Hey, Y’all! I’m back, and since things have been doing that thing that they do (you know, happening), of course I have news. The biggest news of late is that I am unemployed.
Exactly 3 weeks ago I sat down in a tiny office with my manager, an HR representative, and a complimentary pack of Kleenex and bottle of water, to be told that my company was downsizing and there would no longer be a place for me within it.
All in all, it ain’t been so bad (but talk to me in a few months, when my severance runs out). I’m in good company (a lot of fantastic people also got let go), I have had wonderful support, and I’ve already got a little daily routine worked out:
Wake up at 6:45.
Coffee and online job searching from 7:00-8:00.
Baby (well, OK, more like toddler-going-on-adolescent boy) wake-up time sometime around 7:45-8:00.
Day-care drop-off from 8:15-8:30
(Note: Latter two agenda items are subject to time change if I elect to walk the baby the 3-mile round trip to day care instead of driving him.)
Shower between 8:30 and 9:00
More job-hunting, more coffee, breakfast and lunch and Facebook putzing all scrunched between 9:00 and 1:00
And then, as a reward for sending off at least 2-3 job applications per morning, I spend each afternoon cleaning.
Yes, cleaning. As a reward. I’m a little odd that way. In fact, I also have a weekly cleaning schedule, but because (a) in the three weeks since I’ve been laid off, I have yet to actually adhere to the schedule, and (b) I’d like for people to keep reading this blog, I’ll spare you the details.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Jobless. So I guess this is what they call a turning point, when you look deep within yourself, take stock of your life, and move forward with some kind of greater knowledge about something.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED SO FAR FROM BEING UNEMPLOYED:
1. Aside from the whole concern about finances, I like staying at home.
I could totally be a housewife. Pathetic, I know, but the satisfaction I get out of cleaning and preparing dinner for my little family is pretty yummy for me. Of course, part of what affords me the opportunity to DO all of that cleaning and cooking is the fact that I am not a Stay-at-Home MOM; the kid still goes to day care, at least for now, so that he can keep his place, and so that I can have time to devote to my job hunt. If he were around all the time, I wouldn’t get anything done at all, except maybe brushing a hell of a lot of teeth, because he is really into tooth-brushing right now, and if he had his way we’d do it once every 20 minutes or so.
2. I apparently made an insane amount of money considering my skill level.
Seriously, man—I feel like so many jobs that are out there require what in my opinion are incredibly impressive skills, yet pay about half of what I’ve been making for my remedial ones; hence the title of this blog post. Haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do about that, but I have, unfortunately, discovered that:
3. Songwriting is not a viable career path for me.
I suppose I’ve known for awhile that I don’t have much ingenuity when it comes to songwriting; usually I just make up alternate lyrics to existing tunes, and tend to have a limited selection at that– recurring tunes in my made-up-lyrics repertoire include the refrain from “Jungle Fever”, the tune from the “My Buddy” commercial jingle, and the chorus of “Everybody Wants To Be a Cat” from The Aristocats. Some tunes just lend themselves to a variety of alternate lyrics, y’know?
And of course, having a baby has made it worse: the tune to the “Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy” part of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” has been repurposed for such lyrical gems as “Stinky Little Feet,” and “Change the Baby’s Pants” (which mostly consist of a twice-repeated refrain, followed by a line about how the topic of the song is either loved by all or known by all—as in, “everybody loves the baby’s stinky little feet,” or “everybody knows you’ve got to change the baby’s pants”).
Now, sometimes, I do dream up new tunes in my sleep, and for the 8-10 seconds that I still remember the tune after I’ve woken up, I convince myself that I’m damn good – that I could really make a go of it as a songwriter.
Today, though. Today, I have come to see the light, during my “reward” cleaning time, part of which I spent, er . . . I believe the euphemism is “picking up after” our three dogs. During that time, I succeeded in making up THEEE crappiest (pun entirely intended) song of all time, complete with original tune AND lyrics. I did not go as far as to dignify the song with an actual title, but let’s just say that I spent the better part of an hour this afternoon belting out a little ditty I like to call, “I’ve Got a Turd With Your Name On It” . . . and leave it at that.
So there goes that dream. Lesson learned. And now on to . . .
THINGS I AM TRYING REALLY HARD NOT TO DO NOW THAT I’M UNEMPLOYED:
1. Wear pajamas all day.
This one really isn’t too hard so far; the most challenging part, really, is that so many of my clothes also function quite well as pajamas, so I have been forced to draw some line of distinction. To that end, I have enacted what I like to call the Crate and Barrel Standard: If I’d wear it to Crate and Barrel, it counts as “getting dressed”. As to how I chose Crate and Barrel as the metric for this particular edict, I’m not sure. I guess I was just looking for something somewhere between Wal-Mart and Neiman-Marcus on the decency-worthiness scale. And that automatically ruled out anyplace with a pharmacy, because haven’t we all gone to the pharmacy looking a little skanky at some point in our lives? So I thought a halfway-decent specialty store, but one with cheap enough stuff that you don’t feel compelled to wear every single pearl you own into the store just to prove to the salespeople that you can afford something there. Hence the Crate and Barrel Standard was born, which essentially means that red velour Juicy Couture stretch pants are totally allowable during the day, but perpetually wrinkled red cotton Gap pajama pants that feature a pattern of dogs wearing scarves? Not so much.
2. Eat all day long.
This one is a little harder, since I have set up a little “home office” for myself in our dining room, which is RIGHT NEXT TO THE KITCHEN. Where there is ice cream. And bananas. And LIFE cereal. And leftover rosemary-roasted potatoes (and it’s admirable to eat leftovers, right?). And all kinds of stuff you can smear with peanut butter. So here’s where the whole idea of making dinner every day comes in handy, see, because if I know there’s going to be, say, pot roast tonight, then I’ll hold off on inhaling everything within a 20-foot radius during the day, with the idea that my yummy, gravy-coated reward will come at dinner time.
Then by dinnertime, I’m so hungry that I stuff myself silly, and then I spend the rest of the evening hating myself.
Then I have ice cream.
3. Re-live my 8-hour high school phone-talking marathons.
This one is actually the hardest one, because during my life thus far as a working mother, I have basically ignored practically everyone with whom I do not share a residence or within whom I did not once reside. And even some of THOSE people got short shrift every once in awhile. So I’ve spent the last year and a half feeling really guilty about being a really bad friend to a whole lotta people. Sure, there’s Facebook, which sort of allows you to both let people know you’re alive, and acknowledge the living-breathing status of others in roughly 60 words or less, but it’s not really the same as TALKING, is it? So now that a whole lotta people (who apparently forgive me for being a bad friend ) are calling to see how I’m doing, it’s incredibly easy to fritter away a whole day just . . . talking. I suppose I could argue that it counts as “networking”, but if the person already knows, loves, and wants to help you, AND if you’re talking about things like cellulite, potty training and your failed attempts at songwriting, does it really . . . ?
THINGS I’M ESCHEWING WITHOUT MUCH EFFORT:
I know. You’d think that this one would fall under the Crate and Barrel Standard, wouldn’t you? But quite frankly, my relationship with deodorant has always been characterized by some ambivalence. I get those painful armpit lumps, and the icky buildup makes it hard to shave . . . I guess this is one area of my life where I’m OK letting the stinky little adolescent hippy boy who lives inside my soul have a small victory (but I draw the line at rolling in patchouli in lieu of a bath). And I gotta let myself off the hook on SOMETHING, right, or where’s the fun in being unemployed? One other discovery that has resulted from my unemployment, however, is the irony of the fact that really, it would have been much easier to go without deodorant when I was actually WORKING. I visited my old office last week, to bring birthday goodies to a friend still employed there, and was caught completely off guard by the number of ex-coworkers who suddenly felt the need to HUG me and my stink-proud self. I’m sure more than one of them walked away thinking, “Phew-WEE, I think I know why they let HER go . . . “
2. Daytime television.
Ever since we had a kid, we’ve been trying to avoid gratuitous TV watching, but I always sort of thought that, given the chance, I’d fall off the wagon like a meth addict behind a pharmacy counter. Turns out I haven’t. Of course, the fear of running out of money before I find a job is a definite impetus to stay away from the remote, but DUDE. So is daytime television. I swear, if I hear one more crabby judge yell, “What were you THINKING?” at a hair-gel-encrusted plaintiff (whose angry ex-girlfriend ran over his dog on a bicycle and then refused to pay the vet bill), I will try meth my damn self.
I had a great job. Now I don’t. It kinda sucks. But really, what is there to do but keep on keepin’ on? (For the record, I know that “I’ve Got a Turd With Your Name On It” certainly SOUNDS like it denotes some sort of vengeance plan against my former employer, but I assure you, it ain’t the case—the song is just not that good.) Don’t get me wrong—I’m not some Pollyanna-wannabe who thinks that there’s a ray of sunshine to be found behind every cloud (for example, I find absolutely no good in people causing pain to puppies). In this case, however, I genuinely do not see the point of wasting energy on any ill will toward anyone, especially since I really don’t feel any, so why manufacture it? As one friend put it, how often do you get the gift of a few months off with pay to get your shit together? So here I am, holding in my hands the gift of time and opportunity, and ready to open up this box. Wish me luck!