Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Genius Thought This Would Be A Good Idea

A low-flying plane over Lower Manhattan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They Need Java

And so do I.

O'Reilly--the tech manual company, not the right-wing talk show host--has this snapshot of IT job market trends. It only goes up to last November, when the economy fell apart, but these trends are expected to continue for the two or three jobs that are still left.

The second most popular skill is SQL, which is database programming, which is the computer job thing I'm considering learning next. When I've told some people this, they've said, "Oh, you don't want to do that, you're creaaaaaaative!" which you'd think would be a compliment, but it's said in a tone of voice that indicates, "Oh, you're not smart, you're Giggles the Clown."

I've also had creative people say to me, "Computers, oh, you'd be good at that. You're smart." And you'd think that would be a compliment, too, but it's said in that tone of voice that means, "Oh please stop trying to be creative, you're an unimaginative geek and you're only causing painful embarrassment to everyone but yourself."

The work I've been doing for the past nineteen years, desktop publishing, was something I got into because there was a growing need for it in companies and a growing need for me to make a living other than trying to make drunks laugh at two in the morning and then getting up four hours later to temp at law firms. My college degree was in graphic design, and I'd already been working with computers since 1983. (Those articles telling Baby Boomers to acquaint themselves with that-there newfangled technology are bogus; most 50-ish people have been using computers for most, if not all, of their working lives.)

But over the past few years, desktop publishing has gotten, excuse the expression, dumbed down. Consumers who've never taken a graphic design class in their lives have a home computer, a desktop printer and a million fonts, and often try to use all of them in the same piece. One of the reasons that I'm currently unemployed is because the department I was working in was becoming obsolete. We found ways to automate the production process so that managers and their assistants could download pre-made presentations off the company intranet. It became apparent to me, although apparently not soon enough, that in order to stay employed, the next thing I would have to learn to do would be to program the company intranet. Either that or stay home and write that novel. And I've found from past experience that when I stay home to write that novel, I don't write...I go window-shopping every day for stuff I don't buy.

So here are some possibilities for me right now:

1. Sign up at temp agencies so I'll have something to make money from, even if it's a day of word processing;

2. Sign up for an IT certificate at a reputable place of higher learning;

3. Join some kind of writers' group so that I will have to show up with some printed matter once in a while and can listen to something other than the sound of my own voice babbling prose like a lunatic.

I've got plenty of fine whines about wanna-be writing workshops, but they'll have to wait for another post. Meanwhile, I think NYU has an open house next week for their data mining intensive. Time to wind up my propeller beanie.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Favorite Carol Burnett Show Sketch

The one with Madeline Kahn as an acting coach. It was worth years of therapy to me as an acting student when it first aired in 1976.

It contains one of my all-time favorite lines from anywhere: "Poor baby, she's failed again!"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Day of Shopping and Death

Today I read Everyman by Philip Roth, a book about death. It opens with the funeral of this seventy-something guy and then takes you through his life and his experiences with death. In between, there are the usual Roth themes of love, sex, and being a good son. It's a short book and you can read it in a day, especially if you like Philip Roth.

Then I bought this handbag on sale at Amazon to have something nice to carry at interviews. So that was my day: Death and this bag.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tourist in My Own Town

This New York Magazine's guide to Brooklyn's Brighton Beach neighborhood says:

Right now on Brighton Beach Avenue, the neighborhood’s trestle-shaded thoroughfare, you’re equally likely to bump into the aging eighties arrivals who’ve never left their apartments or upgraded to the pink Oceana complex right nearby; their designer-clad kids jabbering in an amazing mix of gutter Russian, Brooklynese, and teen uptalk; Dominicans and Puerto Ricans making inroads back into the area; Manhattan hipsters out for an ironic evening of vodka and chintzy stage shows at Rasputin or the National; and half-repulsed, half-misty-eyed Russo-Americans like yours truly who have moved on geographically but are still reeled back in from time to time by the siren call of thick ice cream, a dubious DVD, and a jar of really good pickles.

Who the article doesn't mention are third-generation American Jews who pick the first really warm day of the year to tell themselves, "My great-grandparents were from Russia, so I shouldn't have any trouble finding stuff in Brighton Beach." What I forgot was, "Gee, Russia has a different alphabet than the United States!" and I felt like the signs were in Martian.

I'd brought this article with the map and the places to eat, even though I felt like a tourist. Then I figured, let's face it, I'm going to check out a neighborhood I haven't seen in about 40 years and I'm not going there to work or to visit somebody, so I'm going there as a tourist. I was glad I'd brought the map.

I found the Varenichnaya place. It has the Russian equivalent of ravioli. I remembered varnishkes from childhood, with buckwheat groats. Kasha varnishkes. Then I remembered I hated kasha. But the place also had an assortment of dumplings and blintzes and other hearty peasant fare, and every table had this little bottle of condiment made from garlic, oil and paint thinner. There was a TV over the door playing what looked like a Vegas-y variety show in Russian. So I got to be a hipster ironically enjoying a chintzy show.

I carbo-loaded and then went out to plow the fields, but since there are no fields in South Brooklyn I just headed over to this store that had appetizers in bulk and collected a whole bunch of little bags of stuff I would never have thought of buying if I weren't in a store that had appetizers in bulk: Pounds of fruits and nuts and dried beans and grains.

Then I picked up a great deal of produce. The article doesn't tell you about this, but every block has a produce store with a great assortment and price, or at least a great price compared to the Village. Then I went home to the fruits and nuts.

I'll check out other neighborhoods as a tourist, too. It's one of those things you always mean to do when you have the time, and then when you have the time, all you can think is, "I'll do that after I get another job! I can't think of anything except getting another job!" And then you don't check it out after you get the other job. So I'm violating Normal Person Protocol and actually doing it now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Biz

Okay, you should be able to see the business card design that I chose, here.

I was driving myself crazy looking to create something unique and cool: "Look, it's an extreme blow-up of a piece of the Bezier curve tool from Adobe Illustrator! How hip! She must be a real designer!"

Ultimately, I chose this one because it looks PowerPoint template-y, and at the end of the day, that's what I am...The PowerPoint Temp Lady.

End of Compression Stocking Hell

And the leg is doing well.

The next procedure will be on May 11th. They would have done it today, but they needed authorization from my insurance first.

Insurance...Fixing America's legs one vein at a time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Favorite Small Cool

Here's my favorite entries for Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2009 contest. Full disclosure: They're all long, narrow tenement apartments just under 300 square feet, like mine. So it's really Apartment Narcissism:

Megan's Changed Outlook

Grace's Efficiency of Mirrors (When you have a tiny apartment, mirrors are your friend)

Garrett's Repurposed Furnishings (Some of the apartments in my building have the three areas made into separate rooms like this...and only the front rooms have windows.)

You may say, "So if you like these so much, Bruno, how come you didn't enter your own apartment this year? Is it low self-esteem? Huh? Huh? I bet it's that, I bet it's low self-esteem."

Well, You, I'm waiting to hear if the building's owner will make certain necessary repairs. In other words, if I posted my pictures now, all of the comments would read, "Nice use of space, but fix your ceiling before it falls on your head."

Ah, teeny-tiny New York City apartments. It may not be much, but it's home.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"I Just Want My Pants Back"

I've been catching up on my reading while recovering from The Leg. This week I read a great piece of Guy Lit: David J. Rosen's I Just Want My Pants Back. It's about a twentysomething named Jason Strider who lives in a tiny apartment in the West Village, has a suckass job and goes out every night partying and trying to get laid. One review says "It's as if Bright Lights, Big City had been given a polish by a young Woody Allen." It also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite novels, The Breaks. It's like, The Breaks: The Next Generation.

Besides: Tiny apartment in the West Village, partying, suckass job, trying to get laid? Been there, done that, albiet a good twenty years before Jason Strider. And I'm a girl, so it wasn't so much trying to get laid as looking for "a lump of clay I could mold into the Perfect Boyfriend." I could relate to the eventual "taking responsibility" part, though.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Girl on the Brink

A friend just alerted me to yet another great Unemployment Blogger/One Woman Industry, "Girl on the Brink." Girl blogs under the name "Ann Powers," and she's a writer who's currently doing a stand-up act as well as blogging about her unemployment.

This is a blog and a blog-sona that can easily translate into a Not Just Unemployment Blog, once you're employed.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Now Here's a Good Question

I've been telling myself, "Only spend money on what you need." Then I saw this book through a link from Recessionwire and I said, "I need this book!"

Okay, did you need this book before you knew it existed?


So why do you need it now?

Because it validates a lot of stuff I already know about changing jobs and careers.

So now the question I'm asking myself is, "How do I make a potential client or employer who didn't even know I existed say about me, 'I need her'?"

Maybe that's in the book, too. Or maybe this compression thing is too damn tight and I'm not thinking straight. But taking the time--while you have the time--to correct a long-standing circulatory condition before you get crazy with job-hunting and career-changing sounds like a "must-do" in my book.

Publicity, and Other Mixed Blessings

One of my favorite Layoff Bloggers was featured in a Times article today. There's a new term: Layoff Blogger. It's "in" now. It's a new subculture that I didn't realize existed until I myself was laid off.

So should I start a layoff blog dedicated just to my job/career-changing exploits, so I can link to the other Layoff Blogs and be a part of a community? Should I change the name of my existing blog? Should I just go along my merry (ha!) way documenting all of my transitions the way I've been for the past four years?

How about if I become part of a network, like BlogHer? Do I have any helpful hints to share? Yeah: Don't Be Me. Or...Be Me. It depends on what kind of a day I've had.

One of my all-time favorite bloggers is taking a hiatus from blogging, because she's reached an impasse with that particular blog; maybe that particular blog-sonna. I'm going through that right now with the cube, but not the blog. What it feels like right now is that I'm not doing enough with blogging, or not doing something focused. And certainly not marketing my blogging--or any other writing--enough, maybe because then I'd have to take the responsibility to make sure it's consistently good.

Brand Me: I'm A Fine Girl.

PS: More hiatuses. Hiati. Something going around, maybe?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Another Good Reason to Keep Blogging

Ann Althouse is marrying one of her regular commenters, "Meade." He looks exactly the way I've pictured you ever picture what people look like on blogs, e-mail, Twitter, whatever?

They had a long-distance romance: She's in Madison, Wisconsin and he's from Cincinnati, but he'll be moving to Madison. My romance with Jim started as a long-distance romance: I was here in New York and he was in Philly and would come up here to visit his sister, with whom I used to make the rounds of the comedy clubs. We met on one of those rounds. Eventually, he moved up here with me.

Considering that I spend at least as much time online as I used to spend in comedy clubs, it's not too far-fetched that my social life and eventually possibly my romantic life would be forged partially online. I've already made friends and frenemies alike through e-mail lists and blogs. I've been keeping in touch with people from various eras of my life through Facebook. In the words of my third-grade teacher, it's time to "make an effort," and kick my social networking media up a notch.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

See This Leg?

See this bandage running all the way up my leg? I have to wear it for the next two weeks so that I don't have to wear it every day when I'm 82. It's part of a laser surgery procedure to treat varicose veins in a doctor's office without checking into a hospital. It involves thirteen injections and the smell of burning flesh. And then this itchy bandage.

According to post-op instructions, I'm not to:

1. Sit in one place for too long;

2. Stand in one place for too long;

3. Lie in one place for too long.

Basically, I'm supposed to walk until I drop in my tracks.

I'd better live to be 82.

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