Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Elephant's Faithful, One Hundred Percent.

Maybe a lot of you have this problem or maybe I'm the only crazy person out there (though I suspect not). I love the English language. I love it so much that I spent 4 years and lots and lots of money to study and get a degree in it. I studied overseas in its birthplace. Words taste as good to my brain as good food does to my mouth. I know all the rules and usages and meanings. And I feel like I'm the only one.

Nobody wants to be "that guy." The English Professor. The Nerd. Captain Know-It-All. Nobody likes being corrected when they're using the language incorrectly, and despite having had a professional career in doing so, I try not to do it in my everyday life. When I see or hear words used incorrectly, I cringe, but I bite my tongue. It doesn't matter. What the person is trying to say is more important that how they're saying it, right? So I shut up.

But, should I?

I mean, should I just assume I know what you're saying? Isn't that an insult to you? By doing that aren't I automatically assuming you're making a mistake and that I can presume to know what you actually meant to say? I feel like that's rude and more importantly, what if what you mean to say is neither the words you are using nor the words I think you should be using, but a third combination of words that you intend and that I can't guess at? It leads to a lot of miscommunication and to me, it's frustrating.

I ask a lot of clarifying questions, and I try very hard to subtly divine meaning, if its unclear, which can be frustrating to the person with whom I'm conversing. They are just trying to tell me something, they don't want to be asked a bunch of questions about it. From my perspective, I'm trying to respect what they're saying, to make sure I understand what they're trying to convey, without insulting them by implying that they're making a mistake.

Language misuse is rampant these days and I know much better than to spend my days going around correcting everyone, pushing my imaginary nerdly glasses up my nose and saying "Well, ACTUALLY, what I think you mean to say is..." But communication is important. Your voice deserves to be heard. Without any scientific data to prove it, I feel like a large percentage of disagreements among anyone, be it couples, coworkers, families, etc. are caused by miscommunication. People say it's stupid. It doesn't matter. Don't be such a stickler/nerd/whatever. "You know what I mean!" But it is important. It does matter. Cheesy as it may sound, effective communication makes everything better.

Perhaps the world would be better if we were all like Dr. Seuss's egg-hatching friend Horton.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Howdy, Stranger

When I opened this blog up to find out just how long it had been since my last post, I did not expect the answer to be "almost two entire years." I don't know what I did expect it to be, but that sounds like a lot.

Welcome back, anybody who's still out there.

For the uninitiated, a quick catch-up. Since last time, a lot's happened, but it boils down to this. Kris and I both found jobs in early 2011 and we've both been at them since. He's happy and progressed a long way in his job. My journey has been more complicated. Probably more on that later.

I've been pretty introspective lately, trying to figure out how to be happier, as I find myself unhappy a much larger portion of the time than I'm OK with. Several (brilliant) people in my life, suggested I might need to return to writing. Nothing big. Just a bit. Just for the fun of it.

And then I remembered how I used to have a blog that I used to write all the time. And that the initial point of that blog was to recognize all the the things in my life that were good; the happy little thoughts that make you fly. Apparently the need to find happiness is a recurring theme for me.

And so I'm back (and don't you dare burst into strains of "I Will Survive"). I can't yet say whether I'll keep it up or what I'll write about, but for the moment I am here and I can say that it feels good to be back.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


You know how you'll be in a place and all of a sudden it'll remind you of another, more memorable time when you were in that place and sometimes it's so strong it makes you feel like you're in that past moment for just a second? That just happened to me in the bathroom. Perhaps I should explain.

I am always the first one to admit I hated my job. I didn't enjoy doing it, I didn't enjoy being there, I didn't enjoy getting to and from there. I will also readily admit to not being a morning person, anyone who's lived with me or spent so much as an overnight with me knows this to be true. But there was this moment, in the morning, that I used to have. The bathroom window is the only one from which I can really see the morning sun well. And as I would stand there and brush my teeth and force my contacts into my sleepy eyes, I would be able to see the morning sun and it would make me feel good. I never really noticed it at the time, I never missed it until it was gone, and I never really connected it with anything until now.

That morning sun, that quiet time alone, that routine are all things that are lost to me now. I don't have to get up or get ready the way I used to. I don't have "normal" days anymore. In fact, even for unemployment, I haven't had a normal day in a while. I was busy and preoccupied with throwing my sister's wedding shower and after that I got incredibly sick and my recovery depended on avoiding anything resembling an early-morning routine. But today I felt good, I got up early and got myself ready, I went out and did a bunch of stuff, and then I came home and made dinner. Normal. And I guess it was that return to my new normal that made me realize what had changed from the old normal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I miss getting up and going to work. I miss having a purpose and a routine and doing something that matters to anyone. I have been too busy, too lazy, and too scared to actively pursue a new job. True, I have had more pressing matters to attend to. Also true, that I have been doing a lot of research and laying a good foundation for a job search so that I have the best chance at finding the right job for me. But I have also been avoiding it to a certain degree and I think this feeling is a signal that I'm ready to look again. Ready to find a new normal.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How It's Been

So here I am, midway through my first week of unemployment. And it is...weird. It's weird to not have the "work day" to structure the rest of my day around. It's weird to not have any immediate deadline on anything (i.e. you have to go to work at X time or they won't pay you) even though there are things I do "have to do" if I expect to get another job at any point in time. And it's weird to be around the Captain all the time. We work differently when it comes to unemployment. He seems to tend to bank on the most exciting prospects he can find and takes frequent breaks from job hunting to avoid discouragement and preserve his sanity. I, on the other hand, feel guilty if I am not working on my career for a large part of the day. Which doesn't mean I spend the majority of my day working on it, it just means I feel bad if I stop "early."

We basically took Labor Day weekend "off." For me, it was my first few days out of work and for him, well, when no one who has a job is working, no one is there to answer job inquires and look at resumes and cover letters anyway. Plus we just...needed fun. Needed to not think about the grim situation we could find ourselves in. We spent an evening with one of my best friends, went to an outdoor festival, and barbequed with my parents. All the while, I alternated between silently beating myself up for not being proactive on the job front and reminding myself that it was the end of a chapter of my life and I needed to close it before starting a new one.

Look, I know it's a different world than the one I grew up in, where people only worked 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. Now, everyone works all the time, different hours, different schedules, and the earliest bird gets the worm. But the idea that I need to keep up with that pace has given me enough crippling anxiety in the past as to paralyze me and make my job hunt completely ineffective, causing me to clutch in terror at the first job that sounds like it will have me. That is not what I need to do now. That is the kind of mentality that kept me in a career I didn't enjoy for 8 years and now I need to do something different. I need to remind myself that persistence and being responsible enough to put in a good effort is important, and so is not driving myself crazy every minute of every day. That helps no one.

I have learned enough to expand my definition of "working on my career." Am I looking at job listings? Well of course. But I am also taking time to carefully tailor my resume to be attractive to the right kind of employer. I am maintaining my online presence through blogging and twitter and LinkedIn. I am doing a lot of careful research about education as well as employment, taking a careful look at whether the plan I had in place for going to school still works in the situation I find myself in now. Basically every thing I do that has to do with food is something I consider productive, as long as I learn something from it or find a way to share it online with the world at large that may want to hire someone like me.

It isn't easy. I do feel the constant fatigue, even this early in the process, urging me to just take something easy because this search is too hard. But I find myself shouting down that voice with the argument that this is too important not to do right. As I am often fond of telling myself, I am "thirty damn years old" and the time for choosing the wrong-but-easy option is over, if I ever intend to achieve any of the goals I have. I push past the fear that I might get rejected or someone might not help me or I might look stupid, to accept help from places I would have previously been too proud to accept it from. I have a feeling and a hope that this is going to work out well for me. And anyone who's been in my position and has done what I hope to do, your reassuring comments would be much appreciated.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The End/The Beginning

Yesterday was my last day at work and it pretty much went the way any other day would. Joked with some of my coworkers, got some work done, got pretty bored and had to kill a lot of time (thank God for the massive distraction that was all the content surrounding 9.02.10 day). There were tearful goodbyes and cleaning out of computer files. And then, I went home.

I would have thought the night after my last day of work would be my darkest hour. But in a brilliantly-timed move, our wedding photographer had sent a disc of all our pictures that arrived yesterday, so we got to spend a while looking at hundreds of pictures of happier times and being reminded of how much love we are surrounded by. We are truly very lucky people, a thing you never think you'll say on the day you AND your husband are both officially unemployed. The pictures, a couple of beers, and a whole chicken on the grill and I managed to get through the night with only one meltdown.

And now it's today. And I am Unemployed. And I know what to do, obviously, but at the same time, I don't know what to do with myself. I'm taking the weekend to collect myself, process this, and just get used to functioning on this level. Thanks to everyone for all the support and love and Hi to any new readers from facebook. It's gonna be hard. But I'm gonna be OK. And I'm probably gonna keep writing right here, so stick around.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What I Won't Miss

In an effort to comfort myself about my soon-to-be unemployment, I have been trying to keep in mind all the bad things about my current situation, things I will not have to deal with soon enough, some of them possibly not ever again.
  • The commute. It's about an hour each way, it involves a car and two trains. When there's bad weather, I get rained and snowed on. When there are train problems, I get delayed and often have to sit or stand for interminable lengths of time on crowded trains. It costs a FORTUNE. They just raised fares and coincidentally there are more service problems than ever. But the worst part of all about the commute is the people. If you follow me on Twitter, you're aware of how much I hate my fellow commuters. They are RUDE and HORRIBLE people. They are always out for themselves. They often take up more than one seat with their bag or just by spreading themselves out on crowded rush hour trains and get annoyed when you ask them to move so you can sit. They push and shove to get up stairs and escalators ahead by just one person. They obliviously talk loudly to each other or on cell phones even when the entire rest of the train is quiet. They step on the back of your shoes and bump into you and never apologize for it. The lack of humanity astounds me and I can't wait to be rid of it.
  • The boredom. Our business has been slow for months. Even when we have work, it's nothing that interests me and I get no enjoyment out of doing it. I know no one's job is a day at the beach (except lifeguards), but it really work days are dull dragging days and for a while now I have been wondering how much more I can take. And now I wonder no more.
  • The lack of privacy. We have worked in three different spaces at this company, all of them open-plan. Though there is not the feeling that anyone's really looking over your shoulder, people do seem to feel free to look at your screen as your passing by and comment on it if it interests them. The offensive thing about the lack of privacy is more audio than visual though. You can't have a private conversation, on the phone or in person. There's only one phone line shared among the office so if you give out your work number, everyone knows who's calling you and you have the added pressure of tying up the company line. You can have a conversation with one person and everyone else feels invited to participate because there's no way of shutting them out. The bosses often have to take it off site to discuss important matters because there's nowhere private to do so. And worst of all, I have to hear every single rant-y whiny word of everyone's complaints. Everybody seems to be compelled to complain out loud around here and there is one person who is personally offended by EVERYTHING. It makes it hard to concentrate. Headphones go only so far and even at that point, you can miss things you SHOULD be hearing if your music is too loud.
  • The schedule. I don't think I was meant to work a 9-5. I don't think I was meant to be sitting at a desk all day, in an open room, staring at a computer, only a few personal effects reminding me of who I am. I wasn't meant to get up early and go to bed early. I want to be moving and doing things. Surrounded by pleasant sights, sounds, and smells. I want to work hours that suit my lifestyle.
  • PACKING. LUNCHES. When your kitchen consists of a slop sink, a microwave, and a mini fridge, and you have no dishes and hardly any utensils, your options for what you can eat become very limited. In addition, having to plan ahead to have made the food the night before is arduous. I love food and I'm very moved by food cravings. I like to be able to choose what I eat based on what I feel right this second and it's a lot easier to do that when you're somewhere with a kitchen.
  • My coworkers affectations. Don't get me wrong, these are LOVELY people and I will miss them and keep in touch with them. But when you are around the same people 40 hours a week, some of their habits are bound to drive you bonkers and I will be glad to not have to worry about enduring those parts of their personalities anymore.
  • Using a key to get to the bathroom. Nuff said.
  • New York Friggin City. I know, I know, greatest city in the world and actually that's WHY I'm glad I won't be working here. Maybe after a break of having to be here daily for a job I don't love, I will come to appreciate what is good about the city. At the moment it's all overpriced everything, rude people, homeless people, pushy flyer people, noise, traffic, bad smells, and basically a big giant pulsing headache I can't wait to get out of every day.
  • Burning myself daily. I have an all metal desk lamp. After a day's use, flipping the switch to turn it off results in a burn from the heated metal and I always always forget but now I won't have to remember anymore.
  • Wasting paper. This industry is becoming a lot more electronic, but we still use way more paper than we need to and way more paper than we should. Some people still do things the old-fashioned way which requires a lot of unnecessary paper and they refuse to change and make jokes about old dogs and new tricks while I am not amused. In addition, a lot of the products we work on lately are consumable, meaning the students get to keep them and write in them and the schools have to buy them again next year. That may not stop, but at least I don't have to be a part of it.
  • Redundant tasks. "Can you print out the file you just emailed me?" "Can you make a FedEx label for me?" "I lost the ducky on my computer (the icon for a file-sharing program), can you help me find it?" My boss is a WONDERFUL woman, but she is Of A Certain Age and that age does not blend well with technology and she tries hard and has learned a lot but in the end it is often easier for her to have someone else do them because they know how. There are often rewards associated with this, but really I'll just be glad not to have to do them at all. This is why you have grandkids, not why you have employees.
No job is perfect and every job has these or other problems. I'm not saying I expect my next job to be problem free. I'm focusing on the fact that from now on I won't have to deal with this particular set of annoyances.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What You Can Do

Maybe this is selfish of me to write. But every time I tell people, at least people I know, about our situation, along with being sympathetic, everyone says "Let me know if there's anything I can do." So this post is in response to those people, whom we appreciate very much. And if you don't want to do anything, well then never mind. No hard feelings. But if you want to help, you can...
  • understanding when we have to turn down social invitations due to budget. We like you. And it's not that we don't have ANY money, but we don't have a lot and we're not getting a lot and what we are needs to be spent on what we need, not what we want. Trust us, it would suck more if we did go and then couldn't afford to pay PSE&G later that month than if we just didn't go.
  • ...continue to invite us out. We are both looking for jobs, both not working, both don't have a whole hell of a lot else to do. And, chances are, we haven't seen you in far too long because we have been so busy recently. So it's actually kind of perfect. Right now we're particularly partial to the kinds of fun that are free or cheap. House parties, physical activity in the outdoors (the weather should be getting awesome soon), coffee/a drink/ice cream, public places where we can wander and have fun without spending money, watching movies or playing games at somebody's house. And it doesn't have to be both of us either. We love each other, but dude we are going to see a LOT of each other for the next little while. A break might be welcome, by both of us :)
  • understanding if we have to cancel plans on short notice. We might get a call for a job interview or might get hired and have to start working (GOD WILLING) at any moment. It's hard to make plans in advance when you don't know what will happen in the next day, week, or month. We'll do our best and we're sorry in advance, but we know you understand this is more important.
  • ...come over and hang out at our house. We love to entertain and it's FREE. You coming over means I get to cook for more than two people which means I can probably make something I wish I could make more often, but don't get a chance to because Kris and I can't eat it all ourselves. Bonus points for you if you bring booze, but your company is really the main issue.
  • ...go over our resumes. Input is always appreciated, there is always room for improvement and I personally hate to send something out before everyone and their mother has told me it's good.
  • ...give us hot tips, send us job listings, pass on our info to people who might be able to use us. Neither one of us really knows exactly what we want to end up doing. While it's sucky to both be unemployed at the same time, it's a little exciting too. We both get a fresh start, both get to try something new. Kris has a lot of great ideas, but doesn't necessarily know what jobs those ideas translate to. I have a little bit better idea of what I want to do (i.e. something in food) but not many connections to get that job. Also, please give us these ideas no matter what they are, you never know. And please don't be upset if we don't like your ideas. We're just trying to figure this out and it ain't easy.
  • ...send us funny links. Seriously. Videos, pictures, articles, whatever. You never know when your little pick-me-up might arrive just in time to be the difference between a giggle and the strength to keep going and a frown, a sigh, and giving up.
  • ...give me candy. I'm sorry. In times of trouble, treats make everyone feel better. I am big into self-denial so I'm not likely to go out and get myself something to make me feel better but if someone gives it to me, it's already there and then well...I'd hate for it to go to waste. (Note: my husband is crazy and is trying to stick to healthy eating so he may not look as kindly on this gesture. Loony.)
  • ...even better, come bake cookies with me. Then I get to bake, which I love to do, we get to split the cookies, so neither of us has to feel bad about having a whole batch of cookies to eat, and...we get cookies! Win, win, win
  • ...allow me to cook for you. Coming over for dinner already falls in this category. However. I am trying to get into the cooking game professionally. I've done this before, cooked for people, and pretty successfully, so you can trust that I have a record for being kind of good at this even when I don't have a vested personal interest. But if you have an occasion where you want to serve food but don't want to do some or all of the cooking, allow me to cater. If you know someone who's doing something similar and they are willing to work with an amateur who will work for cheap, recommend me. It's great experience for me to add to my resume and build my repetoire (and online media presence), and you and your friends get to enjoy delicious food for no work and just the cost of food! Win, win, win AGAIN.
I want to stress again that this is in response to people who ask what they can do to help. We don't wanna run into the streets begging for this stuff from anyone who will listen. We're just trying to let people know what we need. Sort of a wish list for friends in need, whom we love and are very lucky to have.