I failed some kind of test during my interview with State Farm.
Also, I have 15 years executive HR experience and Zenefits (an HR services company) didn’t want to talk to me. I was overqualified for an HR company.
I abandoned my focused job search by the end of 2015. All signs in my daily life pointed in the direction to give writing a shot.
Lord knows, I've said I should be a writer enough times throughout my life.
There comes a time when you need to either put up, or shut up.
I had whatever retirement I had, and a house. I reeled in my job search while I figured out what I wanted to do with Devilish Smirk.
I've not been paid for anything I've written. Monetizing words is not an easy order to fill. That requires a lot of energy, along with a solid foundation of content.
My eyes are on content, 100% of the time. Eyes. Plural. Both of them.
All About the Story
I came out swinging.
It’s not always easy to express what’s going on inside one’s head.
Being a writer means you’ll piss someone off along the way. Some say you haven’t made it as a writer until you’ve done so. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished.
I don't think anyone makes it as a writer until their banks and credit cards are pulling them into court. Even then, there are no guarantees.
I’ve been blessed with the attitude and enough conviction where I have no qualms sharing the things I’ve witnessed in life. Especially things I continue learning. I’m 44, I’ve learned a lot, and have a lot of things to say, across the board.
No topic is off limits, especially my own shortcomings. Try putting a label on that. Let’s be honest, we all have stories. Dark ones. Tell me I’m wrong.
This is our world.Join me while I play in it.
This is the only way I can make sense of the world in which I live.
I have a friend. His name is Brandon, but I call him Brand. Much like Darby, Brand’s unemployed. He’s looking for a job, and has a long story of his own.
In case you missed who Darby is, she's the fulltime, unemployed acronym, Dreams Are Realized By You. Here's her history.
Brand hasn’t worked in a while; it’s been about four years. He just turned 48.
The major difference between Darby and Brand is that he's not an acronym. Not yet.
Brand has his own experience with job search chronologies, rescinded offers, and other bizarre shit.
He has ideas about what he wants to do, and has vivid specifics of everything he won’t.
Brand was fucked with from all sides, and then forced to fire his best friend, who became some sort of smirking writer.
Brand isn't one to be fucked with. Why? That will become more clear in future stories about him.
That’s just part of him that people have to accept.
Brand is a Dreamer and, like Darby, his Dream is a Grower
All about the story.
Brand’s been on the job hunt. Unlike Darby, who’s stuck in dreamland, dreams aren’t good enough for Brand.Especially if all they ever amount to are dreams.
Darby's there by choice, by the way.
But Brand doesn’t have dreams anymore. He has nightmares, and Brand’s nightmares are creeping into his reality.
He was applying for what felt like every job under the sun, but nobody was biting.
You're overqualified! I'm sorry, Brand. The offer we extended you 12 hours ago - that's no longer valid. Best of luck, hopefully we can stay in touch. We've opted to pursue other candidates.
Only offer parts of you that you’re willing to give.
If Brand had his druthers, he’d be on some sort of stage, singing. If there’s a constant beat to Brand’s life, it’s that of his voice.
Brand can sing like no other. His talent was apparent early on, but there are reasons for Brand's detour.
A hard stop was thrown in Brand’s path whose tracks took off in another direction.
Denied Days of Disney, Purdue, NASA, Madison, MCAT, Chemical Engineering, SAP, Tellabs, DUCT, ZIM, RAC, Turner, Churchill, Kiewit, InEight, Medical Records, Scottsdale.
The stuff of dreams...
Meanwhile, back in Brand’s reality…25 years later, the U.S.A. is still on that downward detour.
It’s so bad, that Donald J. Trump is the president of the forsaken country.
A Change of Heart
“What the fuck is wrong with me?” Brand wondered to himself.
Oops, we made a mistake, when can you come in for an interview?
Before he had a chance, that last part happened.
Brand applied for five positions at a prominent local grocer. He received eight confusing, seemingly replicated, but differently worded rejection emails.
That company called him.
Two hiring managers, both of them, left Brand voicemails stamped 2:01 PM on the same day. Both locations consecutively changed their minds, simultaneously realizing their previous mistake.
What are the odds? *ahem* Illumiti and Kiewit
Long story short, Brand met with one of them. Don’t interrupt Brand. Bagging groceries *enter sarcasm* is his passion.
Everyone Deserves a Chance
Brand’s life is a real-time saga playing out daily. He wakes up, every day without answers to many of life’s glaring questions.
Just give me a chance! Yes, I may seem overqualified or not fitting exactly into your idea for the role but if you give me a chance what is the worst that could happen? And the best is a big upside! *Fun Fact: Brand has a degree in Chemical Engineering as well as an MBA.*
Brand accepted a position at a local grocery store just blocks from where he lives. He doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but he’s grateful for the step in the right direction. It’s a job and more than anyone else has offered him.
Onward and upward!
Dumb Myself Down? Never!
Dumb it down is a contradiction to every sign along your path to become your best self.
A friend recently muttered these words as advice – some iteration of dumb it down. Why? Because experience excludes me from contention? I don’t know. I guess certain experience can appear intimidating, but nobody should have to lie about who they are.
It wasn't the first time I've heard this regarding a later life job search.
Dumb it down? No. Misinformation about me by my own making? Which version of you is true? Thank you, but no. That’s just bad advice.
People are people and people talk. It's in their DNA.
What happened to being better?
Just because you were a CEO, doesn't mean you weren't one when it comes to getting a job.
It’s beat into our subconscious minds to feel like we have to adapt our persona to fit a situation.
Don’t beat yourself into submission. It’s up to you to not erase your past.
We are our own worst enemies, but we’re also our only advocates.
What’s worse than a kid without talent?
Leashed potential. The unrealized dreams of a dream-filled kid, and the kid always told no.
I will never forget the words, or the magnificent woman who took the time to say them to me in late 2015, after I read an article she wrote about entrepreneurship.
Thank you, Tammy Bleck, for planting early seeds for my botanical growth.
To everyone else, blame her.
My Journey Becoming a Writer
Life isn’t meant to be simple, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be repetitively difficult.
That’s what happens when we all (willingly or not) have one foot stuck in our country’s sphincter, which is worse than quicksand. It’s the political equivalent of being stuck, waist deep, in the mudflats of an inlet, just hours from high tide.
All you can do is watch – and hope – that some kind soul will risk life and limb to cut off your legs in order to save your life.
A writer’s words stem from their own close encounters with painful times. Even the joyful ones.
I was “laid off” on April 13, 2015. I was 40. For the first time in my life, I was unemployed. It felt like my life was crumbling – because it was.
In reality, it was crumbling well ahead of my consciousness of the crisis, and one I haven’t successfully resolved…yet.
At first, I looked for a job, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was freshly flung from my front row seat watching the rapid evaporation of the company I co-founded in 1999.
We sold in 2014 and I relocated to Arizona after accepting a position with the new company. Within 11 months, I was laid offretaliated against.
I never imagined the escalation of HR accusations reported to me, against the CEO, by employees I managed, would result in my ousting. Except, it did.That's another story currently under construction.
Time wouldn’t allow me to “move on” until I understood aspects of my past that were either hidden from me, or otherwise done to me while I wasn’t paying attention.
Letting your guard down is sometimes confused for weakness and that's what predators look for in their next meal.
Want to talk about privilege? Privilege is when you’re comfortable enough to let your guard down regardless of the circumstance.
What’s an Unemployed 40-year-old to do?
I asked myself this question nearly four years ago, but it seems like yesterday. To be fair, I’ve asked myself this question every day since I stopped receiving a paycheck.
Take a step back.
On March 7, 2015, I attended a spring training game with the CEO. On March 9, 2015, I received the official complaint about the CEO. By April 14, I had no job. Regardless of the fact that, within those 11 months, I was promoted twice.
The skills I developed up until the day I was fired, grew from necessity, not love.
A fish out of water, I had no idea what to do. I was a jack of some trades and the master of none. I spent almost 16 years working in an industry that chewed and swallowed me like a piece of gum that didn't end up on the sole of a cheap shoe someone lost at a festival.
For a while, it felt like failure. Until time equipped me with a new perspective.
Turns out, it was the best, worst thing that ever happened to me.
That’s the worst (most simple) advice. It’s convenient and lazy and indicates the lack of interest to understand someone’s situation.
Misunderstanding your past doesn’t fix anything. In my experience, dismissing a situation so quickly is peculiar behavior.It usually indicates something’s not right.
In order for me to reconcile my past, I have to make peace with it and I can’t make peace with things I don’t understand.
One Foot in Front of the Other
Here in an instant, gone in a flash. What have I done to deserve this?
Life was no longer paycheck-to-paycheck. It became early retirement withdrawal after early retirement withdrawal until there was nothing more to take.
Life took a hard swipe and knocked me off my feet and left me leaving a six foot dent in the ground.
For the record, I never filed for unemployment. I still haven't, yet it's been almost four years since I received a paycheck. I'm not complaining. Just facts.
National Emergency vs. Career Crisis
Today, I find myself clawing my way out of a pile of ashes with no financial stability within reach. I’m a living, breathing Phoenix cliché. (Technically, I live in Scottsdale.) As hard as it’s been, I keep my head up. I will get there – or die trying.
That’s what it took for me to realize that my life was meant for more than a supporting role. Making something out of nothing is my only option.
At the end of the day, I want a roof over my head and my dog. All roads lead to there. That’s how it has to be. I didn’t make the rules.
If you want a life of candy, you have to crush it.
Silence speaks volumes, but so do I
I was raised understanding if I want something, I have to work for it.
Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Off to Work I Went
My first job was a paper route for the Anchorage Daily News. I was 11 and my parents were fine with my new responsibility. After all, I was the one getting up at 5:00 a.m.
At age 14, I had options. I was ready for the wonderful world of fast food! After assuring my parents that Arby’s wouldn’t interfere with my homework, they allowed me to enter the workforce. Arby’s led to TCBY, and TCBY was next door to Blockbuster, but they couldn’t hire me until I was 16.
Wow! What a difference! Blockbuster Video!
I finished my high school years at Blockbuster and I only quit that job because I left the state to attend the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM).
Off to School I Went
I took a break from work my freshman year of college as I was busy keeping my head barely above academic probation. I received my one (and only) “F” that year. Math wasn’t my strong suit.
By the end of my freshman year, I hadn’t declared a major. All that mattered to me was that I had friends, I had fun, and I liked this new life.
Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Back to Work I Went
I spent the summer of 1993 commercial fishing near Kodiak island off the coast of Alaska. It was the longest, short stint of my life, but it paid well. It was rough work and I appreciate what that experience did for me.
Hopefully that's the last time I go 28 days between hot showers. The option was freezing Pacific salt water with a bar of Lava.
1993 wasn’t a great time to deal with being gay, much less in a place as isolated as Anchorage, Alaska.
Feeling like an outcast in Wisconsin was enough, and that flame was burning hot and fast. What Wisconsin had over Alaska was that none of my family lived there.
There’s a lot to be said for confidence that stems from a fresh start; one from which you cannot be shamed into submission.
I came out to my mom in September 1996. I remember it well. It was one of those "pivot events" in my life that changed my life's trajectory. I plan to write the story. Mom, you've been warned! It's actually really fucking funny but, right now, I need to bring this back to my career crisis.
I can’t remember exactly when I declared myself a Journalism major, but there was a deadline and I didn’t want any more math classes.
Back to School
My sophomore year, I worked at a campus night club. Also that year, I became a Housefellow (Resident Advisor) for UWM’s Department of Residence Life (DRL).
I spent two more years living (and working) in the dorms. But unlike the previous two, I was responsible for the behavior of 70-80 others.
The Journalist in Me
Newspapers are a recurring theme in my life, although I never wrote for one like Clark Kent. I landed a position in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s marketing department through a temp agency.
I graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism supported with a bouquet of public relations classes.
After graduation, I was offered a job at a small marketing firm. For two years – I wrote and edited for corporate publications. After a very brief stint at Manpower, I resigned to start et alia, llc. with Brad Nicolaisen.
The et alia Years 1999-2014
Right By Writing
Passion is rooted in love, and I love writing. I love everything there is about storytelling and the emotions they trigger.
I started my journey by starting Devilish Smirk, and this summer marks its fourth year anniversary.
That's just, ok, wow...yea, no comment.
If anything it’s been one hell of a way for me to organize my thoughts. My notebooks look like a toddler got a hold of them.
Some hit a little too close to home, but life is messy like that. Nobody’s perfect and anyone who claims otherwise is full of shit.
A Devilish Perspective
When I was 24, the decision to start a company was easy. It was a no-brainer! Why? It’s simple. I was naïve as fuck.
When I was 40, it took me becoming unemployed to consider writing. I finally hit the “now or never moment”, and I chose now.
Regardless, what’s done is done. I feel like I understand strife in life. At least, I think I do.
I only know how I feel.
Sometimes I feel like the only person in my head, and that scares me. I doubt myself a lot and when I do, I always return to the same place:
I didn’t come to exist and settle for anything less than the best.
America, I'm just sayin' we could have a better president tomorrow. Let's grow the fuck up for a minute. My world is part of this galaxy too.
His name is Mueller. He’s the elephant in every room, everywhere, sitting in the corner, staring in a mirror. Everything else is distraction.
Mirror, Mirror on Trump’s Wall
Mueller is watching the past unfold, beyond his reflection.
New sets of chips fallone right after another. A new picture is forming when it comes to U.S. history. It’s not as clear as it could be, but it’s markedly different than it was, albeit, more recognizable than I remember.
Ladies and gentlemen, what you’re seeing is the difference between fuzzy recollections and completely false retellings of stories that were never rooted by facts in the first place.
According to the past I remember, the present is far more messed up than my ability to imagine messed up things. Today’s reality doesn’t seem realistic to me, but it’s the only reality that binds us all together.
Technology has enabled us to get at least a few things right. On the flipside, it’s also allowed us to get a lot more wrong.
Technology is useless at the expense of human decency resulting from the breakdown of interpersonal communication. As beneficial as it can be, it can dangerously reinforce the disdain we have for one another.
The Elephant In Every Room
I won’t continue to ignore the elephant in the room. Mueller is a modern day puzzle master – unlike U.S. leadership in Washington D.C., who are nothing more than modern day puzzle makers.
They don't solve anything; unless the solution is creating distrust and strife! And if that's the case, I'm on the wrong ship.
I can’t remember the last thing our government actually solved. Instead they are masters of flipping the narrative, pivot messaging, and mud slinging.
They do this long enough for people to forget they were arguing in the first place – until it happens again, whatever it is. That’s politics, kids. Politicians will say (or not say) anything for the vote.
Suddenly, you’re 44 and nothing has changed since the day you were born.
Give 'em the old razzle dazzle.
That’s what happens after decades of misinformation and manipulation pile on top of one another.
How can they see hear the truth above the roar?
Emotional Manipulation is Predatory Business, Similar to Human Trafficking
It’s time the U.S. Government quit playing games with its citizens and their emotions. The past is always repeating itself.
Whether or not the democrats can pull off a 1992 Clinton-era upset of a one-term president remains to be seen. The 2000 and 2016 elections prove one thing: republicans don’t need popularity to win.
What happens after democrats (Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) serve eight years, that they can’t close the gap between the popular vote and the electoral college?
The 2020 Election is for the democrats to lose. Maybe try focusing less in more populated areas and connect with the vast area within our borders, between the coasts, without losing sight of Alaska and Hawaii.
The Media is Full of Whores
Give 'em the old razzle dazzle.
I think the media in the United States – coupled with our government – shares one grand manual surrounding one, simple directive:Distraction. Both have excelled in a way only possible in America.
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
Hindsight is 20/20, but 2020 is right in front of us.
We communicate in ways you haven't imagined.
It’s absolutely ridiculous that anyone announce anything related to running for the presidency of this country.
This country is still waiting for signs of life from the campaign promises that led to democrat wins last year!
What? All of the sudden, they get a pass to do nothing, simply because they aren't Trump? Sorry, no.
The barrage of 2020 presidential candidates feels like a curtain call of Oscar contenders. Similar to this year’s Oscars, there’s no host to be had.
Who is running this country?
Much of our government is mired in controversy. Yet candidates still have their hat in the ring, while nobody does their current job. They’re too busy either running for president or talking about those who are.
There have been 17 total (so far) on the democrat side; the same number of candidates the republicans had going into the 2016 primaries.
While it’s hard to keep track (and who knows what to believe and when), there are 10 major democrat declarations, six other democrat declarations and one has already suspended his candidacy.
Don't forget what happened to the GOP in 2016. The greatest impact you can make, at this point, is the destruction of each other.
I pay close enough attention to know that almost all of major democrat contenders have called for the resignation of Virgina Governor Northam over a blackface controversy. Some have even gone so far as to call for the resignation of his lieutenant governor over alleged sex crimes.
But they aren’t talking about that anymore. They’ve moved on. Far be it anyone have conviction these days.
I’m pulling for you. You all sound like great leaders!
I'll say this, Russia is merely the name by which this investigation is known and extends far beyond Russia.
When I lay it all out, take a step back, and absorb it for what it appears to be, a revised scenario becomes visible.
Just below the surface is a scenario that’s widely more expansive and, as ridiculous as it sounds, begins to make sense.
The only controversy that matters in the USA, right now, is the distraction itself. Nothing we see in the media is by accident. There’s no such thing as “by accident” anymore. Things don’t happen by accident, especially anything you haven’t seen with your own eyes.
The truth is well on its way to the surface but, like Karma, she’s on her own schedule. We’re simply blessed to see highlights of things she discovered along the way.
Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jeffrey Epstein, Jussie Smollet, Robert Kraft, Colin Kaepernick…is it possible these aren’t entirely separate stories? Can any of them be taken at face value, or do they represent something bigger? Something classified?
What happened to our country after Justice Scalia died? What investigations are ongoing that aren’t front and center?
The Trump Card is The Joker
It will be interesting to learn whether or not Mueller’s investigation yields unsavory outcomes for the president and his family.
It’s no wonder they prefer trophy hunting abroad, rather than deal with the elephants lining the walls of their ivory tower.
The entire charade is on the shoulders of one man. His name is Mueller, and he is the elephant in every room.
The past two years feel illegitimate enough. Part of me thinks the 115th congress couldn’t do anything with the results of Mueller’s investigation. But now that the 116th congress is in full swing (national emergency and all), it’s time to act like we have one. Because we do. It’s just not about a wall along our damn border.
It’s theoretically impossible for us to progress as a country until Mueller is done. Let’s wrap it up, people.
To our do nothing government:
I’d like to introduce you to your new best friend, the heavy weight of the world.
Don't lose sight of the fact that every single one of is a product of our own environment.
That’s not to say we haven’t wound up in situations of others’ making. We have a word for those in life: Curveballs.
One can only hope that the today’s headlines and the public discourse (the better part of the last 40 years), results in something meaningful.
At least meaningful enough that we don’t have to repeat whatever the hell is going on currently. Time will tell. It’s clear nobody in Washington can do anything about it.