Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Self-Portrait

I had fun manipulating iPhoto to get this picture.
I was going to post this as my profile pic on FB but it doesn't look as good as a thumbnail.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Job Hunt

I haven't talked a lot about the job hunt, mostly because I'm used to the situation I'm in. This is the third time I've been without a job in three years and I've been determined to enjoy the extra time. I have done that but as I approach my one year anniversary, I'm feeling a bit of panic setting in.

I have been diligently looking for a job but I keep bumping up against the oddities of this weird economy. First off, I believe the industry I work in, the legal industry, has been permanently altered by this economic downturn. I could be wrong but I don't think so. I don't believe companies are willing to pay the exorbitant fees attorneys have been enjoying in the past and this has manifested itself in the form of lower staff salaries. My biggest disadvantage from what I can tell is I've been working in this field for too long. I have a lot of experience and before everything went to shit that meant a higher salary especially if you have an area of specialty like me. Now it appears employers want a lot of experience (because they're staffing leaner and they need people who can do more) but they don't want to pay for it. I'm fairly certain when I do find a job I will have to take a pay cut. My goal is to minimize the cut as much as possible.

Potential employers have the upper hand, of course, but even they seem to be having trouble finding the right fit for their jobs. I don't know why this is so. Maybe they're relying on the computer to review resumes and pull only the ones with the right "search terms" and the people the computer is coming up with aren't good candidates. I could scoff at this method but the fact is employers are getting hundreds of applications for every job posted and sifting through all that is difficult.

The job market out there resembles a bad dating situation. I've been in at least three situations where I went through several interviews and was told they love me, they want to hire me, etc. and then they pull back at the last possible minute. I'm certain the reason for this is because of my stated salary range. I'm willing to take a pay cut, and I'm willing to negotiate but my recent salary history seems to scare people away before we can even get to that point.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in situations where someone has seen my resume, responded very enthusiastically, I've been told they want to schedule me for an interview, and then...nothing. They decide they don't need someone after all or they have enough candidates already or they've just changed their mind about me. Firms and companies seem to be getting flakier and ruder as time goes on. They keep flip-flopping around and then a month or two later I see the same job position being advertised again. I've discussed this phenomenon with my friends and there are a variety of theories:
  • They had a position open and wanted to hire for it but the work dried up or something happened with that client. Perhaps a month or two later they finally get the money they need and re-post the position.
  • They hired the wrong person for the job (probably someone cheaper) and found out how wrong and are back to square one.
  • They had no intention of hiring someone from the outside. Instead they want to promote someone from within but their policies state they have to post the position and do some interviews.
  • They have no intention of hiring anybody at all. They just want to do a "market survey" to see how things are out there. This is an incredibly cruel and FUCKED UP thing to do.
Not long ago I was in a situation where I was told I was the only candidate who was qualified for the position, that they really liked me (I come across as a warm person in interviews. I'm a nice person anyway but sometimes it's hard for people to convey that during the stress of an interview), but they had to find more qualified candidates for comparison purposes. That was almost two months ago and I've heard nothing. I've given up following up with them and have been expecting a letter saying "thanks, but no thanks" but haven't even gotten that. What a bunch of rude bastards.

Now when someone says they want to interview I say, "Sure, I'd love to" but I half expect them to flake on me. And when someone says they really want to hire me and think I'd be a great fit for them I say "That's great! I'm really interested in working for you too!" but I don't believe for a second that they're serious. I won't believe it until I'm walking in the door on my first day of work, and the even sadder thing is I probably won't believe it until I've been there for at least six months. Maybe I'll never believe it. Job security seems to be a thing of the past.

The right job will come, the right job will come. My friends keep reminding of this truth, thank God, and I have no choice but to keep moving forward but it does get disheartening at times.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Writing Life: The Bar

One of the key settings for the post-apocalyptic novel I drafted during the last November National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a bar. The first quarter to third of the novel takes place there. I knew I had to find a real bar to base this setting on but the ones I checked out in San Francisco were all wrong. They were too small, too narrow, and other problems. None of them made sense. I was thinking I might have to grab one of my good friends and go on a serious search through the City to find one.

While in Pioneertown visiting a friend during my Joshua Tree road trip, we stopped at a local bar for a drink before dinner. We were deciding on appetizers and drinks and I kept looking around. The place was really familiar but I couldn't figure out why since I'd never been there before.

It took me a few minutes to realize this is the bar in my novel. I was only familiar with the area where the main bar was and the kitchen was much narrower than in my novel but this is place. The brick walls, extra seating area, small stage area, and bricked in office in the center of the building were all extra details but they're perfect and will change the story for the better. I told my friends I needed to look around so I strolled around and around trying to take in as many details as possible since I'd left my camera in the car. There was a band playing too and I didn't want to retrieve my camera to take flash pictures during the performance. I took note of the floors, the smells, the walls, and the configuration of the place. When we got back to my friend's place for dinner, my friend gave me a brand new notebook to record my notes. You can see some of my notes below:

One of my friends suggested that perhaps the reason I couldn't find a bar in San Francisco is because the story should be set out in the middle of nowhere and not in a city. I told her I was seriously rethinking that idea.

I'm far away from going back to this novel since I'm working on other projects but it feels really good to have found this very important part of the story. And it will change the story quite a bit. The wheels are already turning.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

City Life: Marquee for the Roxie Theatre

This is where i saw the SF Indie Film Festival last Feb. On 16th Street near Valencia in the Mission.
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City Life: Police Station Window

On Valencia near 17th Street in the Mission.
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City Life: A Rare Payphone in the Mission

On Valencia near 18th Street.
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