The Ever Changing Life.

History is the autobiography of a madman – Alexander Herzen


Well it’s that time of year again… No not Valentines season, or Lent, or the snowiest part of the winter season. It’s tax season! Or… as H & R block calls it, “Refund Season!” Where we all get our W-2 and send in our taxes and hopefully get a sweet refund from our wages earned in 2014. I was very surprised when I had no less than 5 W-2s. from last year. Apparently I worked 5 different taxable jobs. That can’t be right I thought as I looked back… Well I was teaching in the fall…worked at a summer camp…am a youth minister on Sundays…also coached high school tennis in the Spring….and supervised tennis instruction for my city in the fall and spring.

It was quite a busy year. This of course doesn’t count the manual labor I did in exchange for rent at the camp I was living at nor the after school care I did for some side for extra cash. So yes, I had quite a busy 2014.

This situation isn’t as uncommon as you may think anymore. I’m talking about changing your life and your work. While 5-7 different jobs in one year probably isn’t desirable nor sustainable, the old progression of grade school – college/workforce – 1 job – retirement – death is gone. One major change of the 21st century is being able to move and move purposefully.

A friend of mine went from a cashier at a bookstore to a cook at a food store to being promoted several times and running a region of those food stores to being a firefighter/EMT. He majored in English.

Another friend was a lifeguard then became a job recruiter and now is a teacher. He majored in business administration.

A 3rd friend went to college in Maryland, majored in English/secondary education. Long term subbed for a couple months, worked for a newspaper in Florida, and now does digital marketing in L.A.

Possibilities are literally endless in the modern era if you’re willing to work, learn, search and change. The notion of “starting over” is much more achievable now than it ever has. And we have all sorts of reasons to start over.
Friend 1 had a DUI that derailed his life for a little. Then found that, while he was making a good amount of money running a regional food franchise there wasn’t anything fulfilling about it.
Friend 2 had a similar feeling about recruitment. It was boring and unfulfilling. He found much more enjoyment and fulfillment in teaching and working with kids.
Friend 3 had a bad experience with teaching. (He was told that the teacher he was subbing for came back unexpectedly and he not need to come back while he was spending Spring Breaking in South Africa.) He decided to give away many of his belongings (I scored a sweet bed out of it) and move 1000 miles away. He’s a fan of good weather and decided to travel wherever and as often as he can.

What’s the common denominators in those examples? Not being fulfilled, and doing something about it.

It wasn’t too long ago that a job opening in a small town would only be heard about in that town. There was no job listing sites, no Linked in, and no hope that there was something different than the job they studied to have, or a job close by was the only job they could find. This is a little insane when you think about it. A decision you made when you were 18-20 and still not having a fully formed brain is should impact you for the rest of your life. Of course there are career changers but this is a relatively new phenomenon. But now it’s become common. My father worked for decades as a engineer in the corporate world and now helps run a homeless shelter for families.

We all want to be happy and make money. We like the idea of change but fear what happens if the grass turns out to not be greener. Because of our culture and our technology we can do whatever we want, wherever we want, and if it doesn’t work out then continue on our journey. So no, I don’t want 5-7 different jobs next year. I don’t even want more than 2. I had a year of trying out different areas of interest and seeing what I was good at and what I enjoyed.

There is a reason why guys drop at 40 from a heart attack in addition to poor diet and excercising. If you drive over an hour a day to get to a job that’s stressful and leaves you unfulfilled. Why continue on like that? Mostly because they have a family to provide for. Even if they don’t they still have bills to pay and leaving a job that sustains you for a job that fulfills you can be scary. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom, sometimes you have to move far away, sometimes it takes faith and time, but it’s possible and it’s out there waiting for you.

A Farewell to Jon Stewart

History is the autobiography of a madman – Alexander Herzen


When I first saw Jon Stewart I remember it very vividly. It was 2002 when I was in the 6th grade. It was that awkward phase of life where I was starting to watch TV shows that aren’t the Disney channel and Nickelodeon. A friend of mine was at my house and put on comedy central and had some shows that I enjoyed so we kept watching. The Daily Show eventually came on. He groaned said, “I don’t get this show… it’s like news…but not, I think they tell jokes but I don’t get it.” We kept it on as we played a game but I started to realize what satire was though I didn’t know it by that name at that point in my life. From that point on I watched the show more and more. By high school I was hooked, watching it (and later Colbert) religiously every night.

The Daily Show and Jon Stewart had something so genuine about them. Even though most of what he was saying wasn’t true, it was always steeped in truth. Speaking truth to power seemed wholly American to me, starting from even before the American Revolution. This was seen explicitly as he would bash the absurdity of the Bush administration but use his talents with the same veracity, mock the Obama administration as well when it was absurd. Not to mention his epic segments on the media, talking heads, and anyone that was being disingenuous, corrupt, or oppressive.

Sometimes his bits would be more poignant than funny, others would have a juvenile joke around every corner, but would not be a deep and insightful point. He always knew which take to use on a particular issue.

As many people know now Jon Stewart is leaving his show sometime this year. When I first heard I thought it was one of those UN FUNNY fake news sites that have 0 humor in their stories but just print false stories to incite people. But, I read the comedy central statement and eventually saw him make the announcement on his show when it aired.

When it sunk in I felt a genuine sadness. Not an “oh that’s a shame” fickle sadness but The Daily Show was something that I grew up on and helped shaped my adolescent development. Even more than the personal loss I felt, was the loss to a nation. (I’m a drama Queen I know, but stay with me) Stewart would say what most news shows wouldn’t know how or weren’t allowed to say. But his show would be played in many news shows as a proxy to say what news casters were thinking. With Colbert doing a “real” late night show, and Jon Stewart leaving for “other things” I wonder who will fill his legendary shoes?

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was a show unlike any other and likely won’t come around again, though John Oliver does his best imitation on HBO. It not like he’s dead though and I wonder what comes next from Stewart but I assume it will be great. But as for The Daily Show, the best #@$%king news team, and the “Most Trusted Name in News” he will be missed by millions.

Working towards freedom

History is the autobiography of a madman – Alexander Herzen


Call me tacky but many “classic” literature novels bore me to tears. Catcher in the Rye glamorizes being socially weird, lord of the flies is unrealistic, and even though I never read the great Gatsby, the movie didn’t impress me. But the one that I can’t stand the most was “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s setting in England in early 1800’s where baseless classes were set up and that was all everyone worried about, doesn’t interest me and seems contrary to the culture to the American dream. The dream being that if you work hard enough you’ll “make it” and have the quintessential beautiful spouse, white picket fence, and the “2.5” kids. Unlike in “Pride and Prejudice’s” time period where you were stuck in your class. Thank God those days are gone…

Except they’re back. A recent study came back that said in modern America it is now harder to escape your economic class than it has ever been in the country, including colonial times. And of course the idea of working to get ahead seems laughable. Does the single mother who works 3 shifts and 80 hours a week as a waitress work more than a stock broker? Does the coal miner breathing in carcinogens work harder than the hedge fund manager?

The trend of children out pacing their parents in terms of income and education are dropping dramatically and other studies have come out where your parents education is almost the sole factor of what their children’s education’s level will be. Which is great for the children of doctors, lawyers, and executives. Not so great for the children of everyone else.

If we think of the middle class as a ship, or a passage to wealth it appears to be a sinking ship. Some people are in life boats and will get to the promised land, but most are getting dragged down. My parents, who were able to afford me a comfortable life with 1 parent working and the other having the option to work or stay home are now in their 50’s and working harder than they ever have in their life. A bread winner losing their job will do that to a family.

Wages have shrunk, hours are being cut, and more and more people are finding it harder just to get by. Job loss, a healthcare crisis, and other set backs can easily set a “middle class” family backwards, and there are few remedies for getting forward.

There is more education of course, but that takes time, money, and is close to impossible if you still have to work and take care of kids. There are solutions proposed by governments like a minimum wage increase, but that’s just a band-aid on a bullet wound. Minimum wage is what few people make and doesn’t affect people making just above minimum wage.

Poverty ends up being a type of slavery. While it’s not literally slavery it does severely limit your life. It’s hard to travel, eat well, and have leisure time if you’re always working. Not only that, but people are willing to put up with worse conditions and less wages and consider themselves lucky. Why? At least they have a job. But when you’re putting in time and effort to merely sustain a minimal existence, what’s the point? What can be done?

The answer of how to is for businesses to invest in their employees. It’s not something you can enforce or pretend to do. It’s something you have to believe in. There are some jobs out there that believe their employees are valuable and not just cogs in a machine. Costco is one that offers good wages, benefits, and a good chance for advancement, I’ve also heard of cafes that do this. Being a teacher is also one. While there is a lot of extra work involved than just the “business hours” of teaching school systems will provide benefits, retirement plans, and will provide many opportunities for educational advancement. Most states require that you advance your education.

But we can’t all work at costco, liberal cafes, and be teachers. Why more business don’t invest in their employees is beyond me. If you feel valued you’re more likely to like your job, if you like your job you’re going to perform well, and a job that has employees performing well will prosper.

I can remember being out to eat one night where the waitress was pleasant and happy but heard her comment to another worker that she can’t stand it here. Knowing that her smile was more or less a facade made me less likely to want to go there again. But places I’ve been where I know the staff and know the enjoy their job makes me want to frequent those places because I enjoy being in that atmosphere.

The middle class didn’t happen by accident. The middle class is planned. It usually takes democracy, bargaining power by employees, and low levels of inflation. Once employers see employees as people and are invested in them we can begin to advance in our class again. Otherwise wages will be stagnate, prices will rise, and people won’t be invested in their jobs. Life can be overwhelming, and work is inevitable, but instead of working to survive, we should be working to thrive. Not working and still being a slave to poverty but working for freedom.