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Monday, October 18, 2004


One step forward, one step back

One step forward, one step back. I went to church Sunday at the WVU student ward, since I still haven't made contact with the regular ward bishop. While I was there, one of the ward members, who is a 4th year dental student there, saw my swollen cheek and jaw and suspected some kind of infection. He took a look, and then called the on-duty resident at the Dental clinic and reported what he saw. The resident prescribed an antibiotic, and the student took me to the pharmacy to fill it, and strongly urged I report to the clinic to have it examined. The swelling seemed to have gone down some, but I went anyway.

It took me until the afternoon to make it to the clinic, and was seen. The same oral surgeon saw me, described what I had as a postoperative infection, opened up the wound and cleaned it out. Since I already have the antibiotic, I should be in better shape, but so far the cure is as painful as the disease.

Thursday, October 14, 2004



I've been dealing with some dental problems since Friday that have been keeping me up at night, so I've had little rest all week long. I've had the worst problem tooth taken care of, so that should get me a little time to make other arrangements.
I've had a couple of responses to my work difficulties, and I have a few more late-night thoughts on the subject.
A number of people have believed that my problems with employment come from a lack of work ethic, and have tried everything in their power, including preaching and more overt forms of pressure, to get me adopt one. While I recognize their good intentions, and indeed, even agree with them on an intellectual level, my behavior is irrational, and doesn't convey this belief.
That's because the gag factor I mentioned and the despair are rooted more in emotion than reason: Preaching at me has no effect because I either already believe it, or it doesn't begin to approach the emotional reasons. My difficulties with seeking employment seem to be more like a phobia than a conscious rejection of a work ethic. Other people can easily dismiss or ignore my feelings on the matter: I can't.
Today's Front page article in USA Today discusses the difficulties that prisoners whose convictions have been overturned by DNA evidence and the like have with finding employment. One of the factors that causes problems is a gap in employment history. The chilling effect this has on employment prospects seems to be real.
All in all, this is looking more and more like something that I'm likely to need expert help in overcoming. I think now I have a better idea of what kind of help to look for, and where I might look.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Guilty pleasures

I've been reconstituting my knowledge base, on paper, in hopes that I; will be able to get computer access eventually. This is definitely a guilty pleasure, because it's a serious distraction from the despair-inducing process of job hunting. In the view of some of my acquaintance, it is selfish folly and criminal irresponsibility to study mathematical physics, physical chemistry, mineralogy, or biogeography when I ought to be engaged full time in the search for employment. If I'm not getting paid for it, and not even supporting myself, I might as well be in a bar getting drunk as in a library studying. What I'm doing instead doesn't count, it's what I'm not doing that's important.
I can see just enough truth in this point of view to induce guilt about what I'm doing, but not enough to give up my studies. One of the reasons I came here in the first place is that I wanted to be close enough to resources where I could pursue them.
Ideally, I would be able to both pursue my studies and make a living. Why is it that all and sundry seem to tell me that this is impossible?

Friday, October 08, 2004


Where's the sugar?

Practical difficulties that have interfered with looking for work include transportation and communication. Since I'm still on foot, there is a limited range of places I can get to without taking the bus, which is likely to cost money I don't have. I also need to be able to make local phone calls without plugging 50 cents into the pay phone for each one.
I've made a little progress: I can get bus tokens to go to Job Service, and I've made it out there to register, and I can now make local calls in the daytime, but it's not convenient. Now that I've been to Job service, there is another agency I can try for help with other aspects of looking for work.
A rather bigger obstacle is that I simply hate the process of looking for work. It's discouraging and depressing. A couple of my readers have suggested that I simply Just Do It. I'm willing to admit that's the best suggestion I've seen, but it still goes down like cod liver oil (reputedly nasty tasting stuff in the first place) that's gone rancid. Mary Poppins had a nice idea (a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down), but I'm not finding ANY elements of fun in reviewing the low ratio of jobs I can qualify for to advertised openings, repeatedly presenting my dismal employment record (once for each potential employer), fix my barely legible scrawl (again, once for each application), or trying to work up enthusiasm for what look like the same kinds of jobs I've hated in the past. If I could just go to work and skip the whole process of trying to persuade skeptical strangers that I'm the best of several applicants for the same job, I'd do it. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work that way.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


Cold feet

It's frustrating when I start off with good intentions and then...back off. I've finished my initial survey of the downtown area of Morgantown, but haven't yet gone beyond it much. I'm all too hesitant to actually go and fill out applications and talk to people. I do other things instead, or "in preparation", to the point of being guilt-ridden.
All too many people are willing to give me advice on what my attitude needs to be or what I need to do, but there are practical issues involved with getting to work, if it's not in walking range, with finding leads and evaluating them, and most of all, with "cold feet". Few of my applications yield interviews, and I tend to freeze up at the very thought of approaching people about anything, employment included. (I wasn't kidding when I said at the very beginning that I'd rather walk halfway across the country than apply for a job).
There are some small steps I can take that I haven't yet done, but the whole process is very much different from the clear map-directed straightforward travel I've been doing.

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