Archive for November, 2008

28
Nov
08

who we are and what we do

A notion occurred to me yesterday while reading the Christmas gifts supplement that came with The Irish Times. Aside from the self-serving fantasy that I (or seemingly anyone else) can actually afford such wonderful things, I was forced to contemplate our jobs and what the say about us. Towards the end of it they had a vox-pop feature where they ask people what their ideal gifts are, and what they’re going to buy, etc. It was a typically fluff piece to end a typically fluff free magazine.

What I found interesting was that each person interviewed was identified by name and job. It was all “John Murphy: IT consultant” and so on (I can’t give precise examples as I left the rag in my sister’s car when she gave me a ride home. She’s going to be pissed at me now for leaving shit in her car again). The use of people’s careers as a measure to judge them suddenly stuck in my craw.

I don’t think I have ever read a vox-pop type feature where they don’t point out what it is that each person interviewed does. Along with their name, their job is almost certainly referred to, and I’m asking myself why the job? Why not one of the many other facets of a person’s life, such as marital status, how many brothers or sisters they have, or even their yearly income. On occasion ages might be used, but this is almost a rarity. There might also be occasions where the publication in question is aimed at a specific audience, and mentioning the respondents’ job is redundant, but these are really the exceptions that prove the rule. When I was involved in student media we regularly ran vox-pops in the campus newspaper. Obviously, it was pointless for us to mention that interviewees were students, but we would always mention what they studied.

The reason for this isn’t hard to work out. More so that their age or marital status or annual income, an individual’s job is the most useful – if unfair – measure for strangers to assess their personality. When someone expresses an opinion, it’s natural to want to what perspective that opinion stems from. And if someone tells you they’re spending €500+ on their wife’s gift they must expect you to be curious as to what made them so affluent.

The problem with this is that in conveys a sense that a person’s job is a measure of their values. This in turn creates a further problem for the thousands that have been hurled on the dole queues. It used to bother me when women on Winning Streak would say, “he’s unemployed at the moment,” when asked what their husbands do. It seemed to imply they might find a job by the end of the episode. But I understand it now. If what we do is seen as a measure of our worth, those of us doing nothing have to face the prospect of worthlessness.

On a cheerier note, the interview on Wednesday went well, so it looks like I’ll have a couple shifts every other weekend. I don’t really consider it a “job”, but for now it’ll do.

26
Nov
08

Languages

I’ve had a great idea. I’m going to learn a foreign language. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it seems there are plenty of jobs being offered to people who can speak a foreign language. As I have so much free time I really should give it a go. I know, it’s one of these things we all promise to do but never quite manage. It’s up their with travelling more or writing a novel (which I also intend to do). But there’s no reason I can’t manage it. I’ll start with German as I studied it a bit in college and know the basics, plus there are two or three German girls I’ll like to impress. I’ll update you with my progress.

In the meantime, I have an interview this afternoon. It’s for a shitty job well outside my skills profile. I kind of hope I don’t get it, but we’ll see what happens.

24
Nov
08

Adventures in Social Welfare

I got my first rent allowance cheque in the post this morning. This was surprisingly prompt as I only submitted the necessary documentation on Thursday. I must admit a high level of satisfaction with my community welfare officer and her possibly gay assistant. They seem to genuinely want to help people and get things sorted as quickly as possible with minimal fuss (much unlike the snotty, non-phone answering, “so t’is free money you be wantin'” attitude of the social welfare office).

This being said, applying for rent allowance is not an easy experience. In fact, so awkward and painful is it that I can say I truly earned the money. The application process involves getting the relevant form signed by Dublin City Council, who in turn make you fill out their own little booklet so I can be put on the housing list (a truly arbitary exercise as I clearly have a house). This booklet must be stamped at both the tax office and the social welfare office, and of course each party requires copies of IDs and various proof of addresses. Add to this the difficulties of getting my landlord’s signature as he was on holiday and getting an additional copy of my birth cert as the orginal had gone missing (true to Murphy’s law, it has since turned up). The birth cert issue is particularly annoying as the city council, after initially insisting I provide a copy, didn’t even bother looking at it in the end.

The most heartbreaking episode, however, occurred when I did all this and brought the completed form back to my community welfare officer. When she saw that my last job was as a hack she told me of her son and how he wants to become a journalist, and how she’s trying desperately to discourage him. “I’ve got so many journalists on my books it’s not funny,” she tells me.

No, it’s not.

23
Nov
08

Azumanga Daioh

It’s Sunday, which is to most people what every day is to me. I’ve spent most of in bed watching a cute little Anime show called Azumanga Daioh. It’s very girly, and I’m sure its appeal is somewhat limited outside Japan (in constrast to what is possibly the greatest Anime show, the altogether manlier/western friendly Cowboy Bebop), but it’s hard not to get caught up with the everyday dramas of these girls. Depressingly, the character I can most empathise with is Osaka. Her ability to sleep through every day more or less reflects my situation.

Nevermind, here’s one episode I like.

Watch Azumanga Daioh English Dub episode 14 in Animation |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
The Empire Strikes Back is on telly right now. I’ll think I’ll watch that now.

21
Nov
08

The first post

The following is a quick ramble on the point of this blog. I recall reading a comic strip in Viz years ago titled “The comic strip character with no attribute”. Basically, as the title suggest, this strip was about a guy (his name has long ago been beaten out of my brain) without the standard anomaly in his personality that normally warrants a comic strip. He wasn’t desperate and he wasn’t a menace. He had no penchant for dodging unsavoury scenarios and he didn’t whizz about at abnormal speeds. His strips dealt with such events as waiting for the bus or queuing at the post office. If someone asked him for a peculiar favour, no misadventures would ensue (It’s possible that I’m misremembering the point of the strip. It seems there must have been more to in than that. Nonetheless, there certainly existed such a character and I’m sure I found it funny that nothing funny happened to him).

This perfectly reflects the purpose of this blog. Having spent exactly seven of the glorious Celtic tiger years toiling at various stages of third-level education, I graduated this year only to be told: “Sorry, we’re having a recession now. Didn’t you get the memo?” I have garnered an impressive collection of certificates and degrees, and I have nothing to do with them. For a while it seemed like I had my foot in the door of my chosen profession. I moved to Dublin and regularly contributed to a major national newspaper. Then nothing! The worked dried up, the pay cheques stopped coming, and I suddenly found myself joining my Finglas neighbours on the dole queues.

This is why I started this blog. Like the poorly recalled Viz character, I have nothing to do other than write about having nothing to do. So I created a blog that has no point other than be a blog.

So that about accounts for it. I’m not yet sure what form this will take. I’m not even sure if I’m doing because I have something to say or if it’s just to keep me sane. In blogging as in life, we’ll see what happens

Peace out, Damien.