The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, November 28, 2003  

Or Something That Pays, Anyway

I’ve been blogging more than I expected in recent weeks, time I expected to be fully consumed by finding a new job, partly because I felt I owed something to the readers who generously hit the tip box, but also because, well, one never realizes quite how long a single day is until he’s not gainfully or otherwise fully employed. And, when you think about it, there are few things by which a person can actually be “fully consumed,” excepting, of course, Ann Coulter on her annual eating binge.

I’ll admit the posts of the last several weeks haven’t been my best or most thoughtful work. Among other things, I think I’ve been getting a little too snarky, but it’s been fun and it’s a better way to relieve boredom than watching television. (Oh, wait, I don’t get television: not signed up for cable, antenna connection long ago busted beyond repair, not really missing it much.)

Anyway, for those who have asked, and people really have, the job search is chugging along at about the same speed at which President George W. Bush reads Hop on Pop, a book Laura Bush -- She was a librarian once, remember? -- keeps reminding the president is really not about his father. (Oops, more snarkiness. Sorry.)

Actually it’s going slightly better than that. I found a sporadic and entirely unpredictable freelance writing opportunity that I was told with a straight face pays a grand total of five cents a word, which, when you consider that research is required for each piece, is, uh, just a tad below my going rate, even at a time like this. (It’s actually far below just about anyone’s going rate, with the possible exception of the furiously prolific Steven den Beste. [My contribution to the deservedly much-loved “shorter this, shorter that” genre that has emerged within the blogosphere: “Shorter Steven den Beste: ‘S.D.’”])

Job-hunting is frustrating, demoralizing, and tedious, so you find the humor in it where you can, and a small bit in New York magazine this week made me smile. Asked what she would say if the New York Times asked her to sign on as editor of the book review section, Judith Regan, noted publisher, responded, “I actually had a conversation with Arthur Sulzberger. I said, ‘You should let me take over. It’s the most boring publication in America.’ He laughed and said, ‘Send me an e-mail.’ I said, ‘Send me a check.’” (To the same question dirty-book writer Jackie Collins answered, “You bet! I’d give major space to commercial fiction as well as literary masterpieces. If books were food, you wouldn't want to have steak every day -- some days you’d fancy a hamburger.” Yeah, Jackie, and on others just the pickles or the catsup.)

I smiled at Regan’s remark because I once found myself in a similar position. Several years ago, a company looking to expand its operation in a certain way invited me in for an interview, a meeting during which I learned the position itself, to say nothing of the new department, had not yet been created because, I was told, “We don’t really know what we want to do with it. And that’s where you come in. We’d like you to tell us what we should do.”

So I set about doing just that. Well, three “interviews” later, each with its own set of carefully drafted PowerPoint presentations, idiot boy (that would be me), who first thought he was writing his own ticket to a dream job, finally realized he was actually working as an unpaid consultant and walked away from the whole thing. I should have sent them a bill. (The company still hasn’t established the new department that was under discussion.)

But I digress.

On the positive side, I have a couple of meetings set up for Thursday, and a blogger’s wife assigned me a short-term editing project. So perhaps things are picking up, though with Christmas approaching, everything soon could go out of whack.

In the meantime, what keeps me holding on? Well, with the Washington Post hiring Tina Brown, Philadelphia magazine taking on Camille Paglia, and David Limbaugh hitting the bestsellers list, things undoubtedly will get better soon.

Hey, a snarky send-off!

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