I have a job now. I will be writing for American Public Media/MPR starting June 23rd. I am enthusiastic about this.
I have a lot of people to thank for this. My goal is not to forget as many as I’m going to. I’m including Twitter handles if you have any interest in following them (and you should). Here goes.
Mac Wilson (@cinatyte). Sent me the job listing for the position I’ve accepted. Plays songs for me on the radio sometimes.
Matt Wells (@fasolamatt). Also sent me that job listing, and was very generous with his time looking over my meager resume, shooting me leads, etc. Has a superlative beard. Bought me beer.
David Brauer (@dbrauer). Paid me to write for him about things that weren’t sports. Edited my work so it didn’t look like dogshit. Gave it a signal boost. Suggested I write about a dummy in a Lake Calhoun condo. Has a super nice wife who doesn’t blink when you show up at her front door with liquor in a brown paper bag. Likes Canadian pop-rock band Sloan, as a good person should.
John Bonnes (@twinsgeek). Also paid me to write things for him, and was phenomenally helpful in making up for my networking deficiencies. Let me eat his food at Smack Shack. Bought me beer.
Josh Fiedler (@CD12Josh). He helped me build my resume and cover letter to something that resembled a professional product, and coached me on interviewing so I would be less likely to barf on my slacks.
Holly Manthei (@hollymanthei). Bought me Twins tickets, beers and meat when I needed those things. My collaborator on a startup magazine that will shake the foundations of all Dad-related periodicals if we ever get around to writing it. Soccer player.
John Sharkman (@johnsharkman). Asked for my resume even though he was galactically hungover and his company’s CEO had just quit.
Jim Andrews (@realjimandrews). Told me to get a prescription for Xanax. I didn’t, but I appreciate any advice that isn’t “Things’ll turn out okay.” Is, to the best of my knowledge, the only redhead from Murray County that wasn’t murdered for having The Mark Of The Devil upon him.
Brandon Broxey (@bbroxey). Gave me more contacts and names than I had time to call or email. Bought me beer.
Jon Marthaler (@jmarthaler). Told me to write for TwinkieTown, so I did. Laughs at most of my jokes, even the hockey ones.
Jesse Lund (@TwinkieTown). Has let me write the dumbest shit on TwinkieTown for the last four years, which has allowed me to build a following of weird/awesome baseball dudes.
Zach & Melissa Floyd (@floyding and @mfloyd21). Let my family stay at their place overnight for a dance competition because we couldn’t justify spending money on a hotel room due to my unemployed ass. Provided meats, too.
Aaron Gleeman (@aarongleeman). Links to my content more than a decent person should. Brunch enthusiast.
Dana Wessel (@danawessel). Provided the artwork for the #hirestu movement at coffee shop bulletin boards from Minneapolis to Denver. Has the best hair aesthetic of anyone I’ve ever met.
Pat Donnelly (@donnelly612). Gave me more advice, heads-ups, and feedback than anyone from New Ulm has given anyone else that didn’t involve directions to the Schell’s Brewery or the Kaiserhoff.
Maggie LaMaack (@maggielamaack). Interviewed me for her magazine and let me tell non-sports blog readers that I was not terribly employed. Is from Windom.
Kevin Myers (@myfansanity). Put me on TV and made my mom happier than if I’d become a priest.
Spencer Hall and John Moe (@edsbs and @johnmoe). The day I lost my job, I sent them panicked DMs asking if I could write for them for money. Rather than justifiably laughing at me, they were kind.
The following Twitter people either sent me leads, offered to help, got the word out, or bought me beer/coffee/Replacements tickets: @shawnfury, @finsleft, @CSwamptown, @roughkat, @erinnicks, @glen_perkins, @alongerlook, @salencita, @panndder, @idrisarslanian, @AdamAHerbst, @cantpitch, @StuffAboutMPLS, @andygifford, @ameliarayno, @artificialkhaos, @citizenether, @solace, @bigpieps, @TimRelates, @adamlamoureux, @Dave_MN, @mikelinnemann, @BJFait, @lindsayguentzel, @heatherbalgaard, @dcaron28, @jakenyberg, @marisSHS and a bunch of people I’m forgetting.
Michael Rand (@RandBall). Read one of my dumb comments on his blog in ‘07 and said, “Hey, this guy is commenting on a newspaper’s website and not a full-on bigot or insurrectionist. He should write for us.” The one person most responsible for anyone knowing who I am and where I am now. He’s gotta live with that the rest of his life. Bought me beer and nachos.
My folks and my mother-in-law. They do what your folks do: tell you to buck up, watch your kids for you while you buck up, and don’t charge you for their services.
Mandy Neuman (@TheCMS1). She is my wife. In addition to that, she’s had to put up with all the other ancillary bullshit that comes with being the breadwinner of the family while I try to be useful. She is amazing and I love her.
Celia and Piper Neuman. They are my children. They are the best. They will be relieved I’m not around the house as much anymore.
I am grateful to have all of you in my life, real and/or online. I hope to return your many favors in an orderly and prompt fashion.
P.S. LinkedIn sucks.
"You think anyone will want these?"
Dru-Ann Childress looked up at her husband. He was holding a pair of worn chinos.
"I’m putting them on the card table. Maybe someone’ll want ‘em."
Brad walked over to the table and put the pants on it. The table, which had a sign taped to it that read, “$10 OR BEST OFFER,” wobbled.
"Damn table’s crooked."
"Brad, we’ve had it for 25 years, you know it wobbles. Put a shim under it."
"It’s a programmatic non-fit. It always has been."
Dru-Ann put down her book. ”Are you upset, Brad?”
"I’m not upset, Dru-Ann."
Dru-Ann stared at Brad.
"Okay," Brad said. "I wore those pants when we won at Lambeau in 2009."
"Don’t patronize me, Dru-Ann."
"For Christ’s sake, Brad."
Brad left the room. Dru-Ann started reading her book again. She could hear him muttering and cursing, and the sound of things being moved around. Brad came back into the room with a shoebox. Inside were a dozen old headsets.
"Do you think anyone will want these?"
(all due thanks to John Shipley and Matt Kummer for the inspiration)
I started working for my former company on May 28th, 1992. I was a 21-year-old college student who was in dire need of a paycheck. They hired me. I never left.
On Monday, March 31st, they closed their doors. Insolvent. So, no severance, no payout for a substantial amount of banked sick/vacation pay, just an “I’m really terribly sorry” from the powers that were. As of this writing, I’m waiting for one final paycheck, which was supposed to have been deposited into my bank account overnight. It has not been. The house payment is due on the 15th whether it shows up or not.
Other people have it worse. The fact that I’ve made it to the age of 43 without any true economic adversity is the textbook definition of white male privilege. You know who has it worse? Shanesha Taylor. She’s the Arizona woman who was arrested and had her children taken from her for leaving them in a hot car while she interviewed for a job. When you’re homeless and have no one to care for your two children, I’m at a loss as to what you’re actually supposed to do in her situation. So, if you’re reading this and are one of those job creators I’ve read so much about, CREATE A JOB FOR SHANESHA TAYLOR RIGHT NOW. That should be your priority.
After that, though, if you want to give me a shot? That would be cool. I’m fortunate to have a wife with a good job, but the lack of any parachute means we’ll be cashing out my 401(k) to pay off credit cards, automobiles, furnaces and other ephemera so we can get by on her check for the time being. (Again: I have a 401(k) that can do this. Tons of people don’t. Not being able to retire when I want to < not being able to eat food.)
As for me: the job I did was to run a hopelessly antiquated software program that captured and processed financial and demographic data for survey and fundraising purposes. The number of employers looking for someone with that skill set is no doubt microscopic. (That said: if your company somehow still uses the SMAKE program created by EIS, or the DreamWeaver package from SER, I can say with complete confidence that I am better at those things than the current person handling it, unless it’s you, in which case I can probably cover for you while you take a well-deserved vacation. Do you have dental?)
I have no illusions that I’ll find work in that field, which is why the current very best option for me is to pursue…writing. For a living. Yes, I know. Your laughter is hurtful, frankly. The fact remains that my old job was so prehistoric that trying to get paid for writing in 2014 is a better option. AGAIN: yes, I know.
If you ever wanted to dip your toe in the RandBall’s Stu brand*, now’s the time. Did you like the Nick Punto oral history? Or Joe Mauer’s struggles with 2% milk bigots? Or the hundred-odd Hunt Downs and Green Bay Packers’ lost season dispatches I’ve written for RandBall at the Newspaper of the Twin Cities? Perhaps you are one of the 2809 people who follow my Twitter account? Some of these posts and tweets have “gone viral” and/or been “retweeted” with some frequency, which has never once impressed my dad, who fought in Vietnam. Might be something you’re looking for, though!
To reiterate: I will write stuff for you. I would very much like to get paid to write stuff for you. I will even tell you my real name.
If this fails, I guess I’ll just move to northeast Minneapolis and open up a taproom, as is the custom of my people.
(*Note: I am using brand ironically. Please don’t think I meant that in earnest. I am sorry. It’s been a long week.)