Thursday, December 4, 2008

Got Lemons?

Is happiness really a choice, or is it just all relative?

Today I read Mark Terry's blog wherein he cut to the chase on publishing cuts, slicing every writers' creative aorta with the bleak news of today's publishing picture. It was an icy blast fit to peel the skin right off your face, painful but necessary.

Earlier I read a piece in my local news rag that ABC Daytime is cutting actors' salaries. They (ABC) could have just axed the characters, because you know in soaps, that happens every so often. An actor gets the itch to rush out to Cali during pilot season and try his/her luck, and next thing you know, they're Lazurus back from the dead. But is ABC killing off Erica Kane, or maybe sending her off to an exotic spa for a face lift? Hell no. They know what their viewers want, and that's to see sixty-one-year-old Erica Kane try to look thirty.

And the actress accepted a cut in pay as opposed to standing in a casting call line.

Still earlier as I brewed my coffee, I listened to my morning radio talk show where in the news portion it was announced that a sportswriter for the local rag just got the ax. The guy had been with the paper maybe twenty or more years (I'm guessing). Offered a pay cut? I don't know. I sort of doubt it. I'd have to say that given the local market, which is small, the reporter might have jumped at the chance to keep a job since it'd be hard to find work locally as a sportswriter.

We hear it everywhere. Job loss is nothing new, but recently virulent. But still, job cuts, cutbacks, etc., aren't new. It's just harder to find a new job because, well, there aren't many out there to be had.

Unless, of course, you're willing to do what it takes to stay solvent as opposed to doing what you love, or what you thought was best suited for your talents. McDonald's perhaps? A greeter at Wal-Mart? Here's the rub: Jobs don't define who you are. That's something people seem to lose sight of. Basically we work to put food on the table and keep a roof over our head. Maybe it's just me who thinks this way because I never got paid to do what I love. I worked to live, taking jobs that picked me, as in, I could type therefore I got to be a secretary. That led to more specific secretarial jobs such as a slave to lawyers. Next thing I knew I worked in a mediation program via Family Court.

You do what you gotta do.

It sucked. I burned out. People sucked. It was them or me. I picked me. I'm lucky enough to have survived the thirty plus years doing what I didn't like, but it kept me out of hock and fed my kid. Luckier still, I was able to self-retire.

And now I try to write, which I love, but the publishing world is a nasty mother-hucker even when things are good. Not so much now. Am I thinking of jumping out my raised ranch second story window because my chances of getting published have gone from slim to none to fat chance in hell? Hell no.

I still have a roof over my head, food on the table and a solid marriage. We can survive on one income. That's lucky in more ways than one because if I need to re-enter the work force, I'll need to find a job that accepts partial eyesighted secretaries. Oh, and let's not forget my age. I have that against me no matter what I try and do - even getting published for the first time, or so I've been told.

So, hell yeah, life can suck. I could make mine even suckier by fretting over the economy and how it's ruining Christmas, yada yada, but let's not forget the Wal-Mart employee killed in the line of duty because shoppers didn't want their Christmas ruined by not getting a deal on that 42" flat-screen for their teenage meth-head kid.

I'm just saying that we need to embrace the beauty where we feel it. Things could be worse - we could have Grandpa Munster as our president-elect, right? What could be worse than that? If president-elect Grandpa Munster croaked, that's what. Think about that scenario, and then get back to me about how horrible life is.

Meanwhile, remember to stoop over and sniff a rose, or indulge in whatever simple pleasure strikes your fancy. Life is good when we view it from the simplest vantage point.


Edie said...

Kath, I feel lucky that my husband still has his job as of yet. Nothing has changed for me. Agents are still selling books. People are still reading. I've spent more money on books in the last month or so than I've spend in a long time. I'm doing my part to support the industry. And I'm not panicking.

Kath Calarco said...

I'm lucky, too, Edie. My husband's a self-employed attorney. Things are tight, though, and the one thing keeping business afloat is the influx of bankruptcies. I'll bet he goes to Federal Court two-three times a week.

No one just wants to get divorced anymore, lol.

marciacolette said...

I am sooooooo lucky to have a job. At my last job, I was laid off before Christmas. Someone must be watching out for me because I have a damn good job now where management would rather we take two weeks or don't get raise than get laid off.

As for the publishing world, I rarely think about it. People lose jobs all of the time. In another year or two, they'll be looking for people to fill those positions again. Everyone played teh doom-and-gloom scenario when we had the gas shortages, and look out that turned out. We're fine now. That's why I don't fret.

But like you said, our jobs don't define who we are. I found out this morning that the guy who was trampled in Wal-mart was trying to keep a pregnant woman from being stampeded by the crowd. Guess what stands out more in my mind? That he worked for Wal-mart or that he lost his life trying to save two? Skip the Wal-mart greeter crap. I bet to that woman's family he's a hero. That alone says volumes for what we can do beyond a simple job title.

spyscribbler said...

LOL, Grandpa Munster! And you're right, it could be worse! It could be Ms. Brainless!

I was really worried for awhile. And then one day, I realized our dream of living on the full-time with an RV, wouldn't be all that different from losing everything and having to pack up our tent in the Jeep and live on the road until we got back on our feet.

So... up or down, it's good. The middle is what's freakin' hard.

Kath Calarco said...

Spy, imagine all the great inspiration you'd get by roughing it. It'd probably open up an entirely new writing path. Hook up that RV! lol

Robin said...

"Life is good when we view it from the simplest vantage point." This should be on a T-shirt, Kath.

Once again, you've made me think about life and how lucky we are just to have it. Times are tough, but I'm blessed with what's really important. I have a hubby who adores me and who I adore, two great kids, and our health. I also really liked what you said about jobs not defining a person. I'm ashamed to admit I might not have always thought that way, but from now on, your words will ring true in my mind. Thank you!!

Kath Calarco said...

Aww, Robin, you got me blinking back tears. I'm touched that my blog touched you. And if you produce tee-shirts with the slogan, I expect a cut, lol.

Seriously, there's been times when the dumps found me, and just when I got to the point of no return, there was always something that reminded me that things could always be worse.

Robin said...

You're so right, Kath. Things can always be worse, and that's why we have to look for joy in the little things. :) BTW - forgot to tell you, I love the music!

Kath Calarco said...

LOL about the music. I love it, too, and every time I leave here I hear it in my head the rest of the day. (Not a bad thing)

Caryn Caldwell said...

They're talking about pay cuts where I work, too. It's not a good scenario. Still, what can you do when it's not a good environment for finding another job?

Kath Calarco said...

Caryn, I know what you mean. Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place, but at least you'll be bringing in some money while maybe looking for something better.