Monday, December 14

Saboteur!


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.

Quiet.

Quiet.

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.

Quiet.

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 ...

Quiet.

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

being a little more forceful today.

I have some pretty great parents. They have paid for a hotel room for two nights in St. Louis so I can try to sell myself to some magazines up here. How nice is that? VERY nice. I've been to two of the four (maybe five) magazines I want to visit and no luck yet. However, one of the places liked my new business card "hey, this is cute." All I could think was "yes, I think so too, see how well we work together? How about a job."

hehe

Well, hopefully shit goes better tomorrow. Or one of today's stops calls me and is like. COME BACK!!!! wishful thinking! :)

Monday, November 30

Drying up, drying out

A tune for your reading enjoyment.

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)
You add it all up, you check it again and subtract from the total. Did you do your subtraction, girls and boys? $10. I'm left with $10 a month.

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.

I hung some shirts in the closet and left the door open. It's near the bedroom heater, they'd dry.

I often hang nearly-dry items in the bathroom so I did it this time too.

The hoodies never dry completely so they go on the doors.

The dog bed is an odd shape and has nowhere else to go but on the vent. (His bed was the only thing dry by bedtime. Dry AND warm, lucky bastard.)

Then the kitchen clothesline - a classic. I've done this before, but never a DOUBLE clothesline. (I'm saving about $5 and the planet, people. It's fucking worth it.)

Then the crazy kicked in. Ah ha! These tubes that used to form plastic shelves, which I need to deconstruct anyway! If I taped them together with the leftover packing tape ...

... they could form a bar! It fell twice. You could tell when it was about to go because the crinkling would increase.

Wings like rags or rags like wings. This one would catch the heat and swivel gently back and forth. Peaceful. Mocking.

After the packing tape/plastic tube fiasco crashed the second time, I remembered I had a Swiffer that might be able to support some weight. It did beautifully. (And dusted that spot.)

I got lazy toward the end. I also ran out of string, clothespins, bars and hangers.

I was stretched above my dresser trying to weigh down the improv pole with reams of computer paper when I looked down and saw a quarter - one of two in my possession.

That quarter could have dried my underwear.

Sunday, November 29

Behind the (dull) scenes

Taking photos of The Shoe.

Scout came to investigate after the first photo was taken. I couldn't even get in two shots, I kid you not.

And he got comfortable.

If you can't beat them, shoot them.

Thursday, November 19

sad

Sorry, lovely readers — I had to delete "a dirty story with a clean moral" because I apparently could have gotten in trouble for it. Please don't hate me!

Monday, November 9

I'll tell you what

I had plans tonight, plans to do "grown-up" homework. My homework included:
  • 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.
Also on my list were some "not-so-grown-up" to-dos. They included:
  • find music (cough) and
  • restart my Netflix delivery.
What did I end up doing? Completely "not-so-grown-up" shit that wasn't even on my pink Post-It. Fuck! That shit included:
  • 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
  • this:
I keep finding baby socks in my laundry. Tonight I found a man sock AND a baby sock. I put the baby sock with the other two I've found. I gave the man sock to my dog to chew on.

TAKING PICTURES OF GODDAMN SOCKS!

I suck at being mature.

Recycling

My ID has been pasted to the top of an old ID … that seems to have been pasted on top of another ID. In my picture I look like I have huge shoulders, my white chest preoccupies the eye, and my cheeks are chubby, but look at me! Doesn’t that smile say, “Happy to Have a Fucking Job that Requires an ID”?

The players

Oct. 7, 2009

My handy dry-erase board.

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.

Another Q&A please

Oct. 6, 2009
This Q&A sheet I read while trying to decide which health plan to choose was completely unhelpful. I think there was a missing Q&A, one that went between knowing nothing to the one I was given. It’s bad when you’re 22 and the term “deductible” is tripping you up. I don’t have my computer yet and I’m not sure a dictionary would have been any help even if I had one here. (I’ve tried to look up shit like this before without luck.)

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.

Whore

Oct. 5, 2009

Martin* has a girlfriend.

Two paces off the starting block

Oct. 4, 2009

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?”
"Ha ha! Look, guys! She’s actually copy editing!”
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 …

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

Being "Ms. C"

Would you like to know why you haven’t heard from me in a while? Good, I’d like to tell you.

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.

I'd appreciate you not complaining to me about your job until I have a job to complain about

Monday, October 26

Surveying my humble garage

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.

Killer feet

Let's count the ways in which this photo could have killed me.
  1. I'm alone in the car.
  2. That's the interstate.
  3. That's my right foot (the one a person typically uses to drive).
  4. I'm taking the photo.
  5. The camera was on its manual setting.
I didn't die. I also didn't get the job. The reason for my foot like that in the first place? It was hour 5 or so and I still had 4 or so to go and my leg was bored ... and my mind curious. Could I rest my foot on the dash? I also had my leg stretched across the passenger seat at one point. Ah, the boredom of the open road.

Nest egg

This is what my dad left me on the kitchen counter one morning. A $20 bill for groceries I couldn't drag myself out of the house to purchase, and the remaining hard boiled egg I had made the day before. It made me want to cry. I remember that much.

Thursday, October 22

Grilled

One of my first meals back at Dad's place. Not sure why I took the picture now ... but it adds some color to this blog, no? I have a backlog of blogs so I'll be updating them in chronological order. I apologize for the delay.

No more hunting

On Monday at 8 a.m. I will report to my first real job. Luckily, I found out I got the job just as I was about to spiral into a nervous breakdown I may or may not have come out of sane.

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.
Congrats to Sarah! She got a job (and will be leaving us?)!

Wednesday, October 14

"Ah! You Jewed it up! ... You're not Jewish, are you?" - What a co-worker said when one of the shitty computers stopped functioning while I was using it. The new guy and I just looked at one another.

Monday, October 12

I love it when I get just enough rope with which to slowly and steadily hang myself. (More blog posts coming soon, I swear!)

Thursday, October 8

At work, we have to write deckheads (those smaller "second headlines") and photo caption teasers. Deckheads I can handle, more or less. The caption teasers, however ... ohhh. Those are nightmarish, but tonight I had a thought: song lyrics and/or titles. This brainwave came to me while I was listening to the Foo Fighters after a particularly sports-heavy day at work. Today, a horrible posed photo (that ran as semi-main art) of girls clinging to a trophy needed a teaser. Shudder. I think the one I ended up giving it was "TROPHY WINNERS." What I might give a similar photo in the future is this line: "TROPHIES EARNED AND LESSONS LEARNED." No one will know, and I'll get to giggle myself to the bank. (You may call me "Your Genius.")

Tuesday, October 6

Wanting

I just interviewed for a job at a magazine publisher owned by the dream job (which was at a newspaper.)

Enter: New dream job.

I am interested in the subject matter, would have longer deadlines and get to work with a woman who could very well be my long lost twin. She went to the same college, got the same degree and even freelanced for the same person I do now. Whoa.

As far as interviews go, I think this was the most comfortable one I've ever been in. I called my mom when I was done, and she asked if I had just got out, with a touch of surprise in her voice. I looked at the clock. I had been in there an hour and a half. It did not feel like more than half an hour. My interviewer and would be editor told me things that you always wonder in interviews, but can never ask. Like, "Does the health care suck?" Or. "Do the advertisers make you write things?" I even told her all I had in my tiny purse were keys, because the purse I usually use is much less professional.

Hey, she brought it up.

We laughed and joked. And I know I would enjoy working with her, and writing for several different magazines. It is my dream first job.

It is so perfect I want to dance right now. Or run 3 miles. Or something. Mostly because she told me I have a good shot at it. Which is awesome. So awesome, I can only speak in short bursts.

She told me she would let me know by Oct. 23. Anyone got a remote with a fast forward button that works on time? Nevermind. That made me think of the movie "Click." I'd rather not live in fast forward like Adam Sandler.

So here's to some more waiting anxiously.


I found a 24-hour laundrymat filled with Buddhas. (Blog entries to come soon, I promise. I'm waiting on my computer.)

Thursday, October 1

Mark Twain cut off his hair.

Monday, September 28

Waiting some more and wondering how much I should settle myself here

I just spoke with the dream job. They have done two more interviews, and will probably do two more. They have not called my references or any one else's, and he said it hasn't really moved forward much. Which means I get to wait and hope some more.

But in the meantime....

Yesterday I went to a Stitch n'Bitch meeting. Stitch n'Bitch is pretty much what it sounds like. You knit and talk. I'd been putting it off, for, well, about three months now, saying I would go each week, then chickening out or ending up having work at a temp job.

I don't know why I had been so nervous. They were all knitters. Knitters who liked to drink coffee, and, on some nights, have drunken knitting nights. What on earth made me think I would not fit right in?

These women were not my age, but they were not all the same age either. Some of them were close to the same stage of life as me — recently married — although they all had jobs, which is more than I can say. One was retired, and another had two young sons. We knitted and talked about whatever happened to come up. Sometimes it was knitting. Sometimes it was our families. One of the women, Devin, seemed to be the closest in age to me and talked like she, too, recently had temped for a year while searching for something her degree qualified her to do. Unconsciously, I decided to focus on becoming friends with her.

I don't know why I do this. When I was young, finding friends just happened. In grade school, I just played with whoever. In high school, I developed closer friendships with a few girls. In college, I developed close relationships with the girls I had class with and worked with. But now, I do not go to class. I do not have a job. And so finding friends has stopped being something that naturally happens and something I feel like I have to work at. I fear that students will soon leave, but I don't feel old enough to be a townie. And my friends, who are in the same status as I am, live far away.

I definitely think this mindset of having to try to find friends is ridiculous and unnecessary, but I can't seem to shake it.

It is not that I have a shortage of friends. There is a group of about 8 of us who hang out on a regular basis. We go out to dinner or have a potluck every Tuesday. We hang out once or twice every weekend. And we entertain each other a lot, and so we have fun.

Stitch n'Bitch is one of my attempts to find friends who are girls. Don't get me wrong. I love hanging out with my group of boys that keeps growing, but sometimes I just wish there was a girl who was always there, too. We have acquired two wonderfully sweet and funny girls who are from Austria. They hang out with us quite a lot, though I still find myself the girl hanging out with the guys fairly often. I just don't want to be the only girl all the time. No offense guys.

International friends are fantastic. They are interesting, have fun accents and, more often than not, are just like us, even if they call things by weird names and are accustomed to hanging out until way earlier in the morning than I'd like to, or, let's face it, can stay awake.

One of the drawbacks, besides the fact that you cannot fairly play board games like Cranium or Mad Gab that involve American customs and phrases, is that they do, eventually, leave. Last year, my fiance befriended a German student, Bernhard. Unfortunately, as I prepared to move to Urbana and start a fun and relaxing summer, Bernhard prepared to move back to Munich. We have made dear friends who will no be at our wedding because they must go back to their respective corners of the globe before then. And some of our friends who are not international will be in the same position. They will graduate and move to all corners of this country.

I not only hope, but know, that I will speak to many of these people for years and year to come. We will visit, although not frequently, and enjoy it as much as we enjoy each other's company now. This does not make me want to make more permanent friends any less.

But for now, I will enjoy these people's company. I will get to know them. I will share beers and I will share laughs. I will not think about how, after this next year, I may not see them ever again. I will just think about how fantastic they are, and how lucky I am to know them.






Sunday, September 27

I still have the kitchen and bathroom to clean, stock and cover in contact paper; a vet, doctor, dentist, hair dresser, Hobby Lobby, Goodwill and recycling center to find; a driver's test to take; a driver's license to obtain; CFLs and a step ladder to buy; and a job to start and accompaning paperwork to complete BUT ... I'm happier than I've been in months.

Saturday, September 26

I'm on the interstate, on my way to my new place (which is five hours and one time zone from my OLD place) and I keep seeing U-Haul moving trucks, and when I see them, all I can think is "FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS + THE COST OF GAS." You'll know you've made it big when the new company you work for mentions moving money. This whole moving bullshit is expensive, even for those who cut every corner. I can dumpster dive and find suitable boxes, but then you have the gas money and the "your new place doesn't have curtains or light bulbs or a baseball bat for intruders" money and the fridge and bar restock money and the my-sister-stole-my-futon-so-I-need-a-new-couch money. It adds up, and, for me, it adds up to more than I can afford before baby's first payday.

Friday, September 25

Moving three times in four months should be made illegal. It's wearing.

Wednesday, September 23

This is not the most exciting blog entry I've ever written

I start subbing tomorrow.

It'll be nice to make some money.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 22

My new place

The kitchen and living room.

The bathroom. Note the lack of a bathtub. No sexy bath times then.

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

It's my life

Today, on the morn of my second interview, I received my fourth of eight resumes back in the mail. The first three apparently went to addresses that don't exist, though how I, with my journalistic address-finding skills, managed to accomplish this I'll never know. The last was a postcard informing me they only accept applications online and only when they are hiring. Hmm.

But two of those resumes (sent to different editors at the same place) resulted in today's interview.

For me, one of the hardest things about finding a job is not finding someone who is hiring who thinks I am spectacular enough to offer me her once-in-a-blue-moon position (not that that has been easy). No, the hardest thing for me has been deciding what I really want.

I moved to my fiance's college town in early June. Deciding to move here was difficult. I knew I wanted to be closer to him, and I knew I'd be happy if I did, but I wanted to make sure it was what I truly wanted. Not just what I felt was right, what was convenient or what he wanted. I could have moved home, waited until I found a job, and then move somewhere random, and he could follow me once he graduated. Problem is, he may not graduate before the wedding. Or maybe he will. Or maybe he won't be able to find a job where I am and I will work somewhere for 9 or 10 months and then quit and move elsewhere, which would probably grind on my conscience for years.

But in the end, I knew I would not be happy somewhere random, all on my own. I'm not really an all-on-my-ownsome kind of gal. And so here I am. I have fallen in love with this town and probably wouldn't mind staying here forever ... which is a long time.

Today I interviewed at the perfect place. I would be covering something I am interested in, in a community I love and I wouldn't have to move to middle-of-nowhere-you-are-allll-alone-ville. That's where I interviewed last week, and, after much thought, I have decided to stay put, in a place I love, in the hope that something will turn out in my favor.

Some people do not agree with this decision. Some have told me they think it is dumb and disappointing, if not always in so many words.

Saturday I went to my fiance's cousin's wedding. While they were cutting the cake, several people heckled the groom, asking why he wasn't going to shove the cake in his new bride's face. The groom replied, "You don't have to live with her."

While he was clearly making a joke, it is a good sentiment. Other people do not have to live with my decisions, and I do not have to live with the people who disagree with them, but I must live with my decisions and I must live with myself.

So I shall anxiously wait a couple of weeks, as the perfect job has said I must do, count my blessings, say my prayers, keep the faith that what is supposed to happen, will and know that I have made the right decision for myself, even if everyone else thinks I'm a crazy raving lunatic.

Monday, September 21

High pressure interview

Tomorrow afternoon I have an interview. It is only my third, but, by far, the job I want the most.

I feel too nervous to speak more of it now, and I fear jinxing it. But more to come soon!

Health insurance is totally in right now


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

"your sister's not working, ask her to do it"

Before I begin this particular rant, I just want everyone to know, I love my family and DO NOT actually mind being my little sister's taxi. That is, until she gets her license.

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.

This is us

Christian
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.








Jamie
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.





Rebecca
Location: Chicago
Searching for a job since: May
Applications sent: Yes
Current status: Pizza slinger, babysitter, shop girl









Sarah
Location: Urbana, Ill.
Searching for a job since: May
Applications sent: about 15
Current status: Waiting anxiously.

Friday, September 18

A place to call apartment

Before you read, you must start this song; it sets the appropriate apartment-hunting mood ...

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 area that 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,
And the changes make you wise,
And happiness has its own way of takin' its sweet time.
Ain't that charmin'?



There’s no one on the Earth quite as bitter as the career waitress

I think it was specifically during the anecdote about my co-workers’ jail sentence when I was struck with the realization that my job sucked. Three months after graduation I find that I’m not even qualified to wait tables in the Chi-land area; I've been reduced to lying on my resume and extending my three month employment at Shake Your Steak to a fictional two-year term.

I was never na├»ve 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.

No. 3

I was reading through a list of five reasons to turn down a job offer. Four of the five didn't really apply to me: word on "The Street," a revolving "Employees Only" door, all work no life and bad reputation. It was No. 3 that got me:

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

what to do, what to do

I sent out five applications today. Three online and two by mail.

Sometimes when I apply online, I feel like it does not even count. Silly, Internet.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 16

I swear they're doing this on purpose

"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.

Answer our poll! (It's up there! To the right!)
Should
Christian tell them to fuck off?

WHEN the time comes to decline a job offer (the power of positive thinking, ladies)

Tips for turning it down (found here):
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.
2. Suggest someone else. If you are someone who is specialized, and it's going to be hard for the employer to find someone like you, you can really endear yourself by referring a friend.


A sample letter (found here):

7 Shawnee Road
Short Hills, NJ 07078
201-555-0303

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.

Sincerely,


Jane Oakley

Tuesday, September 15

Revelation

I accepted the Hoosier Inquirer job. I'm nervous but I just had a revelation - the money. It won't be much, $11 an hour, but I'll have health insurance and I'll be able to take care of my financial responsibilities. Best of all, I'll get to start saving for traveling, which is something I AM passionate about when my career sometimes isn't.

Hoosier called this morning

Now I'm waiting for them to call back.

Friday, September 11

... and I'll never get those four hours back

A lot of things about job-hunting have frustrated me.

  1. The hundreds of hours I've spent refreshing mediabistro.com
  2. How every time I look at my resume I find something wrong
  3. 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")
  4. 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

Burying my feet


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.

HOOSIER INQUIRER
Pros
  • smaller town so I'd feel more comfortable
  • not as sports-minded as the Gouda Gazette
  • closer to home
Cons
  • similar location to the one I've lived in for 22 years
  • less pay, same amount of work (perhaps more)

GOUDA GAZETTE

Pros
  • prettier locale, far different than the one I've lived in for 22 years
  • better, larger newspaper
Cons
  • 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

Time shift

My phone rang as I neared the office in a town I had never visited. I let it ring because I was busy looking for the building I was sure I had passed at least once. The phone beeped to indicate the caller had left a message on the voicemail, and then I found the building and parked the car in front, happy in the knowledge that I had arrived 40 minutes early and would have time to look at the newspaper and review interview answers before the meeting. I played the message as I gathered my notes:

"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

Second interview ... there was an itinerary

Intinerary
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.

Wednesday, July 29

Shoe