The passport renewal form has blank spaces for hair and eye color, height, the usual stuff. There’s also a space for occupation. I’m heavily unemployed- I can’t even pretend I’m a grad student anymore- and I have no qualms about blatantly lying on an official government document, which means that my options for this particular blank space are only limited by the bounds of the internet’s wildest whimsies. As of now, I’m leaning towards “explorer” but I’m willing to examine suggestions if you have anything good.
Speech Language Pathology is #6. I’m preeeeetty sure they did not interview first-year school SLP’s while conducting this survey.
I’ve been looking for a job as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for a few weeks. Before graduating I was told there would be hundreds of jobs and that getting one would be like plucking the juiciest plum off a tree. I was not told that the recession would still be going strong or that joblessness would be around 10% (ps, substantially higher in California).
The reality is that job searching sucks. I want to work in a hospital or a nursing facility. The only way to get a job as an SLP in a medical setting is to work through 3rd party recruiting agencies. This is because hospitals and rehab centers aren’t mom-and-pop organizations; they’re huge national chains that outsource hiring to specialized companies. Although there are hundreds of hospitals and nursing homes in the Bay Area, at none of them is there a friendly HR department I can just pop my head into, shake some hands, smile winningly and land a job. The entire application process is online, detached and impersonal; completely opposite from the career I’m looking for, which involves in-depth human interaction.
Further, since this will be my first year on the job, I’ll need a trained SLP to act as my supervisor. That means I need someone who’ll be around a lot, to ask questions and sign off on my hours for licensure. But hospitals and rehabs often don’t hire people full-time anymore. SLPs work part-time (or worse, per-diem) at multiple locations. This is probably also a side-effect of the economic shitstorm our country is in. Since there are very few full-time SLPs to act as supervisors, most of the agencies won’t put first year students in a medical setting.
Once I do get a job (and I may be on the brink), I have to wait 8 weeks to receive a temporary license from the state of California. I can’t apply for the license until I have a supervisor, i.e., until I’m officially employed, but I can’t start working until the license comes back from the state. That means two months during which I can’t work and I’m not getting paid. How will I pay my rent? Maybe I can make a lean-to out of the DirectLoan you-owe-us-sixty-grand envelopes I receive, cus there’s gonna be a lot of those piling up.
I’m over-the-top stressed out and I don’t even have a job yet. But will my job be stressful once I start? Let’s see: I’ll be working with terminally ill patients, people with extreme dementia and neurological disease, and people who can’t feed themselves. My caseload will consist mainly of people who, despite my best efforts, probably won’t get better. I will have to be “productive” at least 85% of my working hours and fill out a rainforest’s worth of insurance paperwork daily. Sounds like a walk in the goddamn park. If the folks at CareerCast and Time think that’s less stressful than recruiting people to do my job, or being a pollster, or being a staff writer tasked with creating asinine top-10 lists, then I wish on them severe oropharyngeal dysphagia, a puréed-only diet and an SLP who’s too blissed-out to care.
Once I offered to help my friend pass out fliers after a concert; the kind of thing where you push promos into people’s hands as they flood out of a venue. My friend was a pro at her job: eye contact and smiles and before you knew it she was handing you a flier that you didn’t ask for. I couldn’t do it: I felt this incredible pressure and guilt about pushing unwanted stuff onto strangers. I think I handed out like three fliers before becoming completely overwhelmed. I gave my friend the remaining stack and waited by the car feeling like I was going to throw up.
For any job, there’s people who can handle it and there’s people who can’t, and that’s why any top-list of careers is probably missing the point. How do you measure on the job stress against the pleasure making a difference in the life of someone who’s sick? I don’t think there’s a reliable metric for that.
Earthquakes in New York and Colorado this week, the two places I’ve called home for most of the last decade. I’ve lived in California for about six months now, but I still haven’t felt an earthquake here. All quiet on the Hayward Fault.
From back east on Long Island, my dad called me, giddy. He described the shaking and the dizziness. I asked him if he knew the signs of a stroke. But when we checked the USGS he was right, there had been a decent sized quake on the east coast. He gave a little cheer for having lived through his first.
Here in California I was left wanting just a little one for myself. A five-pointer. Large enough to feel, but small enough to survive handily. I figure, once I live through one, I won’t be so scared of the looming prospect. As it is, I get nervous under highway overpasses. What if the highway collapses? It’s done that before.
Even scarier is going under the Bay. The few minutes when BART goes through the tunnel are the worst of any train ride ever (and I’ve suffered the A past 125th, the rush hour 6, and the LIRR at 3 in the morning, so I know all about shitty train rides). My fear is that the BART tunnel will crack and cave, that water will rush in and I’ll drown, helplessly trapped under the Bay. This is probably a realistic scenario; I mean, it could happen right?
To assuage my fears, I invented a clever mechanism that would airlift the entire BART tunnel to safety in the event of an earthquake. The tunnel, which runs 135 feet under the Bay, would need to be retrofitted with enormous inflatable sacs that would fill with gas, given high enough seismic activity. This would be costly, but I believe also worthwhile since I can see no alternative failsafe for an underwater subway tunnel. It would work this way: during an earthquake, the tunnel would seal off at both ends with the kinds of pressurized doors you see on bank vaults, making the tunnel a closed system. Seismometers would trip a switch igniting a Rube-Goldberg set of chemical reactions ultimately inflating enormous sacs with nitrous oxide gas. Extra gas would be pumped into the train car to keep passengers relaxed. The sacs, filled with gas much less dense than water, would float the tunnel, BART cars and all, to safety. Bobbing in the waves, we would be rescued by a charming tugboat crew who would then charter for us a champagne sunset cruise.
There are at least two reasons why I’ve never gone in for organized sports: first, I’m no damn good at most of them; second, pretty much any amount of group organization in any context seems overblown to me (I mean, can’t we all just do whatever we want, like, whenever?). Yesterday I made an exception and raced with a legitimate San Francisco club, the Dolphin South End Runners. I liked their silly name and I liked their motto even more, a jogging turtle, exhorting, “Start slowly and taper off”. I liked their low-key members. I really liked that the race cost $1; I ate well over my entrance fee in free Lara bars and krinkle cut chips at the finish line. Maybe I could get into organized running after all.
I did some research on the club and found out that I also liked the Dolphin South End founder, Walt Stack. He set up the DSE in the mid ’60s as a club that would allow men, women and children to run together, which was groundbreaking stuff at the time. In addition to equal running rights, he described himself as a ”crusty, hard-line Commie”. He went AWOL while on duty in the Philippines and was sent to Alcatraz for six months of hard labor.
Stack spent most of his life running around San Francisco. He jogged over the Golden Gate Bridge every day for decades. It’s estimated that he ran 62,000 miles in his lifetime, which is enough to go around the Earth a few times, but only about a quarter of the way to the Moon- James Nord, eat your heart out.
And if that’s not enough to enamor you to Stack, there’s this charming tidbit from his Wikipedia page:
In 1982 he participated in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, and he holds the event record for most time taken to finish, in dead last place. Surviving the ocean swim rather effortlessly, Stack commenced the 112 mile long bike ride on his single speed granny-basket bike, and finished the 26.2 mile marathon run early the next morning, but not before stopping in for a full waffle breakfast prior to finishing. Stack finished in the record-breaking time of just over 26 hours. Officials implemented a cut-off time in subsequent years.
This is a club I can get behind, in the figurative and probably also literal sense. Yesterday I ran 4.5 miles at a pace of 8:56. Pretty slow compared to most of the club’s runners. I’m not embarrassed: Stack notoriously clocked 8:30 miles, no matter how far he ran. I dig that. I think I’m going to strive towards greater personal consistency. Starting with running more. Slowly.
It’s midnight thirty and this is the phrase I have stuck in my head, keeping me awake. Snail slime gold mine. Snail slime gold mine. It’s not uncommon for me to hear whole phrases in my head, usually out of the crystal blue. Like, I’ll be sitting down to pee and suddenly it’ll be, “Sally never did learn how to tango”, which is weird, but passing. Other times it’s an untethered fragment, “Caution, radioactive decay”. Maybe these were the last words spoken in a dream just before I woke up or something I overheard a stranger yell across the gare in Montpellier 17 years ago. I usually can’t pin down a source; most times the phrases are as devoid of context as they are of content. I can try to match the phrase to a memory, but that mutates them until the words stop meaning things in any order and then they disappear. Once I saw a lucid image of a large, ugly fish, viewed in the sagittal plane. I needed to know why he appeared to me in this way, when I almost never see pictures in my mind. Before swimming back into the deeper waters of my subconscious, slowly, slowly the beast turned to face me, and parting his fishy lips, bubbled only, “Mackerel”.