The Best Laid Plans…

RobertBurnsBut, Mousie, thou art no thy lane

In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,

Anlea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.

  • Robert Burns

The oft-quoted and modernized (‘Gang aft a-gley’ really means ‘go kablooie’) axiom about plans and planning are from Burns’ immortal poem To a Mouse.  It tells of how the great poet Burns, while plowing a field, upturns a mouse’s nest, and he then composes the resulting poem as an apology to the mouse.

toamouseAs a poet myself, I can appreciate Burns’ remorse and assuaging his guilt in displacing the little guy. As a teacher laid off by his school upon returning from Christmas break, I identify quite strongly with Burns’ mouse.

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

Hence the fractured nature of my New Year’s plan of action a month into 2015.  Not to say that the news is all bad; there have been a few, pseudo-positives resulting from my suddenly acquired professional inactivity – financial security not making that list at this time.

Maybe I should backtrack a bit before delving into the whole silver lining aspect, keeping in mind that silver can tarnish rapidly.

Like the majority of Americans, I came up with an annual list of pledges to do some things better, some not at all, calvinandhobbesand some that I had never attempted before. This is hardly unusual, though as a writer, I went to the additional effort to codify my personal improvement plan in the public forum of my blog, asking, tongue only partially in cheek, for loyal readers to help me with the accountability in keeping me on track.  (My original post can be read here: (

In the interest of full blogger-disclosure, and keeping in mind that with the arrival of February, the year is only 8.3% complete; I still have time to get back on any tracks I may have jumped or will jump.  With that perspective in hand, here is an update on where things now stand.  Originally ‘resolved to’ items offset in bold, ‘in progress’ status below it.

Write more. Read more.  For fun.

So far, so good – with a few caveats. My cover letter writing skills, while pretty good and getting better, are not being nurtured into Hemmingway territory. However, there is definitely a Kafkaesque nature to much of what I have been reading in terms of position postings. expectations and job descriptions. The ‘fun’ part has yet to crop up.

highlyselective Build a better, quirkier vocabulary. Utilize said vocabulary. Without excessive, superfluous verbiage.

As adept as I am in writing cover letters, I am quickly running out of appropriate adjectives and verbs to describe myself while also avoiding clichés. Fortunately, I am a ‘green’ writer and can reuse and recycle at will as I am writing repetitively, but for (a lot of) different, minimalist audiences.

Be inspiring.

Not to my knowledge, but there is always that possibility. I haven’t found a posting for that gig, actually.

Avoid saying ‘paradigm.’ Unless being sarcastic.

Check. On both counts.

Keep in mind that sometimes, less is more.  More or less.

SEE: ‘Cover letters’ (above)

 Don’t immediately disregard real-life deus ex machinas.

I am hoping to soon encounter one…a big one, in the form of a new gig.

 blessingsjarMake regular, daily contributions to my blessings jar.

A bit of a struggle, though knowing what some friends are experiencing with personal and family health issues, this is not as difficult as I might have thought. It’s all about perspective. As an added bonus – job leads from unexpected sources fit this quite nicely.

 “Don’t perspire the piddly stuff.”

When middle-aged and suddenly unemployed, nothing seems piddly.

Fill my spare change bottle. Multiple times.

On an unemployed guy’s budget, this becomes ‘two   steps forward  quarters deposited, three  steps back quarters withdrawn.

drumming Felix 01 17 15 Sing to grandson Felix via Skype. Don’t sing to anybody else via Skype.

Actually, Felix sings to me. Or plays his drum set or his guitar.  He is very Dylanesque and his musicianship is extremely therapeutic. Chalk this one up as a big success.

Edit better.

That cover letter thing rears its head again.

Lose the additional 3.2 pounds I didn’t by the end of 2014. Don’t reclaim the 16.8 pounds discarded in 2014.

buzzers3ERRT!!!! Wrong answer.  I have been far too sedentary, rooted to desk chair hour-after-hour while job searching and composing the corresponding correspondence. I am actually up four pounds cumulatively since January first – though that is down two pounds from last week. Sheesh.  I need to walk the dogs more often.

 Take a penny, leave a penny.

Taking these days, mostly. SEE: ‘Fill my spare change bottle’ (above)

More prayer. Less frustration.

Got the first part down. Part two is an ongoing strugggle.

IMG_20140808_191355Yell less.

This one is easy, not having classrooms full of profanely mercurial high school students every day. Unless you count stuff muttered loudly at various websites and the processes encountered therein, anyway.

 Practice succinctitude.

Cover letters, anyone?

Write more. Read more.  Blog more.

Check, check, and….check. Though in ongoing slogging through a plethora of job search, school district, charter school, and company websites, I can say with impunity that it aint all edification and revelation.  The plot lines are derivative, and character development is nil – consisting mostly of bizarre caricatures of laughable expectations and unrealistic qualifications.  These readings do, however, provide ample opportunity to hone one skills in interpretation, reading between the lines, and separating fact from fiction.

More to come, coming soon. Always.

Ever hopeful.  This one is stretching my patience mode.

The-Road-Less-Traveled Find other roads less traveled. Take them.

This current road found me. I am taking it out of necessity, not choice. I have to follow the faceless GPS voice and not stray….too far. I have unwittingly become the anti-Robert Frost.

 In 2015 I will endeavor to….Look before I leap, think before I speak, think after I speak.

This one is fraught with nuance; phone and face-to-face interviews have so far gone very well, I have said nothing glaringly stupid.  Job interviews of any kind are like roadside sobriety tests: slow it down,even though your anxiety is up, try not to be too glib, and follow the officer’s interviewer’s instructions without questioning glances….

Yeah, pretty much the same thing.

 Right some wrongs. Make amends.

IMG_20140607_200720Work in progress.

 Live faithfully.


That is the update, February bound. So far, so good.  There is still 91.7% of the year to go, so I have plenty of time to get things moving back in more advantageous direction on all counts. In the meantime, as Frank Bartles used to say, “Thank you for your support.”




One thought on “The Best Laid Plans…

  1. Paul Sears February 3, 2015 / 9:33 am

    Robert Burns … ah, one must love his Gaelic stoicism !


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