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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Eight-Year Itch — Does Lightning Strike Twice?

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Well, that was quite a weekend. It’s a damned good thing I don’t have a job, folks, because if I did, I would at this very moment be trying to figure out an excuse for calling in sick tomorrow, just for the extra snoozies.

That’s the beauty of getting a new job, of course. Your Excuse-O-Meter resets to zero, and all that lame shit you came up with to get out of work just melts away. In the blink of an eye, the wand is waved, and all of your imaginary ‘car trouble’ is but a distant memory. Your ‘chickenpox’, your dog’s ‘measles’, and your wife’s ‘toe replacement surgery’ are suddenly back in play, and ready to be used on a new set of managers. All those ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ and ‘elderly grandparents’ that you put in the hospital, or claimed were visiting, or conveniently killed off (shame on you!) are magically alive and well and ready to go through the wringer again. It’s a beautiful thing. I can’t wait to land a new job, so I can start making up reasons to miss work again. This sitting around on my ass because I’m supposed to is starting to get old.

See, most things in life are like that. When you’re not supposed to be doing them, you want to. And when you are supposed to be doing them… well, that’s usually when you’re engrossed with some other thing that you’re not supposed to be doing. It’s the siren song of the forbidden fruit. The thrill of the guilty pleasure. Or, to put it simply, ‘taboo is faboo‘.

(That one’s a freebie, folks. Feel free to use it in your daily conversations.)

Actually, that same yearning for ‘otherness’ is what got me into my current profession in the first place.

(Well, not my current current profession, since I’m between jobs at the moment. I suppose my current occupation is probably holding my desk chair down on the floor with my ass. And, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I actually seem to be becoming rather an expert at this particular vocation. Not only do I put in eight-hour days, and then some, but my ass is actually getting heavier and wider, to better fill the position of ‘Senior Chair Keeper-Downer, Internet Division‘. I’m all for going that extra mile, people — I was just never told that the mile would end up being the distance across my ass cheeks. That shit wasn’t in the contract, you understand.)

Anyway, back to my latest profession of choice that actually paid money.

(Though, of course, if any of you are interested in sending me money for blogging, I’ll certainly be happy to call this my profession. I’ll even keep talking about my ass, if that’s what you want. Send me cash, and it’s all about what you want. Principles, shminciples. I’ll make this the Ass Blog — all ass, all the time. Two hundred channels, and there’s nothing but ass on. Really. Hell, send me enough money, and I’ll post pictures of my ass, in various unflattering positions.

(Because that’s really the only option when my ass is involved. The position hasn’t yet been invented that will paint a pretty picture of my ass, I’m afraid. You can’t get blood from a stone, folks. Or my ass, come to think of it — that’s just about where I draw the line. Pictures, yes. Bloodletting? A most emphatic, ‘Stay the hell away from my ass, freakbag!!‘ We all have our limits.)

All right, let’s put away the asses for a while, shall we? That was like a whole month’s worth of ass in just a couple of paragraphs. You must be stuffed to the gills with ass by now. (Yes, I know — I’m still doing it. Sorry. I just couldn’t resist, once I had the mental image of a fish stuffed to the gills with ass. C’mon, that’s funny! Close your eyes and picture it. See? Now aren’t you happier I got that last assing in?)

So, anyway, I’m a computer programmer by trade.

(I don’t know who the hell I traded with, but I bet they got the better end of the deal. They’re probably a bartender, or a circus juggler, or an astronaut, or something cool like that. Bastard.)

But I wasn’t always a coder. I’m actually trained as a research biologist. Four years’ worth in college, and four years after that, as a matter of fact. And that’s about all I could take, frankly. I started fiddling around with computers on the side, sneaking off to learn HTML, and bits and pieces of UNIX administration, and later real live coding, in real live languages like Java and Perl and SQL.

I left science because it got old. Research sounds cool and all, but it gets pretty repetitive and drab and dull. There’s a reason scientists wear those pristine, plain white lab coats, and not clown gear, or bunny rabbit suits, or slick nylon pimpin’ togs. All of those would work just as well — or better — at keeping nasty chemicals away, but scientists aren’t known for their sense of humor. Or social skills. Or bathing habits, in many cases. No, biologists are there to ‘figure shit out’, and nothing else. Most of ’em wouldn’t recognize a joke if it crawled up their ass and had a litter. Which probably is for the best — with all the attention to detail and precise measurements and focused observations, you probably don’t want someone who likes to go out on dates, or attend parties, or who’s going to be distracted by the latest knock-knock gag. So clearly, I wasn’t the man for the job, and I let myself wander into something more appropriate.

Which is not to say, ‘ideal‘. Computer nerds aren’t really known for their eloquence or pith, either.

(Sorry, is ‘pith’ even a word? I mean, ‘pithy’ has to have a non-adjective form, but that just doesn’t look right. I always have trouble with ‘pithy’, anyway — in my mind, all I can hear is Eric Cartman saying, ‘Don’t get all pithy, bitch!‘ Which is cool, but only rarely helps me with however I’m tryin’ to use the word. Damn you, South Park!)

So, eight years in science, including school, and then I needed a change. So I went from being a science geek to a computer nerd. I traded in my taped-over-the-bridge thick glasses for a pocket protector and pants hiked up to my nipples. Joy. Still, the hours are better for programmers, and you can find the occasional code jockey who’ll go out for beers now and then.

(If you look hard enough, that is — and I did. Who wants to drink alone?)

So, if nothing else, I made it from the fire up to the frying pan. Whoop-te-doo.

And now, as I look back, I see that I’ve been slinging bits and bytes around for almost exactly eight years. The same span it took me to tire of science and lab work and cutting open mice to see what’s inside.

(Well, okay, I could never tire of that. Some things are fun, no matter what profession you’re in.)

And now I’m looking for a job. And wondering what I really want to do when I grow up. And blogging when I’m supposed to be looking for a job. Uh oh. I think I’ve been on this merry-go-round before.

What does it all mean? Honestly, I don’t know. I just know that I owed you nice folks a post today, and I’ve filled up several paragraphs explaining how I got to this point. Where’s the next stop? Computer squaresville? Maybe. Is there any other option? Dunno. After the weekend I’ve just had — burgers and brats and comedy on Friday, an all-day, all-night pool party yesterday, and spending today walking around like a slack-jawed drool-dribbling zombie — I think I’m just gonna have to sleep on it. I’ll have more for you tomorrow, and hopefully it’ll make more sense. This writing in a half-coma thing is tough, dude. But a few hours of rest will get me back on track, I think. And if not… well, you’ll know what happened when I call up and tell you that I think I’m coming down with the chickenpox *cough*, or that my dog looks swollen and puffy and red. And God forbid I need more time to recover — that’s when the relatives start dropping dead, to buy me time. And I don’t wanna put Aunt Gracie through that again.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “The Eight-Year Itch — Does Lightning Strike Twice?”

  1. SueP. says:

    Well, gee – don’t give it up now. According to the Sept.issue of Business 2.0, your specialty is among the hot/well-paying/secure job boom that is about to come along. All you have to do is:

    a) keep track of how many baby boomers die off.

    b) possibly move to a major city ion Florida

    c) wait 2 more years.

  2. last sentence... says:

    i did not send the above message.

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