Shit I Did While Unemployed

long-term-unemployedI am no stranger to being unemployed. I’ve been fired, downsized, asked to leave, quit, resigned, and every other euphemism you can think of. When I’ve been asked to leave, it was never because I stole money or had poor performance. In fact last time I sat through a five minute speech about what a great employee I am but…

It’s always because I rock the boat. I don’t like being treated unfairly, and I won’t sit still when I see it happening. To me or anyone else. In San Francisco I was fired for standing up for a coworker. She was canned for “looking unbecoming” at work. Her mother had just died. I was HAPPY to speak up on her behalf, and I couldn’t believe that nobody else had the balls to say anything. People keep their mouths shut and fall in line in order to keep their silly job. But why? There are plenty of jobs out there. Why work for assholes? For instance: My last job paid me $12.60 and hour. That’s not a living wage here in Seattle. And that was after two years and three raises. When asked to work from home on projects I was told there wouldn’t be compensation. I was mocked asking, and for refusing to work for free. By my boss. Good riddance. 

I’ve never found anything wrong with being unemployed. Even when living overseas I was able to find work rather quickly. But this time was different. It took me a little over four months to find a job. Four months of looking at Craigslist and Four months of filling out online applications and four months of first interviews. Four months of no income and the same amount of bills. Four months of wondering if I’d ever find a job. Four months of rice and noodles. It’s hard not to get bogged down in the negativity of the situation, but you can’t stop trying.

And now all of that is officially over. I found a nice job that pays way better than my last job and doesn’t ask me to work nights and weekends. But I am going to miss some parts of being unemployed. (And please, please don’t call it Fun-employment. I can’t fucking stand when people make up new words to make themselves feel superior. I mean…what an asshole! You’re out of a job. Just call it what it is. Unemployment. What you do with your time might be SUPER fun, but let’s not overstate things.) I’ll miss being able to luxuriate over my book and coffee in the morning. And I’ll miss taking walks to pet the bookstore cats. Here’s what I did on my … unemployment. Aside from looking for work everyday. There is a lot of time to fill.

  • I read about twenty four books. 
  • I learned three new songs on my ukulele. And I started a YouTube channel where folks can hear said songs. Here!  
  • I auditioned for The Voice, in L.A. You can read all about that, HERE!
  • I attended over ten interviews, and WorkSource Orientation, and over twenty phone/face-time interviews.
  • I discovered Snap Chat. It’s weird. I like it.
  • I met friends for drinks, karaoke, movies and encouragement.
  • I attended ComiCon for the first time. It was enjoyable except for all of the people.
  • I wrote three short stories, and began writing part of my um… what’s a less pretentious word for memoirs?
  • I colored in my coloring books.
  • I visited used bookstore weekly. Just for the cats.
  • I wrote letters to my pen pal in Pasadena. He wrote back.
  • I watched a shit ton of Law & Order episodes. imageI had a whole system going. One 20 sided die for which season. Then, add a 6 side – 1 to determine which episode. I was determined to prove that the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy got their start on Law & Order. I know I could have gone straight to IMDB, but that takes the joy of discovery out of it. Anyway, I didn’t make it through all of the episodes, and I was only watching Law & Order Classic. I hadn’t even delved into Law & Order SVU. Which comes with extra rape, murder and bad child actors. Oh, and Ellen Pompeo was on L&O at least twice and both times went down for murder. I’ll write up my findings later.
  • I got lost both on foot and on the bus. A lot. It’s a good way to see the city!
  • My BFF visited for a week. I hadn’t seen him in over two years and it was overdo. He’s the one friend who is allowed to kick my ass. He got me motivated. And I had fun showing him the sights and letting him buy yummy food for me!
  • I cleaned, cooked and did a lot of chores. I look forward to splitting those duties once again.
  • I went to many parks and museums. Yay art!
  • I played games and relaxed with my boyfriend. I look forward to having a job which allows that to continue.

So, that was it. I got a little despondent there at the end, but it helped to remember that I am not my last job. Or any job. Identifying with your work is just another way for Ego to exert itself. Luckily I have never had a job where that was really an issue. I mean what kind of an asshole gets a big head over being an Admin Assistant or Program Director? Or worse yet, a Bookseller who makes under minimum wage? If I made those roles part of “who I am” then I would have taken a long run off a short cliff years ago. Even if you have a job you LOVE and you are GOOD at it… that isn’t WHO YOU ARE. Above all, you are a human being. What you like or do… or don’t do… is beside the point.

Zen Habits: Life In-Between

roads-divergingNo matter what stage of life you are in, there are questions. You might be wondering, “What’s next?” or “What do I do now?” or even, “Is this it?” Maybe you just finished a big home project, or maybe, like me, you are in-between everything. I am so often in transition that it has become almost comfortable. Almost. I’ve been on the road since December 29, 2013 – that’s well over a month. I have a plan in place, but it’s a slow-moving, low-income, loose plan. It’s tough to be in-between a home and a job at the same time. Figuring out how to live in the “In-between” is difficult when you have money. It’s almost impossible when you don’t.

I’m in a unique position. I’m kind of stalled. My plan got derailed (as plans often do) and now I am left twisting in the wind. My fella and I had planned on heading to Seattle in June when we were finished at Buddhist Camp. I hadn’t planned on leaving early, but I did leave early. That means a new plan. I have feelers out in Seattle and folks willing to give us a place to flop, but jumping into the unknown with no money isn’t easy. It’s not impossible, just not easy. I have to look at this as an opportunity for us to be fighters; to look within ourselves and find that strength that we always knew was there. But after months of digging deep, who knows how much is left.

Transitions give us strength and builds real character. We discover who we are and what we want from life. We let go of our preconceptions and see clearly, maybe for the first time.

Each time I have found myself in a time of transition I try to seize the opportunities that life throws at me. I’m trying to enjoy the surprises that each day brings and accept all that life throws my way. Life is just one big experiment and there are no correct answers. There is only what you do, and what you choose not to do. All I can do is be fully present in the life I have chosen and take advantage of each stage, even the in-between ones. I have patience and I won’t let doubt get the better of me. I’m on a journey and I plan on enjoying every moment of it.

Hopefully one day in the not to distant future, my sweetheart and I will be able to look back on this In-Between time fondly and say, “Hell yeah! We nailed it!” I don’t know what’s next, but I do know I’m ready, willing, and able to kick its ass.

Zen Habits: Transitions

mountain-roadAs I write this, I have no home of my own. I have no keys to a flat or mail box, no address, and no roots. It won’t be this way forever, but for the time being this is my life. Untethered. Right now is a funny time. Most people would call it a “transition period”, or an “in-between” state. I’m trying to look at it as a sabbatical without pay. However I choose to think of it, it is a weird position to be in.

Our society rewards work and demonizes leisure. Whether it’s an out of work slob watching TV all day, or a privileged rich dude who doesn’t have to work, we think less of him. It’s kind of a bummer. Personally, I think highly of people who are smart and creative enough to figure out ways of avoiding work, or working less. Working for the man full time isn’t my idea of living life. And I certainly don’t want to wait until I “retire” to start kicking ass and traveling. So I’m doing the things I want to do an I’m doing them now.

The downside to being untethered is transitioning. I’ll be in a state of transition until mid January when I arrive at Ratna Ling. Once there we can settle in for six months. I’ve lived through many transitions and it gets easier each time. Transitions happen to everyone at some point or another. The key is to accept it and work with it, not against it. You can thrive through periods of uncertainty, no work, and lots and lots of free time. Remember: Beginnings are born out of endings.

  1. Create a routine. Don’t sleep ’til noon and watch game shows all day. This will rot your brain and rob you of ambition. Set your alarm, wake up and have morning coffee. Workout. Read. Go to the store. Cook at home. Set aside time for emails and Facebook so you are not spending all day doing nothing. Take time for yourself and be creative. You might not have this much free time again for a while.
  2. Get done what you can. Now. We won’t be in Seattle until June or July of 2014. That doesn’t mean I should wait until then to start looking for a place to live or for a job. I have already updated my CV and I already got an interview. I have our route to California mapped out (including gas cost) and we are making reservations for campsites. Waiting ti the last minute when you don’t have to is dumb.
  3. Don’t look back. Looking back is a temptation best left alone. It’s easy to look back at where you came from with nostalgia or longing. I try not to watch movies set in Prague because I don’t want to go through the pain of missing it. Instead, I keep my eyes focused on the present and what is to come. I left Prague in search of adventure and new experiences – things that I was not having there. Even the magic of living in Prague becomes common place after seven years. As much as I miss my friends – my family – in Prague, I needed to leave. As Yoda said, “Always in motion is the future.”

All You Ladies Who Truly Feel Me…

In just about every women’s magazine there is an article warning women against a certain type of man. This article is usually called something like – “Stay Away From THIS Guy!” or “10 Guys Your Mother Warned You About”. Not exactly witty or clever, but you get the point right off the bat. These lists usually contain generalized things like – Don’t date a guy who carries a teacup poodle, or – Watch out for the guy who says “bro” and plays XBox on the weekend. (Now, I happen to agree with the afore mentioned generalizations, but I am a big enough gal to KNOW they are generalizations.) But the one thing that all of these articles have in common is this little tidbit that has been passed on from our mothers: DON’T DATE A JOBLESS GUY.

In my experience an adult man who does not have a job GENERALLY falls into one of three categories. 1. The Mama’s Boy. This guy still lives at home with mom (and/or) Dad and mom still washes his clothes. He probably has a hobby that is highly artistic and thinks that going to work everyday would stifle his freedom. He is single. 2. The “looker” this guy seems to always be saying, “I have an interview with a great company tomorrow.” But he never seems to actually go to work. If he works, it isn’t for very long because he really doesn’t want to work. His girlfriend pays for everything. 3. The Slacker. The slacker feels entitled and therefore – work is for losers. Why work? Food? That’s what ramen is for. He crashes on couches and house sits.

None of these things are sexy, but, it got me thinking… Do men have the same standard? Would a man automatically discount a babe because she was unemployed?

I don’t think so. I have known more than a few men who had girlfriends that didn’t work. It didn’t seem to bother them. Maybe men are more evolved than women and can look past a woman who is lazy and…no…I am writing it and I don’t buy it.

I think it has to do with men feeling the need to “take care of” a woman. And, unfortunately there a plenty of women out there who make it their business (their JOB!) to take advantage of that fact. It’s common knowledge that most men enjoy the provider role – it feeds into the male ego (and not in a bad way) and makes them feel “more like a man”. Women who have held high paying jobs have often complained that they can’t find a boyfriend because most men want to be the one who earns the most – they want to be the provider. And, there is nothing wrong with that. But, does that make it alright for us women to not work? Is a woman who is unemployed as attractive a a working woman? I really don’t know and I’d like to. I know that an unemployed man is WAY less attractive to a woman than a guy with a job. Why?

I’ll tell you why. Because we women don’t want to be taken advantage of. We don’t want the male version of those stupid girls in our lives – sucking away at our pay checks. We want to be able to pay our own way, and we want him to be able to do the same. Personally speaking – I have never dated a guy with a lot of money. Money really doesn’t matter to me at all. I like to try to go 50/50 when it comes to dating. Ok… maybe I like to go 60/40, but still. I try to hold my own. It’s the fact that he is WORKING and doing something other than sitting around drinking beer.

So, why the double standard? Why would a man happily make excuses for a woman not working (She’s just looking for the right opportunity… She’s thinking about going back to school… She’s really looking for something creative…) and pay her way? I honestly don’t know. It’s not 1952 anymore and men don’t have to literally bring home the bacon. I just know that a woman wouldn’t do that. Not in most circumstances. Sure, there are exceptions, but not many. I think if a girl lived in her mothers basement, most guys would be ok with that. And I don’t know why.

So? Guy, I need your help. Give it to me straight: Does it matter to you if she works? And, Why or why not? And ladies…do you think we are being a little harsh with our standards or are we not harsh enough?

For me, having a job and being a fully functional member of society is the very least a person (male or female) can do. Those of you who are doing laundry at mom’s and mootching off your friends need a wake up call. Those of you who are looking to score a free ride from a Sugar Daddy, I got news for you too. THERE IS NO FREE RIDE. You are not doing yourself (or your boyfriend) any favors by letting him pay for you. I guess the point is, we ladies worked many many many many years to become independant – and we want a man who can not only appreciate that, but is just as independent as we are.

You Brought This on Yourself

About two years ago my (then) flat mates and I took a day trip to the lovely spa town of Karlovy Vary. We spent some time swimming in an awesome and enormous outdoor swimming pool. As I was walking back to the showers, I noticed a guy – not in a bathing suit – just hanging around. I went in the showers and looked for a comfortable place to rinse the chlorine from my body. That’s when I saw the hand holding a cell phone under the crack in the door taking pictures I ran out the door and yelled, “What are you doing!?” The guy – the same guy – ran off.

I ran after him.

When I worked at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco a few friends of mine were fired for such things as “being unfocused” or “making death threats”. Um, yeah. You would be unfocused too if your mom had cancer and months to live. Death threats? Ever had a bad day and said, “OOOOOH! I am so frustrated, I could just kill her!” Well, my friend did and got fired for it.

I said something.

I have been told on NUMEROUS occasions that I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. Maybe that’s true. I am guilty of being opinionated and sarcastic and sometimes even caustic. I have been told I need to learn diplomacy and when to let things go. But, the more I think about it I think the opposite is true. I think more people need to learn to speak up. People are scared to death of consequences.

“If I say something, I’ll get in trouble…”
“I don’t want to rock the boat…”
“It’s really not my place. Someone else will handle it.”

Well, I got news for you. Someone else does handle it. Someone else speaks up every day so you don’t have too, and because you don’t want too.

So, yeah. The language school I worked for got wind of my sentiments toward them (from a little backstabby snitch) and decided to part ways with me. And then ask me to help them fill out paper work. And take a LOT of money from me. James Cook Languages did exactly what I thought they would – fired me. It didn’t have to end the way it did, but they pushed me. They lied to me and then…? I got nasty. I KNOW some people out there think I deserved it because I was telling people about their bad business practices. But you know what? I am glad. I can sleep at night knowing I was doing the right thing. I feel good knowing that my friends know what kind of business they could be working for. And I am SO not alone. Check out this thread… All three pages of it.

My point is this. I might have a big mouth, but at least I know that I stand up for what I believe in. When I see someone being wronged – myself, or some stranger in a shower – I try to make it right. I feel great knowing that I am not the type of person that will just let someone else fight my battles for me, take the hard hits because I am scared or just take care of my own. If I had it to do over again, well, I guess I wouldn’t have signed with them in the first place, but I would still speak the truth. I blew my little plastic whistle as loud as I could.

Yakety Yak. Don’t Talk Back.

Some people never learn.

What’s a Girl to Do?

I have been getting a lot of the same question lately: What are you doing with all of your free time? The answer? Whatever I want! HA! I rule. Seriously, aside from packing up all of my belongings (again) and trying not to flip out, I am just chillin. I am set to cruise control. I am all Ann Ramano and taking it one day at a time. I am going to take advantage of not working, not having a boyfriend and enjoy my last weeks here in Prague.

I have been going to the movies – no shock there. I saw the new Narnia yesterday. I liked it. It had way less (hidden) god (the lion) and that is always a good thing. I like my Jesus movies like I like my Jesus rock – out in the open. Don’t you just hate those bands like Creed who are all, “Yeah we rock! (for the lord) We will rock your (Christian) socks off!” I mean if you are all yay god then be yay god. Don’t try to fool me by having long hair and tattoos. That’s not fair. I’ll have you know I feel the same way about tofu in disguise. I just don’t like it. Tofu shouldn’t dress up as a “chicken” nugget. Christians shouldn’t dress up as normal people. Anyway…I liked the Narnia movie. It’s got talking animals and a cute mouse. Oh, and Warwick Davis making a come back all these years after Willow. That was worth the ticket right there.

I went to the National Theater last night with Mike and Ginny Blair for the opening night of the Czech Ballet. It was awesome. The theater is beautiful and looks out over the river. The ballet was cool. I enjoyed the first act a little better than the second, but enjoyed myself all together. I love dancers. I, like every other little girl had dreams of being one. Then I stopped growing and started getting boobs and, well, I am just too fat. Heck, most people are. But I enjoy looking at them. Ann Reinking, Bob Fosse, Cyd Charise, Gene Kelly, Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon…I love them all.

I have been cruising around Prague. The other day i walked downtown, then up to Letna park where i had lunch, and then worked my way back home. A good two hour trip that was. It was nice just to walk about with no time table and no pressure. I like that feeling. I am hanging out with my friends before we all go our separate ways. GB and Mike are off to Spain for a week, then to Korea for a month. Allie and Davey leave Saturday for a year in Korea. T is in Switzerland working at a summer camp and Andy went back to the states. Our little family has disbanded. And you know what? I think it is a good thing. We spend way to much time together. I am teasing…a little. But I think it will do all of us some good to get out there and meet new people, try on new flavors, new cities and see what else life wants to give us. I’ll miss everyone, but I would rather miss them than see them get stuck in life.

So, thats what I am up too. I’ll write again before i leave Prague. If you want to find me, just look around…or go to the Blind Eye. I’ll probably be there.