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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Clean Slate?

I knew I was in trouble when the thought of folding two baskets of clean laundry was appealing.

This morning I woke up still upbeat from yesterday. After driving my daughter to school, I sat at the computer (Are you sick of this phrase yet?) to work on my resume. Today it was the chronological version, verses the functional one that gave me so much trouble over the past few weeks (which finally made the cut with the outplacement counselor I am happy to say). All that effort paid off though, because after shaking up the functional document and executing a little cutting and pasting, by about 8:30 a.m. the new format was complete.

That was OK because there is another assignment due this week—a document that identifies my areas of expertise, though not in a resume format. When networking, I’m told, sometimes a formal resume is a bit too—well, formal. This piece is developed to create dialogue, not necessarily job offers. It may serve to open doors to people who will open doors to people who may get me to the job offer place. So, when the resume was done, I started on that. This document too was a cut and paste from the functional resume, so my first pass was complete by 9:15, at which time I contemplated this blog, came up dry and started pacing.

Thankfully, a friend called looking for a walk. We let her dog set the pace through the sandy streets of seaside neighborhoods, after which I perused job boards until my daughter got out of school on an early release day. Due to some dynamic issues with girlfriends (and trust me, I’d rather be 50 and smarting from the band aid rip of unemployment than a teenager again), I took her out to lunch. After a salty, smoky pastrami sandwich, we left via a circuitous route, pausing at the beach to admire the calm, flat sea and arrived home—at which point I was at a loss.

Those who know me are aware that other than cooking, household chores are not my forte. And, while I’ve perfected a phenomenal new shortbread recipe in the last few weeks, one more batch of cookies and my family is going evict me. We have a small celebration scheduled for Friday, and I toyed with the idea of preparing the dining room, but the cat considers any tablecloth fair game. The gardens are too wet to work; I don’t want to spend money, therefore stores are off limits. The ever present book tempted, but turning my back on it, I made my way down to the basement resolved to throw some dirty sheets into the washer, and was delighted to find two baskets of laundry to fold. That scared me.

I redeemed myself by coming up with the subject matter for today’s blog.

During the first month of unemployment there is a vast amount of paperwork relating to the change. The initial few weeks are filled with phone calls to make, letters to write, people to tell, financial counselors to speak to. There is life insurance to change and unemployment to sign up for, budgets to develop and schedules to adjust. Friends and family call regularly to make sure that you are hanging on. Five weeks into it though, guess what? All that stuff is done and you are still, um, unemployed.

Having worked full time since I was out of college, with the exception of the few months after our daughter arrived, today I realize that without the pressure of “never enough time,” I don’t know how to fill hours not allotted to a paycheck. In my previous life, weekends were typically crammed with our daughter’s activities, sandwiched between house and yard work, preparing for the week ahead, or sometimes spending a few idyllic hours relaxing. I have never been much of a group joiner but it never bothered me because there wasn’t time. Suddenly there are long unassigned periods to fill and I’m not sure how to accomplish that. It’s pretty clear to me today how depression could sneak in. In order to avoid that my goal now is to investigate and to identify activities that make my time valuable again. Any suggestions will be gratefully considered.

At the moment you can be proud of me though, because all of the laundry is done. Oh, and I guess so is today’s blog.

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