Comments: Soap Opera

As well as you write, I can't imagine a local newspaper or periodical wouldn't add you to the staff. Or perhaps an english or writing instructor at a local community college. Even work as a substitute teacher can pay reasonably well.

Posted by Ted at June 9, 2004 04:11 PM

Egads, that's quite a story about your childhood, Loren.

I guess I should be more appreciative to my parents for a happy childhood and decent family life.

Posted by Steve at June 9, 2004 06:34 PM

I hope that all will work out as well as it can. And let me suggest that public libraries and university libraries typically have free internet access from which you can continue telling your story.
Best wishes.

Posted by chris at June 9, 2004 08:28 PM

My thanks to Ted, Steve and Chris for the above responses.

Unfortunately, finding a job on a publication is almost certainly out of the question. I have a very solid 30 years experience in journalism and other sorts of professional writing and editing, with a number of awards and commendations for my work, plus four years part-time college teaching experience, but all of this means absolutely nothing in today's journalistic and academic workplaces.

In the first place, I am a "patriarchal oppressor" -- a Caucasian male, the ethnicity and gender considered least desirable in the academic and journalistic job markets, and my age merely intensifies my undesirability. But even without the gender and ethnicity factors, the age-prejudice in the American job market in general -- especially against white males -- is every bit as vicious as racial prejudice was three decades ago. In the third place, since I began this blog, it is no longer a secret that I am politically conservative. But even without the added disadvantage of my politics, any normal job quest is doomed, as I know from bitter experience: during an earlier job search, when my work history was much more current and my ignorance of Quark was not a handicap, I sent out literally dozens of resumes to all sorts of publications. My ratio of responses to mailings was exactly zero.

Today, the fact I don't know Quark (a proprietary program peculiar to Apple that bears NO similarity whatsoever to anything else in computing), is an absolute and forever insurmountable barrier. Quark is used by every computerized publication in America. It is not compatible with any other hardware, operating system or software and is so idiosyncratic it cannot be self-taught or learned via on-line tutorials. The only ways to acquire the requisite knowledge are either to be hired by an employer willing to teach it to me -- something that is profoundly improbable at best -- or to go back to school at an Apple-equipped community college or four-year university for approximately two years at a bare minimum cost of about $20,000 -- something I could not possibly afford.

A similar educational/financial barrier prohibits me from substitute teaching. My BA is in liberal arts – an interdisciplinary program combining history, sociology, mythology and art. Indeed it is a perfect background for a high-school social-studies teacher. But under Washington state law, to substitute teach I would have to go back to school and get a second bachelor's degree in education: 90 hours of education credits. The cost is prohibitive, and there are no financial aids available to older Caucasian males.

The normal avenue of escape for someone like me is to start a business. But this requires very substantial financial resources, and these I have never had. Nor have I ever had the supportive family most Americans enjoy either; the reason it took me until I was 36 to finish college is that I did it all on my own: my father told me to my face he did not believe I was "worth the investment." Thus the only help I had was the very minimal assistance of the Vietnam-era G.I. Bill, lots of work-study jobs, and a few very small (and long since paid off) student loans.

Ironically, the fact I didn't get a degree until age 36 is now held against me by many interviewers. "You had all the advantages of being a white male but you didn't finish college until you were 36. This indicates you weren't very serious about doing college-level work. This job here is very demanding. It is college-level work and then some. Since your record shows you couldn't or wouldn't do it before, why should we trust you with it now..."

The above lines, or something very close to them, were spoken by a (white female) managing editor who was interviewing me in New York City in 1986 and illustrate the gender-war atmosphere of the American workplace, an atmosphere perhaps even more intensified today, with political "correctness" and victim-identity cultism now under vehement attack.

In addition to journalism and military service, I have worked as a printer, a commercial fisherman, a laborer and a general carpenter. My printing and graphic-arts skills were rendered obsolete years ago by automation. I would return to commercial fishing in a New York Minute – I was the engineer on a purse-seiner and I loved every second of it – but I am too crippled by arthritis and back injuries, the same handicaps that bar me from construction work. In truth, the only jobs open to me are bottom-level things, minimum wage McJobs: clerking at a 7-11 or some equivalent. Apart from the infinite shame and public humiliation such work invariably represents for someone of my former stature, I am physically unable to do it: my bad back and arthritic knees and ankles will not tolerate the mandatory 12-hour shifts -- non-union shop, hence no breaks, no benefits and no employee rights, plus always on your feet, forever on excruciatingly painful hard floors.

As I said, only a miracle...and the only miracles that ever happened in my life were the ruinous kind.

As to the use of Internet connections at libraries, indeed there are such things locally, but they require reservations at least a week in advance and are limited to 15 minutes at a time. Thus there is no way to use these facilities to post anything significant to a site. University computers are typically off- limits to everyone but students, faculty and staff.

As to families – I envy those who have known the unconditional love of parents and kin. It is something I cannot even begin to imagine. ///

Posted by loren at June 11, 2004 12:46 AM

What I can say is that your story has confirmed that what I'm about to do IS the right thing, not a selfish thing. It just has to be done. Buh - bye, thanks for the memories, now get the hell out of my life.

As for your dilemma...I know that there are some free ISPs out there so you don't have to pay to get online. Granted, they are dial up but you can still get online for free.

I don't know what other costs you accrue by blogging but if you can at least get online, will this blog not still be here?

And as for your last paragraph in your comment: I can't imagine it either. It's taken me 34 years to recognize that no matter how well this dog acts, it's going to get kicked every. single. time. So, enough. The end of all of that is coming soon. I cannot wait to be free and clear of this pack and on my own to make a new pack.

Best of luck to you Loren.

Posted by Serenity at June 11, 2004 07:36 AM

Whatever happens, yes, this blog will continue to be here. Where there is a will, there is a way; as it turns out, my stepmother works in a public library, and she has told me that additional time online can be arranged in advance. Loren can always email me his texts, and I will post them for him.

He will not be silenced.


Posted by Linda at June 11, 2004 04:28 PM

If the world sucks, there is a reason for it. The worst thing you can do is to be stuck in an old identity. It doesn't matter what you wrote or who you were when you were somebody, the only thing that matters today is what you are doing now and what contribution you are making to others.

We are all responsible for our current conditions,
no matter how much it seems like "They" have done it to us. If you cannot get the idea that it within your power to change your life for the better, you need to find somebody to help.

If you cannot find it in you to help somebody else, you need to reexamine your values.

Nobody is entitled to a free ride. We get back from life much the same as we give to others.

Posted by David at June 12, 2004 02:05 AM

Serenity, my only advice is to be very careful that when you form your new pack, you do not inadvertantly duplicate the old. Indeed, to avoid that pitfall may require professional help, though that too is a decision to make very carefully and with a great deal of both research and introspection. Thank you for your response; I'm truly glad my circumstances and the insights therefrom were helpful. Blessed Be your quest for liberation.

Posted by loren at June 12, 2004 01:18 PM

David I will respond on the main thread to your comments here. See "Soap Opera II: an Open Letter to David."

Posted by loren at June 13, 2004 03:40 AM