I feel like Charlton Heston, another Northwestern alum, in Ben Hur. Driving a wild chariot with too many horses.
Horse #1 is the horse of a full-time job, one with an above average salary and benefits for my whole family.
Horse #2 is the horse of One Purpose PR, my message and media relations consulting biz that is just taking off the ground and which is what I REALLY want to put all my energy into. But times being what they are, folks are understandably squeamish about plunking down dough for anything, and since my layoff was so unexpected, we don't have a cushion to sit on for too long with this horse.
Horse #3 is the horse of not wanting to do anything except eat buttered popcorn, bon-bons and fill up my Netflix queue or head to the Rockies Spring training camp. Seriously. I could use a long rest and nothing does it like either baseball, chocolate and salt.
Horse #4 is the horse of living the life of a writer. Getting paid great amounts of money to sit and write whatever comes to my mind.
Back to reality.
The thing about looking for a job is that it is until you get one, it is all you do and it is amazing how long it takes for decisions to be made. Mostly this is because the people hiring already have full-time or more jobs and the process of interiewing once, two or three times, plus checking references, takes up most of their working hours.
I recently signed up with a temp agency and had to fill out a skills form, which included math. I'm a writer, mostly because words make the world make sense, while numbers just confuse me. When I was struggling over averages and square roots, I wished my oldest had a cell phone so I could have texted her for the answers. Not a great moment. I did at least ask for a calculator and the receptionist didn't guffaw at my answers, so I suppose I was able to do pretty well, after all.
My parents may scratch their heads, and I know they have to the point of self-injury, as to why I spent so much time chasing after the dream of being on stage. I can safely tell them that all those years of auditions and rejection are finally paying off. I know that if I don't get a job it is not because I am not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. My resume says otherwise. It is because there are so many of us overqualified folks out there that it is a real buyers market and the employers are the buyers. I feel like the house I live in, a sweet 1950's brick ranch house which could use some work, but which has really great bones. And going on job interviews is like being in an endless open house and you know what that means in this market - the house has to be perfect, clean and look brand-spanking new.
Case in point. When I first moved to in the winter of NYC, circa 1988, I would go on auditions for hours. Get up at 6am and come back, exhausted and dejected, at about 5pm. When spring began to emerge, I found a stunning yellow dress that I felt great in. Light, effervescent, like a tulip who could sing. I went to an open call for some show I was not right for and proceeded to sing my little heart out for the casting director, a woman who must have been the inspiration for the grunge movement. I have never seen so many variations of faded plaid on one person in my entire life. At the end of my 32 measures, she looked up from her NYTimes crossword puzzle and said, "That was very nice, Lisa, but DON'T EVER WEAR THAT COLOR DRESS AGAIN." You see, sometimes, you just can never tell what will set a person off either in your favor or against you. I guess this person either had some deep psychological response to the color yellow, or who knows? But what I did know was that it had nothing to do with me.
In the past six weeks since I was laid off, I have probably sent out 200 resumes and cover letters. It's pretty much all I do. I use Monster, PRJobslist, CareerBuilder, YahooJobs, Craigslist, CANPO, LinkedIn and more. I've become a networking maniac, turning every encounter into a possible connection for work or consulting. I'm relentless. In six weeks, I've had three job interviews. This is with more than 12 years of experience as a marketing and public relations specialist with a damn good track record. Is it my hair, my wardrobe? My age? The ever-deepening worry lines forming between my eyebrows? Got me.
Today I went to an interview and pulled out my portfolio, to proudly show off my collection of brochures, newsletters, ads and so on that I have designed, overseen and conceived. When I began to open the flap of my chic-ly black portfolio, I spied a small pink sock stuck in one of the plastic sleeves. I clenched my teeth, balled up the sock and shoved it into my satchel. I don't think the interviewers saw the sock, but it's presence gave me a great laugh on the way home. A little humor to keep it all in perspective. I have my health, my family, our house, a car that hopefully won't die anytime soon, pets and children who adore me.
Because in the end, as the wise ones always tell us, that is what all this is about. This endless job search. Being able to provide for my kids, do work that I love, make a positive difference.
And because I don't know any better, I am foolish enough to believe that something is coming. Something big and real and just right for me.
I'll let you know when that happens.