Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Richard Bolles, the Dean of Summer

There's something about the summer that turns me away from my job search. Again, if the EDD (Employment Development Department) is listening, this is only meant on a metaphorical level. Mostly, it's about the weather, those days when in reverse backward I'm a kid at the beach with the incoming tide lapping at my toes, or in the country with the incessant scream of cicadas drowning out every other sound: hills brown, grass dry. Everything slows and nothing seems particularly important except a cold drink. Lemonade or a cold beer will do fine.

The warm weather puts the job hunt into perspective, sun bathers at the pool discussing the merits of various floatation devices, those that require complete or partial inflation; exchanges that deflect me from more grave matters in the world like the oil spill in the Gulf,  hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice, and certainly the whereabouts of my latest job application. Everything becomes more stretched out on an event horizon.

These are days when I smell oatmeal and scrambled eggs wafting from some imaginary kitchen, a hunger for elementary days, for a song that grabs me from a set of speakers and won't leave me all afternoon on a blanket. Which is why I enjoyed listening to Richard "Dick" Bolles this morning speaking at the Experience Unlimited Meeting in Contra Costa.  In different ways he advised against being frantic. His publication nearly 40 years ago of "What Color is Your Parachute," has been updated over the years, a kind of bible for job seekers in 26 countries and translated into 20 languages.

Bolles looked like my stereotype of a Texan, 6'5" with pristine white sneakers, which except for their color were big enough to double as planters. Bolles exuded a kind of Bob Hope warmth,  a kid on the first day of summer camp looking for friends.  At 83, Bolles has been entertaining the troops long enough on the job search trail to have won a lifetime achievement award. If he hasn't already, he should. Bolles said he owes his longevity to drinking a swig of formaldehyde every night.

Basically, he told us to relax into our job search, to do the assessment, the personal inventory.  Of course that's also called doing the work, but he made it sound simple. He told us to take the time to get to know ourselves.

"The secret to having hope in a job search," he said, "is having alternatives." Instead of relaying on the resume to be the foot solider opening doors, he counseled to develop a number of strategies, least of which was to "capture your own vitality, your own energy. All the world conspires to rob your of that."

It was enough to make me jump into the swimming pool.

Tonight I'll don my new summer dress that I bought with the idea of an interview in mind -- blue flowers on a white field -- (I wanted to visualize the occasion). I'll go amongst the minions of policy makers and network like I really meant it. But not before creating my next dish made with orange soda. After all, it is summer.

Stuffed Orange Chicken: Summer Side Up
Approximately 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup of orange soda
1/2 cup of orange juice
2T orange marmalade or apricot jam
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1/2 onion
5 cloves of garlic minced
2T of olive oil
1/2 cup of fire roasted peppers from the condiments aisle of your refrigerator
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-2 sprigs of rosemary that you brought home from your friend's garden
A bunch of fresh thyme from the patio garden
Slice of bread (whole wheat is best)

Saute onions and garlic in oil on low heat.  When onions are clear to partly brown, add peppers and saute together for 3 minutes.  Add rosemary that you've plucked from the stem. Add the thyme. Pour in all the liquids. Tear slice of bread into small pieces. Cook on a low to medium heat for about five-ten minutes more. This is not your deduction of olden days, but the reduction.  We are reducting.  Remove from heat.

Wash chicken thighs and place in 8 X 10 baking dish.  Pour liquid over chicken.  Open the boneless thighs and make sure you place some of the pepper/onion/garlic/herb/ bread mixture inside.  Fold thighs over the goodies.  Bake in a 350 oven for an hour or until golden brown.

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