I am writing this from my laptop in the backyard. I am sitting in what we call our screen house so I am protected from the sun. There is a delightful breeze. I have been unemployed for 9 months; second longest period so far.
In periods past, I would be just returning from the beach. Due to this condition that has been closed to me for now. I can no longer tolerate the heat nor can I walk on the beach. I used to find solace, peace and joy at the beach especially when I was out of work.
I started my unemployment career in the garment district. I went in and out. Then I ended up at a major company and wa there for almost 9 years. I loved what I did and was excellent at it. The 90’s happened as did a merger. I was treated in a textbook/case study manner. I stopped getting invited to meetings. My work was taken away from me. I was let go with severance. It was the end of May. All my associates were let go after me. I was grateful for this as it angered me and I would have been fired. They let go a woman who had been there for almost 20 years. She was paid less than what I used to expense for lunch and dinners weekly. Ah, that expense account. For nearly 10 more years, I didn’t make as much as my expense account. I’d clear out my files and cry as I shredded the expense stubs that were larger than my current pay stubs.
When I lost that job (and I hate that term, I didn’t lose it, it was taken away from me) I was depleted. I headed to the beach and spent so much time there my naturally dark hair bleached. I also decided that I was going into business for myself. I wanted a company that would never treat people like my low paid friend that way. I have a great sense of what is going to be popular fashion-wise and I had made connections literally all over the world. I reached out to my network and received enormous support. What can I say? Great idea. Wrong time. Poor capitalization. I showed merchandise to Brooks Brothers and was told it was too forward; try Paul Stuart. I had an existing relationship with Paul Stuart and was told it was too conservative; try Brooks Brothers.
I became seriously depressed and got married. Bad, bad choice. It was not convenient. I made more money on unemployment than he did working.
I fought my way out and up and ended up part time at a financial services firm. I was over a thousand hours and forced to take nine weeks unpaid leave. It was summer. I hit the beach and the want ads. Again, I bleached out. I had an interview with a company that wanted someone who could do what had been done for my fashion employer. Uh, that was me. I came up with a portfolio of designs to show them, arguing the whole time with the late Joebe who wanted to impose his personal taste on the process. I arrived at the interview deeply tanned from my beach time. The interviewer took one look at me and said “Obviously, you are not seriously interested in working.” He wouldn’t even look at the hours of work I had put in.
Fast forward, that company made me permanent but I left after almost 7 years for the monolithic Bank. Finally, after 10 years was making a little bit more than those old expense account checks. After 4 years, I was let go. Back to the beach and back to bleaching out again. And I married, again! But this time I knew I would be working in the fall. It was a dream job at a major retailer making more than I had. I also started moonlighting at the Bank. What could go wrong? Chapter 11 at the end of May. For the 2nd time in two years, I was off for the summer. Yup, beach and bleach.
Except for the first time at the end, I was optimistic. I had ideas and possibilities.
This time, I was let go in the fall after a total of 15 years. I didn’t have the same hurt I had had with fashion. My associations were different. I was optimistic and calm. I didn’t want to do my own business as I had done previously but actively look for work.
What’s different? The Internet and my scads of experience. Even if I was able, no beach and bleach for me. I spend hours daily sometimes including the weekends looking for a job. Today is one of the only days I am taking a “break” and writing. What’s also different this time is that I am getting really good interviews. What’s the problem? Well, I am mature. Experience costs money. “We want you do but with someone out of college.” Good luck to ya on that. Didn’t you hear “You get what you pay for.” And then, the elephant in the room. My mobility. There is nothing wrong with my brain. I participate in research studies and I can remember the answers I missed the previous year!
It’s summer. I HATE this condition. It is taking so much away from me: no beach and bleach, no walking, no gardening, no JOB!! I need to channel that sense of optimism and possibility again. I need to recharge without the beach.