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  • I got a rejection letter from a job today. It was crafted with a Hemingwayesque precision, expertly worded to give me all of the information I needed while withholding enough to preclude any unintended implication. According to the New York Times, so did about 80,000 other Americans, 80,000 being the margin by which the economy missed its job growth projection. Not that we can really be mad about that, per se; we did add 120,000 jobs, so you can't really be *that* mad about missing 80,000. That's also a bit like saying I should be happy about the fact I got four interviews into the hiring process before I received my Dear John letter from corporate America.

    Funny enough today was also the day that Facebook forced me to start using its timeline feature, which near as I can tell makes modern social networking into some sort of hungry, wailing bastard child of Wikipedia and Friendster, conceived in a sloppy drunken tryst in the bushes behind Mark Zuckerberg's house at 4:30 in the morning after a party at which the Napa Valley wine ran particularly freely. I normally have more important shits to give than whether or not Facebook made some sort of arbitrary change to its format, but this timeline thing really threw me for a loop - and just walk with me on this, I promise I'm going somewhere with it.

    You see, the timeline feature allows you, or anyone, to click through your Facebook history and see all of the posts you've made during your time on the site. For me, this forms a narrative going back to the middle of 2004, and reading this timeline reminded me of when I read through a bunch of old letters I found in a trunk of my grandmother's after she had passed. Every letter, note, text, email, all of that, carries a relevance that so pressing at the time of writing, but that in retrospect is stripped away, leaving only a body of details, shivering, fearful and naked, when examined via telescope from some future date. Earlier I was reading these old posts on my timeline, and reconciling the difference between what I thought then and what I know now was honestly making me nauseous. I don't mean figuratively; I was literally, physically nauseous reading the old posts, knowing whom I would eventually lose contact with, knowing which friends would later turn out to be self serving, knowing which relationships would quietly drift away like dandelion seeds, and which would end as surprisingly and catastrophically as September 11th. Reading the words of those people in the past, knowing what would happen in the future, was a lot to take in.

    But it was informative, because it made me think about how I feel about this rejection letter I received today (who am I kidding, it was an email, no company in its right mind would waste a stamp on that). For better or worse, the present is impermanent, and one day I'll see this rejection, and probably my entire job search, as a hassle I had to deal with for a few months rather than the soul-wringing crucible it feels like now. The Facebook timeline made me miserable and anxious, but in a good way.

    That also begs the question what I'll think of this - the short work of prose I poured out after a day of introspection, basted with two glasses of mead - but I think I'd rather not tackle that question right this minute. I've got more resumes to send out.
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