. The Elites get the fancy laminated card, so I hear. Someday...

These new subscriptions are presenting a problem already. I am subscribed to Wired and Interview, which come monthly. Due to my self-diagnosed disease of Bibliomnia, falling asleep shortly after reading, these magazines challenge me to overcome my illness. This condition haunted my college years, especially with dry history texts, but I'm intent on beating it. Be sure to walk for the cure (mild uppers) this summer. Fight Bibliomnia!

I don't think I've ever successfully completed an issue of The New Yorker, either for lack of interest in some stories or the utter sense of futility to finish a longer article with my "condition." Thank the publishing gods there aren't jumps.

This weekend I put the push on to get through it. "You can do it," I said to myself, another sign of the intelligentsia and schizophrenics--we aren't that different. Breezing through Woody Allen's and David Sedaris' articles I was in good shape. Over lunch I tackled the article on prison reform and thought to myself that I should write my congress person about it. No time though. I have to finish.

When I started to feel my eyelids getting heavy during the article about the Chairlady of China's paper plant, I got up and did some exercise. Strong mind, strong body. Sadly, there were still three more pages. I'll have to finish that one tomorrow. If only I could read while driving.

Atlantic is playing the part of forgotten middle child right now. I looked at the lineup of articles and shortly thereafter closed it. I have a month. It can happen. I can just replace a social life with reading. No big deal.

With the Tribune three days a week and Google Reader news feeds, I'm striving for being the best informed in the office. With "did you see that article in this week's New Yorker" serving as my entre to the Elite, I can assert my literacy among coworkers. I may not have time to work and unemployment will give me adequate time to read, but I will beat this disease.

Does anyone else get the impression that reading the paper or a magazine at your desk is worse than reading news online? I feel this stigma toward reading something other than my 1024 x 780 screen.

If you haven't been inspired already, go subscribe to a magazine or two. Do it for the kids.

Note: For those who wish to look literate without all the fuss, all it takes is an issue here or there on the desk. The key to look like you can read is to crease up the issue. Make some marks in the margin. It can be gibberish. No one will look that closely. Fold over a few pages and you're set.

...Go on

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Bloated Wallet in this Economy

It's inevitable. Pretty soon, I'll have to buckle down and get a murse.

No, it isn't that I'm making that much money in my new job. It's the influx of cards I've received because of said m├ętier.

Each week I get a new card in the mail. It started slowly with the ID card for work and the health insurance cards, one for medical the other for dental. Pretty standard. The following week yet another letter came in the post. This time it was a prescription drug card. Clearly not finished commandeering control of my wallet, I received a card for my flex spending account from the greedy-for-wallet-space insurance company.

There are only so many slots in my wallet. Most were already snuggly filled before taking on this job and its accompanying legion of plastic.

You can learn a lot about someone based on what they keep in their wallet. Probably more so based on what someone keeps in their purse, especially so if it's a man with a purse.

My wallet is robustly filled, but not to the point of overflowing or not being able to close. There are the bank cards; four total--2 credit, 2 debit. It's all about balance. Then the requisite driver's license is shrouded behind plastic in a hole barely big enough to hold it or enable me to get it out with any level of ease. My car insurance card, flimsy but it still takes up space.

In the middle I keep some business cards in the event I run into a cute girl who has neither a phone nor a pen to take down my number. (A guy can dream.)

The plastic sleeves intended for pictures house a decade old picture of my sister, a ticket stub from a Cubs/Diamondbacks game I went to several years ago and the third picture slot holds dust. I'd like to think I'm saving this spot for a girlfriend's picture, but based on recent endeavors in online dating, it may continue to be my dust receptacle.

Attention identity thieves and muggers: Since I carry so many insurance cards and outdated crap, I don't have the strength to carry any tangible form of money. You'll be lucky to find more than three dollars in my wallet at a given time. Currently, there is $0 and a receipt from getting my hair cut. So, if you want a dollar off your next trim, by all means take my wallet. Otherwise, you just inherited back problems. Joke's on you sucker.

...Go on

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Haikus for Online Love

Girls of match dot com:
Lascivious pics I sent,
Respond you did not.

I've winked. I've wooed. In the end I boohooed. Thirty emails have been sent, but only one response. The only interpretation is to take this personally. After a less than successful Valentine's night in Wrigleyville--the highlight being a young woman passing out while talking (more like slurring) to me, I swore off the bar scene and decided to try the online harem that is Match.

After being bombarded with emails that my love is waiting for me, I started a three day trial. I returned the favor to the "millions" of users on the site by sending snappy emails. The hours of day two are waning and I have not found my love nor an interested party. Viewing the profile and text boxes as chances to share who I am--I left out the part about living at home and only being on there for the trial--I've gone through three iterations of a bio. All riveting. All unique. None garnering admiration or beatnik snaps.

I've tried minimalism, humor and brutal honesty. Subsequently, I give up. I've always heard you find someone when you stop looking. After covert dating cessations, this break might be real.

Online love I sought
Unanswered prose in outbox
Back to junior high.
...Go on

I Don't Want an Office Ass

I'm fearful.

A cursory glance around this megalithic office and I am confronted with super-sized proportions. In terms of fruit, those waddling around in the lunch room resemble what some might endearingly call the pear shape.

Yes, I did watch the episode of Oprah where she discussed dressing for your shape.

Being a young male with the blessing of an Italian metabolism, my shape best resembles a zucchini, if the sides had all been run through a mandolin.

Despite the incentive of a monetary discount to join the gym, I have yet to enroll. In my six weeks here, I’ve succumbed to peer pressure. I am militant about packing a lunch in the morning, but when asked if I want to go out to lunch, my stomach and mouth say yes. Already labeled “cheap” by my coworkers, I don’t want to appear anti-social or stingy, so I have gone out a bit more often than I budgeted. Despite claiming the frugality defense, I was deemed cheap after affirmatively answering a question about the reuse of plastic lunch bags.

If the gym option weren’t enough to combat obesity, there’s also a Get Fit campaign for the next month trying to get people moving whether it’s walking, running or cycling. It’s a good start, but I think if they would just unchain me from my cubicle, it would prevent developing a monster pear ass.

...Go on

Friday, February 20, 2009

For Kristy

Theme song for Mini Kristy?

...Go on

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Forgive Me Padre

As we prepare for the Lenten season, the Catholic Church released the results of a recent study.

A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.

The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.

Also mentioned in the article was the protocol for going to confession (you should go annually) and the 7 MODERN sins, opposed to the old, mortal sins that are a one-way ticket to the inferno.

The big shocker was that people have stopped going to confession. So, to recap, in addition to a drop in church attendance, congregants are increasingly ambivalent about not going. How does the Church combat this? By creating new sins. Brilliant.

A recent survey of Catholics found nearly a third no longer considered confession necessary, while one in 10 considered the process an obstacle to their dialogue with God.



I'm not really sure what slothing is, but I'll look it up later.
...Go on

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The British are Coming!

Questions are opportunities. Every time someone asks me a question there are two answers: the serious and the farcical. More often than not I provide a sardonic retort to the posed question.

It was with great difficulty that I resisted the urge to answer the innocuous request to "Briefly describe yourself" for my companies weekly digest. Being on of the new hires, the communications director emailed me for some info. While I decided it would be best to play it straight, since my employer isn't a comedy venue, part of me still wishes I went with this:

Andrew was raised by a pack of wild hyenas. This upbringing has left him vulnerable to the sounds of laughter since he never learned to make the distinction between people laughing with him and at him. After the State intervened and separated him from his surrogate parents, he was thrown into a rapid immersion program and forced to abandon his native tongue. He still prefers a cave or open prairie to a cubicle, but it is an ongoing struggle. When dining out, he prefers his steaks rare and doesn't like cutlery. In his spare time, he likes chasing things and cleaning himself with his tongue. Plus, he's single.

In other news, work is going fine. I received my first strike for listening to music and not hearing my boss when he summoned me. The office policy is to write the song and artist on the board for the offense in question. Of course Pandora had to have an uber feminine song on: Title: "A Boy Like You." Despite clamoring that she wrote the song explicitly for me, my coworkers were not impressed. So much for claiming my devotion to jazz.

I have graduated the training program and have started writing real copy for real clients. Thus far, my filler content for the email bulletins has done quite well. On Friday, my three fillers each garnered about 200 clicks. My coworker/competition's fillers averaged about 40-50. I made sure to alert my boss of the victory.

Taking full advantage of my insurance, I went to the dentist during my lunch on Thursday. Fearful at the prospect of a stranger with a drill inside my mouth, I nervously waiting for my check-up. With great pleasure, I discovered that aside from my wisdom tooth with a cavity there were no other flagrant offenses. I think the dentist was disappointed. I asked how things were other than the wisdom teeth. He didn't want to admit it. He whimpered "fine." But I will need to have my wisdom teeth out. What joy.

In regard to the wisdom tooth with a cavity, he commented, "That's a ticking time bomb."

I replied, "So THAT's what that noise was."

He was not amused.

Next week, one of my coworkers returns from her business trip to the UK. I've asked when it's my turn to cross the pond. One of the managers from the home base will be joining us this week.

...Go on

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week One Report

No one ever told me work would be tiring. After all the glamorization of work from Disney movies, Office Space and TV shows like Murphy Brown, The Office and Cheers, I was prepared for a land of milk and honey. Thankfully, it isn't like the failed Fred Savage show Working.

The week started ominously with the miscommunication regarding my first day. After a prototypical night-before-a-new-job night's sleep, I went through my morning work routine then hit the roads. Arriving early, I was greeted by the receptionist, who was confused about my attendance. Turns out there was an error in my offer letter. My boss had told me Tuesday would be my first day, but the letter from HR informed me that I should show up Monday. My boss was right and HR was wrong. After a quick chat with my boss, it was back on the roads for home. The extra day provided me the chance to setup a new bank account and get insurance squared away on my new ride.

My second first day proved more standard. I met with HR and discussed the benefits available, which is pretty exciting. After an apology about the first day debacle, I asked "I still get paid for Monday, right?" The office does take Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in case you wondered.

The balance of the day and the week was spent training with my coworkers. I have a pretty firm grasp on the role I'll play and what they strive for. Next week will be my final week of training before I am let loose on the world to write captivating copy and impress clients everywhere. Look out world.

Odd things about working:
-Being followed into the Mens room. I've been followed in there twice. Both times I ended up washing my hands and trying to chat while darting my eyes all around the small room avoiding eye contact. Seriously, where am I supposed to look? Come on now. I appreciate my coworkers making an effort to get to know me, but is the Mens room the proper place for women?
-The setup of this office is a bit peculiar. Taking its queue from interior design shows on HGTV, they went for an open floor plan. Avoiding the stigma of cubicle land, they opted for half cubicles so you can see everyone and subsequently they can see you. It's nice in a way, but the majority of people in the office are sales folk who are always on the phone pursuing clients.
-De facto segregation in the cafeteria.
-A tale of two parking lots. There is an upper lot that is much closer to the entrance and a lower lot that has a gate. If you want to park closer you need to get to work earlier. This incentive and competition for 30 spots is a source of office conversation. After reading a few Econ books, the Elite lot as I'm dubbing it, encourages people to get to work early, while also making those who arrive later feel less of themselves. Well played.
-Casual dress. Once again, to the chagrin of my sister, I have landed a job with a very "relaxed" dress code. Office attire includes jeans and t-shirts.
-Inter-Office politics-The company I work for is part of a bigger company that occupies 95% of the huge building. There is some animosity toward my company for its casual dress. This acrimony is taken out on the field during the summer when they play Wiffle ball. I've been warned.
-Computer restrictions-I've dealt with this before, but it's the bane of my existence. Is iTunes really going to bring the company down? I need my Grammar Girl and The Bugle podcasts.
-Last but not least, learning to speak proper English. A few of my coworkers are from the UK. Therefore, I am on the accelerated course to learning to speak British. There's another bullet point on my resume. I plan on keeping a log of new words I come across. Last week I learned naffe (corny), no worries mate (I knew this one), brilliant and cheers. There were others but I neglected to write them down.

Late last week I learned the master plan for my role. I'll be doing copy writing and split the account management roles with one of the people on the creative team. Yeah responsibility!

I'll do better next week, if they let me in.
...Go on

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The BEAST: In Memoriam

The BEAST served its purpose and is now destined for the nearest chop shop where it will either be melted for low grade metal or violently dissembled. I had the beast for nearly four years and am happy to see it go. We did have our fun times together like when it overheated in the rain, the times it wouldn't start in the cold, the time it destroyed a new Honda Civic's rear in Huntley, the joy rides, the rides to the mechanic (these exceeded the joy rides), shuttling dates back to their dorms, impressing said dates with the "classic" nature of the beast. Oh memories.

I present a look back at what can only be described as The Beast

Suggested accompaniment:


...Go on

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hello Paycheck

It's official. After nearly a year and a half (and 109 blog posts) toiling at internships and scouring classifieds, I have landed a permanent position. Put simply: I GOT A JOB!

I will start in January and will be part of the creative team. My duties will include copywriting, design and media planning. There is talk that I'll have these things called "benefits."

This blog was started as a way to keep sane while looking for a job. I had no inkling that the hunt would take this long, but am relieved it is over. Now, as I assemble my wish list of consumer goods to purchase (a car is high on the list), I renounce my monastic, frugal ways.

To those still fighting the good fight:
  • Network--even if it doesn't lead to a job, it helps to have people to converse with and get advice from. Having a strong social network consisting of friends and family, as well as alumni helps support you and prevent you from hitting the bottom of the pool. Also, don't be afraid to reach out to alumni. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to offer you their advice and share their path to their current job.

  • Setup search agents to do the work for you. I used, which searches several sites.

  • Find a way to be creative. For me, this blog served as a forum to write about the news and the plight of the recent graduate.

  • Volunteer--Whenever you feel that your life is horrible, you need to realize that it is always worse for someone else. Volunteering enables you to get out of the house and give some of your time to help others. An added bonus is you may make some connections.

  • Faith--Probably the biggest thing that got me through this period beside my mom and sister was having faith that I would end up wherever I was meant to be. Pouring on the prayers didn't hurt either.

  • I will continue to post about stories that catch my eye and working always provides stories. Thanks for reading.
    ...Go on

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    If really bored

    For the Obama obsessed, your very own Obama game. ...Go on