the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘career change’

Running in Circles is moving…so come on along

In career, life, observations, Uncategorized, writing on January 14, 2013 at 8:00 am
moving sale sign

we’re not exactly selling anything–except good writing.

In case you didn’t see the previous post, my friends, this blog is a moving to a new spot.  It’s still all the neuroses you’ve come to expect, but it’s a newly designed site with a really new theme: reinvention.

Like I mentioned previously, you can only run so long in circles.  Sooner or later, you need to get moving towards something.  So, the new site is called re-Do or Die, and that’s what it’s about.  Just so you know, this very day, we have our first guest blogger, Joe Ponepinto, from Saturday Morning Post fame.  Joe is the editor of the Los Angeles Review, and he’s a friend of this blog.  Most importantly, he’s an up and coming fiction, and he’s got some inspirational words about re-inventing himself as a fiction writer.

Come on out and check out the post.  See you in my new diggs!


we are packing it up

In career, life, writers & books, writing on January 12, 2013 at 5:00 am


I’m moving sites, and I’m really hoping you will come along for the ride.

For over two years, I’ve been writing this blog, which kind of roamed free over a number of subjects, but the underlying theme was this idea of spinning my wheels and not going anywhere.  Hence, the name of the blog.  Eventually, as the great film, Shawshank Redemption, will remind you: you got get busy living or get busy dying.  I choose life.  I choose motion.  And hence, as a symbolic gesture, I’ve chosen to self-host a blog about reinvention defined broadly.

The new site is called, re-Do or Die.  As I mention in the description of that site, my hope is to chronicle this next year and my goals.  But I am also hopeful the new blog will be more of a dialogue than this blog has been.  I really do want to create a community of and for other reinventionists.

To that end, I’m going to have regular guest bloggers, and I’m going to try and get a little more interactive.  So, come along for the ride.  It should be fun.  At the very least, it should go somewhere, not just around and around.

just cause I’m poor doesn’t mean you need to treat me poorly…

In career, humor, life, observations, writing on October 15, 2012 at 4:55 am

OK, I’m trying to change things up.  I’m trying to reinvent the wheel–yes, I am the wheel in question.  I am getting old for this, though–not turning as well as I once did.  But I’m trying.

I will be going to a conference for multi media storytelling later in the month, and I will be writing about the experiences, which I am sure will be full of me fretting about asking dumb questions of smart people.  But talking to strangers about what they do is still not as daunting as talking to people about trying to get work.  Recently, I put in an application with a local non-profit that has a program for career changing folks like myself who want to work in media-related fields.  It seemed like a great fit.  The application process was a bit daunting.  I had to fill out a number questionnaires, write an essay, research potential ad agencies/film production companies I’d like to hit up for a job during the course of my training.  I had to come up with a social media plan for myself, which included setting up a portfolio site.  I ended up making two: one for writing and a second for visual/film stuff that I am still building.

The application took a bit of time, but I thought it was worth the trouble since the program would give me training and the opportunity to talk to people working in the field.  Little did I know that the guy who runs the program is a bit of a flake.  He never confirmed receiving the application and all the materials I sent–FINE. He didn’t get back to me about a couple questions after the fact.  FINE.  And then last week, we were supposed to have a telephone interview, and he flaked.  NOT FINE.  An hour after the appointed time, I get a form email–addressed to Hi ____.  (Yes, the blank was included, which is so NOT FINE).  In the email, he apologized for not getting back to me and the other people he must have flaked on.  He was behind on interviews but wanted to know if we were available any other time on Friday or Monday.  I wrote him back, forcing myself to be polite, though I wanted to tell him off, honestly.  I moved things around to be available, and the only thing I got for my trouble was a damn email that wasn’t even addressed to me.  By the way, I never heard back from him.  (Need I say how UNFINE that is?)

SO what to do?  I still think the program is worthwhile.  I think it would be good for me.  But I also feel like I should complain to the guy’s boss.  I mean, I know what it’s like to work for a non-profit.  I’m sure the guy is super busy.  But I also know that this program is geared toward people who don’t have work and are looking for training.  I’m fortunate.  I have a decent job with benefits, which is nothing  to sneeze at in this economy.  That’s why there’s this part of me that feels like the guy is not being sensitive to the people he is trying to serve.  Just because you are poor, doesn’t mean you should get poor service.  And that’s why I feel like complaining.

I probably won’t in the end.  I want to see if I can get into this program, and I doubt I would if I started bad mouthing the guy who decides who gets in.  But then again, I’m an old wheel trying to be new and squeaky.  And you know what they say about squeaky wheels.

should everyone go to college?–OR–what education and torture have in common…

In teaching & education on August 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

It’s probably a cliche to say this, but I think writers are more productive when they’re a little (or a lot) unhappy. About three weeks ago, I quit teaching at the for-profit community college I’d been carping about for months, and at about that time, I dried up–at least as far as non-fiction writing goes. Since then, I have felt like I had nothing important to say, so I’ve kept quiet on the blog-front. That said, the world keeps a-turning, and I keep a-looking for things to make me sad and mad. Well, a few days ago, I read this disturbing article in The Atlantic and I am happy to report, there are still things that can make me unhappy enough to post.

To summarize: the article was written by an adjunct teacher of English who, after much head searching and soul scratching, answers the the question in my title with a qualified no. I know where the author is coming from. In one sense, I agree with his conclusion. There are some people who should not go to college. But I disagree with how the author comes to his conclusion. For him, the ultimate criterion is talent. For me, the answer can be found elsewhere: the need for ease.

After working at a sausage factory of a college where the bottom line is the bottom line, I sometimes did find people who were truly lacking in the academic skills department–some students were barely literate–but the only time a student’s problem ever became insurmountable was when he thought he didn’t have to work his tail off to make up for his lack of skills. I can’t say I can blame kids who hold that attitude. They were sold on education–sold being the truly appropriate word. Colleges like the one I taught for sell themselves to people by peddling ease. I can’t tell you how many times I heard about recruiters promising the moon to prospective students. Before they sign up, there is no difficulty the recruiter can’t surmount. Suppose the person has to have a major surgery sometime in the next month and will have to be confined to a bed for weeks afterward, “No problem,” the recruiter tells the student. “Teachers can take care of that and send you your homework in the hospital. Teachers really don’t mind if you you miss every class.” The student can barely read: “no problem!” the recruiter says. “Learning to read is easy. Kids do it all the time.”

If you think that this kind of thing only affects students who go to schools like the one I taught for, then think again. I am no social scientist, so I can’t really say why, but there is a pervading attitude in all of us that everything should come easy. Difficulty is to be avoided at all costs. This is the lesson of technology and, more directly, it is the lesson of consumerism. But teachers and administrators, if education is to remain what it always has been, should not and cannot take on that model as their own.

If you’re reading this and wondering if I mean to say that education should be about pain and suffering, then let me put your mind at ease: that is EXACTLY what I’m saying. Think about it: when you’re in school, you have to suck it up when people (often times bookish, socially inept people) correct you. Who likes to be corrected all the time? And let’s say you’re a sadist or a Buddhist with complete ego-control, then the criticism might not bother you, but how much joy are you going to get out of reading books that bleed your brain they’re so difficult and abstruse?  Even if you like reading, chances are you’ll find yourself in classes where you’re forced to read books that make you want to burn down libraries. And for all this, you don’t get paid a cent. In fact, in most cases, you have to pay for the abuse being heaped on you, and sometimes you have to pay a lot. Put simply, the educational process is all about discomfort: personal and financial, and that’s a good thing because it makes you grow intellectually an personally. It’s true that students of all different backgrounds have always pushed for that to change. The difference is that better schools are holding the line and not budging as much. Public community colleges are also trying to hold the line (as we see from the article) but what hope do you have when corporate-owned community colleges give in and trade in comfort and ease? It not only affects public community colleges by depleting their numbers; it also makes the students who remain ill-prepared for the challenge of learning because they keep seeing the ads promising life-change in 18 pain-free, smile-full months.

I can’t speak for the educator who wrote the article I link to above, but for me, I got into teaching to teach. If the student is willing to try, then I better find some way to get them to learn something. I may not get my students to write perfect thesis statements, but if I can get them to progress, then I’ve done my job. Perfection is an obstacle to progress, and I think educators who work with remedial students should keep that in mind. On the other hand, learning is hard–it’s hard for everyone–and students who go to college have to know that. For some, it might even be torture. Which brings me to the moral of my rant: if you want something easy, avoid college. If you think that education is worth the discomfort you will experience, then you should go to college and it doesn’t matter what your skill level is. Of course, there are a lot of good things about college, too. I know I haven’t said that, but those things are gravy–they aren’t the main course (pun intended).

The Commitment: A Late-Bloomer’s Manifesto & Promise

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Take heart, we are many...

Last week, I quit working for the college I’ve been writing about these past few months. I’m not sure how the idea to quit first came to me. In the past when I’ve quit a job, I could usually name the reasons that led me to that decision. And those reasons were usually limited to the following two: I had a better offer or I was moving. Regarding this job, I can’t really name any specific reasons, or maybe, it’s just that there are too many to count. I don’t have a better paying job. In fact, until I get a second job (which I will need to do) my new income level is half what I used to make. But today is Sunday, and I had wonderful afternoon with my wife, and all’s well with the world. Tomorrow, I will get up and write, and then I’ll walk to work–a twenty minute walk compared to an hour and twenty minute car ride. (Commute is obviously one reason why I quit.)

But quitting anything, because it represents change, is not easy for me. It actually can be quite painful. And I think as I get older, I feel that pain more acutely because I am feeling the need to put down roots, to build community professionally, to feel like I am on a path. In one sense, my pain comes out of comparison. I look around and see other people who are working steadily at something, and then I think, why not me? It’s like the thirty-something who sees all his friends getting married while he is unable to even get a date. I don’t worry. I was that thirty-something until I met my wife. Career will follow. And I am writing, which is a professional commitment–even though I don’t get paid for it. I didn’t think much about that until I spoke with a friend yesterday. He made me see that commitment. He also made me see that I am committed to my wife and to building our lives together. So, I guess I can’t say I’m commitment-disabled.

So why did I leave my job? I left my job because though I see myself writing and teaching at the college level, this college did not value learning, my boss was impossible, AND I barely had time to write. (Did I mention my horrible commute?) I left because I want to make a new commitment, not because I am fearful of making one. And this is it: it’s July 18 and by the end of the year, I will have a manuscript done. It will be a collection of short stories and a novella. I don’t know if it’ll sell, but if it gets me an agent, it’ll be a good first step. After that, a simplified version of the crazy novel I’ve been writing on and off since 2003 will follow. That’s the plan. From time to time, among my other musings, I will send out the occasional progress report. So keep in touch.

PS. if any of you late-bloomers are out there, send word. I’d love to hear about your goals, too.

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