liz_marcs: S5 Giles researching the killer snot monster (BtVS_Killer_Snot_Monster)
2014-07-11 01:50 pm

I'm Back...Kinda...Sorta

I know. I haven't been around much. I'm kind of crawling out from more than two years of personal gunk-i-ness, and my time seems to have contracted dangerously.

But I'm gonna try to post more often than "once in a blue moon."

Not that anyone is really left on the journals. *taps microphone* Heeellooooooo, is this still on?

In any case, I came across this and it made me howl.

Boston tourist Attractions, According to Unhappy Yelp Viewers

I'm not sure what is funnier. The reviews that completely miss the point, or the snark that gets served back.

Makes a perfect companion piece to this thing I wrote (holy cow!) six years ago called To All the Tourists I've Loved (and Not Loved) Before, which is a rumination on what it's like to live in and around a city that's an international tourist destination.

Whelp. Gotta go. I must work. Next up...corporate training. Which I'm putting off. Because I know it's going to be about brainwashing me into believing that being a doormat is the most important job skill I can possibly have.

The joys of corporate America, no?
liz_marcs: George watching a soul enter its lights (DLM_George_Seeing_Lights)
2014-01-19 06:31 pm

So, My Mother and Brother Found This Box...

So, my mother tells me yesterday on the phone that she and brother found this good-sized plastic storage box hidden behind some of my dad's stamp books (he was a big stamp collector). They hadn't opened it yet, and they had no idea what was in it.

We figured: Stamp stuff. Or maybe some 45 rpm records.

They were going to open it and see what was inside.

Anyway, I've been kind of sick as a dog, so I told them to go ahead because, well, sick.

They opened it.

They found cards. Father's day cards, birthday cards, some Christmas cards. Just about every card we ever gave my dad.

There were doodles my brother and I drew when we were kids. Movie ticket stubs (not all of them, but there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason behind which ticket stubs were kept). Ticket stubs to plays we went to as a family. Baseball game ticket stubs. Programs from plays my brother was in. A couple of love letters my mother wrote to my dad when he was out of town on an extended training program one time. The MBTA pass and matching schedule for the day I graduated from college in Boston.

For some bizarre reason, a 1991 TVGuide where Star Trek was featured on the cover.

Bits and pieces of family life going back years that are puzzling as they are odd because none of us can figure out the rhyme or reason why these particular things were kept.

None of us even knew he kept all of this. That box was out in the open for years. I remember even seeing it. None of us ever wondered what was in it. None of us ever asked about it.

And yet, that's where my dad squirreled away all this stuff. My mother had never even seen him open that box. Not once in all the years they were married.

And we only just found it. Well, we didn't find it. It was there all along under our noses. We just never noticed it.

Christ. And now I'm crying again.

I thought I was okay with my dad dying. I guess not yet.
liz_marcs: (Xander_Willow_Grin_Triangle)
2013-12-20 01:54 pm

Just a Little Vertigo Over Here

I had the weirdest experience today. For a brief second, I got to see me through someone else's eyes.

(And yes, it's as vertigo-inducing and disconcerting as you'd expect.)

I was talking to co-worker about past jobs/experiences and somewhere in the middle of the conversation she just starts staring at me.

This immediately has me wondering if I've got spinach in my teeth.

Then she says to me, "How on earth did someone like you end up here?"

Keep in mind, I still work at the Jolly Green Giant, which means everyone (and I do mean everyone) has more industry experience and formal science education than I do.

So I can feel myself tensing, getting ready to defend my right to actually have the job I do.

Then she follows up, "I mean, you've lead this really amazing life up to now, so I don't get it."

I...yeah. I'm not sure how to respond to that.

Because I don't think it's been all that amazing. Chaotic, yes. Bordering on poverty for half my adult working life, definitely. Longs stretches of boredom in between periods of driving myself crazy, absolutely.

Not to mention that I still don't feel like an adult, despite the fact that I am (age-wise, anyway) adult-like.

But amazing?

I've never been called amazing in my entire life.

So I think I'm going to tuck this compliment away and on those days I feel really, really bad about myself I'm going to take it out and look at it again.

That's one hell of a holiday season present, that is...
liz_marcs: (Cordelia_Squee)
2013-11-04 09:59 am

Fess Up. Who knew this?

Richard Pryor can...

I mean could...

Holy shit, that man could sing!


In other news, I really will respond to all your expressions of sympathy. It's just I've been doing a lot of sidling up to those posts, y'know, keeping them in my peripheral vision.

Then the point hovers over the comment numbers so I can click and respond and...


And I run away. So, still working up the courage.

Otherwise, my mother is doing okay, as is my brother. It's a process.

Anyway, enjoy the video and the jaw dropping moment above.

Because...well...holy shit!
liz_marcs: George snooping through the Happy Time files. (DLM_George_Snooping)
2013-10-17 09:16 pm

Adventures in Obit Writing 101

Breaking radio silence because I...

Okay, I admit it. I can't stop laughing.

So, yesterday we make funeral arrangements. We went with the Italian Tribe's family undertaker, who is pretty much one-stop shopping. He deals with everything, he gives us "the family discount," and we give him money.

(Well, we give him money after inspecting the itemized bill, of course. Bless the People's Republic of Massachusetts, because itemized bills for funerals aren't just good business, but they're also the freakin' law.)

In any case, one of the items that are included in the one-stop shopping is a paid obit for the local paper. Great!

He will write it. Not so great!

As someone who, when visiting the parental units on Sundays, would read the obit page of the local paper for the sheer joy of insanely written obits with massive misspellings, timelines that didn't make sense, and leaps in logic that defied comprehension, there was no way I was going to overburden the clearly already overburdened copy editors at the local paper.

I insisted: I see it first.

Funeral director has no problems with that. Great!

Side note here: Back in the day, when I was a newspaper reporter, myself and every single one of my co-workers had to come up through the obits desk. Every single one of us had to write obits for almost zero pay. Some for months, some for years. I did my time in college by writing obits for a very large metropolitan daily every weekend for three years (this was so I wouldn't have to do it after I graduated college).

The idea here is your basic obit is your basic newspaper story in structure and style. If you can't write an obit, then you need to pack your bags and go find another line of work. It was the proving ground to prove you could do it.

So, back to today.

I get the obit from the funeral director. As I'm reading, I start giggling. Then I'm laughing. Finally, I'm laughing so hard that I can't catch my breath.

I have discovered the source of the local paper's obit insanity.

Turns out, the funeral directors pretty much write the obits and submit them directly into the local newspaper's electronic submission system. Then they go directly into the newspaper.

There is no one reading them. No one copy-editing them. No one even checking that the obit makes a lick of sense (my dad's obit had him becoming a mailman when he was 8 years-old). As for misspellings? Fuhgedaboutit.

Needless to say, I tore the whole thing apart and re-wrote it. I left in the personal stuff the funeral director included (sooooo not okay back in the day, but hey, back in the day you didn't pay for it), but otherwise it was re-written and restructured within an inch of its life.

Guaranteed it will be the best-written obit to hit the local paper in months. Guaran-fucking-teed. And that's just based on the fact that all of the words are spelled correctly.

I think I've hit on the perfect post-retirement job when I retire a few decades from now.

I'm gonna go around to all of the local funeral homes and offer to write all of the obits for $20 a pop. Back in the day, I could pound out four to five obits an hour. Get yourself a steady stream of five to 10 obits a day, that's one to two hours' worth of work a day, and that's $100 to $200 a day.

It's totally a plan.
liz_marcs: George watching a soul enter its lights (DLM_George_Seeing_Lights)
2013-10-15 08:08 pm

Death in the Family, So Disappearing for a Bit

As you may have noticed I haven't been around much for the past year? Two years?

Well, anyway, aside from my life getting turned upside-down three years ago due to a complete change in my career -- and me returning to school -- part of that was due to my father being diagnosed with multiple system atrophy (MSA). It's a fairly vicious nerve disorder that goes undetected because of its non-specific symptoms.

One year ago, my dad may have been unsteady on his feet, but he could still drive. Yesterday, my dad was barely capable of walking, and what little he could do could only be done with the aid of a walker.

It's the hardest thing in the world to witness. My dad was a mailman. He could walk miles and not even feel the strain. Only to wind down to something like this.

It's not an exaggeration to say that sometimes I would come home from visiting on Sundays so I could take my parents for a drive or run errands for them, and would burst into tears minutes after walking through the front door. Hell, sometimes I would get off the phone after talking to him (it was difficult for him to form words at times), and I would burst into tears again.

His biggest fear was that he would end up bed-ridden and in a nursing home. God knows my mother did everything in her power, as did my brother, to make sure that he could stay home as long as possible.

And truly, my mother and my brother bore the brunt of the burden since they were right there, and I was living 45 minutes away. My job (such as it was) was to be the safety valve for everyone so they could vent when they needed to, or to fill in for my brother when he needed a break.

(Truthfully, something really karmically good needs to happen for my brother. If any man deserves it, y'know?)

Right. I'm rambling.

*takes deep breath*

So, my dad died this morning. A stroke that hit him so hard that he didn't know what hit him. It was sudden, and it wasn't.

The point is, he had breakfast with my mom. They watched their morning news shows. Then he went to the bathroom. My mother got distracted by a call, and a half-hour went by before she realized that he was still in there.

She found him on the floor, already gone.

So...bad day for the family. But, strange as this may sound, a good day for my dad.

He died exactly the way he wanted to. At home. After having a nice morning with my mom. On a beautifully warm fall day. And so suddenly that he never saw it coming.

Anyway, ummm, sorry for the rambling. I'm not exactly at my most emotionally stable at the moment, as one poor stranger learned this evening.

I was going in to vote in the special election primary (Why? I have no friggin' clue, given the day I just had. I think I was operating a bit on automatic to be honest.) and some guy looked at me and randomly told me to "cheer up and smile."

To say I snapped at him would have been a massive, massive understatement.

So, yeah. Not exactly a good person to be near at the moment.

I know things will be okay. I know this is for the best. But it's gonna be a tough holiday season coming up.

But we'll get through it.

'Cause that's the thing when bad things happen. It might feel like the world has ended, but when you crawl back to your feet the most amazing thing happens.

The world, as it turns out, is still there.

And that's not a bad thing.
liz_marcs: (Awesome_August J. Pollak)
2013-10-14 09:33 am

Yay! New Blue October!

After the crashing disappointment of Any Man in America (their previous album) with its not-so-vague misogynistic overtones, I was afraid I'd have to abandon this band.

But they're back, and Sway is a sweet way to wipe out the bad taste their previous CD left in my mouth.

By the way, you can stream the entire CD under the cut. I'm able to embed the Spotify playlist.

(My God! Could this be a return to my Music from the Cube project? I abandoned it sometime ago because I was, ummm, contacted about offering downloadable tracks with my reviews. This would be a big, big way around this...)

Whoops...Didn't realize this would be so big )
liz_marcs: (Mark_Ryden_Cloven_Bunny)
2013-09-27 02:43 pm

Zombies, Run!

*shifty eyes*

I just downloaded the Zombies, Run! app for my phone.

Has anyone else done this? It looks hella fun.

Can you use this on a treadmill, or is this something that's GPS-dependent?

Inquiring minds would like to know.
liz_marcs: (Real_Ladies)
2013-08-30 01:33 pm

Fandom Annoyance #4,352

The amount of mansplaining going on in the Skyler White thread over on TWOP makes me want to pull my hair out.

While I agree one can dislike a female character for entire non-sexist reasons, and I'm willing to give my fellow fans the benefit of the doubt, excuse me for being really dubious when you claim to be one of those people who hate Skyler for entirely non-sexist reasons but then turn around and use sexist language and/or sexist arguments to bolster your claim on why you hate SKYLAR!11!!!!!

(Oh, and it's Skyler, not SKYLAR!11!!!!! At least spell the character's fucking name right if you want me to take you at all seriously.)

This post brought to you by a healthy dose of annoyance at men in fandom.
liz_marcs: (Faith_Oh_Shit)
2013-05-21 10:20 am

Time-Lapse of OK Tornado

To all my peeps in and around Oklahoma City, I hope you're safe in the wake of yesterday's vicious tornado that ripped through Moore.

This time-lapse footage of that tornado is's stunning.

I live in a part of the U.S. where tornadoes are honestly not that common (although when they do come, they come in clusters as what happened in Western Massachusetts a couple of years ago). Microbursts, yeah. But monsters like this?

Dear God. That footage is pure nightmare fuel.

(Did I mention that my second-worst fear after heights is tornadoes? I'm really, really scared of tornadoes. I do not know how people in the U.S. Midwest/Southeast/Southwest can live with the constant threat of tornadoes over their heads. I really, and truly, do not. I will take the most violent of nor'easters — aka, a hurricane with snow — over a tornado any day.)

In the meantime, to help the Moore tornado victims, I'll be texting money via 90999 REDCROSS.

liz_marcs: (Faith_Oh_Shit)
2013-04-19 09:13 am

I'm Fine! I'm Good!

For those of you who have been following the latest on the Boston Marathon bombings, you know that it's been quite the night hereabouts.

Just FYI for my peeps who know where I live: I am safely at work, far, far away from the lockdown area.

The bigger question is: Will I be able to go home tonight?

For my peeps outside the Boston area: Yes, I live in the lockdown area, and I had planned to stay hunkered down at home.

However, I heard two key phrases, "it's suspected that the second suspect (White Hat) is strapped (as in, wearing bombs)" and "he's in Watertown, MA" (which is the town next door to where I live, but on the other side of town).

I figured it was safer for me to not be home than to actually be home. So I am 30 miles or so outside of Boston and 16 or so miles away from home, working in the very welcoming (and currently sparsely staffed because, dude, LOCKDOWN of Boston and all towns within a 20-mile radius) Jolly Green Giant.

I also admit that a bit of defiance did come into play here: Ain't no bomb-making loser gonna mess up my day.

Which...I don't know what it says about me that I consider going to work as an act of defiance, but there you go. Clearly I'm wired funny.

So, yeeaaaaah. Just letting everyone know that I'm cool...

Keep Calm and Drink More Damn Coffee.
liz_marcs: (Faith_Oh_Shit)
2013-04-17 02:13 pm

Boston Globe: Nevermind

AP is reporting that a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in in custody and will be arraigned in federal court.

It appears the the main sources for identifying the suspect came from a Lord & Taylor store camera that happened to be aimed at the area and video tape from one of the Boston television stations.

More as it updates.

Turns out the news report was in error.
liz_marcs: (Faith_Living_History)
2013-04-17 12:45 pm

We're Fine...

I've been pinged by several people via DW and LJ asking if I was okay following the bombings on Monday.

Me and mine are fine.

I work 30 miles or so outside of Boston and live about 12 miles or so outside the city.

I was at work, safely 30 miles away when the bombings happened.

Ironically enough, I was controlling a teleconference at the Jolly Green Giant (my employer) that had an International Audience. Throughout the morning, said International Audience kept asking me to interrupt the flow of the meeting so I could broadcast updates from the Boston Marathon. This basically meant beaming the front page of via Adobe Connect around the globe so people could see the headlines.

Once the winners of the women's and men's races were announced, we all went back to our teleconfrerence with no interruptions.

Until someone came in and told us what had happened at the marathon's finish line a half-hour after it happened.

Immediately the room erupted and insisted that I go to get the news.

I kind of forgot I was still internationally connected (as did everyone else in the room), so more than a few folks in Europe got a face full of those horrific images from the marathon finish line.

Thankfully, the folks in Europe (seriously, I'm really, really sorry guys) were very, very understanding and raised no fuss at all about inadvertent exposure to the bloody aftermath.

Everyone in the room pretty much knew someone who was running the marathon, or was waiting for a loved one on the Boylston Street closing stretch, so the panic was...okay, there was some panic. Controlled panic, but still low-level panic. People hopped on the Boston Athletic Club's Website to check transponders of people they knew were running in the marathon, hoping they were still a few miles away from the finish line, others were discretely texting for news.

Luckily, friends-of-friends, family-of-friends, all co-workers-of-friends are fine. About the worst that happened is everyone in these concentric circles got trapped in the city and had to work their way out over the course of several hours.

It's...hard to describe my feelings about what happened. The current marathon route runs very close to where I work and live, close enough to disrupt my life not just the day of the marathon, but up to a week before as people from all over the world flock to the area so they can line the marathon route.

Hell, even during my Boston college years that marathon and its route was a rite of spring. I've stood in crowd watching the runners pass along that closing mile stretch of the marathon, yes, even on Boylston Street itself.

I've walked those two bombed spots on Boylston Street more times that I can count, and I know like the back-of-my-hand the areas where the bombs were planted.

It's strange, stranger, strangest to see alien images in such an intimate place.

As always, Boston-based writer Charles P. Pierce over on Esquire, has been pumping out the best writing about the marathon bombings. I highly recommend that you read everything under his Boston Marathon tag.

But nothing, nothing at all, tops this particular blog entry today, where he rails against the shit-weasels already coming out of the woodwork, especially the right-wing shit-weasels who've decided to make political hay over what is pretty much guaranteed to be an act of terror perpetrated by a homegrown nutjob.

Seriously, this made me cry because, yeah, This is Us:

We are not what they think we are. We are not the myths they've made of us. We are what we are, the Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, God save it, goddammit.

To all my fellow denizens of the People's Republic of Massachusetts in my online social circles: I'm glad you're okay, and I hope all of your friends and family are, too.

Let's hope the FBI kicks some nutjob ass.
liz_marcs: Jeff and Annie in Trobed's bathroom during Remedial Chaos Theory (Default)
2013-03-21 02:01 pm

Note to Self: You will be still sore two days later after.. slam your car into a concrete divider on an interstate highway at 60 miles and hour.

Yes. This happened. On Tuesday.

My hatred of people who cut you off on the highway without using a signal where your only choice is to swerve to avoid or slam into their back-end at a high-speed has now just reached stratospheric levels.

No, I did not need to go to the hospital. Yes, amazingly enough, I not only walked away, my 2001 Saturn SL1 drove away. (Luckily my car had spun on the slush and hit said concrete divider from the rear, rather than the front.)

Now I have to wait for the insurance company to determine whether my car is totaled. Do I have to say that it does not look good? Because it so does not.

Fan-fucking-tastic. I was so close to be completely debt-free. Here I was, just about to pay off every credit card debt (now under $2,200!) by the end of April thanks to my annual bonus and...and...THIS!

Fuck me. Just...fuck me.

(Some might argue that I'm focusing on the wrong thing here, namely, that I should be focusing on the fact that I didn't get so much as boo-boo and that if the worst you're suffering after any accident that slams you into a concrete wall at 60-fucking-miles-an-hour is sore muscles, than maybe you should be a tetch more grateful for breathing. Which I am. Trust me. But I seriously feel like fucking whining right now because I hurt, and I have to wait until Tuesday to find out whether I keeeelled my car or not.)
liz_marcs: Xander icon with legend, "I've known sorry and have learned to comfort the wretched." (Xander_Known_Sorrow)
2013-01-25 03:28 pm

Brief Hiatus Necessary

After nearly two years of Dad!Marcs serving as something of a medical mystery, as well as multiple hospital stays and multiple stays in rehab facilities, we finally got an actual diagnosis this week.

Multiple System Atrophy — Parkinsonian (MSA-p), aka, Parkinson's meaner, nastier, deadlier cousin. And unlike Parkinson's, it doesn't come on slowly. It hits you like a hammer blow from Thor.

No, the news is not great. Yes, I'm kind of still processing.

No, my family right now isn't thinking long-term plans. The short-term plan is to keep Dad!Marcs moving as much as possible for as long as possible.

And yes, it took almost two years to get the right diagnosis, and even then it's because we happened to finally cross paths with a neurologist who just happened to specialize in this particular rare disease during Dad!Marcs's latest hospital stay.

So, now we're at least armed with the right medication regimen (which seems to be doing him better), and the right kind of physical therapy, and the right kind of other stuff that goes along with the right diagnosis.

Aaaaand, I'm rambling. Sorry.

In any case, I know I promised to deliver the second half of a fic this weekend, but it's not gonna happen. I've picked at the fic, but really not much more than that. Hopefully next weekend or the weekend after I'll be able to post a finished product. For the next week or two? Not gonna happen.

I apologize in advance for the delay.

In any case, I'm blacking out for this weekend (at the very least).
liz_marcs: (Cordelia_Squee)
2013-01-24 02:42 pm

A New Way to Hear "Losing My Religion"


Hunh. This is pretty cool. A "scale-down video" in which all of the minor notes in R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" are now the major notes. It adds an interesting dimension to the song, that's for sure.

Looks like there might be a whole series of these "scale-down videos" over on Vimeo, to boot.

Hat-tip to Boing Boing
liz_marcs: Jeff and Annie in Trobed's bathroom during Remedial Chaos Theory (Jeff_Annie_Remedial Chaos Theory)
2013-01-19 09:30 pm

FIC: Hipster Anatomy and Mating Rituals (Community, PG-13), Part 1/2

Holy crap. It's been awhile since I've ficc'd.

I think I needed a pleasant distraction for myself. And this seemed...well...not easy, but at least a fun challenge.

Part 2 will probably be posted next weekend.

  Hipster Anatomy and Mating Rituals
Author:  Lizbeth Marcs
Summary:  Annie finally lands a date with someone who is younger than Greendale’s average age of 50, doesn’t make her feel like a sad reverse Lolita loser, and actually pays. Now all she needs to do is hide Trent from everyone she knows, and things will work out fine. (Spoiler alert:  She really should’ve known from the start that her plan to protect Trent from her friends wasn’t ever going to work.)

Genre:  Humor; ship fic
Rating:  PG-13 for references to off-screen masturbation and sex, but nothing explicit
Series:  Community
Characters:  Annie Edison (main), Abed Nadir, Britta Perry, Jeff Winger, Pierce Hawthorne, Shirley Bennett, Troy Barnes, original character
Pairings:  Annie/OC; Annie/Jeff (UST for most of the story)

Warnings:  Spoilers for all of S1—3. Also vague spoilers for S4 if you consider the study group being together at the start of the season a spoiler.

Author’s Note:  Based on [ profile] crittab's Ficcy Friday challenge:  Annie goes on a date with a hipster and Jeff just can't hold his tongue. I expanded on the idea quite a lot by incorporating a cut scene from S3 where Annie rants during Starburns’s funeral about her terrible luck on the dating front. Since the rant never aired, I’ve adopted the head cannon that no one in the group knows about Annie’s ego-killing “coffee dates.”


Finally, this is a bit of an experiment for me. First ever Community fic. First ever fic in a sitcom fandom. First ever overtly shippy fic, as opposed to my usual default of gen.  Yeah, when I break from my usual, I go big.

Disclaimer:  Abed Nadir, Annie Edison, Britta Perry, Jeff Winger, Pierce Hawthorne, Shirley Bennett, Troy Barnes, and all associated characters and organizations are the property of Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment, Dan Harmon Productions, Russo Brothers Films, Universal Television, and Sony Pictures Television. Any mention of real life events and real people is not meant to imply that the people or incidents in question as they are used in the story have any relationship to reality. All original characters and the plot are mine. No payment was asked for or received in the writing of this story and no profit was earned. No copyright infringement is intended.

liz_marcs: Emerson Cod wants to know what the hell is wrong with you (Pushing_Daisies_Emerson_Hell_Wrong)
2013-01-14 07:15 pm

More on the Class Divide

During a meeting at work today there was an actual conversation about awful "ObamaCare" is and how the "less deserving" was going to take advantage of it.

Me: *biting my tongue so hard that I could taste blood*

One of the participants actually said, "Worst of all, how are we supposed to pay for healthcare for people who contribute nothing to society?"

Me, unable to take it any more: "A friend of mine died from sepsis poisoning that was diagnosed far too late because he didn't have health insurance, which meant he had no healthcare either."

Result: Stunned silence that lasted all of a minute.

Me thinking during the moment of silence: I hope every single one of you feel shame.

And then they started talking about hockey.

Me thinking during the hockey discussion: I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

What is wrong with people?
liz_marcs: From Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail.  "Help, help. I'm being repressed." (Monty_Python_Repressed)
2013-01-11 06:05 pm

In Which I Discover That I've Crossed a Class Divide

The big news at work: The moment when everyone discovered they had a little less in their paychecks today than usual.

It took me all of one minute to figure it out. The Social Security Tax increased from 3% back up to its previous level of 6% after a two-year holiday. I know this because, y'know, I read the news.

It took my co-workers a little longer to figure it out. Cue the bitching and moaning. Not to mention discussion of what costs they're going to cut to make up for the loss of income.

This was my cue to blink uncomprehendingly at my co-workers.

Cut because this is getting long )

liz_marcs: Jeff and Annie in Trobed's bathroom during Remedial Chaos Theory (Default)
2013-01-10 10:23 am

Defining Bittersweet

For some random reason, I decided to look at the Website of the first post-college daily newspaper I ever worked for and saw that a reporter I used to work with is retiring today.

To make it doubly bittersweet, he was in the line of reporters that "bumped" me from my job as a beat reporter during my first-ever experience with layoffs.

"Bumping" works like this:
  • Step 1:  Newspaper cuts job/beat, leaving reporter without a job
  • Step 2:  Reporter doesn't want to leave workplace, so he or she "bumps" a reporter with less seniority out of their job and takes over the existing beat
  • Step 3:  Bumped reporter doesn't want to leave workplace, so he or she "bumps" a reporter with even less seniority out of their job and takes over the existing beat
  • Step 4:  Wash-rinse-repeat until the reporter with the least bit of seniority finds themselves laid off, even though it wasn't their job that was eliminated in the first place, in a real-life, high-stakes version of musical chairs
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this used to be how newspapers laid off people. Much as it sucked for me — mostly because it seemed like I was perpetually low-person on the totem pole — it also made sense. The newspaper got to keep the institutional memory for the geographic area they were covering, and older reporters with kids/spouses/mortgages didn't find themselves job hunting for the next year or two.

It sucked, but it was fair, y'know?

Now, newspapers cut the most experienced so it can hire the kid that'll do the same job for one-third the cost that's right out of college with no experience as a reporter, let alone any institutional memory of the geographic area or the newspaper itself. Which is wht we're all in the mess we're in media-wise, and it sucks.

Anyway, said retiring reporter was, I believe, somewhere in the middle of the "bumping" chain that ended with me. So, he wasn't directly responsible for me being out of a job, but he was within six degrees of it.

In any case, that layoff was the first in a long line of getting laid off from jobs, especially newspaper jobs. It's practically the defining characteristic of being Generation X in the U.S. of A., isn't it?

Baby Boomers and older can count the number of employers on one hand and have fingers left over. Generation X and younger have lost count of the number of employers they've worked for due to layoffs, company closures, company buyouts, grabbing make-work jobs between full and meaningful employment, and so on.

The hell with that. I've lost track of the number of industries I've worked in.

Well, in any case, good luck to my former colleague as he sails into retirement.

As for me, in the end it turned out okay.

Granted, it took me a decade (or two) to get where I am, but where I ended up ain't so shabby and, I suspect, suits me better than being a real-life version of Hildy Johnson.

I mean, if it wasn't for that layoff all those many years ago, I would've never wound up in a scientific field. Nor would I have ever discovered that I'm actually good at science for someone with very little post-high school education in it. An oversight that I am now in the midst of correcting.

(Secret: Despite all that, I sometimes miss being a reporter the way some people miss having a limb.)