Wandering through the Dense, Modern Fog of Unemployment

In the old days, when I was a young person on the job hunt my Mom gave me good advice: show up early in the morning, put yourself together, look people in the eye, leave your resume, check back in person.

I was once in the grocery store on a Friday evening when I watched a man with his two children try to turn in an application to the manager.  He was in his painter’s pants and there were lines at every register.  Not everyone had received the same advice.

But the rules are all different now because of the internet: email your resume, don’t get too dressed up, don’t be too confrontational and if you circle back, they automatically put your resume in the circular file.  Show up in the afternoon when people are more likely to have the time to talk to you.  

Because I am a single mom, in a new city, it is hard to know the etiquette of job searching.  Some places consider it rude to actually show up and try to make a person-to person impression.  They look bewildered, as if they were never going to have to talk to you, ever.  Some places are so big that even if you impressed someone by doing so, they probably have no input at all.  And the rules about what you should put on your resume seem to change daily: don’t put the year you graduated from college, that will date you, don’t offer your references, that’s not the style these days.  

And please don’t get me started on what counts as “business attire” today.  I walked into an interview recently where I had been informed that business attire was required and the woman who greeted me was in a mini skirt and hooker pumps.  Skin colored, platform hooker pumps.  

Sheesh.  

I have never gotten a job from my resume alone; I always shook someone’s hand and said something unexpected to make them laugh.  I complimented them on something specific about their business in a genuine way to indicate why I wanted to work there.  I never got nervous in an interview because if I was honest people usually got it.  

But I am getting nervous now.  My savings is dwindling.  My expenses are many.  I realize I am in a much less precarious place than most people in this country, even this world.  I have roof over my head and food in the fridge.  But the threat of not being able to make ends meet makes me desperate, and employers smell desperate from miles away.  

And of course, there is always this lingering feeling that I’m trying to push myself into a space that was not designed for me.  There are many, many things I would rather get paid to do, like write fiction, teach yoga, sing jazz.  if I could find a job that combined all those things and paid me 80k a year with bennies, I’d be set.  

But here I am, in a blazer that fit me much better before Thanksgiving, driving around, clutching my resume, smiling and hoping to find a sympathetic bureaucrat to take it off my hands and put it in a stack of other resumes.  If I can even get through the door.

I am always tempted in my cover letters to blurt out: “you know, I could come up with some amazing adjectives to describe myself, but why don’t you just throw me in there and see what i can do?! You won’t be sorry!”  I’m sure that wouldn’t come across as desperate.  Maybe I should just try the hooker pumps.  

 

 

 

Sacramento

Blossom and I have been settled here for almost a month and I still startle when the neighbors slam a door or the mailman delivers.  The country really sensitized me and it’s a little weird to have other humans, strangers in such close proximity.  

We love our little house, it’s the perfect size and the landlords are retirees so if I need anything they are often here within the hour.  The camilia bush is blooming.  

On my first week here my mom offered to watch Blossom on a Friday night so I could go to a movie.  I looked at the map, saw how close I was to downtown and hopped on the business 50.  It was bumper to bumper and I thought: you idiot, you are in the city now, everyone is doing what you are doing.  Two minutes later I passed a fender bender and the traffic disappeared as if Sac was saying, “hah, gotcha, we don’t really do that here.”  As an Angelino I am traumatized but the deadening effect of relentless traffic.  I left the Bay Area largely because of the traffic.  Its a concession for me to drive at all.  In fact, moving here was so enticing because it is a highly bikeable, flat town.  But I am blown away by how manageable getting around is in a car here.  I took Blossom to her first day at preschool at 8am and it was like a sunday afternoon.  So hallelujah.  

Today was B’s second day of school and despite the allure of pajama day with popcorn and a movie, she was unmoved and wept loudly when I left.  I guess this is what other parents have to deal with alot, but B has always handled the transition with aplomb.  The school, Discovery Tree, is beautiful, the staff is warm without being cloying.  And out of all the places I looked at, it was the least expensive.  My friends in SF pay twice what I pay for two days a week.  

I just need work.  Today is really the first day I have had any time to make a concerted effort to join the workforce, only it happens to be the day before Thanksgiving.  Too bad, I am doing it anyway.  Yoga studios, the Juvenile Hall, recovery programs, UC Davis Med Center.  Wish me luck.  Today is the day.  

Hello and thanks for the mellow, warm welcome, Sacramento.  

Adventures in House Hunting

Wow.  A new one, this one caught me totally off guard.  I’ve been using Craigslist, as many of you have, for at least 10 years, this one took the cake.  I posted a “wanted” ad looking for housing in Sac for me and Blossom.  Here’s the ad:

“Greetings! I am a creative, responsible and freshly single Mom looking for a place to live in a family friendly Sac neighborhood. We would love to live in an in-law or carriage house behind a family. 
I have one, lovely daughter who charms the socks off everyone she meets. We have no pets, one small car and lots and lots of art supplies! We love animals so it would be great if you have pets we can borrow. 
We would love to be near children and or a park. We like playing outside, gardening, making art and general frolicking. Biking is also high on the list. 
I am a freelance writer and rehabilitative yoga teacher so my time is flexible, I’d even be happy doing a babysitting trade or working off part of the rent in childcare. I can also furnish you with excellent landlord references and although my credit is not wonderful I have plenty of savings and additional support. A 6 month lease would be ideal but we are flexible. 
Thanks for reading this post, and enjoy this autumnal day. “

I got this response this morning:

“Hi

I have in-law quarters in back of the main house, 2 bd 1ba, that is currently empty. Its completely separate from the main house. It has its own entrance, kitchen etc. and its furnished.

Im looking for a CUTE female who is willing to clean, make coffee in the morning and do some ‘extra’ things around the house a couple times a week in exchange for $100 rent.

Normally rents for $1500/month. “

He also sent these pictures:

ImageImageImage

 

So this was my carefully crafted reply:

Hi ——-,  I don’t know quite how to respond to this.  The implication is that you are looking for some sort of live in maid/prostitute and that you would be willing to knock 1400$ off the rent for those services.  Did I mention that I have a child? 
Do unusually handsome, wealthy men have to resort to sending inappropriate messages to single mamas on CL?  If they do it’s news to me.  
So I am going to have to call bullshit on this message, altogether.  The house looks beautiful, you (if this is indeed you) also look beautiful.  And while I happen to think I’m cute and I entertained this idea for a second, the fact that you had no problem sending it makes me think you are either a liar or an asshole.  Or both.
 
So I have to thank you for this gallant offer, but no thanks.  If there is a guy out there willing to make this proposal, then certainly there is a gal willing to take you up on it.  Best of Luck.  Next time, you might try asking a lady out for a drink first.  
 
 
~M
 
Again, wow.  Could I really get that lucky, to pay 100$ a month rent and all i had to do was bone a handsome rich guy a few times a week and make him coffee?  Nah, too good to be true.  

Fall Falls in Nevada County

We are turning the corner on another year and the marker is that the clouds have reemerged, the pressure has changed the days are shorter the leaves are sifting down around the oaks.  The mimosas are abloom with bright peach and orange tufts of fuzz, the vegetables abound.  

It’s been a weird and wonderful summer: alot of grief, skies rife with smoke, bristling heat.  My people, as usual, make my life worth living.  I’ve made new friends, rekindled and refined old friendships.  I’m really alone now, in that exhilerating and terrifying place of freedom from a suffocating relationship.  My novel dangles like a hangnail, constantly aggitating to be finished, but providing me with no climax, no sudden burst of inspiration.  Philip Roth said you have to leave a place to write about it and maybe he’s right.  I sure hope so.  

I’m heading into a couple interviews this week, big corporate firms that require suits and other conventions.  In my hippied-out existence here, I have become so comfortable wearing yoga pants and tank tops in public, regularly using words like energy and ridgefolk.  I’m at once scared and excited to enter the matrix, to regularly use words like schematic and return on investment.  Most of all, I am ready to make some real money.  I’m ready to pay rent, to unload a ton of useless belongings, to receive a paycheck and go home.  

I am letting it all go: the dream of living off the land, of partnership, of participating in a local, vegetable based black market barter system.  I’m letting go of art and embracing commerce.  The new me will check her watch and monitor twitter and tumblr accounts.  

I will miss you, Nevada County.  It’s too bad you couldn’t employ me.  I will always keep you in my heart and I will visit often.  Sacramento is only an hour and a world away.  I will finish the novel before I die, I swear.  I will tell your story.

The water in Sacramento sucks.