Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

h1

Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.

Advertisements
h1

Happiness and Headaches

February 1, 2012

Happiness

  • I’ve accepted the offer from the new job.  Man, does it feel good to know that I have landed without a gap in employment.  Hooray!
  • The new job agreed to my starting AFTER February vacation week, so I don’t have to be in stress-mode while Mouse is home from school and her friends are all away. Lemon will be traveling with her crew team, and we are not traveling without her.  We thought about it last February, when it was freaking cold out we didn’t yet know that I’d have this transition forced upon me.  But since today – February 1 – it was 60 degrees outside – we aren’t feeling too bummed about the change in plans.
  • The old job owes me 3 weeks’ vacation pay.  I didn’t know that until yesterday.  That will be a nice chunk o’ change. I am seriously considering a late-June re-do of last year’s vacation.  The house itself is very affordable, we will drive rather than fly, and we will all be happy with cooking in the house.  It could be great. It could be perfect.  Just what we need.
  • I’m home a lot. I don’t have much work left, and most of what I do have can be done at home.
  • When I’m home, I get to hang out with my kids.  And I like them.  And I have fun with them.  I love how much they make me laugh, I love how much they find what room I’m in, and hang out with me.  I love that Lemon came home today and laughed from the door way, yelling (to me), “Honey, I’m hooo-ooooome!” And that she then met me at her sister’s basketball game, and we went out for a sushi “snack” afterwards, chatting all the while.  Where are the nasty teen years?? (Don’t answer that.)
  • Mouse had a doctor’s appointment (annual physical) yesterday.  I picked her up early, we went and grabbed some burritos, and then went to talk about how damned healthy, tall, athletic and smart she is.
  • My girls are really enjoying each other lately. I may enjoy that more than them enjoying me.
  • Tomorrow is mine and David’s 5th wedding anniversary.  When we went away for our birthdays this year, we realized that it was also our 10 year “dating” anniversary.  He got a haircut today, and he looks super-cute.  Also, he probably noticed today at the basketball game that I raided his sock drawer, but he didn’t complain.  He’s a great guy.

 

Headaches

  • I had a 3 day headache.  For real.  Like, my head hurt.  An Advil fixed it, but I had to complain, because it just fits here so well.
  • While I had posted previously that the Ex “was less resistant” to the idea of kicking things back to the level they should have been at all along, I was being overly optimistic. We are going back and forth with proposals.  He’s dragged the sharing of travel costs and tax deductions into our discussion, and he pisses me off.  Then he throws in his usual condescending asinine comments (i.e., “I am very sympathetic to the financial and professional difficulties you face at the moment . . . “), and I want to rip his face off.  For reals.  I still think we can reach an agreement, but dealing with his bullshit in the meantime drives me bonkers.
    • I wanted to retort that while I am facing a paycut, it was something I always knew was coming, AND!  Another thing!!  This is not a “professional difficulty,” at all!  This is a very logical and typical move at this stage of my career, and is resulting in increased experience!  You dummy!  Instead, I ignored his blah-blah, and responded only about the issues at hand.  So, ha!  You cannot rattle me!  [except that, really, he did.  because he’s a jerk.]
  • Also, the Ex just canceled the girls’ summer visit again.  So now David and I will both be working, and I think that the girls will be home.  Without much to do.  Last year, with me making gobs of money, we filled the time with crazy-costly camps (no, really — the girls were in camp with the grand-daughter of the owner of the Patriots, and with the daughter of the owner of Newbury Comics … we paid dearly).  This year, Lemon will likely be looking for someone to pay HER, and Mouse will be, uh . . . .
  • Just after I came to terms with my reduced salary, I called the H.R. person at the New Job to find out about health insurance details.  They were bad.  Very bad.  I almost cried.  I didn’t know what to do – I was totally unprepared for the costs.  I know I’ve been spoiled and spoiled and spoiled, but this was a blow.  I have since spoken with some people that tell me that while the number was double what I pay currently, on a salary that’s half of what I currently have, it’s “normal” and “fair.”  Fortunately, they told me that AFTER I decided to negotiate this point with New Firm.  So, this maybe should be up there in “happiness,” because it looks like there will be movement on the issue.

So, thanks for reading!

h1

Pre-Acceptance Freak Out

January 28, 2012

Friday was a busier day than I anticipated. I thought I’d have my 10 am informational interview, and then a restful day at home, maybe with a phone call or two.

But my 10 am “informational” interview felt more like a real interview, and then I checked in with a friend who works at that firm for a while.  He ended up being close with one of the associates at the offer firm, so he put us in touch to chat.

I went home, spoke to this associate for an hour, and then called next week’s firm to see if I could move things up, and then had real work to do, and then decided to engage in negotiations with the ex to get child support up to snuff. Then I freaked out, a la paycheck calculator.

Here are some of the results:

  • Associate at offer firm gave a very nice and candid view of the firm. I ended up even more excited to work there. It was good.
  • Next week’s interview can’t be moved up: the firm is in talks with a senior person to come in as a partner. They were thinking if he does come in, they’d bring me in as a junior person to support him. But timing can’t be rushed, and the area isn’t my first choice (and isn’t – really – what my resume indicates I would do, so …. ????). I’m keeping the Thursday lunch on the Calendar for the sake of the “longer view.” it’s not going to be an option for me right now.
  • The Ex was less resistant than I anticipated. I’d done a good job for the past year or so in prepping him for the reality that I would not be at big firm forever, and therefore wouldn’t be able to continue to discount child support forever. I think we can avoid court.
  • But the paycheck calculator was mean to me. 

This will not be easy. I’m nowhere near having to make huge changes, like moving out of my house or selling my car, but the series of little changes are going to hurt. 


A friend joked today, “you won’t be able to run out and get the newest iPhone and iPad anymore!” not that I’d need a new iPad. Mine is great. But if the iPhone 5 comes out ….  


No, seriously. The clothes budget will be an issue, the food budget will be affected. Things like $200 athletic fees for sports will start to hurt. 


We like Calistoga Springs sparkling water, the orange flavor. David tends to buy a case of it now and again, bc it’s cheaper by the case. I was having a glass last night, and wondered “can we keep buying this?” I asked him how much it was, and he really didn’t know. “do you think we will have to look at things that closely?” he asked.  Yes. Yes, I do.


I may need to have Lemon quit her voice lessons.


And the  there’s my other hold out – Third to house and car – the housecleaners. A $200/month expense that I just can’t imagine giving up. I’d rather cancel cable. Having a lower income doesn’t mean I have a lesser job. (Odd as that may be, but the reality when you start out in BigLaw). I don’t have any more time to scrub and polish. The housecleaners don’t tidy – they keep up with the floors, the bathrooms, the dust bunnies under the radiators. And they force us (because all of our personalities require force) to keep up with our personal messes on a twice-monthly basis, so the dust and grime underneath the clutter can be addressed.


Before we had them, I was a sad lady. A mad lady. Weekends were unhappy times because I was resentful that I spent the week working and then the weekend cleaning. So maybe I’d sit on the couch and pout, instead of cleaning, and things were yucky. Then we’d plan to have friends over, and I’d have no choice but to tackle the weeks’ (or months’) worth of grime, and I’d go on a rampage. Cleaning and bitching would go hand-in-hand. I would, essentially, turn into my mother. And like the generations before them, my kids and husband would hide in corners somewhere or leave the house. 


I can’t think of anything other than these housecleaners that has increased the quality of my life to this degree.  Maybe my iPhone. Maybe – but it may have detracted, really, because of the, well, distraction.


So I will tenaciously hold on.


And we will tighten the belts and see how it feels.


And David is still on the job market. It was easier for me because the legal market here is picking up, but other markets are still slow.  I also am currently employed, and he, in contrast, has been managing the home for the past 5-6 years. He got a masters in that time, too, but even that is somewhat in the past. And in the time that he’s been looking, he kinda caught pneumonia – so, things have been slower.


Once he’s settled, I think we will be even closer to ok. 


And so – there I am. Freaking out, but still optimistic. Could be worse, right?


I could have to move … And I do not.

h1

Job Search Diaries, III

January 26, 2012

The third installment in my chronicling of looking for a new job.  Here is the first, and the second.

Two interviews in one day is hard.  I wasn’t wrong that a 4 p.m. interview would be very, very hard.

I also had a decent amount of work to do today, for my current job.

Tough day.

Anyway, as predicted, the 11:30 interview was meh.  I met with a partner from another big firm, who referred to the environment as “a pressure cooker” on multiple occasions.  Frying pan —-> frier, not my idea of an intelligent move.  I liked her, and the work itself doesn’t sound horrible, really (nice qualifier), but – well – meh.

Then at 4, polar opposite.  Minimum billable hours: 1600.  Huh?  Is that even full time?  A 30 hour work week (assuming no vacation).

But it was also in the ‘burbs, and requires a daily drive, and is super-tiny, and doesn’t really have a copy machine. Most importantly – it doesn’t seem to have opportunities for growth/promotion.  I don’t know – I can live without a copy machine, but the vibe didn’t feel right to me.  I know a few people who have interviewed there in the past and in this current round, and they “really liked it.”  I wonder if we were in the same place?

So now we have the Trial Firm, The Pressure Cooker, and The Burb-Firm.

What’s next is an informational interview with a very well-respected medium sized firm, and then an initial partner interview with another smaller firm.

But then, the huge News Flash:

I got an offer today!!! 

From the trial firm.

I am a happy camper about this.

First of all, I am excited about this firm.  I keep soliciting opinions from others, to make sure my  impressions aren’t off the wall,  and they all are coming back positive.

Second of all – I’m not gonna be unemployed!!  Even though friends and even my career-dude have been pretty consistent with “there’s no shame in applying for unemployment . . . ” I didn’t want to do that.  My rent is $2500. Unemployment is $653/week in Mass.  Okay – I can cover the rent with that (I didn’t think I could – but just now googled it for the first time) – but I can’t buy FOOD!!!  (Okay, so David just pointed out that I could get food stamps, maybe — HOORAY!) BUT — there is no aid that covers car payments, or student loans (well, except for deferments). But WE’D STILL BE SCREWED!!

So a job offer is very welcome.

The fact that this one comes with a major (i.e. 50%) pay cut, well, doesn’t detract.

I’ve been working at one of these crazy-paying law firms for 5 years.  I’ve made a lot of money, but I haven’t done enough with it. We have some savings, but we should have more.  If I continued with this salary, would I have more savings?  Maybe not.  Probably not.  Despite the stupidity of that answer.

I’ve always known that the big (ridiculous) salary wasn’t forever. Not-forever is now.   That’s fine.  We can do this.  My resulting salary is a good one. It goes up even more every year.  There are bonuses, decent benefits.

Things will be fine.

[College?  What is this word, college?  i do not understand.  Is this a word from my language?  Please.  Leave me alone. I need a fucking job.]

 

 

 

 

 

h1

Job Search Diaries, II

January 25, 2012

Much activity since my last post!  The good kind (for the most part).

By the end of last week, I had 5 interviews lined up for this week and next.

The first one was Monday – and I knew it was going to be relatively intense, with 5 attorneys, and pretty high standards. The job was at a medium sized firm that focuses on trial work.  I bought a new suit, I reviewed a booklet from my career dude with “30 tough interview questions,” and studied the firm’s website.  I worked hard on coming up with my story about why I was leaving my current firm (you know, short of saying “I got fired,” but yet being honest that I was shown the door . . . ).

And the interview went great. I left there feeling really good about the way it went.  I liked the firm, the location is easy-peasy, commute-wise, and — I can still interview!!!  I was on a high over it all day long.  I knew that an offer was not guaranteed, but just knowing that it went well made me happy.  It made me think I can sell myself, and that I will, eventually, be sold.  (Hopefully to the highest bidder.)   I also really wanted an offer.

That evening, I signed onto facebook and saw that an old colleague of mine was posting about the fact that she had  2 job offers and had to choose RIGHT NOW.  I reached out and told her I’d been looking around and have done some research into firms, and did she want to chat about it?  So we did, and . . . she got an offer from the firm I’d interviewed with that morning.

As it turned out, she was in another conference room across the hall at the same time as me. She had an offer in hand, and knew she had to respond to that offer ASAP, and so the firm scrambled and gave her an offer.

I was bummed. I know it would be silly to think I’d get an offer from my very first job interview, but I did like them, and I think they liked me, so it was a little sad.  At the same time, I told myself, I wasn’t sure that they only had one opening.  My colleague had heard through her grapevine that another associate gave notice while we were each in our respective conference rooms, and so it could very well be that we’d both be getting offers.

I gave my colleague all the information I had about the firm (all positive), from partners at our firm and from people I know outside the firm.  I knew less about the firm she had her other offer from, but we talked about what she did know.

She wrote me yesterday morning — she declined the offer and went with the other firm.

At noon, I got a call from a partner I work with.  She had been called for a reference.  At 4, I got an email from a senior associate I worked with.  She had been called for a reference.  I then wrote to another partner I work with and told him, “they’re making phone calls – please check your voice mail?” He wrote back “They called!  I’ll call back in the morning.”  (I will remind him.)

Today, I have 2 interviews.  One at 11:30, and one at 4 p.m.  I also have a meeting at work at 10, but the 11:30 interview is in my current building.  I may come home right after the first interview, because I don’t know how else to keep my energy up for a 4 p.m. interview.  This one is another appealing firm, which is not in the city, proper.  It’s in the quasi-urban town next to ours, and I’d need to drive to work.  That would be weird.

The 11:30 is less appealing.  It’s for a position at another big firm in a specialized area, and I’m not sure I want to specialize in that area (although I do have a lot of experience in it).  I just don’t have the best feeling about it.  But I will give it my all, nonetheless.  The firm that’s been calling my references – as well as every other firm I’m talking to – is going to come with a huge paycut.  Huge.  This other big firm will come with a small pay cut. We are hoping huge pay cuts will be mitigated by David finding a job, but that hasn’t happened yet. So I don’t want to shut the door on something that could be easier for our budget.

Friday is another medium sized firm, and next THURSDAY, is yet another.  I’m afraid next Thursday is too far away, if the Monday firm makes me an offer.  I’m hoping I can call the Thursday firm and move things up.

So, there’s the update!

h1

Job Search Diaries

January 18, 2012

January has already been a huge roller coaster on the job-search front.  With the return to school for the girls and “work” for me (in quotes because I’m not really working – but I am showing up at the office to clean out my drawers and use the printer for resumes), I knew the pressure was on to find a freakin’ job.

Prior to January 1, I had many (good) reasons to put the search off.

  1. My severance package creates a situation where it behooves me, financially, to stay at my current firm for the entire “transition period” (i.e., 3 months) – searching in November to start a job in March is a little awkward, at best.
  2. I produced Mouse’s school play, and it was a great way to throw myself into a productive endeavor and not feel like shit about myself for getting laid off.
  3. The holidays.  Not only did they give me something positive to focus on, but they tend to get in the way of most hiring cycles.

Despite these reasons, I did keep checking job postings, and threw my resume at a few opportunities (a “few” means 5 or  6) throughout December.  But never heard a peep.

But come January 1, I had nothing.  No play. No holidays.  Nothing to talk me into putting this off.

I (potentially naively) expected to wake up on January 3, the first true “business day” of the year, and see the world smattered with job opportunities. And to be dripping with responses from the December submissions.

Instead, I woke up on January 3 and saw – nothing.

That whole week, postings were light and my phone was silent.  I was kinda bummed.  And I started to feel some actual anxiety about whether I can pull this off – whether I can manage to get a new position before this one ends.  A gap in employment will not be easy for us.  Not at all.

Then the following week, postings picked way up.  I reached out to some people I know and had some nibbles.  I sent resumes to various places. I felt good! about things!

But some of my networking emails went unanswered (the minority of them, but still).  The resumes I sent received no response. By the end of the week, I felt – bleh.

But then I had a meeting with my career-dude (firm-provided career consultant), and he made me feel better, because he’s smooth like that.  Then I made some phone calls inside the firm to people I work with and sent an email to a friend outside the firm (a fellow parent who is also a lawyer who graduated from my law school, but a decade before me), and the responses I got were overwhelming.  Not just “oh, why don’t you call so-and-so?”  But rather “I am going to call so-and-so for you!  They are looking for people, and you are perfect!”  And then – they did call their so-and-sos.

I was kind of blown away by their generosity and proactive response.  My career dude has been pushing me all along to be up front with people in my community and at my firm about my situation, for this very reason.  “People want to help you!” he said.  But I was still shy.  I forced myself, though, after our last meeting to reach out a bit more.

I stayed optimistic all weekend.  Which is nice for a long weekend.  And then the last of my networking people who hadn’t responded DID respond (with apologies for the delay).  And yesterday, the postings were again voluminous, and I sent my resumes to the s0-and-sos.  Within 2 hours of sending my resume to one of the so-and-sos, I got a response setting up a meeting.  Then I sent out 4 more resumes to the day’s postings.  And I woke up this a.m. with another interview request.

So.  Hooray!  Two interviews!  Of course, they may just be the warm-ups.  I haven’t interviewed since 2006.  5 1/2 years ago.

But I think I can do it . . . .

 

h1

Still Irregular

January 10, 2012

I thought maybe I got my posting mojo back, but apparently not.

I’m job-searching like mad, lately.  Feeling a little down that my phone isn’t ringing.  Just over 6 weeks before my income disappears, and it’s a scary feeling.

Yesterday I spoke to the partner who oversees my pro bono project and let her know I was leaving.  I did not anticipate the emotional response that resulted.  David got the brunt of that last night . . . poor guy.

With the depressing tone of this post, I’m sure all are quite relieved that I’ve been posting less during this transition time.