theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the tag “job loss”

61 bottles of Klonopin on the wall

I awoke this morning in the midst of a sweaty panxiety attack. (No, that is not a typo.) I stared up at the ceiling, feeling like a plane was going to crash through the roof at any given moment. It is not a good feeling, especially when I couldn’t rationalize how completely ridiculous this scenario was at the time. Panic set in, then anxiety-induced paralysis. It’s difficult to jump out of bed, to avoid disaster, when you’ve turned into one of those stone figures from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Sixty-one days. I have 61 one days until the money well dries up. Take one down, pass it around, and by tomorrow I’ll be at 60 bottles of Klonopin, er, days on the wall.

Anyway, all I could think of, as the plane approached and before my brain turned to stone was this: If Morgan Spurlock could eat only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, effectively turning his liver into that of a 60-year-old alcoholic and thereby filming the brilliant Super Size Me, I can do something even more amazing in double that amount of time. Right?

It’s now afternoon, and the effects of my panxiety attack linger. I took medication, I went to acupuncture, I’m writing. Helpful, but not cures. See, here’s the cure: get off my ass, clean my house, figure out how to use up all my FSA funds before they go away on October 15th, refill every prescription I have and get every doctor’s appointment out of the way. Oh yeah, and find a job, build up my writing portfolio and figure out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. That kind of important shit.

But no, I’m a statue, afraid of my own shadow, my shortcomings, my bruised ego after being turned down for job after job. I feel like I should finish my Master’s degree – in snooty-ass Boston, an MA is “strongly preferred” or “required” in order to get some of the simplest copywriting jobs. Apparently my 15 years of experience counts for squat. I am tempted to send in a resume with these letters following my name: GAD, MDD. Wonder if I could fool the blue-bloods with my “degrees” in Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder?

Sarcasm aside, though, I’m suffering from paralysis by over-analysis. And I’m suffering from the idea that you need to buy a new car if you get a flat tire, or get an MA because some jobs require it. I can’t afford a new car, so I won’t drive at all. I am not going to get my MA, so I’ll stop job-hunting. Totally fucking ridiculous thoughts. Bah humbug to you, stupid anxiety.

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Be afraid, be very afraid, of your iPad

I have rediscovered the Eden of my youth: The library. I can’t afford my ridiculously expensive Kindle habit, among a lot of other things, as my job grinds to a halt in 60 days. (The expense of my Kindle-downloading habit got to the point where I think being a coke-addict would’ve been cheaper.) And that’s good – austerity has made me creative and far more grateful for what truly matters in this life. Put a roof over my head and feed me and give me a way to take care of my pets, and I need little else…

…well, except for books. I cannot live without books. I not only want books, but I truly need them.

So I have decided in order to afford this need/want, I will never pay for a book again, if I can help it.

Last Friday, I went to the Rochambeau branch of the Providence Community Library system and got a library membership. I was as giddy as a little girl whose daddy just bought her a pony. The minute I walked through the door, the smell hit me: the smell of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Hey mother ship, thanks for calling me home.

That musty, dusty, papery smell took me back to my childhood, where I would spend hours in the public library, carefully choosing my little jewels, the hardcovers and paperbacks that I would take home and read for hours on end, escaping the battleground that existed outside my bedroom door.

So how many books can I check out at a time? I asked the librarian at the circulation desk.

You can check out 99 books at time, she said.

Really?!? I replied with a gleam in my eye, raising my voice well above the library whisper threshold.

She looked scared. She should be. Because there will be a time when I will damn well check out 99 books at once, even if I have to attach a UHaul to the back of my car to cart them home.

This time, though, I checked out four books and two DVDs. Is it scary that it’s now Tuesday, and I’ve finished reading three of the books? And that I’m headed back to the library after I finish this post for more of the same? No wonder I don’t have a job lined up or a boyfriend…

But I digress.

One of the books I checked out – and devoured – last week was Robopocalypse. Although this is pegged as a science fiction book (I’m not a fan of the genre), I would say it’s a horror story instead. It’s a narrative of the near extinction of humankind following a robot uprising and subsequent war. I won’t tell you who wins, but I will tell you to read this book if you want to enjoy an almost guilt-free good yarn. And do it while your laptop, smartphone, tablet, even car, are TURNED OFF and your lights are TURNED ON. Read it in book form, not on your e-reader. Please, heed my warning.

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Plastic pyramids

Walking the dog last night, I heard the crickets, a later-summer soundtrack that soothes me but also reminds me of changes to come. This morning, the sun rose later and the birds weren’t in a noisy food scavenging frenzy to feed their young. It was eerily quiet. Yeah, I know it’s not even halfway through August and I’m already thinking about autumn. I have difficulty living in the moment, particularly these days.

I can’t be truly present because all I can think about is September 1 and October 15. (And believe me, the Keebler Elves in my brain – my anxiety – will NOT let me forget. They need a fucking vacation. A lonnnng vacation, perhaps in Antarctica.) Those are the days I will get my official termination papers and my last paycheck, respectively. So I have about 70 days to find a job, and I’m scared shitless. Sigh. If only someone would pay me to write book reviews and snarky blog posts and/or be an advice columnist and/or be a secret shopper for deep-tissue massage therapists, and I’d be all set. I would’ve found employment months ago.

Ahhh yes, months ago. The day I found out, along with 60 other people, that I was finished at a company to which I had devoted, on and off and then back on, 8+ years of my working life. I work from home, as did a number of other soon-to-be-fired folks, so we were conferenced in. Yes, I got fired on a conference call, where I couldn’t see my firers faces, nor the firees who were on-site, but I could hear stifled sobs and a bit of weeping here and there. Papers nervously being shuffled on what I imagined to be a large, lacquered table, lots of coughing and throat clearing. It is a moment I will never forget. At the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or stick my head into a bag of potato chips (I ended up doing all three, but not simultaneously; eating chips while laughing hysterically is dangerous, trust me on this.) It was time for me to leave, honestly. I had been miserable with my job for the past two years; I just wanted to leave on my own terms, not theirs.

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How going on a lot of bad dates can make you a more successful job hunter

I didn’t get the Marketing Consultant job I interviewed for in Boston. The kind recruiter sent me a personalized email, before I received the nauseating system-generated rejection email, to give me a heads up about the “not so good news.” Maybe she liked me. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Maybe she felt she should feed the Good Karma machine that currently keeps her employed. Who the fuck knows. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never find out.

Of course, this made the over-anxious, neurotic Keebler Elves in my brain start over-thinking as they sifted flour and beat eggs while making their Pecan Sandies and Chips Deluxe, which no doubt contained Xanax and a shitload of sugar.

And here is the point at which I arrived after all the thinking and when the Elves went into sugary Xanax shock: Job-hunting is a lot like dating, just without all the fun, booze and (sometimes) good sex. But there are similarities (both can be torturous and frustrating, for one), and valuable lessons can be learned from dating, which translate into being a more realistic, creative and resilient job seeker.

DATING CAN HELP YOU DETERMINE YOUR TRANSFERABLE (OR SOFT) JOB SKILLS

It’s a crying shame that my career counselor strongly urged me (actually, forced is more like it) to remove “More than 20 years of dating experience” from my resume’s career summary. Pshaw. That should count for something, right? They talk about transferable skills in these resume workshops, and over the years, copious amounts of dating have left me with many soft skills of which naive early-marriage-adoptors should be jealous:

  • Works well under stress: (Tampa, 1997) After I was invited into his apartment for a drink post-first-date, my date came out of the kitchen with gin & tonics, but without pants or underwear (yet, oddly, he was still wearing his shirt). I told him to put his pants on, calmly grabbed my purse, left his apartment (while screaming, “Hey there’s a crazy naked man in #301” throughout his apartment complex courtyard) and took a cab home.
  • Creative problem solver: (Gainesville, 2000) One boy-man took me out for Chinese, proceeded to order the entire menu and then said, “Oops, I forgot my wallet can you cover me?” when the bill came. Prior to settling up the tab, I excused myself to use the restroom and covertly walked out the front door. Maybe he is still there, 12 years later, washing greasy Chicken Chow Mein off of plates.
  • Strong communication skills*: (Providence, 2006) The first guy I dated in this city (for three insufferable months) was angry because he thought I loved my dog more than him (of course I did) and gave me the silent treatment during dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I left as soon as the bill came and waited outside in the fresh air for him to take me home. He came out, got into his car and drove off. W I T H O U T me. After I got home, thanks to a kind friend, I had a message waiting on my land-line phone (not the cell phone I was carrying) that said “I hope you had a nice fucking walk home alone in the dark.” He showed up at my apartment the next day, CRYING and apologetic, and I said “Why don’t you go tell your mommy what you did to me and if she thinks it’s okay and respectable for you to make a woman walk 2 miles home alone in the dark, I might take you back. Oh wait, I won’t. Have a nice fucking life.” I shut the door. (*He is now married – who marries these assholes?)
  • Experience with social media: (Various locations and years) I can defriend a recent ex on Facebook within 2 seconds of the break-up and deflect – in hockey-goalie fashion – ex-boyfriends who message me “wanting to be your friend now” or who are looking for a booty call. Booty call? Really dipshit? Did you notice that I live in New England now and you are still living in the same lame-ass town I grew up in 1,200 miles away. (I used to only date the moody poets, obviously not the mathematicians who still have possession of their frontal lobes.)
  • Works well as a member of a team: (Tampa, 1996-2000, various bars and clubs) During my 20s I often went out with a gaggle of singletons (who have since happily moved on to Smug Marrieds-land and lots of diapers). We attracted a broad spectrum of single guys, ranging from recent parolees and crack-heads, to UT grads who did mind-eraser shots until they puked into our laps and Hugh Hefners who thought the size of their paycheck could make up for the fact that they were quite simply gross old men hitting on 26-year-olds. We protected each other from the scumbags and made sure we were visible to the “good” ones (even though we were wearing beer goggles most of the time). But the thing is this: We never left anyone behind and we kept each other safe. We were a team, a drunken, slightly slutty team, but a team nonetheless.

IT HELPS YOU BUILD A TOUGH SKIN FOR THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS REJECTION OF THE JOB HUNT…

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Have wheels, will deliver meals

I pulled up outside Marra Food Services this morning at 9:30 a.m., anxious as hell. I was going on a training run with Joseph, who would show me my assigned route, should I decide to take on the work. Anxious because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, anxious about what I might see today, anxious because I didn’t know who this Joseph was — other than what the volunteer coordinator told me over the phone. Would he be an axe murderer? Smelly? An asshole? A horrible teacher?

Anxiety is so stupid sometimes. Joseph was a lovely retired gentleman who couldn’t have been a better tutor. He stood waiting for me as I walked up to the building. He firmly shook my hand, saying good morning, and I was completely at ease.

We walked inside and he ushered me over to the enormous, food-stuffed coolers that we would soon carry out to his car – one with hot meals, the other with cold food (milk, juice, cookie, roll). He showed me how to check off the number of meals/dietary specifications of the people on his route versus the food in the coolers (1% milk vs. whole, special diet needs, only some people wanted juice, no milk, one man who needed his food cut up for him, etc.). Everything looked good and we headed off to his car, coolers in our arms.

As we drove to our first stop (of 20), he explained the detailed notes on the route sheet, next to each meal recipient’s name: some people would leave their own coolers filled with ice packs outside their front doors (because they were either unable to get to the door quickly or they didn’t want to interact with the volunteers), others would be waiting for us, eager to see perhaps the only person they would see all day…to get what might be their only meal of the day. And others had caretakers or adult children that would be waiting to take the food from us.

“For the cooler/ice pack people, they sometimes forget to leave ice packs in them, and if so, we can’t leave the food. It might spoil,” Joseph explained. “If that’s the case, I’ll knock on the door to try to rouse them, but if I can’t get them to the door or they’re not home, I’ll give the extra meal to the next person on the route.”

He then laughed, and said “There’s one guy, toward the end of the route, who leaves hundreds of ice cubes in his cooler. Sometimes all that’s there when I arrive is a pool of water…and then I can’t leave the food for him. I’ll knock and knock, but he never comes to the door.”

Our first few stops were what I called “cooler people,” who had dutifully left their ice-pack-filled coolers by the front door. We packed the meals into their coolers, Joseph would rap on the door, and we would head back to his car.

On our fifth stop, a woman was waiting for us to arrive. As we pulled up, Joseph explained that she had only been on the route for three weeks and that she had baked pound cake for every volunteer who delivered meals to her during the first week. She was thrilled to see us. Joseph introduced me and told her that I would be delivering her meals on Mondays.

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The Job Interview – Parts 2 and 3

Continued from Part 1.

***

Part 2

A balding man in a rumpled gray suit shows me into a large conference room. He has bags under his glassy, empty eyes, which are framed by a mono-brow. He seems ambivalent, bored, robotic.

He leans in close – too close for my one-foot personal boundary rule and not far enough way for me to avoid a whiff of halitosis – and says “I’m the HR Manager, Dick Dickensheets.”

Think bad horrible ugly catastrophic thoughts, like exploding nuclear bombs and dead kittens, I think to myself. Do not laugh. Do NOT laugh.

“We’ll get started just as soon as Sage Green, our Marketing Director, arrives. In the meantime, would you like something to drink?”

Shit. Dead kittens, dead kittens, dead kittens. No, not helping. Men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants, men who wear capri pants. Okay, I can breathe now.

I think about asking for vodka on the rocks, but ask opt for water instead. I want him to get out of the room quickly so I can release a roar of pent-up laughter.

He exits the room, leaving a lingering trail of bad breath, and after a 30-second fit of giggles, I sit at the conference room table, tapping my fingers against the glass top and anxiously wondering whether my face is visibly blue based on my Spanx-induced oxygen deprivation.

Two minutes later, Dick arrives with Sage. Alarm bells go off – “runrunrunaway” they shrilly chime in unison. At first glance, I realize that Sage could be a man or woman or in the middle of a sex-reassignment surgery; a foreboding sense of dread about this interview starts to wash over my body.

It is wearing a tight-fitting pantsuit and a skinny tie – both in tropical fruit colors – with a crisp white shirt to pull it all together. Its hair is short, but not too short, fashionably slicked back, as shiny as a freshly waxed beamer and framing a semi-feminine face. Waxed eyebrows? Maybe – could go either way (they do provide a stark contrast to Mr. Dickensheets unpruned mono-brow). There is no visible 5’oclock shadow, although a curious bit of fuzz adorning its upper lip looks like a burgeoning caterpillar. Oxfords with laces and a slight heel. No make-up, wait is that eyelin…

“Hi Beatrice,” it says, interrupting my thoughts. It shakes my hand and says “Great to meet you,” sounding like Lauren Bacall or Kathleen Turner after smoking a carton of cigarettes.

“Good morning, Misterissus Green,” I slur, hoping he is too distracted by my muffin top to notice my poor enunciation. “You can call me Bea.”

“Well Bea, let’s get started, shall we?” Sage says in its raspy voice.

***

Part 3

The jump from the third-floor bathroom window has left my knees bruised and my panty-hose in shreds, but otherwise my body seems to be in working order. I glance up at the mangled, dangling window screen and then look over at the crushed shrubbery I had landed in, realizing – as I survey the large, packed parking lot – that I don’t remember where I parked my car.

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In degrees

I debated about taking a shower this morning. It was a long debate. A senseless debate, really. If you haven’t taken a shower in two days, it’s probably an opportune time to take one. Remember my muscle memory post? Shouldn’t showering be a muscle reflex (if anything, a reflex from your nose when it smells your armpit)?

Well, apparently it isn’t, at least not for the jobless, the depressed, the shut-ins, those who don’t have an office to go to or a client to meet. And I know several of them right now, including myself. And for some reason, the showering really trips us up. We share in  a community: the community of a lack of purpose and (sometimes) poor personal hygiene. And really, who gives a shit about soaping up your armpits when you lack big-picture meaning – a job, a vocation, a career – in your life?

As I’ve posted previously, I will soon be unemployed. The spaghetti I’m throwing at the walls – through research, writing, online job searching, networking and agreeing to whore myself out for anything that pays at least $20 an hour – is not sticking. So recently, my this-feels-fruitless-job-hunt-I will-be-living-in-a-cardboard-box-very-soon anxiety has grown into an enormous green-scaled, red-eyed monster, who hovers in my shadow during the day and hides under my bed at night. He has really sharp fingernails (talons?) and it hurts when he pokes me in the shoulder to let me know he’s still there. I’ve offered to pay for a manicure, but he’s ignored my offer. I’ve named him Puff the Magic Dragon; it makes him seem harmless…even though some days he is quite the opposite of nice.

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The Job Interview – Part 1

After months of unemployment, isolated from all the living except for a cat, dog, goldfish and orchid, I had taken to wearing sweatpants every day and eating copious amounts of Cheetos. So while it was surprising when I finally got a job interview, it was not surprising that none of my business-appropriate attire fit. Well, my clothes “fit” – after squeezing into three pairs of Spanx and deciding that muffin top was not only acceptable, it was the new sexy.

On the humid, rainy morning of the interview it takes me 27 minutes and 32 seconds to dress myself in 14 layers of spandex and an interview suit. I check my hair and make-up in the hall mirror (hair looks like an already-bad 80’s perm gone horribly awry and makeup is melting), pop half a benzo and head out to my soon-to-be-repossessed car

Driving the 20 miles to the interview, my mind is humming while my makeup continues to slide off my face and onto my neck. This company manufactures the rubber stoppers that are put on chair legs to prevent floor damage. I will be interviewing for the Senior Copywriter position; if selected, I would oversee production of the quarterly rubber-chair-stopper (RCS) catalog, including writing all the copy. Did you know that RCSs come in 325 different colors, and 75 different sizes? And more recently, they had become available in eco-friendly, sustainable materials, like recycled plastic, bamboo, cork, soybeans and bio-combustible cornstarch? (Don’t ask, I don’t know what the hell the cornstarch stuff is either, which given Murphy’s stupid Law, I will be asked about in the interview.) Six materials X 325 colors X 75 different sizes = a lot of scintillating copy to write.

I had applied for this job in a fit of Resume Drunk Dialing.

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Still insane, but now I’m an insane jobhunter

After a nearly four-month hiatus from this blog, during which I completed a 10-week Fiction Writing course at Brown and have endured a job loss, I am back in the blogging saddle. My writing instructor encouraged me to write for at least 1-2 hours per day. So I figured, blogging would be a perfect way to get some writing hours under my belt.

After getting the pink slip (which is not officially official until late Summer, so thankfully I am still drawing a paycheck/health insurance until then), I began to think about the word “jobhunter.” I feel like I should be going into the forest of jobs with my bow and arrow (a la Katniss Everdeen). Or maybe I’m like a job-hunting lioness, who stalks the innocent, unsuspecting job at the watering hole, or an orange-vested redneck, waiting in the job blind with a scoped rifle in hand?

Is jobseeker any better? “Seeking” sounds so calm, as if one is searching for enlightenment or foraging for mushrooms in the woods. In this economy (arrgh, I hate that phrase, I’ll get to that below), simply seeking ain’t gonna cut it, especially when the state’s maximum monthly unemployment benefit is about $900 dollars. (That will barely cover my rent, let alone my raging espresso habit, or better yet, food and those other pesky necessities called electricity, healthcare and gasoline.) Instead, I need to hunt, beg, barter, prostitute, plead, argue, outwit, bend, break, and do backflips while tap-dancing and juggling sticks of fire simultaneously. Whew, I’m out of breath (and slightly terrified) after typing that.

And I swear, if I hear “in this economy” one more time, I’m going to swallow my fist. It is the reason (and sometimes the excuse) for myriad things. My very very very favorite is this one: “In this economy, you should be glad you have ANY job.” I’m thinking thief, hooker, Bernie Madoff wanabee, mob boss, bank robber, professional pyromaniac and/or hitman are not the ANY jobs I would personally want (but if that’s your preference, I will not judge). I will, however, serve as a barista, muck stalls, walk dogs, model nude, or do backflips while tap-dancing and juggling sticks of fire simultaneously. Any caffeine addicts, horse/dog owners, artists or circuses/traveling carnivals looking for an employee? You know how to contact me.

©Copyright 2012, The Icing on the Crazy Cake, Inc.

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