Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cupcakes, Unemployment & Huge Tracts of Land

If I'd followed the example of my great-aunt Kitty, I'd be a well-to-do widow having a fling with the young man next door right about now. The opportunity to marry at all, let alone well, hasn't presented itself. At this point, it seems unlikely that it ever will. I don't seem to be made for that.

There are moments, especially now that I'm unemployed, that marriage sounds like a reasonable idea. I notice that I have the old-fashioned idea of marriage, the idea of marriage as an economic arrangement. The 'yes, she's plain and old, but she has huge tracts of land. ' and 'yes, he's surly, but he has 10,000 a year and owns half of Derbyshire' idea of marriage.This doesn't bode well for my prospects, as I am a dowerless spinster with no connections to recommend me.

I had a working interview this week. Another rendition of 'you're great, it's just not the right fit for you'. I'm beginning to wonder if there is a 'right fit'. Yes, I know it's only been three weeks that I've been looking, and I know that I am at least getting interviews. It's just that sometimes the powerlessness and lack of control really gets overwhelmingly depressing. I had no control over losing my job. I have no control over what jobs are available. I have no control over who calls me for an interview. I have no control over who offers me a job. I hate this. I have no say over a major part of my life and I absolutely hate it. (What's that? Control freak? Moi!? Don't be silly!)

I signed up for Wilton Cake Decorating 3 - fondant, gumpaste, stringwork, tiered cakes. More skills can only help, and class and homework will give me a bit of structure and an illusion of control.

I've been amusing myself by translating cocktails, truffles and classic pastries into cupcakes. It's still in the mental stage, but creative problem solving makes me feel better.

My novel.....bleh. I haven't had the will or the desire to look at it for the last few weeks. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with it. It's complete and utter crap. It seems very unlikely that I'll have it even remotely readable in time for the June deadline. Do I want this dreck bound into a free paperback book? I don't think so . I might put the hard copy in a bonfire; it sure as hell isn't going into recycling. It might as well be useful. And fire is pretty.

Well-meaning people keep telling me to start my own business. I wish they'd stop. I'm not made for that either.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rambling as Usual

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your art, which is how I found myself at Best Buy in search of a printer that would take photo paper and business card stock, something my little hand-me-down printer refused to do. I found a pretty awesome multi-function printer that was $30 off the regular price. Score. It installed easily, which was even more awesome.

So, newly updated portfolio in hand, I went off the the precipitating cause of this purchase. The ad for this place required that applicants come down to the shop, resume and portfolio in hand. I met the owner, and got the welcome news that of all the applicants, I am the only one who isn't currently in school. That means I am the only one with unlimited availability. Hopefully I'll be going in next week for a trial day.

It's a cool, funky little place. They were in the middle of making 2000 mini cupcakes for Artopia.
The dress code is an apron over whatever clothes one feels like wearing. I realized that I really like that idea. I have never been comfortable in a chef's jacket. Or jackets in general. I feel stifled and confined in a jacket. A fleece hoodie, on the other hand: perfect.

So upscale restaurant kitchens are not an option; I don't want to go through life feeling stifled. I want to wear people clothes and an apron. An apron with a Jolly Rodger on it, a Jolly Rodger comprised of an eye-patch-wearing cupcake with a whisk and a rolling pin crossed underneath. At heart, I seem to be a bakeshop girl. And that's ok.

And now, off to decide on a cake and bake it. And maybe have some breakfast.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Numbers Game

The average job posting on craigslist gets hundreds of responses. The poop scoop company turned off their ad at 125 responses. The little bakeshop got over 200. The funeral/cremation company my sister works for usually gets about 500. Out of those numbers, the employer picks 10, 20, 30 or so people they want to interview.

Out of the roughly 30 ads I've responded to, 7 employers contacted me for an interview or to come in and fill out an application. That's about a 23% success rate. Not bad, all things considered.

I'm also learning about what just isn't worth it. Like the deranged pet sitter service owner, who went off on a tirade about trying to rescue some pit bulls, and then explained that she didn't have employees, she had contract workers, and so you'd pay your own taxes, do your own advertising and pay her a cut. For what, exactly?

Also not worth it - a baking job that starts at 4am, and involves being the baker, the burrito maker, coffee pourer and counter help from 7am to noon, when the relief person comes in. Eventually the owner plans to have 2 people at all times, but that time is not yet. Also the radio was playing praise music while the flatscreen tv was blaring Fox News. Probably not the best fit...

This evening I got a call from a new catering company. I'm interviewing there tomorrow morning. And an email from a cafe that's interviewing on Friday. I don't think that cafe would work; they are looking primarily for a cook. But I sent them my resume, and they invited me for an interview. Kind of makes me wonder if they read my resume. But I'll go, if only for practice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tiny Bubbles

The weather report from NOAA predicted about an inch of snow for today. Our little microclimate seems to have missed the memo, as so far we have about four inches and the snow is still coming down. I wouldn't care if I didn't have to go out later. I'm going down to the shop to have a toast to the end of Wen Chocolates in Denver. We've been saving a bottle of really good champagne (a Veuve Cliquot I think) for a special occasion. Granted, closing the shop and kitchen isn't quite the occasion we'd envisioned, but Veuve Cliquot does lend a mad dash of frivolity to the wake.
I'm curious to try the champagne; it's on the pricey end. My taste buds are usually happy with the $10-20 dollar range. As John Cleese says, if you like it, it's good wine. My new favorite in the sparkling category is Astoria Sweet Lounge, a blend of proseco and muscatel. I confess. I bought it for the pretty label, but it turned out to be delightful, and it goes very well with chocolate.
A positive note, I won the monthly giveaway at Octoberfarm, one of my favorite blogs. A set of antique pressed-glass dishes. Lovely way to start off the Year of the Metal Tiger. Thanks, Jaz.
Between the closing and the flu, I haven't had the energy to keep up with everyone's blogs and postings. I apologize. I'll get back to it eventually. Right now, I need some breakfast and some Dayquil.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pet Therapy & Whatever

This is Kitty's new favorite spot; as soon as I sit down at the computer, there he is. It's a new
behavior that started right about the time I knew for certain that I was going to be out of work. It's becoming more and more frequent; anytime I sit down, there he is. If I leave the bedroom door open at night, I wake to find myself squished between Kitty and Puppy. It's very sweet, in a smothering sort of way.
I've had one phone interview so far, out of I don't know how many applications. I didn't get a callback for the group interview. It was for the edibles division of a medical marijuana company. I'm thinking that my lack of drug use counted against me. I have all the skills they needed, I just don't use pot. It triggers a nearly suicidal depression in me, so I don't use it. No 'just say no' anti-drug stuff going on, I just react badly so it's not the thing for me. That should have made me an attractive prospect and a natural for inventory control, but no. The interviewer told me that they'd winnowed over a hundred resumes down to about 40 'awesome' candidates. After a phone interview, about 16 or so would be invited to the group interview and from that about 10 people would be hired. It seems I was not awesome enough.
Bevin told me that the last time her company posted a job on Craigslist they got about 700 responses. That doesn't cheer me up. Unless her boss needs someone to go through resumes...
I couldn't do Bevin's job (she's a funeral director). After 7 years in hospice care and 7 years in an animal shelter I can't do any more caretaking emotional trauma type jobs. I just can't.
I don't know what I want to do next. Something that pays well enough, that's interesting enough to keep me motivated, something that doesn't suck up all my energy so that I have nothing left for the things I really enjoy. The things that make life worth living but don't provide a living wage.
It's gloomy and gray and chilly. I should take Puppy to the park, but I don't feel like going. If it were sunny, it would seem warm enough, but under a cloudy sky it just feels cold and damp. Bleh. We're in between sun and snow. Everything is in between right now, the weather, jobs, me... Everything is in flux, waiting for whatever comes next.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Imbolc 2010: The Adventure Begins

Sometimes, the Powers That Be take things a bit too literally.
Imbolc is about inspiration, fire, the awakening of seeds slumbering in the earth,
rebirth and new beginnings. So, what happens? I lose my job.

This is not quite the new beginning I would have chosen. But here it is, and it must be dealt with, no matter how much I might want to take to my bed with a bottle of bourbon and a good supply of snacks.
There's grieving and depression going on, and it would be easy to slide into a dark well and stay there. Fortunately, one of my personalities is a planner with a passion for averting disaster. I've already enlisted friends to check in with me to make sure I'm attending to basic functions like showering, walking Puppy and posting on Facebook. I have activities scheduled to make sure I get out of the house for something besides job hunting.
I have a list of upcoming free days at the zoo, the art museum and the musuem of nature and science. I have my Nano group every other week. And finally, after a nearly three year absence, I'll be able to go to Free writing Fridays. Thanks to Bevin giving me a gift card to the rec center, I can keep going to NIA; I'm addicted. I was in a pit of despair Monday night, but after class I was on a natural high.
I've known the end was coming for a few weeks. The sense of impending doom has made it very difficult to concentrate on ...well, on anything really. I haven't been sleeping well, I have a hard time being still. My novel has been terribly neglected. Now that the closing is out in the open, I can relax and stop putting so much energy into keeping my mouth shut. It's been really hard; I don't like to keep pain to myself. I like to spread it around...
I don't know what I want to do next. I've applied for some very random things. I have no idea what is going to happen over the next year as far as jobs go. My planner self is not happy, my wandering gypsy self is thrilled, everyone else is somewhere in the middle.
I'm trying to frame this whole thing in a positive way. "It's not unemployment - it's a stay-cation! Yeah!" It works for a few seconds.
After the Imbolc circle on Saturday night, I went home to bed. After a night of intensely vivid dreams, I woke up with this first thought "My name doesn't fit anymore". This happens about every 7 years or so, usually when there's a significant shift in some part of my life or personality.
So here I am, at Imbolc, with no job, no idea what I'm going to do, and my name doesn't fit. And that's ok. Somehow, it will all come out right, even though I don't know how.
Imbolc is also about hope, hope that the spring will return, the seeds will awaken, and that life will be renewed.