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Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Can do This

Here it is-- my first morning as a member of the vast multitude of the unwashed and unemployed of 2009. OK, I exaggerate; I’m washed, but walking around in twice worn blue jeans. After 23 years with the same employer, close to half of my life, yesterday was the proverbial day of reckoning. No need to bore with the details. Suffice to say, this morning I find myself with a bit of time on my hands.

To no surprise, sleep didn’t come last night, but it wasn’t so much the shock of unemployment that had me tossing from side to side, pulling the blankets up and then kicking them off. The restlessness came from one merry-go-round question that circled endlessly through my brain. What will I do now?

As a Senior Recruitment Manager for a billion dollar retailer, there were parts of my job that I liked. Mentoring my staff, pulling at the hanging threads of complex problems and weaving together solutions, training people, interviewing eager candidates, the relationships developed over years of interaction. But to be honest the true value of my job over the last several years was that it enabled me to enjoy the rest of my life. The salary was necessary, and helpful. I worked six miles from home, could get to my now teenage daughter in less than 15 minutes and they let me. For the most part, other than the last six months or so, I left the work behind on nights and weekends. Deep inside, I knew that there was more in life I could do and there was more I could be, but the ease of the routine of my career enabled me to keep that thought on the back burner. Today though, the pot is slowly heating.

So with some sense of relief, here is where I start my reconstruction, and I have a niggling of a place to begin. For the last year, I have been an avid reader and commenter on a blog of a New York based writer with whom I am acquainted. We have known each other for several years and she has persuaded me in no small way to exploit the contents of that pan resting on the stove. As an English major with a wealth of journalism courses under my belt, I worked that interest into my job, writing memos, training documents, and advertising collateral for the field--but it wasn’t until my acquaintance with the NYC writer developed, and she pointed out that that my writing is a passion, that I began to pursue it more formally. My work friends humored my interest, passing memos by me and joking at my level of editorial detail. However, few of them know of the whopping two essays I’ve had published in the last few years, and none of them know about the black notebook on my bedroom floor filled with final drafts and copious rejection letters.

Truth be told, our family needs a lot more income than my erstwhile writing career will ever earn. So I will go to the outplacement meetings scheduled for me, I’ll rewrite my resume. I’ll do my best in this appalling economy to find a job that supplies an income that will help support a child going to college in two years. But while I am doing that, I will also do this. I’ll document my experiences as a middle aged and unexpectedly unemployed woman. Writing about my reinvention and job search will give purpose to my days, and perhaps direction in my career. Better yet, maybe I’ll be of some help to someone in similar circumstances. God knows I’m not alone, and among other things; this blog is a way to reach out to those who are in this pickle with me.

Last night, as I shifted from side to side under the down comforter, hugging the teddy bear my daughter had sympathetically placed beside me while agonizing over insurance and 401K’s, I had a moment of peace. I pictured the blog that I read each day, and reflected on my joy in crafting my responses. When I recognized how absorbed I have become in analyzing each word, scrutinizing every sentence, pouring over key phrases to find just the right flow before clicking send, I realized, I can do this. I have something to say too.

4 comments:

ASW said...

I am overwhelmed, reading this, and so moved and flattered and sorry for what you are experiencing, but also so glad--selfishly, I know--that I will now be able to read your work, too. I now plunge in, to what will become a daily pleasure...

Jon Paul said...

Liza,

It does indeed sound like we have plenty in common. Thanks for sharing this with me.

Justine Dell said...

Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this. Look how far you've come since then. You're a fighter! (With a powerful way with words!)

~JD

Lydia K said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You are a strong woman!