Thursday, July 28, 2005


Is it only natural that once in a while I feel like I'm not really itching to jump right back into a full time job? I've been mildly bored lately but am otherwise none too excited about getting back into the rat race. Maybe it was have to sit in rush hour traffic today that brought these feelings to the forefront. I have health insurance until sometime next year as part of my severance package. That's one less thing to worry about and thus affords me the luxury of the fantasy of not having a Real Job for a while. I'm enjoying the freedom to (generally) get up when I want to, sit around in glorified pajamas all day, and not worry about putting on makeup.

"All television is educational television.The question is: what is it teaching?" -Nicholas Johnson

Sometimes I think about becoming a documentary filmaker. (I realize that this is not a very practical thing, but hey, it's my fantasy). I got the chance to work on one last April and, despite the depressing subject matter, I really enjoyed the experience. I was lucky and had a wonderfully talented producer. She guided our team to deliver something of quality and vision (a vision that matched what I had in mind during my weeks of research). We had the support of the station brass. I was able to use my illustrious (according to former co-workers) research skills , among other talents, to help create something that I was more proud of having worked on that than on anything else in my life.
I can't deny that the subject matter- the Holocaust- is/was important to me because of what members of my own family went through during WWII. We were able to illuminate the experiences of the liberators of the Nazi concentrations camps for the audience in our DMA (and anyone who wants to order it on VHS or DVD). Knowing that I was able to use skills from one area of my life to help deliver a message that is important to me*- that the Holocaust did happen, there are witnesses to the horrors who are still alive to share their stories, as well as their own photographic evidence, of what they found when they arrived at Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and every other camp- it was like something in my life came full circle. Maybe I wouldn't make the best social worker or teacher or doctor. Television is a powerful medium.

*while this is very important to me, it had always felt like it belonged to the part of myself that I checked at the door when I went to work.....

Old Times

I just got back from a meeting at my former place of employment. Brief explanation- I was the co-coordinator of volunteers for a large yearly expo that we put on and since I have nothing else to do right now I figured that I could still help them out. The organizer of the expo is one of my favorite people at the station, as was my co-coordinator. I get another chance to stroll down memory lane in a week or so when I have another meeting there.
It was weird going back. You have to sign in (security is tighter at TV stations since the big anthrax scares a few years ago) and I had to wait until someone came and got me. Odd. It was good to see everyone. Many people asked if my presence meant that I was returning to work there. Sadly, I am not. It is nice to be missed though. And its only been a month. It was kind of annoying having to repeat over and over the answer to the question "what have you been up to?" (The stock answer I decided on for today (besides the obvious "looking for a new job") was "doing some stuff around the house, relaxing a bit, getting mundane things, like doctors appointment, taken care of".
It was odd seeing my old desk, all dark and lonely. I found an Abslout ad still tacked to my cube wall that I'd accidentally left behind and took it back home with me (I have collected them since I was 12).
People kept telling me that I look like I've lost weight. I had to agree with them because I've dropped a clothing size since I stopped working at the station because there is no junk food sitting around my house every day like there is in an office environment where people will use any excuse to bring/order/buy food. I once worked a summer job at the admissions office of my college. On the first day all of us new summer hires were welcomed with a spread of bagels, pastries, and other goodies. We were told that Admissions was celebrating our arrival. It was a nice gesture but we all knew that our first morning as tour guides was merely an excuse for a food orgy of some sort. At the station people were always bringing in donuts, especially Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts (since this is New England, where if you swing a dead cat you hit either a Dunkin Donuts or a CVS).
I definitely don't miss the rush hour traffic, which I got caught in the beginning of.

Phone Interview

The phone interview went well. The deputy director said that he was using the phone interviews to separate the wheat from the chaff. I guess that makes me wheat.

I have an in-person interview on Tuesday up in Boston.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Yay! I have a phone interview on Thursday with a community agency in the Boston area!

OK, small problem with this- I was just checking email and there is one from my future interviewer saying that:

Thank you for applying for the position of ______ at the ___ ___ ___ ____. While your experience and education are impressive, we believe you are not the appropriate candidate for this position.

We will keep you resume on file should other positions become available.

Thank you again for your application.


xxxx xxxx
Deputy Director

I'm a bit confused. How shall I proceed? I've been playing phone tag with his assistant since Friday, July 22, which is also the date on the email above. Odd. I guess I'll go ahead with the phone interview and not mention the email.
Not sure how I feel about working for a place that doesn't seem to have its act together.


I was a good goal-oriented slacker after all this morning. I TiVoed (TiVo'd?) the end of Police Academy 5 and a rerun of ER and went for a half hour walk.

10 am

This morning's progression is not being helped by the fact that one of my favorite movies from childhood, Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach is on Comedy Central.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I'm 25 days into my journey to the Land of Unemployment and have noticed that I am finding myself a bit more deserving of the title Involuntary Slacker.
I set my alarm every day with all the best intentions of getting up and going to work out and then coming home and being effective at my job search and freelance attempts.
The alarm goes off and I then think to myself "I don't really need to get up yet...." and I reset it for way later. Or I do get up, shuffle out to the TV room and decide that seeing what TiVo has in store for me is more compelling than going to the gym.
This obviously delays the start of my day for a bit. I'm now, as my mom used to say "getting my days and nights confused". The later I sleep in the later I fall asleep. Too bad its not because I've been living by the KISS credo of "rock and roll all nite and party every day" but most of my friends have day jobs. It's really just because I've had less on my plate recently.
Maybe soon I'll find something to renew my energy and circadian rhythm soon.

Attempt #2

I had to do my weekly call in to the unemployment hotline. Thankfully this week all it involved was entering a bunch of numbers into the IVR system at the DLT. Sometimes it's good when things are boring.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Faux Pas

I have got to stop asking after people, or rather, their pets.

When I first met my friend Eric I was introduced to his adorable basset hound, Molly. I saw him about two weeks later and asked how Molly was doing. "She died" was the response I got. Unbeknownst to me the dog was 14 and in failing health. Soon after he got a new dog, another basset hound.
I was at his house for a BBQ today and asked his parents why they did not bring along their Ben, their basset hound. His mother's reply "Ben died two weeks ago". I said I was sorry to hear that and mentally slapped myself for asking after Ben and at the same time thinking "How could this happen to me twice...and with the same family?"

The Peanut Gallery
Meanwhile my friend, K, pipes up from the background "That's why I told you that my dog had recently died. To prevent the awkwardness when you asked how the dog was doing" (to be fair her dog had been having some health issues for a while and was elderly in dog years)].

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I am weak

I gave in.
I have bought two pairs of shoes this week. In my defense they were both on sales. One was a pair of sneakers on sale at Nordstom's and, as we ladies know, Nordstom's almost never has things on sale (not like Macy's with a sale every other weekend). The other was a pair of pool shoes from DSW (the best shoe outlet ever!) to replace my totally gross and worn down pair.
I also splurged on some batteries and cleaning supplies at Target.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

This Time

Today, despite feeling like crap from my allergies (which a long walk outside for exercise did not help) I cleaned the living room, transferred a bunch of CDs into iTunes, did the dishes, and vacuumed a bit. I am much more effective during this bout of unemployment than during my last one in 2001.

When I first moved here in October of 2001 I had no job. I moved to New England because a friend from college had gotten a job here and I liked the character of this small (by NYC comparison) city in the Ocean State. After being at college in a rural but progressive small city I wasn't quite ready to jump back to the NY metro rat race.

The apartment had practically no furniture. As the cold New England winter approached I spent my days sitting at the makeshift desk set up (milk crate, CPU topped with the monitor, and a box that the keyboard sat on) searching for jobs online. I eventually began volunteering at the local preservation society working on the Industrial Buildings Survey that they were in the midst of. At least that got me out of the house for a few hours each day. But it was still so depressing and frustrating and tiring to not have a 'real job'. I had a few temp jobs, but those were, well, temporary. Health insurance soon became an issue, as my mom's health insurance would no longer cover me. I decided to see if I could find anything, even retail, that might give me benefits. I lucked out and found a job at a local pharmacy. I didn't love working there but they had some of the best health coverage around. And I learned how to run a photo lab. Eventually I found my 'real job' at a local TV station. And now, here I am, writing this blog and hoping that I am entertaining my audience with my wit and style and daily frustrations of the Unemployed Life.

Family Jobs

When I was in NY not long ago my aunt asked me if I wouldn't like to learn about the real estate business from her. I think she's great at it, but I don't want to be a realtor.

She also told me about a job at a nonprofit in northern NJ. It's only part time as an admin assistant. And it's in the suburbs. I don't live there and don't wish to. I like where I grew up but it has changed so much that it drives me a bit batty now to go back there and see the new chain stores and McMansions that have popped up. I guess you can't really go home again.

Then she thought I might want to work for her and her partner. She talked about it with her partner and despite my aunt's fears of nepotism her partner was all for it. The business partner felt that it would be good to have a family member "watching out for the business". That's lovely and I'm honored, but, once again, I don't live there. It would have to be financially worth it for me to move back to the NY metro area. (Her youngest son is about to get his real estate license, what's he...chopped liver?).

It is very hard to say no to her once she's got her mind set on something. This is part of what makes her a great real esstate broker.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Customer service issue, resolved

I just got a call form teh DLT apologizing about the hang up earlier today. Wow. A state agency giving a shit about customer service, that's like unheard of in this state.


The interview went well. As usual I am overqualified for a secretarial position. I really like the company, but am hesitant. Not to kvetch, but I don't want to have to pick up anyone's dry cleaning or get lunch for everyone but me. That sucks. I don't want to waste my talents on that.

Some people have pointed out that a job is a job. This is true. And that we all have to do some unpleasant things in life (like working retail on Xmas Eve, but that'sanother story for another time). Work is where we spend a majority of our waking hours and I don't want to spend that time doing things that do not seem as though they will help me climb the ladder of success. I'm trying to think long-term here.

The problem is that I like this company. I believe in what they do and have long wanted to be a part of something like that. But how much growth is there really in a firm of nine people (including assistants)? Growing form receptionist to office manager is not my idea of real growth potential. Growth from receptionist to office manager to executive is more of what I have in mind.

The Muzak plays on

The screwed up to the amount of $32. The state took taxes out of my check, even though in both my onlie application and actual paperwork I elected to have taxes withheld. And then the bitch hung up on me when I tried to ask a question about something on the application.


I'm on hold. I have been for 19 minutes and 33 seconds. And every time the Muzak stops I get excited and think a person will finally answer, but nope, its just the Muzak changing over to an unpleasant voice reminding me that I can file for unemployment benefits online.

I had to call the darn Department of Labor and Training because my unemployment check came today (a good thing). Unfortunately it's not the amount that they promised me in the official paperwork (a bad thing).
I had to call them yesterday and ended up being transferred to a DLT rep (Tele-Serve wasn't working right or was missing some of my info or something). I of course waited forever yesterday as well. And then was finally connected to someone to whom English was not a first or possibly second language. These people are making the airlines look good.

Gotta run...Someone actually picked up!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

I have a job interview tomorrow morning! It's for a not so exciting Admin Assistant position but is at a local real estate development company that is known for its adaptive reuse of historic structures.
I suppose you could say that Historic Preservation is my 'cause of choice'. I volunteer at the local preservation society and almost went to grad school for it. I'd like to eventually take what I learn in media and marketing and work as a consultant to preservation non-profits, as some of them really need help with getting their message out (I consider the Preservation Society of Newport County a success at this).
The only thing is that the job description on Monster says that the applicant must have recent secretarial training. I don't really have any. At my last job I answered the phone at the front desk when the receptionist went to lunch (some really funny stories forthcoming about that aspect) and occasionally my boss would ask me how to spell something. That's about as close to secretarial experience that I have. And I can't type very well (spellcheck is my friend).

Biding my time

I'm trying very hard to spend my time efficiently during the day. This means filing for unemployment, getting around to making at appointment at Lee Hecht Harrison (part of the severance agreement is career guidance or something), and working on a few small writing projects. I've been pretty successful and not spent too much time goofing off and watching TiVo'd episodes of the Gilmore Girls and West Wing.

I spent last Friday running around doing various errands, including bringing my roommate to an eye doctor appointment because he was not able to drive after the 2 hour test that his doctor had scheduled. We were the youngest people in that office by 40 years., as they are mainly specialists that deal with eye diseases at this practice (he was sent there by the regular optometrist). It is apparently rare for people younger than 40 to have serious eye diseases. So while he was being examined and tested I was forced to sit in the waiting room and listen to conversations about the following (and I'm not making these up)-
  • how what "these kids" do today is not dancing, they couldn't do the Lindy Hop or the Charleston if they their lives depended on it
  • the etiquette (for lack of a better term) on getting from the wheelchair to the toilet
  • how one senior gentleman was there to see the "Polish lady doctor", he also had a Polish ear doctor for his hearing who was excited to hear about the man's Polish eye doctor and wanted to meet her since they were both Polish
  • various detailed discussions about diabetes

Now I have time for my budding photography hobby

Friday, July 15, 2005


I sat down with my financial advisor this afternoon. Between the severance package and my unemployment check I should be OK for a little while.....if I spend very carefully. No more gratuitous shoe shopping for me.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

I've always admired those who, like Ann, decide to strike it out on their own and build a business from scratch. (Apparently now is a good time to do this.)
The mother of one of my best friends has taken her long time business to a new level with the website for her company- Hippo Creek Safaris. For as long as I can remember, she has been in the travel business and one day decided to strike out on her own, specializing in luxurious African safaris. What a great way to combine one's worklife and passion in life.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I Made Some Science

Take the MIT Weblog Survey


It was an exciting meeting this morning for the small local newspaper whose editorial board I sit on. Firstly, we had a new format (less copyediting, more discussion about future story planning and drafting bylaws). And the other noteworthy thing was that I finally got to stay until the end of the meeting.
Our meetings have always been at 8AM, every other Thursday. Being that I had to make it to work by 9AM I'd have to leave the meeting by 8:35 or 8:40, thus missing any discussions or votes that happened towards the end.
Today I was there long enough to have gotten myself appointed to the sub-committee in charge of planning our new website. There are some on the board who do not seem to understand the importance of having a website for a newspaper that only comes out two times a month. I feel that a website is important for us because it can help bring in a younger demographic. If large newspapers like The Washington Post are having trouble reaching younger readers, you can imagine how tough it is for the rest of us. With a website we suddenly have the ability to reach every kid who grew up here and is now away at college. Sure they can stay on our mailing list and receive the paper a week or so after it's published, but with a website they can have their news now. The same goes for people who have since moved away but would like to keep in touch with what's going on in our quaint New England community. With such a small staff and the a paper only coming out twice a month we can do so much with a website during that interim time between publications. We'll have more room for obits and wedding announcements and pictures of new grandchildren. And dare I hope for some sort of web exclusive?
I have to admit that I have reservations about the fact that they want to premiere it on July 22 and then go back and tweak it as needed. I'm not certain that I feel confident in the release of a product that may or may not be ready (in my opinion). As a member of the editorial board my name is attached to this website, whether or not it is of good design quality and usability (I'm fairly sure that the content will be fine). Such a quick launch gives our sales people no time to sell it and there is less time for working to ensure that the branding and identity of it are something that we, as a board, wish to stand behind.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"So, what do you do?"

I knew I'd encounter that question over and over at the wedding I was at this past weekend. I did derive amusement from the faces that some people people made when I answered "nothing" or "I'm currently unemployed". They seemed confused for a second and you could see the wheels turning- "What do I do now? Should I ask her is she's found a job yet? No wait, what if she hasn't and is upset about that? Now I look silly because I'm just not saying anything....". So I spent a lot of time reassuring people that I'm not too damaged by my situation.

Some people reacted in a manner that I had not expected. When I told them of my new status in the Land of the Unemployed they answered "Oh, that's good! That's good, right?". I wasn't really sure how to respond to that, so I said something like "Yeah, sort of", and then tried to immediately extricate myself from the conversation. What I really wanted to say was "Good? Why would this be good? I've got bills and no more steady paycheck! What could possibly have made you think that this is good?". It's one thing if I say that this will be a good time to regroup and etc...but for some reason it bothers me when other people seem to assume that unemployment is a good thing.

I'm Official! I'm Official!

The mail just arrived, complete with my official paperwork from the state Department of Labor & Training saying that they received my application for unemployment benefits and that they plan to give me a weekly check (not a big check, but enough to keep me from picking through dumpsters). Now I'm Officially Unemployed. (Go me!)

Friday, July 08, 2005

By The Dawn's Early Light

It is 3 am.

I cannot sleep and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm in my childhood bedroom at my mom's house with many of my old stuffed animals staring at me. During week 1 I've learned that the first thing that happens during unemplyment is that I'm now caught up on all of my sleep. It's easier to get a full 8- 10 hours of sleep a night when you have nowhere to be at 9 am. (At least there's a good rerun of Conan with guest David Duchovny. I have no problem admitting that I'm an X Phile. I've seen every episode. Every. Single. One.).

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

How My Job Disappeared

Ann got me thinking that I might do a better job of explaining how I came to be the Involuntary Slacker (without using any names so as not to be sued for libel).

Media Company A owns 33.2% of Media Company B. They have something called a Joint Sales Agreement (JSA), which basically means that they pooled (mainly sales) resources, as Company A is a media giant and Company B is a much newer network (about 7 years old). They had a fairly contentious relationship due to many things (I consider the behavior of the founder of Company B be a big one). In an effort to get Network B to become more profitable Company A was to help them get some new programming up and running in hopes that the fledgling TV network would get better Nielsen ratings and thus be able to charge more for commercial time .
This did not turn out to be very successful.

Low Nielsen ratings = Lower Priced Commerical Spot Times = Less Revenue

I worked for Company A and was assigned to work for their local TV station of Network B*. (See JSA form above). We shared a building and office space with the local Owned and Operated station of Network A. This worked out well, people (generally) got along and the JSA made good money, at least at our local level.

One day, actually on Good Friday**, those of us who were employees of Company A assigned to work for Company B were told that corporate from Company B had decided to do away with JSAs in all local markets. No real explanation was given. But it's not like it was a huge shock. {In January Company B fired a large portion of the corporate-level staff at its HQ. That night I went home and updated my resume}.

I am the child of divorced parents. They were pretty good about not putting me into the middle of their petty arguments, not perfect, but good. Working for these two companies I felt more tug of war over me personally, as well as contention about 'intra-company cooperation' in general than I ever felt having divorced parents. As sad and frightening as unemployment seems, there is a measure of relief now that I won't have to deal with that anymore.

* There were three of us who worked for A and were assigned to work at B. There were also three (direct) employees of Company B.
** Good thing I'm Jewish or that would've been a crappy Easter for my family and me.

Monday, July 04, 2005


I went over some finances today. The reality is begininng to sink in. Oy vey.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Do you have any plans?"

People keep asking me this. Truthfully, I'm kind of tired of it. I feel like shooting back "if I had a new job, don't you think I would've told you about it?". But I'm far too polite to say that. Instead I say "I'm going to take a few weeks to clear my head and take some well deserved vacation time".

Or I was until the airlines decided that the amount frequent flier miles I have are not enough to get me form New England to Pesacola, where I was to visit a friend for a few days and then we would've been off to New Orleans to visit another friend of mine. But, alas, I am not in the 50,000 mile AAdvatage club, only approaching the 25,000 (which are already taken up by other 25,000 customers, damn those who planned 10 months in advance!). And being unemployed it is probably not wise to spend $500 on airplane tickets, as I think my landlord would agree.

Week 1

It is Sunday. The first week of my unemployment.
Last night I went out with some friends. I was introduced to a friend of a friend who inquired as to what I did. "Nothing" I replied. My new acquaintance looked at me quizzically and repeated "Nothing?". "Yes" I responded "I'm newly unemployed". The look that greeted my statement was a mix of shock, embarrassment (for having asked? It was an innocent question), pity, and curiosity. Then I had to explain the whole situation (apparently 'corporate restructuring' is not a good enough answer for some people). Sigh. It's going to be a long week.


Aside from my fears of not finding a new job by the time my money and/or health insurance runs out I've now got a new thing to worry about:

The blank page.

Will what I write about be interesting to my readers? Will I have any readers that are not people I've actively told about this blog? Will I remember all the thoughts and feelings I had during my time away from the computer so that I can chronicle them here?

I've always been a good writer of term papers and other forms of academic writing. I've never really been great at the art of the personal essay. I hope that by challenging myself with this blog that you are reading right now I will emerge from the Land of the Unemployed with a new job and a new skill.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Day 1

It feels kind of surreal. Today seemed just like any other weekday off. I'm beginning to think that it will really hit me in two weeks or so when I realize that I don't have to return to work from my (upcoming) vacation.

Last Day

It was sad. I almost cried several times. It was a miserable rainy day, which just contributed to the drama that was our exit.

Yesterday I said goodbye to a group of people who have made it fun to go to work for the past two years. I wish I'd gotten to see all of them, but that's what happens when you work at a TV station and people work all kind of strange shifts. They really did make me feel like a part of the (dysfunctional) family. I don't blame a single one for what happened to my job (not even the HR manager- she's really been quite wonderful about this whole situation). I blame the two companies who jointly owned the company and could not work out their differences.