Back to work

It’s been a busy month and a half.

Since the beginning of September I have taken two road trips. The first to Indiana to visit my brother and his family — daughter Addy came along on that one. The second was over Labor Day weekend to visit my relatives in West Virginia, a solo trip. Then I moved out of my apartment and back in with my folks. And, I collected my final unemployment check, not because my stipend had run out but because I started a new job. I was on unemployment for only 8 weeks. Don’t think I don’t know how lucky I am, especially when you consider all the people who have been out of work for months and and years, especially here in Michigan. I got lucky, I know it.

Speaking of my job, it is pretty cool. I’m not going to name the place, though. It’s an office job with all the Dilbert-esque accouterments that that entails, like cubes and copy machines and daily meetings, but the people are really cool. I like it there. Hey, we get free slushies (made from Faygo) and popcorn daily. Coffee too. This week’s slushy flavors are Lemonade and Rock n Rye. Last week it was Grape and Red Pop.

Recently JenX67 posted on her blog an entry that is, in part, about Generation X in the work place. My office is full of GenXers. I’d say mostly GenXers, from what I can gather. But there are plenty of Gen Yers/Millennials as well. In fact, my immediate supervisor is one. He’s maybe 24 or 25 years old. I heard someone ask him where he went to high school and he said Fitzgerald, graduated in 2006. I stood up at my cube and, speaking over the half-wall, said, “Hey. I went there.”

“What?” he said. “You taught there?”

I said, “No. I graduated from Fitz…twenty years before you did.” I graduated in 1986. He laughed.

My supervisor is very cool, very hip. And very good at his job. I like him a lot. I was asked by someone if it bothered me to be “taking orders” from someone so much younger than myself. But you know, it doesn’t. I could really care less. I’m there to work and to learn and he has plenty to teach, so my ears are wide open. You know, I think I’d rather have this young guy than some aging Babyboomer. At least with my boss I don’t have to listen to droning nostalgia about the 60s or The Beatles or anything like that. My boss digs JZ.

In my immediate area there a few other  GenXers. And few a Gen Yers as well.

The other day 0ur supervisor, in response to something someone else said, replied, “Awesome blossom.” He said he didn’t know why he said it.

I asked him if he was referring to the 80s TV show “Blossom.” The other GenXer’s near me just laughed and said that could not possibly be the case, he, our boss, was way too young. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Although strangely enough he was singing that Sade “Smooth Operator” today. So….

Maybe this is an opportunity to blog about GenX in the workplace. Gen Y too for that matter. We’ll see. I’ll be working long hours soon, 10 to 12 hours a day some day. This new schedule means I don’t see my daughter as much. She stays with her mom more, not an ideal situation or one that I want but one has to do what one has to do. Addy and I will just have to make the time we do have together count.

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Back to school at 42

I registered to take a course this winter at the community college, and thought it might be interesting to blog about it.

I wondered if it will be like that new TV show, Community? That would be so cool.

I went the compus today to pick up my textbook ($114 used; I remember when I thought it was outrageous to pay $50 for a new textbook. Yikes!) and found it looking pretty much the same as when I went there right after graduating high school, that is after going to and dropping out of two other colleges first. It’s the same unattractively functional campus, but then what more does a community college campus have to be.

Walking into K-building, the Student Center, to hit the bookstore, I noted that it smelled the same. It wasn’t a bad smell, it wasn’t a stink. It wasn’t a particularly effervescient smell either, but it was a memory trigger for me. I spent the better part of three years on that campus, taking classes that I was mostly exicited about and eager to do well and move on to a university, preferably one away from home. I also worked on the school newspaper, when they had one. Apparently they don’t anymore. You might think that working on a community college newspaper wouldn’t be all that exciting, and you’d be right, normally, but that particularl sememster was an election year — Bush v. Dukakis, and because Macamb county was lousy with Reagan Democrats the candidates hit it hard. In fact, the saying back then was that so goes Macomb county so goes Michigan and so goes Michigan so goes the country. A big spot light was cast. And I got to be in the middle of it, attending press conferences for Bush, Dukakis, and Reagan. It was pretty amazing. I even got to talk with some of the secret service, plus meet reporters from The NY Times, The Chicago Tribune etc. It was a great experience to kick off a journalism career with, but I wasn’t that interested in journalism. I wanted to be fiction writer. And at the time I didn’t see how being a reporter would help me get there. Shows how dense I was back then. Who knows where I could have gone from there? And what kind of experience I might gained. Ah, well….

Anyhoo… it was interesting to be back on my old academic stomping grounds. But a little depressing as well. I’m not going to be one of the young, cool  hip students (if indeed they exist at community collge) but one of the mid-life returning students. I remembered those people. Not that there was anything wrong with them, they usually made the best lab and study partners. But it seemed a bummer that school was more like work to them than an enjoyable experience. I enjoyed school immensely. I guess because I was good at it. But I wonder if I’ll enjoy this time around as well. We’ll see, I guess.

Of course, I imagine there won’t be too many of those young hipster students in my class, since it runs from 8-10pm TTH.

Should we stay or should we go….

…to California.

According to this Time magazine article about the Golden State the answer would be, well, duh!

Even with it’s problems — the budgets, unemployment, housing market — and all the braying doomsayers that are sure that California is going to go busto, it’s still a mighty fine place to be right now. Anyway, it’s got to be better than Michigan. Plus, as I”ve harped before, it’s got great beches, the Pacific Ocean, huge national parks, cool deserts (if you dig that sort of thing, and I do) and there’s something to be said for not having to wear pants. Plus, this article makes California seem like a place that we’d more at home in, more in tune with the thinking and attitudes.

In the interest of comparison, Time has also been conducting an on-going long-term reporting projec on the city of Detroit. Of course, we don’t live in Detroit proper, but still.

It doesn’t help Michigan’s cause any that after cutting the K-12 budget by approximately $10 million they are cutting it yet again, to the tune of $165 per pupil, and possibly more. We won’t know for sure until the standoff in Lansing if brought to a close.  The most frustrating thing about it is that the schools already budgeted according to what they were told they would be afforded only to have to readjust after the fact, because pols in Lansing can’t get their shit together.

Reason 13z-.kl7…

… to leave Michigan: K-12 budget that is set to pass cuts per pupil spending by $165.oo. That’s $53 less what was previoulsy proposed. Big wow! Especially when you consider that the budget has already been cut by approximately $10 million in the last few years. And no doubt my rep Chuckie Moss(back) will say that it is still no enough, but then a jack ass like him who responds to constiuent emails with cut and paste responses was already a reason to move.

I’m hearing that song louder and louder every day  — California here I come…. And I know, the state finances aren’t very good out there either, but there not as bad here. Besides, there’s a chance the wife’s corporate overlord could give her position out there with a substantial bump in salary (we could make the move otherwise) it’ll be totally doable. Of course, I might have to take a job delivering pizzas or something like that but it’ll be totally worth it. Why? BECAUSE IT’S CALIFORNIA! You know, Pacific Ocean, beaches, desert(which I happen to dig), wine country, plus cool cities like LA, San Fran, San Diego, El Segundo . And a whole country between us and less than desirable family.

sure, there’s reason to leave Michigan…but for what?

Actually, this Metro Times column by Jack Lessenberry provides more than just one reason to at least consider leaving Michigan. Or perhaps it is just one reason, a complex multi-layered reason.

In any case, the impending budget problems in the mitten state, which no one in the state capital seems to want to do anything meaningful about, grows ever dire. Everyone wants the problem fixed but no one wants to sacrifice. Of course, this attitude it not unique to Michigan. And California’s got budget problems as well, although supposedly they’ve come to some sort of agreement there. I don’t know. I haven’t really been following, although if my family and I are going to move there perhaps I should at least consider educating myself on the matter. But then I’d have to cut back on my TV time and there’s not way that’s  happening.

With the droughts in Texas, Austin isn’t looking as appealing as it had been a few months back. But the economy is good there, as it supposedly is throughout Texas. Might just have to learn to live with the heat. Imagine — moving from Michigan where you can’t bare the cold winters anymore to Texas where you may not be able to stand the heat. The irony would be delicious. Mmmmmmmm irony.

So N. Carolina is looking better… right now anyway.

Of course, if we can’t sell our house, a move becomes even more difficult to accomplish, and with Michigan’s realestate market the way it is well….

And you know, with the kind of weather we’ve been having this past week — warm but not swelterying, blue skies, clouds, nice breezes — one can get lulled into a false sense of security about Michigan.

Maybe it’s not so bad afterall, you know.

Yeah, maybe. But check back with me come December.

Good point.

Damn straight it is.

The Family Factor

Most of mine and C’s family live here in Michigan. One could argue that this is a particular compelling reason to stay….

But com on. Be honest. I know there are plenty of people out there that find it easier to deal with family when there is a significant distance between you and them, when you only have to deal with them directly a few times a year. I know that is true for me. I suppose that sounds like a lousy thing to say, and maybe it is. All I know is that when I lived in Kalamazoo, I got along better with my family in general. And frankly, I think they probably liked me better. They might not say that, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the case.

I think I can say with some level of confidence that C would prefer to be at a remove from certain elements of her family as well.

In fact, certain…events, shall we say, have made this idea all the more attractive.

It’s a matter of being able to control  your boundries and keeping those that don’t respecty them at bay, sort of like a mote dug to keep zombies away from your fortress.

But it isn’t all about “running away.” Depending on where we moved to, namely California, we’d be moving closer to some family members, those that we’d prefer to be closer to. You know, the ones that don’t seem to feel they have the right to emotionally and psychologically brow beat you simple in service of some delusional construct that they have created in order to help convince themselves that they are descent human beings, when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

But I digress into pettiness. And it isn’t even an election year.

Let’s just say that some family members are so irritating as to induce painful flatulence. And really, who need that. Life is hard enough, and often smelly enough (especially if you live in Gary, Indiana – pee ew; a shout out to the birthplace of MJ), without adding to it.

I wonder, since this is a GenX blog, is this sort of…circumstance common among Genereation X? Certainly familial discord is nothing new. I’m thinking more about in the way one deals with it. I suppose self-righteous boomers might call it running away, except of course when they bolted their mundane midwestern existences to frolick in the streets of Haight Ashbury for the Summer of Love. Wee make love not war — Aaack! And what about Millennials? I suspect that their reason for moving across country from their folks has less to do with putting a buffer between them and their families and more to do with “living life to the fullest” blah blah blah. Not to mention they probably have their helicoptering rents visiting once a month anyway — and actually like it! But perhaps I’m wrong. I’m just guessing here, but I’d bet that a good number of GenXers moved away, or at least would like to move away, from family in large part, though not necessarily entirely, to put some space between them in family, because it’s just easier that way, less of a hassle, you know.

should we stay or should we go

For the last few years C and I have been kicking around the idea of moving out-of-state (Michigan, for those who aren’t aware).

Okay, C’s been wanting to move for some time and I’ve been dragging me feet. Why? Search me (just watch you hands mister).  But not anymore. I’m ready to live some place else. Not that I dislike Michigan so much. In fact, there’s plenty to like about Michigan. But it ain’t all gravy either. With each passing year the winters get more unbearable. And summer, when temps get up into the 90s and the humidity makes it like breathing through wet, wool blanket, can be rough. Plus we live near Woodward and I’ve pretty much had with the Woodward Dream Cruise. We get it already — you people like cars. Sheesh!

Anyhoo…I got to thinking that maybe this is something to blog about. Off and on. Reasons to leave, reasons to stay. Possible places to relocated to. Etc.

So let’s begin with perhaps the most glaringly obvious reason to bolt Michigan. The shite economy. Which is pretty shite right now but, according to Jack Lessenberry in a recent column of his in the Metro Times it is going to get a whole lot shite-ier.

….what few of us realize is that the very real pain many of us will feel hasn’t even started yet. That will happen starting this fall. Here’s the scoop. The federal government can run a deficit bigger than Betelgeuse, as long as it can keep borrowing money from somewhere.

But the state legally has to balance its books every year, meaning that if they don’t have it, they can’t spend it. When the politicians run short of money to do what they planned on, like fixing the roads or funding schools, they have two choices: a) cut services or b) raise revenues, via taxes or fees.

Hmm. I wonder which one it’s going to be? Let me think, let me think. Of course, cut services b/c the Repub dominated congress would rather kiss Hillary Clinton’s warty butt than raise taxes. Okay, maybe not….no, they would.

“This should scare the (used hay) out of any thinking person in Michigan,” she told me. The Republican-controlled state Senate is on course to eliminate all funding for early childhood development, she reported.

Why don’t Repubs like children? Why?

And Dem Gov Jenny Grannyholm seems tempermentally incapable of taking these yahoos on.

So Fed Stimular money has been tapped to fill the whole in the budget. So bye bye new job creation. And in the end it still won’t be enough.

…sometime before September 2011, all that money will be gone. And if something isn’t done to change the entire way Michigan plans its budget, there will be a great crash, a deficit probably larger than $2 billion, and no obvious way to get that money, short of selling ourselves to Azerbaijan

I’m pretty sure the Azerbaijan comment is a joke, but at this point it almost sounds like a plausible alernative, doesn’t it?

The way ol’ Jack sees it we have two options:

We could accept that we want Michigan to be on a par with Haiti, or maybe Albania, and stop funding education and social services and forget about fixing the roads and bridges.

Or, we could raise taxes to something like the level required to maintain a civilized society. The best way to do that would be to pass a state constitutional amendment allowing a graduated income tax, which means that Matty Moroun and Geoffrey Fieger would pay a higher percentage than a kid who works at Holiday Market bagging groceries for $8 an hour.

I’m all for a graduated income tax b/c I don’t make much, and I get warm tingly feeling in my naughty bulbous parts at the prospect of sticking it to the rich. Take that fat cats!

Just to give you an idea of how bat shit crazy some pols in this state are:

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop is perhaps the prime example of this. Last week, he attacked the governor’s plan to lay off 104 new state troopers, all trained by the state at considerable expense to the taxpayers. The Freep quoted him as saying, “We’ve lost our mind … we’re not focusing on law enforcement.”

The governor says she hates doing it too; it is just that there is no money. Bishop’s response? His Senate Republicans called for another $4 million in cuts to the State Police budget next year

WTF!

Sounds like Bishop hasn’t had his little bishop polished in a while and it’s making him cranky, not to mention coo coo for co co puffs.

Anyhoo… My point is with all this shit about to rain down on the heads of Michiganders, tell me where is the insentive to stay for crying out loud? Would you?

Right now C and I both have jobs and not much debt. But for how long? Better to bolt ahead of the crash if you can.

Let’s call that reason number 1 for bolting Michigan for new digs. And on a scale of 10-1, 1o being the most significant and 1 being the least, I’d rate it at least a 9.

Do people in other states forget how to drive in the snow?

Because here in Michigan it seems like every year when the first snow fall/cold snap hits people are unprepared to drive on ice-slick roads.

One man was killed in a wreck this morning as slick roads surprised commuters with icy spots on freeways across metro Detroit after the area’s first notable cold snap, causing dozens of crashes around the region.

Yikes! Read full article here.

Michigan Jenny in The White House

Even though I’m a Michigander and I voted for Jennifer Granholm, twice, I’ve mixed feelings about her being part of President-elect Obama (I love writing that, and I love saying it) financial advisory committee or whatever it is. Of course, being the gov. of Michigan, the auto-making state, it seems almost obligatory for her to be there so that she can beg for assistance for the auto companies, but her performance as gov. has been wanting, in my opinion. i could never really escape the feeling that she was governing in a manner that would eventually get her a position in the Democratic White House Administration. And in the sense, she’s been successful. NPR reported on Friday that she is being consider for Energy Sec. I’m not saying she’s not qualified, and that she won’t do a good job. I just can’t help thinking that her ambition for other things made her a less than committed gov. She simply didn’t fight as hard as she could at times. Of course, I lay some blame at the feet of the Rep.-controlled state congress, but still.

GenX Lit

JenX67’s Monday morning roundup of Generation X news included a link to a post about Generation X writer, Marisha Pessl, author of the novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

“generation-x authors are proving to be refreshingly impressive. it’s as if they have taken the norm of novel writing and reading to a whole new dimension. if Jonathan Safran Foer (b. 1977) made “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” into a multi-media read, Marisha Pessl, (b. 1977) has taken a more traditional path, but in an overdone and quirky style that it comes out a breakthrough.

the whole book is riddled with citation, reference, footnotes and nicely done hand illustrations that the novel seems to be a research paper cum diary.

Read full post here.

I recall this book was a pretty big hit when it debut, and a lot of the librarians at the library where I work read it, or so it seemed. I started it but didn’t get far before giving. Not exactly sure why. Seems like a book I should give a second chance to but not sure how I’m going to fit it in.

Pessl is a latter-age GenXer, born in 1977, same year as my wife. In what is an all too common GenX story line her parents divorced when she was young, and she moved with her mother and sister to North Carolina.

Irrelevant connection note: Pessl was born in Clarkston, Michigan, and I live in Michigan, though not Clarkston, but I have a cousin who lives there.