Category Archives: WTF am I doing with my life?

Humble Jobs

The spring semester has started as of yesterday, I’m hosting my book group tonight (the book is Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters), and if I’m going to be doing any blogging this afternoon, it should be for the library blog that I’ve been neglecting.

Despite all the stuff I should be doing, all I want to do is relax.  I have two part-time jobs (one every weekday morning for about an hour and a half, and the other three days a week, 4 hours each day) and they are exhausting.  They are both working for women with disabilities, and though one is more personal care and the other more cooking/cleaning, they are both physically demanding.   It’s hard to come home from making chicken enchiladas and mopping someone else’s floor and want to cook myself dinner and clean my own house.

I also have to get up at 5am Monday through Friday for the morning job. Occasionally earlier.  This morning I popped out of bed (for some reason I have no problem getting up – it’s the late afternoon that kills me) at 4:45am.

I’m happy to be able to eke out a modest living.  I’m equally happy that I have a spouse who toils away at a  teaching job that offers health care so that I can do part-time gigs while I work my way through graduate school.  And finally, I’m happy to have the opportunity to work for two very nice women (both around my age) and to get the chance to learn a thing or two about what it’s like to have a disability.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done non-desk work, and while I’m grateful for any time spent away from my computer, I feel like all over muscle fatigue trumps eye and wrist fatigue. All I’m saying is, I’m tired.

Going the Chemical Route

I’ve applied for two jobs in the past few weeks where the employer has had a severe allergy to scents (not just perfume but scented shampoo, soap, lotion, candles, air fresheners, and just about anything that has any kind of smell to it). One sent me a memo explaining that she experiences “mini-strokes” and even brain damage if she comes close to someone wearing a scented product. In order to work for her, not only would I have to give up all scented products all the time, but I would have to detox my wardrobe, towels, sheets, car, and so on and so forth. Clothing detox basically involves about four washing machine cycles per load of clothing – once just for the machine (with baking soda only) and three times for the clothes themselves. All this for $15 an hour.

I keep getting myself into these situations where I think I can make this kind of lifestyle change, that I’m not that into toxic products to begin with, but when I learn about the details it just starts to seem insane. No painting my toe nails? No fabric softener, EVER? I have to choose from the brands of deodorant you’ve provided on your memo and submit to someone “sniffing” me before I can enter your house?

The thing is, though I abhor most perfumes, colognes, strong-smelling lotions, etc. I do in fact like certain smells… I buy shampoos based on scent alone. Also, there is my recent fascination with dyeing my hair. I dyed my hair once, about three years ago, but usually keep it natural. However, something (probably being underemployed) made me respond to a Craigslist ad seeking a hair model in a high-end salon. I’d done this before, so I knew it would be a good deal. In the end, the changes were infinitesimal, to the point that no one noticed. I went from this:
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To this:

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(That ten-head and marbles-in-the-cheeks look is 100% natural however.  Um yes, this photo is truly awful, but the only accurate depiction of the “professional” dye job).  Oddly enough, right around the time I said I’d undergo a full body and clothing chemical detox (heh), I became obsessed with finding the right hair color.  The salon color was super boring, s0 I decided to try this:

garnierThe smell nearly gave me brain damage, but it came out looking like this:

brunette2

Note the richness of the hair color… I dig it. And I guess the point of all of this is to say I’m sabotaging (whether on purpose or not is still unclear to me) my chances of getting a job in Berkeley by indulging my new-found chemical dependence.  I guess it’s better to realize that now, instead of finding myself trapped in a dead-end job where I can’t change my hair color (or brand of deodorant) without getting fired.

Developments

The company I used to work for has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This means that I get a lot of notices in the mail these days (I’m considered a “creditor,” since they didn’t pay me the last two months I worked there). I also got a FedEx package the other day with about five pounds of legal documents. I feel bad for my former boss and the other founders, but would rather just be rid of the whole ugly mess. The daily collection calls (since my name was on the company bank account) are pretty awesome too.

Another disappointment: summer registration for library school. Due to funding cuts (it’s a state school, I should’ve seen this coming) there were a ridiculously small amount of classes offered this summer, and I was only able to register for one. I’ve been pretty balls-to-the-wall with graduate school so far, and I had planned to take three classes this summer. Instead, I’ll be paying eight hundred or so odd dollars* for three credits, and it means that there’s no way I’ll graduate by August 2010, unless I take on a ridiculous course load for the next three semesters.

To sum up: I don’t have a job, and the thing I’m doing *instead* of working (i.e. SCHOOL) is kind of falling through this summer as well. If I wasn’t committed to going to Montana this summer for at least three weeks, I’d consider braving the job market, but there’s probably nothing available anyway. I guess it’s time for some ‘self-directed’ activities and education this summer – i.e. reading blogs, hanging around the house feeling poor, and making occasional bank-breaking trips to Target.

*Um, make that $1370 for one class. I forgot about all the bullshit fees like childcare and transportation and other things I will never benefit from. You can take up to six credits (i.e. two classes) for $1370, whereas more than six credits will cost you around $2500. Ugh, money.

Life Update

Since returning from my month away, I’ve started work again (half time, as has been mandated since October), and begun grad school in Library & Information Science. Work is nearly non-existent. We haven’t been paid the last two pay periods, and will probably miss a third. I’m also waiting on a $300 expense check for stuff I bought for the company ages ago.

Many of my friends at the company have left to pursue better opportunities. I’m hanging on because we can scrape by on my husband’s salary for now, and most of the jobs out there that I could possibly be hired for require more hours for much less pay. It’s a bit depressing, but my current job offers me enough benefits, like health insurance and a computer (if not a paycheck), that I probably won’t walk away until I’m laid off. Which should be any day now 😦

On a brighter note, I love being in school. I’d originally registered for three classes ― two core classes and a one-credit, four-week class. Now that I’ve finished the one-credit class, I decided to add another full class, bringing my load up to nine credits. I figure as long as I’m paying for full-time status (which is a bargain at about $1,200/semester. How much does a semester of private college cost? Four times that?) I might as well be taking a full load of classes.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been working the past four years, but being a student is something that excites and energizes me. I’m looking forward to building a database with a group of students for my Info Retrieval class (which, incidentally, a student who’s taken the class warned me would be dreadfully boring). I’m already brainstorming topics for my research paper for Information & Society, and I can’t wait for my first web conference lecture/discussion tonight. Here’s how cool I look when I use the web conferencing software and headset:

That's me at 7am, pre-shower and pre-makeup, modeling my headset-with-mic.  Taken with my camera phone. Rrrrrroowwr.

That's me at 7am, pre-shower and pre-makeup, modeling my headset-with-mic. Taken with my camera phone. Rrrrrroowwr.

Jealous?

 

I’ll continue to go in to work a few days a week, but for now, I’m putting my energy into doing well in this program. It’s exciting to be entering a field that is changing so much. In the next two years, as I work toward graduation, the field of libraries and info science may look completely different than it does now. I think this is a good thing. Speaking of changes, I hope that by the time I graduate this crazy economic time will have come to an end, and actual jobs will be available. Yes, that would be nice.

Semi-Hungover Thoughts on Networking and the Weird World of Business

It turns out that I am not getting any younger. 1 gin and tonic + 1 big glass of wine + assorted bite-size sugary things = major headache and overall crappy feeling the next day. I was out representing my company at a cool music and technology panel at a speakeasy-type-bar. My company was one of the sponsors. Apparently you are supposed to network like hell at these dealies, so I put on my best business skirt and game face, filled my pockets with business cards, downed a cocktail and started talking to people.

As you might be able to guess from my personality type, this is SO not my comfort area. Sometimes the mood hits and I WANT to talk to strangers, but mostly it takes a little rallying, i.e. drinking my cocktail in a bathroom stall while giving myself a pep talk. Mostly I spend my time at these sorts of things asking myself, ‘how the hell do these people tick?’ With each person I talked to, after I’d extolled the virtues of my company, I went into interrogation mode. One guy told me he has 13,000 contacts in his Blackberry. He has a group of 800 ‘close’ friends that he calls or emails on their birthdays. I drilled him. How much time does it take to manage all those relationships? Does he remember details about everyone? Since he’s such an extraverted connector, is he also good at more typically introvtered things like writing and research? The answers were sickening. He is great at everything, apparently. Or perhaps this was just part of a wooing effort, as I noticed that our conversation waned considerably after he looked at my left hand and asked me if I had a special fella.

I did my duty distributing schwag, and then hit a wall. I didn’t want to talk to any more people or get hit on again (unless it was in a clever way… I’m always game for hilarious pick up lines). When I checked my inbox this morning, there was a handful of Facebook and LinkedIn requests. Ugh.  Social management. Not my forte.

But back to my headache. Do you drink at work events, even if they are mid-week? Also, are you older than 22? I really think the drinking age should be changed to 15 so that the people whose lithe young bods can process alcohol can actually enjoy this super power while it lasts.

On that note:

Also:
                                                                  

One Decision Made

I did it!  I actually completed an application for graduate school.  Now I can (almost) join the ranks of my friends, ALL of whom seem to be back in school at this point studying law, education, English, psychology, business, nursing… the list goes on.  As a matter of fact, I can only think of one close friend who is not currently in school.  When I told her my plans, she was happy for me but immediately said she was jealous. HA!  I certainly know how that works.  I’ve spent the last two years wondering how my friends ever decided on anything, and wishing I had their focus and resolve.  I’ve taken a class in interior design, and started applications for grad programs in English, urban planning, and education, and never finished them.  I’ve had sudden revelations and then dismissed them because of detracting information.

If all goes well, I’ll be taking between one and three classes this spring, depending on my employment status.  You see, I work at a startup, and that’s a dicey place to be in a time like this.  But now if I get laid off (and I hope I don’t, because it’s a great company with awesome people and I wish it HUGE success) I will have an alternate plan.  I can try to find a part-time job and take classes full-time.  I can get on my husband’s health insurance plan (one of the first tangible assets of being married!) and we can borrow a bit from ourselves to invest in my education.

Waawooweeewooo!!!! I haven’t felt this good about my career situation in a long, long time.  I’m fully accepting the possibilty that I’ll take a few classes and decide it isn’t for me.  Even so, each experience takes me closer to the final goal (or the next goal, I should say).  It’s like dating – the more you do it, the more you know what you want 😉

Sexy Librarian Jokes Aside

I’m thinking of applying to a master’s program in library science. Here are some pros:

  • Seems to fit my personality traits and skills (I like organization, books, technology, and helping people)
  • The program is online and is not cripplingly expensive (four digits a year, not five).  Also, I have like $4,700 from my AmeriCorps VISTA Ed award waiting to be spent 🙂
  • There seems to be a wealth of interesting and different library jobs out there – private, non-profit, government, academic, etc.
  • If you get into administration/management you can apparently make very good money
  • Entry level jobs earn respectable money (i.e. about as much as I make now)
  • The program doesn’t require GRE scores or letters of recommendation – (I can’t express in words how awesome this is)
  • I could dress like this:
Hot

Hot

Here are some cons:
  • Librarianism (librarianship?) is not a hugely fast-growing field.  All of those baby boomer librarians may decide to hang on to their jobs given the current economic state.
  • An online course means A LOT MORE time at my computer – e.g. communicating with professors, students, etc. online.  AND the program apparently uses Second Life as some kind of means of program-wide social networking, which freaks me out.
  • I’m really not sure how I would support myself working only part time or not at all.   I rarely feel like I have enough money while working full time.  Rent and food and gas are so damned expensive –  I have a hard time picturing how all of this would work.
  • I had a stoner housemate in college who ended up getting a master’s in library science.  She once let her brother sleep in my bed while I was out of town 😦
Right now I’m thinking I need to grab on to this spark of *wanting* to do something.  I’ve had these sparks before, but I’ve always let them die out.  Perhaps the best thing to do (considering the EPIC FAIL that is the economy right now) is to apply for the Spring semester, register for two classes, and keep working full time. I think I can do it.  We’ll see.