Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Choppy Foreshadowing of “Change”

Where were you when Obama was sworn in? That will be the question asked for the next 50 years. My kid will ask me. My grandkid will ask me. (I so badly want to post the Saturday Night Live sketch with Tim Kazurinsky and Jim Belushi talking about where they were when Kennedy was shot – brilliant, but impossible to find).

My answer: I saw the first Black man to become President of the United States of America on a mismatched audio/visual feed streaming in from Fox News Online.
In the lobby of an ad agency, under whose employment I will no longer be after next week.
On a flat screen that was hooked up to the streaming connection, because said AD AGENCY DOESN’T GET CABLE!

Don’t get me wrong. I love these people and we will part ways in fine company. That said, is this not just fucking caked with irony?
An ad agency. That makes ads. Ads that go on TV. And while they have big, beautiful TV screens in the lobby and boardroom, you can’t actually watch TV on them.

So it’s just me and a bunch of my soon to be former co-workers, (and not and African American in sight, which by the way, felt very wrong in the moment), sucked of all energy and excitement, trying to feel something, anything, from the fragmented speech and halting video.

Oh, and as fascinating as it was that so many people turned to the Internet to bear witness to this historic moment, jamming up all the lines to something altogether unwatchable, the feed happened to come from friggin’ Fox dot com so I had to stare at that goddamed symbol of greed in the bottom right corner throughout, and imagine all the hate they were gonna spew later in their post-inaugaration analysis.

So with Yo Yo Ma crushing it out on the cello, and a simultaneous audio feed of Obama telling the bad guys that "we will extend our hand, if you’ll unclench yours,*" I had no idea if I was truly witnessing history, something I would remember forever and retell generations to come, or had it already happened?

*Credit due to my former Creative Director for first quoting that quote.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The U.S Unemployment Rate: 7.2%. Plus One.

Yes, friends. The recession has finally hit home, making me just another statistic in this grim economy. I lost my job yesterday.

I should be fucking pissed. I worked hard. I liked my job. Most of the people at my office even liked me (bizarre). And the layoffs seem to have come with much regret and disappointment on both sides of the coin.

But who am I gonna get pissed at? My bosses, who got choked up delivering me a very fair severance package? The shitty clients who were too scared to spend their money reasonably and now have nothing left to spend? Henry Paulson and Alan Greenspan for their greedy fucking ways that got us into this mess?

Nah. I’m not really pissed at anyone. I’m actually fairly optimistic, which is highly uncharacteristic of me.

I really see this as the next chapter. I get a little antsy when I stay in one place too long, anyway. So what’s next?

The obvious choice is to stay in the shitty, ebb and flow ad industry and keep rolling with it. Knock on some fancy brushed steel doors. Pick up some freelance work. Maybe even lock myself into another full-time gig with business cards, a new boss’ ego to negotiate and a decent 401K match.

All of which sounds pretty depressing.

The other route is to go it on my own. Seek out some clients in need of some painfully bland communication pieces and sacrifice whatever last bit of passion I ever had for this business in hopes of eking out some kind of financial reward.

Which sounds just barely better than depressing.

The last option is to pursue a whole new career path. Really find myself. Do something that I love, like hang out with my 3-year old, ride my bike around Portland, or sit in coffee shops and write, all very lucrative options.

The truth is, I have no idea what’s next and the responsibilities loom. But despite all that, I remain more hopeful than I ever did when I was gainfully employed. This might just take some getting used to.