Friday, June 05, 2009

9.4% and counting!

Wow! The highest unemployment rate since 1984 (when I was 19)! Nice to be part of the ongoing downward economic spiral! Wheeeeee!

Actually, the past 10 days have been heartening and pleasant. (1) It is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo relaxing not to have to be on that stupid bus to work for over 3 hours a day. Honestly, the last 6 months of 12-hour days have been rather hellish, both mentally and physically.

Physically: With that travel schedule and the stress of having to get up at 5:50am every day (often after only 4 or 5 hours' sleep---my body clock never could adjust to going to bed at 10 or 11pm), I was starting to look like shit: my hair was literally falling out, I put on at least 10 pounds, my skin looked sallow and droopy. (Gee, what a pretty picture!) :)

Mentally: While I was dead tired after getting home each work-day, I could not come to grips with the fact that "this is all there is to my life." So, to feel more like "myself," I'd get online and start drinking. Which would get me pumped up for those few hours... but often "pumped up" meant getting into drastic, stupid arguments with S. So then I'd wake up the next day, not only with a hangover after 4 hours' sleep, but also blearily wondering, "What in the hell did I just say to S.?" Also, knowing since February that there would be no more funding for the job after May 15 made it a complete no-future limbo that I was living in. And the job didn't pay fantastically, so I wasn't getting ahead. I could pay all bills and have a little left over, but not enough to get things I desperately needed, like a new computer, an air-conditioner, et al.

As for the past 10 days... Immediately after my job ended May 15, I was panicked and depressed. I spent the first week doing absolutely nothing but reading depressing poetry (I love Rilke and Plath and Hughes because they're brilliant, but... Plath/Hughes's world views are a little (!) harsh and sad; and Rilke is too in tune with the afterworld and the Universal...his words are beautiful, but ultimately all about loss... which is NOT loss but part of EVERYTHING... which nonetheless bummed me out. I couldn't even get my ass on the phone to sign up for unemployment.) Also during that initial week or so, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to make all of June rent. Thankfully, my mom sent me a check to tide me over (after my dad read this blog and called her!), which took a great mental burden away.

And then: My old place of employment called and asked if I wanted to do some freelance work! Heck yeah! So for the past 10 days or so, I've been working at home either 9-hour days or 2-hour days or not all, but ultimately getting in about 45 hours... which will give me a paycheck of $1100 in a couple of weeks! That, combined with my upcoming Unemployment checks, means that now July rent and bills are covered. One month at a time!

It's been so nice to wake up WHENEVER, maybe do a little grocery shopping when the store is pleasantly deserted at 10 or 11am, then come home and work a little, watch a little TV, do some laundry on a weekday afternoon, crank out more work, drink a little, never having to check the clock to see if I "should" be in bed yet... Of course, that's the end of that freelance project, but more random projects will be coming up. And this big sum of money gave me some much-needed breathing room. (BTW: With all of this leisure, I've dropped a few pounds, my hair is growing back, and my skin tone is reviving, though I'm still a pale-face!)

And then today, I had a job interview in the city with a major global company. The project is only for about 4 weeks full-time, then I'd be part of the pool whenever new work came in. Again, not a permanent panacea, but very much a panacea for the month of August's rent/bills! Did I mention: One month at a time!

The interview went well, I think. My potential boss is a young guy (30s to me is young!) who used to be an actor and started proofing years ago to pay the bills. He's since given up acting and gone corporate, now managing the company's proofing operations globally (aside from NYC, there are also branches in Houston, London, and Hong Kong, among others). It was supposed to be a half-hour interview, but we ended up chatting for over an hour about the fine points of things like "roll out" being two words when used as a verb, and one word, "rollout" when used as a noun! (And how to explain that to a client who's arguing that it's inconsistent and we need to pick one style!) The guy was really on the ball and knew his stuff (i.e., he's a fan of the "Chicago Manual of Style," like I am) but was also funny and down-to-earth.

After weeks of schlepping around the house and 'hood in shorts and no makeup, it was nice to GET DRESSED (complete with perfume and jewelry) and get into TOWN! (BTW: The temp job would be in Midtown... a mere 15 MINUTES away from where I live!! I can't EVEN imagine the insane relaxation of a 15 MINUTE commute to work!) :)

So today was a good day. After my interview, I came home and napped... (ah, napping in the middle of a weekday!) It's been rainy and 60-ish all day (ah, "rainy and 60-ish" in June! Sorry, my-old-home-Texas, but I absolutely DESPISE your 6 months of solid 85 - 100 degree sunny weather!), and when I woke up, I went strolling around beautiful, spring-leafy Weehawken in my snappy red raincoat, buying little things like a candle, a $2 salad from the neighborhood pizza joint. (I always get the same thing on my salad: onions, cucumbers, tomatoes -- NO OLIVES, NO PEPPERS... After one guy made the salad tonight, the counter-guy looked at it and yelled at him: "You put olives on it! NO OLIVES! You need to learn your regular customers!") :)

Speaking of my-old-home-Texas: Today I got the below e-mail from a reader of both this blog and my Joan site:

"...I also read your blog and can totally relate to your current unemployment. I have been unemployed for a month now, after moving back in with family in CT, and am still looking. It is depressing, but you just have to remember it only takes one phone call and one interview to get another job and get back on track. I used to live in NYC until circumstances forced me to move and I've made the decision that once I've found another job here in CT and made a little money, I'm moving back to NY. There really is no other place in the world like it and I miss it terribly. I wish I had stuck it out and never left, but of course I can always go back. My advice to you is STICK IT OUT AS LONG AS YOU CAN in NY before you decide to move back to TX. Really try every avenue of employment before throwing in the towel because if you don't you will regret it."

AMEN! :) :) I KNOW absolutely that I would miss NYC terribly if I couldn't be here. In spite of my recent woes -- no job, my cat dying, losing S. -- my innate/almost biological love for both NYC and Weehawken and this whole area has honestly never wavered. I'm where I want to be.


casu2 said...

At last and at least something
positive! And you know where you really wanna be, some people don´t
all their lives...honestly, I´m glad,and NY really seems to be YOUR

Beth Austin said...

RE "at last something positive": Yeah. It's a lesson. Even when things look their lowest: KEEP TRYING.