Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tales the Unemployed: Day 147

This isn't a pity post.  I don't want people to feel bad for me.  I enjoy using this blog as a creative outlet and some of you bizarrely enjoy reading it as such.  So this is not a cry for help, promise.  It helps me process. 

Being unemployed blows goats.  And there are stages.  In fact if you Google "Stages of Unemployment" you will find plenty of articles.  Some say there are 3 stages, some say 5, some even say 10.  But they essentially are broken into the following parts:

  • Excitement: You've thrown off your drone cubicle/lanyard wearing shackles and you get to sleep in finally.  You can go to the movies and stand in line with the old people at the bank.  All of your errands happen super fast and drinking on a Tuesday night is no problem at all.  
  • Concern: So you're spending too much money going out at night and it's time to find a job.  You are calling all your work people to set up meetings and lunches and coffees and it's time to return to the workforce.  You're perusing the job boards, but you're confident and hopeful that one of your connections will come through.
  • Fear: So those initial meetings didn't pay off and you might have even had some amazing job lined up that never seemed to come to fruition after months of follow up.  You're now spending time in coffee shops because the couch at home is not a good place.  
  • New Job: Ta-da!! You got a new job and you have business cards and once again all is well with the world.  
I'm in the third stage right now, which is the problem with these lists.  They all basically say that it's terrible until it isn't.  I think the hardest challenge is the questioning.  Not that I question if I am qualified for any of these jobs that I'm applying for or if I could do the job that is posted.  I could.  I am a journeyman who gets along with most everyone, meaning that unless the job has complex math involved, then I could do it and do it well.  

No, the issue is that after the first two months of talking to friends from the field I've been in and thus most suited to, I'm not sure that something will pan out there.  So you begin to open your search.  You start thinking of what else you could or would do for a living?  And where could you do it.  This is where the skills and abilities that allow you to accomplish all those jobs becomes a mind fuck as you wonder what should you be doing?  

It's hard not just on you but on the people you care about.  My girlfriend is supportive which is great, and she wishes she could do more, but she can't and that's okay.  I've got policing some evenings.  I give platelets every two weeks because there are tons of things that exclude you, including travel, and I'm sure that they won't want my anti-cancer juice forever.  But these things are busy things, even if they are awesome and well intentioned.  They don't get you closer to a new job, but they do keep you sane.  

I recognize that I'm very lucky.  I live with a wonderful woman who has a job and I even have done part-time consulting work that pays really well when it comes.  I recognize that I am in a way better place than thousands of other people who are in my position. I know this because sometimes when I think about driving for Uber or Lyft, I decide not to because I don't want to.  That right there lets me know that I'm not that bad off, and there's perhaps another stage down before I get a job.  I'm just hoping I can skip straight to the last one soon.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reunion 2014

So this past weekend was my 15th College Reunion at Vassar College.  I have a complicated relationship with my college.  I wrote them a letter that I put on this blog, that got some views and they in turn called me to talk about it.  But I remain a proud Vassar alum and I went up to Poughkeepsie with my freshman year roommate who also lives in DC to check it out.

Overall it was a great trip and I'm glad I went.  The college raised a phenomenal amount of money from the returning alumni.  They have a tradition where all the classes march in a parade with the oldest class going first.
This young lady is from the class of 1934. She is over 100 years old. It must be slightly odd to be the only person from your class at a reunion.  I'm not sure if she was the only person still alive, but it still is always cool to see the older classes, especially when they are full of spunk.  

So this parade leads everyone into the field house and then you hear the speaker say, "We need to have a short meeting." I'm thinking this is brilliant.  Now they just need to lock the doors and display some photos of timeshare opportunities. That didn't happen, but we did vote in some new alumni association board members, though it was a voice vote and there didn't seem to be a chance to decline or abstain.  I guess given how hard it is to get volunteers, democracy has its limits.  

Then came the fundraising totals.  Starting with the earliest classes and ending with the oldest.  Our class gave under $20,000 to the Annual Fund, I think.  I do remember that we gave $50 in restricted gifts.  That number looked like a typo.  Especially when a few classes later, celebrating their 50th Reunion, this is the slide we saw.  
Right.  In the middle of this slide, the fire alarm in the building went off, which made me think in an instant that the donation had broken the college mainframe.  Or perhaps we won the largest game of Plinko ever.  So that was cool.  

But the best part of the reunion was seeing old friends, including a dear friend who I also went to high school with and now lives on the West Coast. I think hanging out with your friends at reunion is awesome.  But the much more awesome part is getting a chance to talk to people who I was friendly with but not friends with.  It harkens back to those nights when you would have awesome conversations with people who were acquaintances and then for the rest of your college life you would see them at parties and nod your head as an acknowledgement of that shared experience.  

Most of the people who I got to know more about this past weekend were members of the Girls Rugby Team. who in all honesty were somewhat terrifying in college.  I was an EMT in college and would staff the rugby games because they were a club sport and not eligible for athletic trainers through the college.  At first I was thrilled.  Getting closer to women who played sports seemed like a good thing.  I quickly learned two things: 1) A fair number of these women liked other women.  2) They were all tougher than me on my best day.  I remember starting to conduct an exam on one girl who had blood streaming down her nose, and she just screamed "GAUZE" in my face while I fumbled to open the jump kit.  She grabbed it out of my hands, shoved it in her obviously broken nose and growled at me before retaking the field.  We didn't cover that during breaks and sprains in class.  

I lost my voice screaming "Like A Prayer" at a giant tent at the All-Campus Party which is probably the most Vassar thing ever typed.  It was a good time.  I wish that more people from my class had been there.  I didn't bring my girlfriend because we had a low turnout but next time I won't make that mistake.  

The only downside was that I wished the college took an opportunity to talk about the money it raised and what it was going to do with it.  Our class clearly needs to step up its fundraising game, but it should be because the school needs it and not because we want to look better than another class sharing our reunion.  In many respects, our totals were probably more in line with what the college wants because we gave almost all of it unrestricted (Whoever gave $50, show yourself) A discussion about giving might be a good idea for future reunions, given that the weekend is built around that event.  

So great times and great reminders of why Vassar students are awesome, and reminders of how administrations can also always be a little more transparent.  

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Year of Fitness: Yoga

Her name was Lindsey, and she fit the central casting definition of a yogi: Cute, young, short with a calming voice and a confident pose.  The title of the class was Power Yoga, which didn't mean much to me, given that it was my first yoga class.  Well,  I did stream a Youtube video to my TV and practice breathing and lying still for 20 minutes or so.

I knew I was in for some trouble when she mentioned this was an intermediate level class, but I figured this is all about stretching and breathing right?  Ah, no.  20 minutes in, I was audibly dripping sweat onto the mat like it was hot yoga, even though the temperature in the room was cool and climate controlled.  Lindsey's voice was a constant and steady exhortation to breathe and elongate my body.  I think that between her tone and the sitar in the background, I was in a state of mind control.  If she had said the following, I totally would have done it:

"Now breathe in, feel the energy filling your lungs and opening up your back, and as you exhale through your mouth loudly, strike your groin three times and feel the pain radiate to your fingertips and your ankles."

Now I am one of the least flexible people I know, due to a combination of my height and whatever else conspires to keep my fingers from touching my toes.  I thought yoga would be a chance to increase my flexibility while also checking the fitness box, but I did not envision myself in warrior pose and then losing my balance and slapping the mirror to stay upright.  You know when people are talking and you can hear them smiling.  Yeah, that's when that happened.

I like going in the middle of the day because it breaks up my routine non-routine of looking for jobs and running errands.  It also means fewer people in the class, which can be good because less people means less eyes on you.  But it also means more special attention, especially in a class with four students.  I'll keep at this one though.  Not because I think it will have the pounds flying off me, but because it gives me some core strength and hopefully balance which I also have none of.

Namaste yo.