Welcome to the Working Week
Everyone in my immediate family must read this article. Pay close attention to the second-to-last paragraph. Enjoy.
Shockingly, tomorrow is my last day of joblessness. Yes, you read that correctly. After three years of chronic "freelancing," and seemingly out of nowhere, I will re-enter the world of work Monday morning at 9 a.m.
And who are these obvious fools who have hired me, you ask? None other than the people who've given me the greatest $50 a week job in the universe, The San Francisco Examiner.
I'm not being facetious. I have absolutely loved my $50 a week "gig" with Brand X, and in fact will be one melancholy sportswriter tomorrow night, when I cover my last game, Mills vs. Half Moon Bay. That it is at Half Moon Bay is nice, since the first game I covered last season was at Half Moon Bay. And so life continues its nice little circle, as Andy Williams once sang in a Christmas Special that has been taking up space in my memory since 1967.
The world is a circle
Without a beginning
Without an end
So sang Andy while wrapped in a cardigan sweater, Claudine Longet already buried somewhere in his past.
Unfortunately, my new job will not involve dredging up ancient and obscure pop culture references. Instead, I will be neatly wrapping past failures up with future successes (I hope) as the Examiner's new real estate reporter. Once a week, Brand X will flop onto your porch swollen with a 16-page real estate section, mostly written by me.
What will I write about, you ask? Unlike the paranoid and obtusely authoritarian
San Francisco Chronicle, I will not offer weekly updates of how quickly the sky is falling. Since my new boss's boss's boss told me (his words) that we were going to be more "hip," than the old dying Chron, I guess I will be dishing out of-the-moment, streetwise articles about houses in San Francisco (and San Mateo County), which is fine with me. If he wants to look out at a bald guy wearing the last of his three aged and wrinkled dress shirts and see "hip," then maybe he knows something the rest of us don't.
Everyone keeps saying, "Are you excited?" Well, yes and no. Yes because I went out and got a job, thus keeping us from the poorhouse. Yes because it's actually a writing job, unlike the potentially spirit-crushing corporate "communications" job I foresaw when I began this search. Yes because for all of my career failures, my record when I'm hired to actually write is pretty good.
But also no. Or if not "no," than maybe more of an apples vs. oranges answer like, "Well, yes, but I'm a little freaked out, too." As all of us under our small and crumbling roof should be.
Shack, for one, will be slammed with a massive life change starting Monday. Saying "so long" to his daily romps at the dog park and the half-hour play sessions that have him eagerly awaiting my return from the gym each day, he will have to adjust to the life of a two-income family dog. Hours of sitting in the concrete corridor that is our backyard await him. Thrice-weekly sessions with a dog walker. No more mid-morning playing. No staring out the front window for hours at a time.
His life will change.
And then there's the Jawa, who'd gotten so used to the idea that my getting a job would equal financial salvation that he'd spent the past few weeks asking me, a la my mother, if I'd gotten a job yet. He, I am sure, will not miss the refrain "because we don't have any money," but how will he feel not having his dad at the ready each day. What about next summer, when my water park attendance drops from four to zero? And what happens during all of those Thursday and Friday Jewish holidays that litter the school calendar during September and October?
I'm sure we can do it. I mean, most people do it. They haven't been lucky enough to have three years where their primary job is getting their kid to and from school, coaching his teams and volunteering to chaperone field trips. Both Shack and the Jawa tend to squish their bodies up against me when we're all home together. Will that change, now that I won't be constantly present in their lives?
And what about Brandeis Hillel Day School? Here's a list of this year's volunteering responsibilities:
Parent Association Secretary
Campus Tours Leader
Grandparents' Day Chaperone
Okay, I think that's it. And that's my answer to the question, "Okay, you haven't been in an office setting for quite awhile. How do you think you'll function in one now?"
All of these new issues, things we haven't faced, basically, since I was a dot-com flameout in 2001. In return I get two things: money and a professional purpose in life. I get to go from having a three-paragraph answer to the cocktail party question, "And what do you do?" to a neat, easily digested, completely respectable response: "I'm a journalist. I work at the San Francisco Examiner."
Already people have tried to slice through my haze of ecstasy, and I appreciate their concern (and tips), but I'd kind of like to just sit back and enjoy the haze. It feels not unlike the time the seventeen-year-old me went to Roger A. Hunt's house after my first date with the future ex-Mormon New Yorker. "This is the greatest part," I told him. "it's all just laying out there in front of me, and I'm standing on the hill, looking down at it."
But don't get too excited about the money. I did the math, and figured that I will be making approximately 28% of what Sandra Bullock pulls down. Ink-stained wretch, indeed.
So family, did you enjoy that article about our hometown? Yes, Scranton, PA is "hip," an idea that I always assumed would require the earth shifting off of its axis to come true. I always thought it was hip, frankly. Even now it fits into the paradigm of an old, small, dirty city with real ethnic neighborhoods that I like.
I'm pretty sure that's not what they're talking about, though.