It’s one of my favorite times of day: The middle of the night. All is quiet but for the heat blasting warmth into the parsonage against the freezing cold night. I have my cup of tea. For the moment, I am alone with my thoughts. And I am so privileged to share them with you, dear reader.
Too many things have been on my mind today. It’s been that kind of Sunday. So please accept my apologies if today’s (lengthy) post is a bit of a hodgepodge, veering from my usual practice of picking one topic and more or less sticking to it.
A Picture of a Person I Don’t Know
When I purchased my first new car, back in the mid-eighties, I was thrilled that it came standard with a cassette player. I was a bit behind the times, still listening mostly to 33⅓ rpm vinyl records. But I went right out and bought a few tapes to listen to on the way to work. The first of these was the original cast recording of the musical A Chorus Line. I had seen it performed on Broadway while I was in college, and it made a big impression on me. So no surprise that this is not the first A Chorus Line reference I’ve made on this blog; knowing me, it probably will not be the last.
Being unemployed and applying for jobs online is a humbling experience. It makes me feel like a beggar, hopeful for a crumb but not counting on it. And yes, I am nervous as hell about an interview I have coming up next week. So today I find myself channeling Paul, the dancer who sings at the end of “I Hope I Get It,” one of the musical numbers early in A Chorus Line (you can listen to one version here):
Who am I, anyway?
Am I my résumé?
That is a picture of a person I don’t know.
What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?
So many faces all around, and here we go.
I need this job, oh God, I need this show.
Here I was thinking that having the right résumé might make the difference between getting the job or not. It should be limited to a single page, if possible. It needs to stand out from the crowd, but still be sufficiently conservative to convey a proper business image. Your name and contact information has to be big and at the top, but not too big. You want to show everything you’ve done, but you don’t want to go back too far. You want to include enough detail to allow the employer to determine whether you are a good fit with the organization but you don’t want to pad your résumé either.
And now I find that none of this matters anymore. You see, while I was working all these years, the world changed. The résumé has become obsolete.
I’m not kidding. The last two jobs that I applied for were “résumé optional.” It’s almost as if employers think that your résumé is nothing but a bunch of lies and half-truths anyway, so why bother?
At first, I wondered if employers were being serious about this, or whether this was just some sort of newfangled passive-aggressive thing. So I figured there’s one way to find out. I played along with this little game by sending in an application sans résumé. And I was called for an interview.
I am witnessing a barrage of employer caveats along the lines of: Do not write “See résumé.” They want applicants to fill in all of their tiny spaces that are too small to type in. Half the time I have to print some of the pages and write in the info in my smallest, most cramped handwriting.
The whole thing is pretty obvious to me: It’s a control mechanism. When the applicant sends a résumé, the applicant is control. But when the employer requires the applicant to fill in little spaces describing his or her duties and accomplishments at every previous job, the employer is in control. We don’t care that you’ve already spent time and money preparing the perfect résumé. You’re in our territory now, and you’ll do it our way or get lost.
The employer knows that it has the upper hand, and seeks to take maximum advantage of the situation.
After all, there is a long line of Pauls at the door, toes on the chorus line, singing “I need this job, oh God, I need this show.”
The weather has been cool and crisp, hanging in the upper thirties during the day, freezing us out in the twenties at night.
Yesterday, it snowed.
I know. In northern California? Crazy.
Calling Al Gore — What was that about global warming again?
I didn’t actually see it snow, mind you. But I have it on good authority that a few flakes did indeed fall out of the sky at our location.
I had been following the weather forecast and was duly warned that this might happen.
As a native New Yorker, I miss the snow. So I kept an eye out.
At 3 a.m., I hauled myself out of bed, undid all the locks and stepped out the front door in my jammies to check. No snow.
It gets light about 7 a.m. this time of year, so I opened one eye and drew back the blinds to see what was going on. No snow.
A couple hours later, I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the bathroom. Just as I was about to set foot in the shower, my wife pounded on the door: “IT’S SNOWING!”
By the time I got out of the shower, headed back to the bedroom and looked out of the window, the show was long over. Any flakes that had fallen must have melted immediately.
So I missed it.
But all is not lost. My niece and her baby were out shopping and shot video of snowflakes falling on the mall parking lot. My wife showed it to me on her Facebook feed.
The evidence is clear. You snooze, you lose.
The Joy of Bread
I love good bread.
A crusty sourdough, rye or baguette that is soft and chewy in the middle. Forget the knife. Just rip off a chunk. You’re going to need your teeth for this one.
The best bread I’ve yet to find in this area is at Whole Foods Market. The nearest location is about thirty miles from here, and it had been about six weeks since we’d been down there.
But today my wife and I enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon, driving over to the Roseville Galleria for lunch and some shopping. The stores were packed with Christmas shoppers. Whole Foods wasn’t too bad when we entered the store, but by the time we had walked around and picked out our purchases, the place had started to seriously fill up. And forget about Trader Joe’s. The place was wall-to-wall people.
But we picked up my favorite bread, along with some treats from Whole Foods’ olive bar, the best pickles in the world (Bubbie’s — pickled in brine, no vinegar), a sleeve of firm tofu (much better for broiling than the kind in water) and my 85% cocoa butter vegan dark chocolate from TJ’s.
Now I know for sure that my wife loves me.
Take a Number, Bucko
When we first moved in here, I wrote a post about the challenges of three people plus a steady stream of visitors sharing a single bathroom.
Let me assure you, nothing has changed.
I am reminded of my childhood days, when my little sister, wanting to be sure that her whereabouts were known should anyone be searching for her, would regularly announce: “I’m going to the bathroom!”
“Put an ad in the paper!” my father would call down the hall.
And we had three bathrooms in our house. Even when we vacationed out in the country in an old house that didn’t have electricity, our outhouse was a two-holer. Know what I mean?
These days, I really do need to put out an advertisement before heading to the loo. Hmm, maybe we can start our own daily for this purpose. I think I’ll call it The Toilet Paper.
Within the last two days, I heard this:
“Are you coming out soon? I gotta gooooo!!”
“Aron’s going to take a shower. Does anyone need in the bathroom first?”
(bangs on bathroom door) “You’re gonna have to take a break and go back later. I gotta get in there.”
“You’re going in there? Wait! I gotta go first!” (from the other room) “Me, too!”
Take a number.
“Now serving… uh, number two!”
I woke up this morning to a sound to which I am growing quite accustomed. People talking and laughing in the living room.
We had guests.
They blow in and out of here with some regularity.
Yesterday afternoon, my niece (and her baby) came by with friend (one of the Ms). We put the baby down for a nap. Later, my niece returned to retrieve the little one, this time with two friends (the sisters who we call M&M) and one of their boyfriends. In the evening, my nephew showed up with his girlfriend and her parents.
So this morning it was no surprise when a crowd materialized before we had even rolled out of bed. Pastor Mom was sitting in her recliner, visiting with my sister-in-law, my niece and her baby, and a nephew whom I had not seen in years. He is one of the sons of my sister-in-law’s second husband, who she divorced a few years back.
My nephew is all grown up now. He’s already served a tour in the service and now works as an engineer in Las Vegas. He is thinking about going back in the Army. I raised my eyebrows to learn that he actually wants to be deployed to Afghanistan. Well, I’m sure glad someone wants to do it.
My wife and I have a lot of nieces and nephews. While my sister-in-law still had her own three kids at home, she married a man who had custody of his eight children, from a toddler to several teenagers.
After the divorce, they scattered. We tried to keep in touch for a while over Facebook and by text message. But family issues arose. Apparently we weren’t supposed to demonstrate any loyalty to the ex, nor (by extension) to his children. I wrote about this sad state of affairs back in March.
I pointed out in that post that there is no such thing as an ex-niece or an ex-nephew. You can’t expect people to turn love on and off like a light switch.
I am pleased to say that things are starting to change. A couple of the nieces have returned to this area and brought their spouses and children to my sister-in-law’s table for Thanksgiving dinner. And now one of the nephews dropped in to see all of us.
My wife and I are deeply moved by the way we are once again becoming the family that we’ve always known we could be. Today, she copied a portion of my March post onto her Facebook page. One of the nephews commented about his fond memories of us and how we will always be his auntie and uncle. My wife and I both let the tears flow.
And then my sister-in-law added her own comment, stating that the healing has begun.