You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 6, 2011.
I intended to keep better track of my joblessness here on the ol’ Apple, but I realize now I haven’t fared so well. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day goings on, like how I stalk the mailbox to see if the unemployment checks arrived (they have, finally, thank god, though in debit card form), I’ve been focusing on the high points: going up to Carmel to visit my family and following a 30-mile dive attempt on the Sea Watch.
I didn’t even get to write about going to Las Vegas with Goldfish (formerly MissHockey but aptly renamed for her favorite slot machine), or camping with our besties in Malibu Creek State Park, my brother’s surprise visit for my birthday or Pirates’ Weekend in Catalina. It’s been a fantastic whirlwind of activity, though not without its tears of anxiety.
The last time I had this much time to, well, do nothing (and everything), was probably when I was … OK, I’ve never had this much time to just hang out and do what I wanted when I wanted EVER. I was going to say when I was 2 or 3 years old, but what 2-year-old is in charge of his or her own destiny? Not quite. Once I was old enough to go to school I was old enough to swim, once I was old enough to finish homework and take tests I was old enough to prepare for college, the rest of my life and this moment.
What about summers, you ask? Summers were not a break in our household. I swam every summer, I competed in swim meets every weekend of every summer and I went away to SAT prep camps (yes, they exist). I swam for three years in college so even during June and July we trained four hours a day.
I landed my first real job interview before college graduation in 2001, and when the Conde Nast human resources manager told me I’d be starting at The New Yorker on May 21, I replied, “Good, well that gives me a week to do laundry.”
I moved around more than most Army brats do in their entire lifetime in a single decade. But from Charlottesville to New York, from New York to Aspen, from Aspen to Carmel, from Carmel to Arlington, from Arlington to New York, from New York to Los Angeles, I have never had a six-week period of this much uncertainty and this much, dare I say it, freedom.
Last Tuesday I woke up to MaineMan’s early alarm (it goes off when he’s working overtime at around 5 o’clock). He wished me happy birthday and kissed me goodbye and said, “Be at LAX at 1 p.m. Delta terminal.”
“Is it my brother?” I asked.
Sure enough, nearly seven hours later, I found T- on the curb at Delta yelling “Happy Birthday, MONI!” It was a wonderful few days of celebrating, eating and drinking out, and playing at Disney, and on Friday morning I drove him to the airport. Later that night my friend AlyCat from first grade was flying in for the weekend. I had nothing but fun to look forward to, yet in the few hours I had to myself at home I grew more and more uncomfortable.
MaineMan sensed something was wrong in the car after we dropped my brother off.
“Hon, are you OK?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
We got home to the couch, where we put on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” to get us in the mood for our pirate adventure and when MaineMan got up to go pack, I lost it.
“Honey, I knew something was wrong,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I am feeling a little scared I spent too much money with T- and I’m going to be spending money this weekend on Catalina. And I’ve had no luck so far with any jobs I’ve applied to,” I moaned, wiping away tears.
“It’s OK to be nervous and worried, but let’s put it off until Monday. Your friend’s coming, we’re going to have a great weekend. Monday will be the day to get focused,” he said, “And how about we talk about stuff before it gets to this meltdown point?”
I laughed in between sniffles.
“You’re right,” I replied.
I’ve really been enjoying my free time of not living a perpetual countdown till three-day weekends and vacations. I’m on a sort of sabbatical right now, and while I’m in no rush to jump into anything which doesn’t scream “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE!” I think my mind is getting a little impatient.
I’ve always been a pretty solid balance of Type A and Type B — I like order and spontaneity – and instead of having the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, I have these conflicting voices in my head saying, “Get a job! What the F are you thinking?” and “Take a load off. Step away from the rat marathon and sip a Corona!”
I keep filling my unemployment paperwork out every two weeks. I list the jobs I’ve applied for and who the contacts are and what the result was. The last column pretty much reads, “didn’t hear back,” “still waiting” or “position already filled.”
I’m looking over the photocopies I’ve saved of this job log and I’m thinking, “Thank God I didn’t hear back.”
As I watched the wall-to-wall coverage of Steve Jobs’ passing last night, I was oddly moved. I know it seems bizarre to some (I read some confused and “weirded out” reactions on Twitter) how a complete stranger could touch so many on a personal level. I’m not even a huge Applehead. But what got me more than the gadgets and the tech expos were Jobs’ words and how timely they are during this challenging period in my life.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
And one more, also taken from his Stanford commencement speech.
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
I plan on printing out a few of these snippets and hanging them up around my home. Who knows, maybe anyone out there reading who may be going through the same thing will find his words motivating, as well. After last week’s meltdown I know I need a little inspiration from time to time.
Deep down I believe what I’m looking for is still out there, if not waiting to burst out of this old Mac PowerBook G4. So here’s to the voices in my head and to finding the courage to listen.