A Month of Unemployment is Good for the Soul

At some soon-future time I’ll add pictures from this past weekend in the VA mountains around Meadows of Dan, elevation 3100′ and a full 12 degrees cooler than the swelter brother Steve and I returned to in Charlotte.

A buddy of his gave us tickets to 13th annual FloydFest, and beyond an optimally sunny Saturday afternoon filled with nothing but A-1 tunes, there was a generous sprinkling of sweet/curvaceous ladies whose ‘thong & something gauzy’ garbs simplicity was in tune with a 100% genuine aura of Good Will. On Sunday we hiked about three miles worth of the Blue Ridge, saw a trio of deer and a 30′ free-stack fireplace from a Works Program camp when they built the Parkway. I even attempted fishing in his front yard pond.

Putting my idyllic and mentally relaxing time– especially two evenings of good friends and food-drink aplenty– in what seems a realistic perspective, it felt GREAT to have a whole weekend off to completely enjoy all that transpired. While its changed my economics on a weekly basis, whenever I finally get unemployment, the $232/week will be about $50 less than that MSER outfit paid me for 35 hrs. of my life. That’s just part of current facts, as is 14 weeks max of UI, down from 26 last year. I got away from a situation where flunky management and money were so difficult to deal with, to being able to invest days and keyboard time in search for situations where my professional skills, detailed in LinkedIn profile, should eventually become my next Real Job.

After 30 days, I’m not stroking myself to say I’m not missing that previous set-up at all.

The personal-professional writing I’ve diverted prime time hours of my day into isn’t difficult to measure at all; I’ve got the discipline that puts writing in Number 1 position, without denying that finding a recruiter who cares about finding me a contract situation where I can prove/improve my administrative-organizational abilities is a strong 1-A.  It doesn’t make me a slacker that I choose timing for bike rides that have strengthened left leg-knee vs. the cumulative daily grind of walking and selling for maybe 7 hours; I’m in solidly better shape, tanned and feeling physically confident. The difference between guy hiking a music festival and the Blue Ridge is appreciated by the drudge who wondered if he was athletically dead when his jump shot went away with knee integrity and just working.

When, as will always happen, I had a period of disappointment over a phone call or series of leads going nowhere this month, I gave thanks it was a relatively new stress. “I don’t have kids in school, a mortgage, or even a car payment,” is simpler economics than dramatic negatives and choices many people have faced for lots longer times in this country. Israel and Hamas and civilian deaths at over 1200, with constant deadly fears EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES, isn’t in any balance I really have to be concerned about. (I’ll cop to ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’ on that– look to the 5% of things you CAN affect in your life vs. worry)

I just passed my first month of unemployment. I know its a numbers game, yet just like with the fundraising company I worked for before moving to Charlotte 19 years ago, its my job to track down those whom I need to speak with. I’m projecting myself online in relevant discussion groups, I’m feeling as strong as I have in maybe a year or more, and I have *two* recruiters who know enough about my resume-me to count. I’ve even got the first 12,600 words for next book cranking.

Looking forward to what August brings, including getting at least 3 readings/book events for ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’. Goals baby, make it happen!

Glenn S.

The Dad Project



Having finally gotten the picture from cell phone to here: The Dad Project is a pegboard homage, using many of his hand tools obviously. The top section is suspended by hook-eyelet from a simple bar resting on nails; the middle also rests on nails. Of course, the blue level, as two of my brothers astutely noticed; his father’s hammer actually,a beautiful saw, that 3-section 19″ piece of folding measure he used as much as anything, a coil of oooooold electrical cord. Lower left is picture of Dad showing 3 nephews how to make pens; upper left is a shadowy little square that’s the mantlepiece in front room in Tampa, the last thing he ever did.

I pulled 3 pieces of wood fairly randomly from his scrap barrel in the garage at the time of his funeral, Groundhog Day, 2013, and decided I’d put together something like that memorable portion of his Work Area– thats what we always called it. This is exactly what I wanted it to look like.

Well, except for the saw thing; its there now though. With a sanding block, too.
Glenn Shorkey, second son of Waldo & Ernel.

Personal Memorial Day 2014

I celebrated Memorial Day a week later than most, because I arrived in Charlotte 19 years ago on June 1, leaving upstate NY after a final NYC holiday weekend. Tercel packed to the gills and my trusty Miyata 12 spd. on the back, I emerged from the Holland Tunnel into a thundering hail storm, made a bad decision getting off 81 before Ronoake, and took part of Tues. cutting across southern Virginia futilely trying to catch *something* to get me to Charlotte.

Anyway, 19 years, and here’s how I’ll always remember my terrific nephew and Blackhawk helicopter pilot Lt. Curtiss Shorkey from that day before: he wouldn’t give me a hug goodbye, and I 100% understood, ‘cuz I get teary thinking about how bad my leaving made him feel. At 38 I had plenty of previous exits, but that five year old I loved the best (I maintain a favorite is granted aunts and uncles, whatever the rationale) touched me that deep from really early on. He is genuinely liked by everyone I’ve ever met, a straight-shooter you KNOW would do the Right Thing in any imaginable situation. If I ever get married, he’s the guy I want standing next to me, even if its just because that uniform *always* makes for a better picture.

I spent a quite satisfying final week of the month knocking out sales goals with Jack, and as they say in Charlotte, from Thurs. on “we was gettin’ us some gravy,” to go with a Nautica bonus we’d already qualified for. Ended up $10,000 over budget, but the bonus is on total, so we sopped us up a mess of gravy. I’m always willing to help the economy when there’s a bit of extra cash, and I guess it’s definitely time for a new basketball, even if that wonderous ‘J’ of mine is no more…

Besides putting head down and producing, I’m reasonably pleased with having put WRITING in front of alternatives several times this week and invested ‘extra’ hours in developing my second book. That I sell a copy a day of my FIRST book, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ is part of the deal, but doing that creative process again engenders a lot of hopeful enthusiasm.

I’ve regarded situation at MSER (Major SouthEastern Retailer) as ‘cash cow’ and BPBPJ (bill paying, benefit providing job), but having physical copies that people are willing to give me $18-20 for, that counts for a lot in the Bigger Picture. Like they always tell musicians and actors, “don’t quit your day job,” and while I continue searching for more appropriate uses for my organizational talents, putting some meat on the bones for Book #2 was a good use of Memorial Week-19th anniversary. I enjoyed an outstanding dinner at Miro Spanish Grille with b-day girl/manager Anne on Sat., couldn’t have asked for a more empowering finale than to know I will get to take it off my taxes too. I’ve got my personal days off arranged for later this month so I can fulfill commitment I made to So. Carolina HOBY organization about getting a childrens read-along book project to completion, and on Memorial Day, when we admire commitment just a little more, I’ll try doing all I can.

With thanks to my own uncles and Dad for their past service: Donnie (Air Force), Howard (Marines), Dad and Harold (Navy). While I always remember Curt, I know my cousin Frank Ball has a son in the Navy he’s exceptionally proud of too, so kudos there. I had opportunity to give a military person a 10% discount the other day, and I believe we should all take every small thing we can do and affirm that we know and give thanks for what they do for us. I saw a short note while scrolling on FB the other day: If you don’t support our military before and after a war, you don’t support the military, you support war. ‘Nuff said.

Oh, except that the working title for next book is, 3rd Time, Lots Less Nice.

Glenn S.

Book, Birthday, Belk and Beyond

As a soon to be published ‘real’ author, I’m obviously excited about holding my first book and feeling the solid proof of accomplishment. Not that I’m lacking pride regarding all the bylines I’ve accumulated over the years, or that knocking out-articulating in writing a blog for others to agree or perhaps just say hmmm… about doesn’t float my boat, BUT…

I don’t believe I’m the only one that feels this way, but a book somehow marks your passage in life as a writer. No matter how many times I mentioned I was a writer, one of the first two inevitable questions was, “Have you written a book?” With kudos to the Grantland Rice’s or Jim Murray’s who cranked out more sports articles than there are drunken, nearly naked sophomores on a Spring Break beach, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ means I’m definitely not a wanna-be. It’s not ‘War and Peace’,’Sister Carrie’, or ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ literature, but its as I envisioned it when I began, and whenever somebody takes it to the register, I’ll get a confirmation I did something worth while.
Mom’s surprise 80th birthday at the beginning of the month (actually a week earlier, which was the surprise) was one of those moments every son I know wants to tell people about, because in a very real way it DOES prove you’re a Good Person and you love your Mom a lot more than they can ever put in a Hallmark card.

Two other brothers from Charlotte and I (the NY guy was already there) arrived in Tampa after 1:30 a.m., woke her up, let her go back to bed, then had a houseful of people to greet her when youngest bro Dave returned with her from a seashell exhibit in St. Pete later in the afternoon. When they pulled up in front of the house, I heard Mom say, “Oh, now I get it,” because Dave had been telling her all week the guy next door was going to have a party, and had asked about people parking on her property. She cried and hugged people all the way to the door, and if it seemed a little silly at times that we were congratulated for doing something so special when I kind of assumed anyone would WANT to do that for their Mom, in my heart I know she’ll remember it until she really doesn’t remember anything.

As for the MSER where we peasants will generally be getting back to 35 hr. work weeks after *three full months* of budget-straining skinny checks ($460 for two weeks can keep a single guy with no mortgage, kids in school, or car payment going, but anything extra, sheeee-it!), it only took ONE very helpful recruiter to listen to me explain my resume and say, “I’ll rewrite it a little so you can see what a recruiter is looking for,” to restore my confidence about getting out of retail in the near future.

Having achieved that career event of ‘first book published’ and gotten nearly 20,000 words into the next, I’m looking forward to the marketing challenge of selling those 65 units I self-published, doing a book signing at Maggiano’s, having a friend say, “You were right, reading this DOES go great with a couple glasses of chardonnay.” Getting to break-even (only 150 copies) is a legit mark, as is 1,000 units, and maybe a royalty check bigger than my BPBPJ (bill paying, benefit providing job). It all seems more possible now, and if my NCAA bracket picking brings a return on my $20 investment, I’ll take that as another positive.

Friends and people from work keep saying, “Good luck with your book, and I’ll be able to say, ‘I knew him before…'” and that sounds REAL damn good to me.

Glenn S.

Throwing up a Long-Distance Three for Davey O

I had the opportunity to offer a little brotherly love to someone (we actually had two ‘5th Brother’s) who is facing the rough ride to the end for a mother with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  Just throwing a couple significant texts counted, but the difference between that and two of my real brothers and I driving to Tampa for a week of vacation at my Mom’s/her surprise 80th is as different as it gets. It reminds me how grateful our family felt last year, when my Dad died from congestive heart, because there was minimal pain; in on Sunday, I was of service on Monday, the end was Tuesday.

I got out to shoot some hoops yesterday, the first of what will be be 11 days away from BPBPJ (bill paying, benefit providing job) in retail, and it was gloriously warm.  There was a guy shooting at the other end of a neat little pocket park on Craig St., and as I’ve told a lot of people, these are the easiest double rims in Charlotte– most doubles are a little ‘hot’, and turn many good shots into ‘shoulda had’ misses. Not here though, it can stay on the rim and wind up in. It’s a convenient zip up the street, and the nets are high quality, and yeah, that counts even more than having the 3-arc well-marked.

‘The O’ was always about cranking it from long range in our back yard, like barely in front of the birch trees on the extended pad side, or one step in bounds from taking it out kind of bombs, where people GAVE you the shot and looked for a rebound. Actually, shooting from that side allowed taking advantage of what a good ‘home court rim/backboard’ can do for you: the bank shot didn’t have to be perfect to score. If he ever threw a fake on you and got even a three-foot closer clear shot, you were in for a *whole* lot of crapola from anyone present; Dave wasn’t exactly tall or swift, so mostly he’d shoot threes. He also got the Norm-treatment like in ‘Cheers': “Oh no, It’s the Big O!” which for sake of accuracy, is for Ornston, and the sound of his echoed dribbling up the street like clockwork at 5:35, because that was when Shorkey dinner was generally over and the basketball court reopened, is a part of my growing up.

Dave’s Mom, Lillian, and mine were great friends for many years, garage sales, coffee, just talking in the street. First time I saw Dave he was riding a bike half-way up the block while she watched him from the front porch, and I got better at tennis because it seemed his Dad’s, Bud, help and lessons meant he’d keep beating me if I didn’t. While Dave had a rim at his house, we played more Risk and chess there– with four boys, we had the largest court and highest probability of getting a game, at least one-on-one.

One thing I’ve never forgotten is how both his Mom and Dad kissed him on the head whenever he was leaving the house. I don’t know if that’s Jewish custom or just Mom/Dad affection, but I reminded The O to get one of those kisses soon, because it doesn’t have to be the last kiss that you’ll go forward with and remember.

I’ve also decided to accept that I am now a full-time set shooter– the guy with the long J is done. I’m expecting we’ll day trip to see him next week, maybe we’ll even find a court. ‘The O’ took a train across Florida for the sake of paying respects after my Dad’s passing last year– that’s what having extra brothers is about.

Glenn S.

More Than Enough About A-Rod

Having read the most recent, well, through this mornings trashy but definitive measurements of self-medicating self-enhancement, I admit to being stunned about what there could be left to fight about or admit regarding Alex Rodriguez. I found just the *constant* flogging of the upcoming ’60 Minutes’ interview MORE than I wanted/needed to know, the regimen followed clear. Where is there a shred of DOUBT about what transpired in any reasonable mind?

That’s kind of a baseline reading of facts. The guy didn’t just ‘juice’, he lived the whole life. But sueing your freaking UNION, that’s where I think the trolley has gone off the tracks. My brother Dave caught a couple wildcat strikes while working for GE after getting his MBA, but even beyond protections granted by contract that allowed irresponsible behavior by a 20-man walkout, A-Rod is operating in a rarefied air of narcissism. This is what they call ‘dead bang guilty’ folks, and this guy is sueing the only group–even though they clearly hate his guts– that HAD to watch his back on certain issues.

In a lot of places in the world, there’s a willingness to admit that keeping a mad/crazy dog around just isn’t right, and yep, ya’ gotta do sumpthin’ about it. I’m not talking a double tap in middle of the street, but any changing of number of games suspended is moot: while there will almost inevitably be an on-going wrestling at the fringes of this saga, A-Rod is mostly toast. If the Yankees get out of paying his salary during suspension, I find myself cheering for the possibility, just because it’d be one more stick it! moment for the poster boy for Arrogant.

I’ll take everything down to the bottom line. After a conversation that included invoking baseball writers *not selecting anyone last year*, and fact Pete Rose’s overwhelming hit record vs. betting on own team as not worthy of Hall of Fame standard, A-Rod is as close to the HoF as either of us is going to get. I felt zero compassion for Raphael Palmiero, after his finger pointing in a Congressional hearing, about “I have NEVER taken…” and then testing positive. A fine hitter-contributor for many years, Palmiero’s the early favorite for getting dissed by selectors based on Steroid Era stats. Bonds, wow, thats going to be a hot potato, but as to A-Rod and Rafe, like Joe Pecci in ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ says, “I’m done with deez guyz.”

Rodriguez and lacking any doubt that *nobody* is going to give him a contract AFTER this suspension, I don’t care any more than I do about the (druggy) Tour de France, although truthfully, I do find the dramatic, exhaustive, even superhuman effort involved there worth writing about. There ya’ go Alex, you rank below bicycling in the Pyrennes.

Glenn S.

New Year-New Love Improve Ability to Shake Knockdowns/BS

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that “It’s not how many times get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up” bromide has already come up three times in 2014. Having commented on that simple but Truthful idea on LinkedIn, going a little longer on the idea seems legit.

With a *liiitle* bit of luck today, Jack and I will hit Nautica bonus, and some extra bucks in the bank is always something to have anticipation-optimism about. Coming on the heels of on-going annoyance with slightly (uhhh, 20% more ‘slightly meat cleaver’) reduced hours at MSER (major Southeast retailer), the negative crapola of computer scheduling (I won’t bludgeon you with that) and State’s questionable change to zero dependents for withholding (being single it won’t affect me, but Jack has three late teen-early 20 kids and zero vs. three is a screwing), that’s The Good Stuff. Mentally I’ve committed a chunk of that bonus to getting my nearly completely re-edited book printed, which is also strong stuff. I’d PLANNED on accomplishing that personal-professional milestone in 2013, but in trying to repair computer’s ‘Windows32 file corrupted’-type message three weeks ago, I wiped out *everything* on the unit. If I hadn’t kept book and resume on a thumb drive, I would’ve had to shoot myself.

Brother Mike finished re-loading everything last night while we watched exciting Cotton Bowl between Missouri and Oklahoma St., so THAT’S obviously a positive as well. Between that second you realize the total deal of saved files is going down the drain and regaining them there is an awful lot of angst for sure! (Okay, yes, I will buy/use a backup system after this!) Gaining a measure of traction on a major goal clearly counts.

With my Mom and Aunt Elinor up from Tampa, we had a very good Christmas, including lasagna dinner with Steve, Mer, 3 boys over at Mike’s place. It’s our first Christmas without my Dad, but as I said in blessing before dinner, hopefully we live with the joy of so many times past in our hearts, and anticipation of a time in future to share similar joy again. Finally buying a window treatment for my apartment with Mom’s Christmas $$ won’t accomplish that, but celebrating as a family always counts.

As for New Love in a new year, sharing a bottle of wine during 3 hr. lunch (Brio) and some affection afterwards with a very attractive, physically fit/desirable, smart and obviously motivated, crystal clear blue-eyed lady, brought a whole lot of focus to 2014. Elinor and I had a significant discussion about what I’ve done and what I could-should consider doing differently in job search (I guaranteed her 2 hrs./week on improving Spanish skills, she asked why not 2 a day), but when sparks fly from first kiss with an All That Woman– New Years Day or mid-May– THAT makes a crazy-great-impressive difference in every thought process. Unsatisfying job? I’m definitely on the case. Material and resources lined up on that book? Check, and ready to test my abilities to the max there and maybe being used on a contract basis. That kinda wussy left knee, its effect on my J and confidence, or upcoming 57th b-day? None of that matters when the lady kisses you back as well as you kissed her.

And when she says that, having read a particular scene from book sent via e-mail, she has a story she wants to tell you– privately– how much more anticipation for greatness can a new year bring?

Glenn S.