Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cold geezer sweats

Here I am, sitting unemployed by choice, wondering what to do next, and watching things get weird.

I often awake in the middle of the night and wonder just what in hell I think I'm doing. I'm not young anymore. And though I've passed most of my life for someone 10 or 20 or more years younger than I actually am, and still sort of can do that, now my younger self is still an old guy. As defined by our culture.

It's worse if you're a woman. To be a woman and over 25 is to be old. Guys get character with age, and are admired. Women are discarded. Like Halloween pumpkins forgotten on the back porch. Women over 25 are moved into the hag column. Personally speaking, I classify any woman without wrinkles as a girl, but even my sister says I'm weird. No one is beautiful, though, up close, unless you can see the soul.

Bodies are just packages of meat. I don't care who you are, you're still a piece of meat. Without animation of the life force, or whatever you want to call it, without personality, without dignity and goodness and integrity, you're just meat. You stink, you sweat, you have blotchy skin. Your hair is too thin or too thick, or the wrong color, or too thick in some places and too thick elsewhere. Your feet are flat. You have hangnails and veins running in the whites of your eyes.

The beautiful people are beautiful at a distance, after a good going over by professional hands. In the days before Photoshop. With Photoshop, beauty grows exponentially, and anyone who is not actually dead and well along the road to obvious decomposition can still be made achingly gorgeous. Lust keeps apace. We desire them without regret or reflection.

There is no limit to this process, except the old one. Getting up close, face to face, and spending time with a person. No one is beautiful up close. Unless they're also good and kind and fun, and when you can get close enough to see those in a person, you overlook most of the physical things. You just don't care anymore. You know better. Your old lizard brain kicks in. The one that had to evolve the hard way. The lizard knows. You know.

So I still look a lot younger than I really am, but am not beautiful, and never will be. I try to be good but know so few people that it really doesn't matter. I am all alone in my wallowing unemployed ugliness.

I quit my job about a year and a half ago and still have no idea in hell what I'm going to do for money. If nothing changes, I should be able to keep going for eight to 10 years, at best. That ain't bad. I don't have to sweat it, but I still do. Credit that one to my upbringing, or my incorrigible, unchanging wimpish nature. I fear, and therefore I am fearful. Fearocious. I fear, and desire an income. But I'm not desperate. Yet. Except quite often in the dark of night

Still, I should be looking. I finally decided yesterday to post my resume in a few places, let it sit, and see what happens. Dang. I should have known. Within minutes I had the first hit. And it was totally inappropriate. A guy looking for a body to stuff into a hole that an employer had. Didn't even read my resume. The job would have been exactly what I was not interested in. He must have just spotted my skills list, my location, and then scared the snot out of everyone around him when all the bells went off in his head.

He had nothing else to fill the vacuum there. Just bells, poor boy.

So I had to respond to him and apologize (since I try to be good), saying that I should have known, and I should, that I had no interest in becoming a piece of meat to be slung around to one job interview after another until something happened, and I got placed and he got his commission. And there I would be, in hell again, but living somewhere else, stuck, and paying three times the rent I am here, and not able to be walking in the woods within 10 minutes of leaving my place the way I am now.

Some things about my life are OK. Screaming awake in the dark of night is an experience, but so is getting out at six in the dark, and just walking in cold rain, alone with the sky, free and untethered. Unlicensed. Unregulated. With hair on my face and breath in my throat.

So I replied. Maybe that took care of him, but then this morning there were more messages. Within the first 12 hours or so my resume had been read 23 times. Another contact came, from a contracting agency. Damn.

When I told him I wasn't interested in working through third parties, he replied that his company wasn't a third party, that I'd be working for them, for uh, someone else, while working for someone else, but really them, or something. He didn't get it. Nor did the people at Allstate insurance who just flat out spammed me with a form letter in case I wanted to take wing and sell insurance for the sheer joy of it.

One of my cousins became an accountant. Back in the days before accountants could bring down companies like Enron. When accountants were accountants, whatever accountants were. But not hunters, not pillagers, not warriors. The joke among accountants back then, way back then, was to say "I always wanted to be an accountant when I grew up". Instead of a fireman, or a cowboy. Long dead accountant humor. Insurance salesmen might be different. I think they don't feel embarrassed because they lack a sense of humor. They may never feel at all, navigating solely on instinct and blood lust. I wouldn't fit in without the instincts of a horsefly.

So right now I'm back to the books, back on the learning curve with "Ruby on Rails: Up and running", trying to relearn most of what I forgot over the summer, and wondering just what the hell I'm up to anyway. Phil Hughes, publisher of Linux Journal, has settled in Nicaragua. Been there 10 years for some reason. I could take my money and move there, and I would run out before the money does, I think, though I'm nowhere near either rich or even comfortably well off. Is that what it takes to get by in America these days?

At least I'm male. Ugly and unloved, but maybe not expected to be lovely or cuddly because I'm not a woman, and can get as old as I want and not get any uglier, even if I am over 25.

I did sleep well last night though. After all, several people contacted me yesterday about jobs. They think they still want something from me. I still have a hot bod.

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