The Great American Novel For A New Generation

The Great American Novel has already been written.  Actually, I don’t know; maybe it hasn’t been.  I do know I’m not going to be the one to write it.

I bring this up because the intent to write this Novel was what people like me decided to do in previous generations.  By “people like me” I mean the mid-life unemployed.

If it does exist, this isn’t it.

Yes, that’s me: Forty-years-old and without gainful employment.  How I got here is as clichéd a story as whatever it is in that mythical novel.  I was a middle manager for some faceless corporation that was bought out by a bigger faceless corporation.  The street and I soon thereafter found each other.

It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant turn of events.  I had been in one place for close to thirteen years.  I had often flirted with the idea of going somewhere else but I liked the place I worked and the people I worked with.  Traffic reporting was never really a vocation of passion (shocking, I know), but there is definitive value in reporting to work every morning and not dreading, in the least, doing so.

But, as they say, change can be a good thing.

Here’s the biggest issue:  looking for work is often a case of hurrying up to wait.  I send out e-mails, make phone calls, and do all that networking requires of me but then I have to sit back and wait for people to get back to me.  You see, to be truly effective at finding work, it helps to reach out to people who have, you know, jobs.  That means they don’t always get back to me as quickly as I might like.

So what to do to fill the time?

I vowed to clean the attic and fix up the basement.  I was going to sort through some of the way too many toys and way too many boxes we have scattered about this wee house of ours.  I have done none of that.

Yes, I see that video game system over there.  That shit is dangerous.  I think it may be the crack of the unemployed.  Fire that sucker up and the day is gone and I’m late for picking up the kids with no real good excuse.

Oh! The Shame!

“That meeting, um, with myself, uh, ran late.”  That just sounds bad in a couple different ways.

I could rake the leaves in my yard but I’m waiting for the last one to fall.  No reason to double down on work like that.  I have no aptitude for real home improvement, so putting in that second bathroom or expanding the kitchen just isn’t happening.

Frankly, this is the point where I am supposed to have delusions of grandeur.  This is the point where I am supposed to sit here and think that I can accomplish these great and meaningful things that I just didn’t have time to do before what with all that vital paper pushing that was my job.

This brings us back to that Great American Novel of past generations.  What is the equivalent of that today?

You’re looking at it baby.


I know we all think that the thoughts we have rolling around atop our shoulders are worthy of sharing.  There is a level of self-possession and over-confidence in everyone.  That’s why we live in the Facebook generation.  My status is something in which YOU should be intently interested.  Here are some of my inner workings that I am just generous enough to share with the world.  You will like it.

Status.  Share. Like.  This is the vernacular of social networking and it has emboldened all to believe that we should be published.

I wonder how many of those Great American Novels ended up being self-published.  It used to be that, for most anyone to read what you wrote, you first had to convince someone (or many someones) that is was worthy of it.  The refuge of the blindly arrogant who failed at that was publishing the damn book yourself.  It was the back-alley world of books and rarely, if ever, was particularly successful.

Yeah...not really what I meant.

Now?  Now we all self-publish all the time, 140 precious characters at a time.  There are, the internet tells me, two billion tweets a month.  That’s a hell of a lot of self-publishing.

Nonetheless, I am, it turns out, one of those delusionally self-possessed and over-confident people who believes that MY thoughts are somehow better and more interesting than yours.  So much so that I know intend on sharing them with some degree of frequency.  I’m going to do that right here.

Aren’t you excited?  AREN’T YOU??

Welcome to The Four Father.  I will be your host.  If you can push aside that pile of toys and clean (but not so much folded) laundry, feel free to sit down.

I make no promises about what will be here.  I will make some guesses, though:

  1. Probably not much in depth analysis involving any of the following acronyms: SEIU, NRA, NATO, ACORN, RNC, or FOXNEWS.  (I know the last one isn’t an acronym, but it should be)
  2. I will NOT use this word more than this once: poop.
  3. I will at no point try to convince of any of the following:  that you should hire me, that you should think my kids are just sooooo precious, or that you should think MY way because it’s the one and only RIGHT way.  Actually, I may do that last one with startlingly frequency.
    If Geithner can do it, so can I
  4. I will probably encourage you to buy Maggie’s Girl Scout cookies.  Now that I lack an office door or people to walk by it, I have to find a new way to be THAT guy.

Beyond that, we’ll see.  I have blogged before but it was to a set and (kind of) select group of eleven owners of fantasy baseball teams.  It was a perfect storm of loserness.  I am embarrassed by it at one level and oddly proud of it at another.  I know this:  if I can write 2000 words about fake players in a fake sports, I can probably do nearly as many with the whole world as my available subject matter.

So this, much like my mid-life crisis (not THAT kind), is new to me.  Let us all enjoy the ride, shall we?


12 thoughts on “The Great American Novel For A New Generation

  1. Good stuff, Marshall. I have often thought about starting a blog such as this, but I have never been good at organizing my thoughts.

  2. Who would have thought back in 1989 that the senior class president would be blogging 22 years later? Wait. Were you class president?

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