Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

While I'm waiting around all day every day for something to happen, I'm watching these pots like a hawk.

In September, Indira and I filled a dozen pots with daffodil bulbs. Now green shoots are starting to poke out from the potting soil. It's very gratifying.

More on this story as it develops.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapter Musings

A few days ago I posted three sentences about how the company I was working for folded. I said I wasn't sure how I felt about it then, and I'm still not sure now, since this kind of strange grief is always evolving, but here are some thoughts.

First, a bit of background: The company was a staffing/recruiting agency whose mission was to assist transitioning military and veterans get civilian job training and job placement. I started working there on July 12, I was laid off on October 10, and I was notified that the company folded on November 18.

Now for the thoughts:

I wasn't entirely happy in that job.

I was relieved to be laid off in the first place, because it meant I didn't have to go back to doing the things in the job description that I didn't like, but I had enough awareness to know that that was my knee-jerk reaction. For the record, there was stuff in my job description that I absolutely loved. Anyway, I knew I'd feel nervous and panicky about it at some point. About a week after the layoff, nervous and panicky and set in. For about three weeks afterwards, those two feelings devolved into a debilitating brand of despair, which I tried to fight off with obsessive job-hunting. That didn't work at all.

I was overtaken by worry that I'd never find a job "in this economy," and I became so focused on every résumé I sent out, every interview I went on, and every possibility I unearthed, that I was completely wound up all day, every day. And if I was rejected, I was inconsolable.

Dave (my husband), and I had a big talk about it about two weeks ago, and we agreed that I needed to be less consumed by how many résumés I sent out, and more focused on finding the right job. The talk was a relief, but the actual "being less consumed" part is something I have yet to figure out.

When my former supervisor called and told me the company had folded, I wasn't really surprised. A few of my friends have suggested that maybe I saw this coming, and maybe it's kind of a relief. Yes to both.

The company finances had been a huge challenge for some time, and try as they might, management weren't able to keep the company afloat. And they tried valiantly. As things disintegrated at work, I metaphorically looked over my shoulder all day long. One day, while I was still employed there, I just packed up all my personal belongings and took them home, based on a gut feeling I had. I kept on working there for a few weeks after doing that, but I knew it was only a matter of time before it was my turn to be laid off.

Trouble is, it was also lots of other people's turns to be laid off. In particular, I winced when I thought of the husband and wife who had been there since the beginning, but were now both out of work. How would they manage? They have kids . . . . My heart sank when I thought of all the single people who lost their jobs; these people had no partner to contribute a salary to help pay bills. *sigh* Another person I know suffered such a financial devastation that I can't even describe it here. I feel so much worry and concern for the others who have been laid off . . . I wonder what they will do. I sometimes have to push those thoughts out of my head so I don't become overwhelmed. I have my own family to care for.

It was really draining and demoralizing to work in the company and know that "the ship was taking on water." More than once I mentioned to Dave that every day at work, I felt like we were all rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So when the layoff came, it meant an end to the apprehension and the anxiety. At least we had an answer. Management expressed hope that they'd be able to right the ship, but a few weeks later, the end came. (Lots of boat metaphors. That's all I can come up with right now.)

I feel drained, despondent, and a bit depressed. I try to console myself by remembering the good we did: simply by doing our jobs, my colleagues and I helped a veteran—who was living in a shelter with his wife and two children—get job training and a very well-paying job, and now that man is supporting his family. That is only one story. My company helped many, many others, too. That feels good. I don't think I've ever worked in a job that had such a direct positive impact on others.

Two days ago, Dave and I went grocery shopping, and right outside the entrance, there were two guys sitting at little tables, with coin cans and display placards requesting donations for veterans. We see this a lot. I turn away every time I go by one of those setups. The only thing I say to them if they ask me for money is "Sorry, not today." Then I keep walking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Chapter Ends . . . .

About an hour ago, I got a call from my now-former supervisor. He was calling to tell me that the company I'd been laid off from folded today.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Senseless Fascination #1

It wasn't long before I was back to my old ways.

Immediately upon starting up my blog yesterday, I realized that some of the old post tags could be revived. Instead of "Preposterousness," I'm calling this a "Senseless Fascination."

I think readers will agree that since I have no job, I have no business even looking at this Hermès bag. I don't really have any business looking at an Hermès bag under any circumstances, employed or not. But I'm looking anyway, because who's going to stop me?

While I've admired Hermès bags from afar, I've never wanted to own one, not really. I love the Kelly, but it's got a flap on top, and I like an open-top bag. The Birkin would theoretically address the open-top issue, but who wants to pay that kind of money for a bag? I don't—I'm far too tough on bags, and anyway, my life is entirely unglamorous. Where am I going to carry the thing? To Albertson's?

Of course, this bag is overkill too, but it's as close as I've ever gotten to actually considering the possibility—however remote—of wanting/dreaming of an Hermès bag. It sure seems like my ideal. The size, the shape, the handles, the closure, the strap, the minimal look. I'm not sure I'd go for orange, but it's a pretty good neutral.

I figure if I sell all my good bags on consignment, I might come close to having enough to pay for this bag. I'm too embarrassed to call the 800 number to find out how much it is, because after all, "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." I could call and ask what the size is, and what colors it's available in, and what the available options for materials might be, and get an idea that way, but really, all I want to know is "how much?" and, "Who's going to buy it for me?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The story so far . . .

Hi Everyone.

Here's an update, so you know what's going on.

1. Feeling I was out of material and repeating myself, I deleted observationmode, then some weird men's clothing/fashion blog popped up using the name. A few people alerted me to this fact, and I thought it was really strange.

2. I've been facing financial challenges (which I choose to blame on "this Economy"), so in June, I started a search for a full-time job (Search #1). As some of you know, while I was writing observationmode, I was working part-time as a group exercise instructor. I kept teaching my cycle classes while I searched. (For anyone who is wondering, I worked in print production management and graphic design before I veered off into group exercise.)

3. I landed a job in mid-July, after applying for about 80 positions. I considered myself extremely fortunate to get work so fast.

4. But the times of the cycle classes I was teaching conflicted with my new job, so I gave up the classes, and ultimately resigned from the group X jobs. Before I resigned, I requested classes during different hours that didn't interfere with my full-time job, but the bosses didn't respond, so that was that. I poured myself into my new full-time job.

4a. During my tenure at my new job, some wacky stuff happened at work, and I realized I'd better have a backup plan. Search #2 began. "Ugh" doesn't even begin to describe the sinking feeling I had when I realized I had to go back out there.

5. I was laid off from my full-time job after 88 days. I didn't even make it past my probationary period, though I can proudly say I did make it farther than Kim. However, I didn't get a giant diamond ring, like she did. I got rooked. FYI: My layoff wasn't due to inferior work on my part. My bosses were happy with my work. But the fact remained, I had no job(s).

6. Search #2 took on a new urgency. And surprise, there are jobs open in my (old) career, despite the digital takeover. By my count, I've applied for more than 50 jobs in this second search. I've interviewed 8 times. That is a great average.

7. I've had no job offers in my field, despite the above statistic.

8. The closest I've gotten to a bona fide offer was on Friday, and it consisted of a nebulous request that I commit to a career in insurance sales, "offer" contingent on management's approval. The guy interviewing me didn't have full authority to offer me any position; he had to get his bosses to agree. All I could think of while he tried to sell me on the job was that he was an insurance salesman asking me to be an insurance salesman (even though I'm female, I love the irony, so I continue to say "salesMAN"). In the most respectful and professional fashion I could muster, I told the guy I couldn't take that not-offer. I knew that if I took that job, I'd be rotten at it, and probably be fired, so what would be the point? I'd be out here again looking for a job, so it seemed unwise to agree to his not-offer. I left the meeting thinking I'd dodged a bullet, but later, I second-guessed myself, thinking, "I'm out of work. Should I have agreed to that not-offer?" I'm still a bit conflicted, but I'll deal with that. I really think it would have been a mistake to become an insurance salesman.

9. I applied for an internship at a small local record label, and on Friday, at 6pm, they called and asked me to interview. I remember the email I wrote them . . . it said "It might seem ridiculous for someone like me to apply for this internship . . . . " because I know I'm decades older than their target internshipee, but what do I have to lose? I'm not doing anything else with my time.

10. I interviewed for a good job on Wednesday. I had a good rapport with the interviewer, but I can't tell how I did. If I haven't heard anything by Monday, I'll scratch that one off the list of possibilities and move on to the next thing.

11. The rejection—outright or implied—is killing me. I'm really working hard not to take all this personally.

12. I'm back on Twitter @elizabethncoyne, and on LinkedIn (though I have no idea what that is doing for me), and I'm scouring the 'nets for jobs. I'm finding my old blogging friends and am trying to connect with whoever is still out there.

So that's what's going on with me. I don't think I've left anything out, but if this progression is leaving anyone scratching his/her head, let me know. I'll fill in the blanks.

I'm not sure where this blog will go, what it will contain, or what the direction is. For now, I'm observing myself as a total square, so the name is "observationsquare."

I invite comments.