I’ve never had a conventional career, not even close. At 42 it is apparent that I won’t ever have one and I guess I made my bed, might as well sleep in it. The troubling part of this all is I’ve tried to find adequate employment for years and it’s just not readily available. When I graduated High School, I didn’t even entertain the notion of college, it wasn’t even a conversation I really had with my family. I come from a family of blue-collar workers, none who have college degrees. My parents didn’t go to college, my brothers both did less than a year, and my grandparents didn’t have college educations. College was never a serious thing in my home.
I went straight into the retail world out of school, first a record shop, then another one, and then an art store, where I was named manager shortly after starting. My problem was I was an artsy music nerd who had opportunities to follow dreams and chase the dragon known as rock-n-roll, so I left to tour, have fun and be me. Many would say that was a bad move, but really who is to say I would have made anything of being a retail manager.
I tried college, three of them, a year at the University of Toledo, a summer at Cuyahoga Community College and 2 years at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, I was barely a sophomore when I dropped out. Needless to say, college wasn’t for me, I was too interested in things that I couldn’t take, and the required classes bored me to tears so I stopped going, instead I experienced life, got involved in outreach work and made art. I just couldn’t commit to it and saw no future in what I was academically interested in at the time.
Soon I turned to music again, booking shows, booking tours and management. It wasn’t great money but in life it’s who you know, not always what you know, and I was meeting people. I also began writing for music magazines and websites, picking up from my teenaged zine writing days. Again, the money was terrible but the people I met would keep me going, and the freebies were nice too. I was able to interview a lot of famous or infamous folks, some who are no longer with us, as well as, hangout, party and make some rock-n-roll memories.
I became a fairly successful promoter, without becoming a corporate drone of a promoter. I paid my rent off booking shows and took care of bands I believed in. I also was giving a community some options for things to do and new things to experience. That was all well and good, I was very happy doing that and writing reviews, interviews and occasional op ed pieces. Then I went into ministry, that was a long tenure, where I still read, but on paper it was a resume disaster, not much better than being a booking agent, promoter or a free lance underground music writer. These all sound cooler than they are to potential employers later in life.
At any rate I have lived, mostly indoors, my entire adult life. I was married for 13 years, I ran or helped run companies and ministries along side some successful people. I helped bands that now are considered legendary in their genres get early shows and exposure, plus I was able to even impart some wisdom along the way. I saw my name on fliers, posters and in brochures for conferences, festivals and other public speaking gigs. I am even in the liner notes of a few bands albums, which I am proud of. Unfortunately none of this means you are a financial success or quality material for an employer.
The fact is my resume is a disaster, a minefield, a fucking HR nightmare, but it is what it is. I’ve moved a lot because of the work I’ve done, I was only ever fired once, and that was from a K-Mart in like 1995. I would say most of my employers, even if only for a short tenure, liked me and I did work hard, not over doing it, but I did my job. The problem is, I didn’t stay long enough and often did things that just don’t translate to paper. So now I am working a shit job for very poor pay as a consequence of being a bit of a dreamer, that is unfortunate but extremely true. I have no real marketability now, no resume building skills just my personality and the ability to talk to someone face to face. The problem is however, we no longer get that face to face encounter, just online submissions with no answers or an automated rejection letter similar to those I am used to getting as a writer. It’s frustrating but it is reality, so now what?
I am staying at my job now, reluctantly, only because I am afraid it might be the only job I’ll ever have again. That is a real fear. I have submitted 100’s of resumes and filled out the obnoxiously long online applications for 100’s of jobs I don’t even want and there is no response, just a feeling of worthlessness and guilt for never getting a degree that wouldn’t likely help me anyway. I am not even asking for much, just a livable wage and possibly access to some form of healthcare. I am a simple person, I don’t even drive, which is seen as a bad thing in our backwards arena of employment opportunities, but it also means I don’t need as much money to survive. Still it’s a hopeless endeavor.
My talents are varied, I am a accomplished and seasoned public speaker, having spoke in front of thousands of people, in classrooms and at smaller gatherings. I’ve been published and self published 4 books, which is not a small thing. My writing credits include published articles in newspapers, magazines and online publications of which I had good responses. Still, after all that, I am looking at a middle age of minimum wage jobs and likely miserable working conditions.
I do help my stepfather move safes, he is a locksmith, in Cleveland. That is a trade I never learned and perhaps I should have? The problem is I did try to pick it up and I was terrible at it. I am slow and not mechanically minded so it was like trying to teach me math, which I routinely failed in school. Now moving safes, that is grunt work, easy money but it’s not a job that is there for me all the time. So I just do it when I can. It is an interesting job, which gives me artistic inspiration, which doesn’t do much for my bank account.
I guess what I am getting at is that I know I made my choices and this is the consequences of that, however, I also think it’s not easy to find work these days. I hear these politicians talk of “creating jobs” but what jobs are they creating? Who are they hiring and what the fuck is the reality of that situation? Then there are the people who say, just get a degree. I know a ton of people with degrees in the same boat I am, just scraping by doing something other than what they spent tens of thousands of dollars to get. Now they are in a worse off situation than me because they owe a butt load of money for essentially nothing profitable to them what-so-ever. It seems like on paper everything is easy and makes sense, but to live it, especially in your late 30’s and early 40’s is, well absolutely horrible.
So what do I do? I for one go to my job four days a week, as I am not fulltime, and make just enough to pay my bills because I rent from relatives. I search job sites, apply, send resumes and expect nothing in return. I write, a lot, in hopes someone might find what I say interesting and maybe spark a conversation that could lead to opportunities, though of course it’s no likely. As I said before, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and right now I don’t really know anyone that can help me out so I press on, reluctantly. I am worn thin and questioning everything I’ve ever done and believed because I just want to go to work and feel I am doing something worthwhile and being paid respectfully for that job. I honestly feel like a failure and no matter how many awesome and cool experiences I have had in my wacky life of travel and ridiculousness, it means nothing when I can’t even buy lunch without checking my account first.
Here’s the reason I wrote this rambling piece, I’m tired, but I know so many others are too. Yes, I am whining a bit, so fucking what? We are allowed to be weak and be needy sometimes, shit this isn’t our grandparents generation, we actually are allowed to feel things. Life is hard, and it gets harder as you age, things happen that break you. I have been through a divorce, addictions, health problems and dealing with mental health issues without any insurance. That is reality for millions of people, and yet the best jobs it seems we can get are the worst ones for our situations mentally and physically.
It is just disheartening and seems like the big joke of life is we suffer together in one big miserable pot while the few lucky ones stir it up for us. The lucky ones who get picked out, soon forget the ones they left behind and the so called “good guys” with the fame and fortune, just talk big but also wisely hide away from the masses who clean their toilets. It’s a crapshoot of a life but the odds are not good for most of us, so we just fight or give up. My stubborn spirit just won’t let me give up and my desire to prove I am still worth something is fading but not burnt out yet. So I guess I will press on and those of you reading this and struggling too, I am with you motherfuckers every step of the way.
I am done. This is not a good read, but I had to let it out.