A Cold Day in Hell

Well, it’s the End of Days here in Austin, folks. For the last 48 hours, the news has been a grim parade of warnings on the radio, the TV, the internet: Stay inside! Do not attempt to contact loved ones! Lock your doors! Mercy kill your children! Prepare to use your orifices as currency to escape certain death at the hands of roaming bands of marauders!

I’m told we’re caught in the cross hairs of God’s very own wrath. Quiver before it, ye mortals.

mushroom-cloud_897102_GIFSoup.comNice try, but the Texan apocalypse looks nothing like that. Behold:

sleetwithface

The beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell in Texas  shall wonder,what is this SLEET?

Yes, sleet. Sleet has transformed the proud population of Austin into a quivering pile of  yellow-bellied Jello babies. I mean, management distributed “In case of a Freeze” disaster manuals to everyone in my apartment complex last night. HR sent an “EMPLOYEES: Don’t be killed!” email yesterday at 2pm. Schools were delayed or closed long before the storm system approached the state. The streets are empty, save for the odd scrap of newspaper that blows across the road, borne aloft by arctic winds.

Let’s review the current weather forecast, shall we?

EVERYONE PANIC

EVERYONE PANIC

Mass hysteria, you contagious bitch, you’ll never have me! My Midwestern ass understands the mechanics of operating a vehicle in wintry conditions. I get that my pipes never have and never will freeze and explode, and I know we aren’t on the cusp of a societal collapse that will force us all to barter the profane use of our mouths and other parts to escape certain cannibalization. And yet….

And yet this morning I was peeking through the slats of my blinds into the parking lot to gaze upon the natural disaster that had been wrought upon the city overnight, praying to God my eyes would be met with horrors so I could just stay in my pajamas and drink coffee all day on the futon and not die like a dog in the frosty wreckage of my car at the bottom of a Hill Country crevasse.

But a couple of puddles and a light rain are all that met my eyes, and too proud to hide, I drove to work without incident and nary a patch of ice or snowflake met me along the way. But as I sit here in my mostly deserted office, drinking coffee, writing emails, billing, estimating, being mundane in every way, I wonder…do the Jello babies have it right?

Forever Unclean

We found a dead cockroach on the living room floor last week.

Little did we know, that was the best possible scenario for meeting a cockroach, for if you meet a cockroach and it’s NOT dead, it’s scrambling over your dishes in the pantry as you shout every profanity you know with Megan screaming and hopping from foot to foot across the room while you fling all of the boxed appliances out of the cabinet onto the floor and you stare that twitchy motherfucker in the eyeballs and it unleashes its secret roach speed and sprints for the crack between the cabinet and the wall where you know all its family and friends are waiting, breeding, building whole roach civilizations in YOUR FUCKING WALLS that YOU’RE paying money for therefore only YOU have the right to live and have sex in them, and you know that if this roach escapes he and all his roach buddies will be back, they will have won, so you start bludgeoning the general area the cockroach is darting around in with the tool in your hand, a cup –

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This cup.

– until you manage to come down on its ass with such force that the blunt lip of the tumbler severs the bug’s disgusting head from its disgusting body with a mighty crunch and spray of bug juice and you fall back on your heels, panting, swearing that you will not rest until all cockroaches are still and dead and cold in the ground by your hand and Megan stares at you because she’s never seen your murder face until now.

Then, when you think peace reigns again in the kitchen, everything gets much, much worse. The cockroach head starts flinging itself around by the antennae and the roach’s brethren stir in the walls audibly for you’ve unwittingly given them half a dead cockroach body to consume (Cockroaches are willing cannibals, you see, and can also survive on an endless loop of eating their own shit. The life cycle and habits of the American Cockroach prove, irrevocably, that there is no god.). I ask you, which is more horrifying: the sight of a disembodied head rocking itself in a wide, panicky circle, or the scritch-scritch sound of an unknown number of enemy bugs in your walls?

Wordlessly, Megan and I agree that now we are at war.

Continue reading

The Enemy is Everywhere

Austin, TX. Monday 7:56 am:

“WHAT. IS. THAT.”

“What’s what?” Erin answered from her room.

“WHAT. THEFUCK. IS. THAT,” I repeated, my tone drawing her out of other room immediately.

A very large…something. On the floor. Unmoving. But with insect qualities. My brain wanted it to be a rabbit foot key chain.

Sometimes Erin wears barrettes and brooches like this.

Denial.

Is it…an orange and black feathery accessory that fell off of one of Erin’s purses?

Is it a moth? It MUST be a moth. Look, those..that..part appears to be…wings? And antennae. I walked to the other side of the couch, away from it while Erin performed her inspection from a safe distance.

“Uhhmm. I think it’s a roach?” Erin offered delicately.

I thought of my bed and its proximity to this creature. Cottage cheese and coffee threatened to come up on me. I have a hard enough time getting breakfast down as it is. I couldn’t get any nearer than three feet to help confirm. I couldn’t help confirm.

We put a tupperware over it and some weight on it and resolved to tell my pal Juan, the building guy, as soon as possible. “We will tell them. And they will SPRAY.”

I got in my car to head to work. My breakfast was still sitting high, ready to defy gravity with one mental misstep. I hoped his friends wouldn’t come to visit him while we’re gone. I considered the warnings that we’d received from our friends: bugs are a given here. I didn’t believe it, but here it was. Fruition. Then I wondered what other kinds of bugs we would encounter here in the wilds of Texas.

You see, Erin and I, we have a long and loathsome history with bugs. Continue reading

American Idle

So this whole “trying to get a job” thing has turned out way worse than I imagined in the months leading up to this move. I should’ve known better. Positivity and optimism really aren’t my bag. But I was hypnotized by the availability and variety of jobs (and tacos) this town promised.

I’m not sure what to attribute the difficulties to, as Erin found a job and is (happily? unhappily? It’s hard to tell) employed and has been for quite some time. So I can’t help but think, maybe it’s me? Then again, maybe it’s them. All of them. But maybe we all have our fate. Maybe the world is shit. Maybe everything happens for a reason. Maybe God is dead. Maybe the next interview will go really well Continue reading

FML DMV

I should know by now that I exist on a sine curve of karmic reactions. For every positive event, there is a corresponding low of equal magnitude. I moved to Texas with minimal hitches!! I landed a job!! Mad Men season 5 is on Netflix two weeks before the new season starts!!!! So many consequence-free happy goings-on….I have been feeling indestructible of late and for this, today, I have suffered. Foolhardy mortal am I to think that I could visit the DMV unscathed, unraped in my more tender orifices.

Behold this map showing the location of the nearest driver’s license office:

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Thanks, DMV.org, for shrouding your lies in a veil of gov’t legitimacy

If you’re thinking that looks suspiciously like a neighborhood, you’re correct. It is a neighborhood, and a cul-de-sac is no fit place for a government office. I was acting as navigator, Megan driving, and this fact dawned on us slowly. With each turn the houses became more hopeless, lawns strewn with more broken toys until at last the grass became so untended that we couldn’t even see front doors.”Peach Grove Road”, indeed. We pulled up to the address we’d been told by the internet was the correct and real location of a correct and real State of Texas DMV. Here’s what we saw:

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So about American infrastructure…

So. The unpleasantness had begun. A second consultation of the internet revealed that there was another DMV of a less dubious nature not too far away. Off we sped, still unaware that we had only just begun the downward trajectory of our karmic journey. We wove out of the depressing neighborhood into a depressing business district, barely escaping death from multiple blind people driving in whatever fucking lane they so chose and at whatever speed would result in the most fatalities. Apparently knowing HOW to drive is not a requirement in Texas. so I supposed we wouldn’t have to take any tests when we arrived at the DMV. Silver lining.

At last we spotted our destination strip mall. Could it be? Could the parking lot really be so empty at 1 pm on a Friday? At last, a turn of luck! The lines were going to be short, we’d be back to our lives in less than an hour! Megan and I trotted to the front door, laughing breathlessly about how silly the adventure had been so far. My hand was on the door when-

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Good Friday: a state holiday in 12 of the 50 states, who knew?

So this afternoon, while we’re all off work not getting our driver’s licenses renewed, let us observe not only Jesus Christ’s death and crucifixion, but also the Passion of Erin, who’s physical, mental and spiritual anguish this day hit an abysmal low.

Blow Jobs

Did I enter into this situation voluntarily? Yes. Did I assume the first few weeks would be depressing and frustrating? Yes. But did I also tell myself that of all the job markets to willfully enter Austin is about as promising as any? And that the pain of job searching and temporary poverty is far outweighed by the promise of better jobs, not to mention a more robust life seasoned with peer socializing and a spicy blend of food and music and entertainment? Yes and yes.

<Begin Job Search>

I can think of few scenarios as soulrapingly horrible in which to knowingly place yourself as ‘requiring employment’. It’s starts off innocently enough with a standard list of complaints that anyone might have under the pressure of a dwindling bank account and few prospects.

“Oh damn,

1.) …this is a disappointing selection of opportunities available here on (Craigslist, Monster, Indeed, Bright, Careerbuilder, SimplyHired, LinkedIn, USAJobs, AdministrativeJobs, TexasEmployment, etc). Bummer.”

2.) …this job here that I’m really interested in only pays a little more than the carwash down the street. Balls.”

3.) …this job requires me to write a painstakingly detailed and specific cover letter selling myself like a two dollar whore. Blurgh.”

Fair enough. These issues are to be expected. If getting hired were easy, everyone-

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Yeah.

<Begin Downward Spiral into Job Search Hell>

However, after the first hour or two of active employment seeking, an assault of inconvenient and/or mockingly stupid obstacles begins and it makes you doubt that a.) this kind of hoop-jumping nonsense is ultimately worth your time for said job and b.) you are even interested in an employer with such a deplorably asinine application process.

Examples of this kind of dickitude include but are not limited to:

Second Person Job Descriptions“You are detailed-oriented and a real go-getter! You love to be ORGANIZED and can’t sleep at night if your memos aren’t perfect! Now PROVE IT!”

“You are an ass-kissing cheerleader! You’re desperate enough for a job that you would just about anything wouldn’t you? Now down on your knees and prove it!”

Parsing ResumesWhat do you mean your previous job title isn’t “August 2010”?

Please upload your resume here so we can fill in the boxes all wrong and you have to go back and fix everything anyway. For the nineteenth time. This hour.

InternshipsHere, click on this awesome and exciting new job! (Just kidding, I mean, um, unpaid internship. We don’t have any money for you. Can’t believe you were dumb enough to click on that!)

Get your shit together people. If I wanted a job that doesn’t pay, I would have a blog.

And my favorite, Salary BracketsPlease enter your minimum and maximum salary requirements.

Yes, because I just feel really uncomfortable making more than $70,000 a year. In fact, if that’s what this position pays, I’m going to need to decline right now. Too much. I thrive only on Ramen and off brand toilet paper. Thanks though.

no

<Continue Downward Spiral into Total Self Reproach and Misery (It’s Getting Darker)>

I assume that for people with a definitive degree and desirable “skill” (ie software development, accounting, nursing, you get the idea), this process isn’t so brutal. You have a career goal in mind, you can tailor your application and communications to that career goal and the rest of these ‘bumps’ are just there to get your heart rate up.

But for someone like me with what has proven a fairly useless liberal arts degree and whose primary experience lies in clerical work and customer service and delicately attending to the egos of the assholes whom I ‘administratively assist’ (a very fucking under appreciated talent if I do say so), this routine gets really demeaning.

“Tell us why you want this job and why you love administrative work.”

Because I need to pay my rent and because fuck you.

“List all job related training or skills you possess and machines or office equipment you can use, such as: calculators, printers, computer equipment, types of software”

SInce you are unemployed and have loads of time, let’s play a game that will totally waste minutes of your life you’ll never get back and that will make you feel like a lousy piece of shit. Close your eyes and pretend you’re in an office. Now, list all the things you see there that plug in or require batteries. Bonus points if you can name more advanced equipment like paper shredders and cd-roms. Double bonus points for jump drives.

Office Administrator: Duties include supporting c-level executives, managing all incoming calls and documents, greeting guests, assisting with client relations, and general housekeeping.

And general housekeeping. Meaning, it is your job to clean up after the lazy jerks who are far too good to do their own dishes because, well, you fall underneath them in the career hierarchy dontcha know? Also, since we put it in the ad you can’t get mad when we treat you like a servant k? K.

Or worse even, “If a job with low pay, limited hours, a sometimes high amount of stress, and no benefits interests you, please reply to this posting with your resume and a cover letter that tells a bit about yourself and why you want this position”

These are positively heinous hurdles you might encounter when searching for a job. The mental energy required to battle these constant insults to my intelligence has drained me of any capacity to truly enjoy Austin (and living in general) right now. And it is having the perverse effect of making me expect a far better job than I’m probably even qualified for, because surviving this with your psyche intact is a fucking profound and unsung accomplishment.

everything

<Job Seeker: Meet Rock Bottom>

I’m not even sure I will survive with my psyche intact. I’ve found myself clicking on the less savory categories of Craigslist, wondering what “other ways” there might be to make some money.

Single Executive needs help (Austin/Round Rock)

Single male executive needs open minded female help with errands, odd jobs.Please email me and let me know a little about yourself and how much you charge. I also would like to see a photo of you. If you’re open minded and can give a massage even better! Perfect for college student I pay well.

Looking To Hire New Escorts Start Today… (Austin)

We are a busy agency looking to hire a few new Thin escorts white & hispanic,ladies must be 18+, have a drive to make money, sexy an attractive. We are currently hiring for the day shift, drivers are provided.If interested please send 2 pic’s ( face shot included),along with name, availability, contact info, start Toady.

Well guess what? I’m available.

i'm available pope

Wild Wild Life

A few weeks ago I watched this video of lab chimpanzees being retired to a chimp sanctuary after fifty years of captivity. They had never felt grass under their feet. They stopped and stared at the sky for minutes because their whole lives were spent enclosed. They, full of caution and wonder, touched each other for the first time. It was moving and makes you want to club your fellow humans for being such assholes. (Feel the feelings here.)

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Why not me?!

I watched this video and thought, Man, that’s some serious emotion. Look at those happy primates just hanging out and having a good time and being FREE for the first time in their whole lives. I wonder what that feels like. I wonder if I’ll experience anything even CLOSE to that in this 21st century, hyper-connected world we live in…

With regret, I closed my laptop and looked away. I had a move to attend to, bills to pay and boxes to pack, a car making a shitty and curious noise, rent to make, resumes to update, cover letters to bullshit.This was the heavy price one pays for roaming and committing to hobo-dom. Ugly responsibility follows no matter where you go.

But I arose the morning of March 12th and knew something was different. On the wind was the smell of cigarettes, patchouli and beer. The air practically hummed with the collected bass lines of a million bands playing on patios throughout the city. Megan joined me on the porch and we gazed at the choked traffic of thousands of concert goers hoping to catch a Yeah Yeah Yeahs set. The meaty, sexy music times of SXSW had arrived.

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“But I don’t want to go among mad people.”
“Oh you can’t help that. We’re all mad here.”

 If we were better people we would have turned our backs on that scene right that minute. We would have closed the blinds and logged in to LinkedIn and found work. We would not have filled water bottles with vodka, applied sunscreen and cute underwear and walked to the bus stop. We would not have followed the trails of cords and amps like bread crumbs into the hellmouth that is 6th Street. We would not have returned day after day to revel and forget what bands we’d seen, to wonder where all the bruises came from, how we got home at 4 am, why we were so tired, who was texting us from that number.

But we were captive chimpanzees until that morning. What were we supposed to do – climb back into our lab cages and ask to be shot up with carcinogens again? (That is a mild description of what job hunting feels like, yes.) We had to stare into the sky because we’d never seen it before! We had to day drink and dance and get put on lists because when was I going to have zero obligations to attend to for five whole days again?

I’m stiff and tired. I still have no job. There’s blood from a mystery wound on one of my t-shirts. But I have no regrets. This monkey went to heaven last week.