Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dystopian on Subtopian

I'm published again. No money for any of this but it's still nice, especially when I'm getting shot down for day jobs right and left.


Ironically this story is about real class warfare in a dystopian America 50 years from now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Existential attitude turning on a dime

When I was backpacking through Australia a dozen years ago, I saw something early one morning that has stuck with me for years. It was maybe 6:30am on a Sunday. Sydney was still waking up. The hostel I'd been staying at was in Potts Point, north of the crazy vibe of Kings Cross.

I was walking near Bourke Street which is kind of steep and overlooks the Botanical Gardens to the west. It's an area with elite cafes and arty gentrified Victorian townhouses most Australians couldn't begin to afford.

I was coming up this steep section of old sidewalk using all the physical fitness I'd gained while working for the Forest Service in Colorado earlier in the year. The morning light was golden and everything was misty and haloed, even the parked cars. The numerous cockatoos and parrots that permeate the city were making their wild morning ruckus. The air was cool, limpid and the harbor gave everything the exotic tang of salt air.

At the top of the hill I was scaling were a pair of birds making a joyous clucking and buzzing sound as they pecked at something on the asphalt. They were dandy creatures in neat brown feathers with neon-bright yellow beaks. They kept pausing in their pecking to squawk at each other as if they were having an intense conversation.

Indian myna birds are one of many invasive non-native species in Australia.

This was one of the few times I've felt at peace with myself and Sydney was one of the few cities I ever felt at home in.

When I reached the two birds standing in a pool of gold light I realized they weren't eating crumbs from a sandwich or something equally agreeable. They'd found a puddle of puke left by some blind-drunk tourist and were nimbly eating it.

I walked past them carefully, suddenly feeling like I'd mistaken some gauzy spiritual moment for another crude foul example of human imperfection. It was like witnessing two people in a graveyard and assuming they were mourners or relatives paying their respects only to realize they were grave robbers looting the dead.

I've been juggling the contradiction of that scene in my head ever since. On the one hand, it was a beautiful morning and the birds did look sublime. Everything looked right. On the other, the ugly reality of vomit in the streets.

If I ever meet the Dalai Lama I'll ask him what he thinks of this.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Inertia ... creeps

Essential rain/snow blowing down over the eastern Sierras into Nevada.

I've been staying in a friend's spare room for four months. I spent two of those months working a funky, seasonal warehouse job for 10 bucks an hour. It was a nice diversion from the reality that I'm almost 50 and -- for all intensive purposes -- homeless.

I've been working since I was 17. I'm flabbergasted by the whole Pirates of Wall Street /Predatory Lending/One-Percenter economic ass rape that precipitated this current Recession (read: Depression). I have never in my life seen anything like it.

Even at the nadir of Reagan's regime, in 1986, I was able to find a myriad of temp jobs while living in Sacramento. Jobs where I put shit in boxes for a month and then that ended. And I moved on to cleaning luxury homes in the Sacramento Valley for seven bucks an hour. Homes with ridiculous floor space, sunken living rooms, multiple hot tubs and three-car garages overlooking the baked, flat haze of central California.

I lugged turf on landscaping crews and pulled thousands of weeds alongside Interstate 5 in 100-degree heat. Thinking back, the outdoor jobs were usually the best ones. Something about the Pink Collar Ghetto always made me wince. My mother was a slave in that ghetto almost until she died. Her servile role in office bureaucracies was the reason why I balked at learning to type until I was 23 years old. I just took a typing test the other day and I'm now clocking at 62wpm, which is 7wpm faster than I was a couple years ago. It's like the older I get, the less needed I am in the workplace, the ironically more efficient I become.

I've been misled, deceived and had smoke blown up my ass by so many contract temp agencies, I've lost count. I've been promised jobs that were a "shoe in", that were "virtually guaranteed" and that I'd be "an ideal fit for" only to have the recruiter lose my phone number three days after submitting my resume to Intel, to Microsoft, to Amazon, to (insert dotcom name here). The IT industry does not like women, especially women over 40 who come from a non-technical background (English and journalism) and they openly despise older job applicants.

Usually when my resume gets flown by some tech firm, I slack off a bit, some weird naive part of my brain thinks this is it, the tide's turning. And almost always, I don't get picked.

Maybe Michael Ruppert is right. Maybe this is the last gasp of our petroleum and consumer-based society. I had no idea collapse would be this anti-climatic, this monotonous.