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.