Monday, December 29, 2008

Liar, liar

Sheesh- I am such a fraud. I got an e-mail from an old high school friend-she saw I was a "real" author and she was impressed. How is the rest of my life? She, of course, just celebrated her 25th anniversary-her oldest will graduate college in May and her youngest graduates high school in June-plus she has a new career...blah, blah.

When I wrote down the truth-that I can't live on my royalties-that I've been looking for a job for over a year- that my husband and I are separated but living in the same house-that my oldest kid is still living with me and on her fourth college-that my youngest kid is working two part time jobs and not going to college-but I still have all my teeth...

I thought to myself-how pathetic can you get? And promptly deleted it.

After that I wrote in my e-mail that-yes, I am a "real" author my ninth book comes out in 2010. My kids are doing very well thank you-one works as a tutor in the math department-the other is traveling to Poland in the summer. Then asked- how are you? Heard any good gossip lately?

What I wrote wasn't a lie- but can be interpreted as we are doing so much better than reality. Big sigh.

The truth is how you spin it-just ask anyone in politics, history or religion... and no, I'm not going to a reunion anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If only life were like the movies...

I rented the movie, "The Women" yesterday. It's a great film with zero men in it. It is loaded with my favorite actresses, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Jada Pinket Smith, Debra Messing, Cloris Leachman, Bette Midler, Candice Bergman...the list goes on. Major stars. All wonderful comic actors with fabulous pedigrees.

Still, emotionally the movie left me a tad bit angry and sad. Meg Ryan's character is a "good girl" who wakes up one day to discover that she did everything everyone wanted and still lost it all...(sound familiar? Yeah, my life.) But lucky Meg gets to go to a spa camp to find herself. After a few weeks of making collages and figuring out who she is-she comes roaring back. Not only does she get a divorce- and gets to keep the million dollar home, the housekeeper, the nanny/governess, plus cars and jewels-but she gets to use her mother's inheritance to start her own fashion line- and tada! She is a success. Divorced, strong and successful all in the span of 9 months... (B*tch)

The problem with these fairy tales is that there is no way for real life to measure up. It's been 11 months for me- I can't get a job at Kmart-let alone start my own million dollar business- I can't even afford a lawyer yet-and if I do get divorced there is no health insurance... (Have you ever made cobra payments? They are as high as a house payment.) Sure, Meg gets the ultimate revenge- where the hell is mine?

All I want is a good job with health insurance and the ability to untie the knot that's choking me and move on... is that too much to ask?

If you are in my situation- fear not- you are not a loser- nothing ever happens like in the movies. We only wish it would.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The weather outside is frightful...

The good news being that they miscalculated the unemployment rate- it's really not as bad as they thought...although the media swears there are thousands more layoffs looming.... makes for suspense and what they hope will translate into ratings.

I have heard nothing more from the company I interviewed with and the guy who wanted to have lunch...

On an ironic note, the Today show this morning had a jobs expert on saying how not to worry- there will be jobs created in areas such as healthcare-and you can take your manufacturing skill sets and use them in healthcare...

Except I have a background in healthcare-and still I can't use my skill sets because...picture interviewer making a face as if they smell something experience isn't in their exact part of healthcare... and for the life of them, they can't imagine that I could use my skill sets in any other way than what I've done in the matter how I argue and give examples that I can.

(No bitterness here...)

Well, at least the snow is starting to let up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sign of the times

Just last month the number of jobs posted within 150 mile radius of my home in the past thirty days was 5,625. Today the number of jobs posted in the past thirty days with 150 mile radius is 2,240. Less than half as many jobs.

It was suggested to me that I push freelancing magazine articles, etc. Except for the fact that every out-of-work writer I know is trying to make money writing freelance articles. Some authors with books coming out are also supplementing dwindling advances with freelance articles while newspapers and magazines are disappearing...

I feel as though I've missed the boat...the train...and the next bus.

That said, I did apply to three jobs yesterday. Maybe one of those will stick. As I told a friend, you have to have hope. There is no other choice. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WTF Moments

I was glancing through the job boards yesterday-this after I told myself I could take the next few weeks off-what with the holidays, etc-who hires? But I glanced anyway. There in bright bold lettering marked-New Today!- were three jobs I had already applied for twice this year...three.

What are they looking for? These jobs even called me for a phone interview-but in the end, decided they weren't hiring just yet. Now-they have the ad in the job boards....again.

Really? Really? What kind of mind games are these? Who do they think will answer-oh, wait, us desperate, out-of-work, highly qualified people- that's who. Why do they do it? I think the HR people are bored and they do to screw with us. Seriously. Why else waste the money on job ads?

What do they think? That if they put in enough ads, *God* will come calling? What? (We all know that even if the *perfect* candidate called, they would refuse to pay him what he's worth.)

I should take a couple of weeks off from the madness. I should. I've developed a twitch over my right eye. But it's like having a sore tooth, I just can't stop myself from poking it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The News Today

Two headlines jump out at me. 1) Layoff numbers are growing and the number of people on food stamps has risen 17 percent. 2) Divorced people and those seeking divorce are choosing to continue to live together in these tough economic times. Why? They can't sell the damn house.

I felt like a failure until I read these headlines. I am not alone. My wonderful friends reminded me that we have been in a worsening recession since I started job hunting February 1. This means, logically, that the trouble I'm having finding a job is not due to my own failure or lack of enterprise. There is something oddly comforting in that. It changes nothing. I still need a job. In fact the headlines create a feeling desperation. The marketing is squeezing tighter every day, in other words, my chances of supporting myself grow more dim daily. Kind of like being trapped on the Titanic and watching the life boats float out of range. Hard not to feel desperate. But at least I'm not alone and it's not my fault. Small comfort that it is.

Then I am certain people think I am nuts for staying with my hopefully soon to be ex during this whole process. Well, looks like I've started a trend. I think it's crazier to live on the streets just to get away from the man. I tolerated him for 24 years-I can continue to do so. Do I wish things would change- you bet. Can I change them on my own? It appears in these hunker down times I cannot.

So, the headlines are my life and I am not alone. Huh. I'd still rather be one of the lucky ones in the life boat, no matter how many of us are still on the sinking ship.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


It's been a while since I posted. I suppose you are looking for me to post something snarky about the world around me, but truth be told, last week was so out there I'm still shell shocked.

What did I do about the lunch date from the guy who may or may not eventually be my boss? I e-mailed back telling him that I would love to talk more about the job- and I would be happy to adjust my schedule around his for a second interview. That was last week. So far, no reply. Not sure I want a reply. But am trying to be a "good girl" and do what it takes to get a job. Except for that of course...I don't need a job bad enough to do that...

Happy holiday everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Things just keep getting weirder every day...

All I can say is-What the fuck??!?

Had my phone interview this morning only to discover it was for a job I applied to in March-then tried again in May. A job I had a recruiter call me about in July...and a second recruiter call me in September. Of course-this was a blind ad and it wasn't until I talked with this third recruiter for over twenty minutes that she mentioned who and what the job was for. At which point I had to tell her I'd already been presented multiple times. "Oh." She said. "Well, I'll call and see if they have you in the queue already." Ten minutes later I get an e-mail telling me she would keep me in mind for other jobs...sigh. Okay, seriously if I'm clearly that right for the job why can't I get an interview with the HR people filling it?

Things get even more weird.... shortly after the above e-mail I get an e-mail from the guy I interviewed with in my old home town. (Short guy, too much white hair...) I open the e-mail. He says this "Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I've been in Washington (last week) and Chicago (this week) and am just now trying to catch up on email.

I enjoyed our meeting very much. You are obviously a very talented woman with an impressive range of interests. I hope we will have a chance to talk again soon. Schedules are a little crazy with the holidays, but perhaps we can find time to have lunch before too long?

Let me know what your schedule is like."

I swear that is what he if I were a guy it would sound like networking-but since I'm not a guy-it sounds like a date... Ugh!!!

I want a job- not a date. Since he is a potential boss- can you say "WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE?"

Sheesh. Someone just kill me now. Much head banging on desk to ensue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Okay- on a scale of one to ten-how ridiculous is this? I just got a phone call from a recruiter wanting to set up a phone call...

She'll call me back Friday to talk about the resume I sent her today.

I think this is just busy work for her. What do you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life as a Crone

Okay, two things that stick in my craw- yes, crones have craws...

First, I read a terrible article wondering why women don't write "big idea" books. Grrr, hair pulling, head shaking, sigh... women write "big idea" books. The question is why publishers don't publish women's "big idea" books. That is the real question. It's a bias that we fight against still. It's why women take male pen names. It's why male authors make the most money in female genres...Nicholas Sparks anyone? How can you dismiss over half the population? Happens every day-in every career. So, it's not about what we write-but about what "the man" will publish. I could go on and on....

Second, watched the terrible- bad- worse than B horror flick from M. Night Shyamalan- The Happening. In which the plants have their revenge- I enjoy a good campy film- this reminded me of "The Ants" and had me looking for Elvira. (Who by the way is older than me, but would never be considered a crone.) So, why the craw sticking? There is a whole section of the film in which they encounter "the crone," a crazy recluse of an old woman with curled fingers and gray hair who screams and flies at them for no reason. Who is at once welcoming and then for no reason threatening... yes, your classic crone. Old women are considered crazy, scary witches. In this film, the crone is even more scary than the "deadly wind" that chases them. See me shaking my head.

Please- I know, I know, the world ain't fair, sista. After 40 some years, I still don't understand, why not...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


How did the interview go?

I drove 7 hours the first day. Then four more the second day. Visited with my sister and my son. Got up the third day and went to the interview.

Nice guy-although he has a suspicious amount of hair for an older man. It has been my experience that older men with a lot of hair are sleazy ego freaks. :) I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He seemed nice. For the first time in a long time the interview was pleasant. Actually, get-to-know-you. Not in the least combative. I wonder if this has to do with the differences in regional culture.

I actually enjoyed the interview. Left feeling excited and happy... but on the long-and I mean long- ten hour drive back home, I felt as if I was not clear enough on the reasons why he should hire me. Sigh. I hope I came across as charming and enthusiastic-not travel-logged and ditsy. time will tell. He gave me the standard line- "This is merely the first step in the interview process. We will discuss the interviews this week and then have call backs."

Then I said, "So, you are looking to start at the first of the year." He blinked. Then said, "We don't do anything quickly here."

Hmmm, does that mean it will be the first of the year? Or longer? No telling.

Meanwhile- the jobless rate rises- and reports have gone out that even seasonal hiring for retail has become cut-throat-as retailers are cutting back and more people are out of work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Men in little white coats

Stress can make you insane. I swear. I keep expecting men in white coats to haul me off...I figure they just haven't found me yet.

I am not sleeping. My mind goes round and round. How am I getting to the interview so far away when I told them I lived there. (I did this because in previous phone encounters as soon as they learn I would need to transfer they hang up and don't call back.) So- now- do I fly? Do I take the train? Do I drive? Where do I stay? How's it all going to work?

I have elected to drive. That way I have more freedom. No having to be picked up from the airport/train station. No renting a car. No car rental deadlines, no flight delays, etc. But I discovered there is a HUGE college football game on Saturday and there are no hotels available at the halfway point... so am scrambling to figure out where to stay.

My mind skips to what if they want a second interview...will I drive again? will I fly? Will I take the train? What if they hire me? I will have to move. How? When? Will I stay with begrudging friends and relatives until I get a paycheck or will I spend money I don't have and get an apartment right away? What about my dogs? What about selling my house? I will have to buy a bed...a couch... how will we split the cars? I will need a work wardrobe. I will need deposit money for a lawyer. All my savings will go to the apartment-how will I pay the lawyer? Where will I rent-How much will it cost? Can I rent and have my dogs? What about Christmas? What about New Years? What about my friends here?

Of course all this laying in bed at 5 a.m. tossing and turning leads to a series of hot flashes-a curse of being 40 something. I get up.

Just don't think about it... Distract yourself with something... read a book. Fill out the paperwork. Make reservations...mostly- Don't Think. Experience has taught me that interviews-while exciting- don't necessarily lead to a job. Most likely I will be sitting here in three weeks, looking for a job, wondering if I'll ever get out, waiting for something to happen, keeping an eye out for the men in white jackets.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Interview Ambivalence

I got the call on Friday for a face to face interview in my old town. They said it was a simple 45 minute "get to know you" interview. Okay.

It's a great job Director of Online Content and Publications. The pay rate is also very nice. So, the problem? Going back there... Yes, I have friends there. Yes, I have family there. Still feels like going backward not forward. But then I may be making up reasons not to move forward. So, back there I go. Well, November 10th I'll be going that is when the interview is scheduled.

Yes, I'll go but not without reservation and ambivalence. Why? When you wake up one day and your body has changed over night and no amount of diet, exercise or plastic surgery will get it back because your very skin has changed. When you wake up and everything you thought you were is gone. When you wake up and discover everything you believed in was wrong... it's tough to trust yourself. It's tough to trust the world.

How do you know you're making the right decision? What if you simply recreate the mess you were in in the first place? How do you keep from going back to the you that you were before you woke up? At least in the Matrix, they couldn't go back... where's my red pill? I don't want to go down the rabbit hole. Who the hell pushed me?

Beyond that what if I go the thousand miles back there only to face another nasty humiliating interview? Will it be new heights of self flagellation? Ugh!

Rebirth and transformation are painful, smelly, and messy. I don't want to do it... unfortunately the Universe has made sure I have no other choice. Viva la transformation!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


To get what we want, we have to know what is wanting in our lives, but we also have to know that we are entitled to get it. Transformation rests in our hands.

-Joan Gould, Spinning Straw into Gold

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maiden, Mother, Crone

They say there are three cycles to the life of a woman. First you are a maiden-untried, unmarried, preparing for children. (This lasts what-20 or so years.) Then you are a mother-married, working hard to raise you kids. (If you are lucky another 20 years.) Finally you are Crone- dried up, unproductive, no good to anyone... well, guess what-if you live to be 90 you're a freakin' crone for 50 FREAKIN' YEARS!

I hate being a Crone. Crones are old, and ugly and crazy and useless... All the aging books say that my despair over being seen as a crone is a mid-life crisis and soon-like all the rest- I'll accept and move on. Right. No really, they say, there is something freeing about letting go of expectations...and hopes...and dreams...

Sheesh- sounds like I should grab a shopping cart and go stand with the crazy homeless ladies.

I'd rather cling to my midlife crisis. Thank you very much. I may get tossed into the Crone room, but I'm not going without kicking and screaming and very deep nail and heel marks. Screaming the whole way-"Wait! I'm not even fifty!!!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another day...

Had a phone interview today. I wish I knew what they were supposed to find out. I guess they want to hear your voice and find out if you are articulate. It was the position from my old home town that I hemmed and hawed about applying for. There will be more phone interviews and then a couple of face to face- I won't worry about the move until I have an offer in hand.

Meanwhile-back to the job boards.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Good Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I'm bored. Having viewed the online job boards already by 9:30 a.m., I am compelled to read the news bits which are full of doom and gloom. Job cuts. Job losses. Recession. Depression.

I'm left with nothing to do but listen to my own thoughts. Thoughts like what if I don't find a job? What happens if I'm here next year, looking at the same companies with the same job ads? How will I support myself? Where will I go? What will I do? (I even went so far as to apply to be trained as a studio photographer. They didn't call...)

I read where enrollments in MBA programs have jumped. I've kicked around the idea. But $100,000 a year for three years-seems like a bad investment for a $70,000 a year job.

I could start my own business. Have kicked around a few ideas, but I've been trying to get my fiction writing career off the ground for 12 years-yeah. Plus if the economy is as bad as they say-anything in retail right now would be a huge risk-who has cash? And after my taste of the freelance graphic artist-who by the way hasn't called me back- I'm not so encouraged by the prospects of freelance writing. Even Doonesbury is writing about the down turn in the journalism market.

Suicide rates are up- I've thought about leaping out the window-but again...there is a portico only two feet, bruised would be as far as that would go. Perhaps the best revenge would be to become a cocoa puffs eating, soap opera watching slob who lives off the ex for the rest of her life?? Tattered bathrobe anyone?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I applied for a job yesterday. Got a call from the company recruiter this morning. He went on and on about how perfect I was...except for the fact that I don't have any experience in the actual field- I have everything else. Thank you. He said he was sure I was a fast learner. I am, thank you, and it won't take but a few short weeks to be up to snuff. (They use templates and it would be a matter of learning the terminology. Piece of cake, I've got an engineering background-just not CE.)

Then he went on to say that the guy in the lower position has been there three or four years-and it might be a problem if I supervise coming in without the industry terminology. So, probably I could take the lesser job and learn and quickly move up.

Excuse me? Quickly move up when the last guy has been in the position four years? Oh and by the way, did I mention that the position pays twenty to thirty thousand dollars less a year than the one I applied for?

Then he had the nerve to ask why I hesitated... I explained that I understood the point of view of hating to train your boss-but-I have years of supervisory experience and I don't want to lose it. He tried to convince me that this was a lateral move in a new industry and I could grow from there....what?! I'm not stupid. Why do they think I'm stupid?

Well, the terminology could be a deal breaker...

Just like that I lost the job. Which is fine. It's not the right job for me anyway. So why do I still feel guilty?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mad as Hell

Anger is useful. It tells us when our boundaries have been blown. It should be used to propel us toward fixing said boundaries or at the least recognizing that the situation stinks. Rage on the other hand, is useless as a tantrum. Still it can burn clean any humiliation and shame sticking around.

I be patronized. That's what I was on Monday. I was basically told-this is the big city honey and you can't play here. But we might be able to toss you a few crumbs-are you interested in freelance?

I want to pull out my hair. Freelance will not get me a home of my own. It will not get me insurance. It will not pay my pension-God, with the stock market in it's current state, I won't even go there.

I am a college educated, intelligent woman with years of supervisory experience and multiple problem solving talents. What is wrong with the world?! ? When I apply for jobs all I get is "You aren't good enough-but poor thing, here are some crumbs." What really sticks in my craw is that two years ago my soon to be ex husband sent out one resume and was hired-with a huge jump in pay. He is eating up my misery-wallowing in his success and happily "supporting me" in my poor attempts to find work.

On Monday, I was walking back to the train station-caught a light as it was turning and scurried across. I thought-better hurry -don't want to get hit by a bus. Then the next thought was- maybe being hit by a bus is the answer...

Just anger talking. Rage at injustice burning through. After 36 hours-the anger turns my heart to steel and today I'm back at the job boards. If nothing else to prove to myself that I am employable- no matter my age or my gender.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nice girls finish last

I got up at 5 a.m. this morning for the "recruiter" job interview- traveled 1.5 hours by train-schlepped 14 city blocks in great shoes I might add- new- four inch chunky heel- met with the recruiter for the promising six figure job....

Her words after looking over my stuff-" don't have any agency experience."....duh...

But you clearly have a lot of writing and marketing skills. Let's get another opinion. She called in another woman who looked over my stuff-
Then basically second lady said- "You don't have any agency experience"-now I didn't need to go all the way downtown for that- then I find out said six figure job is actually a strategic marketing job for pharmaceuticals...not in the job description by the by...

Then they get all patronizing and condescending that I have published eight fiction novels. "Oh, you write books." Pat, pat. "How sweet." Making it quite clear that they were looking for a cold hearted bitch of an Ad Man and-since I write genre fiction- I'm not it....and they made it clear that, no matter how much I've written and supervised, I'll never be that CHB they were looking for and she walks me out-wishes me luck-telling me the job market is so bad right now- she may be out of a job soon...who knows when or if anyone will hire...

So, defeated, I hobble fourteen blocks back to the train station-still look fab-just have no feeling left in my feet-get on the train and make it home-

Reminds me of an old HeeHaw song..."Gloom, despair and agony on me....deep dark depression excessive misery...if it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all....Gloom despair and agony on me..."

I think I'll hobble to the bathroom, run a hot bath and soak in lavender scented bubbles and drink something edgy like a gin martini.

Everything will look better tomorrow...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another Day, Another Recruiter

I applied for Creative Director-Copy for Healthcare Publications-heavy writing. My perfect job if ever was one. I'm heavy on the writing and I have experience managing a small department of creatives. And the salary is pie-in-the-sky- six figures! Seriously, who gets that kind of money?

Then I got a call-from a recruiter-for the job! YES! I speak with her. She asks me about my background. I tell her. She asks for my current salary-hmmm, I put it 25% lower than the job-which is still 100 percent higher than I've ever made. But I KNOW I can do this job.

She wants to interview me on Monday- the recruiter mind you- not the company looking. Sigh. I've been through so many recruiter interviews now. They all "love" me- but then can't sell to the client. I want to be excited-but really- I'm a realist. Based on my experiences so far, the chances of even interviewing with the company are slim to none. Then she sends me the info- she needs my resume cut and pasted on her letter head. She needs me to fill out a three page paper full of short essay questions. These questions include: The structure of your last work place department-three good reasons to hire you and one weakness-a list of the five top companies you would want to work for-and why-and why you would fit in there, etc. and six work references-managers, subordinates and peers... (There weren't that many people in the department where I used to work. I sent her four.) She wants me to write a "Sizzler" paragraph in third person highlighting my tactical advantages. Finally- a list of all the places I've applied this year-right- I sent her a list of only the jobs in her area that I've applied for since JUNE-and had two and a half single spaced pages. I think that is more than enough information. I also sent her a list of where I've interviewed and why I thought I didn't get it-(Because all those employers are idiots...) No, I said over qualified or under qualified....

Two days of work-filling out her forms, revising, highlighting. Then I called the references and clued them in that she said she would "call" them and ask specific questions. I told them what I told her-so we all have the story straight. the I had to apologize for the white lies I told and try to keep the salary straight...crazy. I discovered something new about myself- If ever I'm asked if I would lie through my teeth for a six figure salary- the answer is not just's Hell yes!

What makes me sad is that after all the work and the lies...and the hour and a half train trip into town... there is no guarantee that I'll even see the door of the company looking to fill the job. Meanwhile my references discovered that I would lie for money...and I've discovered I'm not certain I like myself for it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Try, try again

I went through the last two weeks of jobs applied for to make sure they were even jobs I wanted to do. Of the fourteen jobs I applied for there are six I would love to get and eight I could do if I'm hired. There are two on my desk top right now that I should apply for...that I promised myself to send something out on. The pickings are slim and now the media is warning to hunker down...job cuts and joblessness will only be getting worse as the tidal wave of financial crap sweeps over us...

Fear sells papers and makes people watch the news. I have to turn it all off or I'd be drinking 24/7. Better ignorance than Off to the job boards- move over boys, here I come. Tanguary anyone?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beauty School Dropout

I hate salons. I've never been a real girlie girl. Salons seem to draw this out to a fine edge. A day of beauty is supposed to be relaxing and fun. I'd rather drop kick myself to Jesus. I swear. I walk in amid the coffee and chatter, the sounds of laughter, the smell of hair color, perms, products and instead of being greeted like a paying customer...all sound stops. People stare as if the ugly girl in the back of the classroom just walked into a room full of popular girls.

I try to make the best of it. Smile. Go to the corner and sit like they ask...and wait...and wait-while someone else who walked in off the street for a blow out gets chatted up and fawned over. After 30 minutes of waiting, they get to their fingers through my hair and say, "So, what are we doing?" I never know. I didn't go to Beauty school -I was born without the styling gene. So, sometimes I tell them-make me beautiful-how ever you want-just know I can only use a blow dryer and that to only some small success so the beauty needs to be in the cut. I've had them frown and sigh and hair is always too thick, too wavy, too dry, the wrong color. They want me to be more specific- so I tell them and they ignore it and do what they want. I've brought in pictures-which they spend time telling me how they can't duplicate and why would I want that haircut- whatever. When they actually start cutting, they spend time talking across me with the girl in the other chair and her stylist-as if I don't exist. My money isn't as green.

I swore I wasn't going to let this happen any more. After my last supposedly "upscale" salon made me wait at the last two appointments-and the last appointment the gal kept tisking and saying she had no idea what to do with my hair-as if it were a rats nest-trust me I do wash, condition and comb my hair. I waited two months-cut my own bangs-yes I can do that. but finally, I had to admit-it needed to be reshaped. So I made an appointment at a new "upscale" salon. When I made the appointment I explained how unhappy I was by being made to wait at the last place. The gal writing the appointment agreed. "It was highly unprofessional."

So I made an appointment for 11 a.m. An hour later, they called back and asked me if I could switch my time to 2 p.m. - I said, sure. What else was I doing...wrong. They tested me and I failed. It became about them. I showed up at 2-only to be told, oops, she had to speak with these other ladies and then clean her station. She'd be right with me-I could look around the shop or sit in a hard plastic chair in the corner. I waited long enough I did both. She not only "helped" those people for ten minutes, but she "helped" the next lady who walked in. I got up and stood next to the counter so she could not ignore me. She diddled for a while with no one there. Then, without a word to me, she turned the opposite way and walked to her station where I waited another five minutes while she moved stuff and swept...

Yeah, angry was a good description for how I felt. I KNEW once again I wouldn't be treated right. So I walked out... ten minutes later she called my cell phone-"You disappeared on me," she said. "No," I said, "I walked out. You made me wait over fifteen minutes. If you can't get my appointment time right. How can you get my haircut right?" Surprised, she apologized. I told her good bye and hung up.

I stopped in a walk-in place and was out with a trim in twenty minutes and saved $40 dollars.

My hair grows fast...which means I'll be facing the same ugly treatment in just a few short weeks. If I weren't job hunting and trying to look professional, I'd just grow the stuff out long, tie it in a fat braid down my back and move on. Only 25 years to retirement when I can do just that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back Where You Belong

There is a job posting located in the city where I lived for eleven years. I should apply, but I hesitate... I search through the minefield that is my current set of feelings and concerns.

Why hesitate?

1) I've applied at this company before and they didn't call-i.e. waste of time.
2) I, personally, don't want to ever "go back" in my life. I hope to always move forward. Then I think, does going back mean you were wrong to move away in the first place? If you go back-will you fall back into all the unhappy places and habits you were in before you left?
3) It's been four years. People change-friends move on-My view of those friends has changed. I kind of like them where they are in my life right now... If I go back then that, too, will change.
4) I have friends where I am now that I would like to keep. I think I'm better at making friends with the right people for me. I don't want to lose them.
5) I hate the weather there-but then ask me again in February when I hate the weather here and I might change my mind.

Now I ask- are these good enough reasons not to apply? Am I simply avoiding moving on? Or do I truly not want to go back? If I chose not to apply, will I miss the only job that will hire me for the next six months? I'm stuck back into being frozen in place-the rut of wondering how best not to make a mistake...

Truth is there are no right or wrong answers to these questions- the only thing is this- either I chose to apply or I chose not to apply and the rest will happen as it does-right or wrong.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Breathe

So the breathing thing...not working so much for me. I spent hours yesterday on the job boards. I would find a job-take the requirements over to my resume to highlight and feel as if I were breathing happening...just panic. I read the job to a friend who confirmed that I did indeed it wasn't that I was trying for some pie-in-the-sky job. So why the panic?

Who knows. There is nothing to be done but slog forward. I managed to apply at four places yesterday-it took me 8 hours to do it. But I did it. It's all that can be done. Remember to breathe. Then distract with things like cleaning house, walking doggies, and working in the garden. The trick is not to distract so much I quit applying.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enough rope....

They have a saying that you should give a person enough rope to hang themselves... yeah. When I first realized that my life as I knew it was over, I had several friends jump in and offer to try to get my old job back, or get a job at their work. But I respectfully declined. I didn't want to be rescued-as if I was some poor pitiful person in need of being taken care of-you know, I got myself into the six foot deep shit hole, I wanted to pull myself out-thank you very much. I don't need your pity or your open hand...

So, my gracious friends backed the point where they don't even notice me in my stupid, self imposed shit hole any more. And now, now I've learned.

After 8 months I learned that shit sucks-literally. Like quicksand, it sucks you back into the middle of the pit. Struggling against the tide. Pride got me here. Well, pride and stupidity. So, I don't blame my friends-they have their lives. They did their part in offering.

They are hiring in my old position-but I wouldn't be in charge any more and the pay sucks and the job is boring. (I only stayed so long before because it was part time-easy in and out and I could care for my kids.) Who knew there would be a huge economic downturn? Who knew that gas would soar? That every job that truly fit my qualifications would have some reason not to hire me. Who knew that I'd be here nine months later wondering if it would have been better to be at a miserable, low paying pity job?

Who knew pride could get you into this much trouble... Friday, I'm off to apply for seasonal retail work. Hopefully, someone will give me a break at $8 an hour. Looks like the only way out of the shit is on my knees asking the age old question, "Do you want fries with that?"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Breathing In and Out

What a week-battling grief, self doubt and panic, I suppose it showed in my blog posts. It was also a full moon week, so it could simply be the natural pull of gravity that got me down. Thanks for bearing with me.
I rented a fun movie last night-Forbidden Kingdom. How can you lose with Jackie Chan and Jet Li? It was an epic tale of kung fu-funny in a sly sort of way as the "hero" was a white boy who had watched too many kung fu movies and knew nothing at all about the art. In a direct match to the "Wizard of Oz"-the boy is transported to a faraway land of beauty and danger and must reach a mystical mountain castle and return a staff to the monkey king before he can go home.
In the strange way that art imitates life, I watched the boy struggle to become what he dreamed-through deserts, forests of bamboo, and orchards of cherry blossoms, onward he trudges working on his craft. He is told that kung fu is the flow of art- the words of a poet, the craft of a carpenter. You can't think you know it, you must simply know writing. After miles of travels, the heroes find themselves hunkered down in the middle of a sand storm. The boy says to the monk (Jet Li) "We're not going to make it, are we? We've come this far and still have to face the Jade army. What if I get there and can't do it? What if I freeze?"
(These are profound questions everyone has asked at one point or other in their lives.)
The monk's answer is what I will take with me into my job search-into my writing projects-into my life whenever-like this week I panic and wonder if I can do it...
The monk's advice? "Remember to breathe."
Simple, I suppose and yet so profound. Don't worry, don't practice, don't argue-just do and when you're afraid you can't? Then simply breathe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

About that chicken...

I didn't go to the meeting-see choke a chicken post. I chickened out.

In fact I had a meltdown. It occurred to me that getting a job and a second part time job meant not only the end of my marriage, but the end of my dreams. Working three jobs, there would be no time for writing novels good or bad. My dream of writing a best seller has been with me since I was 21. I've been writing and working toward it seriously for 12 years. That dream got me though days when there was only enough money to feed the kids. Nights when my drunk husband was passed out on the couch and locked me out. To give up that dream is to surrender my soul. Is that the sacrifice I have to make to move on?

I have already surrendered my love, my rights to guide my children's lives, any money I squirreled away, my religion, the only thing I have clung to- desperately- is my stories. To give that up and write about industrial parts instead, is the same as asking me to rip out my still beating heart. But the pay is good...and you will move on... with no heart and no soul, what's the point?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I could and would choke a chicken

I spent four hours today listening to a very nice man go on and on about himself and his business-a small agency. I had applied for a freelance copy writing job to give me some fresh portfolio pieces and maybe get a little cash in my hands. He kept saying I had a nice smile...When he asked what my future plans were- I was bare bones honest. I explained I was looking to freelance to fill in the gaps until I found full time work. That I had to find full time work to get a divorce and move on. He was aghast that I had so many resumes out and hadn't found work yet. "I don't get it. You're the whole package." I simple shrugged and said. "Yeah, I am."

Well, he decided that I could work for him. Would I be interested in networking for his business? He really needs another sales person...not full time mind you, he doesn't have the cash-but in future...does that sound like something I want to do? (I always wonder why they ask that. Right now- I need money. I need work. Hell, right now I'd choke chicken for a living if the pay were right. I know, that's bad... self respect and all... How about saying I'd put lipstick on a pig if the pay were right.) He wants me to show up at a small business meeting at 7:15 in the am tomorrow to watch him make a presentation and talk about if I could do that kind of work. (Note: no pay involved or reimbursement for gas.) Look, all I wanted was to make a few extra $.

Once again the good girl in me keeps saying-yeah, sure-why not? Meanwhile inside I'm screaming- what?! No!- no, no, no, and hell no.... sort of like facing the damn chicken. Just put your big girl pants on and grab it round the neck and twirl...a little nasty crunching and stomach turning sounds and it's over-

Not-not-not what I wanted to do with my life...

What else am I supposed to do? The recruiter with more questions never called me back...job sites mock me. I could sit here in hell and watch my bills stack up or I could go to his meeting and learn how to sell his business. Guess I'm getting up in the morning and practicing my chicken call...

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last week I was notified by a different recruiter on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Monday job-sent off my resume-not another word was heard.

Tuesday's recruiter was actually from the job I spoke of earlier where I re-wrote my resume using the description from the job ad-when she called I did not mention that I had applied for the same job four months ago- instead had a nice talk with the recruiter-who informed me-joy! that the job pays twenty grand higher than my minimum...exciting...I'm perfect for the job... Friday-she calls back...she left a message-"there are a few more questions..." I am left wondering if this is a new version of "they have some concerns"- see previous blogs. This merely means the recruiter did not do a good job with their presentation-and have one more shot to try to sell me-Which means I'm already on the outs before I even get a face-to-face. Sigh. I will call her back on Monday.

Wednesday I got an e-mail from a recruiter for a job-technical writer-am I interested? If so-pass on a resume. I'm still sitting on this job. It's what I did for a living over twenty years ago and I had thought I was beyond that... Maybe if I give him the salary range for the above job it would sweeten the pot.

They say when it rains it pours-I wish the rain was multiple job offers-not merely multiple questions.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Land of the Lost

It's been nearly two months since I had a job interview. There's nothing new to report.

I found a new ad that I thought was great. So I copied and pasted the job posting next to my resume and really worked to highlight what fit and delete anything that didn't. I was so proud. I wrote a dynamite cover letter and hit send. Then something about the company rang a bell in my head. I went through my files of jobs applied for and sure enough...I had sent my resume in for the same job four months ago. It was a bit deflating.

Then on Monday-in the middle of a family crisis- I got a call from a recruiter. Then an e-mail. Am I interested in this job? Then another phone call. They have an URGENT need to fill this job. So, I sent him my resume and job requirements- he passed them on. This Urgent job? It was one I have applied to twice in the past ten months...No, I'm not expecting a call. All I can think is: if they had hired me the first time, it wouldn't be so urgent, now...would it?

Off to the job boards...there's an opening for a correspondent in Moscow...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, my...

Headline: Jobless Rate jumps to five year high of 6.1 Percent. 84,000 Jobs Lost.

Great. I'm sure these headlines sell papers and influence politics. But, let's not jump off the dead end. Being on the job hunt is sort of like being pregnant. Suddenly everyone has a horror story... two years to find work....too old at age 38... downsizing...mandatory retirement...standing in soup lines....selling apples for a dime on the street...

Makes me want to say screw it and jump out my window...except that the deck roof is two feet down and I'd probably just get a nasty bruise.

So, back to the job boards...I applied through a recruiting firm for a Marketing and Sales Manager position. A woman called me the next day. The first question she asked me was my salary requirements. I went low. She got huffy. "Well, that is way too much for this job!" "I have over ten years experience." "I'll put your requirements in your file. Good bye." Click.

Well, all right then...

I applied to another ad agency...I know, I know (see mad men post.) I should learn. But the job description is perfect for me. Still, I'm not sure I want to face another round of humiliation at the hands of an ass. I thought twice-then again before I applied. I have to remind myself that not everyone is an ass...

As for the contract job I was perfect for...(See benefits post.) I'm hearing crickets in the background...

And the job search goes on-I wonder what would happen if I started rewriting my resume using their exact job description...of course, I'd have to make up stories to match...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don't Settle

As I search through the endless job boards, I keep telling myself not to settle. But there is an executive assistant job not five miles from my house. Isn't that what a woman of a certain age does? Settles for typing reports and making travel arrangements. God, it sounds so 20th century.

Don't settle, don't settle, don't settle...

So here I sit- unemployed and dependent on my ex. Five more jobs applied for this week. Six jobs last week. 570 jobs since I started looking. The phone so quiet I have to check it every now and then and make sure it's still plugged in and turned on.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Benefits...who needs benefits

I read an article in the job section of the paper. This guy-lucky him- had been laid off a few years back and now found himself in the same boat again. (Due to economic circumstances and the fickle fortunes of corporate work.) This time he was laid off only a month or so. How did he create this miracle? He applied for short term contract work. He said in the article that he'd learned from the long 18 months of unemployment last time.

Something about this hit a cord with me. On the surface it makes no sense. If you are contract you have no benefits and you are basically putting yourself out of the job race for the length of the contract. But looking deeper I see that being employed anywhere is better than sitting at home. Sometimes contract work can lead to permanent employment or contacts into permanent employment.

So I applied for a job listed as a 6 month contract. The recruiter called me two days later. Told me I was perfect for the job (as if I haven't heard that one before...) and asked me to send a clean copy of my resume. So I agree with him that I am perfect for the job-Creative Manager-overseeing the creative department and editorial- and I sent him a word doc of my resume. Now I sit and wait.

I'll keep you posted on what happens next.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Filling Endless Saturdays

For the record, I have applied for 30 jobs so far in the month of August. I have had no calls for phone screens and no interviews.

I feel as if the world is looking at me like-what are you doing wrong-which is why I took the time to count this month's job applications. No, I'm not on unemployment and the only person I have to report to is myself. I am concerned. If no job is found in the next 90 days it will be February before things get back to speed. That would be 18 months of job hunt and humiliation...I hope I'm jumping the gun.

To fill the endless days-when I'm not surfing the web for any new and interesting job board or job- I have decided to use this time to write a new book. This one is a different genre than my published books. So far I have been able to write ten pages a day on the book. (Yes, this is a lot.) When asked how I do it...I simply shrug and say, "I have NOTHING else to do." Emphasis on nothing.

I recently read, "The List" by Steve Martini. In it the "hero" is a frustrated writer who takes to blowing up piles of rejection letters. Or simply using them for target practice. This made me smile. It's probably best I don't have a gun. (She says with a wink and a smile.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My dirty little secret

Here's the deal-as insane as this wrong as this is...I don't want to get a job. I don't want to get a divorce. I don't want to move yet again. I want the life I thought I had-damn it!

I sound like the little girl in the Pedisure commercial- I don't like broccoli...

God, no wonder women stay in bad marriages. No wonder people live in miserable lives. they want to live those lives- they-like me- keep hoping that those lives will magically become the lives they want. But there is no magic. No amount of therapy will change a man who says he is who he is. I know this. I know I'm supposed to take care of me. I know I deserve a relationship where I can trust the other person. Maybe even count of them in a pinch. But here's the deal- I grew up in such a way that I think those things are as unreachable as going to the moon. Great fairy tales but no where near real life. So it's really freaking hard for me to leave-especially as the job hunt drags on...

Same with jobs- I've had one miserable job after another. Worked for more than my fair share of horrid bosses. So much so that, when I step into an interview and smell the copy machine and bad coffee, I get PST flashbacks and am grateful that they don't call back because I just know it's horrible working there. (All three of the places I interviewed with last month have ads back in the paper with slight variations of job title but the same description. No- they never did call back.)

My experiences have taught me to be cynical and bitter. Life is the office-an endless pit of bad bosses, crazy assignments and low pay. Relationships suck.

So much better to hide in my office and create novels-worlds where thing happen the way they do in fairy tales-where even murder seems cool. Sigh. If only I could make a living doing that...

But that doen't pay the bills-so, I send out endless rounds of resumes-always imaging how cool the job could be-when I get a call I plaster on the "Interview Barbie" personna and take a pill to keep the flashbacks at bay until I get out of the interview....then I come home-shower off and reveal the deep rage that the world is not the way I want it to be- and I may have to go down to Walmart and get a job-to live in a trailer if that's what it takes-all in the pursuit of a happier life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Waking up is hard to do

I'm losing faith in the job hunt. Only applied for three jobs this week-after having gone through 160 pages of jobs in Careerbuilder, 60 pages of jobs in hotjobs, pages in Monster. My last interview was a month ago. It was for a company that makes lab supplies. Again the job title was Marketing Services Manager, but the woman who interviewed me (The Marketing Director) had my credentials... (I had more experience than she did at this particular job having worked for a similar company years back.) She was looking for someone she could impress. (She had only been at her job three months.) I was not impressionable enough....sigh.

As an aside, I think I applied for her job and didn't get the call...hmmm.

On an interesting note: I read an article on three actresses in Parade Magazine on Sunday and was surprised to see that Meg Ryan also said she "woke up." Her marriage was undone for the same reasons mine was. Only she had the entire world picking on her-from America's sweetheart to mention of the man who she propped up for years through addictions to drugs and booze. Anyway-it was interesting to see she used the same words I did-she "woke up."

It took her years to get work again. Let's hope my not-so-famous self can find work a bit faster...and let's hope I don't need a scary face lift to accomplish the job.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's not's me

I received a call for a healthcare publications manager position with a large healthcare insurance company downtown. After a 15 minute initial interview, they set up a face to face interview. I pick up the suit from the dry cleaners. I go over my presentation. This is stuff I know. I've been doing healthcare publications for nearly ten years. I take the train an hour and a half into town. I walk ten blocks-change shoes in the park. Slip on my jacket and enter the glass skyscraper. I go to the front desk with my printed out e-mail and tell them who I'm supposed to ask for. They photograph me and create a badge. My escort will be right down. I wait. Ten minutes later (Is waiting a power thing? I think so...) my escort shows up. A lovely older woman who is breathless and chats about how she has worked for the company for over forty years. We go up to the 27th floor. She walks me through the glass halls-all secure as only a badge can open the doors-to a conference room where the person before me is running over time.

I chit chat about the construction going on above them-seems the building will go from 30 floors to 60 by the end of the year. she tells me they have to evacuate the building every time the crane hauls up new equipment for safety reasons. Finally the conference door opens. A man is escorted out. I go in. It is a good interview with two people-the manager who will be the boss and an art director. I like them. We get along well and I sail through the "tell us about a time when you X" questions. As I'm leaving for the second part of the interview, the boss tells me that they will call next week for second interviews. I'm happy, smiling, hopeful. Part two takes me to the top floor and a conference room bigger than my living room. As I'm taking it in, I note a six foot television screen with my image on it. I say, "Holy smokes, that's bad." Not seeing the smiling woman on the other side. It's a video interview with a woman in another part of the country-a counterpart to the boss. I sit down and put my game face on. I go through another round of "Tell me about..." questions. I'm not sure how this interview went. There were significant pauses as she typed my answers in. Eye contact is at a minimum but I bravely get through it. After 45 minutes I'm thanked for my time and sent out to the hallway to wait for my escort.

She is about five minutes late and happily takes me to the edge of the floor to ceiling exterior windows to "show me the view" completely unaware that I am afraid of heights. She is so enthusiastic about the city views that I do my best to ooh and aah. I must have been convincing as she takes me to the other side to see the construction and the park some 30 odd floors beneath us. I start to get woozy and step back. It was then that I noticed all the stairwells and stairs are glass. I'm really getting spooked. But wipe off the cold sweat on my forehead and gently guide her back to the elevators where I get to go down. Thankful to hand over my badge and get out of all that glass.

The next week-Friday- the boss guy calls. I'm not sure if I am hoping to see him again or not. But it's a good job. He would be great to work for. I even went out and bought a second suit. But boss man didn't call to schedule a second interview. He called to kindly tell me that-it rarely happens but...they had more than one candidate who actual worked in health insurance-not just publications and they went with those candidates. "Oh-" I say. "All right," thinking about the second suit hanging in my closet with the price tags still on it.

"I wanted to speak to you personally," he kindly tells me. "Because I wanted you to know that you interview very well. You are clear and concise in your examples-something well suited in communications. Unlike other candidates we interviewed."

"Oh, well, thank you..."

"Your welcome. I thought you should know and not have to wonder what happened."

Nice guy. I'm wishing I could work with him-but am glad not to have to worry about spending sixty hours a week up in the air with nothing but a pane of glass between me and 30 stories of air.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I've become comfortably numb

Got a call from a well known drug store corporation. The position was Employee Benefits Communications Manager. I spoke at length with the recruiter who was all smiles on the phone and telling me how I was perfect for the job and she would recommend to send me through for a face to face interview. A week later I get a call setting up the interview. Once again I put on the now twice dry cleaned suit. I arrive on time-sign in- get my badge-go to the HR room. A very large room with cubicles on the ends and many couches and tables in the middle. I wait...and wait...after 30 minutes one of the receptionists in the cubicles calls me over. She takes my prefilled out application form and hands me a clipboard with more forms and points to a desk. I fill out the additional forms and bring them to her. She now sends me to a computer where I sign away my life-allowing any number of invasive background checks-understanding that they will check my body through a physical-drug test, etc. Check my background-credit check, criminal records check. Their demand for the surrendering of my rights makes me feel as if they have strip searched me with a camera-but I submit because I need a job. I am directed back to the chairs...where I wait another 15 minutes. Then a woman from down the hall calls my name...sort of like the doctor's office. I follow her into a glass conference room and sit down at a table. She goes over my paperwork, my portfolio and asks me the now standard..."talk about a time when you X" questions. After 45 minutes of this, she stands up and tells me the next person will be in in a moment. I thank her for her time and sit down...and wait....and wait...and wait... 30 minutes later one of the cubical receptionists pops her head in to tell me the other woman is running a tad bit late...(right) and will be right in...oh, do I want any water? No, I shake my head. I'm fine. (I'd probably spill it on my silk blouse anyway.) She hands me an employee benefit packet for something to look at while I wait. So, I settle into the hard metal chair and wait some more...after another 20 minutes-and just as I've decided to get up and leave in pops the second woman. She apologizes for being late and her appearance-its casual summer... she goes over my stuff- asks more questions. (I have all the right answers.) She nods and writes. Then she looks up and shares the details of the job and how the position fits into the company. I smile and nod- by this time I'm so tired- I'm not comprehending any of the terms she is using-because it is HR and I'm marketing-but I'm a quick learner so I smile and nod and agree. Finally, it's over- she shakes my hand and stands up and says..."We are just getting started in our search so it could be a while before we have second interviews. Don't worry, we'll call." - (Translation: Don't call us, We'll call you.) Big sigh. I thank her for her time as she walks me out- I surrender my badge at the gate and go to my car where I take off the suit coat and settle in for the 40 minute ride to my house.

Eight days later there is the job ad-same job- same title- with the banner-just out today. There is no second phone call. I'm back to combing through, Yahoo!,,,,,, and several corporate websites for new job postings.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Finally-a decent interview-but no job

The next interview was good only because the woman interviewing looked at me and my portfolio with big eyes and said, "You are highly qualified." Finally! Nice stroke to the old ego- but no job. Here's what happened:

I got a call for a Marketing Communications Manager for a local health care system. Cool, I've done a lot of health care publications. I do a short phone interview with a man who wasn't very bright. He sets me up with a face to face interview and tells me to park in visitor parking, go into the hospital main entrance and axe the receptionist for Human Resources... yes, a professional man said, axe the receptionist... once again I put on the suit. Take a 40 minute drive to the middle of a town so scary the trees are all shriveled. Graffiti is on the light posts. Why are hospitals in bad neighborhoods? Do they need them more there?

I park-and go into the hospital-passing two security guys-big men with guns- and a cop car. I enter the lobby it echoes with the smell of antiseptic and the sounds of coughs, moans and low whispers. I ask the gray haired woman behind the massive desk for directions to Human Resources. She point the way to a bank of elevators and tells me to go to the basement take a right and a left. I find the elevators-get on with two orderlies. The basement has that distinct underground feel and I wonder if I'm being sent to the morgue. I find HR. I'm on time-but again I wait. Ten minutes go by. A couple of people who look homeless come in to fill out applications. Finally a small man in a neon tangerine dress shirt comes out to see me. He smiles, shakes my hand and brings me back to his office where he thanks me for e-mailing him...I didn't...I smile back. He then asks me how freelancing is going....I never spoke to him about freelancing and say awkwardly that I'm here for the Mar/Comm position-not freelance... right? Oh, Right! He says and smiles as he sifts through papers. Right. Silly him. He asks me some questions. I show him my stuff. He tells me to show it to the woman I'm to interview with. Then he gives me a benefits package and tells me all about the insurance and bennies you get should you get the job. He asks me my salary requirements I give them to him. He pauses-blinks- moves on.

We go upstairs-thank goodness- to a hall full of offices for the second interview of the day. The person is not in her office-the door is shut and locked. He glances at his watch. He finds another office and asks for the woman. She is in a meeting with the CEO-so I'm shown to an office across the hall where tangerine shirt man abandons me. I wait 15 minutes before the woman rushes in- all apologies. I smile. Shake her hand. We sit and talk. I show her my work. Her eyes get bigger and bigger the more we talk. She says, "You are highly qualified." More than once and I get the distinct impression I am more qualified than she is...and she would be my boss... it was a bit of a high. She ends the interview with the now standard..."Well, we just started looking. So it will be quite a while before we get back to you. Don't worry." (translation: Don't call us. We'll call you.)

She walks me to the elevator. I get on. Halfway down the elevator stopped and another man went to get on-stopped as soon as he saw me and apologized-then asked if this was the doctors only elevator. I said no. I'm not a doctor. Just a Communications Director looking for work...we both hit the lobby-go passed the security and out into the dirty parking lot. I go home-happy to finally have impressed someone-but had to take a shower to get clean, all the while knowing they wouldn't be calling back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Darkside-tales of the Mad Men

When fiction and life intersect, it's kind of creepy. My next call for a job interview was from a new ad agency downtown. The position was Director. I had the experience, the pov and a background in their "hip marketing ploy of the month" Word of Mouth Marketing. Cool. The director position leads the creative team-writers, graphic artists, etc. and works with clients-something I've done. I'm to interview with the CEO, and two fellow directors. Excited I burst into "good girl" mode. I spend four days immersing myself in all things "Word of Mouth." I research the agency- pour over their website. Delve into their client list. I prepare a presentation-have my talking points- offer up my strengths and counter my perceived weaknesses. I buy a $400 suit and designer shoes. Hip is in. I pack up my portfolio and crib notes and take the train an hour and a half into town. I put on my walking shoes and walk the two miles to the agency-duck into Nordstroms to change shoes, fluff hair, spray, lipstick, one last review of crib notes -spritz of perfume and I'm 100 percent confident I'll nail this job.

I press the button and am buzzed up. There is a hip young man in his early 20's at the reception desk and a big bright red vinyl sofa so low slung that it would be impossible to climb out of if you actually sat back. I tell him who I am and who I'm supposed to see. He points to the sofa and tells me to wait. Even though I am on time I wait 15 minutes. During that time I see one of the directors I'm to meet with walk passed-go down the elevator- come back with a soda. I smile at him as he goes by. He looks away. There is a meeting going on in an all glass conference room at the end of the hall. Full of men. They all check me out as they talk.

Finally the CEO comes out. I stand up. We shake hands. He says, "You wore a suit...on a Friday." (It was at this moment that I knew the interview would not go well. I hide this fact with a quick tease about how comfortable it is in the heat.) He walks me back to his office and offers me water. I decline and wait while he gets himself some. The interview itself was short and quick- filled with him explaining how important he was-how high powered he was- how he has a 20 something gal who was just promoted from intern to associate and was a real go-getter and how he was certain that a thirty something...(cough, cough-no I did not tell him my "real" age.) would be stuck in their ways. He asked me my salary requirements. I came in 5 grand under the director position. He frowned and said it was too high for an associate...(Huh, when did he decide I was on the same level as the intern?) I stuck to my talking points-my strengths, my experience. He mentioned the intern again...and that my salary was high for that. I countered that I was here for the director job and my experience was perfect for that. He stood-thanking me for my time and the suit... I explained that I had two other interviews scheduled- he did not believe me. I pulled out the printed e-mail showing the schedule. Frowning, he sent me back to the big red couch. (I should have just left at this point, but I'm stubborn. I had ridden the train -walked 16 city blocks- I was going to see all these men.)

Ten minutes later- he told me that the second interview was canceled- the guy who I saw earlier with the soda- was not at work today...huh. I waited another 15 minutes and the third guy-who the receptionist caught coming out of the elevator after popping by Starbucks awkwardly took me. Seems they all knew, I really wasn't right for the job...just looking at me...although they both said I should come back and talk to the "female" director whose team the position was for.

Nope. They never called back.

As my good friends told me- they wanted a 20 something airhead ready to give blow jobs and ponies at a moment's request. It's pretty clear that's not me. (For those of you who are wondering, I've been told I've held up pretty well-so no, I'm not a battle axe by any stretch of the imagination- or the crypt keeper for that matter.)

Have you seen the television series Mad Men-about a hipster ad agency in the 1960's. Below is a clip on how they treat women.

Yeah- this was like that...only I, as an assumed thirty something, was too old. What the fuck happened to the 21st century??? No, I'm not twenty- but then I know how to show up on time-turn my cell phone off-work 60 hours with a smile and actually solve a problem. (What the hell- how can I be too old to be hired when I still have 25 years until I can retire?)

Eerily enough-in the first episode of the season-the Mad Men's art director is getting nervous because 36 is far too old. People want 20 year olds... So, looking back I believe Mr. CEO had his panties in a twist because he was fired from his last gig because of his age. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Never ending darkside tales...

So, I applied for a web director job for a company in Walla, Walla Washington. Six weeks later I got an e-mail telling me they had decided to hire from within, but they had another opening I may be perfect for...Editorial Director. My dream job. I set up a phone interview which I am lead to believe went very well. I am told by the nice HR director that she will take my candidacy to the Senior Management and get back to me in a few days. Two weeks later she writes and tells me that the Sr. Management has a few "concerns." UGH!. I call her and address the concerns. She sets up a phone interview with the head guys. I spend three hours on the phone with them-ever mindful of their "concerns." I am smart, articulate and express to them that this is my "dream" job...Really. I hang up and wait another two weeks before I e-mail back. The HR lady tells me they want me to take a personality test. I go to the test site-take the test-which is 1.5 hours long. I wait. Two weeks later I contact them again...really, my dream job... HR tells me she is waiting for results of said test-test company spokesperson has been ill and out of work. Two weeks later she e-mails me. She tells me I tested very high for sales. She sends me the job description. Would I be interested in sales? I tell her I'll look it over. (Major disappointment because clearly the "dream" job is now off the table.) I ponder job. I have questions I set up a phone interview time. She does not call. I call her but now I am a bother. She cannot answer my questions- she will set up yet another phone interview in two to four weeks. I waited three days then politely excused myself from their job hunt-citing the fact that I would like to use my experience in writing and graphic design and creative leadership.

Months of work and another "dream" job down the toilet.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dark Side 2

Nothing makes me more furious than a job recruiter calling me, telling me how they have the perfect job for me. We talk about my resume and my experience. We spend an hour discussing the job and how I would fit in. Twice they have had me come in for a face to face interview with them. They tell me I'm perfect and they will contact the client. Two days later, they call with these words..."the senior management has some concerns." Bam! I'm PO'd. I do the hard sell, explaining away the concerns but that is the end of it. The client isn't interested. There is someone better. (See me shaking my head.) One time I was told, "well, the last guy was more a strategic leader and not hands on and they are worried." Well just because he was wrong for them doesn't mean I am. I never even met the guy. I explained how I am a hands on kind of person and why-with examples both concrete and intutitve. But to no avail. Without even seeing me, they have cut me from the list.

Interview number 2 was with a major insurance carrier looking for a corporate communications manager. They call and I give an hour phone interview. They call again. We set up a face to face. I drive 25 miles to the corporate headquarters-get my badge- go in. There are two people interviewing. I sit through two hours of endless... "Tell us a time when you did/experienced this..." Then the final question. Have you ever written a communications plan. I had done my homework on this subject. I went through my portfolio-showed them all the writing samples-widely varied. The reviews from clients and readers, etc. I explain what a communications plan is and how it works. I explain how my talents will make it easy for me to write a plan. They demanded to see a plan in my portfolio. I didn't have one. I reiterated that I am completely capable of writing one. But without a concrete example in hand, I am dismissed and never heard from them again. Not even a "sorry we've filled the job."

The interview process has become a battle where I study my talking points, gather my examples, argue for hiring me. It's like being in a debate where the judges have already predetermined the outcome before you enter the room. They simply wait for some small hole and poof. Days of hard work-lost...and no job in hand. Pisses me off. And worse...they smile and ask, "Why do you want to work here?" The obvious answer is because I need a job/healthcare insurance/food and housing. I reply, "Because I'm talented, experienced and highly motivated. This is my dream job." Why don't they believe me?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tales from the dark side 1

I've been job hunting for nearly a year...seriously for six months. I've had numerous phone interviews. One very bizarre video interview for which I went out and purchased a state-of-the-art camera and then ...began the face to face interviews.

The whole experience has been a nightmare.

First interview:

A small magazine publisher was looking for a Senior Editor. Cool. They called. I went out and bought a suit that fit. Drove the 25 miles to the spot. Parked and went in. The magazine was for Police and EMS personnel. This will work since I have experience in publishing publications for emergency guides, maps and personnel. I walked in and introduced myself to a nervous receptionist...blond...20 something. I waited in a foyer that was decorated with models of police cars and fire trucks. An assistant came in- also blond and 20 something-led me to the interview room where I met the publisher/CEO. We spoke. I answered all his questions. Showed him my portfolio and writing samples. Did the personal sales pitch. Then he told me about the job- which turned out to be an acquiring editor position/face of the mag...when he showed me a photo of the guy who was leaving I knew I was sunk. I was not the right gender and I certainly didn't have enough gray hair. This publication was meant to be read by "real men" and, since I'm also not blond, I knew I would not get hired. We locked eyes and he knew I knew I would not get hired. I stood, shook his hand and left. Said goodbye to the two blonds inside and met a third blond in the parking lot on her way up. She smiled and said..."How did it go?" I lied. "Well." Then she nodded, "Good luck." I think we both knew we'd never see each other again.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Where to Begin?

The old me is dead. Everything I thought I was...gone. I spent twenty three years, married, raising children, working part time in publishing, writing the next bestseller. I didn't have it all, but I believed I could if I only worked hard enough. After all that was what "they" said right there in books, magazines, commercials. If you were pretty, smart, educated and hard working you could accomplish any dream.

My be have respect. And I worked my ass off, put my husband through college, put myself through college, twice- Associates in Engineering and BS in Journalism. I love magazines and wanted to work in the industry, but by the time I got the BS I was thirty something, a vet of the Air Force, married with two kids living in the midwest-far from any publishers. So, I did my best, worked part time, raised my kids and turned my dream to a career in commerical fiction. If only I could publish this story, I could have my dream. I was certain I was that good...that I am that good. I put my head down and worked, writing three 500 page novels a year in the dead of night. I believed.

Wake up- the kids are grown and gone-having struggles of their own and no they don't want your advice. The husband who I pushed, pulled and nurtured? He is a drunk. Finally sober after twenty years-he doesn't want me around. I know too much. The writing? I sold! Eight books this year-but the publishers are small. The money- almost a grand a book- doesn't pay for the equipment I write it on-plus paper, maintenance, ink, postage...

I have to get a full time job. I have two degrees. I can write. I can do graphic design. I can do websites and marketing. I have ten years experience. No one wants to hire that. I'm too old for creative work-too pretty-too ugly-too experienced- not experienced enough- not "cool" enough-not "hip" enough- too suburban. I hear "We are concerned that you may not be flexible enough." "We are concerned you haven't enough experience supervising staff." "We are concerned that this position doesn't have a staff for you to supervise and you would be bored." "You are overqualified." "You've never done this exact job."

I read self help books. They say when you hit mid life and find yourself without spouse or children or job-rejoice! You get the fun of starting completely over. You can pursue your dreams! You can be anything-do anything.

That is Crap! See above job hunt. Look I don't want to just whine in this blog. I want to share the case there is anyone else out there...waking up...and wondering What the Hell Happened?