February 27, 2010

my debut 2

When I release my book The Glitch on Amazon, it will be a major internal creative release for me. I drafted the book out six years ago, mostly while taking the graveyard shift watching over my father while he was dying. It's not a morbid book at all. It's a coming-of-age humor story. In fact, it's an extraordinarily simple arch, a paint-by-numbers story, as my friend John Lash once described it. Since that first draft, I've re-written it in first-person, returned to third-person, cut it up until i killed it, brought it back to life, forgot about it for more than two years, then touched it up again. I know the story inside-out as a result, where it accelerates, decelerates, where my tricks are. Through the evolution of this book I learned the craft of story-telling. My little boys inside me are the real authors of this story, since it's full of boyish enthusiasm.

After my father died and I quit journalism, I spent the next five years on my spiritual journey, listening to the call and going where it said and doing what it suggested. The Glitch has been with me through it all, and now I get to let it go, like a child into the world. The gifts the universe provides to us once we truly surrender are never-ending and full of dazzling color and life. And they keep coming and coming.

February 26, 2010

my debut!

It’s becoming a joy to write this blog for the two readers I have, maybe three. In a way, it’s more meaningful to write for you guys who I know and respect than for the thousands I wrote for as a journalist, not that it wasn’t exhilarating to be a daily newspaper reporter. It was. But sometimes, things work out just perfectly. (Oftentimes, actually) The evolution of my writing has come to a place I cherish, and it’s headed toward a place much more exhilarating than any of the journalism I used to do. (Rungs of the same ladder is what it seems like)

So anyway, now that I’ve cleared my throat – a journalism term for ‘burying your lead,’ or more specifically, writing superfluous shit at the beginning of a story – I’d like to share a little about what I’m feeling as I get ready to release my first two books. Geek Sex was my first, but it was just an ebook. And until I release print versions, I haven’t released shit, as far as I’m concerned.

Releasing them is going to happen within the next couple weeks, though I’ve been thinking the next couple weeks for a couple months now. But I’m not complaining, at the moment anyway. By luck, divine movement, cosmic intervention, my higher self directing traffic, whatever, I get to be a part of the online publishing revolution just beginning in our world. In the 5,000-year history of human civilization, the printed word and its publication is one of the most important developments of all time. And in my own very small way, as a writer and reader, it’s pure excitement to be here during the time when the power of mass publication shifts from the money interests back to the regular person. It may be similar in some ways to when the printing press was invented, which was indeed a revolutionary time.

From within my own small role, it’s a giant gift from the universe to be here and be a part of it all.

February 19, 2010

census vi

I kept looking for distractions from the test itself, and finding them, like in the front row. I loved her heels and Japanese-style jacket, and that big weave and that pretty pink flower in it. I loved those black-rimmed glasses and her dark, rich complexion, and no make-up because why would you wear make-up for the event that is taking the test to work for the 2010 census? I mean, I didn’t shower. And I liked that while people in the back of the classroom were arguing over who should be disqualified for opening their test booklets too soon, she turned around and looked at me for longer than a moment. And then she watched me again, and not just because I was laughing hysterically at the scene in back.

So between the carnival that was people getting disqualified for opening their test booklets too soon -- I can’t believe someone tattled, but then again, the directions were quite clear -- and Ms. Big Weave’s gravitational pull, I was able to forget about the fact that I was taking an important test. I ended up getting a 26 out of 28 correct. The universe had indeed come through for me and given me what I had asked for. Maybe I should have asked to actually land a job with the census and not just smoke the test because the phone hasn’t rung yet with any offers.

It was a good feeling, having $120,000 at my disposal. It was an easy decision to take some “time off” from my career with that money in the bank. The economy was good. I envisioned returning to the real world, i.e. to a job, in about a year with most of the pile of dough intact. This is what I envisioned. This is not what happened.

I figured if I blew all my money, it would last a couple years, three at the most. I had a car, an apartment, I went out on the weekends.

Instead, my money lasted for more than five years. It’s hard to believe. And I had a lot of fun. I went to France, Italy, and to Chicago and Cleveland and Las Vegas and Portland numerous times. I lived in New England with an apartment and car for five months, in Southern California in a beach cottage for four months, in the off-seasons at a motel on the beach.

My money lasting for so long and providing for whatever I wanted to do is my story of Jesus and the loaves and fishes, only I didn’t feed the people. I mostly fed myself. And you know, Jesus appeared to be cool with that.

census v

There were people of all ages taking this test to become a census worker. Young and old, and in-between. People in their seventies were taking the test, and not because they had nothing better to do. They needed the money. Everyone I talked to was actively looking for work, even if they already had a job. I might have been the only person who hadn’t been looking for a job during the past five years. Welcome to the American Job Market, Ed.

Over the past several years there’s been a steady trickle of occasional politicians retiring and saying something to the effect that our system doesn’t work for the people anymore, such as Sen. Evan Bayh just this week. So many of us taking the test had little hope to ever make again what we used to make. Worse, our elderly need work and can’t find much. It sure was a nice five years off, now welcome back to the world, Ed.

February 18, 2010

census iv

Working as a census stoolie is the first serious job I’ve chased since I was employed many years ago as a daily newspaper reporter. I left my full-time job in 2004, sold some real estate, got a little inheritance and have lived on $120,000 for more than five years, in a variety of places with a variety of people, as well as alone, which is my preference. The pile of money officially vanished last month, so I moved in with my mom, not my preference, although I’m happy to have a place to stay, for sure. Still, having one's funds run out and having moved in with one's mom will light the proverbial fire under one's ass. When my family recently celebrated my little nephew's birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, I inquired about employment. I am not too proud to work at Chuck E. Cheese. And I might just work there if my census stoolie aspirations aren’t fulfilled.

The first step in the fulfillment process was passing the 28-question standardized application test. I arrived early at the local recreation center with a downloaded application already fill-out. I waited in line to get my materials from the moderator and showed her what a good student I was by displaying my completed application. I ended up filling out another application and re-writing the explanation of my piddly conviction for something resembling civil disobedience a few years ago. And then I showed the moderator my changes to see if she thought I did a good job and she did and I was very happy. And all this was well and good because I was finding any distraction I could in order to not stress about the ensuing standardized test that might be the difference between seventeen-bucks-an- hour and working at Chuck E. Cheese for minimum wage.

February 17, 2010

census iii

I studied for the test to become a census taker, for five minutes. I downloaded the practice exam from the website and came up with an answer for the first question. I checked the answer code and discovered that I was incorrect. Getting a question wrong was not surprising. Getting it right would have been surprising. I attempted to do the next four problems, really concentrating all available mental powers. When I checked the answer code, I discovered that I had in fact gotten all four correct. Stunning, really. I still had some mental powers after all. I decided not to do anymore of the practice exam. My test-taking confidence was at a lifetime high. Four in a row! I simply could not risk that confidence evaporating by attempting to add fractions. Besides, one of my divine gifts in this world is rationalizing any option that’s clearly less work than others.
I was ready for the real census exam the next day, or as ready as I was ever going to be, and put out the following message to the starry night sky: “I want to do well on this test. From, your homie, Ed.”

February 16, 2010

census ii

How did I come to apply to be a census worker? Well, I follow the call. That means when I'm called to do something, and that something seems to be appropriately in-line with what i feel like doing, or sometimes not at all, I do it. In the case of applying to be a census worker, the call arrived in the form of a man i have come to recognize as a regular customer at my regular coffee shop. He happened to be leaving when I was arriving. He waved me over while packing up his satchel.
"You need a part time job?" he asked.
Was it my uncombed hair, my sleepy eyes or my dazzling Bob Marley hoodie that gave away my employment status?
"How much does it pay?" I asked.
"Seventeen bucks an hour," he said.
Clearly, this man was Jesus. He handed me a 2010 Census card, told me there was a practice exam online, and that was about when I began experiencing sphincter issues related to past test-taking experiences.

February 15, 2010

census i

I am a terrible test-taker. It’s not that I’m smart and don’t test well, it’s that I’m not smart and really don’t test well. After openly admitting I was a bad test-taker, I was told by a dean of a prestigious university out east that I certainly would be accepted at the school for the masters in journalism program, even despite a low standardized test score. Then I took the test and got rejected. I inquired. “Not that low,” the dean told me. I retook the test and, well, with the sudden pressure of added expectations to perform better, I bombed even worse. I should study. I used to study but discovered over the years it didn’t raise my score in any meaningful way, so I stopped studying in the hopes that “going in fresh” might help but it did not.
Tests don’t matter in the real world until you need a job, somewhat badly, and you apply to be one of those people going door-to-door doing the census count.
So basically what I’m saying is, I had to take a test.