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Archive for October, 2009

They say brilliance and insanity are on the same gene. It’s just a matter of which way the line tips for complete manifestation one way or the other. I’ve been precariously straddling that line most of my life.

When I was in junior high school, the powers that be gave us all a “placement” test. I must have “placed” very high, as they were convinced I had cheated and made me take the test over again. By myself in a room under watchful eye. I apparently scored even better the second time. My mother still likes to tell that story to this day, because it’s a great example of how the average person just can’t comprehend there are smarter people in the world than them. And in answer to your questions, yes it was an IQ test and I scored in the 160’s. I was twelve. Shortly afterward I was visited by a creepy old guy (okay, maybe only late 30’s, but I was 12 so what do I know?) from MENSA who wanted me to join them so I could fully develop my potential. At the time all I cared about was reading science fiction, making straight A’s, winning the next solo and ensemble competition and my first crush whose name shall remain confidential lest he learn he’s still associated with the likes of me. So, I just wasn’t interested.

But that brings up the other part of the brilliance factor. When people find out you have a genius IQ, they automatically assume you’re going to spit out the next Theory of Relativity or solve the world’s hunger problems in an afternoon. Sorry. Intelligence doesn’t work like that. And the average person doesn’t understand why. If it’s any consolation, neither do the geniuses.

Mostly, though, people just feel threatened by you and stay away. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life alone because of that.

Which brings us back to the flip side of brilliance: that whole insanity thing.

Not that I’m insane by any measure of the vernacular or medical definitions. Though I’m sure my friends and family had their doubts at one time or another. My brilliance is balanced by the curse of depression. It is a genetic anomaly in my family line. Previous generations self-medicated with recreational drugs and alcohol. Nothing like a bunch of intelligent, creative people drunk off their asses. As a child, I was described as moody and shy, and my writing and music became my therapy. As an adult, the depression began to manifest more obviously and I struggled to maintain a solid front while silently fighting to the death with my own mind. You see, the other problem with having a high intelligence is you think you can correct any problem just by shear reason and will. Unfortunately, the depression didn’t care that I had a superior intellect and I finally found myself crushed under the weight of its irrationalizations. Counseling, a formal diagnosis and a wonderful cocktail of prescriptions brought me back from the brink and taught me a lesson in humility. Not to mention biochemistry. Your mind is an amazing thing, but sometimes it needs help from modern medicine.

But there are times when life keeps kicking you and you go days, weeks, even months in a downward spiral and there is just not enough medication in the world. Being repeatedly turned down for jobs I could probably do in my sleep, being overlooked for a leadership position in the volunteer group I’ve spent nearly 30 years supporting, even being ignored on Facebook, all have really done a number on me. Not that I had such great self esteem to start with. But the gene has spun to the dark side of the equation, and I’ve been wallowing in its depths. My husband, bless his heart, tries to rationalize the issues away, desperately trying to find some light in this whole mess. Men just want to fix things, you know. But women don’t generally respond well to rationalization under the best of circumstances, so you can just imagine what a depressive writer/musician has to say about the whole thing. I am at war with myself, my intellect trying desperately to work with the nice little pills to pull the rest of me out of the pits.

So welcome to my therapy session. Maybe I’ll find that line again while you watch.

(c) 2009 Cheri K. Endsley. All rights reserved.

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When I was a kid, my parents always stressed honesty and integrity in everything we did. Treat other people fairly, keep your word, tell the truth. Something I’m sure we’ve all heard numerous times. But how rarely we seem to follow that advice. My siblings and I learned pretty quickly that if we were caught in a lie, the consequences were far worse than if we’d just owned up to whatever transgression we were guilty of. Not to mention, you have to keep track of what you told to who, and I just don’t have the memory capacity for that. So I’ve always tried to stick to what my parents taught me. Yeah, I’ve let loose the occasional “white lie,” mainly to protect the feelings of people I care about, avoid a bigger argument with someone or keep my husband in the dark about what I got him for his birthday. We’ve all done that, because if the people around us knew what we were really thinking… Well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

And, my, haven’t there been some wonderful examples over the years. Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down, lied about it, and got impeached. David Letterman got caught with his pants down, owned up to it, and got applauded. Now, obviously, both shouldn’t have done what they did in the first place. That’s what happens when you think with the wrong head. But it’s a good lesson in how the world still cares about integrity and honesty. Clinton will always be remembered for a stained blue dress, instead of the other notable accomplishments of his tenure in office, his legacy forever tainted. Letterman, on the other hand, will be lauded for owning up to his idiocy, managing to save some face in the process, and not to mention boosting his ratings and fan loyalty. Makes you wonder what would have happened if Clinton had done the same thing from the beginning. We might have just been left with news footage of Hilary chasing Bill around the White House lawn with a butcher knife, before cutting to the latest kid-down-a-well story.

So, what does this all have to do with me? Well, the whole job hunt thing, mainly. The middle management, executive administrator type of stuff that I’ve been doing for the last ten years has been decimated by the flailing economy. Those jobs are few and far between, and the employers know they have a buyer’s market so they have tightened the requirements. So, here I am putting applications in for jobs that pay about half what I’m used to, and being told by HR managers that are about half my age they don’t feel comfortable hiring me because I’m so over-qualified. OVER-qualified. That basically translates to “You’re smarter and more experienced than me, so I’m not going to hire you because you might take my job.” Truth is, I probably eventually would. But that doesn’t help the bank account right now.

I’ve had friends tell me to “play down” my experience and even leave my education off my resume, just so I can get in the door somewhere. Only one problem with that: in my mind, that’s LYING! First and foremost, having been on the other side of the hiring table, withholding information on an application can be grounds for termination. If you lied about that, what else are you lying about? Secondly, I spent a lot of time and money getting my education and professional certifications, and, damn it, I’m not sweeping that under the rug. Besides, most people who talk to me can tell within a few seconds that I’m better educated and more experienced than most.

So, this is my curse. Tell the truth and continue to struggle with the job hunt, or lie and perhaps get my foot in the door.

I’ll take the truth and accept the consequences of being unemployed. Gives me more time to work on my writing, anyway. Plus my integrity is more important to me than money. What’s more important to you?

(c) 2009 Cheri K. Endsley. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes you are given challenges, and you have to fight every step of the way to meet them. And sometimes you are handed things on a silver platter, except you can’t seem to comprehend the door has finally opened and you need to rush in as soon as possible. Welcome to my life.

Six months ago, after years of working for other people and growing increasingly disillusioned with the whole notion of living under the thumb of some myopic megalomaniac no smarter than my pencil, I was “laid off.” That fateful moment came just a few days after I had reached my limit and cried out to the heavens to give me a sign as to what path I needed to be taking at this juncture in my life. Not so subtle response, wouldn’t you say? You see, I’ve spent most of my adult life paying the bills by being an office schmuck. And a damn good one, too, I might add. And the whole time I have hated it, because what I really wanted to do was write fiction and play music.

Once upon a time in my youth, I gained a music education degree from one of the top universities in the nation for that sort of thing, and made a (very) modest living working with small ensembles in clubs and orchestra pits, and teaching. Did okay for a while, but being only an average musician, I wasn’t going to go very far, and I really didn’t like the nomadic, insecure existence of such a lifestyle anyway. A childhood spent with daddy in the Air Force has really turned me off on moving with any more regularity than, say… once a century or so.

I had been writing since junior high school. Mostly science fiction/fantasy stuff, which I also read like a fiend. My grand plan was to get a teaching degree and get hired with some college or university somewhere so I could teach during the school year, and write in the summer. Then a college buddy talked me into applying to the screenwriting program of probably the premier film and television conservatory in the country. He had majored in film in school and wanted to be a director. He didn’t get accepted to the conservatory. I did. Spent a great year in a fabulous creative working environment and was making some headway with networking. It was also the hardest, most expensive year I’d ever had, living in LA and going to school full-time. Had the opportunity to continue in the second year program, which may have really set me off on a great new career, before the Virgo practicality took a strangle hold on my body and sent me veering off into mundanity. Best laid plans, as they say…

So, here I am, middle-aged, unemployed, struggling with self-image and self-worth ’cause I can’t BUY a job, and trying to keep that door of opportunity open just a little while longer so I can get the writing chops back in gear and get something sold before I lose the house, the car and the husband.

Hang on, lady. We’re going for a ride!

(c) 2009 Cheri K. Endsley. All rights reserved.

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