Sunday, October 28, 2007

fall, job hunting

We finally got our first frost on the roof tops this morning. It did not reach the flowers still blooming in our planter. The fall color is still disappointing. So many of the leaves are shriveled and going brown without showing much color. The wind has taken many leaves off trees.

I am diligently looking through the job boards but find them depressing. So many posts from agencies. I have never found the agencies helpful. In the several times I have tried going through an agency, only one has ever found me a job. By the time that job ran out, the person I started with originally had left and the new person seemed totally uninterested in working with me. I have noticed a large number of ads for either military, civilian with the military or reserve positions. I did that (U.S. Navy) thirty years ago and have no desire to go that route again. If the jobs are not connected to the military or agencies they are temporary, part-time and seasonal. Taking one of those jobs merely saps your energy and time diverting you from looking for something more permanent. I really need to define a new strategy. This is not working. I merely find more of the kinds of jobs that either don't do well, or don't like to do at all.

I almost applied for a seasonal, part time sales job. Two things stopped me. I would have had to agree to allowing the company to do a background check that almost sounded like one I went through in the Navy for a security clearance to handle classified materials. As if that wasn't enough, they also intended to check the applicant's information against some kind of government list. It sounded almost like the terrorist watch list but may not have been. Our government has so many of these watch lists I don't think anyone really knows what is on which list.

The second thing that stopped me was the question at the end. Did I understand the job description and did I want to do the job. Yes, I understood the description. But I really did not want to do that job. I am just panicking because I have about $700 to my name, nothing bringing in any more money, and nothing in the works to bring in any more income. I wonder how many people are out there stuck in jobs they really don't want but the thought of being without an income, however large or small, terrifies them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

reflections on graying hair

I decided to get my hair cut on the spur of the moment the other day. I haven't cut it for so long I can't remember when exactly I cut it, to the amusement of the beautician. It is so thin that keeping it up and out of the way has become a chore. It didn't even braid well. When I took off my sunglasses the tip of the ear piece pulled strands of hair out of the braid or out from under my wigs.

I was surprised, shocked almost at how gray my hair had become. The harsh lights of the salon showed that what I thought were isolated streaks by the bathroom lights at home were much more generalized salt and pepper. I was shocked more that I hadn't noticed the extent of the gray than by fact of the gray.

It may seem strange in a culture that encourages, almost demands, that one cover up the fact of graying hair that I was not bothered the fact that mine was graying. When I started wearing wigs my natural hair was close to the dark auburn I preferred in the wigs I bought. But a short while ago I had already decided to change the color from the dark auburn I have worn for many years to a salt and pepper. I wanted a color that more resembled my natural hair and I knew the auburn no longer did. I was pleasantly surprised to see in the harsh light of the salon that the salt and pepper I had chosen very closely matched my natural hair.

I like to blog-hop and one of my favorite blogs to visit is Time Goes By. Recently the discussion revolved around an e-mail response to what most saw as light hearted answers to the question of what elder bloggers don't do anymore. Most listed those things they stopped doing because they no longer valued doing them, no longer found the activities necessary or interesting, or took up time they wanted to spend on other activities.

I started wearing wigs so I could give up the all too frequent visits to the beauty shop. Especially since there was little that could be done with hair that was baby fine, fragile, given to frizzing at the thought of a perm, and thinning rapidly. With my hair, every day had become a bad hair day. I no longer wanted to spend time setting or curling my hair when it would lose the curl or frizz as soon as I stepped outside the door. I no longer wanted to spend my money on hair care products that simply don't work.

The e-mail evidently thought that the question of what elder bloggers gave up implied that they were withdrawing and losing interest in themselves, their appearance and those around them. Most especially their appearance. I think the correspondent was off base. I didn't give up on my appearance. I gave up on a routine and a mindset which did not work, never worked, and would never work. I no longer have bad hair days and I have more time and money for things I want to spend them on. I don't have to go to the beauty shop as often or spend as much time when I do go. I don't have to spend time setting or styling my hair. And if you add up what I used to spend on hair care products, perms, conditioners, appliances the wigs are vastly more economical.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

weather, moods, changes

It has been cool and wet today; the kind of day when I just want to curl up and read, sleep, or watch TV. Instead I checked the job boards, dusted one of my many book cases, and cleaned out my strawberry plants. We brought them in with the cold weather and hope they will thrive inside over winter. Of the other plants we had only the begonias are still outside. Nothing seemed to do well outside this year. Our tomatoes were small and seemed to barely hang on. The rosemary and thyme was drowned by a long and unseasonable period of rain in September. Even the begonias are not as luxuriant as we have come to expect. The weather went between very dry and very wet, unseasonably hot or unseasonably cool.

The weather this year somewhat reflects my moods: generally discontented and adrift with short periods of optimism. I realize that for the last decade I have been looking for something and can't quite define it. Or rather part of it can be defined: I would like a job that pays enough to live on and leaves me enough time and energy to enjoy the life I am working to support. With only a couple of interludes, amounting to about two years, nothing has met that goal. So much of what I have done has paid so little, either because of low wages or few hours, that I couldn't make ends meet. For almost four years I either combined schooling and a job or combined two or more jobs. The schedules left me exhausted, depressed and bitchy as hell.

Another part, and probably not the only other part, is that I have been changing and things that once were important, interesting, or necessary are no longer. Ten years ago I was engaged in trying to write a dissertation and finish a Ph.D. in history. I still like to read history but am no longer interested in academic history. My brief foray into job hunting (about a year) in the history field was disappointing and I realized that the Ph.D. was a means to an end (an academic job.) When the end proved illusory the means became irrelevant. I haven't yet sorted out all the changes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

job hunting again, finally fall

I haven't posted anything lately because the job I started in July wasn't going very well and ended last Friday by mutual agreement. I will miss the money and the people I worked with but not much else. I had never worked in banking or as a teller so it was something new, but from now on it has gone into my "been there, done that, won't do it again" column. It was too fast paced, involved too many details and decisions that had to be made too quickly with the possibility for too many errors. No matter how hard I tried there was always something I missed or an error waiting. They said that mistakes were no problem because they could be corrected. Well (very long well), yes and no. Yes the mistakes could be corrected but too often it took the person who had to find the mistake too long to find and correct it during which that person and I were both off line. Needless to say the customers piled up. And those mistakes the customers found made for some very unhappy customers.

I did learn a number of things during the last three month, which made this a very stressful learning experience. Normally I consider learning experiences good; but, right now I am still unwinding. I did find out that I really, really hate being responsible in any way for other people's money. My accuracy has for the last several years been pretty good. Upwards of 98%. However, there are some jobs where that is simply not good enough. Think about it any way you like, in tellering it simply isn't good enough. If you handle 100 checks a day you will make a mistake of varying severity each day. If you are typing information into the system every 100 characters will include 2 mistakes. No matter how hard I tried I could not develop methods of checking that reduced the mistakes to a reasonable, for the job, level. And the stress of trying to improve simply ensured that I made more mistakes.

So, I am looking for a new job. Unfortunately, everything I see out there is more of what I have seen before: retail and other sales jobs which detest and have been trying to get away from for God only knows how long, medical for which I have no interest, training, experience or temperament, tellering for which I am not at all suited. All of the employment boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc.) only provide more of the same. I haven't found one yet that gives me interesting leads.

Oh, well!!! On to a change of topic.

It has been a disappointing fall so far. When I came back east from Colorado many, many years ago, I looked forward to autumns with colors other than aspen gold. I did miss the bronzes, reds, rusts and other colors the trees in the midwest developed when the weather got colder. This year so many went from green to brown to bare in the blink of an eye. The colors that did appear were dim and somewhat washed out. So many trees couldn't decide what to do. Patches were bare while others had some fall color and yet others were still green. It was a pleasant surprise when I went out today to see them finally deciding to change. Perhaps the weather has simply been too warm. Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had high 80s to 90, more suited to July and August than early October. Finally, yesterday we stayed in the 70s and last night dipped into the 40s. I am in a sweatshirt today. The trees seem to be rejoicing and so am I. I have been more than ready for fall.