Thursday, October 13, 2011


When I reminisced the other day about all the exotic places where I might have worked, there was a strong undercurrent of frustration and melancholy in the post: those were all jobs I didn't get (well, in a few cases, I turned them down; but, for the most part, they were jobs for which I was ultimately rejected, despite having made it to a final shortlist of just a few candidates).

I noted in one of the comments, when a friend complimented me on my apparent capacity for detailed recall of the distant past:  
"I suspect there's a correlation between power of memory and a predilection for nostalgia. You need an emotional drive, a regular strong hit of 'positive reinforcement', in order to develop those habits and pathways of thought, that architecture in the brain - and the bittersweet pang of nostalgia gives you that. There's a danger with some of us, I fear, that it becomes a closed feedback loop - the better our memories get, the more we dwell upon the past, and so the better our memories get, and the more we dwell upon the past..."

Another reason, I fear, why I 'live' so much in the past these days is that it's so much safer than contemplating the future. At least the past is fixed, and even the less pleasant parts of it are largely robbed of their power to hurt us by being over and done with. And we can tour our memories selectively, avoiding the more traumatic episodes and concentrating on the times of happiness. There's none of that awful uncertainty - and cruelly disappointed hope - with which the future invariably taunts us.

I am particularly bad with jobs. I have an unfortunate habit of projecting myself into the role, imagining what I will seek to accomplish in the work, and how it might transform my life. Yes, up to a point, this is a good and necessary thing: it's valuable interview preparation, and a test of whether this is really a position that would suit me. But my imagination is just too darned vivid (and perhaps the desperation that drives it is too great, the hunger for a satisfying working life, some financial stability): I soon feel as if I've actually been living that life. And - if it is a life that I felt I would enjoy - having that dream snatched away can seem emotionally devastating. I have grown used to being rejected by women through long experience (I don't like it much, and I'm still probably rather inhibited by the fear of possible failure, but I'm aware of that fear and strive to master it); but job rejection, strangely enough, leaves me gutted every time; I find it far more debilitating than the snub of a woman to whom I am attracted. Hence, I find myself hesitant to apply for jobs - especially jobs I know I'll like and be good at - because I know the pain of rejection will throw me into a depressive tailspin for a week or more.

I've hit that time of year where, after the summer lull, I need to start proactively looking for work again. And, since most of the work I have been surviving on for the last 7 or 8 years has slowly evaporated post-Olympics (or is paying less than it was 8 years ago), I need to start looking for new forms of work. And, since the freelance market goes completely dead for three months or so every year here, from just before Christmas to the other side of the Chinese New Year, I really need to be finding myself a straight job with a regular salary, at least for the next six months or so.

And I thought I'd found one - an absolute dream job, a job I am eminently qualified for, a job I could do supremely well... a job with my name on it. And it paid rather better than I thought (not great, but enough to keep the wolf from the door; and with flexible enough working that I could keep up a lot of my freelance gigs). And it would have been mostly working from home. IDEAL JOB.

I allowed myself to get rather too excited about the prospect. And I didn't get it.

I didn't even get an acknowledgement of my application. But I gather the post has been filled - before the end of the applications window! I don't think there were even any interviews - they just gave it to someone they knew without bothering to go through a tedious selection process.

I am trying to bear my disappointment manfully, but my heart is a whoopee-cushion. At the moment, I am feeling as though that was THE ONLY JOB in this goddamned city that I wanted - or will ever want - and if I can't have that.... it may be time to go and live in a shack half-way up a mountain.


Anonymous said...

Froog said...

Cryptic, HF! How is that I finally manage to goad you out of your silence with one of these 'My life sucks!' posts??

We haven't managed to lure you into contributing to the 'anniversary celebration' thread, What's your unusual super-power?, yet.

Froog said...

Oh god, that takes me back. I absolutely hated all of that synth-pop while it was going on; it seemed like the death of rock'n'roll. I found it insufferable in discos (where it was being played too loud, mostly wasn't all that danceable, and there were the additional mood-killers of uninterested girls, overpriced drinks, and psychopathic bouncers to grapple with). On the radio, however, the insidiously catchy melodies would sometimes drill into your brain. This was one that I did find myself quite liking... but I probably haven't heard it in, what, 27 years?!

Anonymous said...

Busy and all. Hitting the blog rolls once a week instead of once a day now.

The lyrics to that song just scream crestfallen to me. Reading this entry and the last few, I dunno, reminded me of that song. Was hoping it wasn't too obscure or even worse, obtuse.

However, being prompted to that video I wondered if it wasn't your psyche I was extrapolating, but my own. On paper being a single man in Beijing while China is going through so many changes (yes many not so good) seems awfully exciting on paper. Grass is always greener no matter the view from the porch I suppose.

I'm not at liberty to discuss my unusual super power. Actually, nothing clever occurred to me.

The mirrors above the doors, it's a feng shui thing. Usually done with narrow or short openings to make the space appear bigger and allow for more good fortune to come in. Utterly ridiculous of course. But you wouldn't believe some insider stories I know about what casino moguls have done in the name of 'good fortune'. There is a hotel in Macau that has an entire vacant floor that is filled with nothing but symbols of good luck.

Froog said...

Hm, thought the mirror deal must be something like that, but many of the ones I've noticed - including the one pictured in today's photo post - have been above doors opening directly on to the street, so this "making the approaches look wider" logic doesn't apply.

It's also not all that common - at least not in Beijing. Maybe it's more of a 'southern thing'? The examples I've clocked recently were all in Hubei.