Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm back.....

Yes, the working world has been an adjustment but i have started blogging again. Please drop by...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 69 -- leaving the 9%

As my unemployment rounds out to what will once I start my job 70 total days of unemployment, I would like to highlight a few aspects of this journey:

For starters, I believe adjusting to working full time again next week will be a bit like a reluctant kid going back to school after summer vacation.  I am in for a rude awakening.  But I have certainly enjoyed what I am thinking of as a bit of a sabbatical and the larger concept of soul care.  Life isn’t about producing or doing but instead being.  My therapist and most of my friends have commented that it was like a load was lifted from me when I quit my job.   And not to get into the specifics of why I abruptly quit my old job, I will say I faced with a situation that were I to have stayed would have both been compromising my personal integrity and my healthy sense of self.  I did the right thing. 

Save money.  This whole journey wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t saved up a fair bit of money.   And now that I am starting a job with direct deposit (something I haven’t had in years) I am going to immediately route a fair percentage into rebuilding my next egg.  Along the same lines,  the simple concept of living within one’s means has been driven home to me over the past seventy days.  I think our consumer culture ought to generally take that advice. 

Cable news programs basically loop the same stories over and over again throughout the day.  I mentioned previously that at the sort of low point of my journey, I had taken to playing Tetris for hours on end and watching mainly CNN.  What I discovered is firstly, neither of those things are very life-giving but in truth if you watch one hour of cable news you have seen the equivalent of five save for breaking news.  And as John Stewart pointed out that since the inauguration breaking news is not Barack Obama likes guacamole or that he took off his jacket while sitting at his desk in the Oval Office.  Worse yet, cable news stories these days seem to be sensationalizing our troubled economy focusing a bit too much for an unemployed person’s peace of mind on growing unemployment rates.  In the seventy days of my unemployment I was fortunate to be able to watch OJ get imprisoned, many college football games, the plane crash on the Hudson and of course the inauguration of our 44th President. 

I heart my new library card.  Somewhere along the way, I got a library card and began using it like mad.  Years ago, when I lived in Tucson, I was very into going to the library but inexplicably stopped.  Pasadena has a wonderful library system and I have already read and checked out an amazing array of books. 

Lucky Baldwin’s Christmas Beer Festival.  I certainly became a regular at Lucky’s and am proud to be on a first name basis with a few of the bartenders.  I did carry around the glass special for most of the month. 

Start a project.  For me that project was this blog specifically chosen so I would not only have a daily sort of deadline (admittedly I missed a few times) but also because I wanted to hone my love for writing on a more consistent basis.  As a side development, I was happy to incorporate my growing love for photography as the sort of icing on the cake.  I also have very much enjoyed discovering a blogging community – some friends in other parts in the world, others in other parts of the county and some very new who have welcomed me into the local blogging community. 


And a new era means a new blog…should be up and running soon, enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

day 68 -- Facebook Status Updates

Earlier this week I got my haircut.  Aside from the normal excitement with a new style and color, I was also excited to catch up on my hairstylist’s life.  It turns out my hair stylist happens to be a periphery friend and as such we are also Facebook Friends.  I was very surprised last week when her Facebook status changed from “single” to “in a relationship.”  Of course, during my appointment I got the whole scoop on her new beau but I couldn’t help but wonder (sorry to be so Kerry Bradshaw) about this dynamic of social networking sites.  Is this the new way we communicate major details of our lives to our friend groups? 

For example, last week I was very surprised when my father called me to ask about my new job.  I hadn’t shared the specifics or even the simple news that I in fact had a new job to anyone in my family.  Mind you the story was not even ONE DAY OLD.  But I had changed my status to read, “Jennifer has a new job” or something to that effect.  Of course my dad who calls using the internet “surfing the net” has neither a Facebook account nor even the knowledge of how to navigate a webpage, couldn’t have found out that way.  When I pressed him on revealing his sources, he pleaded the fifth quoting deep throat.  It then occurred to me I had recently added a family friend – had he talked to her?  No, he was quick to point out that he hadn’t talked to her for months.  Hmm.  He handed the phone off to my mom who quickly outed him – yes, the family friend was his source but she had told my brother who in turn told my dad.  The gossip chain often runs through my brother BTW. 

And what about my friend who within MINUTES of breaking up with her boyfriend, changed her FAcebook status from “in a relationship” to “single”?  What compels us to air our dirty laundry, our triumphs and our odd habits on Facebook?  Ask yourself how many odd facts you know about friends through their status changes?  And when you see the friend who wrote that he just ate at Omaha Jack’s in Rancho, do you mention it? 

Here are some info gleaned from my friends’ status:

One of my friends is showing his daughter how to eat snow and lick icicles, another is falling asleep in class, especially clever, another friend is wishing “a certain someone” was here with her to enjoy the rain (hmm, who is she talking about me?), someone else is thinking about going to Old Navy, and perhaps my favorite simply stating Neil Diamond is the man which was updated by this friends’ phone.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

day 66 -- It is Finished, part II, before and after

I am admittedly not very savy with the pictures on blogspot.  but here are some before and after pictures.  

Day 66 -- It is Finished, part I

Now that there is an official end date to my unemployment I have begun making a project list of things I hope to finish before I go back to work. Some of them are very pragmatic – on-line traffic school, getting a hair cut (if you can believe it I have not got my hair cut since May of last year) and so forth. 

One project I have already blogged about

Day 29

remains a work in progress – cleaning out my enormous closet and my room in general.  I finished the clothes and shoe section right

after the new year in time for the clothing exchange my friends and I held.  And on a related note, I have broken my clothing fast something I have meant to blog about ever since – soon, I will get to that. 

Over the weekend, as I was sore and tired from skiing and generally felt like hanging around the house, I tackled the remaining parts of the room and closet project. 

I found journals dating back to 1991; I have neither the heart to throw them out or am in the head space to read them so I have decided to save them. 

I found souvenirs purchased from trips I took well over ten years ago most of which I have decided to throw out. 

I found things people leant me I thought I lost; I text one friend saying I finally found that item I borrowed three years ago, do you still want it back?  Yes, good it gives us an excuse to hang out. 

CD’s – now that I have an iPod, should I throw them out? 

I cleaned out my collection of books getting rid of books I never read (who was I trying to impress anyway keeping them on my shelves?) – two boxes worth and still counting. 

Course work from grad school. 

Paraphernalia from a job I held in 1998, why I had kept it so long is beyond me. 

A picture with a bunch of kids I used to work with one of whom died a few years ago. 

Cards and letters dating back to my freshman year of college.  CRAZY. 

My social security card

I am officially done with my room.  I polished off an entire roll of trash bags and not the kitchen kind but the industrial-sized blue ones that were incidentally contraband from my own job. 

Roll of trash bags = $10

Used book credit at Archives = $18

Cathartic value of completion of project = priceless

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sting like a Bee – Day 65

In an attempt to curtail my internet use, I have tried to make a list of the items I need to do online (emails, posting the blog, etc) hoping to stick to that list instead of playing yet another game of Tetris or perusing my friends’ pages on Facebook when I go online.  Indeed, the internet is a time sucker and I suppose as a nod to my Protestant-Midwestern world view/work ethic (and yes, despite having lived most of life in the San Gabriel Valley, I consider myself to be Midwestern – a topic I might tackle in another entry sometime when I am desperate for material) or simply that subtle voice in the back of my head often sounding not dissimilar to my father that I ought to be making something of my life.  Really, at the end of my life do I want my obituary to focus on my extraordinary ability to play Tetris?  (Although, I wouldn’t mind if it was a side theme to be included with my crossword puzzling, parallel parking and failed attempt to get on Jeopardy – after all there has to be a bit of the agony of defeat in the story, right?)

To that effect, last night my carefully laid plan was immediately hijacked when I “ran” into three people on Facebook at the same time as me.  The last was a dear friend who I recently reconnected with, the first was the husband of my cousin who is very fun and it was because of him I became friends with my other cousin – who I will call Ryan.  Ryan is twenty-four years old and lives in rural Indiana along with all of my mother’s relatives.  He is part of the subgroup of cousins I collective refer to as my little cousins in that they are the children of my first cousins the oldest of which is actually older than me.  My mother has a nephew, my first cousin, who is only eight years younger than her and as I am the absolute youngest grandchild, my little cousins are in many ways more my peers than their parents. 

But back to Ryan.  Ryan’s grandparents (my aunt and uncles) hosted a big family reunion when I was twelve or thirteen years old.  At the time, Ryan was toe headed toddler who I pushed around in a wagon to his delight.  While pushing him around, I stepped on a bee and was subsequently stung ending the wagon ride and causing little Ryan to throw a bit of a fit.  I shared the story with him a few years ago at my aunt’s funeral – of course he didn’t remember – but he seemed to like hearing a little bit about his life when he was too young to remember. 

Last night, I was happy to fill in some of the gaps between the toe headed toddler and the young man he has become.  I found out he owns and runs a candle store.  He also is very into training and raising exotic animals hoping to take his experience with domestic animals (Ryan like most of my family grew up on a farm) and parlay it into a side career.  I imagined exotic animals to be things like alligators and snakes, which I suppose is true, but they are also things like camels and zebras both of which he has.  In fact, at another of my little cousins’ birthday parties over the summer he brought the camel for the kids to ride on and it was a big hit. Last night I discovered my little cousin has become a candle shop owner/exotic animal trainer and I couldn’t be more proud.  He is hoping to visit sometime soon and wants me to set him up with one of my friends – any takers? 

As a brief postscript and explanation for the photo, earlier in the day, I hung out at the Huntington Gardens where I took a bunch of pictures of bees pollinating flowers.  I am amazed by all of our modern technology; we are still dependent on the bee.  Double postscript – right now the Huntington Gardens has beautifully hung red Chinese lanterns in honor of Chinese New Year.  

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 64 - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

 In honor of the Year of the Ox: A Review of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

I began the book on Monday and finished on Wednesday – it was that good my friends (disclaimer: I have lots of free time on my hands).  I was hoping the book would be the pick for my February book club but my friends opted for Snowflower and the Secret Fan. Obviously, we were going with a Chinese theme but the two books couldn’t have been more dissimilar.  Even if you care very little for Chinese culture or literature, I believe the story appeals more as a coming of age story than a culture investigation per se whereas Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is very rooted in Chinese culture. 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress tells the story of two teenaged friends all but marooned in a remote mountain village in China for the communist government’s reeducation in the mid-seventies.  In the process, the two main characters become the darlings of the village – city boys who in many ways do their own reeducating of the reformed opium farmers and their kinfolks vis-a-vi their alarm clock, violin and uncanny story telling ability.  They meet the title’s little Chinese seamstress – whom they both fall in love with in their own way reminiscent to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s respective love for teacher lady Etta Place.  Along the way, they also acquire a suitcase full of western literature which serves as a sort of currency in their struggle to become the intellectual and sophisticated sorts their parents are.  

Certainly, unemployment lends itself to lots of reading.  In addition to Balzac, I have read the following books during unemployment:  The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb,  What is the What by Dave Eggers, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboski.  And today, i started reading Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor.