August: By Request…

It’s been a while since I’ve opened up the request lines around here. With July rolling to a close, the summer doldrums well in place, and realizing that I can’t write about sequester and furlough every day and expect 99% of you to keep reading, it seems like as good a time as any to let someone else do a bit of the heavy lifting involved in topic selection.

11182-i-love-question-markThe rules are simple and straightforward:

1. You pose a question or identify a topic of your choice. Be ruthless, I’m looking for a challenge. Just don’t ask about math. I don’t do math.

2. I carefully hand craft a response and post it on jeffreytharp.com for your amusement.

I’m tempted to say that nothing is off limits, but there’s not a chance in hell that I’m giving you jerks passwords or account information just because you were froggy enough to ask for it. With a very few limitations, though, the gloves are off so feel free to pick your topics and ask your questions with reckless abandon.

I’ll keep the request line open for the entire month of August (or until I get tired of it), so the sooner you leave me a comment, the sooner I can get on with the serious work of writing a sarcastic response.

August and everything after…

I was a teacher once, so I understand the generalized feeling of dread that accompanies the end of the summer. The sense of loss in the closing days of August is almost physically painful. Which is why every time I see one of my teacher friends lament the end of summer on Facebook, I smile just a little bit on the inside. Sure, that’s not the empathetic, caring response, but if you came here looking for caring and empathy, boy did you show up at the wrong place on the internet.

I smile mostly because I think of the pain of August as the universe evening the score for those of us who spent the last two months at our desks, while our teaching friends were posting pictures from the beach. While they were in Florida or Myrtle Beach, we’ve been here banging away at our keyboards like so many galley rowers lashed to our oars. Sure, I could have stayed in teaching and enjoyed the single greatest employment benefit ever invented, but that wouldn’t have been good for me or for anyone else really, except maybe people who read blogs. I think if I would have had one back when I was teaching, the posts would have been epic… and would have possibly gotten me fired, since a way with words and an almost boundless forum for your grievances are terrible things to waste.

My point is, I hope all the teachers out there enjoyed their summer vacation, because in between federal holidays and annual leave, I’ve still got about a month’s worth of days off that I have to burn before the clock strikes 2013. I know I’m certainly going to enjoy my time when I get around to taking it. Just knowing that it’s banked and sitting there when I’m ready for it makes missing out on the summer vacation a little easier… because I’m looking forward to the end of August and everything after.

Still haven’t found what I’m looking for…

If you would have told me back in August when I decided it was time to pull the plug on my Memphis experience, that I’d still be firing off resumes on the first day of spring in the following year, I simply would never have believed you. The irony of coming here in the first place was that I’d alwayherdsrd that getting back to the DC area was easy because no one from outside the area had any interest in going there. That may or may not be the case, but I’ve found that in most cases for jobs inside the beltway the typical number of resumes submitted for consideration is somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 with some running north of 500. I’ve got a healthy level of professional self confidence, but the odds get pretty long when you start talking about numbers like that.

There are still a couple of “maybies” out there that I haven’t written off yet, but it’s definitely slot slower going than I remember the last job search being. The department’s hiring freeze extending over the last two months, of course, hasn’t helped. The personnel office points only to the most recent memo that calls for the freeze to be reevaluated by April 1st to decide if it will be extended or to announce how hiring might be handled moving forward. It’s not reassuring that the hiring system will get back to something approaching situation normal any time soon, even if it starts up again in April. With a two month backlog and a notoriously slow process to begin with, things could be ugly for the forseeable future.

There doesn’t seem to be much to do now other than to continue piling my name onto as many heaps as possible and hope it turns up at the top of one of them. The federal government’s a big place and something will come along eventually, but this exercise in patience is wearing very thin. In hindsight, I’m sure this experience will be character building or something, but in the moment it’s enough to drive a man around the bend.