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Pick a song lyric from one of those annoying songs about New York City

I’m going to assume this cold I’ve had since Sunday is a result of my new-found reliance on public transportation. Oh, New York City, less than a week into our relationship, and you’re already making things harder than they should be.

No one ever really enjoys driving to work. Well, I suppose if you live in New Jersey, you don’t enjoy driving to work at all. Now that I rely on the train to get to and from work, I kind of wish I didn’t need to share space with so many people. Noisy, angry-looking, sick (!) people. Getting on the train in the morning is funny. One side of each car has two seats, and the other side has three. The people on the two-seat side have to sit next to each other, of course. On the three-seat side, however, people leave the middle seat empty, so there’s space between the two people. My stop is near the end of the line, and it surprises me when people choose to stand, instead of ask one of these people to move over a seat.

I still can’t believe that at 31, I’m working in New York City. Coming from a communications/journalism background in college, I assumed my first job would be in NYC working for one of the papers or media outlets. While I’ve been to NYC numerous times for concerts, interviews, or meeting friends, it’s never been my lifeblood. Hell, I’ve avoided it when possible. Now, it’s my second home. And it’s surreal to spend my short afternoon breaks outside with what seems like the rest of the world, rather than by myself in some suburban landscape.

I know it will wear on me quickly. Bad enough I’m sick less than a week into my new job, and I probably have NYC to blame for it. But I’m doing my best to keep my sights set on long-term goals. I think I’m in a good place, and if I work hard and keep listening, I feel this will work out. I’ll put up with the commute if it means achieving the goals Amber and I have set for ourselves.

At this point, I’m really just doing my best to stay awake and upright in an attempt to keep breathing through my nose.

Saying goodbye to Delaware, and hello to the future

Our home away from home

Our home away from home

I wish I had thought of keeping a daily journal of my activities in Delaware. I returned home last night, and missed it as soon as I crossed into New Jersey. Even a stop at the Silverball Pinball Arcade in Asbury Park didn’t help as much. It’s like I’m suffering from jet lag, even though I never left EST, and wasn’t on a plane. But I’ve had this feeling before; a longing for a place I was just at, an escape from the negative presences and aspects of my life. A return to the routine.

Amber and I had the cottage to ourselves (and our two dogs) for the first time. Also for the first time, at least in my three years going to Dewey/Rehoboth Beach, it rained almost all week. The weather was decent on Tuesday when we arrived, but after that, the sun didn’t show up very much. I ended up buying a fancy raincoat/windbreaker at the outlets, which was vital to get through the rest of the vacation. My AMEX card will be locked up for a while. I’m sure the people selling dog coats made a lot of money.

Amber and her mom have been going to Delaware every year, along with other greyhound owners, rescuers, and adopters, to celebrate the breed, sell goods, find homes for foster dogs, and more for the benefit of the breed that stole my heart at the same time that Amber stole mine. I don’t enjoy every activity, but I’ve learned a lot about the dogs, and it has helped me enjoy some of the activities more. Getting to know some of the people has been a big help, too.

Amber really wanted to get married in Dewey Beach this year; unfortunately, health issues with our grandparents made that impossible. So we decided to have a small, unofficial ceremony, for friends who couldn’t make it north back in April.  Due to the rain, our original location near the beach was mostly underwater, so we had it at the house her mom and friends rented. We made the most of it, and it was worth it to make her and her friends happy.

I shopped and ate, both activities I seem to be able to enjoy anywhere. There’s no sales tax in Delaware, and three outlet malls within two miles, so we certainly came back with more than what we came down there with. I bought some new clothes, a few odds and ends, and way too much food.

For the most part, the people are polite, the businesses are welcoming, and our cottage was close to just about everything and everywhere that mattered to us. I made some new friends, and watched Amber reunite with a close friend, a mentor to her and a big part of the dog rescue community. Did I mention there’s no sales tax? Amber and I would love to live in Delaware. Parts of the area shut down after Labor Day, but there are still many more places open. Now that we’re married, it makes sense to have our own fresh start. Leaving the hustle and bustle, the taxes, and the drama behind would be good for us.

Of course, life isn’t quite that simple. The job market there is pretty bare, unless you’re a farmer, a scientist, or want to work in retail. My layoff from work a few months ago certainly didn’t help our quest for a place of our own, either. It would certainly be nice to retire there, since everyone else seems to want to go to Florida. Making a permanent residence out of it, for now, may not be feasible.

Whether we eventually live in Delaware, or simply keep it as a vacation spot, it will remain in a very special place in our hearts. It’s where I overcame my fear of dogs. It’s where I have seen Amber’s love for greyhounds on display, a love that guides so much of her life and adds so much good to her person. It’s where I asked her to marry me. I will always have fond memories of Dewey and Rehoboth Beach, and I can’t wait to go back, whether it’s for next year’s greyhound event, or sooner.

At the end of last year’s vacation, I was laid off from my old job, my life thrown into uncertainty and turmoil. Tomorrow I start a new job in New York City. I accepted the offer before we went on vacation, taking one last hurrah of fun, before I go back into the workforce so we can take a lot more vacations.

Aaaaand not so much.

Life is funny. Not Chuck Lorre garbage sitcom funny. Maybe Roseanne-funny (early seasons) or something from the mind of Larry David.

I had this draft entry on how I recently had two different cars break down on me in 24 hours. I wanted to tie that in to how life changes when you grow up, how priorities shift and people change. Something light-hearted while still making some grand point. You know me, though, I can’t seem to focus on one thing at a time. So I hit the wall, moved on to something else, and never came back to it.

Then a bigger change happened soon after that. I got laid off from my job…again.

Yeah, the job that finally had me thinking about growing up. The job that took good care of me and finally gave me an opportunity to work on actual, useful skills for the real world. Now I’m back to a very similar place when I was laid off the first time. Mentally, though, I’m better prepared. And I see the positives a lot clearer this second time around.

I take comfort in knowing that it wasn’t my fault. I mean, if there’s anything to take as a positive from a layoff, downsizing, or whatever buzzword someone invented to soften the blow and miss the point, it’s that it was out of my hands. Their problems are their problems – I can’t fix them, but I have to focus on my problems (especially now) and work on solutions. The people who are still there need to do the same thing.

So hello Indeed, LinkedIn, and Mediabistro, we meet again. Job Search v2 is going well, thanks to an amazing support system of friends and family, passing my information along, giving me leads, and just keeping me positive. I’m not being paid to sit on the couch and watch reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation, however, so I’m not wasting time. I think my downtime will be considerably shorter here.

I gained a lot of relevant and interesting experience in my short time tech writing for an IT consulting company. That makes me more marketable to potential employers, and makes me happier about myself. It also supported and helped cultivate a few personal interests of mine. I’m grateful for the experience, even though it ended so soon.

I’d close by saying that I’d like to do a better job of keeping this blog updated, especially while I have all this free time, but I know I have a poor track record of that. To end on a high note though, I will say that I love being married. Once this little blemish is fixed, we can finally focus on a place, and lives, of our own.

Things are good

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.

Getting hitched

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.

Wrestling with Twitter (or #firstworldproblems)

A year and a half ago, I split off my Twitter account (way to sound like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company) to serve two audiences: my friends, and everyone else. I am probably a bit of an over-sharer on social media, but I also am somewhat protective of my life. Since joining Twitter a few years ago, I have gone back and forth locking and unlocking my feed, switching between friends-only and complete access. When you’re online, don’t be a total coward, but also make sure what you say and do doesn’t blow back into your real life. However, I also like being a wise-ass. I’ll say things that are a bit off-color or lowbrow, and unfortunately, this doesn’t please everyone. So I keep my personal account locked.

Being unemployed, I understand the importance of managing your reputation online. Would one thing I said on Twitter two years ago really cost me a job offer? So a year and a half ago, I started a new Twitter account, open for all to see.

This was mostly spurred by my…adoration, obsession, need, whatever…to offer my opinions on pro wrestling, which I am a huge fan of. And baseball, too. It took me some time to figure out why all the wrestlers I was writing from my (now locked) personal account weren’t responding to my tweets. I’ve seen other people create and grow a respectable audience for their views and take on the world of professional wrestling, and so I threw my hat in the ring.

(FYI – I’m not giving that link out here. I can’t just tell a company that might hire me, ‘Hey, I may say these bad words, or make that joke, but I do it for fun!’)

Through hashtagging, search terms, and word-of-mouth, I slowly started to add followers. I really owe it to the few friends I have that like pro wrestling, and my brother, another fan. For some reason, most of my friends have zero interest in it (which is another reason I created the other Twitter account). I currently have 182, mostly human followers. I think I do a very good job weeding out spammers, bots, and people who have no interest in pro wrestling, so I feel it’s a fairly honest number. People don’t often go through their list to weed those accounts out, or they even buy followers to blow their numbers up. I only interact with a fraction of that number, probably because I don’t usually follow-back (seeing #TeamFollowback in a new follower’s bio generally gets them blocked). If you want to follow me, great. Talk to me or give me some idea that you’re a real person interested in my offerings.

And through this year-plus leading this double-life, I’ve mostly had fun with it. I remember my phone blowing up when CM Punk, THE top wrestler right now, re-tweeted something I wrote for his hundreds of thousands of followers to see.

I think my initial idea for the other account was to be a little different, and a bit removed from my ‘real’ self. That went out the window pretty quick. In terms most wrestling fans understand (or think they do), I ended up dropping my gimmick, and opted to shoot. And between the pro wrestling thing, and how bad my Mets have been recently, I don’t do a lot of tweeting about baseball. But I mix things up, and offer lots of views on totally unrelated, random things. This morning, I live-tweeted The Price is Right, a sign that I am very unemployed. I can get my sense of humor out to the few people that follow my personal account, but there’s millions more outside that bubble, and the other account serves that purpose.

However, I’ve grown frustrated — or jealous, to be honest — with how slow it has been for me to grow my audience. Maybe it’s an inflated ego. I see much less funny or thought out tweets, by people with many more followers, get more re-tweets and responses than what I come up with. Monday nights (and Sunday nights, when there’s a pay-per-view) are very busy for the people who tweet or follow pro wrestling on Twitter. With the WWE begging us to use hashtags all night, Twitter gets bottlenecked with users interacting with what they’re watching, and who they’re watching it with.

Maybe it’s trying to cut through the crowd to get myself out there. I don’t sell t-shirts, run a YouTube, or have boobs, so I have to rely on offering a humorous or unique point-of-view. In other words, being myself. I give some credit to people who have taken their interest in pro wrestling, and made it into something more. If you can’t BE a pro wrestler, I guess it’s the next best thing.

Some days, I feel like quitting. It’s stupid and petty to be looking at people’s followers, or how many retweets they get, and getting upset at it. I got chewed up by the social hierarchy in high school, so if I had to play amateur psychologist, that may be a contributing factor. I may go through a Monday night with maybe one reply, or one or two RTs. Yuck.

No, it’s probably an ego thing. And a bit of a lack of effort. Even with all this time on my hands, I don’t have all the time in the world to tweet non-stop about pro wrestling. I’m getting married in three months. I’m looking for work. I try to not sit in front of the computer all day, unless I’m tweeting AND looking for work at the same time. Which is a pretty bad combination. I also am somewhat aware, maybe too much, of the stereotype around pro wrestling fans. Fat males, losers, obsessive, etc. I’d rather not play to the stereotype, and I challenge my followers to be different, too.

I also don’t take as much time writing other people. Twitter is about conversation, as much as it’s about flouting your ego and feeling like the center of the universe. People use the search function to do this, or use the hashtag feature to follow along with something happening in real-time. Outside of what I see on my time-line, I don’t generally look at what strangers have to say about anything. So I’m not using social networking to necessarily network, but to maintain the current network I have. I will be rethinking that in 2013.

I realize this whole thing is stupid. File it under #firstworldproblems. I’m grateful to have a voice and be able to express it. I have some very cool people following me, some of them are actual wrestlers. I may crap on their company and express my negative opinion on a story, or on another wrestler (maybe even a friend of theirs). I’m glad to have the audience I have now. But it’s hard to put down the power of social media now, and it has become a playground of the electronic, worldwide variety. Where ‘everyone’ wants to be popular and the center of attention. I get annoyed seeing the same people RTed, or get responses from wrestlers. Rather than spam everyone else’s feeds, I have to look for a creative way to get my ideas and humor out there. 

2013 will be a year of change for me, and how I handle Twitter will be one of them. It won’t be the most important thing I do. But how do I ask my fiancée if I should live-tweet our wedding?

A bump in the road, a mooch on the system, a new outlook

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.

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