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Unemployed is the new… employed.

Ready to dive back into the working world...

Ready to dive back into the working world...

When I started this blog a short month and a half ago, uncertainty filled its “pages”.  All I knew was I needed an outlet for my thoughts, a platform in which to voice my concerns and ultimately, a place where I wouldn’t feel so alone.  Gobbled up and spit out by this big, bad world, I was searching for a place to call home.  Luckily, some of you stuck around for the journey.  It was your words, your encouragement and finally your strange urge to wander over to my blog that brightened my days.

As I write this, the last chapter in ‘Unemployed is the New Pink [Slip]’, it’s only fitting that I part with some lessons learned, observations, of the unemployed life.  And so it begins…

I’ve learned the simple pleasures in life provide the most joy.  An afternoon nap, an old favorite episode of 90210, a good [much needed] laugh from a surprising source, snow days and primetime marathons — all these “little things” brightened up my days more than any promotion or paycheck ever could.

Being unemployed is the perfect opportunity to “look up at the world”. While zipping around the city from one interview to another, I learned more and appreciated more about New York City than in the previous 8 months of “living” here.  

Interviewing is a lot like dating.  From googling your employer before the first date and evaluating your list of qualifications,  to putting together that quintessential first outfit, doing your best “first impression” and running through the gamut of first date questions, dating itself should qualify as job experience.   

Finally,  I’ve realized that my place in the world is much more than my job.  It’s my role as a roommate, daughter, sister and friend.  While my job gives me somewhere to be, a passion to fulfill, provides structure and variety to my days, it does not define who I am.  It is just one piece of a larger puzzle.  When you’re counting pennies, you have no time to worry about the latest hot spot, the newest fashion trend or weekend getaways. Aside from a smattering of employers, the only person you have to impress is yourself.  As a matter of fact, I think we could all learn a bit from living the unemployed life…

The return of primetime…

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed one direct parallel between unemployment and college – primetime television.  Shows like ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘American Idol’ have once again become main events, me and my roommate gathering around the TV with our popcorn and opinions at the ready.  Instead of trying to remember the latest happy hour special (‘was that Margarita Monday or Winey Wednesday?’) or lazily putting together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before calling it a night, I actually plan my evenings around the 8-11 timeslot. 

When all is said and done, I’ve basically reverted back to my 18 year old self, holed up in SF State’s Mary Park Hall. Instead of planning my night around term papers, I plan it around interview prep.  Instead of determining whose room we’re all cramming into, I wonder which roommates will be home to commiserate with.  We gossip about the celebs that have gotten kicked off our favorite shows, about the most shocking season finales ever and look forward to the fresh crop of sitcoms/dramas we’ll soon deliberate on.

While some may laugh at our retro antics, ultimately staying home is a perfect excuse to save money (and couldn’t we all use more of that now-a-days?).  Besides, without copious amounts of time to spend watching TV, I would never have discovered the wonder that is ‘Being Erica’ or caught up with the gang at ‘How I Met Your Mother’. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have DVR’d episodes of ‘The Office’ to catch up on…

Question: What primetime shows have you either discovered or rediscovered in an attempt to save money by staying in?

I want my mommy…

As babies we innately know when we want something all we have to do is cry.  As we grow up, that crying becomes a way to signal a boo-boo that needs attention, to escape the clutches of our older brother/sister or a warning that Band-aidyou’re not faking that fever after all (even if it coincides nicely with your spelling test).  Eventually, sobbing comes courtesy of heartbreak or if you’re like me, the realization that you’re about to enter… GASP, the real world.

Now that I’m unemployed, I’m not afraid to say it… I want my mommy. While I’ve learned with age to cope with a fever (lots of daytime television and chicken soup), coping with the loss of a job is a different story. Left alone in an empty apartment during the day, the silence is haunting, thoughts of simpler times swimming through my head.  Each day I think about budgeting, about my strategy for rebounding from this setback but most of all, I think about my family.  While I’ve built a nice support system out here, nothing can replace a mother’s embrace.  Three thousand miles away, phone calls can only do so much to bridge the divide.

So, I pose this question to you… what methods have helped comfort you during the rough patches?  What is the adult equivalent for chicken soup and a band-aid?

My Own Personal Snow Globe

Today I discovered one of the first plus sides of unemployment – calling your own snow day.   Snuggled up at home with a cup of hot chocolate and my blog at my side, I can enjoy the blizzard that goes on outside my window while the rest of the [diminishing] working world braces for the cold.  No sludgey mess to waddle in, no game time decision on what shoes to wear and best of all, no wondering if this California girl has the right under-armor to withstand the gusty winds that could very well toppler her over (for all you meterologists out there, pun intended).  Instead, I can snuggle up for my daily job search. And when the hot chocolate runs out, I can join the rest of the snow day kids out in the powder for snow angels and a chance at building my first epic snowman.  I guess you could call the world my own personal snow globe…

Keep Your Head Up…

Sky, San Francisco
Sky, San Francisco

The other day I got to thinking about career direction… about the people and events that led me to New York City.

A life long dream, my infatuation with this city began the minute my parents introduced me to the wonders of cable television. Not your average six year old, my day was not complete without the 10 o’clock news. Media was my thing and I spent many hours admiring my craft.  In high school, when given the choice between a trip to Europe and New York City… there was never any doubt Manhattan was the place for me.

So, living here is a fairytale come true, right?  Yes and no… thus we have come to one of the internal monologues I’ve been carrying on ever since I was laid off.  In the search for employment, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I have to offer employers.  Beyond the usual qualifications that come with experience in my field, the word passion has made an appearance quite a bit in my cover letters.  While I love my career, I wonder if I’m truly intune with the passion I claim is there. 

The seven months I’ve spent here have been incredible but they’ve also got me wondering about what happened to that wide eyed six year old, the one who approached the world knowing the possibilities were endless, who had a passion for writing and a dream much larger than her tiny frame.  When did she stop looking up to the world around her and start going through the mundane motions of everyday life?

I have a confession to make… this blog is my attempt to get back in touch with that wide eyed six year old.  Selfish? Yes but it’s my belief that there’s something to be gained by listening to the admissions of others… after all, isn’t life about shared experiences, lessons learned along the way?

What my attempt to get down with the sixty pound version of myself has taught me is that my downfall was the moment I stopped looking up.  In college, a sign I spotted while studying in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens was a not-so-subtle reminder.  In the hustle and bustle that is New York City, sky scrapers can’t help but cloud the view. So, I’ve gone through the Google Image files to dig up that San Francisco sign just for you… after all, isn’t it about time we all looked up?   

Welcome to Unemployed is the New Pink [Slip]

Hello world and welcome to the first edition of Unemployed is the New Pink [Slip]. My first foray into the blogosphere,  inspiration struck after I realized unemployment has afforded me plenty of time to ruminate on life, love and the pursuit of employment.   I’d like to give credit to Ms. Gina Titus for the blog name and James Gross for making me realize it was about time I hopped on the digital wave… surf’s up!

February 28, 2009 — Hello Grid

Back on the grid and hitting the pavement hard or at least as hard as these times will allow.  Heading into my third week of unemployment, I can’t help but get anxious.  I know the job search could take months but my sanity really can’t afford that.  Used to action items and measured productivity, my day is not complete unless I’ve checked an item off my to-do list.

Today is a slightly more productive day as I rest easy knowing I’ve hopped on the networking fast track, meeting with a friend of a former client for coffee at a Chelsea cafe.  A half hour early, I sit here writing away, listening to the stories of the regulars who pop in and out on their way to work.  In true Christina fasion, I quickly indicate I’m from California and when asked if I’ve been hit by the struggling economy, I shrug my shoulders and admit I’m unemployed.  A couple knowing nods later I hear about the other patrons who’ve been laid off, now finding endless amounts of time to sip coffee and perhaps chronicle their journeys just like me.

One hour later my “power breakfast” has left me full of ideas on the new media front.  Someone who used to pride herself on being up-to-speed on current events, I realize I no longer remember the password to my Twitter account.  Sigh… more items for my ‘to do’ list.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to find ways to pass the time.  I’m happy to report I’m suddenly an avid runner, averaging a couple miles a day.  I’ve also become a housekeeper of sorts to Apt. 602 where I do the dishes, take out the trash, and walk the dog.  Wonder if I can put any of that on my resumé...

Jokes aside, it’s amazing how unemployment makes you that much more introspective.  Already a very analytical person, the time off has afforded me plenty of hours to ruminate on life and love.  I think about the family I miss out West, about the life I had envisioned for myself out East and the intersection of it all.  I’ll never regret the decision to move here but doubts easily creep their way to the forefront without the safety net of a job.

Amidst the chaos of Manhattan I remain eerily calmn, my fears swallowed up by the undulations of the city.  I can no longer wrap my thoughts up into one neat little package.  Like a river, they flow right into each other until life interrupts the scene.   Reminds me of a painting – Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian.  Modeled after the New York subway system, the lines of the grid run one into another, leaving me to wonder what the final destination is…

Broadway Boogie Woogie, Piet Mondrian

Broadway Boogie Woogie, Piet Mondrian