Friday, October 31, 2008

That's What Unemployment's For

It's officially official, I am one of the 10.5 million Americans currently unemployed and it's kind of awesome.  Of course I would prefer to know where my income will be coming from going forward, but to be honest, it's not so bad.  It's kind of good.

There were hugs and tears and goodbyes and now I'm wondering if I'm going to grow up to be a serial killer because I was strangley unemotional and sort of up-beat.  I mean afterall,  I get the next two months off to finish planning my wedding, get married and go on my honeymoon.  I don't want to be overly excited, but like I said, it is kind of freaking awesome.  

I think that fact that we had some forewarning actually allowed me to go through 5 stages of grief at home (well 4 out of the 5 - I skipped Bargaining. Bargaining is played) and I ended up coming out OK in the end.  On Monday, I went through Denial.  Not me. I'm awesome.  I'll be Fine. I thought.  Tuesday was Anger in the form of comments like, "These mother f-ckers need to stop stringing us along."  Wednesday brought upon Depression.  I got home, pounded a glass of red wine, told myself I was going to be fat and unemployed and cried myself to sleep.  Then came yesterday, glorious yesterday, and with it Acceptance.  The hard part was waiting for the call, getting it was a sigh of relief. 

So now that I'm offically home, waiting for the final check to clear, I'm setting lofty goals for what the next two months will hold.  I know I'm going to spend a lot of time in front of this computer, with Itunes blasting, singing loudly until my neighbors hate me.  But during this time I hope to accomplish the following:
  1. Become Suzie-effing-home maker.  I'm talking ironed sheets, home cooked meals, red lips and perfect hair when my fiance (T)  gets home.  I plan on overdoing it so much so that when we're back from the honeymoon, he decides to get three more jobs so I never have to go back to work.
  2. Write, write, write, write.  It's time to get this blog going, get my Twitter on, and pack as many sarcasm-filled comments as possible into every day.
  3. Save money/Make Money/Shake my Money Maker.  Over the next few months I'm going to seek out the coolest free and cheap stuff to do in this city.  Maybe I'll just go down to Madison Square park and hang out and try to become besties with Uma Thurman at the playground.  Anyone have a kid I can borrow?  Of course these exploits are going to be the basis of what I'm going to write about, gain a following and generate some ad-revenue. Suggestions are welcome and tell your friends.
  4. Do all the wedding-stuff I didn't have time to do before.
  5. Get ripped.  I figure either the next two months is going to get me really fat or really ripped. Even though I'll probably the same because I'll be able to counteract my Bon-Bon eating, Oprah-watching afternoons with extra long workouts at 7am when the gym is least crowded.  (Did I mention I don't have to quit my beloved gym?!)
Mainly, I'm going to try not to let these two months fly by and have nothing to show for it.  Time to get my domestic-career-party-girl Diva on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knock Knock Knockin' on Unemployment's Door

For the past year and a half, I've been a fairly quiet presence at my office. Diligent and nice, but nobody's best friend. None of my co-workers have been invited to my upcoming wedding and I secretly pray that they won't throw me one of those awkward work bridal showers where I have to hug people, most of whom I've only physically touched once before, when we shook hands at our first meeting.

For all of these reasons I never considered these people to have any great impact on or significance in my life (despite spending 40+ hours a week with them). That was up until now. This evening as a few people gathered around my cubicle and we contemplated together 11am tomorrow morning, the hour when the pink slips are rumored to be handed out, I felt oddly attached to these "strangers." When someone tossed out the idea of a group lunch tomorrow, something I normally dig into my lengthy excuse bank to avoid, I practically leaped out of my chair with excitement. I think I may have shouted, "Great idea! I'm in!"

Call it nostalgia. Call it melancholy. Call it what you like, but I am going to miss this job and miss these people. Of course I will get angry and call them up to trash talk the company. They'll listen and grunt in quasi-agreement. They'll still be employed there. Employed at a place that's not so bad at all. A place I am going to miss. A job I am going to miss.

What I mean to say is I am going to miss having a job. After I cheerily agreed to lunch plans (under the auspices that whoever is still employed buys) I began my walk home and started to really miss the idea of having a job. A glance to my left brought Saks 5th Avenue into my field of vision and a glance to my right showed me J. Crew. I trudged slowly along trying to avert my eyes from Ann Taylor, The Gap and Aerosoles...all stores I generally didn't like to shop at anyway, because I prefer "quality pieces." Only today I stared longingly at the white button down and khakis on the mannequin in the gap window because I can't buy that tacky outfit even if I wanted to.

Still on my positive I'm-going-to-seize-this-opportunity-for-a-new-start kick, I began brainstorming all the fabulously creative ways I'm going to save money and how I'm going to do it while maintaining the same level of faux-chicness I've spent so long cultivating.

There are some things I am going to miss desperately, like my gym membership at my glorious gym. I talk about my gym the way people talk about their dogs and their children. "You should see how gorgeous my gym is. My gym is so much nicer and cleaner than the other gyms in the neighborhood. Would you like to see my gym?" I love my gym so much I prefer it's large, warm inviting shower to my own. Club H, I will miss you.

But even though I will miss certain things so much that you will be able to smell the desperation to have them back wafting off of me, I'm beginning to figure out how I will survive. I will replace swank nights out and fancy bottles, with dive bars and cheap wine. I will become that struggling actor I always secretly admired from afar. I will suck it up and eat carbs, because it's cheaper cooking with carbs. I will give up the gentle hands of my treasured nail tech, Aida, and do my own at-home pedicures.

Of course I feel guilty even thinking that I am going to be living a hard life because I have to paint my own toes, but we all get used to a certain lifestyle. All I can hope is that some hard work and positivity can give me a new one. One that makes my old lifestyle look like crap. One where I shop on the 3rd floor at Saks, not the 5th. Maybe this is the kick in the ass I've always needed, but I can't be sure.

Talk to me in a month when I'm bloated from eating bread and squeezing into my old clothes, because I can't afford to by new ones. Then I'll tell you how this "opportunity" turned out.

We'll see.


In the past, when I've taken the liberty of using one of my paid vacation/sick/mental health/personal days to go shopping, clean my apartment, run errands and get in an extra-long workout, I've marveled with insane jealousy at how many people in this city spend their everydays in the same way I spend my stolen 8 hours.

These are not the suited people who grouchily shuffle along side of me as I walk to work. They are not the building security guards who I beam, "Thank God It's Friday" to once a week at 8:27am. These are not even tourists (at least not in my east-side neighborhood anyway.) These are people who have the glorious luxury of not working, or working from home, or who work weird hours that allow them late nights and even later morning.
There is nothing greater than a weekday in Manhattan spent out of the office. This is something I've always aspired to. This is the reason that I will one day finish the novel that will get published, send me on a book tour and leave me working from home, whatever hours I want, on my next great literary achievement about (purses, shoes, insert accesory of choice here). All I've ever wanted was to have the hours of 9-5 on Monday-Friday to myself (so I can stay in on Saturday nights scoffing at the poor saps who only have 48 hours to live it up every week). Only I've dreamed about it on my terms. Either via the above-mentioned New York Times best-seller or by my fiance getting rich enough through his website to turn me into a lady-who-lunches (at Per Se).

It looks like my dream might come halfway true (in that I'm an HR meeting away from having my weekdays all to myself), but not on the terms I envisioned (in that I am going to have to spend my days between temp assignments and looking for a cheaper apartment). My consulting firm announced Monday that layoffs are coming and we're expecting the proverbial hammer to come down on Thursday. And while my co-workers and I whisper to each other, wondering like Heidi Klum, who is IN or OUT, I can fairly confidently say that I'm in danger of getting the axe since my group's billings have been down for sometime now.

While I generally prefer the high-drama approach of making a mountain out of a mole hill, I'm left with no choice, but to take lemons and make them into lemonade. I have my mind on my money and my money on my mind and if I lose what was never really my dream job, I better figure out a way to keep up my stiletto-wearing, martini drinking ways even as the economy flounders.

I don't know stocks and I don't know bonds, but I do know how to put a great belt on an old dress and turn it into something fabulous. So as I approach unemployment this is my attempt to make some money off what I do best (writing a brutally honest, somewhat inflated, account of my existence) and how to keep up with the Jones' (or at least that 23 year Dartmouth grad who's Daddy covers 96.5% of her rent) without spending a dime.

Stay tuned...