Sung to the tune of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. (Sorry for the extra verse.)
I dreamed a dream of future clear,
Of boyhood plans and vague ambitions.
This thing that I would call “career,”
With cowboy hats and lunar missions.
But then there came the bills to pay,
And dreams were something one did sleeping.
My goals for life I’d put away
Deep in my brain, for safer keeping.
My harshest critics roll their eyes,
Betraying lowered expectation.
And so it comes as no surprise
That I would join in their negation.
The life that I have been denied,
I see so many others living.
Times I thought I’m satisfied
I can count upon one hand.
But then this woman, near my age,
Without a job, with modest dressing,
She sings a song, and she’s the rage,
The night she shows the world her blessing.
On hearing this, the time has come
To face that I’m my only critic.
I must cheer for my own team
Before I kill
The dream I dreamed.
Lest you haven’t yet seen the video, here’s a link. (They’ve disabled embedding.)
When a woman miscarries, they sometimes give the mother-to-have-been a funeral for the fetus. Amputees often have ceremonies for their dead limb. Is it possible that I need a parting ceremony for a period of my life? Eight productive years spent languishing? Am I in a grieving period for the prime of my career?
The period in question started in the year 2000, at a company that was just getting the idea to circle the wagons. The eight or nine small-town newspapers in Westchester and Rockland Counties, NY, bought throughout the 20th century by Gannett (of USA Today fame), were now one regional entity: The Journal News. A year later, they hired me for the art unit in their marketing department.
Till then, what I’d been doing for a living, clients would call temping, but we temps always call agency freelancing. It was one such assignment that The Journal News made permanent. I’d hopscotch between Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT, meeting new people in different shops, seeing and comparing different workflows, and overhearing the button-down communication of scrappy small companies.
Gannett was by far the biggest corporation I had ever worked for. And knowing full well what a hoary tradition a newspaper is necessarily saddled with, I took my cubicle with trepidation, suspecting that I was now a cog in a monstrously vast gearbox. Continue reading
Take this job and blog it.
“Are you alright?”
That was the question from my supervisor, as I felt his hand on my shoulder. Clearly, a concern for my welfare.
The day before, he had also caught me with my eyes closed. Oh, okay, sleeping. Microsleeping. The day before, there was a progress bar making its pokey way toward the finish line. One of these operations I don’t want to disturb, out of a decades-old fear of a crash, which I justify today by maintaining the fastest tasking, for people or computers, is unitasking. So my eyes close briefly.
But today, I was looking at a printout of something I’d just finished designing. I was sitting up, and my chin was resting on my chest. I had worked through my lunch to get this design through, and was having blood sugar issues, which I had much worse four years and 40 pounds ago. I would have startled myself awake in a few seconds, had my supervisor not come along.
“Freedom of choice is what you’ve got. Freedom from choice is what you want.” —Devo
One of the things that hit me like a ton of bricks on my 50th birthday in October, which triggered my social media odyssey, is tragically typical to men my age: the realization of how little I’ve accomplished, as compared to how much anyone from age 1 to 49 assumes they’ll get accomplished by now.
I won’t describe my current domestic and career situation too much, since you’ll only think I’m depressed about it, which I’m not. In fact, I anticipate this post packaging things in such a tight little nugget that it will actually help me proceed. It’s like how a panic about money ends or lessens when you arrive at an actual dollar amount, even if it’s worse than you thought. Or when a doctor names the illness you have, because a diagnosis is less agony than not knowing.
Also, at the end, is a shameless request for your advice and counsel. This is a therapy blog post (good idea for a category), and I’m on the couch!
I am a man of ideas. And since my job doesn’t require ideas, or at least not of a broad range, I think of ideas on my own, for my own edification. All sorts of business plans, careers and avocations lay seige to my forebrain for weeks on end. Let me share some:
Welcome, Liz Strauss of Successful-Blog.com and your Blog-To-Show entourage, to my little corner of heaven.
There’s no real functionality here except the posts. They came hot and heavy the first two weeks I started this, but got boring even to me soon after. I usually allot early Sunday morning to updating, which is why I’ve reconciled myself to doing a sort of meta-post today. I’ve gotten better at it; in particular, my recollections of a visit to England and a parsing of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July stand out in recent memory.
Tomorrow’s post should be a turning point for me. I’m inviting as many replies as I can garner, because it will be in the form of a huge question, a solicitation for advice. The subject: what should I be when I grow up. Or more to the point, which. I have this attic of viable ideas, any one of which could bring me satisfaction and success, some even an income. The reason why they’re all in this metaphorical attic is the crux of the question.
I can’t devote the time to typing it all out today, but I’ll give it its due attention tomorrow. So stay tuned! I’ll be pinging particular Twitter followers whose opinions I would value. Previously, I attempted quantity of readership. Tomorrow, I’ll be hoping for quality of response.
Thanks, and again, welcome. If you see any thing you like, name your price!