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Entries from November 30, 2008 - December 6, 2008



I teach a night class, which my writing schedule doesn't really allow, and so beginning next week, I will teach two night classes.  How to remedy the time crunch?

Why, add a full-time job, of course.  A government one!  Inside the Beltway, involving a commute which will consume half of my waking hours!  That'll solve everything!

You'd think I'd stop writing about jobs which I haven't actually been paid for yet, much less approved for, but I feel compelled to anyway, because a part of me, a very big part, the part which hhhhhhhaaaaaaaaates normal-people adult-style office work, is screaming, and is kind of hoping that the hiring agency, like Mattel, also has access to Google.

But the rest of me uses electricity, and also enjoys eating on occasion.  Because when media companies lose advertising revenue due to major sponsor cutbacks in the face of  horrific tax increases and stock drops?  Suddenly, for some reason, editorial boards aren't as interested in paying top dollar for eight hundred word essays on what people name their cars.  And so:  Back in the box.

When I ride the Metro, I sometimes look around at the people who aren't armed and muse on who they are, where they're going.  On Monday, I wondered if my train contained anybody else bound on an interview for a job he didn't really want.

I've been applying for federal employment off and on, mostly with the Air Force and National Park Service, since 2002-- as it's incredibly difficult to fire the incompetent, government work was made for me.  I've never hit the interview stage.  I've never even hit the "We deem to acknowledge your existence" stage.  Now here I sit in Round Four of the hiring process for a position with four openings and a pay band which, by DC standards, is cardboard box-level poverty.  My chances are frighteningly good.

The application went in weeks ago, and for a time I weighed economic survival against, you know, not hating life.  I feared I'd take a new day job too soon, in the process missing out on a potentially career-changing writing opportunity.  So as a staunch believer in signal graces, I punted:  If I get the job, I'll take it, and drastically cut back on teaching for the moment.  If not, I'll keep plugging along at five cents a word and glaring angrily at comma splices.  Oh, there's going to be a day job; it's just a matter of which one, and, although I'm grateful for the opportunity to choose, this effectively puts a potential day job whiff entirely in the hands of God.

That doesn't mean I can't slippery up the field a little bit in order to nudge along the whiffing.

When I taught tech writing at the University of Airplanes, I included a section on business writing,  job search, and interview skeelz, which means that I have actually taught other people how to properly conduct themselves during the hiring process.  Which also means that if I want to screw it up.... I can really screw it up.

I honestly didn't mean to be raking a hand through the back of my hair when the interviewer came to claim me from the lobby so that I first had to dislodge a tiny hairball from my fingers before shaking his hand.  That was pure blondeness.  But the part when he asked me why I was applying for a technical writing job when most of my publication history was in creative nonfiction and I said, "Because I need to pay the mortgage"?  That was all field-greasing.

The proper answer to that question, of course, was:  "Although my creative writing credits outweigh my technical work at the moment, I strongly believe that I've gathered enough experience for the position; for instance, my extensive work with (NAME OF HORRIBLE SEMINAR GIVING, CUBE-INFESTED COMPANY) included a great deal of (INCOME-GENERATING, INCREDIBLY BORING ACTION VERB WHICH ALSO FEATURES PROMINENTLY IN THE JOB ANNOUNCEMENT).  I look forward to emphasizing and expanding that aspect of my skill set here at the (OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT GOVERNMENTING), and contributing to the team environment in the process."  But no.  I have never been so perfectly honest on a job interview, which means of course that I've blown it.

I'm not entirely sure, to tell you the truth, what I've blown.  Here be the full job description, right off USAJobs:  "Through formal and informal training or developmental assignments, the incumbent will acquire knowledge of the principles, techniques, processes, and procedures that form the basis of the work performed in the assigned Unit. This will help the trainee develop the skills needed to serve as a Technical Writer-Editor."

Well, that answers that.  It's just what I always wanted to be when I grew up-- I can't count how many times I dressed as an incumbent who performs duties within my assigned Unit for Halloween.

In some ways I actually left the interview wanting the job even less than I did when I first put hand to hair there in the waiting room:  The interviewer, a very nice man who reminded me in a kindly way of one of the Bobs from Office Space, had a very clean desk and told me that while the job title was "Technical Writer," it does not, in fact, offer much in the way of, you know, writing.  What it seems to involve instead is... formatting.  Essential formatting.

"We don't close when it snows," Kindly Bob said.  "Or during budgetary crises."

Well, that's a relief.  You know who else is an essential government employee?  My air traffic controller husband.  So when the next blizzard immobilizes the Eastern seaboard, take comfort in the fact that Air Force One will stand with cleared corridors in the sky to any Earthly direction, and my vital margin setting will continue.  America shall live to see another day, thanks to me and my drag-and-dropping.

Otherwise, I really had to work at the greasing. Kindly Bob had a series of federally mandated questions to ask me.

"Do you," he said, "know how to use a computer?"

"Yes," I said gently.  "I believe that's on my application."  The one which was submitted online.

bracing at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender


Whatcha Think?

Andy Lackie The Reader of Mayhem New Media has very kindly designed a new banner head for Blonde Champagne.  Lookit:


Hooray for people who do stuff for me!  Thanks, Andy.

bubbles! at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com


Yes, Mommy Still Loves You

E-stack.  Thanksgiving dirty dishes.  Night class.  Two of them.  Job interview.  Finals on Saturday.

I (heart) you, but I also (heart) the ability to, like, eat, and to walk past a kitchen not teeming with eColi.

back tomorrow at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com


All in the Name

"Aunt Beth misses you when I'm away from you in Virginia," I told my godchild last weekend.

"Yeah," he said.  "I miss Uncle Josh, too."

I suppose I shouldn't be jealous, as Jim The Small Child Nephew recently announced to an entire restaurant that he wore big boy underwear last night, all night, instead of Pull-Ups.

"They have racecars on them!"  And he wanted to show them to Uncle Josh.

This, fortunately, was able to wait until we left the presence of about twenty-five total strangers.  "Look, Josh!"

"All riiiiight, great underpants.  Okay, that's enough."

Will The Smaller Child Nephew, who knows where the money comes from, also used Josh's name for the first time, in combination with a thank-you for some proffered Play-Doh.  Then he tried to eat a hunk of it.

But when he wanted a cookie?  Guess who he came to.  That's right.  Aunt Beth.  Keeper of the cookies, blocker to all unnecessary starches.  I denied him twice, and then he turned to me, Play-Doh in hand:

"Beth... coooookie?"

You're lucky your big brother just dissed me, kid.  One cookie and one pony to go.

fun factory at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender