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12/3/14

Suceder


qué sucederá 
cuando se confirme 
que en Ayotzinapa 
el Estado los entregó al narco 
y el narco los quemó 
la gente los quiere vivos 
reta al Estado 
le advierte al Presidente 
Ex Presidente 
a los narcos 
todos los partidos 
a la Casa Blanca 
que algo puede suceder

Ayotzinapa 

10/29/14

Field Assistant, Wanted

Compensation: $12/hour--in San Diego, this wage is a joke.

5 days a week (M-F)

This field position is an assistant to an appraiser (a greedy square) and will require extensive driving (get ready to get fat.) As a field assistant, you will perform various duties including responsibility for tracking and taking pictures of homes (you will never be able to afford.) These duties will be performed both inside and outside of the office (no escaping office politics.) Strong organizational and communication skills required (have your shit together and be able to speak in full sentences.) A successful candidate must have good PC skills (because we're boring and don't use Macs) (basic knowledge of MS Excel and digital cameras (as in, know what these things are)). Must be willing to work overtime (forget your pipe dream to paint on your free time) when it's busy (always.) Professional appearance required (look like the boss when he goes to Macy's and sneaks shy looks at other women.)

9/21/14

Eating Frogs

I have the job searching blues. 

I am applying to a job for which I am not well-qualified, at least on paper, but I am being coached on how to compose my résumé and cover letter by an insider. 

The insider has offered me good advise but the changes she has suggested require a major reworking of my current application. This process feels torturous. 

Is this mere laziness or is my reluctance a genuine sign that I am not qualified? Or am I doing this only because the insider is also a friend who wants the best for me and really wants me to apply for this job? 

Update: All ended well yesterday, after I posted this. My insider friend declared my revised résumé and cover letter "wonderful," and I submitted them a good ninety minutes prior to the end of the business day. 

Only things is, I have not heard back yet. I realize it has only been a few hours, but the insider told me that the employer is conducting interviews today and that they want someone starting tomorrow. 

I am a little disappointed, but not at myself. I completed the hard work yesterday. Yes, I dragged my feet at times, but hey, it was Sunday!

9/19/14

Lad

It is Friday early morning. I am at the Lush Lounge coffee spot. It is well-lit, there are two ceiling fans spinning, ambiance music pours from the walls, and behind me, a water fountain falls. I am the only customer at a table. 

I walked forty-five minutes to get here, carrying my laptop in my black Targus bag and a murse (male purse) filled with items like sunblock lotion, a wallet, a eyeglass case, and so forth. It was dark when I left the house, as well as when I arrived. On my way, I saw a cute young woman at a corner, said hello, and received a smile. When I walked by the public transit center, I saw young, working-class people smoking and chatting with each other. 

During my walk, I attempted to be as empty as possible. I have been cluttered with anxiety, self-loathing, and confusion this week. Getting up and walking instead of remaining curled up in my linens was a form of healing. Healing the bruises, scratches, and slights I have dealt myself during this week of excessive sleeping, intent isolation, and binge watching House of Cards, the Netflix series. 

I had breakfast. It was a cup of soy milk and oatmeal with raisins, ground flax seed, and chia seeds.

The city of Vista
I need to return to life. To stop the isolation, to stop the haphazard eating, to stop the sedentary quality of the last week. I like to swim, to lift weights, to run. To continue my job search, to continue my writing, to continue creating my dream of going to Cornell graduate school. Things of this sort. 

It is now light outside and one more customer has taken a seat in the lounge. He is man wearing gray running sneakers, charcoal shorts, and a light gray hoodie. His hair is all gray with a receding hairline. He has a gray mustache and wears glasses. He is playing with his Smartphone. 

Things could be worst.

However, for the time being, I am not. I am a handsome lad.  

9/10/14

Dive

Oh, boy.

I just did my first poetry reading in years. It was at Art Beat on Main Street (ABMS) in Vista, California. I showed up for the 6 to 8 open mic. I was early. ABMS is run mostly by ladies, including ringleader Kait. They greeted me warm and effusive when I arrived.

First, I sat on a black wooden bench to fiddle with a three-ring binder and a computer bag. Then, I went to the bar and ordered a beer. I got my buzz-zzzz. Maggie was there! This is one of the first and most important things I noticed. She is a painter and yoga instructor.

I sipped my beer and made decisions about my "set." First, I would say a few things about myself. Then, I would read my poetry, giving context during the intervals. The ladies continued to be really friendly, so that I got a slice of cake. It was something I should not have eaten, but,  "how often are people so welcoming?" I asked myself.

I returned to the performance area and watched two musicians play the blues. My shoulders boogied.
I was the only poet among a convergence of musicians. One of the only people of color among a soiree of white people. I live in a "red" city.

A kind cowboy with long hair began fiddling with a microphone and Kait came over to say, "We are setting you up for your reading?" I have read, and read well, in front of hundreds of college students, but I had rehearsed for that type of thing and happened to be well-oiled. Not tonight. 

The blues men finished their set. I was announced and welcomed. "What are these people going to think of my poetry?" I asked myself. "How am I going to perform?" I inquired. There went nothing.



The first piece was an anti-war poem. It includes these verses:

"It is time for an illegal invasion and occupation
of rebellion and truth,
executed with armies of the poor and the discontent,
supported by private contractors like Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader, and Cindy Sheehan."

Oh, boy...It is going to be this kind of night, is it not? I could hear Republicans in the room snicker. I saw a face squirm into: what the hell are you reading! I saw another one just write me off.
I saw more faces engaged, though.

I read "Full Circle" next. I should have rehearsed that one. Third poem was "Gift." Not so bad. The last poem was "Guajome," one of my gems. I was humming with adrenaline when I stood up to leave the stage. "Did I just make a fool of myself?...Are the smiles, applause, and compliments sincere?...Did someone get at least one poem?" I asked myself.

Gradually, time sobered me. I went to Maggie, who was preparing a painting class. The courtship manual says, "Chat with her a few times before even considering propositioning." So, I was doing homework.

The night was ending when a nice woman gave me two pineapple guavas, a knife, and a spoon. And I tasted the tropical fruit for the first time. Later in the night, I ran into the kind cowboy in the parking lot and he said, "I liked how you worked in the stuff about the Kumeeyay."

7/11/14

Foot in my Mouth: "Spanish/English Speaker"

I found a job "opportunity" on San Diego craigslist, under the writing and editing jobs, for "Spanish/English speakers." The job has nothing to do with writing or editing and is actually an "appointment setter" gig. Initially, I scoffed at the prospect of pursuing this job, but after some email exchanges, I relented. 

In the spirit of going to the heart of the matter, I will now share my initial e-mail exchange with the prospective employer.

Me: Your compensation offer is woefully inadequate. No competent, intelligent professional would ever take you seriously. 

Potential Supervisor, Becky: I tend to disagree. I've done this job myself and I know the effort and time it takes to do it. But thank you for your extremely helpful feedback.

Have a good day.
Don't you just love the "I tend to disagree" line? Her sarcasm is good too, though. 

Me: How can you justify paying someone $10, as an independent contractor, for 25 relevant contacts, when capitalizing on one contact alone could generate thousands of dollars for your company, depending on the business you are in?  

Becky: Perhaps the ad is not clear enough. 25 "relevant" contacts means they are in the right industry. I'll be specific. We sell underwater drills. We do not need contacts in the restaurant industry, the shoe industry, etc. We need them in: the pool industry, the marine industry, and the like.

We ask freelancers to include each of the contacts and their details so we know they actually tried to contact them and are not just throwing random businesses and details into a spreadsheet for $10. A "successful" contact - one that a freelancer has sent a form email that we've provided and that the freelancer has spoken to for 1-2 minutes on the phone and succeeded in scheduling a follow-up call with - will be compensated at a higher rate.

If you think you're interested, I'd be happy to go into more detail. If not, have a lovely day.
Me: Hello Becky,
We discussed your job on June 4.
I am interested and would like to know more details and be prepared to start.

Becky: Hi. I apologize for the delay in my response. 
Our company, Nemo Power Tools Ltd, manufactures the world's first submersible electric drill. You can check out our website just to get an idea about the product. http://nemopowertools.com/

We currently have distributors in the US, Europe, and Asia, and we are looking to expand our distributor network in Latin America. 

We need individuals such as yourself to do Internet research - particularly in Spanish, but also in English if it results in new leads - to find businesses who might be interested in becoming distributors, and then schedule a call for our sales team.
So, they want a bilingual appointment setter for the same price as a monolingual. 

The basic work process is:
1. Internet research for pool companies (we'll give you search terms to use, but you're not limited to those)
2. Document their contact information in a spreadsheet 
3. Send out a preliminary email that we provide
4. Call and try to schedule a follow-up sales call for us with decision-makers in the business

You don't need to do any sales. In fact, you don't need to tell them any product information beyond what the product is and "if they'd like to hear more," you schedule a call for us to follow up.

As you saw in the ad, you will receive USD 10 for every 25 relevant contacts you document and provide to us plus USD 4 for every follow-up call you successfully schedule for our sales team.  *Relevant contacts means they are from the correct industry (pool maintenance, pool supplies, pool contractors, etc.) 

Please let me know when you're available to speak with me. Does sometime today/tomorrow work for you?

Also, please send me your email address, so we don't have to communicate via the Craigslist email relay.

Looking forward to speaking soon,
Becky
We talked on the phone. She said we had had an "unconventional start to our business relationship."
Becky: Hello, 


Thanks for your time today. 

Below, I've included:
1. A basic explanation of how to start doing the work
2. The English/Spanish text for the email and call script. 
3. A sample spreadsheet (attached) for keeping track of leads (research, emails, calls)

Please find attached the independent contractor agreement. If you'd like to start with us, please sign it and return it to me at your convenience.

I'd be happy to answer any more questions you might have. Let's speak once more after you've reviewed these materials, and if you want to do some work for us, I'll let you know which country I'd like you to start researching/calling. 

Best,
Becky

So much for, "No competent, intelligent professional would ever take you seriously."



2/25/14

How I Won the Right to Sit Down at Godzilla Tool

(From the time during my stint as a machinist at a local CNC machine shop)

After more than three months working at Godzilla, I finally won the right to sit. In the end, there was nothing to fight or fear. Contrary to my co-workers Clark and Lee, the "bogeyman" was not going to come and eat them alive if they defied Rob's chauvinist attitude towards the mere act of sitting down in the workplace or Genaro's oppressive strictness. 

It turned out that, behind the smokescreen of self-imposed control by my fellow workers and arbitrary bullying disguised as "supervising" by Rob and Genaro, there was nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of if they need to sit down. 

Paul, the production manager of the Godzilla production shop (Rob and Genaro's supervisor) and thus, the only person that mattered, does not share his subordinates' obsession with prohibiting any manner of rest during work. 

My victorious coup de grace against the unspoken "don't sit" rule happened on the morning of Wednesday, July 4. It was 4:30am and things were very slow in the shop on account of the upcoming Independence Day holiday. I had nothing to do except monitor three CNC machines, two of which were right in front of me, and another, I was monitoring using the timer on my watch. An hour earlier, or so, I had wiped the machines down, swept the floors, and collected the garbage. 

In front of my machines is a small bay where an office chair with a high backrest sits, always empty during the night. Warily--for I knew that neither Rob nor Genaro would approve--I sat down and relaxed, monitoring my machines and my timer. 5 a.m., the time that Paul comes into the shop, came in the blink of an eye and it just so happened that once he was inside, he turned in my direction. I hadn't noticed his entrance and sat contentedly in the chair when we crossed gazes. I waved at him and he smile in acknowledgement. 

No problem! I can sit! The manager just watched me sitting and he greeted me happily! Paul continued to his office and I remained in the chair, relieved. No longer than a few minutes passed when Genaro hung a sharp left around the corner behind me and made a beeline towards me.  

Hey! You! You can't sit down!

Why not? (This is my supervisor, mind you.)


He didn't like this. He stamped a foot, clenched his fist (pointing his index finger at me,) bobbing it up and down in front of him and raised his voice.  

Because were having problems with people sitting down! 

What problems? 

It doesn't matter! Paul doesn't like for you to sit down! 

Genaro snapped a rag in the air. 

I think if Paul doesn't like what I'm doing he'll come and tell me about it.  

I remained seated, calm and nonchalant. 

Genaro stomped both feet on the ground this time, threw his rag over his shoulder, snapped his mouth, frowned at me, and began marching pointedly towards Paul's office, like we were in grade school and he was going to tell on me with the principal. 

An apprehension came over me, wondering what Paul would end up doing. I weighed the pros and cons of defying Paul if he sided with Genaro. I paced back and forth as Genaro remained out of sight, and having his conference with Paul. Finally, I returned to my seat and a few minutes later, Genaro was back in the shop fixing machine problems.  

Paul reentered the shop. I was sitting and saw him out of the corner of my eye. I thought, Oh shit! Should I stand up now? I didn't, I stayed in the chair. His gait and demeanor were friendly. 

I thought it was strange that he did not come to talk with me. After all, Genaro had just gone to "tell on me." So I took the initiative, approached him, and broached the subject. 

I don't have a problem with you sitting down. But I do want to let you know that starting today I'm asking all loaders to wait for the machine to start cooling before they move on.

His second sentence had nothing to do with the issue of sitting. He had moved on and it was clearly not a problem. I had won! 

Still, though, I wanted to make sure that all wrinkles were smoothly ironed. 

Paul, about the sitting down. I'm in charge of three machines right now. These two are in front of me so I can't lose track of when they need to be reloaded. And see that machine over there which screen I can't see? Well, I'm timing that on my watch.

A timer! I like that! No, no, as long as you are on top of your machines, I don't mind if you sit down. 

Now, when I sit down I do so without fear and I've added a new accessory to my recreational performance. Books. 

After all, what's the difference if I'm going to be sitting down anyway. I may as well read the latest Russell Banks novel.