Tuesday, October 19, 2010

But Dreng Has No Fortune

Taboo subject here: That ol' payscale.

One of my Facebook friends (I defeated him in the grueling election to become eighth grade president at North Bonneville Junior High School, but I think he's forgiven me for that) posed the question Would I rather live now with a "middle" income of 70k a year, or with that same income in 1900, when it was the income of the top wealthiest cadre in the United States.

Trick question, I thought. Especially since even today, I don't quite meet the "middle" income mark he picks.

This isn't going to be a big Pity Me party, because, considering, we're doing quite well. I did just get news yesterday that I am getting a cost of living adjustment, putting me above a certain numerical threshold for the first time in my life. Not quite the middle income my Facebook friend was posing questions about, but then again it's certainly considerably more than I was making as a journalist.

Knock on wood I've been lucky. Got out of the journalism business before the Big Tanking. Also got a substantial raise at my current job in September 2008, right before the economy collapsed. So with the COLA this year, I'm going to say we're doing okay. Of course, 2011 is going to bring between 600-700 layoffs at the company I work for as a subcontractor -- with the subcontractors first in line for the firing squad. We're hoping -- and are fairly certain, but you know how fate works -- that we as a group will survive the layoffs, as there is still work in the areas we're attached to. That won't stop them, of course, from dumping subcontractors like me and then moving company people into those positions. So I've got to be ready for any contingency. But in the meantime, a COLA which will bring in almost another $200 a month is welcome. We can squirrel it away for the inevitable day I do get that funny little tap on the shoulder and am sent to that Sweet Fanny Adams in the Sky.

Working on aces up the sleeve:
  • I have signed a contract to teach at BYU-Idaho next semester. It's pittance pay and depends on whether there's enough demand for the course, but I see it mainly as a foot in the door at the university. Do a good enough job, my friend, and I might be considered more heavily for a better position.
  • The novel is written. My goal with it now is to have it polished by the new year and to have, to go with it, a polished query letter with which I may begin to pepper the agents. And I'll begin work on the second portion of the story I'm telling, with the possibility of picking up two other unrelated novels I've been working on for quite some time. Not necessarily here the promise of a cash future, but certainly something with which to feed the soul.
  • Applying for jobs like crazy. I interviewed (unsuccessfully) at the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Utah a few months ago, and still prowl the Internets for opportunities. I need to do better networking, but it's pretty difficult for a hermit to get excited about meeting people. I do have a few allies (and perhaps one enemy) working for BEA -- the research side of the Idaho National Laboratory -- so that helps/hurts at the same time.
  • I do know this: journalism, Target, and call centers are out. I'd rather chew tin cans and make my children do the same.
Soul food is as important as a paycheck, I discovered, when one is underemployed. I spent a fair portion of 2005 and 2006 working at Target and at a call center while looking for a job after I exited the journalism biz butt-first. Then I worked on a few short stories and a novel that I still think has a few possibilities. It's one I'm still working on.

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