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Another birthday -- blah!

I'm 35 now. It doesn't feel any different than 34 --  more depressing perhaps that I'm still in the same square professionally that I was three years ago;  two years ago; one year ago.

I thought I beat the odds when I graduated from college. I didn't technically graduate from high school, so completing college was a big deal. I taught preschool for a couple of years. Then I was a journalist -- that didn't work out so well, newspapers going extinct and all.

Now I'm a "web analyst," which is a fancy way of saying I scrub porn and other nasty stuff from the Internet so your kids don't see vaginas when they're looking for Curious George.

I'm not alone. Millions of people are stuck on the same sinking ship -- people with college degrees in education, English, journalism, art ... We weren't so great at math and science, but the experts --  academic advisers and career counselors -- told us that writing and communication were valuable skills. They're probably web analysts too now.

I got a call last week about an editing position -- and keep in mind that I worked in newspapers for more than eight years. The recruiter asked more questions about my computer skills than anything else, and then like an after thought -- "Do you have any experience writing and editing copy?"

"Why yes," I said. "I've won AP- and SPJ-awards for writing ..."

"What are AP and SPJ?" he asked.

"The Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists," I said (insert frustrated face palm here). "AP -- as in AP style. It's one of the requirements here in the job description -- 'candidates must be familiar with AP style.'"

"Right, I'm a consultant for the hiring company," he said. "I simply verify that applicants meet the primary job requirements. Writing and editing experience is preferred, but the hiring company is more concerned that you're familiar with" such-and-such computer program.

SO -- I won't hold my breath for a call back on that job.

I've said jokingly that literacy is not a marketable skill, but it's no joke. Employers don't care if you can read and write. They want financiers, computer geniuses, physicists, mad scientists and cheep drone laborers. So anyone in college now who's majoring in a liberal art -- get into business, engineering, computer science, law or medicine.

Back to beating the odds: I don't think I did. I may have accomplished more than anyone expected, but underachieving as I did throughout my childhood; the bar was pretty low. My dad warned me so many times "You're closing the door to your future." He was right.

I can't say if I'd been a better student and stayed out of trouble that I would be a doctor or an engineer. It's entirely possible that I'd still suck at math -- I was pretty good at science. But maybe if I'd cared more; if I'd been involved in the right activities; if I'd been a better ass kisser; maybe I could say with confidence "My writing career isn't finished," or "I did everything I could."

Some days I know it. And I scratch my head at the stupid things people do -- that someone jumped out of bed one morning and announced "Today I'm writing an algorithm that will turn my computer into a writer." The idea was bad enough. What's worse -- it happened. A bunch of computers are out there as I type generating news stories, hotel and restaurant reviews -- personality profiles? Maybe.

This new age of convenience -- computerized writers, teachers, friends and prostitutes -- is a scary place for those of us who can't write algorithms. The title "editor" used to carry weight with people, all we are today are Band Aids -- temporary patches to ensure quality while programmers develop codes to eliminate typos and grammatical errors.

I feel like singing -- "There's a hole in the world like a great black pit, and its filled with people who are filled with sh*t and the vermin of the world inhabit it."


  1. Happy Birthday.

  2. I know what you mean.

    Happy Birthday

  3. Happy Birthday!!!

    I don't recognize the song....can I get it from itunes??

    1. It's from Sweeney Todd "No place like London."


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