Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"She Hardly Updates This Anymore"

That's what I'm imagining my audient is saying.

I'm okay, just shifting gears. The initial shock/liberation is wearing off, I'm getting things done, ducks in a row, irons in the fire, gorillas in the mist. I'm getting a few minor medical and dental problems treated while I still have the insurance, and settling in for what's going to be a pattern for the next six months or so.

I figure it'll take me at least that long to land something else, either freelance or staff. But unlike past layoffs, I don't feel like the thing I have to do before I start breathing again is to find something else. For one thing, the bodies are still falling. For another, I feel like the main thrust of my life isn't to land another job right away, but to integrate the experiences of the past five-six-seven years.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


ShamWow guy Vince Shlomi charged with violent assault on a prostitute: report

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Fed officials hint recession in final stages"

I love that headline. It makes the Fed officials sound coy.

I hope we're on the upswing. It'll be the first time I got laid off at the bottom of a recession instead of the top.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women Who Make Me Laugh Out Loud in the Middle of the Night

Here's the short list of what I've been reading lately:

The Nanny Diaries, by two ex-nannies, cathartic for anyone who's ever suffered through a Hell job;

Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner, who authored In Her Shoes and whose wit on family, sex and suburbia is impeccable;

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. Somebody contributed a bunch of them to the office paperback exchange. I got hooked on them over my vacation, reading four of them by the pool and the light of my Itty Bitty Book Light. Then I found a bunch more at Housing Works Thrift Shop, then a friend of mine gave me five more. By the time I've finished reading them, Janet Evanovich will have written another five.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Clothes Make the Job

I almost bought a pair of shoes today that would have cost an entire unemployment check. In the job I've just left, this wouldn't have been unusual; women half my age were running around in heels that cost twice that much, and $3500 suits. What was unusual was that these shoes were a European comfort brand and the style would have been both too casual and too avant-garde for that office.

It wasn't the price of the shoes that deterred me, or the style, but the fact that somehow I'm between two sizes right now and the pair in the smaller size was a little too tight in the toe box and the pair in the larger size was like a couple of canal boats. Otherwise I would have bought those too-casual, too-avant-garde $400 shoes.

I've been doing stuff like that a lot lately. My practicality, which is as nervous and stammery as Leo Bloom, tells me to buy a suit and pumps. "You have to find another job in a large multi-national corporation," it advises. "You can't wear jeans and sneakers forever!" Then I go buy a new pair of jeans and a boyfriend jacket.

They say "dress for the job you want," and my Inner Tim Gunn must know where I want to work next more than I do. And since start-ups may be doing better six months from now than any multi-national corporation in the news, perhaps I can trust him and listen.

Put on Your Winter Coat, It's the First Street Fair of Spring

There's another one in the neighborhood tomorrow, same vendors. By three weeks from now I'll be like: "Ugh, a street fair."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


In the spring of 2004, I was getting burned out at my job and ready to make a move. One of my plans was, "I'll quit and stay home and write."

Fortunately, I've been blessed with common sense, and it said, "Bruno, if you quit, you will not stay home and write. You will go window-shopping every day for things you will never buy." Besides, my husband had been recently laid off from his advertising job and our apartment was 300 square feet, and Jim was, to put it mildly, a tireless conversationalist.

Although the idea of spending money when I don't know when I'll be making any causes me to break out in automatic writing, I briefly considered the idea of renting office space, or at least cubicle space. I would have a place where I could focus on whatever I needed to do, free from the distractions of listening, talking and shopping. "It's not you, honey," I'd tell my husband, "it's me. I'm undisciplined."As if I'd really get away with that from someone who'd lived with me long enough to know I alphabetized my socks.

Unfortunately, Jim was diagnosed with advanced cancer shortly after, and the same common sense said "you'd better hold onto this job until you see what's gonna happen."

Now, deposited gently on the shores of Layoff Land, I'm again considering renting a little space. For one thing, space in New York is considerably easier to get than it was in 2004. More importantly, it may help supply me with the structure I need, now that the one imposed by a 9 to 5 job has been yanked out from under me. I'd have a reason to get up at 6:30 and put on business casual instead of typing in my sweats watching "What Not To Wear."

It's definitely on the list, the one headed "The Economy Is Falling Apart Anyway, So It's Okay to Join the Circus." It remains to be seen whether I do it as an individual or a business, use it as a launching pad to search for another staff job or go out on my own. Or perhaps I'll just stop alphabetizing my socks and make the next move, and let things sort themselves out as they will.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey, If I'd Wanted To Support A Bunch of Irresponsible People, I Would Have Had Kids

AIG says, "Maaaa, I've gotta have more money. I promised the guys."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win"

I treated myself to a spa pedicure this afternoon, even though I could hear my mother saying, "You don't have a job and you got a pedicure? Things cost money!" (I could also hear her when I was in the supermarket the other day saying "you're buying food and you don't have a job? Eating costs money!") While enjoying my unaccustomed pampering, I read the latest issue of "Oprah!" magazine. Comedienne Carol Leifer had a funny essay about how she "turned gay." (I'd wondered what she'd been doing since "Seinfeld."1)

The essay was promoting a book that's also coming out called "When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win." That's a relevant title for me right now, since I'm about Carol Leifer's age, and because, since losing my job...did I mention I lost my job?...I've gotten this advice: "Don't let people know how old you are!"

While I always take the time to touch up my roots and avoid the dreaded Mom Pants, and while I don't think it's necessary for my resume to reflect everything I've done to make money since disco, I think this mindset is way behind the times. A significant portion of the workforce is now over 40. If we're all going around claiming to be 35 for the rest of our lives, what are people going to think happened to all the 40- and 50-year-olds; that we all got made into Soylent Green?

"But Brunobaby," you might say to me, "and by the way, you should think about changing your e-mail address or employers won't take you seriously..." oh great, old and unserious, "you can just lie about your age until you get the job and then once you've fooled them, spring the real you on them! You know. . . just like marriage!"

Okay, assuming that I can lie my way past HR and past the hiring manager, do I really want to spend ten to twelve hours a day, five days a week, for possibly the next five six seven years, in a workplace where the corporate culture is geared to people under 30? First of all, somebody trying to act younger always makes a fool out of themselves, like the mother from The Partridge Family saying "groovy."2 You end up looking and feeling older than you are, not younger.

And the pressure caused by living a double life will sooner or later make you snap, and then you'll be in a bell tower shooting student nurses. Oops, '60s reference.

Getting older is a trade-off. Okay, sure, you lose your looks, your health, and the shining hope for a better future. But in return, the great thing is that you no longer have the energy to live a lie, whether it's about your sexuality, your age, your personality or your nickname (and if a prospective employer is wigged out by "brunobaby," do I really want to work for them?) And you realize that your life will have had a lot of phases and a lot of careers.

In my case, one of those phases and careers was stand-up comedy, and I saw Carol Leifer perform zillions of times in comedy clubs and she was really funny, so her book will probably be funny too and you should buy it.

1 Not that there's anything wrong with that.

2 Although I can't recall the mother from the Partridge Family actually saying "groovy," I do remember Florence Henderson singing "Come Together" on The Tonight Show. Thank God she changed some of the lyrics and didn't say the words "Holds you in his arms yeah you can feel his disease." She just repeated the verse, "One thing I can tell you is we've got to be free." It was potentially such a traumatic experience that I can still remember it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Actually Did This

This was a list of things to do when you're unemployed, from a blog called "Recessioned."
Organize your itunes. Your music is all over the place! Get it together! Don’t you hate having over 100 genres? Doesn’t it annoy you just the teensiest bit that The Beatles also comes up as Beatles and Beatle? Remember what Steve (ahem) Jobs said, itunes organization is next to godliness.
That was my big project the last time I was between jobs, during the tech-bust recession of 2001. Not only did I organize my iTunes, but I overhauled my entire music collection: Digitized my audio cassettes and any vinyl that had a decent signal-to-noise ratio, got rid of stuff that seemed like a good idea when I was 17 but didn't hold up during adulthood, ripped all my existing CD's and went over every Billboard Top 100 list and the archives of every New York area Top 40 radio station of the '60s, '70s and '80s to fill in any gaps in my playlists.

I finally finished the project about a year ago, and that's including filling in all the data on the "Get Info" tab in iTunes so I could create playlists like "New Wave Stuff I liked in May of 1979 beginning with the Letter 'A'." What can I say; I'm obsessive.

So now here I am with time on my hands again and the price of multi-zigabyte hard drives falling considerably. Maybe for my next project, I can digitize all of my video. Then I can rip that to my iPod and finally catch up on everything I've time-shifted for the past 22 years.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Two Dreams

Last last I had a dream that I was doing brain surgery. Some people I'd never seen before, presumably my co-workers at the brain surgery job, were saying, "Don't blow it, idiot!"

"Sure," I said obligingly. Then it occurred to me, "Hey, wait a minute...If I'm such an idiot, why are you trusting me to do brain surgery?"

The other dream was, Paul McCartney was playing in my high school cafeteria, but I woke up before he did "Band on the Run."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

What I Did Today With One Less Hour

For one thing, I slept one hour later, since my body thought it was the old time.

Then, laundry! Myself! Instead of giving it to the laundromat to do. I saved about six bucks.

Also, decluttered the refrigerator of stuff that, let's face it, I'm not going to finish. Now I have room for Trader Joe's shopping tomorrow. Me and the 50,000 other people in Manhattan who are saying to themselves right now, "okay, so I got laid off, but now I can go to Trader Joe's on a Monday morning when there's no lines."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Stuff I Did Today to Feel Like A Worthwhile Person

Friday, March 06, 2009

I Love You, Snakey

The government is going to provide a partial subsidy for COBRA payments for people who've been laid off recently.

In other news, the government will be fully subsidizing Bernie Madoff's health care.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I Join The Club

The 405 Club, that is; so called because the top unemployment benefit in New York is $405. Although I think that's about to go up, so we'll have to change the name to the $430 Club.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Brokers With Hands on Their Faces Blog

Right here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blustery Day

I'm giving myself a little something to do every day just to keep the productivity going. Today's agenda was to get my Separation Agreement notarized and send it off to HR. There's a notary/copy center around the corner and the post office was uncrowded. So there are advantages to being free in the middle of the day.

Tomorrow I'm going to a free class at the Apple Store in Soho. They're doing "iWork," which I actually own. I bought it last year when it looked as if we were going to use it on the job, back when there was a job and a company and a pretend economy that hadn't popped yet. I still have iWork, and it can't hurt to know how to use it.

I also called the people who administer the cafeteria card for the employee cafeteria, and told them to put the money back in my bank. I'll miss that cafeteria. They'd just had Festival of Chicken.

I still have this feeling of "I did something bad and now I've been sent to my room." I've been looking for job loss support groups and part of me welcomes this chance to see what else is out there, since I never would have quit of my own volition in this economy. But then, in another economy, I wouldn't have been downsized.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Okay, I Feel Better Now

I've given myself a good talking to and I've come to grips with the fact that I was by no means the only one who got the axe today, and it's not because I broke any rules like let people know how old I was by saying "groovy," and I'm not an incompetent or a mental defective.

I've been to a bunch of job hunting and networking sites and I'm re-working my resume. I'm also making a list of stuff I've been looking forward to doing, like volunteering, so I can feel like a worthwhile and productive person until the economy picks up a tad.

So now all I have to do is control the vomiting, and I'll be fine.

The Other Shoe Drops

Just enough time to pack up my desk and cancel my fancy health club membership.

More later, when I have time to sort it out. In a way, it's a mercy killing...things have been glum since the layoffs last October.

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