How to turn 24 hours into a nearly psychotic episode


by rubberpaw via creative commons

Discover a series of calls to my phone from an unfamiliar number.

Wonder why there are no messages.

Google the phone number because I think it is from a potential new client. It’s not. No other information available. Dismiss it as a wrong number.

Check e-mail.

Learn that a potential employer — not the one I am expecting to call but another one out of the blue with an enticing proposition  — has made several attempts to reach me.

Make snap decision based on multiple factors, including lack of time to think and previous string of bogus e-mails for job openings that require “significant available credit” and “must be a U.S. citizenship.”

Forget about phone calls. Forget about e-mail.

Attempt to balance overflowing platter of various plans and commitments and obligations and must-dos from the threshold of Friday to the gate of Monday.

Worry about possible client that has not called.

Awaken Monday morning and call company after reading its Web site.

Engage in productive conversation with company representative.

Schedule job interview.

End call. Jump for joy that a large-sized, reputable company has noticed me.

Come to my senses and collapse in heap on floor.

Realize that I have spent all my time looking and no time preparing.

Discover that I do not have 20-pound bond paper on which to print a resume and list of personal references.

Panic because I truly have nothing appropriate to wear.

Gag over the one suit I own, which I wore when Bill Clinton was mentoring Monica Lewinsky.

Wonder if it, too, has a stain on it.

Focus on the fact that I still don’t have real eyeglasses. Damn, why didn’t I make that appointment to get my eyes checked?

Consider that I need to find a babysitter.

Lose control of my senses and play the What If? game: What if they offer me a job? Good god, I don’t have any daycare  lined up. What if I can’t honor all the commitments to which I just agreed? What if my child freaks out because I have to pull her out of a school I just enrolled her in? What if the Earth explodes tomorrow?

Tell myself to shut up. Sit down. Breathe.

Fire off a barrage of phone calls, fill lined paper with list of thing to accomplish.


Start checking off items on list as they are accomplished.

Schedule time to find a new outfit for interviews.

Research company. Take notes. Realize company is big, with offices on both hemispheres. This might be a very nice position to land.

Direct mental note to self: Take any and all calls. Follow up immediately. Things fly at me when I least expect it.

Perform a quickie manicure and pedicure. Conduct other personal maintenance measures often neglected by a person who works at home and alone.

Prepare answers to potential questions and follow-up questions.

Sleep fitfully for about  five hours.

Wake up. Drink about two pots of coffee.

Attend youngest child’s first day of preschool and orientation.

Eat lunch. Start to believe things are turning around. This is a sign. I’m sure of it.

Feel the vibration of my cell phone. Answer it. It’s that number again. The one from last week.

Listen but fail to comprehend that job interview is canceled. Company has decided not to fill the position after all.

Feel a vein pop in my head. Maybe it’s an artery. I can never remember.

Understand that there’s a valuable lesson in all this.

Reassure you that when I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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image by runningkate

I’ve lost things lately:

  • my favorite plastic sports bottle, a souvenir of my snow camping experience
  • my sterling silver hoop earrings
  • my mind

Also, I’ve lacked focus:

  • Literally. I need bifocals. I’m pretending I don’t. The faking it isn’t working anymore and it’s making me look feeble. I hope that explains all the typos in my comments around the blogosphere. I hope that explains all the pasta on the tablecloth at lunch the other day.
  • I’m job hunting outside my field of work. Where to direct the confused self when the forest trails are marked either Overqualified or Underqualified? Some days I’m resigned to signing on with Merry Maids or dressing in red and khaki and enlisting in the Target army. Other days I feel a strong desire to go to grad school and follow dreams. Some days I just shop for a roomy refrigerator box to call home.

Job hunting sucks. I’ve had it too easy all my life. I’ve almost always slipped seamlessly from one position to the next. Even during the rare times when I had a gap in my work history, I filled it with temp work.

Now I’m a woman who is halfway to 90 (as one of my drama queen contemporaries likes to say) and almost three years gone from the workplace. My line of work is no longer an option. I have a young child and outside help one day a week. This job search is like riding a bike up a mountain with one leg.

As Dr. Phil would ask: How’s that working for you?

Not so well, Phil. It’s hard to keep the momentum when you have six days between efforts.Until I find work, I can only use FREE babysitters. So far, I’ve found one who’s willing to give one day a week. I’m grateful for the day but one day does not a job search make.

I live in the state with the highest unemployment in the nation. I’m trying not to let that get me discouraged. Much.

I remain hopeful. I joined a babysitting co-op. My little one starts part-time preschool next week. Something has to give.

Job hunting in 2009 is not the same as it was in the late ’80s and early 1990s. Then, it involved typewriters and telephones. It involved pieces of paper, bulletin boards, classified advertising sections of the newspaper and talking to friends and family.

No one I know seems to have any clear answer for today’s big hunt. Get a Web site, they say. So I did. Create your own personal brand, carve out your niche, they recommend.  Still working on that one. Get on social media and work that bitch daily. I do. Although sometimes it feels as empty, cold and meaningless as, well, working some bitch. Networking? I’ve got a steep learning curve on that one. Remember, I worked as a copy editor for the last decade.

Don’t even get me started on the frustration of online application processes. Do you know what happens when you spend 45 minutes completing an online application for a specific position and then the free Wi-Fi zone drops your Internet connection?

For the first time in my adult life, I’m not sure what my role is in the world. It isn’t enough for our bottom line for me to be a mother and caretaker of the family and home. It won’t be enough for my children if I’m gone all day and tired and stressed when I get home. I’m not sure I can return to the workaholic career treadmill I ran on for almost two decades.

Does society smile upon the mother who cares for her children at home? What about the mother who decided to put her family first for a while and now seeks work? Is she given the same chance as the mother who put her career first but lost her job for economic reasons?  The workplace seems to frown upon the mother who chooses her family over her career. Society also frowns upon the mother who does not take care of her children.

There are no easy answers to any of this. One day a week I try to figure it out.

This I call frustration.

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