Saturday, April 30, 2011

Frustration, impatience and a silly lizard

Sometimes, no matter how optimistic and patient you are, you hit points of frustration that can test your strongest convictions.

For many people, it seems to be milestones. When I was younger, they were things I looked forward to and rushed toward: to be 13 and a teenager, 16 and a driver, 18 and drink my first legal beer or wine (times – and laws – have changed), 21 and hard liquor. After that, age-wise for me anyway, it’s been rather uneventful. Oh, there was 40 – I remember that birthday well only because I awoke that day and, realizing I had hit the end of another decade, thought, “Wow, I never thought I’d make it this long.”

But I remember watching with some great amusement years ago during my first newspaper job when a co-worker who had about five years or so on me approached his 30th birthday. I apparently trailed him just enough to not quite grasp the whole “Don’t trust anyone older than 30” thing that was so popular in the 1960s and early '70s.


As Jim's milestone approached, the normally cheery, laid-back journalist and former carpenter alternated between being progressively grumpier and more melancholy.

It wasn’t until several weeks later that he slowly started getting back to his old self again, which really was the way we preferred him.

I’ve also known a few guys over the years who hit their 40s or 50s and either ruined themselves financially buying a car they could not afford, or destroyed their homes sampling fruit from someone else’s garden.

It’s funny – here I am at 52, and I was never very much of a car guy, although someday I would like to get a canoe and try fishing toward the shore for a change. Of course those bass boats look fast and shiny, but … you don’t need to buy gas for a canoe, and the price in Elgin was approaching $4.50 a gallon Saturday. There is nothing like a reality check to rein in ambition. Maybe, someday, a canoe.

But that’s not been the issue this past week.

Monday will mark five full months since Sun-Times Media laid me off, and it’s been several weeks since I’ve had a job-related call – a headhunter contacted me about two weeks ago now, but I’ve yet to hear anything back – and it seems much longer since I’ve had a bona fide interview.

It’s not like there haven’t been some positive things happening – it seems I am finding more job postings that at least are related to my skills. Over the past couple of  weeks, I’ve sent out nearly 20 cover letters and resumes to potential employers instead of the mere five per week the state requires to certify for unemployment compensation. Since the layoff, I’ve sometimes really struggled to meet the weekly requirement.

So there it is, really. Frustration, impatience. The knowledge that I’ve changed my resume from the standard reverse chronological order to a functional resume – which I eventually abandoned on the advice of several professionals – apparently, HR departments have somewhat dysfunctional attitudes toward functional resumes. So I returned to a more traditional form and then, in a stroke of genius (OK, probably not, but I’m hoping it is), I put together a hybrid traditional-functional resume. At least it seems to be drawing interest on LinkedIn.

But of course I have no way of knowing whether that interest is along the lines of "Hey that is great" or "What has the fool done now?"

Ultimately, I’ve rewritten, redesigned, tweaked and re-tweaked my resume and cover letters more times than a copy editor would ever consider doing for a story.

Well, maybe not – there was that one reporter who wrote “from the gecko” instead of “from the get go” …

But this process does give me a whole new respect for those who gone through this before and for far longer than I have; a few I know who have done so more than once.

So I keep plugging away and doing so with hope of good things to come.

Yet, it is human nature to look toward the future. Some do so and wonder, others worry.

For me, at this moment, it’s a little of both.