Monday, December 14
I was almost sabotaged tonight when I put the suggested head "The Brady grunch" on a sports story about a senior with the surname of Brady who had led his football team to victory this season.
"Grunch" didn't seem like a real word or valid sports slang to me, but I looked it up to double-check. I learn obscure words all the time - who knows, this might have been one of them. It was not. At least, it wasn't according to one of my favorite Web sites, Mirriam-Webster.com. (Drool. I go there about 15 times a night searching for shorter synonyms for headline words.) "Grunch" was, however, on another favorite site, Urban Dictionary.com.
My editor was the one who discovered this.
Burst of laughter from editor 1 and a genuine gag from editor 2.
Possible meanings of "grunch," according to the infallible Urban Dictionary:
1. To reply to an original post on a web forum without first reading the other replies.
Grunch ... I haven't read any of the other replies to your post, but I think you should do XYZ.
2. The hard crusty stuff that glues your eyelids shut in the morning. An indicator that your hangover is going to be so bad that you beg for a migrane instead.
Oh man, after those two (three?) bottles of tequila last night I woke up with some serious grunch in my eyes. Please, kill me now ...
3. The act of self fistation, fisting yourself in the anal cavity.
"Get your grunch on" - the act of a hearty night of "tearing yourself a new one." *may result in bleeding
Understandable burst of laughter from editor 1 and a genuine gag from editor 2.
So basically my headline was saying that this kid, Brady, had his own brand of self fistation.
Joke's on you, idiot sports editor who thought that was appropriate sports slang!
Wednesday, December 2
Well, hopefully shit goes better tomorrow. Or one of today's stops calls me and is like. COME BACK!!!! wishful thinking! :)
Monday, November 30
I didn't work two paydays ago so I wasn't there when the paycheck fairy made her way around the newsroom. About six days had passed by the time I worked a weekday again, and when I returned, before I could even get to my desk, three people had asked, "Jamie, did you ever get your paycheck?!"
"Yes," I said. "I just picked it up."
The looks on their faces could have melted glass. Why would they care? It's my paycheck. I'm not going to rush out the door and run to the bank like a greedy little piggy the moment the envelope hits my desk, nor am I going to come in on a day off to pick it up unless it's necessary. Don't treat me like I'm unappreciative - believe me, I'm grateful. I need the $650.
Or the $1,300 a month.
You see, it's one thing when you deposit a two-week pay period check the day after you get it, but when circumstances force you, or when you're too lazy to do otherwise, to deposit two at once, things click. You see the $1,300 and BAM - you think about the other things you pay on a monthly basis:
- Credit card (about $500 - I buy everything using my credit card so this is gas, groceries, anything else my consumer-driven heart desires)
- Rent ($350)
- Car payment ($200)
- Student loans ($100)
- Electricity bill ($50)
- Car insurance ($50 -haven't started paying this yet, but I'd like my dad to stop having to)
- Internet ($40)
I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little freaked. Sure, it's possible, not desirable, to go without Internet at home. I did it for two years and lived, but that was when I had unlimited access to computers and Internet at school and work ...
I can put more things on power strips and turn the heat even lower (check and check). I can be more diligent on how much I'm spending on groceries by getting up early enough to go to Aldi's before work instead of my 3 a.m. trips to Wal-Mart after. I can make a bigger effort to go to the cheaper laundrymat (not the 24-hour one - notice a theme in my habits?). I'll limit how far I drive to get to the good trails. I just won't buy anything.
I have some savings - though not the three months' pay everyone suggests - and I have a dad who is in a position to help me if I get in a pinch. I'm thankful for both, but this is not the point. The point is that I'm disappointed that this is where I am. I'm poorer than I've ever been. I had hoped I'd get some financial relief after college, but things are even tighter now and I can't sigh. I need that air! I paid for it!
So here's what happened during my silent panic attack. I was at the laundrymat and after I emptied my quarter pouch, I hit my wallet where only pennies, nickels and dimes survive. OK, no biggie, just put a $20 bill in the change machine and you'll get to dry your clothes. Both dollar slots are taped over with duct tape, and underneath it says, "SORRY. OUT OF SERVICE"
It might as well have said, "FUCK YOU, LOSER. YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO DRY YOUR CLOTHES ANYWAY."
I gave it the finger. When my laundry was done, I stuffed all 50 pounds of it back into the bags and took it home, where I did the following.
Sunday, November 29
Thursday, November 19
Monday, November 9
- find a doctor and set up my health insurance online account;
- enroll in the autopay programs for my student loans and electric bills;
- change my address with Edward Jones and the credit card people;
- find a driver's facility nearby so I know where to go after studying for my Indiana driving test; and
- e-mail friends and family about my work schedule so we can schedule a visit.
- find music (cough) and
- restart my Netflix delivery.
- catching up on my daily Web comics,
- updating this blog,
- listening to heads (Talking Heads and Radiohead),
- washing the dog,
- ripping my comforter apart so I can requilt it and
TAKING PICTURES OF GODDAMN SOCKS!
I suck at being mature.
The extensive notes I took on my co-workers after my first day at work. I will call my co-workers Ariel, Lily, Ron, Agatha, Aaron, Carl and John on subsequent references. Add in Martin (the new guy), C.T. (a female peer) and Maria.
Agatha does not love Aaron.
John is not a love interest. (He's married with a baby on the way.)
And yes, there will always be problems with the ad department, Christian.
So I called my dad.
I love my dad, but I don’t want to have to call him about this stuff. I need to learn it for myself. A friend suggested reading "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties" by Beth Kobliner, and I think I’ll get it … as soon as I get my library card.
Yet another item on The List.
I’m telling myself the following: My current job is fine. It’s an excellent starter job in that there is little pressure, low to no standards, it’s not too far from home, etc. The actual look of the publications themselves is unimportant because right now it’s about getting my foot in that door and gaining experience at working with different styles.
When I go to look for my next job, I will choose newspapers that have designs I love because, as it turns out, that shit is important.
I got the feeling by the end of my first week that this job will give me the experience of how to create a carefully crafted turd. For instance, I finished my pages early one night — well, most every night that first week — so I was told to sit with my co-worker Lily* for a little bit. She printed a page and told me to look it over for errors. I’m still getting used to the design styles so I wasn’t much help there. Instead, I looked at AP style, spelling and grammar errors. I found one.
“Isn’t ‘Street’ supposed to be ‘St.’ because it’s with a specific address?”I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I know one year is my personal minimum. (May I mention for the hundredth time that moving is a bitch?) It would be ideal to stretch that to two years so I don’t look like a flighty fuck on my resume but …
"Ha ha! Look, guys! She’s actually copy editing!”
The tradeoff for slowly killing pieces of my soul is that I get compliments from my chick supervisor, Agatha*: “You’re kicking ass! Here!! Two more pages!!!”
I spent my day going through the health insurance plans and 401(k) details. In one of the packets there was a list of all the newspapers this media group owns. I don’t think they meant for it to be a shopping list of potential employers but that’s how I interpreted it. I think I even applied to one of them, the one in Michigan.
I know three things about the boy who starts tomorrow: He graduated from a school in Michigan, his name is Martin* and he’s “nerdy-looking.”
I’ve now put together a fantasy future in which he is my married mate Martin from Michigan.
Martin and I hit it off because we’re new, and we don’t know anyone in this area because we were desperate for jobs. (My co-workers gave me blank WTF faces when I said I have no connections to the area, which means they probably don’t know how narrow the market is and how blood-thirsty college grads are getting.) Martin and I designed better pages for our respective college publications, we’re nerdy and horny (I could be projecting here) so we get closer while talking about these things. Fifty-odd weeks later, I pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein,* cat and dog, respectively) and move north where he’ll follow when he has finished his 52-week stint. We’ll move into our first home together. It’s tiny but we’re in love. We’re happier now because he’s closer to home (he’s a family man, bless him) and I’ve finally landed back in Michigan, a land with a lake, pebbly shores and virgin forests. We’re transferred to the other company-owned newspaper here and we’re a wonder duo. Unstoppable. And so we remain until I grow sick of him, pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein*) and head farther north because I’m a glutton for the cold — I’m more comfortable when the outside temperature matches that of my heart.
Now it’ll be even more interesting to meet him tomorrow.
*=Not their real names. I’ll get to that.
Tuesday, November 3
To pass the time, and make up for my lack of job, I’ve been subbing.
That’s right. Some of you know me pretty well. You might be thinking, “That’s weird, I’m sure I’ve heard Christian declare her disdain for kids and that she will never have them.” Well, you, friends, are not wrong. But, let this be an insight to what a great employee I am and how hard I work regardless of how I feel about a job: Those kids love me. And really, I’ve started to actually like some of them. I’ve stayed in the lower grades (which is fine, because I’m still taller than them). I even pat them to sleep when they’re being whiny and sad. And (this is my favorite part) sometimes we make glitter princess crowns. Then, I call them “Princess insert name here” all day.
HA. See? Take that,
“employers”.MORE reasons to hire me.
- I can adapt.
- You will never know if I don’t actually want to be doing a job.
- And!!!! I can make princess crowns. : )
all great qualities in a potential employee, I think.
Monday, October 26
All but one box is unpacked and everything has its place.
My view isn’t the best I’ve seen in the last few months, in terms of people or landscape, but it’s great in its own way. This is my space, all my own again. There’s my damaged desk where I used to do homework. Now I’ll use it for keeping in touch, for paying bills, for the occasional sewing project and for collecting dust.
My bathroom, or showerroom as it might be more accurately called as it lacks a bathtub, where the only germs I have to concern myself with are my own.
My kitchen where I have more cabinet and floorspace than I know what to do with. (Side note: In TV shows and movies, young women will sometimes keep shoes and clothes in their ovens and kitchen drawers, the joke being they’re modern women who don’t have the time or skill to cook and therefore have the space. I have an extra cabinet in my kitchen. I’m considering using my extra cabinet for linens (yes, “linens”). Maybe then the sheets will smell like cinnamon for my guests. My guests! I get to have those again!)
There’s my fridge where I keep the pickles, the whiskey and skim milk.
My bedroom with the dark purple walls, which I again took as a sign I should take this place.
The animals seem content — the puppy in his pen and the cat at my feet. The bookshelves are still empty and that makes them sad-looking, but they’ll get there. Where I sit now is where I’ll crash after a walk, after work or after a night of going out. It’s where I’ll sit when I need a reminder that the terror, frustration, sadness and confusion that comes with transplanting to a strange place is worth it because it means one thing: I get to walk in the nude from the (shower)room to the bedroom.
- I'm alone in the car.
- That's the interstate.
- That's my right foot (the one a person typically uses to drive).
- I'm taking the photo.
- The camera was on its manual setting.
Thursday, October 22
I am excited and nervous. But mostly excited. Of the three jobs I have interviewed for, this is the one I definitely wanted the most. It feels strange, almost too good to be true. It also feels good. I will have benefits and, undoubtedly, making way more money then I ever have before. I will have things I have only ever dreamed of. Isn't it sad that I dream about 401ks and health insurance? Getting older is bizarre.
I love the town I live in, and do not have to relocate at all. A quick 5 to 10 minute drive which is nearly a straight shot anyway takes me to a newsroom that used to be a JCPenney. It takes me to a desk that is all mine in what used to be a shoe department. I think I am going to enjoy working with my editor a lot and enjoy the topics I will be covering. I will be writing for four magazines — Central Illinois Business, Central Illinois Families, At Home in Central Illinois and Vow (which will soon be known as "I Do"). It will only be my editor and myself, so I expect it will be a rather hands on job and that I will get to do a little of everything for the magazines, which I am excited about.
However, I do not expect it to be exactly what I expect it to be. But I'll let you know how it goes. Unless, of course, Jamie kicks me out. I don't expect she will.
Now I need to go do all the things I have been putting off because I'd have time to do them later. Yipe.
Wednesday, October 14
Monday, October 12
Thursday, October 8
Tuesday, October 6
Thursday, October 1
Monday, September 28
Sunday, September 27
Saturday, September 26
Friday, September 25
Wednesday, September 23
It'll be nice to make some money.
I'll let you know how it goes!
Tuesday, September 22
I haven't seen this place in person, but it sounds (and looks) OK:
- 1 bedroom
- 1 bathroom (with washer/dryer hookups)
- Fridge and stove included
- Small yard
- No lease
- Pets OK
- Water and trash fees included
- Decent neighborhood
- About 10 minutes from work
Monday, September 21
This is an apology to everyone I served pizza to last week with a terrible cold. I wasn’t fooling anyone. I could see the cringe in my tables’ eyes when I croaked out the lunch specials. But irony of ironies: My restaurant requires a doctor’s note if you are out sick from work. And they don’t provide health insurance.
One severe cold and a sprained ankle later and I’m questioning my mortality.
In a nutshell, I am currently functioning with the idea that somehow death is a better option than financial ruin. My health takes a backseat when I begin to tabulate the cost of check-ups, the appointments, the tests, my god, the medication. One blown knee, one failed kidney, a removed tonsil or two and I become one of masses who mill the flea markets for gently worn muumuus.
My imagination shows me run down by speeding car and dusting it off with a cool, “$350 PLUS mileage for an ambulance ride?! No thank you sir, I’ll take my compound fracture home. I own an ace bandage.”
So now I find myself stepping carefully into the bathtub, shying away from the use of knives and saying things like, “ooh, careful” when I may be barreling a little too quickly down the stairs. I no longer hit the Ski and frosted animal crackers quite as hard either.
At least the knowledge that I’m uninsured quells my newfound proletariat temper. Every time I’m tempted to ram my car into someone’s Porsche I simply remember that my recovery would be almost as expensive as her new tires. Knowledge is power but this knowledge is depressing (but only the kind that doesn’t require Zoloft).
Sunday, September 20
However, this has become a serious problem. Thanks to unemployment, I actually have so little to do during the day that picking my 15-year-old sister up in the middle of the day so she does not have to ride with other high schoolers is an option. A.REAL.OPTION.
(She plays volleyball and they get out early on days they have out-of-town games so they can go to a local restaurant and eat as a team.)
What has my life become? The lack of response my job search has given me gets more and more depressing every day.
Location: Murphysboro, Ill.
Searching for a job since: August
Applications sent: about 20
Current status: I'm unemployed, broke and living in my parents' basement.
Location: Marion, Ind.
Searching for a job since: May
Applications sent: 23
Current status: I start work Sept. 28 for a small newspaper where I'll be paginating for five newspapers a night in a town three hours away from anyone I might call friend or family.
Searching for a job since: May
Applications sent: Yes
Current status: Pizza slinger, babysitter, shop girl
Location: Urbana, Ill.
Searching for a job since: May
Applications sent: about 15
Current status: Waiting anxiously.
Friday, September 18
I got the job so now I need to find a place to squat for the next two years. My biggest challenge will be finding a landlord who doesn't mind that my dog, Eiffel, sometimes can't help from crapping on fluffy white carpet and my cat, Scout, talks more than any pet in man's pet-owning history. Leaving my retarded companions behind isn't an option. I love 'em, damn it, and I'll need their company in a town that is three and a half hours from my nearest friends and family.
I began my apartment/house search last night - two days after accepting the job offer and 11 days before I start work.
The first place was an upstairs, one bedroom apartment. The toothless, mumbling man who answered said I couldn't have pets because it was an upstairs apartment. Of course? What was I thinking?
The second place is why I made you listen to the music because that's what I got to listen to while I waited for someone to answer. No one did so I left a message for NANCY who returned the call about an hour later. This apartment is my only lead at the moment. It's $350 a month, has one bedroom, a largish kitchen, a tiny yard and it's on the back of a rented two story house. The area seems OK ...
The third had already been rented.
The fourth sounded nice but someone(s) is(are) going to take it if he(they) can get a refund from his(their) old apartment. Not that it matters, but it is a little green house where I can have pets and a small yard and it's in a decent neighborhood ...
The fifth and fifth and a half places, a small house and apartment, were both rented but that guy will have more places available in a couple of weeks, which sounds dodgy as fuck, pardon my Greek.
The sixth had a full voicemail inbox.
In case you didn't listen to the song - it's country, I don't blame you - here are some of the delightfully coincidental lyrics:
But the struggle makes you stronger,Ain't that charmin'?
And the changes make you wise,
And happiness has its own way of takin' its sweet time.
I was never naïve enough to believe that moving away to the big city would be the glitz and glamour that Hollywood likes to blind us with but I never really thought that I - successful, networked, interned, extra-curriculared - would be reduced to huddling ‘round a piece of cheesecake leading an inspired variation of “Happy Birthday.”
Is this really what I’ve become? Too desperate for the paycheck and too proud for the public aid, I am reduced to lying on an application and stretching the truth to sit in a booth and bitch about sore feet and not making minimum wage (the only math that counts is calculating your tip, people).
And yet, I still don that teal polo and my fake smile because what I sacrifice in apparent dignity, I gain in knowing that I will not have to ask my roommate to take care of the cable bill this month. I find that coupled with my humiliation of uttering the phrase, “soup or salad?” I make my rent without a handout from parents or government alike.
So, hell yeah, I’m paying my dues but at least I’m paying my bills.
3. Money isn't everything; it's the only thing.
If money is a major factor in your decision to accept a new job, think twice before you do. In fact, think three times. Even four.
Depending on your personal financial situation and how much more you'd be earning in a new job, money may not buy you on-the-job happiness or professional fulfillment. It may not even guarantee career advancement. Assess your finances. Revisit your career goals. Look at the situation with a big-picture view of your future.
I was spooked because money is the main reason I'm taking the Hoosier Inquirer job. I was spooked, that is, until I reached the line "how much more you'd be earning in a new job ... "
After that my decision was easy. I'm making nothing now, and no, money may not buy me "on-the-job-happiness," but it will buy me some sort of contentment, freedom and security, and that doesn't sound half bad.
Goose egg, zero = current income.
Thursday, September 17
Wednesday, September 16
"Please send resume, work samples, copy of most recent performance evaluation and salary requirements ..."Let's just play a little game called "I just graduated from COLLEGE and the only newspaper I've ever worked for did not do 'performance evaluations'"!
What the hell, future employers? What. The. Hell?
I would just like to know, do you sit around in your offices all day trying to think of ways to make it impossible for recent grads to get jobs? PERFORMANCE EVALUATION? So, I guess what I'll do is call one of my old bosses, who is in grad school, and ask her to take time out of her day to write some ridiculous letter saying what a great person/worker I am.
Why can't you just ask for references like everyone else?
Maybe I should just say F*** it. Is it worth the trouble? Who knows? Not me.
Should Christian tell them to fuck off?
1. Be nice. When you turn down a job offer ...
- thank the person for the opportunity
- tell the person that something about them or their company impressed you
- explain why the job you are taking is a great opportunity for you. Talk in terms of the opportunity, and how it will allow you make a big difference to the business and grow personally. The aim is to show that what matters to you is learning and contributing to the organization because that's what you want the person to remember about you.
A sample letter (found here):
Short Hills, NJ 07078
Mrs. Walter Mellish
Greenley Corp., Inc.
1010 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
Dear Mrs. Mellish:
Thank you for the time and effort you spent considering me for a position as seminar leader. I appreciate your time and effort -- as well as those of your staff. I am grateful for your offer of employment.
Because I was so impressed with Greenley Corp., I had a difficult decision to make. After much thought and careful deliberation, however, I have decided not to accept your offer.
I wish you and Greenley Corp. the best continued success. I hope our paths will cross again in the future.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Tuesday, September 15
Friday, September 11
- The hundreds of hours I've spent refreshing mediabistro.com
- How every time I look at my resume I find something wrong
- The answer I have to give to everyone who asks me what I'm doing now that I've graduated ("Oh, not too much, just looking for a job")
- How I cannot think of ANYTHING ELSE
But, what I think has frustrated me the most is the only interview I've been on. They kept me there for four hours. I met every editor, reporter, designer and secretary. I went to their budget meeting. I charmed everyone in the building. I was almost late for my family picture at my dad's church. And I still did not get the job.
It's not that I'm upset that I didn't get the job, it's more that I don't understand what they want from me. I mean - I just graduated from college. No, I don't have much experience. I have more than a lot of my peers - but it's still not much.
What am I supposed to do, potential employers? Will you please stop skipping over my resume for 10 seconds and just give me some advice already? Cool, if you don't want to hire me, but I would like someone to eventually give me a chance - just let me in on the secret! Please!
Wednesday, September 9
I had two job interviews last week, my first interviews since I began looking for a job four months ago. They went well enough, but I'm not ecstatic about working for either newspaper and yet I feel obliged to choose one.
Let's compare them before I plunge into the issue of WHY I MUST WORK FOR ONE OF THEM. To protect their identity, and my chance at employment, I shall call the two newspapers the Hoosier Inquirer and the Gouda Gazette.
- smaller town so I'd feel more comfortable
- not as sports-minded as the Gouda Gazette
- closer to home
- similar location to the one I've lived in for 22 years
- less pay, same amount of work (perhaps more)
- prettier locale, far different than the one I've lived in for 22 years
- better, larger newspaper
- more responsibility, not sure I'm ready
- differences in goals among the editors and the executive editor
- job isn't secure; the guy who is on a longterm disability leave could return, though they don't anticipate that happening
- city has a huge Catholic population (yes, it can be a reason)
- city has a huge sports following. Me? Not so much.
Basically, I don't think I'm ready or that I have the skills required to work for the Gouda Gazette. I've been told by former co-workers and bosses that this feeling is ridiculous, that I am qualified. It's wonderful to hear, but the nagging doubt remains.
My gut feels like it's being chewed whenever it's quiet in the house or in the car. I don't let this happen now. I cling to music in a new, desperate way because if there's silence I think, and when I think there's nausea.
I need one of these jobs because it's a step and my life needs direction. Getting a job seems like a small, single event but it isn't. It will re-establish a daily routine. I think my current unhappiness stems from not having that. I feel paralyzed now. I don't want to renew my library card or open a video rental account because I could be moving at any point. Same thing goes with joining clubs, resuming volunteer work, making friends, making plans to go out with friends. I hate it when people ask what I'm doing the next weekend or the next month because I honestly don't know. I get a jolt in my stomach and I don't know how to answer, because I could still be here or I could be moved in a new place five hours away. I usually stutter out one of these responses:
Sure, if I'm still around? That sounds like I'm dying.
Yeah, OK, maybe. That sounds like I'm uninterested.
I'll have to see ... Makes me sound like an ass.
I just want to fast forward a month so all the decisions have been made for me. Surely that's not too much to ask.
Thursday, September 3
"Hi, this is David." My stomach tightens. Is he telling me now, when I'm parked 5 feet from the front door, that he can no longer meet me today?
"I hope this is your cell phone number and not a home number. I wanted to make sure you were still OK to meet me at 2." Whew. Sure!
"I wanted to check because it's now 2:17." I check the clock on my dashboard. It's five minutes fast, not 55 minutes slow. It's 1:23. He's confused.
" ... there's an hour's time difference. I guess I should have mentioned that yesterday when I spoke with you." I had a brief moment of fumbling panic and page-shaking finger trembling, but I got over it. I looked myself over one more time in the rearview mirror and got out of the car.
Studying the questions would have been pointless, beyond the great benefit of gaining self-knowledge, because he asked me one question in the "interview."
What are your career goals?
Easy. Make money, buy things and die.
Wednesday, September 2
3 p.m.: Arrive, meet with Human Resources Manager
3:30 p.m.: Attend daily planning meeting
3:45 p.m.: Fill out application; begin editing and headline tests
4 p.m.: Meet with Executive Editor
4:30 p.m.: Meet with Assistant Production Editor
4:45 p.m.: Continue work on application, editing and headline tests
5:30 p.m.: Check in at hotel, dinner with Production Editor
6:30 p.m.: Meet with Assistant Production Editor
6:45 p.m.: Finish tests, possible live work on news desk
7:30 p.m.: Depart
In a four and a half hour interview process, I'll meet with five different people, have dinner with my potential boss, take tests and possibly work on the paper.
I might vomit.