Thursday, June 20, 2019

Spelling errors and sweating the small stuff

Yesterday morning a job post came across my LinkedIn feed. 

"Content Marketing Specialist" it read. 

I was good fit for the position—the right number of years shouldering the plow, the right industry experience (or patience if you look at it right), the right amount of bloated self-importance. 

Like any good online-job-hunting millennial, I updated my portfolio materials and other application documents and clicked 'Submit.' The proper pixels were on their way, my coffee was fresh and the Louisiana humidity outside had not yet caused an uncomfortable sticky sweat.

All was well, but as I closed all the pdf, indd, jpg, ai, doc windows, I panicked. 

I felt something close to an excavator digging a bottomless pit in my chest. 

A single glance at my pandered "Skills" section revealed the error.
"Coversation Design for AI"
Yes, feel free to face-palm. Make sure you strike with the whole palm not just the soft, cushiony parts. Get those calluses in there. And use two hands to really do it justice.

I, a securely employed person, fell victim to scrambled application frenzy. I, a professional business person, was careless about a career opportunity. I, a putative writer, allowed a spelling error to pass.

The embarrassment, the shame and the imposter syndrome swelled all at once, and I was ready to start shopping for burial plots. Or at least a decent crematorium. 

Naturally, the first person I messaged was my my fiancé. 

ME: Shit...babe...there's a SPELLING ERROR in my resumé!

HER: Don't sweat it. I'm sure no one noticed. It's a quick fix.

ME: B-b-but the high-profile jobs, the ivory tower agencies....they'll see it and they'll trash it for sure.

HER: Drop the freakout. Keep sweating the big stuff and the little stuff at the same time all the time and all you'll do is burn some calories. More likely though, you'll get a brain tumor.

Truth be told she deserves some shiny awards simply for putting up with my tendency to turn into a griping basket case at the slightest mistake. (My therapist should probably be up for the same awards too while we're at it.)

Noticed or unnoticed, shit happens. Fix what you can and move on. 

The painful cycle of the hiring process being what it is, it's my belief that any company worth working for will focus more on what you accomplish with your skills, experience and quality of work rather than how you spell them on a resumé.

Hopefully the Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue giants who were sent the same resumé with the same error only weeks earlier feel the same way.


The Devil is a Salesman

The devil is a salesman.

For a time he was limited to carnivalesque used car lots.

Sometimes you would see him screaming on a billboard or hear him calling at all hours of the night blasting 1-800 numbers.

On occasion he might even stroll right up to your front door and knock twice.

But now he is everywhere; streaming his way into our homes.

Worse–into our brains.

Five seconds here, thirty seconds there is all it takes.

There is nowhere he can’t be, and he cannot be turned off.

The sad truth of it is, he didn’t barge into our lives.

We welcomed him with open palms.
We welcomed him with the promise of high-speed connectivity.
We welcomed him with the promise of photo feeds.
We welcomed him with the promise of on-demand food delivery.
We welcomed him with the promise of binge-watching twelve seasons.
We welcomed him with pay-per-clicks and hashtags.

We carry him to work, to home, to school, to parties and to plays right in our very pockets.

He is clever, the devil.
The noise hides what goes on in his workshop.
His instruments are not our hearts but the absence of them.
He knows that the heart is made immaterial by the material.

Consumption clouds our free will.

While we are subdued and undone by distraction, he continues to tinker.
As long as there is no peace, there will be no one to lay bare his devices.

The question is, was it the devil all along? Or was it mankind making his own undoing once more?

It’s not God in the machine.

It’s the devil.

And we’ve only just begun to let him out.

Typing away the time

Tapping. Ticking.
No padlock
No codes.
Clicking. Clacking.

Pattering. Pittering.
No chains.
No binds.
Rittling. Rattling.

Chattering. Chittering
No door.
No box.
Knicking. Knacking.

Flattering. Fluttering.
Words sprawling out.
Words flooding in.


Forgive the poetics

Your soil
Your boots
Your dirt
Your towers
Your mud
Your dream

You’re pride
You’re shame
You’re beauty
You’re blame
You’re loud
You’re brokenhearted

Your time.
You're ticking.
Make it count.

Through Garden of the Gods

Rolling between orange monoliths, Garden of the Gods is a passage. 

Entrance and exit become one in the same. 

Time and place become more distant. 

One look at the surrounding sizes and shapes and it’s easy to see why there is a spiritual connection here.

For Apache, Comanche and Lakota native peoples, for pioneers of the early American West and for the number of tourists like myself just driving through, there is serenity and humility in the face of the chaotic balance of boulder, tree and sand. 

Across the expanse of the park the land rises and falls, crests and troughs like the fin or backbone of some great underwater beast breaking the surface. 

Towers of crimson rock, shields of scarlet stone and amber-colored giants seem to guard the park as if protecting the lost garden of Eden. 

Delicate and strong, each massive upheaval reaches higher to the heavens, upward in a series of red spires that resemble something more Martian that Earthen.

Standing in the shade of the formations demands presence—a sacrifice of sorts.

Garden of the Gods asks that we forget about the caravans of cars and guided tour groups. It asks that we remove our world from the one before us. 

Place your hand on one of the ancient stones. You can feel the magnitude of the Garden coming through the matter.

Weave through the formations on foot, and the sky screams blue against the surrounding bright orange.

It’s easy to forget where you are or how you came to this place.

Staring at the monuments is a stare into the face of a mystery that bests us by millions of years, a place older than ourselves, than our species for that matter.

We enter wide-eyed into a place that looks like another world, only to leave with the realization that this world is in fact our own. 

I can’t help but feel that the land here is a gateway to something greater, and we are privileged enough to pass through.

How loud do I need to scream to be successful?

Volume. Mass. Frequency.

No this isn't a physics or math lesson.
  1. I'm not qualified to teach either of those subjects.
  2. If you came looking for lessons in those subjects you'd be better off clicking here.
Those three words lay the blueprint for success by content consumption takeover.

The gobbledygook gambit of motivational speakers, cryptocurrency investors, business growth consultants, ebook entrepreneurs and lifestyle influencers tell us that happiness and success is the byproduct of creating content at all costs.

No amount of noise is off limits. More clicks will lead to better cliques. Your truth is the only thing that matters, not THE truth.

These people seem to think that success is something you can achieve with the grace of a running back trucking over defensive backs in the open field. See Marshawn Lynch for reference.

You know which speaker/motivator/salespersons I'm talking about. 

Look, I'll be honest. There are times when I'm working and I need that crap to wake the eff up. It's similar to the times when I need a jarring dose of System of a Down or A$AP Ferg to get me through a tough lift.

Content crazies aren't concerned with quality. Pushing, boosting, shouting, their only concern is conversion; beating us into submission like a new era Spanish Inquisition. 

In a bizarre case of social media Stockholm syndrome, people grow to love it. They share it with others. The content becomes that crack that feeds the addiction and we're all the worse for it.

In the time you and I spend hyped over coked-up motivational videos, passively listening to profit professing podcasts or liking every self-promotional post by money-pushing puppets, you and I could've very easily gotten to down to our actual work. 

Whether for fame or fortune or infamy, marketers and self-proclaimed entrepreneurs are publishing content to the masses like someone throwing scraps to rats in the bottom of a well.

There's no denying that the mass media, multi-platform machine loves to feast on content: the crunchier, more brittle and half-baked the better.

One can only take so much "hustle" vibrato. I can consume motivational content until three in the morning like the entrepreneurs want me to. It won't bring me any closer to success.

I graduated into this chaotic mess of content. And after four years (my copywriting career still virtually in utero) I'm making my living trying to improve it.

Other members of my generation can see through the bullshit too.

Liking, posting, streaming and screaming, we're the ones being killed by it. 

Monday Morning

Monday morning.
Whizzing fantastic blur of cars
Destination pre-determined
Motivation un-motivated
Bitter, coffee-fueled rage of road
Emails, texts, calls, calendars
Punch in to punch
A ticket to anywhere else
9 a.m.

Flood Watch

Let me tell you a sad story.

You might not see a more downtrodden group of individuals than advertising professionals arriving to work at 8am in a torrential downpour.

Think shivering wet puppy meets dreary windblown shack. It is the feeling of room temperature coffee. As the morning continues, the deluge lingers and the smaller the umbrella (or lack thereof) the more waterlogged the employee.

We're in the middle of a three days long thunderstorm. It's "flood season" as they call it here in Louisiana—when all the snowmelt and runoff from northern rivers snake their way to the Gulf, filling our canals, bayous, swamps, backwaters and byways to the brim.

The Mississippi River also happens to sit presently at a 100 year high; forcing the flood to bubble up on streets all over town.

Trapped inside our air-conditioned and bucolic solarium of an office, accounts and creative feel the fleeting nature of forecast meetings and whiteboard exercises.

The soak on our clothes makes our insides tremble, our throats squeeze up, our brand-name slim fit jeans drip down the hall. Hansel and Gretel couldn't leave a better trail if they tried.

"I can't work like this!" wails the sopping c-level executive. His title grants him permission to go home. The rest of us have to request it from HR.

Thunder ripples through the walls. Rain strikes my window at a heavy, steady rhythm. Sirens go screaming by outside. The storm has apparently claimed another victim.

It should come as no surprise that everything turned to muck.

Infrastructure is an abstraction in this part of the country. It's more of a word used in political speeches but not in political funding or legislation. The absence of it is largely to blame for my astronomically high insurance rates as well as the routine pileup of cars during their exodus to and from home.

But, I digress.

Blaring from our large screens, small screens and in-between screens comes the announcement: EMERGENCY FLOOD WARNING IN YOUR AREA. SEEK SHELTER.

So the city shuts down. The agency sends us home. Everyone scatters into the rushing traffic.

But the day is not over.

Rain, sleet, shine or snow advertising stops for nothing. The remote work begins.

And we are sad.

Time to begin

Where to begin?

Is this a fresh start? Or am I starting something fresh?

"Be a better writer by writing," they say.

So here we go.

A start of something new–for me, for you.

This is a chance to share my thoughts.

I'm not so worried about the hard-hitting issues of the day, or voicing my grievances on the banality of modern advertising. You won't find an utterance of the word wanderlust here either.

Be warned: I'm not writing to teach you how to get rich quick.
As a matter of fact, I'm not writing to make you feel anything.

This is for me.
But you are invited to tag along.

See or read something you don't like?
Well there's a charming little 'x' button in the corner of your screen exactly for that reason.

At the present (and most definitely in the future) I'm more interested in the gurgling pot of coffee that's brewing in the kitchen than your opinion.

Like the title of this blog suggests.