Friday, July 23, 2010

But What If I Could Land a Job As A Parenthetical?

Thanks to the passage of the unemployment benefits extension bill, there's a chance we'll be living large again on my weekly government hand out.  I can climb down off the ledge and focus on something other than this book titled "Robbing Banks for Dummies."  I picked it up somewhere.  Maybe at the Department of Labor or some church-run food pantry.  I can't remember now.  Anyway, we're not out of the woods yet.  I'm still worried about how to keep the lights on and food on the table because this (if the checks resume at all) is simply a reprieve.

While I continue to seek a position (anything! I'll take anything!) in my old line of work (herding cats), the options are few.  There are positions advertised in Chicago, NYC and the D.C. area, but moving is not an option.  Meanwhile, I'm looking outside my field using my transferable skills or even jobs I did while in high school and college - restaurant server, retail sales associate, pushing grocery carts at Krogers.  So far the results have been the phone not ringing.

The Department of Labor suggests job retraining for those of us drifting in this altered employment universe.  While my long-term goal is to make a living off writing, I still must have plans B, C and D in place.  Things move pretty fast, you know.  And while nothing would please me more than to be able to write that post telling you that not only have I gotten a literary agent, but that also she or he has negotiated an awesome deal with a publishing house and also they see big things for this novel and want two more from me and also Nora Ephron or that chick who beat James Cameron out for the Oscar, I think it was his ex-wife, somehow heard about the manuscript and they want to talk screenplays......

Oh.  Sorry.  Whisper the words #amwriting at me and my brain starts spinning tales of wild! mad! crazy! success!!!! with red carpet walks and book signings that celebrities want to attend!!!!!

A few bills paid and a nice five day trip to France while the kids are tucked up somewhere getting reacquainted with Grandma and Grandpa would be okay, too.

So the writing is what it is - a labor of love that might some day pay a bit.  It's what I want to do.  But I also have to be realistic, damn it.  I want to be Lisa.

So the job retraining thing seems legit.  I've been doing my research.  First I looked at The Hot Jobs for the Future.  Okay, so here's some promising stuff.

Someone still needs to write the books, the screen plays, the TV shows, the music etc. Positions requiring a high level of creativity and originality should still be highly valued.
....Reality TV will have a minor impact on the demand for actors. Unique personalities and talented people will always catch our interests and will be in high demand, at least until we tire of them. 
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!  There's still a chance for me to finally be an actress! Wait - no. If you've seen the Commute Chat set of videos on YouTube, you know that's not going to happen.

Nevertheless, I'm buoyed by the line up there about needing someone to write the books.  Pick me! Pick me!

But wait.  The silver hair and crows feet scream SEASONED!!!!  otherwise known as old.  Don't most writers begin early to establish their careers?

Taking another bite of the reality cupcake (which tastes like defeat frosted with desperation), I narrowed my search a little and found The10 Best Jobs for Over-Forty Women. Gee, it kind of hurt my arthritis to type that. (I may look over-forty, but I'm eighteen on the inside!)

Some days I really wish I'd had the good sense to find a job with a solid company when I was twenty-three and to have just stayed in that job forever and ever and ever. Played it safe, you know?  No wait - if I'm rewinding - I wish I'd gone to that interview at the big insurance company instead of accepting the job offer from the low-paying not-for-profit!  No wait - if I rewind further - I wish I'd never switched my major from Secondary Education to French!  No wait - go back again - I wish I'd never changed my plans to go to nursing school in Cincinnati to become an R.N. so that I could go to Ball State to be a high school teacher, but party a lot first!  No wait!  one more rewind.  I wish someone had said to me HEY STUPID! YOU'RE A WRITER!  HOW ABOUT CONSIDERING WRITING AS A CAREER????

And there I am again.  (Looks at the list above)  Okay, let's deal with the reality, shall we? I've made notes.  Notes mean I'm serious about this.  I even wrote using black ink instead of my favorite purple felt tip.

Community Service Coordinator/Manager - I could do this.  It's very close to what I've done in the past.  Would probably have to go back to school for my Masters in Public Administration to stand out in the crowd and make new contacts.
Personal Financial Adviser - Only if you want me to teach people how to fail with style.
Environmental Scientist - Does knowing not to mix bleach with ammonia qualify me?  I'm thinking the biology and chemistry classes would be an obstacle I might not be able to overcome. 
Registered Nurse - You don't really want me in charge of medications and needles, do you?
Computer and Information Systems Manager - I'm a user.  That would be like putting the person who takes the meth in charge of making the meth.  The end result is never pretty and things often blow up.
Education Administrator - More schooling.  A possibility. Although I know a few of these who've been laid off recently so.......
Strategic/Crisis Communication Professional - My strategy for Crisis Communication is shrieking Mathman's real name and then shouting "Who in the fuck caused this mess?"
Accountant - Stop laughing.  Oh, okay, laugh. The very idea is hilarious.  I have to ask MathMan to do most of my math after I get past the counting of fingers and toes stage.
Human Resources Specialist - Another maybe.  Would require schooling, I think and, because I once made my living pushing professional credentials, would also require membership and courses toward certification through SHRM.
Small-Scale Niche Farmer - Well, I do have all that experience herding cats and I used to have a huge garden....

The other possibility I've been considering is library science.  It combines the things I love - publications, words, research, information, technology, community. Plus it's Oedipally ordained.  My mother-in-law was a librarian.  I have several friends who are librarians like Liberality and Suzy and Randal! How could I forget Randal?  and whomever else I might be forgetting and offending and I'm really sorry about that.

And yes, I'm also looking at programs here in Georgia for the Masters in Fine Arts with a focus on creative writing.  I guess if you pinned me down with your knees and dangled a loogey over my face, I'd say my dream job is writing novels and screenplays and corrupting young adult minds through a position in some mid-level academic scene in a college town with a great faux-English pub.  Unless, of course, I could land a spot in Oxford.....(Oh, Harold! there she goes again!)

See you later, lovers, I've got daydreaming to do.  And as three million and seven people say on Facebook each week Thank God It's Friday.  What are your weekend plans?  Long-term goals?  Dream job?


  1. Reality cupcake is an oxymoron. Why is accounting so hysterically funny? The way I pay for my cool iPhone App developer toys, e.g., MacBook Pro, Photoshop, etc. and bills and time for writing is via freelance financial consulting, including bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is always in demand and it took me about a year to get pretty good at it. But you have to like numbers, or at least be willing to deal with them.

  2. Susan - you answered the question. I am not good with numbers. In my old job, the part that required lots of budgeting usually caused me to gain ten pounds from stress eating. I wish I were a numbers person. I've tried. It doesn't come naturally. At all.

  3. I'll hire you to lead my mighty blog army when I hit the Mega Millions and/or the Powerball jackpot.

  4. It's a good thing all this job retraining is free, huh.

    Ahem, library type employee right here. Sniff. Ain't no sexier job out there. Though I do miss the old school card catalog from time to time.

    Weekend: work and slack.
    Long-term: work and slack.
    Dream job: slack and slack.

  5. I'm thinking, "saloon" is a good bet. Lots of stories and movies about saloons, bars, pubs, taverns, lounges and bottles wrapped in brown paper bags.

  6. I love and hate that you are 15 steps ahead of me on this unemployment path. I'm still in the stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum phase that my dream job doesn't just fall in my lap.

    I aspire to be as mature and responsible as you are with regard to looking for plans B, C, and D. Next week.

    In the meantime, pass the wine.

  7. Lisa, your story reminds me of my story. I think lots of times writers are urged to do other stuff and not get down to the writing because our culture hates artists. I'll never forget being 19 and in France (yes, stupid me, got French degree, too) and shyly telling my French family that I wanted to be a writer and having them *flip out* with excitement and think it was so wonderful and exalted and groovy to have a wannabe artist in the house. Then when I returned to the states, having a total reality check when not one but five friends and family members in *one day* said, "Yeah, I wouldn't do that if I were you. Do you really want to starve??" The advice I always got was along the lines of, better go on to law school (ahem, *drop out*), or at least have "a backup plan."

    The problem with backup plans is that if you really have a passion in life, you will keep aborting the backup plans' success so that you're forced to return to your true love. Sigh.

  8. Small scale niche farmer? I've known a few people who did that -- I seem to recall it involving grow lights, hydropondics, a large closet, and a sincere hope local law enforcement didn't pay much attention to power bills or use thermal imaging technology.

  9. I nervously giggled through that entire post. Are you writing my life? Last year I decided (at age 50) that I really needed to get serious. REALLY. I decided to take my MBA on line. Okay, sorry. But I don't give a shit about the gross national product in Singapore. Never have...never will. I lasted a week. However, I AM living in France now. for the twice per week job I have cleaning other people's toilets. I write on the off days.

  10. Lisa, I can relate to the backwards regrets. Like this one: if only I had agreed to repeat my sophomore year in high school so I could go to the ritzy private school that accepted me but required 3 years of language, I could have gotten into (Harvard, Yale, Standford, whatever) and been a professor of English/Published author, etc., instead of doing whatever it is that I do.

    What is it again?

  11. Keep trying, Lisa. A job is out there for you that can fit your needs for the short term; I just know it!

    As for the writing, do not ever lose faith in your ability! You have the charisma and the wit and moxy to see this goal through.

    I can't wait to say that I knew you when...


  12. I love, love, love my job! I think you'd be an excellent librarian!!

    The pay isn't the greatest though so I'd recommend a specialty--like law or medical librarian--they probably make better money than a school or public librarian.

  13. That talent you have for herding cats sounds like a winner to me. I can just see the pussies for peace all decked out in their sparkly tutus with you in shimmering cowgirl redux snapping your whip in the center ring. You do have a tent, don't you?

  14. I'm thinking a few of us here in this bloggy world could slap a mighty fine chick-flick screenplay together.... And don't tell me after "Eat Pray Love" comes out that there isn't a market for chick flicks..... Whaddya think?

  15. And I'm actually kinda serious.....

  16. Ah -- the rewind. I was an English major once. But I thought that wasn't practical and I switched to Poli Sci.

    I know. Ha ha ha ha ha ....

    I just want to have the worldly wisdom of a 49-year old and the ability to wear skinny jeans. Is that too much to ask?

  17. Weekend - work, spend time with Megh and Granna - Megh leaves in a week for West Georgia - her loan still hasn't come through so fret about that, continue to mentally process up coming move to Columbus and terror of looking for a new job. Job or Love Job or Love Job or Love???? TMI - sorry.

    Long term: knitwear design/photography
    Dream Job: see above

    You have to have money to make money - no matter how hard I try I can never seem to get to that point.

    I so understand where you've been and where you are... You help me laugh and give me a little more hope.

  18. I'm glad to see that "small-scale niche farmer" makes the Top 10 list. With climate change, peak oil, "peak credit" (as in the looming collapse of the world's debt-based monetary system) and other dire trends out there, we're at the point of "peak population" too. The 21st Century is going to be a period of die-back, as humanity hits the wall of natural resource limits.

    You probably already know that if the long, complex chain of credit and supply logistics breaks down, grocery stores will run out of food in three days. What would you do if there was a "bank holiday" when the ATMs wouldn't spit out money, and the food stores couldn't pay the suppliers for delvery anyway due to some sudden fiscal crisis. Happened in post-Soviet Russia in the early 1990s, Argentina in 2000, in less-developed countries all the time. I reckon the U.S. is going to get a good dose of that bad medicine too.

    People who know how to put seeds in the ground and coax them into producing food will be in high demand this century. They'll be the ones the neighbours turn to, instead of the ones getting shot by security guards as they try to loot the Wal-Mart. Growing food is not high-tech, but there's a learning curve involved. Best of all, you can do it in your own back yard -- even when you're a renter -- and it gets you in shape while you're doing it. Plus, teaching your kids how to grow stuff might be the thing that keeps them alive long enough for thenm to pass along your genetic code!

    I'm pretty well set financially, thanks to choosing that registered nurse option decades ago. Money in banks in three continents, gold literally buried in the ground (that's how paranoid I am about what's coming) and several months' supply of canned food on the high shelves. (I think of the cost of the latter like an insurance policy -- "starvation insurance." No harm paying $500 so you won't starve to death in case of an earthquake or unexpected economic hiccup, eh?) Even with all this, I'm turning the earth with a growing collection of hand tools, and Mrs. Bukko is canning away with whatever's in season. As the folks at my favourite doomer blog say "You're better off if you start digging your well before you run out of water."

    Good luck with doing something that's not ephemeral like event planning. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, instead of just your mind!

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  21. WTF? Blogger has been weird for weeks. First it says "didn't post" then it actually triple-posted. Scusi.

  22. I work as a blood courier ... not that I'm suggesting that, mind you.

    But does your city have a blood center? They usually use telerecruiters ... they call people asking them to donate.

    Product Management techs just filter and run the blood to hospitals, using company vehicles.

    You could check into those two job categories at your local blood center. It's not something everyone would think of and because of that there may be an opening there.

    Just a thought. Have a healing weekend, Roland

  23. I have no words of advice.

    I looked for a job for years, in two different job markets, and found nada. (By the way, my cable listings included a softcore porn offering titled "The Devil Wears Nada.") We survived by descending into credit card hell.

    Then when I had given up and reconciled myself to a life of clinging to the bottom rung of the middle class, despite my husband working what is supposed to be one of them there "well-paying" jobs, a friend/former coworker called me up out of the blue with a job in her office.

    I am hoping something like that will happen to you soon, but I don't know how to make it happen or I would.

    I can only send you internet hugs and hope for the best for you.

  24. I cannot believe I have not found you before. You're fun.

    While I was lamenting the furlough days and pay cut of my teacher's salary last year, I researched what states pay their teachers better. Georgia is 3rd in the US when you factor in the cost of living.

  25. "I Lack Consistency. Obviously." -loved that ;)

    well, i do hope you get that check, dammit, since i pay taxes for more than wars and people getting blown up... as for the job, i say go back to school, if you really want my opinion. first it puts off the actual JOB part and second, do what you love, it only happens once you get to live your life and it really could be the best one you could live. maybe.. yeah yeah i know, i agree but i do want to believe it. call me an idealist....just don't stone me as i guess they did in iran to some poor woman undoubtedly set up, sigh... what a waste of a perfectly good planet are human beings, don't you think? xoxoxo

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  27. not only have I gotten a literary agent, but that also she or he has negotiated an awesome deal with a publishing house and also they see big things for this novel and want two more from me and also Nora Ephron or that chick who beat James Cameron out for the Oscar, I think it was his ex-wife, somehow heard about the manuscript and they want to talk screenplays....

    Dree-eemy. Maybe like something kidnapping or extortion-related to Sir Cameron. Around the 'Bu at times yll see him go buy in his Viper at 90 mph or so (or did, a few years ago)--and, whoa, like a little tire-puncture mishap! And then you've got Jimmy and his wallet in the panel van, headed like to some R & R, out east of San Berdooo. you will be making a flick from THIS script soon, Jimmy ... :)

  28. Dream Job would be philanthropist - but I lack funding. :P

  29. Actually. accounting is less numbers and more logic. It's like a big puzzle. It was way way waaaaay too dry for me long-term, but hells bells, baby. Dave's bachelor's degree in accounting (never took the CPA) pays the bills for both of us. (Not that I haven't been looking. That's another topic.) You can start easily with an AAS in accounting from a community college. T-accounts by day, writing by night!


And then you say....

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