Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nesting

Here's the thing about unemployment.
You're home.
A lot.
A lot more than you were when you were working crazy hours, hitting up happy hours, falling into bed and waking up hours later only to rush into the shower, grab a cup of coffee and be off and running once again. But the unemployed girl is home. And, if the unemployed girl is of a certain age, then she's nesting.
There's a point in everyone's life where a mish-mash of mismatched plates, furniture and bedding are not really representative of who you've become. And working those crazy hours, the employed girl doesn't really notice. Even those nights she stays in, she is too exhausted for anything but staring mindlessly at the TV. How could she possibly notice the things that are not quite right in her place.
As my dear readers know, I have been unemployed since the middle of November. And, over this time, I have done things like scrub the rubber bits around the edges of the fridge with a toothbrush and put out cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil to repel the mouse all over the apartment. And I have noticed little things like chips in bowls and the fact that I don't have four matching plates. And the ones my roommate has, though matching, are chipped. A girl can't win.
So, the unemployed girl is home. A lot. And she wants to do things to improve her home. But there's the rub! The unemployed girl doesn't have the money to fix up the apartment. The place where she spends her days - job hunting, project making, food cooking - but who can afford the new duvet cover to pull the straightened up bedroom together on one's unemployment check?

So, my gentle readers, I am just compiling a list. A little wish list of things that would make my apartment better, more adult, more the way I want to present myself to the world. So that, slowly but surely, I will be able to pull it all together.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

FUNemployment



A little bag, of re-purposed vinyl, I whipped up last Friday. A rainy day is great for projects!




The hot-pink cotton lining of the bag ...

Gettin' It On The Cheap

So, as my way of being helpful to all those other unemployed people in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area, I've decided to complie a list of some cheap finds. On this list you will see some cheap eats and some good happy hours and some neighborhood beauty services. They're necessities for any city girl really.

Massage: Qi Gong Tui-Na on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. This is a no-frills massage place (men and women welcome) where you don't get the pretty music or the lavender scented room, but you do get a great massage. These ladies will pound the crap out of you for a very not-Manhattan price. An hour, at last check, was $45 (tip them well!).

Waxing: Ok. Every girl needs a bikini wax on a regular basis, Brazilian or otherwise. I found this place pretty soon after I was laid off, on the southside of Williamsburg. And, though I have given up a bi-monthly manicure (I can do it myself), I really want to keep a little normalcy in my beauty routine. So I've kept my monthly(ish) bikini wax. I always go to Audrey on Bedford Avenue. It's $15 for a regular bikini wax (using regular wax), and you're in and out (on a weekday, without an appointment) in ten minutes.

Hair: My friend Jenn is a stylist at Mousey Brown on Lorimer Street. They have really reasonable prices, great service and talented stylists (of course, I only go to Jenn, and you should, too!). And boys looking for a barber shop, checkout Tomcat on India Street and Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. My roommate, the ex, and a couple other boys I know go here and it's $20 - $30 for a cut.

Nails: I can't recall the name of the place, but on Manhattan Avenue, next to a store called White Dream is a cute little manicure place where a manicure is $6. The women (and man) who work there are nice and they have a great selection of Essie colors.

Brunch: Ok, no links here, you guys can figure it out yourself. But the go-to, on-the-cheap brunch places are, in no particular order of favoritism: Mugs on Bedford Ave. (I never spend more than $10 and you get coffee and a cocktail with brunch); Acapulco on Manhattan Ave. (the ex and I used to brunch there every weekend and for the two of us, about $14); my friend G's new favorite brunch place in Greenpoint is La Brique on the corner of Manhattan and Bedford (you get a coffee and a Mimosa with the brunch menu, and they have a back porch).

Happy Hour: Happy Hour is an unemployed gal's best friend. In the neighborhood, there are some good ones - Black Rabbit, Habitat (ladies night all night on Wednesday), Matchless are some of my favorites. I read recently, though I've not checked it out, the Sound Fix has an open well bar on Wednesday from 7 to 8 pm. Ooh! And sitting in the park this fine spring day, I was handed a flier for "$1 Mini-Pitchers of Sweet-Ups" from noon to 5 every day at Royal Oak - now that is exactly what the unemployed are lookin' for!

Did I miss anything? Would love to hear other opinions on cheap finds (preferably in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area) for the penny-conscious amongst us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ways To Be Helpful

I found this link today while looking through some job search blogs and e-mails. It's pretty much common sense, but, sometimes, when one has been laid off, it's hard to see the big picture right away. A friendly word of encouragement, especially from someone who has been there before, is always a good thing.

Right now, unemployment is the worse it has been in over 20 years. And you will have a lot of friends losing jobs or having their hours cut or being bought out of contracts. It's just a fact. And if you are in a position to be of a little help, then please do. I have been very lucky in these past several months that I have a lot of friends who have not been affected by the "economic downturn" and those same friends are absolutely wonderfully supportive - from the friend who buys me a drink to the friend who gives too much cab fare to the friends who take me out for a nice dinner after I babysit. For these friends, I realize that these are little things. But to me, they are a big deal. And I really appreciate them. And, were I employed and they on the other side of the equation, I hope they know I would do the same for them.

It's so easy to get depressed when you are unemployed. It's so easy to feel like you are unproductive. It's so easy to feel like you are adding nothing to society. It's so easy to not want to get out of your pajamas all day because, after all, what's the point. But, having a working friend invite you to meet them for lunch (or midday coffee) or the like is always a good thing. And it's always nice to get out of the house. I have one friend who will invite me to an early lunch/late breakfast every month or so. So I get up earlier than I would normally. I do my normal morning activities. And I meet him at a time that I would normally be sitting on the couch, sipping my first cup of coffee and catching up with Martha. And then I do stuff. And I feel pretty productive. Because I am out and about. I'm dressed. I've got makeup on. So why not get on with the day and do a few things?

And speaking of ... today I am not having one of those days ... so I gotta get a move on!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reality Television

I have an old friend who is pretty sure that every Seinfeld episode relates to real life. I haven't watched Seinfeld in a while, but he might be right. Here's the thing, as much as I hate to compare real life to a television show ... I am pretty sure all the early episodes of Friends are pretty related to real life.

Even in this age of the highest unemployment since 1982, I don't have that mane friends who are unemployed. That's great for them, but it's a little tough on me from time to time. Sure, I have friends who look out for me. And I am not too proud to accept a couple of drinks or a mid-priced dinner or cab fare. But sometimes I feel like people have no concept of what it is to be really and truly worried about money. I was poor a lot of my childhood and I know how to work through it and live through it and I know how to do it all while appearing like you are just like everyone else. It's pretty much how I got through the '80s.

But today, in trying to organize Sunday brunch, I felt like this episode of Friends. It's an episode from the second season - when I was still in college and the lives of the six Friends seemed so adult and exotic - where three of them have money and good jobs and the other three are stressed out. It all culminates at a dinner to celebrate Monica's new job when they are out at an expensive restaurant and the three poor Friends order a side salad, and a couple of appetizers amongst them while the three well-employed Friends order steaks and lobsters and wine and when the bill arrives, Ross and Chandler divide it by five (it's Monica's dinner so she doesn't have to pay is the idea). And the poor Friends freak out. Because they ordered shit meals that were the only things they could afford on the menu, not realizing they would be expected to subsidize fillet Mignon and lobsters.

We've all been there, right? Out for a birthday dinner with more affluent friends. And, of course, you want to chip in. And, of course, everyone thinks that whatever money they have is not much money. No matter how much they make. But there is a reality to these things, beyond one's own perception. And dropping $20 on brunch seems like a lot of money for an unemployed gal right now ...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Esteem

How much rejection can one person take? It's just so much.

Of course, in an economy like this, getting laid off from one's job is nothing personal. But it's hard to not take it that way.

And every little rejection, every non-answer to a job application, every time you feel like an offer of assistance is fruitless ... it just adds up to rejection. To feelings of rejection, anyhow. And it's hard to not take it personally.

Your friends who have been there will tell you not to take it personally. Your former co-workers will remind you of what a hard worker you are. If they are still at the company, they will tell you how much things stink without you. Everyone will tell you that it's not you - it's the company/economy/etc ...

Sound familiar? "It's not you ... it's me".

I'm coming to the anniversary of an "It's not you ... it's me" conversation. And I'm unemployed due to an "It's not you ... it's the business" conversation. And, in my head I know that both those things are true. I know that the relationship wouldn't have worked out well (and A sent me a link to a horoscope site that basically said it was doomed from the start). Doesn't mean the "it's not you ... it's me" conversation didn't send me into a tail spin for a very long time. As for the job ... things were tumultuous right before I was laid off (one of the owners was very verbally abusive to me and to most of the rest of the staff) and I had been putting feelers out for something better, but I was still taken completely by surprise when the "it's not you ..." conversation happened. Even if I know I will, eventually, find something better.

At times like this, the unemployed gal just wants a little ego boost. A little pick me up. Something/someone to make her feel like there's a reason to get out of bed in the morning. There are a ton of blogs out there about being single in NYC. There are a ton of blogs out there about being unemployed right now. I'm not trying to combine the two - but they're both facts of my life ... and it'll come up from time to time.

Thanks for reading/following ... it takes a little bit of the sting out of the daily rejection ...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Guest Blogger; Part Four

Matt's just sent me an update on his job hunt:

Has my dignity bottomed out? Not just yet. Check this:

(This is from that lame site called oDesk that demanded I pass a skills test before I be allowed to apply for anything.)

"Our company is looking for people over 18
years old to write reviews for some of the webs
most popular dating and (adult websites).

As a writer for us you will be given free, unlimited
access to several websites. You
will be required to visit each site and write reviews
based on quality of content and other
criteria specific to each project.

Compensation varies per project.

If you are interested in this opportunity please
email us.."

I really doubt that the reviews will really be of "dating" sites, so much as they'll be of that particular brand of classy portal specializing in such erudite subjects as midgets, fisting, and barnyard "friendships." Or perhaps combinations of the three. I'll pass.

And, I really hate when people screw up the use of apostrophes, i.e.: "some of the webs most popular" Come on people, is it really that difficult to differentiate between the plural and the possessive? That's what, 8th grade English class? Or, perhaps they've been so busy perusing the web's most popular adult sites that the blindness that afflicts those who engage in the activity accompanying the frequenting of those sites has already begun to set in. That was a really wordy way to say they've gone blind from spanking it too much, just like my said would happen.

Longing

OK. Here's the thing. I want things. I really want things. I am a girl who likes to shop. I am a girl who loves clothes. And fashion. And most of all ... oh my goodness ... shoes! I have always loved shoes. There is no telling when it began. My mother, who does not love shoes in the way that I love shoes (and barely comprehends it), is pretty sure I came out of the womb that way. I definitely recall absolutely needing a pair of blue ankle strap clogs in 1980. I was in first grade. They were beautiful (Thank you, Nana).

So, with unemployment on me ... and trying to be so good with my money - eating out less, if at all. Going to bars almost never. Graciously accepting drinks from employed friends. Cooking. And, most importantly, refraining from shopping. And I have been so very good. I have skipped sample sales. I have not bought new jeans (though loads of my friends say I should ask the ex for his fancy discount to get a new pair). I didn't buy new rain boots, though mine are too big and I trip over my own two feet if I walk too far in them. I let winter arrive without new sweaters.

But another season is upon us. And I am in need of summer clothes. I promise you, this is not just an itch that needs scratching. This is for real. I need sandals. I will not lie. I am not a huge fan of sandals, but ... sometimes ... they are necessary. In the summer time ... the go with jeans and short shorts (I have plenty of those!) and sundresses and maxi dresses ... A good neutral sandal can go a long way. And I need a pair.

Those of you who know me may say, "Come now, MatchGirl. You have plenty of shoes. How can you possibly need sandals?!"

OK. I hear you. I see where you're coming from. I do have loads and loads of shoes. Some that I barely wear. But, I am not saying I need boots or sneakers or ballet flats or espadrilles or towering heels. I have those things. Sure, I find ones that I like. I see ones that I may want. But need? No. But I do need sandals. (Or, I will when the cold, wet, grey weather goes away).

I found a pair that I really like at Hayden-Harnett. (Where there is another pair of amazing wedges that I do not need, but might be lusting after). Here's the thing - they may be a little pricey. But they are a local business, based out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I like to be a localvore. In this economy, it's more and more important to me. Sorry. A tangent, I know.

HH is having a sample sale right now - I avoided it, and after reading the reviews on Racked, I'm glad that I did. But the Racked review also had a link to an online sample sale where, it just so happens, there are a handful of shoes - in sample sizes - on there. And there are these amazing sandals. I love them. I think they will go with everything. They're a final sale, so I'm not sure if I should order them. But ... local gal that I am ... I'm thinking of going over the the shop (blocks away) and seeing if a 5 will work out. The comments on the site say that they run big, and I'm a 5 1/2, so ... it's worth a shot.

Um ... if anyone wants to talk me out of it ... do it soon!!!

Business Plan?

Today, my friends, was a productive day. A good day. I feel a little sleepy from just one too many shots at the Rabbit last night - and the fact that it has been grey and rainy (and cold! Isn't it March that's supposed to come in like a lion, not April?) all day has not made my mind wake up. But my meeting with A certainly did.

We are crafty gals, A and I. We have been throwing around the idea, for a while now, of doing something together. We have a similar aesthetic. We like the same things. While we are different, stylistically, I think we're pretty much on the same page. And we were both laid off from the same company within a couple of months of each other (they kept her on through Fashion Week and then wanted her to stay, but not to pay her ...). So, we're going into business. Woo-hoo.

Not anything brick and mortar. Not anything that requires too much of an initial investment. But something that will give us purpose. And maybe a little extra cash ...

And, when you're an unemployed gal, with the economy what it is ... anything that can bring in a little extra cash is not so bad ...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guest Blogger; Part Three

More stories from Matt's second day of Jury Duty (by the way - last time I served Jury Duty, in downtown Brooklyn - I was there till 4 in the afternoon, read 1920s pulp novels, listened to my ipod and only got called up when it was time to get the letter telling me I didn't need to come back the next day - or again for a few years - Just another reason Brooklyn ROCKS!).

I wish I had something interesting or useful to add. Some excitements from my day of unemployment. But, to be fair, I've done laundry and spent an hour trying to clean a nasty stain off of the living room wall ... that's not really anything too exciting to write about.

I digress. Another day of Jury Duty by Matt below:

Woo Hoo, Day number 2 of Jury duty. It’s actually not yet through–I still have 15 minutes left in my lunch break. What occurred yesterday, was essentially, well, nothing. But, it did require me being at 111 Centre Street at 8:45, which did drastically screw with my sleep schedule.

We–those of us not smart enough to get out Jury duty–then milled around the hallway like a flock missing its shepherd for the better part of an hour, when we were led into a large room that at least had seats. It was here that a very entertaining court officer workshopped some of his stand up while he gave us instructions to make it through our day. Surprisingly, all of the officers here have been really helpful and nice. While the wait has been very DMV, the service has been very Jamba Juice. After being given almost 2 hours for lunch and back in the comfy seat room, Jokey McClerk began to call the names of prospective jurors for the trials on the docket. By 3:30, my name is finally called. A group of us, at least 50, were herded across the street to a different building, led up to an identical hallway >where we were instructed to wait until we were called. Again, we did our best confused livestock impression. Finally at 4pm we were led into the courtroom–oh the excitement, if only I’d been allowed to twitter my glee. At last! We were about do something, anything, just please make the boredom stop. I’d listened to all of my podcasts, created imaginary histories for everyone around me, read several short stories, knitted a scarf, and mentally rearranged the alphabet, I needed something–I’m no Buddhist monk. But wait, the judge, who again seemed very personable, asked if anyone here had any reasons why they couldn’t serve. The one or two hands that first, sheepishly went up, quickly turned into a line of at least 20 smiling people, each of whom needed a private consultation with the Judge. For Chrissakes, can we please get this show on the road! By the time Judge Wapner finished playing duck duck goose with schmucks doing their best to beat the system, it was 5:15, and with that they sent us home. That’s 8 and one half hours of my life I will never, ever see again. I returned today, not at 8:30, not even 9:30, but at 11:45–maybe the judge had a hangover. Again we all did the uncomfortable hallway dance until 1, whereupon after settling into the comfortable vinyl of the courtroom, we were informed there wasn’t going to be a trial (I knew that bastard was guilty). And guess what, it was time for lunch! Another hour devoured by senseless bureaucracy. Now, once again, I am back amid the vinyl and failure that has come to represent my judicial incarceration. And, the judge, or clerk, or goblin or whoever will amble out of that back room is already 15 minutes late. I think I know why everyone who works here is so nice and preoccupied with lunch breaks … they’re all stoned. These people need to switch to uppers. One thing about meth-heads, they are punctual. The wannabe standup comedian/clerk just came back and actually said: “We do have some things kicking around, and we might need some people.” Really? Yesterday, we were lauded as the backbone of our judicial system, and today were cleaning up leftovers. There’s a metaphor hidden in all of this, I’m sure of it.

I didn’t actual intend for this to be a screed against our inefficient jury system. I wanted to tell everyone about my lunch. It was free! That’s cool, right? Well, let’s review. For those of you unaware, the court house(s) are very close to Chinatown. In fact, The marble and granite of our City’s political center is only a couple of block s from the neon and red shopping bags of Canal Street. So, for lunch, I went into a very authentic looking little Dim Sum place, to have some spring rolls, and some shrimp dumplings. I was reading a magazine while eating, and so not really paying attention. As I was reading along, contentedly pondering weather or not to eat that last dumpling, something skittered across my peripheral vision. Yep, NYC’s little friend, who along with rats and pigeons have come to define this magnificent little town of ours. I know roaches exist; I am not naïve. I would just prefer not to share my place settings with them. The worst thing was that after being forced to pantomime “roach,” –English, along hygiene, I would quickly learn, not being this establishment’s strongest suit,–I was forced to produce the roach so the owner could believe my story. Luckily, or perhaps not at all luckily, all I had to do was move one the dishes of mystery sauce to send the little dude scurrying. So, I got a free lunch. And, perhaps, e Coli.

Back to the glacial pace of my day in court: It’s 3:15, now a full hour after our return and, still, nothing. 12 Angry Men was a lie. Perry Mason, Matlock, and Jack McCoy were all douchebags. Maybe OJ was innocent.

It’s 3:30, and they just sent us home. Our government at work!



Monday, March 30, 2009

Guest Blogger; Part Two

Matt's back, boys and girls ... and, unlike me who spent the afternoon running errands in the windy weather and topping it all off with my first attempt at making rice pudding (weird craving, don't ask) ... Matt has been out there making a difference, serving society.

Yes, my friends, our friend Matt has been serving Jury Duty!
Check it out:

Big news! For at least the next two days, and perhaps until next Monday, I’m gainfully employed as a professional justice meter-outer–that’s right, I’ve got Jury Duty! At least I’m getting the $40 a day (I wonder if they tax that?) which I should receive in the next 4-6 years. Let me tell you, boys and girls, it was trip–a true cross section of humanity. Because I live on the LES, this crowd was exclusively from Manhattan Island and some little sliver of the Bronx, and STILL, the insanity runneth over. I could only imagine doing it in Kings County, because I’m sure the selection would be so much more than just Williamsburg hipsters and Park Slope carriage-pushers–it would be an open casting call for all of the borough’s best stereotypes. And I bet the cases would be more interesting, as well. Instead of the plain-jane armed robbery I may end up sitting on, let’s imagine the perfect Brooklyn case: Paulie smacks his neighbor Patsy with an aged salami because Patsy wouldn’t move his Deville out of Paulie’s spot. I’d want to be there just for the pinky rings, but, I digress, and, besides, stereotypes are mean and make the baby Jesus cry. Unfortunately, this sort of puts the job search on a mini-hold; I can’t very well respond to an interview request with: “in 3-7 days, I may be able to come in.” Or, can I? I guess people would understand, eh screw it what’s the worst that could happen? Alright, that decides it, I’m back on my horse, and I’ll continue to scour the interweb; thanks for all of your help with that.

Which brings me to my second point and first gripe. I ran across a posting somewhere, I don’t remember exactly where, but it was one of the usual suspects. I clicked on a link to see more about the position, and it redirected me to a recruitment site called oDesk. The first problem, well, perhaps not problem, but annoyance, I encountered, was it forced me to fill out one of those ridiculously long profiles, that is basically just a longer format of my resume. I hate this. I have worked to whittle my resume down to a pithy selection of pertinent facts. The cover letter and interview (hopefully) are where I can dazzle them with my intellect and staggering knowledge of Friends trivia. But, still, I soldiered on. Then comes the kicker. Before I am “allowed” to apply for one of their mystical jobs, I have to take some sort of online test AND I have to score at least a 90. I’m not concerned about having the skills to get through it, but, and here’s the thing, I’m a writer, and an advertising copywriter at that. What sort of a generic skills test can you possibly give that would even begin to quantify what’s in my portfolio, or reflects my breadth of experience. That question was rhetorical, by the way. Needless to say, I haven’t taken the test yet, but haven’t seen any postings that make my bow tie spin around like Stan Laurel (was that an arcane enough reference?). Anyway, because I am a hack and whore, I will undoubtedly end up caving and taking the damn test, but, for a few days at least, I will remain a man of dignity and standards… a man making $40 a day with the rest of the citizenry too dumb or lazy to weasel out of jury duty.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FUNemployment

I mentioned in a previous post that I was attempting to make good use of my days. That I would be doing some crafty projects and that I would be trying to take some classes.

I'm looking at the FIT class schedule for the summer and the class I really want to take is not being offered. There are a couple that look interesting, informative and might be useful in the long run, but not that give me the skills that I am looking for right now. If I had a job, and an income, I might think about taking one of these classes. They're not crazy expensive, but, every penny counts these days and I think I will wait for the fall semester to take another class - one that will help me build a portfolio and move on. In the meantime, perhaps I can find a copy of AI and try to hone my skills over the summer so that I'm the star if the class in the fall ...

Anyway - I've put up a few posts called "Walkabout", which are just photos I've taken while walking around. I'll keep doing those from time to time. And I will also keep posting these, "FUNemployment" (thanks to my friend Eric for the title), which will be pix of projects I've worked on and probably some rambling about them.

Below are a couple of photos of a jacket that I made. The pattern is a Built By Wendy for Simplicity pattern (there are loads and you can find them online here, at either of the Built By Wendy store in NY and probably where other patterns are sold). The fabric is a really dark denim with a sheer(ish) cotton lining. I'm psyched to have it finished in time for the spring weather.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Walkabout



window of Fred Flare
Meserole Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
27 March 2009, about 2:30AM

Friday, March 27, 2009

Unemployment Benefits?

Today is a gorgeous NYC day. The sun is shining. The neighbor's music is blaring. And I am inside. My head hurts.

One of the benefits of unemployment is staying out much to late on what would formerly be known as a school night. Drinking too much alcohol. Talking to girlfriends too late into the night and too early into the morning. But, not so much with being productive the next day ...

What I should be doing on this beautiful day ... is walking about in the sunshine, reading a book in the park, taking snapshots of my ever changing neighborhood ...

Next time, I guess.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seriously?

I've seen three posts on Craigslist in the past two days with similar titles - basically, the poster is willing to pay someone hundreds of dollars for helping them land a job. Times are tough, that's no lie, but it's such a bummer that people have to pay total strangers, not professional recruiters, just everyday shmoes, to help them find a job ...

Here are a couple of excerpts:

I'll pay $500 to whoever helps me land a job in the areas of Graphic design or Illustration.

I've been out of work since last year, and as a recent college graduate, its frustrating to no end when I know that I'm highly skilled, talented and have a great deal to contribute to anyone that hires me. So whats the problem? It's not really about skill, but the fact that my resume is buried under tons of others who are in line for the same job. Couple that with a bad economy and I don't even need to stress the rest.


If you can arrange an interview and I land the job, I'll take $500 out of my first check and pay you immediately, I'll even sign a contract. If this works, this would solve the first and most obvious bind of being unemployed, so if you help me get out of this it's more than likely I'll feel good enough to throw in something a little extra....


This person put their phone number and resume right out there:

Hello, I am looking for a telecommute graphic design position and will pay $200 to anyone who can help me find a good opportunity (long-term freelance or part-time). I have five years of graphic design experience with clients such as Fisher Price, the University at Buffalo, and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

My contact details: 716-868-9175

Resume: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13593350/Sthompson-Resume

Recent Graphic/Web Design Work:

University at Buffalo School of Nursing Website Re-Design:
http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/4900/ubnursingcompv3.jpg

Uniland Development Company Website Re-Design
http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/1461/uniland.jpg

Western Division Federal Credit Union Website Re-Design
http://img141.imageshack.us/img141/7650/westdivcompst.jpg

From Japan E-Commerce Design
http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/7433/fromjapancomp.jpg


And this person apparently has tried this before, to no avail:

*I am reposting this because I got a good response last time, and had some good leads, but in the end nothing has quite panned out. If you contacted me last time but didnt get a response, feel free to email again...for a time there I was overwhelmed by emails and yours may have fell through the cracks*

I have been looking for a job since November, and I have been stunned at how little luck I have been having. I am a recent college grad with tons of experience in the areas of television and film production, marketing, and communications...much more than the average college student.

My experience is phenomenal for a recent grad, so I know that is not the problem. It is simply an issue of having to compete with thousands of others for every position I apply to due to the down economy and flooded job market. Who knows if my resume and cover letters are even being read?


One more:

This is very serious, so serious replies only please. Discretion is no problem. Lets talk


I mean, I'm having a rough time with my job hunt, I'm not going to lie ... and I am trying to use all the social netwroking opportunities that I can ... but getting a perfect stranger in on it? I dunno, kids. Sounds kind of sketch to me ...

Domestic Goddess

Today, though the sun is shining, the temps are still low. Spring has definitely not sprung! So, I will lay low and get some domestic duties done. Sure, I have no job - I have all the time in the world to do these things, so why bother to blog about it?

Well, my lovelies, just because one has all the time in the world to be a domestic goddess does not mean that one always makes the best use of one's time. These days of unemployment can so easily be filled on the laptop, on the couch ... cruising first Craigslist (getting the day started right by looking for that elusive job), then Facebook (catching up with friends and leaving both sweet and snarky comments) and all the various blogs that you link to/love/never had time to read previously ...

So, though I have gotten a bit of a late start to today (though writing in my blog already is not such a bad way to start the day) - I have written myself a large to-do list of domestic duties - besides the usual sweep the floor, wipe down the bathroom - I am also going to cook up some fun cabbage based recipes from 101 Cookbooks and get crafty, hopefully finishing the spring jacket that I have been working on and making a baby gift (ok, getting started on making a baby gift) for my friend's newborn girlie ...

And for those less than crafty kids out there wondering what to do with their time, you can always learn.

Don't have the money for a craft class? Perhaps a free computer workshop would be better for you ... I'm thinking of signing up for a couple of these when the time is right.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Cheap

On tomorrow's Leonard Lopate show on WNYC, Ruth Reichle, editor of Gourmet magazine, will be talking about eating well during the recession. This is great not only for the unemployed amongst us, but for those who's hours have been cut, bonuses have been chopped or pay has been reduced.

You can go here to post a comment about how you eat well on the cheap. I'll be tuning in tomorrow to hear what she has to say ... we can all use a few hints in these trying times.

And, with that, I'm off to the grocery, with my careful list in hand and my menu for the week planned ...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest Blogger

Here is a guest blog from my fellow unemployed friend Matt. I've invited him to share his story about his quest for employment in these tough times.

I'm not sure how often he'll feel like posting, but his story, while not like mine, is not so unlike mine, either. And, to that end, not so different than any of yours.

Here's his intro, a little bit about where he's coming from and, of course, a bit about how his job hunt is looking right now.

This is my first attempt at blogging. To be perfectly honest, I don’t read blogs–in fact I find the whole idea, for the most part, to be a little self-indulgent, notwithstanding the news/political blogs whose professionalism and journalistic integrity can rival the evening news. I’m talking about the blogs that are nothing more than online diaries, or I was talking about them until I somehow decided it might be a good idea if I joined the party (two years after it’s jumped the shark).

Who knows, maybe this healthy dose of skepticism will be an asset. Or perhaps it will just be annoying. Personally, I can see it going either way.

A little about me: Before I joined the shabby ranks of the unemployed, I worked in satellite radio. Glamorous right? Unfortunately no. First the pay: Originally, pre-Howard, when no one had heard of satellite radio in general or Sirius specifically, they paid everyone very well just to get bodies in the seats. Two or three years later they cut everyone’s pay back to the level it probably should have been in the first place… I was disappointed, but pleased I’d managed to milk it as long as I had. This meant that I needed to merely work more hours to make the same amount. But, everyone was freelance, so 50-55 hours was acceptable, and hey, it wasn’t like I was digging ditches. Then, as a new CEO tried desperately to increase the stock price, he mandated that everyone be brought on as a full-time employee, hours maxed at 40. Do the math, I lost 15 hours a week of pay AND they took out taxes, which my magical accountant had some reduced to about 10% AND they charged me for benefits that I was getting cheaper through Freelancer’s Union. All in all, I got hosed. On top of it all, despite working 40+ hours a week for 4 years, I hadn’t been “full-time” long enough to receive unemployment.

Second the Hours: I had to get up every day at 4AM to work on a morning show. While the show itself was fun, the hours ruined my life. All of my friends were going to bed at 4AM. When I left work at 2 or 3PM, they were all in work. So what did I do? I developed a healthy case of alcoholism. I wasn’t so much drinking to dull the pain. I was drinking to dull the boredom. I’d stop in at the bar on the way home from work, drink until I saw double, then continue the party with myself at home. Sound sad? It was. Even worse, I started to oversleep the 4AM alarm. That happened a couple of times too many, and that was the end of that. I was out.

So now what? How about spending a few weeks, maybe longer, in a complete state of drunk. I don’t mean tipsy; I’m talking wake up at noon and drink to win. Unfortunately, the few weeks turned into months. I started dating a girl whose life was actually in worse shape than mine. She was ten yeas my junior and here semi-illegally from Australia. She somehow managed to find jobs that were awful and bosses that completely preyed on her illegal status. Being the kind of guy I am, I, of course, tried to protect and to fix what was broken in her life. God, how I hate to be a predictable stereotype. But, all of this managed to distract me. And there was still the drinking. Even drunk, I could focus on taking care of her and her problems–instead of realizing my own. However, as distractions are prone to be, this was only temporary. She and I didn’t last, although, we did manage to pretend for a good 6 or so months. And, as time marched on, my drinking habit worsened, and as the economy nosedived so did my life.

While all of this was going on, I half-heartedly tried to re-start my career, first in broadcast. It turns out there wasn’t much available in radio, and the experience I did have, while I thought it impressive, wasn’t that special. And, I had no experience in TV, so that was out. The reason I originally began working in radio, was because I was taking classes to put together my creative portfolio as an advertising copywriter. As an account executive, I had some experience writing in different positions I had held throughout my career, and prior to being sidetracked by radio, I had always thought that copywriting was my true calling. To be honest, radio was fun, but not very taxing. In fact, if I’d been able to do it for two years well with a raging hangover, was it really going to push me to reach my full potential? Probably not. Maybe this was for the best.

In between drinks and hangovers, I worked with an art director friend to help him produce a couple of campaigns for his clients. At last, I was working as a copywriter–and it felt right. In payment, my friend agreed to art direct my portfolio of yore. Instead of just dusting off my 4 year old comps, I revisited and completely redid each each campaign. I also wrote body copy for each, which had not been a part of the original assignments. In addition to hopefully being good for my career, this was a valuable distraction from that bottle of vodka sitting in my freezer. Eventually, unfortunately later rather than sooner, I curtailed my drinking and got serious about my life. I had a full portfolio, which included both real work, as well as, spec campaign assignments from my class.

So, to review, I am now single, relatively sober, and searching for a job. The economy sucks, and along with most other industries, ad agencies are laying off people left and right. I’m trying to change horse mid-stream, which, as the saying goes, one should never do. And, because the industry I’m trying to enter depends exclusively on my talent and creativity and ability to compose text that can make people gasp or change their minds or buy something they don’t need, I am filled with a constant dread and self-doubt that my abilities are not enough and that I will fail. I have friends who are filled with certainty that they are fantastic at whatever creative endeavor they undertake. Whether or not this is true, they seem to believe it, and perhaps that’s half the battle–fake it till you make it. Or, maybe their absolute belief manages to blind their potential critics into believing, as well.

Regardless, through a daily scouring of Craigslist, Jobster, Monster, et al, I’ve managed to find and apply to 7 or 8 jobs whose requirements I meet. Also, merely as a favor and to add to my portfolio, I’ve started to help another friend pro-bono whenever his firm has a project that requires any copy. Sadly, everyday there are numerous jobs advertised looking for Senior this or Director of that, which I am obviously unqualified for. Equally depressing are the numerous unpaid internships I see, which, I’d like to believe I am vastly overqualified for. Then there’s me, stuck in the middle. I haven’t gotten quite desperate enough yet to apply for an internship–The Chandler Bing method off breaking into copywriting. As much as I love Ol’ Chandler, I’m not sure, if at 34, my ego or my soul could really take dropping back down that many rungs. As it is, I’ve started to widen my net and apply for jobs that aren’t even in advertising, just general writing jobs, a marketing company, even a sheet metal supply catalog. I guess whatever it takes to get me back into the market. So, for the time being and hopefully not much more, I’ll sit at my friend’s coffee shop, like I am right now, and continue to search for that elusive job. And, I guess the way blogging works is I continue to write about what’s going on in my world. Actually, I’m giving this to my friend, who has started her blog about being unemployed and her experiences. I’m not even sure if this is how a blog is supposed to read, if it should be this long, or filled with this much background. I’m entering new territory, be gentle.


Here's an update M sent me this afternoon:

I just re-read the post I submitted yesterday, and am a little shocked by my frankness. Apparently anonymity has its rewards. (Note to self, do not let Mom read this blog). Anyway, enough with the morbid, today I’m all about the positive. Last night I, and a friend who is a web designer, updated my web site. He had originally helped me create it, and it was actually very professional and may have helped me land some jobs back in the day, but now it was 8 years out of date and pre-dated my recent foray into copywriting. I was beginning to worry that it could have been slowing down or even hurting my current job search–if people checked it, they’d get an entirely wrong impression of who I was and what I was looking for. So last night, until about 4 this morning, we took down the old site and created a new one that focused on just my creative portfolio. It came out great, and is actually more than I had hoped for. I’d give out the address here, but there’s that whole anonymity thing I got going. Anyway, hopefully it’ll bring this arduous and unfulfilling job search process to a quick and well-paying end. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Walkabout



Ladies room wall
Mason Dixon Bar
Lower East Side, NYC

Fun With Craigslist

You may have noticed that I don't spend a lot of time writing about all the resumes I'm sending out. And there is good reason, kids. I am not sending out a lot of them.

Why? you ask. Am I loving a life of leisure lived on the stipend of unemployment? Oh hell no. I like working. I miss working. I am a happier person (made evident by the crazy sadness that overcame me a couple of days ago for no reason at all) when I am doing a lot of things and have seemingly little time in my schedule.

There is just not a lot out there right now. Those unemployed amongst you know that.

In that vein, here are some fun snippets from Craigslist that I've collected over the past day or two.

I am looking for a personal assistant. I am only looking for a female. I need her to organize schedhules, and documents, call back clients, and answer phone calls. I am willing to pay anywhere from $1600-$2000 a month in salary, plus there will be comissions as well. Hour needed are from 2-10pm. I need someone devoted, so please only respond if your serious in working. 20-30 yrs old is a plus.

Um ... it's entirely illegal to require someone to be a certain age for a job. It's not specified if the poster is a female (who is freaked out by men) or a creepy guy - but my first reaction to it was that this was a lecherous guy who just wanted to get a hot, young woman into his home office on a daily basis. Ew.

To be considered for the position- please fax a HANDWRITTEN cover letter with resume

I'm not going to say what company posted this, and I am actually considering applying for it, as several of the requirements are right up my alley. Over dinner the other evening, I was chatting with a woman I know from the beauty industry who had applied for a different position with the same company. I just figured they wanted a hand written cover letter faxed to cut down on lazy or under-qualified people applying to the job. But, apparently the woman who does the hiring is very into handwriting analysis and if you make it into the interview process, there is a 12 page analysis of your writing ...

Looking to fill position ASAP. Again, you must live within 20-minutes of SoHo; no exceptions.

This person will be missing out on some qualified people. Of course, they probably want someone who lives nearby who can be at their beck and call at all hours. Next!

You must be able to anticipate needs of a fairly off the wall ADD entrepreneur If you need a lot of supervision and cannot think independently you will not be happy here.

In my experience, even people who actually do need a lot of supervision do not think that they need a lot of supervision. Props to the person to admitting their quirks in the actual posting, though.

$10-$14 an hour, depending on qualifications.
MUST SPEAK SPANISH. MUST BE BILINGUAL

This one is not that crazy, I'll admit. It's just an example of many low-paid jobs I've seen posted that have several requirements and require at least two languages (I see Mandarin and Russian a lot). Not so crazy in New York, I know, but at least offer a little cash!

This is a diverse job in which we hope you can grow into Managing and quoting custom Jobs. If you are not bright, articulate, energetic and good with numbers please don’t waste anyone’s time.

Um ... who doesn't think that they themselves are bright and articulate? I don't think anyone out there would be like, "Hey, I'm a dumb-ass, I better not apply."

Salary is $10 per hour and there are no benefits. Please send resume.

Woo-hoo! That sounds great. No benefits. Full-time. And not enough of a wage to pay for one's own benefits.

I know it's tough out there. And I know employers are hurting, too. But one of the first rules of running a successful business is to treat your employees well - it builds loyalty and breeds a harder working employee. Which can only help your business in the long run, no?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Free Work?

For those of you on the hunt for a new job or a career change (as I am trying to make), here is an interview with Leslie Stahl (of 60 Minutes) on yesterday's Brian Lehrer show on WNYC about becoming an intern later in life.

The comments are interesting, as well.

The question comes, when you are at a certain juncture in your life, can you do "free" work? I don't disagree with those college-aged interns who are posting that they feel they get little out of their internships besides getting "the right colored post-its and coffee". But I have to say that they are too young to full realize how a few well placed contacts in the industry of their choice can give them a leg up when it comes time to enter the job market for real. Maybe they don't love getting the boss their 10am Starbuck's fix every day, but they don't realize if they do it with a smile, on time and without complaint every day, as well as remembering to offer to help out when it's not necessarily "their job", that their boss/supervisor/whomever will remember them, will want to be their mentor and will probably not only be able, but very happy, to assist them in their future endeavors.

I'm not in the place where I am looking for an internship quite yet, though I do look at the FIT job board from time to time (the perks of being enrolled, even part time as a student) and if I saw one in the right field, I am not above applying for it.

If you are on the dole, with that employment check coming in, small as it may be, and all your actual job prospects seem very poor, why not spend a handful of hours a week in a work environment? Sure, maybe you could learn a thing or two but, and so much more importantly, you can network with the right people.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting Down To Business

Yesterday, I posted a link to a website about how to use your time wisely when unemployed. And, in previous posts, you may get the feeling that I haven't really been doing so. And you might be right with that assumption. I sleep too late. I stay up too late ... And that, in itself, can sometimes throw off any hope for regular productivity.

So, today, I woke earlier than normal - did yoga, drank some coffee and got my butt out into the sunshine day. It's a beautiful day in Greenpoint Brooklyn. I met my friend N, a photographer, for a late breakfast/early lunch at Roebling Tea Room and then got down to business.

I've always been a crafty girl. I have a degree in studio art. I have a huge collection of gorgeous fabrics that I never know what to do with. When I was a kid, I was quite crafty. I decided to make a present for my friend's newborn with some pretty awesome vintage fabric I've been hoarding since the 90s. Today was the great quest for poly-fill in the neighborhood. You'd think it'd be an easy find ... not so much. Shout out to the ladies at Space Craft on Bedford/South 4th, who didn't have what I needed but were not only super nice (and their store is super cute) but they told me where I might find some and some alternatives to store bought poly-fill that were so simple, but I never would have thought of - so then I walked and walked to a cool little fabric store jam packed with stuff on Grand between Lorimer and Leonard (will definitely hit that up before my next trip to Mood!!).

And there it is. Does it have anything to do with the job I'm currently looking for? No. Not so much. I'm really just looking for an admin position in fashion/beauty/retail, as I've done for so long already. But. It does have something to do with the job I'm hoping to get once I'm done with the classes I want to take (and am currently taking) at FIT. And it's something to talk about in an interview when one eventually comes my way. What have I been up to in these months of unemployment? Sitting on my ass? Oh no, not me! I've been using this time to catch up on some crafting that I didn't really have time for before. I've been taking classes at FIT. I've been making little stuffed animals for my friend's infant daughter. Sure, of course I've sent out resumes, but I've been using my time - hopefully - wisely.

It's so easy to feel bummed out, down and depressed when you're unemployed. Especially when you've been so for a while. And it's true that you cannot spend 8 hours a day looking for a job. You'll only make yourself crazy. And, really? You want to tell the HR person at your next interview that you've been spending the day cooped up on the internet? That doesn't make you seem like a very interesting person. Who wants to hire someone dull?

So you have the time! I have the time! Let's use it!!!

Craft. Exercise. Paint. Sew. Walk around the neighborhood and take pictures of the things you see. Just get out there and try not to feel sorry for yourself. There're a lot of unemployed peeps out there right now. It's nothing personal.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Walkabout



An image from one of my afternoon walks.
West Street and Milton in Greenpoint

Helpful Hints

I have one friend, who will remain unnamed, who, whenever we speak since my lay-off asks me about the resumes I've sent out and how the job hunt is going. I've weaned him off it a bit, as there was a while that he was basically saying I should apply for any possible job, whether I was over-qualified or it would pay way less than what I was making before.

Here's the thing. I can't do that. I can't, at this juncture, take just any job that comes my way. I can't apply for a job that pays $11/hour. I can't remember the time that I made that little money but I'm reasonably sure that it was before the millennium. So, every morning, I sit down with the job websites. And I look. And I look. And I look. And every now and then there is somewhere to send my resume. So I work up and appropriate cover letter. I attach my resume (unless it says to past it in the body and then I do that). And I wait.

I've also been reading some blogs/websites/etc ... with helpful hints for the unemployed. Some of them are about how to stay frugal. Some of them are about networking. Some of them are about making use of the free time that you have on your hands. Today I stumbled upon The Brazen Careerist, which seems to be a pretty cool site with some useful hints and advice.

Some of these things are, of course, pretty practical and you probably should have thought of them yourself. But, sometimes in those dark days on unemployment and rejection, it's hard to bring your mind back to reality/practicality and what should be common knowledge. So, a little advice, from someone who's been there before, is never a bad thing.