Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dead Calm

Today I went to the cemetery. Before you grimace and assume that I attended a funeral or was in the throws of a depression, let me explain that it is situated near the library where I parked the car, and has the added advantage of sitting on a promontory overlooking what is called “Little Harbor.” Since the residents of this necropolis possess one of the most expansive views in town I laced up my sneakers and decided that today’s walk should include a detour there.

The area I explored is one of our community's oldest resting places. Weathered slate markers dating as far back as the 1700’s lean high above granite monoliths that grow and shrink in the tidal flats that pool below. Central Cemetery is carved out of grass tiers that step up from each other; leading to a beige stone Celtic cross towering at the top, erected in memory of immigrants from the brig St. John that foundered on ledge while carrying these pilgrims to a better life. Far below the cross coils a sheaf of shoreline etched with flattened marsh hay; the greening buds and tangled strands of sea heather. The sun heated the small gravestones edging the beach this morning; purple crocuses bloomed in bunches below veterans flags that lifted up on a hanging breeze. Today, the sea far beyond slept steel flat and cold and gusts blew damp, but spring erased the sting. Pebbles from the stone walk crunched as I wandered toward the road. On my way back to the library I swung my arms and eyeballed the forsythia preparing to burst in front of an antique cape along the way.

You may take issue with me strolling among the peaceful dead but the fact is that I did begin my walk low key in mood. The hike among them though--well, more than anything, it brought me back to life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Cubby over the Stairs

I find myself acting territorial now that I’ve been at home almost two months. As I mentioned, prior to the delivery of my pink slip, we finished redecorating the dining room which, along with a cherry table and bone china, also housed our computer. This was never a good thing when we hosted around 30 extended family members on Thanksgiving. Each year, during the fourth week of November, we’d have to unhook the cables, stuff the monitor under the dropped-leaf side table it rested on, and cover the whole tangled mess with a freshly ironed tablecloth.

Next Turkey Day will be easier now that tiny technology has allowed us to move the computer into its current cupboard location. For years, we’ve used the family room cabinet to store old record albums (yes, I said albums) and a collection of CD’s, VHS tapes and DVD’s. But the introduction of three I-pods into our house, all downloaded with expansive play lists, rendered our accumulation of audio/visual antiques redundant. Once we relocated an unused turntable, about 150 albums, stacks of DVD’s and among other things, VHS tapes holding every episode from the first Star Trek series, we had plenty of room. So having previously and involuntarily relinquished my laptop to my daughter, when I lost my job I moved in.

My cubby is actually three cupboards on top of each other, floor to ceiling, cut into 1950’s pine paneling. The computer and printer take up most of the middle cupboard, but I relocated a desk clock, calculator, stapler, and an adjustable lamp inside and manage. My feet tuck into the bottom cupboard, toasting warm next to the heat of the processor and a pink plastic storage container hosting two reams of paper. The top cupboard is out of my height range, and therefore of no interest to me.

I spend a major portion of Monday through Friday seated on a Hitchcock chair pulled up to this cozy nook. But when my husband is home on the weekends, he wants to use the computer too. Not that he isn’t a fair and equal partner but possession is nine tenths of the law as they say, and since I possess it during the week, shouldn’t the cubby be mine on weekends also? I know--not by a long shot.

To be honest and not to my credit, he doesn’t use it that often but when he’s there, I catch myself gazing at the laptop to see if it’s available in case I develop a compelling need to hop on-line. Then I worry that I have not saved the latest version of my open word document and that an errant mouse click may direct it to cyber oblivion. I busy myself elsewhere when he commandeers the corner but breathe an inaudible sigh of relief when he vacates the chair. I’m not proud of this little confession, after all I did learn to share in Kindergarten. And if that’s not enough, most time he’s there he’s finding favorite songs to replace all those old albums and I benefit from his play list too. Hence I’m struggling to get myself over it.

But there is more. Lately the cat has taken to hopping into my cubby to perch on top of printer. Sharing with Tim is one thing, my marriage vows require it--but cat hair in the keyboard? No thank you. There is no contract binding enough for that.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Week in Review (7)

Things I have learned:

It’s more challenging to write when you are not a part of the story.

Being comfortable with habit is one thing, but the brain syntaxes fire when you shake things up a bit.

Work at it long enough and little dreams will come true.

Go to the library. There is plenty of education right there.

Law class field trips to the local police station get cut short when a prisoner requires booking, a gas leak evacuates the local supermarket, and “police activity” occurs in the downtown area. Who knew a tiny community could produce such excitement?

When providing transportation for another upcoming field trip, you cross your fingers and knock three times that it’s the only time in life you'll say the words: “I am driving my daughter to court.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Toward the end of the week, sometimes I get twitchy. On my way to drop my daughter off at school today, I drove past a former coworker vigorously waving. Our daughters attend the same school. There, our similarities diverge though, as she is still employed.

We were two of the earliest arrivals to the office each morning, clocking in around 7:30 a.m. Often I would walk down the grey industrial carpet to collect her and we would trek roughly one-eighth of a mile to the cafeteria for coffee. Over many years, we strolled together through the multi-unit condominium complexes surrounding our office building during lunch. Work being what it was, there were weeks that we didn’t see each other literally, and then spells when we walked regularly, after which we ate, gulping down vegetable or turkey roll-ups in the windowed cafeteria. The lack of contact with her is one of the many things that I’ve had to reconcile myself with over the past several weeks, so needless to say on my way home, she was on my mind.

Pulling out of the tree lined street where the middle-high school resides, I envisioned turning right instead of going straight, and following the two lane highway around the rotary to work, instead of taking the pot-holed country road that leads me home. It took no effort to visualize myself in my Friday casual attire, striding through polished glass doors, greeting the receptionist and passing through two subsequent doorways to my former department. After traipsing past our coordinator’s cube, I’d enter my office and plunk my bag at my own blonde desk as I had on countess other mornings…

Nice try. A few days before the big RIF (and I mean days and I suppose now I understand why) the company finally went state-of-the art with their security system. My new but old picture ID (which I tossed to my desk on my last day of work) was packaged into a box and returned to me with some personal items, but of course has been deactivated.

That little scenario up above, well, it would have ended at the door.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I'm not pining for my previous job, but there is comfort in habit and as much as I am trying to develop new ones, the adjustment process remains ongoing. The plan today was to complete final minor revisions to some outplacement work, take a walk with a friend, and then come home and write this blog entry. The computer however prefers to do a security sweep rather then spend time with me, and since it has slowed down radically, I’ve abandoned my little cupboard for the laptop. No real crisis, the cubby simply happens to be where I’ve worn my work hat for the last month and a half. Settling at the table with the laptop, I realized that I am still waiting for a document to arrive by email before I can make those outplacement changes, so they are on hold regardless of which computer is available. I called today’s walking partner, but she has been offered a substitute teaching assignment that of course she must take. There is no issue, I’m capable of walking on my own and will.

This morning though, I’m slightly out of sorts because the thing about working so long for one place is that there is routine within the routine. A million times I arrived at work expecting to accomplish something only to have a crisis or change crop up that required a total schedule adjustment. It was easily done though because there were always things to move on to, other “to-do’s” to complete. After several weeks at home, the surface of me is attuned to my current situation and doing fine. Deep down though, the pattern feels tenuous. Every disruption to my carefully staged agenda takes thought and processing and planning. Sometimes I miss the ability to get things done without always having to think.

That said, I am preparing to walk now and in spite of myself, I’ll follow a new route.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time on My Side

This is my forty-third piece in Middle Passages, and I still don’t know why the blog clock is wrong. Each time I complete a post, a display appears indicating when the document “went live.” Every day the time revealed is over three hours before I actually clicked “Publish Post.” And for those technicians out there, I write each essay in Word and copy it before opening Blogger and pasting it in. I considered not confessing this inaccuracy to you readers. (I do have readers, right? Anyone want to comment to assure me you are out there?) Then you would continue to assume that I possess the fortitude and dedication to thrive as a pre-dawn writer. Honesty though, is one of my attributes I guess, in spite of the fact that sometimes it feels more like a fault.

Anyway, for my own amusement, I took a little survey through the last forty-two entries and discovered that if you believe the clock, on at least eight days in the last six weeks I posted before sun-up. If you figure that it takes me close to three hours to write and edit one of these pieces and factor in that for the most part I have been crafting them in the winter when the sun comes up late, according to Blogger some days I must have started writing at 3:00 a.m. Has anyone been in my house at 3:00 a.m.? We control our thermostat with an automatic timer set to fifty-five degrees overnight. For those of you not living in New England, let me assure you that fifty-five in the middle of the winter feels like zero and no matter how many layers I may have considered wrapping myself in, the hands at the keyboard would have been rock hard ice.

Clearly I am not a fan of middle of the night cold, but to give myself some credit, I possess morning tendencies and do arrive at the computer around 7:30 most days. On Saturdays, since there are no lunches to make, I can get there earlier, but in the winter, I am inclined to grant myself at least an extra hour to snooze beyond my normal 5:45 alarm. However, if you believe what you read, my earliest posts occured on each successive Saturday. For example, according to Blogger on February 14th I finished writing and posted Middle Passages at 5:33 a.m. That would have entailed a wake up time of about 2:45 to write. I have this picture of me swaddled in the olive-green down comforter tugged from our bed (sorry Tim) dressed in baggy sweats, floppy wool socks and my LLBean suede slippers, tiptoeing down our narrow hallway to the paneled family room. The cat, optimistically sleeping above a cold radiator on the back of the navy couch, arches her back and gives me a “you have got to be kidding” look as I switch on the recessed lights.

Perhaps however, this image is not so far-fetched. Pen on Fire author Barbara DeMarco-Barret tells me that any writer can find fifteen minutes to practice her craft. Reading her book this week has offered me some acceptance that even when I have to give up this luxury of plentiful writing time to get back to paying work, I’ll be capable of fitting it in.

With some help from an old coworker, I have committed to myself that I will. We had company coming last week, so I finally consolidated the two boxes from my former office and shoved the remaining container from the dining room to the living room. Someday I’ll decide what to do with the contents. While picking through though, I discovered the brown 8”x11” envelope that holds the detritus of my old bulletin board. There are pictures of flowers drawn by my toddler daughter, a birth announcement for someone who had to wait a long time and a photo of a little girl from New York whose mother is my inspiration. Inside that packet, typed in bold Ariel print on plain white paper rests a quote by George Eliot that this aforementioned coworker sent me before he left the company for a career as a stay-at-home dad. It goes like this: “It is never too late to become who you might have been.”

Maybe, when I do get back to work I’ll purchase a heavy wool sweater and thermal sweats and set my alarm for 3:00.

Fingerless gloves, anyone?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home Schooling

My Australian sister retired recently and signed up for a journalism course at a local college. One of her first class assignments incorporated writing short descriptions of pictures found on postcards. As I mentioned yesterday, Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is my library indulgence this week. At the time she wrote the book, the author taught creative writing at the University of California, Irvine, and the end of each chapter offers exercises designed to assist would-be writers. Early on, she recommends that writers describe a scene from a postcard. Imagine that. Fourteen thousand miles apart and the homework is the same. OK, I’m in. However, since I don’t have postcards lying around it will have to be my calendar page, hanging on the inside door to the computer cubby. I’m setting a timer and we’ll all see what comes out—although my typing is God awful so I promise to edit the piece before displaying it below.


At the edge of the water garden, two Adirondack chairs balance in the shadows surrounded by moist undergrowth. White seats blend with white tipped hostas; creeping begonias blossom baby white below. In the woods a dogwood bleeds red through the dark pines; closer in, loosestrife, invasive and purple tangles at the side of the pool. The plump buds of gold tinged cushion spurge surround a single yawning lily and ornamental grasses bend forward as if to sip. Quoi or carp or goldfish must swim somewhere but they hide under waxy lily pads; behind a centered stepping stone. In my mind, a little girl dressed in pink summer seersucker braces one arm on granite fieldstones, reaching eager fingers to the quick water bugs that draw ripples on invisible skates. She has run ahead of her mother who strolls barefoot on this sultry morning, hand coiled around a mug of sweetened tea, breathing the dew smell, the green, the freshly cut grass, the faint mint of lemon thyme that mounds beside the pond. Somewhere a frog honks softly. Muted cicadas ratchet up their chainsaw whine. Cool grass tickles; humid air swallows; embraces. Quiet, shade, peace, morning--the calendar says March, but here in my cubby, the rendering is New England June.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Calling My Bluff--Sort of

It seemed like a work morning today. I had an early outplacement meeting and woke up realizing I forgot to put gas in the car. Then before breakfast I reviewed my notes from my last meeting and remembered that I hadn’t completed all of my homework. The resume was done, the “areas of expertise” document was complete, but the draft networking email had no checkmark next to it. So in between layering together a chicken roll-up for my daughter’s lunch and cooking oatmeal with raisins for me, I fired up the computer. My daughter scuffed out in her fluffy pink slippers about five minutes later, wet hair scrunched into a towel turban. While perched at our kitchen counter bar waiting for the milk to absorb into her cereal, she asked: “Is that computer on? I swear I turned it off last night.” As the color in my cheeks bloomed beyond their normal pink to fuscia, I explained that I turned it on because I forgot some of my outplacement homework due today. Shaking her finger and smirking, as expected she parroted myself back at me, “You know Mum; you shouldn’t leave your homework to the last minute.”

She is right, of course. As I scrambled through the development of a quick email letter designed to market available me to my network, I tried to figure out why, when I finished the other two assignments so much earlier in the week, I had allowed this one to drop off the radar screen.

The networking email is designed to inform (or remind) my contacts, that I am no longer with my previous employer. The completed communication should point to my “brand” (I am an “X” with skills in “YZQ”) and will either request a quick meeting or seek recommendations of individuals that I may reach out to. The written piece is not a difficult task to accomplish so what it comes down to is this. I spent the last several weeks preparing the tools for success in this networking process and then conveniently forgot to complete the very last step. Hmmm. Perhaps some self-analysis is required here.

Later, having arrived at the outplacement office with time to spare, I sat in the car reading my newest library book, called Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. The book is billed as a “busy woman’s guide to igniting the writer within.” In the face of the fact that I am none too “busy” these days; this seems like a book calculated to help keep me more so. Just before I stepped out of my car for my appointment, I read this: “Listen up. Forget about the destination—or at least lock that worry away in the back of your mind. The journey is the thing. The act of writing because you love doing it, because you like how you feel when you are writing—that’s reason enough.”

I’m staring at myself today and trying to acknowledge a little bit of truth. Unfortunately though, it’s a truth that doesn’t come with a steady paycheck. Is it possible that I didn’t finish the email homework because the lack of that piece holds me up from initiating the process, from speaking to people with the ultimate goal of acquiring gainful employment?

Can it be that when all the networking preparation is said and done, I’m wondering what job out there will be any more rewarding than this?

Monday, March 23, 2009


My father’s father was a writer; his uncle was a writer too. This heritage courses through my veins, propelling me to sculpt words in the hope that they will be published someday. Prior to my dad’s death, I strived toward that end, in part because I felt that if my writing appeared in print, the grandfather I never knew would come alive for my dad again through his own daughter’s words. In my fantasy, Dad opened the Sunday magazine section of our major newspaper and discovered his daughter’s byline. It didn’t happen before he left us and yes, my work has made it into niche publications since. But I have continued to send pieces to that mainstream daily, convinced that success there will convey a tribute to my father and confirm my legitimacy as a writer.

So here is the thing.

Our daughter was confirmed in our church on Friday. This ceremony was the culmination of ten years of religious education with the final two focused on preparations for this event. To celebrate, we invited her Godparents for an early supper prior to the service, and the phone rang relentlessly while we were catching up. Grateful for caller ID, we ignored repeated attempts from “Private Callers” based out of Florida, rolling our eyes each time the phone chirped at us.

It rang one more time as I was crushing garlic for scampi. Wiping my hands, I reached to turn off the ringer but caught a glimpse at the caller ID display indicating an unknown local number instead of the toll free digits that had been plaguing us all afternoon.

I do believe in intuition and mine told me to pick it up.

And, as it turns out, it was an editor from The Boston Globe Magazine, the publication which has politely ignored the pieces that I have been submitting for the last several years. You see, I wrote an essay last Sunday, edited it like crazy Monday and Tuesday and sent it in on Wednesday. The Friday call was an acceptance.

After cheers all around for our daughter’s accomplishment and an unexpected champagne toast for me, my husband said: “I know the name of your next blog entry. You can call it ‘Confirmed.’”

And so it is.

This one is dedicated to Tuck.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Week in Review (6)

Things I have learned:

We know more than we think we know. Sometimes we know more than they think they know too.

We all need to give ourselves credit, even for the little things.

Every time we step out of our comfort zone we grow.

There are approximately 65 days until Memorial Day, when harbor breakfasts will undoubtedly have started again. Will someone tell that to the brazen patch of snow that continues to adorn our shady backyard?

It frightens me to say this, but sometimes even laundry can be rewarding.

Stay optimistic and good things will happen. More on this later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This one is an exercise for me.

It is 8:00 a.m. on a summer Sunday and we have been to our own church already, a service scheduled for golfers, but we don’t golf. Having given thanks, we’ve purchased hot coffee and fresh bagels and driven to the harbor. The silver-shingled porch on the locked sailing club doubles as an outside chapel; we tiptoe past short-sleeved worshippers gathered on wooden benches, hymn books held wide. As the gangplank descends below; “Amazing Grace” floats from behind.

In front of us, the Meggie Lou bobs in the corner, wedged between a flooded rowboat and the splintered planks of a timber dock. Brown ribbons of ocean froth skim her waterline and the plastic detergent container that serves as a baler floats in the rainwater pooled in her stern.

Beyond the boat, a still harbor mirrors a low hanging sun and bleached blue sky. Red hulled lobster boats, the Janice Marie, the Sally Anne, Prime Ribs, point together like graceful ladies into a wind we can’t feel. Seagulls cark among themselves; an engine mumbles and throbs in the distance. As Tim mops up the last of the wetness, I untie the bowline, balancing one foot into the dinghy and pushing with the other, heaving us out. The motor catches, coughs, and catches again.

It is 8:15 a.m. on a Sunday morning and we are sitting on the jetty at the mouth of the harbor gripping cardboard coffee cups in two hands. The warming sun blesses our shoulders as the water laps and smacks at the granite boulders beneath. Morning rays shimmer and catch on green ocean swells--way out, Minot Light stands guard like a remote sentinel. Seabirds chase early fisherman returning with their catch and the banter of clam diggers echoes as they fork at distant flats.

Closer in, we enhale the aroma of yeast warm bagels as we peer into our white paper bag. Church is important but this is another Sunday benediction.

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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On-line 101

I was going to cheat today and post an oldie instead of a job search related topic. But I just came back from two meetings; one with the outplacement counselor and, a presentation on on-line networking. Other than the fact that one of this week’s outplacement assignments is developing yet another version of my resume, I am energized. The networking meeting gave me some insight as how much I know. I suppose there should be no surprise there, as networking was a big part of my previous position, but a job loss is a job loss, and I’ll take any confidence booster.

That said, a lot of people in the meeting were not familiar with LinkedIn. When I started this blog I hoped that along the way I might help others by documenting my job search experiences. Since consistency and format were lacking with the presentation today, I thought I’d create a quick synopsis of what I know about LinkedIn for you job seekers out there. I’m not an expert, but perhaps some of this will be of assistance to those who are just beginning.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Members of LinkedIn form connections by creating an on-line profile and building a network of professionals they trust.

Rule number one with LinkedIn is to scrutinize what you put on there. Prospective employers and business contacts will use it to learn more about you. Check for accuracy and typos. In some ways it’s a mini-resume, so proofread it—again and again and again.

Before you get started, it may help to use “The Learning Center” at the bottom of the LinkedIn home page (www.LinkedIn.com) where there is a “New User Guide.” In addition, links exist to teach you the best way to develop a LinkedIn profile and how to use LinkedIn to find a job.

Once you develop a profile, you may start inviting individuals to be a part of your network. Current members may be identified by searching by name, by company and in some cases by title and user groups. (For example, my former employer has an group for past employees, and I am a member of my college alumni group). Play with LinkedIn by clicking on links until you get a comfort in regard to how it can be useful.

Notwithstanding that I used LinkedIn in my previous job as a recruiter to identify potential candidates; here are some examples of how I’ve used it now that I’m on the other side of the desk.

1. Finding folks. I wanted to network with someone from my past, but did not have an email address. I knew where this individual worked.

• First, I “Searched Companies” using the drop down box on the top right on the LinkedIn Home Page. Bad news though, I misspelled the first name so I got no results.
• Then I used “Search People” using the last name only. Bingo. I found the person listed by company, and sent a LinkedIn invite. Head’s up, I’ll be meeting that person soon for coffee, to do some investigating with regard to future opportunities.

2. Researching jobs. I identified a job title about which I was interested in learning more, so using the “Search Jobs” feature I typed in the title. Oh dear, there were more than 50 pages of results. Clicking on “Advanced” on the top right, next to "Search" brings up options allowing a search to be refined. By altering the title and choosing a location, I culled the results down to a manageable twenty-five job possibilities. I examined the skills required and the companies with openings for that job title.

3. Someone checked my profile. On the right hand column of the profile page, there is a blue highlighted box called: “Who checked my profile?” Today, information indicates that five people have checked my profile in the last week. Unless the searcher allows their name to be identified, it’s not possible to confirm who actually checked me out. However, by clicking on the link underneath, I found a list of people that are employed at the same company as the person who was researching me. While I couldn’t determine who specifically was looking, I know someone from that company was. Using logic, I thought, well, if they are interested in me, I may be interested in them. Clicking on the profiles of the individuals employees, I identified information about the company. Then I Googled it. It may be something that I am interested in exploring.

4. Helping others network. Last week someone who lost his job the same day I did found a job on line he was interested in at “A Company.” He sent me an email asking me if I had any connections at “A Company.” I typed “A Company” in the “Search Companies” drop down in LinkedIn. A list of LinkedIn members employed by “A Company” popped up. One of those employees, an executive in the Human Resources Department, is connected to a member of my LinkedIn network. I contacted my connection and facilitated an introduction between the job seeker and him. While I introduced the two via email outside of LinkedIn, there are tools with which to do so within the resource also. The thought process here is that a recommended candidate has more credibility then a resume received out of the blue. The next step hopefully will be an introduction for the job searcher to the Human Resources executive at “A Company” by my LinkedIn contact.

I’ll stop here. However, I encourage any of you who are feeling nervous about LinkedIn to play with it. As long as you use professional judgment with regard to what you include on your profile, it is an excellent, mainstream, supplementary networking tool.

Just remember, the outplacement folks will tell you that as good as it is it can’t replace face to face.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Week in Review (5)

Things I have learned:

It is the results that matter on a resume, more than the responsibilities.

If I had realized that before I lost my job, I would have kept a list...

...which I would have updated frequently and emailed home for use upon my departure.

“It will never happen to me,” is not a good enough argument to delay on the above.

The printer will undoubtedly jam on the material that means the most (Fair enough--I confess. I knew that one already).

A repeat from Week One (almost): When you email a former vender with whom you had an enjoyable relationship and find out she's lost her job, you discover that it is (still) possible to feel worse for someone else.

It will take three trips to the mall to find shoes for your daughter’s confirmation next week, just because it can.

Repeated trips may mean less stress. In the future though, it will be healthier to consider the carbon footprint.

At 75% off, that carbon footprint is marginally more forgivable.

A hungry hawk will not hesitate to dive to the road in front of a moving jeep in order to retrieve, err--recently deceased prey.

This is how you spell y-u-c-k.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Whew. The third incarnation of my functional resume is now winging its way through cyberspace to the outplacement consultant for review. Though it surely will be returned to me with a request for copious edits, at least it is finally taking some shape. It’s humbling to recognize what a struggle it is not only to quantify my achievements but to put them down on paper with a semblance of clarity. While I can’t promise that every hour of every day has been dedicated to this feat it has been a focus for the last several, and though determined, the effort to wrench the information from my mind has been taxing. It is as if my accomplishments hang like spaghetti strands from the uncovered landscape of my cauliflower brain, and the only way I’m allowed to pull them off is with a pair of slippery tweezers. And I like to write. For those of you who don’t and are in this situation, you have my utmost sympathy.

This pseudo-accomplishment though, has put me into a “Thank God it is Friday” mentality—which is fascinating, since lately, everyday is Friday for me. Now though, I feel it--that it is only a matter of hours before I’m unshackled from the self-imposed handcuffs of my new routine. It has been a week of minor success in ways both related and unrelated to the employment situation; so for the next two days, in some regard I get to rest. “Some regard” because most of the snow has finally melted. There is sand to sweep from the driveway, branches and sticks to pick up from all over the yard and a probable bonfire to light. Tiny snowdrops with their optimistic white blossoms are emerging from the ledge garden, and out front the crocuses are about to bloom. It’s time to survey the damage to the rhododendrons, to prune the rose bushes and rake up the leftover leaves.

We are not out of the woods yet. It is March and New England and there is plenty of chance for winter to push its arms back into the sleeves of its long flowing coat. But for the moment, the snow is gone. Daylight Savings is here along with budding warmth and mud-earth smells. Every spring creeps ahead with a promise of joy and renewal. I’ll try to keep inching myself forward too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


It’s all resume today. I’ve been allowing this blog to distract me, and today that’s not permitted. Oh my. I wish I had thought to bring my daily calendars with me when I departed work so unexpectedly. It’s all about the specifics and that’s where the real action is recorded. It’s been five weeks, and my accomplishments over the years are already drifting toward a black hole of oblivion. When I caught myself investigating on-line MFA programs this morning, I exited to the library--where it’s a bit less tempting to access the local wide area network. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Twenty over Eighty—I Hope

In the end, it was one envelope that defeated me. It took over 35 minutes to coax one from my home printer today. Well, actually two, because the one that printed thirty seconds into this exercise was upside down. That was the only one that came out clean. When all was said and done, I had to use labels, because the envelopes refused to cooperate. It’s a good thing no one is checking my blood pressure right now.

In the last month, these are some of the things over which I have not lost my temper:

1) Staring at a computer print-out verifying the receipt of my weekly unemployment claim, while listening to a customer service representative on the phone tell me the claim wasn’t received.
2) Getting no answer when asking whether I should expect a disruption in insurance service, before COBRA kicked in.
3) Confirming a disruption in service when trying to fill a routine prescription.
4) Finding out that while I could transition some of my company life insurance without going through the headache pertaining to “evidence of insurability,” the cost would be more than three times that of a new policy.
5) Having to demonstrate evidence of insurability to get a new policy. This involves approximately an hour on the phone rehashing every minor medical detail that occurred over the past 10 years and feeling guilty when one series of questions uncovers something I inadvertently left out.
6) Waiting for an insurance nurse/representative to come to do a quick physical work up on me (re: #5 above) when I had a regular exam just prior to the layoff, including blood work demonstrating that I am extraordinarily healthy. (That day, the blood pressure was nice and low.)

Nonetheless, it was the envelope that wouldn’t print that caused me to percolate today, setting off a minor volcano blow. It’s all good now though, because I figured out what is happening. It’s a little punishment. The envelope is not for a resume and it probably should be. Instead, it’s for an essay I wrote a few years ago, that I have edited, polished and decided to submit one more time to see if it could possibly be published.

Like everything in the last month though, it’s all in how you look at things. Perhaps this envelope situation shouldn’t be considered an aggravation. Maybe it’s a reminder to slow down and proofread the essay another thousand times before sending it out. Ok. I get it. And, while I’m waiting to regain my composure, I’ll edit the resume, for what also feels like the thousandth time and which was what I was supposed to be doing this morning anyway. But hey. The insurance nurse is coming soon. Before my blood pressure spikes again, does anyone know where to get some envelopes printed?

PS. It’s about five hours later, and point of fact, I did find a typo.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Return to Sender

It’s not my way, but I forwarded one of those chain email questionnaires the other day. I don’t usually, but this one was quick and easy, came from a dear friend and seemed painless enough. So first off, to those of you who received it and didn’t appreciate it, I humbly apologize. That said; I’m moving on.

The email asked for answers to four questions and encouraged me to return a reply to the sender, in addition to forwarding it on. As result of doing so I’ve been receiving responses for the last few days. At the end of the short questionnaire, there was a testimonial that intrigued me the first time I saw it. Now that the email has come back to me multiple times, it has given me pause for thought.

“It’s not what you are that holds you back. It’s what you think that you are not.”

In the essence of full disclosure, the quote is apparently by Denis Waitley, who, a quick Google search tells me is the author of The Psychology of Success and The Psychology of Winning, neither of which I have read or heard of before today. I may or may not pick up a copy of one of those books. However, the phrase resonated with me, and I was fascinated even before looking up the author.

The statement floated into my brain as I checked myself in the mirror this morning prior to leaving for my weekly appointment with the career counselor. Each time I take the trip to the outplacement office I cast aside the blue jeans and ragged sweaters that have become my new uniform and I put on my old “work” clothes. This morning it was my grey cashmere fly-away cardigan over a black lace camisole, with tailored grey pants and leather boots. As I stared at myself in the full length mirror, the reflection gazing back looked familiar, but as if I was viewing an acquaintance from long ago, though a tunnel of distance and place. How many times over the years have I, similarly dressed, taken a last look in that mirror, fluffed my hair, twisted an earring, and straightened my blouse? Today though, it crossed my mind that the person in those clothes is not who I am anymore. Or more clearly, I am something in addition to that individual now.

Yes, I retain the same skills as that smartly dressed woman. In the words of my evolving employment biography, I am a still a business professional with strengths in writing, communication, leadership and recruitment. But now, I am also this. I am a blue jean wearing blog writer, providing networking assistance to former business associates--a walker who listens to my friends and offers solid support and guidance. And, I’m a person in the process of whittling my priorities before launching my own networking efforts, so as to distinguish my best career options.

In the words of our spinach eating friend, Popeye: "I yam what I yam." It’s a journey of discovery though, to peel back the layers of what I thought I was not, in order to expose what I’m sure I can be.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Everybody Bounces Back

The word “character” has been flitting around in my head the past few days. Let me start by stating that there is no platitude that will wipe away the scalding disappointment of a #1 ranked high school girls’ basketball team that loses the South Sectional Finals to a basket at the buzzer. The trite clichés like “you win some you lose some” or “guess this wasn’t their year” had to have come into being as a result of similar losses; as coaches and fans and parents groped for words designed to put positive spins on similar defeats. Witnessing our (fan) daughter’s distress, and the tears pouring down our (player) niece’s face, I grasped for any words more meaningful than those above, to help mitigate the agony of the moment. And while perhaps also a cliché, the concept that stuck with me and that I held on to while leaving the crowded gym, is that losses like these are character forming.

But what is character, after all? At our house, over the years, we added chair rails and molding and wooden valances to our aging ranch, all under the guise of adding “character.” A world traveler observing different cultures may perhaps be considered as on a mission to develop character. Volunteering for the homeless, or the sick, or the disadvantaged all enhance character. And a player, who holds her head erect, accepts disappointment gracefully, determined to move on with positive words and gestures, is clearly demonstrating character. Character is the sum of all the learned parts, the knowledge acquired through life’s depth and scope and pain and anguish. Character is when you look back ten years later and think, “Yea, it would have been great if we won that game, but I still made it here anyway.”

While I had all this in my head as we drove home from the game Friday night, I couldn’t say anything about it out loud. Because the thing about character is that you can only recognize it after you step back, when the distance of time and insight allow you to acknowledge it. What I remembered all too clearly Friday night, was my own, similar “character building” episode.

During my senior year in high school I had the potential to be ranked at a state level in springboard diving. To that end, I practiced endlessly, received extra coaching, and was hitting my peak just at the time the championships occurred. Having placed fairly well the year before, with demonstrated improvement in my diving there was a solid chance to exceed last year’s results. I daydreamed about success, visualized how the achievement would look on my college applications, of receiving write-ups in the town newspaper and the high school yearbook. For the entire fall sport season, chlorine emanated from my pores and every league competition brought us that much closer to the first championship meet, where I anticipated performing my best.

Except of course, I didn’t. Who knows whether it was nerves or lack of attention, or a focus on the wrong thing at the wrong moment, but after nailing my first dive of the competition I made such a serious mistake on the second that the judges were required to score it a zero. Perhaps I demonstrated a bit of character by getting up and scoring well on my third dive, even though I was already out of the competition, but to me at that moment, it meant nothing. Climbing out of the pool, I buried my face in my damp towel hoping that no one would notice the tears spilling from my eyes. It took months for me to reconcile myself to ending my high school diving career with that knife twisting letdown.

That’s why I knew that there was nothing we could say to our niece, or to our daughter that would alleviate the disappointment. They would both look at me like some middle-aged nutcase, if I told them that by some means that currently they can’t know, this loss is a gift. Of course they will never look back and say: Gee, I’m glad we didn’t win that game.” Nevertheless this setback will form at their core and will make them stronger, empathetic and more equipped to cope with future distresses in life.

Thankfully, the bonus that comes with years and experience is the ability to absorb these concepts more seamlessly. A loss may also be a win. That’s why, while plenty nervous, I already recognize positive aspects related to losing my job last month.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Week in Review (4)

Things I have learned:

Review the manual, dummy.

When it comes to self promotion, it takes guts to step forward. Apparently mine are on vacation.

Resisting the temptation of a raspberry filled chocolate cupcake and making a vegetable roll-up at home demonstrates moral (not to mention nutritional) fiber. Sigh.

Living in the present verses wishing your life away is a gratifying experience. Now, if only it could come with a paycheck.

The only redeeming aspect of a March snowstorm is how fast it melts.

Based on a 40 hour work week, and assuming an average of four weeks of time off annually, over the course of twenty-three years that converts to 2,649,600 minutes at the office. Another way of looking at it is 158,976,000 seconds. No wonder I was tired.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Sixteen and Counting

The time space continuum gets disrupted when you’re not employed, but that’s not a bad thing. As a full time working mother my survival was based on sticking to an unwavering routine. When the routine did change as things always do, my stress-o-meter climbed regularly into the red zone. And let me be clear here, I only have one child. For you working-outside-of-the-home moms with two, three or more kids, I am in awe and you earn my total admiration every day.

Those of you who have been reading Middle Passages know that during the last month I have assigned myself a schedule, but here is a fun bit. For the most part, while I’m dedicated to the timetable, there is no requirement to stick to it. It is amazing to note how full these days have remained during this time at home, yet I wallow in the flexibility. A text message from my daughter at the last minute indicating that she needs to stay late at school doesn’t involve a boatload of Catholic guilt and three phone calls to arrange transportation. I simply go get her. A request from a friend at 9:30 (typically blog writing time) asking me to join her for a walk, receives a smiling affirmative. I’m available to help another friend with transportation related to a car issue, and to serve as a resource to my daughter’s friends requiring rides, rather than relying on their parents for a lift for her. Best of all, the work that I am accomplishing, the job search related assignments and writing these posts, occurs with zero clock-watching on my part. Yesterday, when my daughter got off the bus from school; I was so engrossed in what I was doing, that I looked at her astounded when she walked in the door.


Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot about my job I liked. But the figure above represents a ball-park estimate of the number of minutes that I wished away over the years, eying the end of the work day and yearning to be home with my family.

9,616 is the approximate number of minutes in the last four-plus weeks that I haven’t. To my way of thinking, each of those 9616 minutes carries approximately 100 times the weight of every moment above. I may not have caught up all the way yet, but the clock is still ticking and I’m getting there fast.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Cupcake on the Side

Sometimes you need a change of scenery. The snow this week seems to have affected everyone and I’m not exempt. Even though I challenge myself not to allow the frigid temperatures to stop me, the boot shod feet are dragging. My job, pertaining to finding a job, is to develop “BAR” statements (Background, Activities, and Results) so that I can build a functional resume (the “curriculum vitae” of choice for we career changers).

This morning though, while sitting in my cold house at the computer cubby, inspiration iced up too. So I went out to breakfast (or perhaps on a reconnaissance mission) to my dream coffee/sandwich shop that may or may not be for sale (a story for a different day).

When I arrived, there were only three patrons, regulars, dishing about current events with the owners. Even with my Boston Globe propped by my plate, it was impossible not to listen to their comments. (Did I mention that the dream may be over-the-top, but the place itself is tiny?)

While I polished off my second breakfast of the day (the first was oatmeal with raisins at 7:00), their conversation went something like this:

Owner 1: "What are you all up to today?"
Patron 1 (with a wink): "We are all looking for jobs. We hear there is a stimulus package that is going to provide them to us."
Owner 2: "I hear that most people only have enough cash reserves to cover one month of unemployment."
Patron 2: "I think I should open a diner."

In my head, utilizing spellbinding and witty repartee of course, I tossed in the following responses to their dialogue:

“Actually, I really am seeking a new career (I'd insert my personal marketing statement here). Would you have a few minutes to speak to me?”

“Even if you have cash reserves, unemployment is unnerving. Would you consider offering me a job cooking in your kitchen?”

“If you do open that diner, I’m a hard worker, a darn good cook and I make a mean London Broil. Would you consider offering me a job cooking in your kitchen?”

Putting my pipe dreams aside, I contemplated interjecting myself into their conversation for real—let’s face it; I could provide some pretty relevant, timely and personal commentary. This clearly presented an opportunity to make connections. Talk about never knowing where your next networking contact may arise—two eggs over easy with an employment discussion on the side—sounds delicious.

Well, my breakfast was flavorful and God knows I’ve spent a huge portion of my life speaking to strangers for a living. But as I mopped up the crumbs on my plate, the skills I took for granted for the last twenty years disappeared as fast as my breakfast. The thought of selling myself verses being sold to was the unsavory entree at my table. After dawdling over my second cup of coffee and depositing a large tip, I moved on.

I’m at the library now. The warmth of the Sherwood green walls and the sun streaming through the palladium windows have been conducive to several BAR statements as well as this blog entry; and the clock just struck lunchtime. At my little dream restaurant, they are selling homemade chocolate, raspberry filled cupcakes, frosted with butter cream. Just my luck--on top of everything else, unemployment is going to be fattening.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Getting Back in Gear

While waiting in line for coffee with my recruiter friend yesterday, a voice behind me called out: “Look who’s here.” I turned to find an associate from my former employer, who worked under the same leadership “umbrella.” Upon registering her face, my immediate reaction was to give her a big hug. Seeing her was a surprise, and even better, a pleasure. We exchanged a few comments, and off she went to a work meeting after which I sat down with my friend, silently cataloging that in our brief chat, I had accomplished something huge. It was the first time that I have bumped into someone from work wherein there was no sadness, little regret, and most of all, no big lump in my throat. The dominant emotion was simply pleasure at seeing someone I know and like.

The story, however, gets better. Yesterday morning, we were all still cleaning out from the snow storm the day before. Our Jeep, thirteen years old by choice, is a manual four wheel drive vehicle, and had been left in that gear while in the garage. As I had backed out of our ice crusted driveway and down the street earlier that day, a metal on metal grinding emanated from the car. I pulled over, looked at the 4WD crank and realized that the car was in “off road driving mode” and not “snowy conditions on the road mode.” Everyone knows that you are not supposed to drive your car in 4WD-L on paved roads, don’t they? The problem was that since we’ve never been off-roading in our car; I hadn’t a clue how to get it into the correct gear, and for crying out loud, it was 6:20 a.m. and we were on our way to my daughter’s physical therapy appointment. If we were late to that she’d be late to school. On testing the forward motion, the groaning stopped, so we made our way the half mile to the appointment, at a sustained speed of about 25 MPH in a 40 MPH zone.

After her exercises, we limped to school and then I continued home. There, I searched for my recruiter friend’s cell phone to reschedule our appointment but of course, didn’t have it. Aside from the fact that I respect and admire her and sought her advice, I also didn’t fancy leaving her hanging in a coffee shop with no word from me. So, a half hour before our meeting, I got back in the car, convinced that while driving it I’d figure out how to get it into the proper gear. No luck. Apologizing out loud to the cars stacked up behind me for the entire trip, I crawled the five miles to where we were meeting, certain that after coffee, a visit from AAA would be on the schedule. When I walked into the restaurant, my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and caffeine wasn’t necessary for my morning adrenalin rush. That’s when my erstwhile peer saw me.

Fast forward to later that afternoon. Car issue resolved to some degree (read the manual dummy and give thanks to coaching from experienced friend) I received an email from the coordinator in my old department. Word had traveled about my chance meeting in the coffee shop that morning and the feedback was that I apparently looked “wonderful and relaxed.”

It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose. But my chuckle upon reading that email may be well worth the repair costs anticipated on the Jeep.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Devil in Me

You can’t hear me, but I am saying this ten times fast. “I will not pick up my book. I will not pick up my book….”

On the agenda today:

Physical therapy before school for my daughter’s healing knee injury, coffee with a friend who works for a human resources recruitment firm, a quick buzz to the grocery store for an ingredient that will transform leftovers into a sumptuous dinner, a walk (although after eight inches of new snow and temperatures hovering around 12 degrees, I’m waffling on this one), working on my functional resume, and analyzing my contact list to determine my networking resources.

Jeepers, all I’ve ever wanted in life is time to do the things I love and now, being out of work, it seems like that dream should be realized. But you know the old saying, finding (or in my case, preparing to find) employment is a full time job, so in spite of my whining, the weeks fill up rather quickly.

Today though, the book taunts me: “Read me, read me, the rest can wait.” This is the first time in my month of "unassigned time," that I have contemplated wavering from my new “routine” to pursue something more frivolous. Doing so would involve dancing around a dangerous trap though; one I don’t plan to fall into.

Some mornings I want nothing more than to pull my covers over my head when the alarm goes off, although, come to think of it, those feelings didn’t evolve with unemployment. What is different though is that now, I could, um, you know, actually stay in bed all day. So when that temptation hovers like a nasty helicopter at 5:45 each morning, I force myself up and into the shower, starting my “work” day as soon as my daughter goes to school. Self motivation is probably one of the most important parts of moving on in a career.

Yesterday was particularly hard, due to the late season snowstorm that cancelled school and delayed work for my husband. Shouldn’t I too, get some time off for good behavior? Well, no I guess not, because anxiety pertaining to the future doesn’t take a vacation day. So, while the winds blew and snow pounded the windows, I reviewed LinkedIn and Indeed.com, talked to my outplacement counselor, then started making his suggested edits to my employment biography. Meanwhile, after a disaster involving a buried newspaper and the snow blower, (no rest for him either) my husband left for work three hours late. My daughter, lucky girl, did stay in bed with her covers over her face.

Although I was up and moving early, there was a bonus to yesterday. After postponing the cat’s checkup with the vet, there was no requirement to get out in the storm—no work to stomp into stressed and frustrated as a result of this additional winter onslaught. But climbing back into bed, no, that wasn’t an option. When you face the unpredictability of how long unemployment could last, the old crystal ball theory surfaces again. Anyone I speak to who has been unexpectedly unemployed, says that if they could have seen into their future that a job would be forthcoming, they would have had a lot more fun while searching. I’m in the same predicament. At least though, I have this blog, and yes folks for me, this is fun. The book however, remains on the coffee table.

I don’t care what anyone says though. At 4:00, I’m opening it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In No Particular Order

The recession is everywhere in a “flavor of the month” manner that could force you down a rabbit hole to hide if you are not careful. Aside from reporting the “facts, M’am, and nothing but the facts,” there are newspaper and on-line features each day on all aspects of the economic crisis. Some are helpful, others exploitive, and then there are those that are purely opportunistic. To keep myself sane, I stick to the provocative items.

Among the more fascinating articles I’ve read recently, is a Boston Globe Magazine piece from yesterday called The Executioner’s Song by Kris Frieswick. According to Kris, it’s not only we affected employees that you need to worry about. Management associates who are required to communicate layoffs suffer also. “For some, living with the knowledge that they’ve disrupted and financially imperiled so many lives can result in long-lasting emotional damage. They may never find a way to move on, even after they’ve left their job or have been laid off themselves.” Ok, I’ll bite. Having lived through it on the other side, I agree that there is a packet of “survivor guilt” left behind when you have to lay someone off. And, I surely witnessed the distress of my former boss and the tears of my then current boss, who had the dubious honor of imparting the bad news to me together last month. Seven months earlier though, I had to give the same news to three of my own staff members. At that time, we were instructed by an outplacement firm that emotion was an indulgence in which we, the “executioners” were not eligible to partake. No matter how bad you feel sitting behind the desk after delivering the news, you remain sitting there. Your remorse comes with a paycheck, medical insurance, life insurance and continued contribution to your 401K. Sorry guys. I miss you all. But I hope you don’t mind if I keep my worry focused solidly on myself.

Then there is Ellen Goodman’s Op Ed piece from the Friday, February 20th Boston Globe. In her column titled Wall Street Bust a Hidden Blessing for Grads? she wonders if this recession may be an opportunity for Ivy Leaguers who, prior to this economic downturn were compelled by a “juggernaut” of recruiters, the promise of bright lights and big city, competition, prestige—[and…] money” to flock to Wall Street. She speculates whether, with the lack of employment opportunities in the financial sector, it may be “possible for students to follow their dreams and have ideals they pursue." Hmmm, I’m unemployed now. I know that for the younger set, she’s speaking more along the lines of altruism, but maybe I can pursue my dreams now too? The little sandwich shop that I have fantasized about running for the past 10 years is for sale. The reality for most people though is that whether they are selfless or not, dreams still require a paycheck, or at least enough collateral for a loan. Oops, silly me. Apparently banks aren’t too forthcoming with those these days.

Of course, in his February 24 speech, President Obama focused on the economy too. “You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis,” he said in his first minutes, “because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread….”

I kid you not that early in the morning of the day I lost my job, I walked to the company cafeteria for a cup of coffee feeling dispirited about the work atmosphere, as I had for the previous several weeks. Contemplating the two years before my daughter goes to college and adding for inflation, I mentally calculated whether I could possibly retire from my role in seven more years. Who knew that in seven HOURS, I’d be jobless? In the words of our President: “The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.” That’s the macro economic picture right from the President’s mouth. It’s just that I never expected to be a statistic, living his speech in such a micro economic kind of way.