Help!

Now these days are gone …. and I do appreciate your being ’round.

My independence seems to vanished in the haze.

Won’t you please, please help me!

…. I’m not so self assured.

We said our goodbye … ahhh, the night before.

When I held you near, you were so sincere.

When I think of things we did, it makes me want to cry.

Love was in your eyes.

… turn my face to the wall.

Everywhere people stare, each and every day.

Hey …

… in the state I’m in.

How could she say to me, love will find a way.

Love you all the time and never leave you.

I’m lonely as can be.

I didn’t realize, as I looked in your eyes.

You don’t want my lovin’ anymore.

So come on back and see, just what you mean to me.

But as from today, I’ve got somebody like you.

And so I’m telling this time, you better stop.

Through thick and thin she will always be my friend.

I ain’t no fool, and I don’t take what I don’t want.

If you don’t take her out tonight, she’s gonna change her mind.

Cuz I will treat her right my friend.

I’ll make a point of taking her away from you.

You’re gonna lose that girl.

I think it’s today.

And she don’t care.

Said she would never be free when I was around.

Before she gets to sayin’ goodbye.

But she don’t care.

My baby don’t care.

They’re gonna make a big star outta me.

Cuz I can play the part so well.

Then I’ll know that you will plainly see.

… about a man who is sad and lonely.

The biggest fool who ever hit the big-time.

Help!

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Age + Experience = No Job

Me2015

I do not consider myself old.

I do, however, consider myself elderly. My joints creak and hurt sometimes. My hair and beard are a nice shade of white. I occasionally forget things (like walking from one room to another and not recalling why I made that move).

But all of those things were happening to me by the time I was 35.

My hair greyed, and eventually turned white, very early in life; it happened a lot on my mother’s side of the family so I pretty much expected it would happen to me. Shortly after I turned 23, I developed a spot of white hair near the forefront of my head. By 30 I was turning grey, and by 35 I was pretty well on my way to being a white-haired man. My mother’s hair turned white fairly early, as did her uncle’s, her grandfather’s. I suspect that if her parents had lived beyond 40, they would have seen heads of white hair. Thankfully, I dod have a reasonably thick head of hair — it’s just white.

The joints in my body, especially my legs and feet, ache; but that was anticipated since I ran thousands of miles while participating in cross country and track in high school and college. In high school, I averaged 50-75 miles of more training and racing a week. By the time I was running in college, my mileage was higher than that and I was running marathons and ultra-marathons. In college, I ran the entire season of cross country, my freshman year, with a hairline fracture in my ankle. After that season, a doctor told me, after examining the ankle shortly after I’d spent 8 weeks in a cast, “You’re going to pay for all the miles on these legs.” I am … and paying dearly.

I know I am not alone with being occasionally forgetful. It’s not so much that humans are forgetful as they simply don’t focus and listen very well. Even when the old, “A man walked into a room — and forgot why he was there,” thing happens to me when I am all alone. We’ve all done it.

I am 61 years old. As a youngster, I would have categorized someone that age as “old.” Aging has never bothered me, as far as my attitude is concerned. Adding a year to our age every 365 days is just a part of life. I truly believe each person in this world is “only as old as you feel.” Some days I feel really old. Some days I feel pretty young. Most days, I feel 61.

But in this past year, I felt more and more “older” — but in a way different than standard aging.

In January 2014, I sold the two weekly newspapers I’d owned and operated for 37 years. I’d gotten married a couple months prior to the sale, and moved in with my new wife in a town new to me. My initial intent was to be semi-retired. I was only 60 at the time I made the move, too young to actually retire, so I decided I would substitute teach as a means of income. I thought about doing some freelance writing, too. But I wasn’t planning on working full-time.

Well …. I got bored.

The substitute teaching kept me marginally busy. I picked up a few freelance writing gigs, but to be honest, my heart wasn’t into writing. I needed some time away from journalism, so I pretty much stopped writing except for an occasional blog.

Last summer, I picked up a seasonal job as a grounds maintenance person at a research farm near my new home town. I enjoyed working at the farm. I did a lot of mowing, trimming, and tree pruning, but I also did a decent amount of general farm work. I learned a tremendous amount about farming and experimental farming.

In the fall of 2014, I went back to the substitute teaching gig, opening the school year with a long-term sub job for the first eight weeks of the school year. Once that was done, I returned to the farm for a month to help with the harvest. Once that job ended, I got another long-term sub job that took me until the end of the first semester.

But from mid-spring 2014 to the present, I was and have been applying for full-time jobs. Not just any jobs, mind you, but jobs I felt were in my field of expertise — writing, editing, marketing, public relations, and photography. I should mention, in the 1980s and 90s, while operating my newspapers, I took on other full-time jobs. For five years I was the sports editor for an area daily newspaper, then for six years, I worked for a local hospital in their public relations and marketing department. So when I say I have experience and expertise in areas mentioned above, I speak the truth.

To date, I have applied for 30 jobs. Some of the jobs I admit were perhaps a bit of a reach when talking about my “fit” for the position, but in each case, I felt I had the ability and/or experience to do the job. And to date, I have been called in for one interview; and that was for a job I was probably the least qualified. And I got TWO interviews for that job before being told they were “going in another direction.” Well actually, they never contacted me after the second interview (rather tacky if you ask me).

Now I can’t say my age has worked against me — I have no proof. Perhaps some of those potential employers looked at my resume and felt I was either over-qualified, or my vast experience would place me in a salary range too high for their budgets. I have no proof I was discriminated against either because of my age or experience.

But I was never invited to come in to discuss the jobs!

In one situation, a marketing job for a winery that was opening an office in a second location, the job description nearly screamed my name. They wanted good writing and editing skills. Journalism or English degree was preferred, not to mention experience in advertising and/or marketing. Didn’t even get an email back telling me they were or weren’t interested. Nothing. I did, however, see a Facebook post a couple months later (I had “liked” their Facebook site because I was familiar with their wine, and liked it), with a photo of a group of people with the caption, “Meet our new (office location) staff.” No one in the photo was over the age of 30. I’m no rocket scientist, but the photo told me I had been too old to be considered.

With each letter or email rejecting my candidacy for a job that I felt I was qualified to do, my self-esteem slipped a notch. Sometimes I got no reply at all (that just seems tacky to me; at the very least tell me you’ve dropped me from consideration). I try not to let it bother me; the degree of “bother” is usually affixed to my desire/interest in the job. Sometimes I feel I am quite qualified for the job, or it seems like it would be a position I would really enjoy; those hurt the most.

My wife keeps saying one of two things: (1) “If they would just visit with you, they would see what kind of person you are,” and (2) “Don’t worry, something is going to pop up.”

The thing is, if they would call me in for an interview, I would have the chance not only to show them my outgoing, friendly personality, but I could allay whatever fears they might have that I am either looking for a monstrous salary or will retire in 3-5 years, or both. I could tell them my plans, which include working until my wife reaches retirement age (8-9 years from now) and that, while I don’t want to devalue myself nor literally give my skills away, I am willing to work for a reasonable salary, one that would allow me to pay household bills and pad my retirement savings.

I feel I am quite reasonable in both my years of work and pay desire.

But without an interview, I have no opportunity to address those concerns.

The last two job applications I submitted, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I included a paragraph in my letter of application, telling about my work plans and my salary desires. I figured what have I got to lose; perhaps that paragraph will inspire an interview. We’ll see; those letters went out in the last week.

However, while I have no way of proving my suspicions have any validity, it seems rather obvious that potential employers are ignoring my skills in favor of hiring younger candidates whom they can pay less money or who is, unlike me, not under 61 and doesn’t have a bevy of experience.

In school, my forte was not math. But I am pretty sure I know what age + experience adds up to. Nothing.

My Well-Being … One Letter at a Time

I recently read an article about how to improve one’s well-being.

Among the tips the article mentioned was that one should spend time each day writing; creating a personal reflection of one’s day, one’s feelings, one’s activities; basically a reflection on one’s life. As I read that tip (I did read all the others, but that writing/reflecting tip stood out), I immediately reflected on a couple things: (1) my recent writing activities would be termed as “glacial,” and (2) I need to get back to doing more writing.

I am not a New Year’s Resolution maker, mostly because (1) I rarely keep them, and (2) I feel such “changes” in our lives need not be imprisoned by a specified date, but should be free-ranging with no time constraints. For example, five years ago, after a rather disastrous medical checkup in which my doctor suggested I lose weight, eat better, and exercise, I decided I would take her recommendations to heart. It was March, not January 1, but I resolved to improve my health. And I did it. Ninety days later, I weighed 45 pounds less, was running every day, and eating better.

So even though it is early February, I am going to work hard to write on a more regular basis. I will spend more time in personal reflection, but not limit my writing to introspection of me. If I feel a story welling within me, I will write it. If I am feeling funny, I will humor me with humor. If I feel a need to “get it all out,” I will ventilate.

I just need to write.

Referring back to that time in my life when I took steps to improve my health, the reason I chose running as my form of exercise was because I have always enjoyed running. It wasn’t easy to do five years ago. My body was different. Though I had been a marathon and ultra-marathon runner in my youth, I hadn’t run for many, many years. I found a program that eased me back into running, and eventually, I was not just running, but taking part in road races (mostly to compete against myself but to bond with other runners).

But in the last couple years, I have not run due to injuries. Sadly, I reverted back to a rather sedentary lifestyle. But recently, thanks to my wife wanting to add exercise to her lifestyle, I have begun walking (or biking) to my daily regiment of activities. Well, maybe not so “daily,” more like regular; we don’t get out everyday but we’re getting there.

Like running, I have always enjoyed writing. But that, too, I had allowed to slide into a crevice of apathy. I started this blog over a year ago with an intention of creating an outlet whereby I would write regularly. And when inspiration tickled my brain with an idea, I sat down and wrote. I edited and revised things I’d done. But eventually, those moments of inspiration faded.

Life got in the way.

That’s not exactly true. I let life get in the way. I chose to ignore openings in my schedule when I could have sat down and written something. I shoved inspiration into the backseat of my brain, telling myself I would sit down and “write that out” in a day or two. Oh sure, my life, which is certainly not all that complicated or full, throws those curveballs at me when there seems like I need 27 hours to finish a day. And there’s no shame in setting a daily exercise aside for that one day; keep it from becoming a habit, the norm.

Just like I need to revamp my priorities and get back to regular daily exercise, I need to make time for writing. Again, I will not call this a resolution. Won’t say it’s a promise, or a vow, or even a mandate. It is, however, a choice. I can choose to write, or I can choose to not write. The question I need to ask myself is this: Which choice will be better for me?

Moving Forward Without Looking Back

It is time for me to move forward.

My life has seen a number of dramatic, and some would say, “big” changes in the last 12 months. I confess, meeting someone very special, falling in love, and committing myself to her for the rest of my life, would certainly fall under the category of “big.” And perhaps “big” might be used to describe moving from a location that has been my home for the previous 37 years. And just as easily placed in the “big” column could be terminating ownership of businesses I have owned and operated for 37 years.

But I suspect the biggest change is the fact that my life, after 39 years, is without a daily or weekly deadline.

For the first time since 1976, well technically since 1975, my final year of college, I have been involved in the newspaper business. With the exception of seven years working for daily newspapers, my deadlines have been weekly. Again technically, five of those years I worked for a daily newspaper AND helped to run my weekly newspapers, which presented me with daily AND weekly deadlines.

But since mid-January 2014, when the sale of my two weekly newspapers was finalized, I have been without the weekly commitment. Oh there have been minor deadlines I needed to meet, but that is a basic part of living a life. It’s the knowing that people were expecting to see their hometown newspaper each and every week, and it being my responsibility to meet the deadline so each week’s issue would show up in their mailboxes every week — that kind of deadline is much different from life’s usual deadlines.

During the last few issues of the newspapers I was responsible for, I began to look forward to not having to do all that was necessary to make deadline. I even allowed myself to daydream a bit. Over the last 37 years, I also confess, there were times I wondered if I would ever have a life without a weekly deadline. And beyond that, what would that life be like? I saw myself doing all kinds of activities, going all kinds of places, and enjoying a deadlineless life.

So now, with a few weeks of “no deadline” under my belt, I have one more confession: I don’t really know what to do without a deadline. After all those daydreams of a life with no specific thing to do, I am finding it’s not quite as glamorous as I envisioned.

For now.

What I am realizing, is I need to change my thinking. I need to start learning to live without a weekly deadline. I must embrace a life that is not controlled by the confines of a specified frame of time needed to complete a task.

Most importantly, I need to move forward. Furthermore, I must move forward without looking back. My life no longer is fashioned around newspaper deadlines. I need to start living like there are no weekly deadlines.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have deadlines. There are still bills to be paid, appointments to be made, and various other “deadlineish” things to complete.

I have found I still need to employ routine as I live each day. Within the parameters of the weekly newspaper deadlines, I established a routine. While I am somewhat good at a freestyle manner of living life, I find I function best if I establish and maintain a routine. But even getting a routine routed requires retaining rational radial symmetry.

I need to believe I have the ability to live a life without a weekly deadline hanging over every set of plans. I must wrap my mind around the idea that I do not need to first consider that weekly deadline before making a move.

Forward ho! Backward no.