Monday, November 29, 2010

Die Ole Habits!

1. Stop swearing
2. Be classy
3. Fall in love
4. Don't drink too much
5. Eat healthy

Over the course of my year of FUNemployment, I've made great strides in being healthier and improving my life. Or so I thought. The 5 items listed above are items that are close-ish to what would be on my present self-improvement list. Except I wrote this one when I was 17.

I was going through a drawer with lots of old pictures at my parent's house and found the list above. Today, I don't care about swearing as much and "be classy" would be phrased differently but the other three are spot on. 

At first I found the list amusing. And then alarming. I have been making lists like this for half my life. And yet the list never seems to change. I've been listing out improvements or really things that I believe are faults and defects. 4 out of 5 of these items are reminders to be better. Because my behavior or habits aren't deemed good enough. And the judge is me. Maybe, you're saying, I never seem to heed my own list. Well, maybe a leopard can't always change her spots to be something she's not.

Before I left for Thanksgiving, I was pretty sure that I had forgotten to take my trash out. Granted, I was picked up by the shuttle at 3am so it would have been understandable if I had made a mistake of leaving it behind. All vacation I was thinking about the trash and how disgusting the apartment would smell upon my return.

When I got home, there was no smell of decay at the door. No rats or roaches assaulting my kitchen. The trash was empty. There was even a new bag in the can. Of course I had taken care of it. I always do. 

So, what's my point? I don't give myself enough credit. I am who I am. There is always room for improvement but not constant improvement. And who I am is a reliable, responsible person who takes the trash out when necessary, tries to eat her vegetables, sometimes curses like a sailor and occasionally overimbibes. The love part is great to aspire to, but as we all know, it takes two to tango. It's not an item on a list that can necessarily be crossed off. I need to keep this top of mind as I'm moving forward full throttle on my job search.

So, die old habit of making lists of improvements/defects. Onward and upward job search (and if you know of any marketing or advertising opportunities in Los Angeles, let me know!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Today is a day to be thankful for what you have and to focus on the positive side of life. Even my horoscope told me to concentrate on the upside.

Admittedly, I've been feeling anything other than FUNemployed. For the past two weeks, I've been feeling really low. I've been feeling like a 36-year old chronically single, financially strapped, jobless loser with no plan. I think it started with seeing The Company Men and continued with repeated rejections from potential employers (the form rejection email is truly disheartening) and literary agents regarding my book proposal. Add an appalling date to the mix and it's a perfect recipe for mudsliding quickly to the bottom.

I sing the praises of FUNemployment and believe me, I really love having my own time to do as I please. And I think I've done pretty well keeping my spirits up over the course of my unemployment. But the financial reality is that I need a job. Unemployment isn't enough to sustain my existence and I'm running out of things to sell on eBay. I've been applying to jobs (probably more than 100) since September. The little feedback that I've received has been negative.

Last week, I actually looked up to the sky and asked God/The Universe for help (despite being agnostic for 20 years). I whispered, "I give up. I'm clearly not able to figure this out on my own. So help me. Because I need it. And since you live in the super large sky, you must be doing something right. Or more right than I am."

It's with this frame of mind that I traveled back to the east coast to see my parents and friends. It is through the support and love of a very good friend (that's you, Susan) and my mom that I am finally making a turn for the better. I have a lot of wonderful people in my life and a lot of things going for me. I just have to believe in me. Because there are a lot of other people who do, so the least I can do is join them.

So I give thanks for all that I have and all that will come. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and focus on all of the amazing things in your life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The Company Men" is an EPIC FAIL

Last night, I saw "The Company of Men" at the AFI Fest at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I was especially excited to see this movie because it's the story of three men who were laid off and the aftermath.

I was hoping for an inspirational story that showed how life doesn't have to end after layoff. I was hoping to shore up my funemployed philosophy and gain some much needed inspiration. Instead, I got the exact opposite and am still reeling from it today.

The movie begins with a happy go lucky Ben Affleck getting blindsided by his company and laid off. It was uncomfortable for me to watch since it brought back all of the feelings and anger from the day that I was laid off. Even though I knew it was coming (my bank client was seized by the FDIC resulting on our LA office closure) anxiety and rage are the only appropriate responses.

What followed upset me even more. To see the desperation, the lack of confidence, the worthlessness and the devastation of the three men who were let go ripped my heart out. None of them found any inspiration in their time off, or any positivity. I could completely identify with what they were feeling. I just choose to approach it differently and I fight these feelings every day. Granted I don't have a family to support or a mortgage to pay but I have bills and financial stress. Thank God that my family is able to help me. So maybe I'm luckier than the characters are, but maybe I've also made some of my good luck with my positive attitude.

My message has always been the same: life doesn't end for you at your layoff. This is time that you've never had before. So, what would you do with it? Yes, look for work. But spend more time with your family. Learn to cook. Get in shape. Take up photography. Develop or nurture your personality outside of your job. When you return to work, you'll be a better employee because you're a better person.

Or, you can follow the movie's story and drink excessively, have an affair with the HR whore who fired you, commit suicide or learn to hang drywall badly with Kevin Costner. Ok, so the last one isn't too bad. But you get the point.

I feel like this movie is a corporate shill--made to show the employed how lucky they are. For them to forget about how they're doing 2-3 jobs for the same or less pay than 2 years ago. Maybe to generate pity for the unemployed? We don't need pity, we need jobs. We don't need to relive the pain, misery and lack of inspiration.

EPIC FAIL. So, 2 thumbs down.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shine on you crazy diamond

Everything can change in a day. Or even less.

One day, I had a job, the next I didn’t.

On Wednesday, I was in rapture at the anticipation of trying a red velvet hot chocolate from the Coffee Bean and dreading volunteering with kids at Children’s Hospital LA. By the end of the day, I was loving my volunteer time and truly despising the sugary-soapy taste of the drink.

On Thursday, I was on top of the dating world. On Monday, I could be back to the drawing board.

So, what I decided is that today is the day that I make my future. I have a lot of creativity, ingenuity and imagination that’s been lying dormant (excluding this blog and Facebook posts).

Instead of waiting for someone to decide my future, I need to come up with my own plan. Think outside of the box.

Step 1: Sit outside. Actually, I’m at Intelligentsia in Silver Lake enjoying a latte. It’s windy and cold for Los Angeles, so the only seat I could find was outside. That’s ok, the cold will cause shivering which will cause me to shake some ideas loose.

Step 2: Write about needing ingenuity. Nothing like writing about what you’re going to do…positive reinforcement I say!

Step 3: Waiting for the magic to happen….and waiting...just going to keep on shining, like a crazy diamond.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The varying degrees of availability

Being FUNemployed, people naturally assume that I have nothing going on. That I'm free whenever. But I've found that I have less available time than when I was working. However, I'm now more open emotionally which got me thinking about the varying degrees of availability.

In its simplest form, availability means when you're free to get together, to make a plan, to meet up. When I was employed, I was not terribly social since I was worn out from work. Now, I'm dating, seeing friends, entertaining visiting friends, volunteering and exercising in addition to the standard household errands. But I'm also overscheduling myself and need to be better about having time to myself. I'm not doing anyone any service by being cranky. And I'm not doing myself any service by distracting myself from where my attention really needs to be: figuring out the next step in my working life and writing.

In terms of emotional availability, I've been very closed in past dating situations. I was afraid to open myself up for fear of rejection and not wanting to open my life to someone else.

Most recently, I've hung out with a man a few times that I've enjoyed spending time with. The upside is that we have a lot of chemistry. The downside is that I think he's closed off. He's guarded and won't answer many of my questions. I have a soft spot for this guy since he's the type to whom I've always been drawn. Two emotionally unavailable people make for one unchallenging relationship.

The difference this time is that I'm not emotionally unavailable. I've allowed myself to be vulnerable and to let him see who I really am. I've grown a lot in the past few months. And, one available person and one who's unavailable make for a very challenging relationship.

I feel sad but life is too short. And, as they say, there are plenty of fish in the sea. What I'm taking away from this situation is that I have not been my usual closed off self of which I'm very proud.

Besides, who needs to spend my precious availability on someone who doesn't deserve it? Not this lady. Not anymore.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Playing Pretend

I hate Halloween for a couple of reasons. The superficial one is that I hate being in some kind of contraption (makeup, hat, crown, uncomfortable costume) and end up always taking it off. You also never know who you're really talking to at parties. You can walk by the guy you had an in depth conversation with and not know. Because he's not in his predator costume.

Halloween is all about dressing up as or even being something that you're not. For one night, you live out a fantasy. The next day, you go back to being yourself. I don't really need to wear an additional mask...I already wear a few 365 days of the the year.

Let's see...there's the "I'm a happy single girl and I love it!" mask. Then there's, "oh yes I have it all figured out" mask. Don't forget the "I know what's next for me career-wise" mask.  Lastly, "I'm FUNemployed and couldn't be happier" mask. Well, this last one is mostly not a mask but some's not so easy. I crave a purpose and am having a hard time finding one.

Actually, that's not true. I've been going through the exercise of actually feeling my feelings and expressing them, instead of hiding them. I feel raw, vulnerable and at times deeply insecure. I'm scared that those I share my feelings with will dislike, reject or be angry with me for my honesty. So far, this is mostly unfounded. But the fear is real.

So I don't need to be scared by ghouls and goblins. But, just for the record, I was a sexy detective (trench coat, fedora and peep toe heels) and a Teen Mom (side pony tail, balloon in my shirt so I could eat A LOT.) And I went on a haunted hayride at Griffith Park which was AWESOME. I screamed like an 11-year old girl who's just been thrown in a vat of tarantulas.