Well, I’m not updating my blog from my couch, or a library. I’m happy to be back in the workforce, embarking on a new career, and quickly approaching my wedding. More updates later.
I proposed to my girlfriend a couple of Octobers ago, at our vacation spot on the beach in Delaware. It will remain as one of the proudest moments of my life, naturally. I just wish I didn’t wear all black. What the hell was I thinking?! About everything else, of course. I was nervous about saying the right things, and making sure everything was timed right.
Since then, time has flown by. And we’re now less than three months away from being Mr. and Mrs. Handelman.
I had no hopes for marriage as a teenager. I was in puppy love with maybe 971,083 girls back in high school, and back then I thought I was in love. I was the perfect friend-zone guy, too gullible to realize it, too dumb to know what to do about my feelings, and easy to wrap around a finger. College wasn’t much better, either. So when I was finished getting my education, I was quite the bitter person. Only after I moved out on my own — and learned to grow up — did I meet someone who taught me the true meaning of love, and filled a space in my heart I wasn’t sure would ever be filled.
All that unrequited ’love’, and all the negative things associated with those experiences, led me to this point — and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It was my former job that led me to move to where I am now, and that allowed me to meet my fiancée.
Before I know it, the ceremony will be over. Then the honeymoon will be over, and we won’t be a couple of newlyweds. Old news! So I’ll cherish the moment when it arrives, and try not to get lost in the work that has to be done leading up to April 21. Amber, wiser and more capable beyond her years, is planning and paying for the majority of it. It will be a big relief to her when it’s all over. All I really have to do is rent a tux and write my vows and speeches.
I get ahead of myself easily (hence the whole puppy love/friend zone deal at the beginning), so I’m thinking about a place of our own, a family, finances, and how it’s all related to my current pre-marital (lack of) employment status. I won’t be unemployed forever, but having both my professional and personal life at a time-sensitive crossroads wears me down. I know I’ll be back in the workforce at some point, but I KNOW when I’m getting married. To be on our own and somewhat comfortable by, or around that time, would be nice. It’s my goal.
I’ve told myself that I have to start taking things on a day-by-day basis. It’s easy to get lost in the future, especially when we don’t know what it is. That’s especially important now, because I don’t want to miss anything. Or screw it up.
I’ve been out of work for a month now. I can’t say I’m all that surprised, having worked in the newspaper industry these last seven years. A brutal mix of general economic woes, enhanced by the sharp decline of the newspaper business, combined to end my job. I’ve seen it happen to so many others during my seven years working in the industry.
Regardless of the credentials of the ‘experts’ interviewed on TV about the state of the economy and employment figures, and what those people are saying, I feel the jobs sector in uncharted territory. Technology continues to evolve, even in a recession, and society must evolve with it. This includes companies and corporations big and small, where industries must make use of current and future technology to their betterment (and survival). Some companies seem to want to hold on to ideas and opinions from the past, refusing to acknowledge that the world works differently now. Not every CEO or business owner understands the importance of forward-thinking, and it might be one of the more under-utilized traits these days.
Evolve, and change with the times, or be pushed to the wayside and become a footnote in some Wikipedia stub somewhere. Newspapers have been walloped by the Internet and social media, where coverage of news events has turned to real-time. The traditional news outlets did a great job covering the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, but Twitter and Facebook delivered real-time news and voices directly from the impacted areas. You can’t beat real-time, it’s expected now. News outlets have been slow in delivering news, maintaining a useful and timely web site, or updating their technology to allow employees to stay current and serve their readership and their customers. Those places now operate with a fraction of their budget, or of their workforce, if at all.
In a way, I’m happy to be free of the fear put upon those of us in the newspaper industry. As someone who tries to keep tuned to what happens in the media industry in general, I know the conventional business model for newspapers isn’t one that will survive. Local businesses, national businesses and automotive dealers — the majority of advertising you find in local newspapers — are generally suffering through the rocky economy. The Internet and social media allows these businesses to reach their customer base and cut out the newspaper and the cost to take out advertisements. More and more papers are cutting a few days a week out of their print schedule, if they were lucky to not close entirely. So while I’m not happy that I lost my job, it’s not a complete shock. It’s a relief in some ways, and a harsh reality check in others.
Like many, I now have to take the skills I’ve learned doing Pagination (placing the text and picture elements to make the individual newspaper pages, in a nutshell) and attempt to reconcile those skills with the rest of the real world. Newspaper pagination doesn’t translate real well with the rest of the media industry. We don’t write or sell ads. To some, it’s barely considered graphic design.
Case in point: I went on an interview with a major magazine company in NYC a few years ago. The hiring representative sounded excited to talk to me on the phone and hastily set up an interview for the next day. Once I arrived, I filled out the paperwork and we started the interview. The woman asked me to describe my current job to her again, and I did similar to our phone conversation. After my explanation, the woman simply said that she didn’t think this position would be a good fit. And that was the end of the interview. Quite the 180 from our phone conversation the day before! And a very sobering experience concerning the divide between new and old media. Maybe in this case, it’s old and older media.
My fears have changed now, but they’ve also been met by new resolve, new determination, and new life goals.
If this had happened a few years ago, I would probably still be at home with my parents. However, I’m getting married in April. My fiancée and I have a lot we want to do, and a determination to take our lives elsewhere, together. I need to work in order to do that. Right now, I feel like a giant mooch at a time where I (and my soon-to-be wife) badly want our independence. Had this happened to the single me, I’d still be out of a job and needing a source of income. But now, I am partially responsible for the well-being of someone I care deeply about. So the importance of getting back into the workforce is even greater now.
Rather than sulk like so many of my friends in a similar situation, I am determined to get back to work. I’m giving more thought and consideration to the little ideas that float into my head, possibilities for something more than working for somebody else or in a position that has existed for decades. The possibilities are out there, if you think of them. And find someone handing out bags of cash.
I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me. At this stage of my life, though…I think that’s what I need.
How you all doing?
I told myself that if I ever bought a tablet, I’d try and restart my blog again. And here I am, Nexus 7 in hand and baseball on the TV.
There’s lots to talk about, it’s a matter of how I feel about attempting to spill my guts. I’ve spent so much time on Twitter that the whole serious, introspective long-form writing thing has taken a back seat.
I hope I can get back in the swing of things. Perspectives change. Boy, do they.
Living in northern New Jersey trying to make ends meet, I am always looking for possessions to sell on eBay to raise cash.
A while back, I grabbed my bag of old Game Boy games. I can’t recall the last time I played a Game Boy game, so they are prime candidates to be sold. But to make sure everything still worked after all this time, I tested out some games. And of course, I ended up playing more games and recalling simpler times. I never did put them on eBay. I just felt too good playing games like Bionic Commando, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pokemon Pinball. While I know I could sell them for some needed cash, I want to be able to play these games, should that urge and curiosity come back.
Nostalgia is big business, no longer limited to hoping your old Nintendo still works, or digging through your box of records or tapes to listen to your favorite summer music from long ago. Whether you like to go antiquing on weekends, watch old television shows on DVD or see bands long past their prime, we have a hard time letting go of our past. Why should we? People will talk about moving forward, and those same people may say that staying connected to the past is a great way to fail. Obviously, there are some drawbacks to maintaining a mindset that is outdated. Even though history seems to repeat itself — war, prosperity, contentment, political and social unrest, recession, back to war, and so on — there are unique differences and ever-changing rules that go along with the times. It’s important to keep up, but dangerous to let go of the past. Of course, human atrocities and Beverly Hills 90210 are considered unforgettable for different reasons.
Pepsi experienced some success with their limited re-release of Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback, featuring cane sugar as in the older formulas. By using the old packaging, Pepsi is allowing older consumers to remain connected to the memories of their childhood, when life seemed easier, more fun, and full of stuff that isn’t good for you. Staying with the soft drink theme for just a bit, my fiancée was happy to see the release of Mello Yello here in New Jersey. For her, it brought back childhood memories of living in the south. The retro look, a mostly yellow and green label, lets you know that there is a story behind this soda. Of course, there are soda drinkers that long for cola made with sugar, as opposed to the cheaper high fructose corn syrup, but most Americans probably pay no mind. For others though, that familiar Pepsi taste brings back family dinners, parties at the roller rink, or any number of personal, unique childhood memories.
As far as I know, Pepsi Throwback is a part of Pepsi’s normal product line now, thanks to the buzz the product got online. Of course, soda was a lot cheaper growing up, and not just because my parents bought it.
The cost of everything has gone up. This isn’t surprising, since A) the economy and value of our dollar has shit the bed; and B) I now have to buy my own toys. I was a huge fan of G.I.Joe as a kid, and I could never have enough of the figures and vehicles. It’s nice to see them still around, in some form. Figures cost around $3 in the 90′s, and now the figures — with cheaper plastic and no real improvement in paint or likeness — now cost 7-10 dollars. Again, the price increases over the past 15 years can be explained by the economy and cost of materials.
I know I’m not the only one to miss the pop culture part of my childhood, either. There are retro logo t-shirts at major retailers. A good chunk of business at Hot Topic is probably due to retro brand, or band, t-shirts. Target thinks there’s a market for retro logo soft drink shirts. And any talk of nostalgia would be incomplete without mentioning the glut of Hollywood movie remakes. Unfortunately, most of them are garbage.
I went with my future brother-in-law to a store called Digital Press, which specializes in video games. They are part-museum, part-retail and part-hangout for players, fans and collectors. Seeing the older games played on TV screens and looking at the box art that once littered my living room floor brought the past back to me. We weren’t the only ones doing this, of course, as the store was packed with shoppers, browsers, and friends catching up to talk about how they didn’t shower that day. They can sell modern games like Halo and Skyrim, but there’s something awesome about being able to buy some of the Nintendo games you once owned (or never did) as a child.
Those old video games have also become collector’s items, so while some people probably threw out their old Nintendo or Sega games, stores are taking advantage of the nostalgia rush by selling some of these games for upwards of 50 dollars. Which is close to what current, new video games retail for.
I certainly don’t miss things like my seemingly impossible homework or bouts with the flu, by connecting with a specific and enjoyable part of my past, I’m able to remember the great times and material things I had when I was a child. Times were simpler, responsibilities were smaller, and the fun seemed a little more pure.
The tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 recently passed. As we do every year on that day, we reflect back on the tragedies and atrocities that happened. We talk about where we were and what we were doing that morning, how we reacted, and what we did at home, at work, at school, or at Ground Zero.
Sports played a key role in the American public moving forward. Baseball was entering the playoff stretch and the NFL just started. It was easy to look towards sports to ease our recovery. And sports leagues and teams did all they could to show their support. The New York Mets were vital in the community, running donation efforts from the parking lot of Shea Stadium. While the cross-town Yankees were (unfairly) considered ‘America’s Team’ in the 2001 World Series against the Arizona (which was in the United States ten years ago, and still is) Diamondbacks, some could argue that it was the Mets who helped lead the healing effort. I suppose it didn’t hurt that the Yankees were on a long road trip at the time of the attacks, though.
Let’s cut the rhetoric and fast-forward to last Sunday, where MLB and teams across the country took moments of silence and paid respect to everyone caught up in the cause and effect of those attacks ten years ago. The Mets were (smartly) scheduled to play a home game against the Chicago Cubs, in the “coveted” Sunday night national broadcast on ESPN. Naturally, the Mets and ESPN would have a touching and well-done tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11. And like the Mets did after the attacks, one of the things many fans expected the team to do was to wear black hats representing the vital first responders from New York City – the NYPD, PAPD, FDNY, EMS, etc.
Well, ESPN and the Mets did everything right in tastefully honoring 9/11. But hours before the game started, my Twitter feed blew up with news from various Mets beat writers — MLB was not allowing the team to wear their first responder hats.
Now, there is so much more involved in respectfully remembering the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attacks. The choice of hat certainly can’t overshadow or define the tireless work that city first responders did. But it would have been further tribute to the police, fire and rescue groups who risked their lives. Those groups led the rescue efforts at Ground Zero, and the Mets helped lead the community rescue effort 10 years ago.
But then the argument enters petty territory. MLB, a multi-billion dollar monopoly of teams with various revenue steams keeping their machine well-oiled, featured “special edition” hats from New Era, who, as you can see above, make “the official on-field cap of Major League Baseball.” These hats continue to sell on MLB’s online shop for $36.99. There’s nothing wrong with having an American flag on a baseball cap, but you have to wonder the real motive for dictating which hat the Mets could wear during the game last week.
To make things even stranger, the hat edict came from Joe Torre, the same Joe Torre who managed the New York Yankees for so long and to so much success, he practically was a Papal figure to Yankee fans and New York sports aficionados. Torre is now the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. Basically, he upholds the rules of baseball and issues punishments when necessary. How strange would it be if Torre himself fined the Mets club and players for defying to wear those FDNY and NYPD hats, representative of a city that was so good to him for so many years, on a day that was poignant for so many.
Bud Selig, Torre’s boss and Commissioner of MLB, backed up Torre’s decision by citing MLB’s uniform code. I understand baseball occupies a very time-honored part of this country’s history, but is that worth bragging about when you come across as clueless and money-hungry? The integrity of baseball should always be upheld – which I suppose is why Pete Rose and the players of the Black Sox gambling scandals were so quickly punished, while steroid cheats were very, very slowly exposed, many to small consequence.
How does wearing a different hat for one night negatively affect the integrity of baseball or the old-timers who played the game before?