I don’t expect this to be widely appealing as A) psilocybin use is involved, and much as I hate to perpetuate the before/after dichotomy, no one’s blowing smoke there and B) I’m going to sound full of myself and bitter because of things like my first college editorial taking first nationally from Columbia when I had no such intent and sitting in a car listening to the AME/News bitch with the staff about Woodward at an SND convention because of the ownership of my first paper that also led to me changing A1 of The Washington Post in April 2003 after a linen meal across K Street earlier in the evening.

Who the hell do I think I am? Someone wooed by metros less than a year into my career who instead took being unexpectedly poached to be second in command of a small daily a few months later.

I like to start at the top.

So when people like to take issue with how I need more skills after not saving Gannett $3-4 million a year because my bosses would lose their jobs from the efficiencies I found, it’s difficult to know precisely what hue of acerbic sarcasm this calls for. Right, a coding class. How, exactly, did I already produce an automated workflow wherein the rollout would be seven figures? Semaphore?

On a sociological level, it’s been fascinating to watch as people are increasingly ready to widen the net of “other.” I was told this month that not being able to lift 80 pounds for eight hours a day makes me a cripple on account of two back surgeries, and ideas are now like assholes: you’ve never gotten paid more for having one.

Fascination does not so much pay the bills. And as my purchasing power has only trended down since starting in fucking SMALL-TOWN JOURNALISM, I assure you, things are worse than you think.

This much should be noted about the job market without much dissent:

  • experience is a liability, not an asset

If this does not apply to you, let me be blunt: You are participating in a different economy than I am.

We have a caste system. You can buy your way up in ours, but skill is no longer legal tender. If the system is working for you, the only way to change your mind about it working for everyone else you presume it simply must be is new data. As someone with some skill in conveying new data in a compelling way, here I am.

Let’s start at the top: Do I sound like what you think of when you envision a homeless person? I live in an unfinished 8’x16’ cargo area of a 2000 Freightliner MT45 with less than 150K miles.

I think the disconnect here is you lead (as a verb, it keeps standard spelling) with the van, and the framing is done. Lucky fucking bastards; I’m still working on the framing.

Anyway, I’ve posted all over at large about sending out 1,000 resumes and cover letters over the course of 30 months, punctuated by one reply, a few suicide attempts and even more detox adventures. AI is not coming for our jobs yet, but there’s not much need when experience round-files you. Yes, this is federally illegal age discrimination past 40, but I’m sure I have better ways to address things down the line.

But let’s step back to shroom trips 1, 1A and 4. Respectively, ruminations resolved with requisite exploded brain diagram; being found worthy of a mystical experience with the warning of “you can’t live life the way you have been afterward” which of course while part of the ineffable entity communication seemed too cliche to take too seriously; and the 72-hour integration of something that left me suicidal to start for practical reasons instead of emotional.

And let’s please not start with my ability to accurately use “suicidal.” I have the data points from being the son of Arizona’s foremost adolescent-suicide-prevention expert for a couple of years (TV interviews at home and such), whose reaction to my first, after a few days to get back to the states was “well, I thought something like this might be coming.”

So, I was warned, I acceded, and here we are, in a van astride a drainage ditch.

Look at how many things are meant to bind you from choices.

  • Kids. Gotta have kids. So that your job can keep getting worse but you need it because I guess some third or fourth generation would cure cancer if there were still a shot of that many generations.

  • Housing. Austin apartments never go month to month. You’re essentially locked in with a huge exit fee outside of three weeks a year. And let’s face it … I was born after 1975 and didn’t intend to enter the housing market on account of the transient nature of my career until at least 2012, so, yeah … hedge funds kinda made that a moot point.

What’s not on this list? Jobs. The fact that it’s not should be a neon fucking arrow, in that truly tacky combo of seafoam and not-quite-pink-enough of places trying to come across as vintage but are a visual affront.

You’re expected to put up with the state of the job market because you have no choice. Tied as a parent and homeowner so that you just have to take whatever’s next. No house yet? No worries! Each year’s rent increase will ensure you never escape the cycle!

The government doesn’t care about you or your family. The current state of the two-party system guarantees that; we all experience what D.C.'s plates mention: taxation without representation. Income tax is absurd when the government works for corporations. In Texas especially, it matters not if anyone at the local level cares about me; it’ll get thrown out at the state or federal level … sometimes with a new state-level ban! At least there’s no state income tax?

Domestic climate migration is already happening. If you are projecting land values ignoring that and climate change figures, I hope you enjoy the lesson about ignoring relevant data because you don’t like it.

If any given intelligence operation really hasn’t stirred the pot enough, blowing up the fractious Near East is a classic. The layperson isn’t supposed to learn anything, just be really angry for any number of reasons that resonates. It’s difficult to come up with a conflict that elicits such tribalism among sometimes strange bedfellows.

If you’re trying to get back to your former caste, hope you have friends who are hiring. Otherwise, maybe stop othering those one tick ahead of you. Because it gets bad from here, and you’re going to want friends.

There’s ignorance by opportunity and ignorance by deed. And choosing to write off all tales of difficulty because the plural of anecdote is not “data” regardless of frequency is the latter. Don’t be the person who waits to understand you’re next … at some point.

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