Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This. Is. Crazy.

Dear Lalia 12 years ago,

I know you just left a job you loved, and not by choice but by circumstance of the branch being closed down.  It is what it is.  But girl, you have mad skills!  You are in demand so don't take too much time off.  Get back on that horse and find the next job of your dreams.

Love, you

Dear Me,

But, but, but....  You know as well as I do that I probably never would have left my job voluntarily.  So now that it's been taken from me, it's my chance to do something completely different, completely out of the box.  I love to cook, what if I try starting my own catering business.  I can work out of my house and it'll be great!  That's what I'm going to do.

Thanks, love you.... Lalia

It was great.  For a short time.  Until the economy took a nosedive.  Until I realized I couldn't cater jobs by myself.  Until I didn't have enough room in my house to store large trays of food or to cook large trays of food.  Until it wasn't great anymore.  So where does that leave me?   It's 12 years later and the economy is still in the shitter.  Money is tight and I need to work.  So I decide to go back to what I know, office work.  Well that's what I thought I'd be doing anyway.  There are jobs to be had, but the pay scale is so awful it's hard to wrap my hairdo around what is going on.

I had a job interview this week.  It sounded really good, interesting, different and even fun.  And the best part, they use Mac computers.  I'm a Mac girl through and through.  I love all things Apple.  I cried when Steve Jobs died.  I want to change my name to iLalia.  And Mac jobs are few and far between.  They pretty much don't exist unless you are in some kind of graphic design field.  This job is not exactly graphic design but along those lines.  It was pretty exciting to be called for an interview on this one.  So I went and all was well.  The job was nothing like anything I had done before but they seemed interested in me.  They seemed thrilled with all my Mac experience.   So I am liking how this is going.  Until they told me the salary.  $10 and hour.  Seriously.  $20K a year.  Do you know anyone who could live on that?  Me either.

OK yes, I've been out of work for a long time and I realize I have to start over.  But that is less than I was making 12 years ago.  Cost of living has changed.  Gas prices have changed.  Everything has changed.  I never thought I'd be making less than I was making back then.  Maybe the same, but most likely I expected a bit more because of cost of living changes.  So not the case.  

So what does one do, other than brood and cry and lament the fact that by trying to establish my own business I have in essence ruined my life.  Maybe that's not true, but it feels true.  There are so many things I want to do.  So many things out of my reach because I cannot find a job that will pay me enough to make those changes happen.  Do I change course and try a whole different line of work again?  Go with what you know seems logical.  But how can you go with what you know when everyone is struggling so much that companies can't pay better salaries?

When I'm in an interview and am asked the question, "What are you looking for?" My standard answer, with pauses at the appropriate times so it looks like I'm just making this up on the fly (ha!), is "Well... I'd like to be in a place where I like the people I'm working with.   Where I don't dread going everyday and where I'm doing work I can be proud of."  In both interviews I've had, I've used this line (it actually was on the fly in the first interview and went over so well I decided to use it again in the next one).  Both interviewers loved it, so feel free to use it if you find yourself in a similar position and are asked that question.  The thing is, it's not bullshit.   I do want to be around people I like, doing work I can be proud of, in a place I won't dread going to.  I'm 46 years old, on a fast track to 47.  I don't want to be one of those people on Facebook who posts some whiney ass graphic every Monday morning that declares how much Monday's suck.  I just want to be able to make ends meet.  It's not really a lot to ask.  But at the moment it feels completely unattainable.

PS... sorry all my posts are so angsty lately.


  1. You didn't ruin your life, iLalia (I love that), you simply changed it. You did what you wanted to do at that time. Nothing wrong with that at all. I understand how you feel, when I sort of semi retired a few years back I initially thought I had ruined my life too. I was at loose ends. I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. But it turned out to change me so completely that I feel as if I am a different person to who I was in 2007. The fact that you are trying to find a job is a good thing. The fact that you realize that it's not going to be easy is a good thing too. I wish you much luck as you continue your job search. And I hope things get easier for you. XOXOXO

    1. Thanks Judy. As always I appreciate your kindness, love and support xo

  2. I love that you wanted to change your name to iLalia. I am lucky to have found a job 'consulting' at a company that provides their employees with all things Mac. Of course, that adds an extra complexity since I work at a client site an they all use Windows...

    I am so sorry to hear things are still in the 'shitter' in the US. I'd invite you here to Australia, as we haven't suffered that way. Unfortunately the city I live in is now near or at the top of the 'most expensive cities to live in in the world' list, which means that I feel like - in a way - I need to sell my soul slightly in order to live. But I have nothing to complain about.

    I don't know what work is like in the US. I'd say why not consult - whore your wares to companies in need of someone like you for short-term contracts / stints. I'm not sure if that's big in the US though. I say 'whore' your wares nicely...what I mean is use your talents to get in there and help companies with problems they are having and then get out before you get sucked into the politics, move on to the next place, and so on. I don't know - just putting stuff out there.

    I'm sorry the cooking dream hasn't turned out as you had envisioned. I know my life hasn't and isn't turning out like I had envisioned, and even when I try to change it, well...I seem to - again - be in the same situation I was in this time last year. Exhausted, sick and wanting time off from everything, and I've somehow lost sight of what I really wanted to do and my health. grrrr. Life.

    1. Thanks Janine. I keep trying and that's really all you can do ya know? I have the possibility of another interview for next week, different company. We'll see. The pay is a little higher. I guess I don't necessarily feel like it's a bad thing to feel like you're worth more ya know?

  3. Love the Italia name. Love the way you write about a major professional and emotional upset with such humor and insight. Love that you don't whine, you don't victimize yourself. You're looking for a solution and when one comes along, it's perfect except for one thing - the pay.

    This post reminds me of my situation in my forties when, after being laid off from a six-figure+ job, I invested and lost everything in the wrong business, and ended up catering for five years. Like you, did quite well - for a while. In my fifties, faced with a barren job vista, I took an $8 an hour job out of desperation until I found a better one. It eventually led to another super job for eleven years.
    It's hard enough to start all over again especially in this economy, and sometimes, we have to take a step backwards in order to go forward. $20 K a year is ridiculously low but it's better than nothing, and the job may serve as a springboard to something higher up the wage scale. I know how hard it is to find a good job when you're 47 and have been out of the market for several years. But the fact is when your back is against the wall, you may have to take it, and use it to rise again. It's never easy, anxiety and depression are always lurking around the corner, but doing something - anything - is so much better than doing nothing. Even a low-paid job can be immensely rewarding. Not dreading going to work every day may be a stronger incentive than taking a high-pressure, well-paid job where they wring every drop of blood out of you, and resent even the hint of a personal life.

    1. Thanks Pennie. I have faced that prospect... the better than nothing thing. And I suppose if it feels right and they do offer it, I will take it. I have heard two schools of thought... it's easier to find a job when you have job and looking for a job while you have a job is too difficult. I suppose both are partially true. I'm really trying not to fall into a shoulda woulda coulda mentality. If I had found a job right away, after leaving my last one, I'd be making a lot more money right now. But the thing is, the things I have experienced in my life during these years taught me more about life and about myself than I ever thought possible and that is invaluable. So, no regrets.

  4. I will take you up on that offer of being able to borrow that line. I feel EXACTLY the same way. I really hate dreading going to work and not liking the people I work with (esp. since I'm an introvert), and yes, having pride in what I do is also important. I can't even begin to tell you how terrified I am of the day when I have to go look for work again. I honestly don't know where to begin and don't even know what I really want. It sucks. Sorry for the rant. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone and that I still do admire your courage. Maybe you should write/publish a memoir?...a cookbook?...a cookbook with the Lalia-kick-ass-'adult' flair?! :-)

  5. Well, this job might lead you to something else, you simply never know. Personally, I would take it, even for a few weeks because for some reason your 'market value' (I know it sounds awful) increases once you have a job.
    Keep us posted and all the best. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  6. I am afraid anything I would say would sound trite at this point, but I will share with you that when I was at my lowest point and thought I would never be able to work again, someone believed in me and hired me. And it turned out to be the start of one of the great adventures in my life. Chin up girl, the best truly is yet to be. xoxo