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Posts Tagged ‘unemployed’

According to my calculations, (yes, I know how to do calculations thanks to my iPhone’s calculator function) September 2009 will be the month that I make more money than I ever did during any month working for The Man(s). For the first time since my untimely departure from a Richmond meat factory media conglomerate in April, I’ll be pulling in grown-up wages with grown-up decimal points and grown-up commas. Okay, just one comma. But still – there’s a comma in there and I likey.

I’ve packaged my skills into a nice little writing/blogging/communication machine and I couldn’t be happier with the work I’ve been doing or the connections I’ve made. Next stop: business license. At some point, I’ll need to make it legit. Who wants some of this? Come get it.

I had a chat last week with someone who is quickly turning into my business mentor (whether she accepts that role or not) about turning unemployment into a business. Selling yourself. Being the business. Doing what you love and putting yourself to work, despite not having a ‘traditional’ job. Following your heart and being happy. It’s real, folks. People do it all the time – sometime’s they’re forced into it because of unemployment (like me). Some people need a push. Some people will never be able to truly pursue happiness because they can’t grow a pair and put forth the effort. I’m happy things turned out the way they did for me. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I think I’m on the right track. The rough thing about freelance writing is that the work can always stop coming in. The good thing, however, is that there is always more work to be found.

I spent all of last week working diligently on articles, videos and blogs. I researched, edited, rendered, and created. I did it all from the comfort of my office, sporting gym shorts and scruffy facial hair. I hung out with some of my favorite Richmond bloggers, including 1/2 of this team and this crazy lady on Thursday. The Wife took me out for a delayed birthday dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant on Saturday. I worked malljob for a few hours here and there. I went grocery shopping at bought real honest-to-goodness food that doesn’t come prepackaged or in a box with a smiling glove on the front. I hung out with friends and watched football all day yesterday and reveled in a Buffalo Bills victory. I’m keeping extremely busy. If by ‘busy’, you include the time I spend wrapping tin-foil around the cat’s paws then throwing pieces of ham at him while he’s temporarily immobilized.

Tell you what – that cat doesn’t like to be wrapped in aluminum foil. The dog thought it was hilarious, though. Until I covered him in bedsheets and hit him with couch pillows. Now both him and the cat are holding secret meetings in the basement. I think they’re trying to booby-trap the staircase with trip wire and flying paint cans, Home Alone-style. You know how kids get really frustrated with something that they can’t do and start shaking and crying and punching the air? Hey guys, let me know when you grow some opposable thumbs and learn to tie an overhand knot.

I spend a nice portion of my day playing Rambo with those two. God help me when I have children. It’s gonna be like the Saw movies up in here.

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I turned 31 yesterday. Not exactly a milestone birthday like 16, 21 or 30. I spent it writing articles, slinging long-sleeved t-shirts and v-neck sweaters and watching my Bills lose a heartbreaker to the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Just take a knee, Leodis. Take a knee. Why couldn’t you have taken a knee?

Anyway, I could depress myself for the rest of the week thinking about how Buffalo came oh-so-close to beating Captain PrettyBoy Brady and the rest of his turd-tastic team. But as a 31 year-old adult, I’m going to forget about it and concentrate on the things in my life that have actual importance, meaning and relevance. Like the upcoming NHL hockey season.

Wifey bought me some much-needed items of clothing as a birthday present, as well as a much-needed pizza. It’s kind of a tradition that I eat Pizza Hut pizza on my birthday. I’ve done it it every year since I was a kid, and the pizza seems to taste worse and get more expensive every year. Seriously? 20 bones for a large supreme? And it tastes like warm ass and rubber tires? We should’ve spent $5 on a Red Baron or at least got one from a local pizzeria. Back in my day, pizza tasted like tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and fresh dough. Now it tastes like pennies and sweat and plastic. “Back in my day.” I can say that now because I’m 31 and I used to have a day way back in the day, back in my day.

Also, what happened to KFC? Another one that used to be good way back in the day. Now I can’t even drive by one without wanting to dig up the Colonel and shove the atrocity they call “mashed potatoes” into his dead, zombie mouth.

The malljob is starting to become more of a hassle than it was a few months ago. I’m at the point in my freelancing where I can’t justify driving 30 minutes each way to a 4-hour shift at a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage. In all honestly, I need those 5 hours to be writing and making real money. I initially got the job as a time-waster – something to get me out of the house and keep me busy for an afternoon. I don’t mind working the malljob one or two days a week because I get a pretty nifty discount on lesbian hiking gear. But they recently had two people quit to pursue better opportunities, leaving us part-timers to pick up the slack. Not a big deal if you want or need the hours. But I don’t. I’m happy working a couple times a week. I’m not complaining, because I’m all about making extra money. However, I can make more extra money by doing additional freelance writing, not from folding t-shirts. I think I’m just about ready to quit malljob altogether and concentrate on the freelancing. Then again, maybe I should wait until I absolutely have enough clients to make that a reality. It’s in the pipeline. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I’m going to fire up Word and start another article. I might heat up a slice of leftover cancerpie. I mean Pizza Hut pizza. Then I’m going to have some leftover birthday cake. Then I’m going to find Ronald McDonald and force him to make out with the zombie Taco Bell dog. Then I’ll go to the doctor and he’ll tell me to stop eating like a 9 year-old because I’m 31 and there is something called “cholesterol” that has already begun to kill me.

Hockey starts in 2 weeks.

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Me: [Sleeping] Zzz… Zzz… Zzz...

Dog: [Resting his head on the bed mere inches from my slumbering face] Siiiiigggghhhhh.

Me: Zzz… Zzz…

Cat: [Jumps up on the bed, then on top of me and walks the entire length of my body, from toe to head and begins to nibble on my nose].

Me: Zzz… Zzz… ZzOUCH! [Opening my eyes, all I can see is orange and brown fur and feel something cold and wet inside my mouth. It’s the dog’s nose]. DAAAAMMMMMMMM IITTTTTTTTTT!

[Dog and Cat high-five each other and bolt out of my bedroom]

Me: [mumbling] …wake me up… nose in my mouth… stupid cat face… dog ass all up in my business… trying get some sleep… stupid jerk animals…

I gruffly throw the covers aside and sit up. Rubbing my eyes, I turn my head over my right shoulder to check the clock.

Neck: *CRRRRRIIIICCCKK*

Wincing in pain and unable to return my head to forward-facing position, I hear the muffled giggles of Dog and Cat from the hallway outside my bedroom. It’s 8:32 AM.

I throw on a smokey t-shirt from last night. I pee. I make coffee. I open the back door and step out of the way of the stampeding dog and cat who cautiously, excitedly dart past me like children afraid of being spanked and with you-can’t-catch-me giggles. Jerks.

I drink my coffee from my favorite Buffalo Sabres mug and stare out the back window as I try to massage my neck with my free hand. I watch my pets chew on sticks, pee on bushes and rambunctiously chase each other around the yard trying to bite the other’s tail.

I think about last night and how grateful I am to live in a city where our online community backs up the internet chitchat and holds informative and fun social networking events. The Richmond chapter of Social Media Club had another great turnout. The topic of using social media in your local business’s marketing strategy was something that, I think, a lot of attendees found very informative. Of course, the real fun took place afterwards at Mekong Restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious (and complimentary – thanks, An) Belgian beers and Vietnamese food. I was talking with a fellow freelancer and newcomer to the SMCRVA-scene about how our online community has grown into an actual professional and social network that can generate real business for people like us. Writers talk to marketers. Marketers talk to business owners. Business owners talk to the web developers. It’s not only a great vehicle for shameless self-promotion, but also the perfect place to find collaborative partners with similar interests.

The professional side of networking eventually gave way to the hash brown side of networking when some of us rolled up to the Waffle House. Of course, HashBrownNetworking always gives way to EmbassySuitesNetworking, which is the perfect and most ridiculously awesome way to cap off the night. The gossip flies and the wine flows like wine. Or like beer. No, the beer flows like wine. Whatever. I think we need to have a week-long convention. Vegas, anyone?

But where was I? Ah, yes. Stupid Dog and Cat are now pawing at the door.

Me: No, sorry. I don’t want whatever you’re selling.

Dog: Let us in!

Me: What? No, sorry. I’m not interested.

Cat: Not funny!

Me: No, thank you. I don’t want any.

Dog: C’MON!

Cat: I’m hungry!

Me: Sorry. Can’t hear you. Please get off my property.

[Now we’re just staring at each other through the window]

Me: Okay. Bye.

I walk away and pour myself more coffee. I’m thinking about the articles I need to start writing. I’m thinking about how much I enjoy my life right now. Still broke, still *technically* unemployed, but really feel as if I’m on the right track, career-wise.

This is Day 142, folks. Muffled barks and meows coming from the back door.

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Malljob cut down on hours. This week, I’m only pulling in eight. Let me do the math, here:

8 hours multiplied by [whatever I make at malljob per hour] equals [wow, I think I have that buried in my couch crevices] minus taxes equals [I can make more money in just 15 minutes by unbuttoning my shirt and wearing shortyshots outside the Wal•Mart].

Wifey is now happily off to school every morning, getting her classroom decorated. Full time job, that wife of mine. And what does she do? She elects to keep her other 18 jobs and picks up a Labor Day shift. So there goes my big plans for Labor Day. You know, sailing on the bay (is there a bay around here?) and wearing all white for one last time this year (yeah right, I like to piss off the rich cougars at the mall with my white pants/boat shoes combination in mid-November) or whatever it is that people do to celebrate labor. Also, I didn’t win the Mega Millions, so… I don’t have a sailboat. This Labor Day is gonna suck.

Also coming up: my birthday. I’ll be turning 31 in a couple of weeks. To celebrate, I think we’ll go out to some fancy local restaurant then watch my Bills beat the Patriots on Monday Night Football. I artfully left a link to a website that sells knock-off football jerseys in Wifey’s email, hoping she’ll get the hint and get one for me. Because 40 smacks for a stitched jersey is a bargain, even if the colors are slightly (drastically) off and Reebok is spelled “Rearbox”. It’s my birthday, dammit, and I’m watching football in a counterfeit Trent Edwards jersey if I so desire. And I hate you Tom Brady. Do you hear me? I hate you and your perfect face.

I’m starting to get some more business tossed my way. Which is unbelievably awesome. I had a couple of meetings last week that went really well and I hope will lead to steady work. Now I have an excuse when Wifey comes home and asks if I forgot how to operate a vacuum. Hey! I’m workin’ over here!

My computer room is more like a real grown-up office now. Cluttered. Dusty. Smells like whiskey, printer ink and mansweat. I need a new desk chair, though. This one doesn’t lean back to an appropriate napping level.

This is Day 138, folks. Pursuing happiness. Or “happyness”. You know, like the movie? The Pursuit of Happyness? I’m pretty sure there was a Y in there somewhere. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing. And I’m getting there. Almost. We’re almost there.

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What a great day to ride my bike! I think I’ll hop on the ol’ 12-speed and pedal my way down to the river. Maybe ride along the riverside trails. Pack a light lunch. Stop on a big rock and eat my sammich (I’m making a Balki Bartokomous™) and overlook the rapids. Maybe read a few chapters of a classic book and take in some sun before making my way back home.

Get a lil’ exercise, too. Lord knows I need it.

Yeah. Sounds fun. I think I’ll go do that.

Oh, hey. My bicycle tires are flat. Hmph.

No problem. I’ll just get out my trusty tire pump. Where did I put it? In the basement? [Looking around the basement]

Can’t seem to find it. Did I put it in this box with my high school and college diplomas? [Digging through box]

Oh wow! Look at these old pictures of me with my college friends and my old dog, Tony B!

The B stands for Baloney. Tony Baloney. “Tony B the Incredible, Girls Say He’s Edible.” He’s an old dog now. Lives with my parents. They were not pleased when I left his crazy Black Lab dog-butt with them when I moved to Richmond. He was a wild one back then. I taught that dog how to drink beer, hump legs and pick up chicks. You know, typical college stuff. My roommates and I used to sit in a circle and pinch his backside. He would go crazy, spinning around trying to see who was touching him until he eventually gave up and collapsed, panting and defeated. To this day, you can’t touch his backside without him growling and nipping at your hand.

But he’s slowed down a lot since then. Even had some nasty medical issues which forced my mother to make the tough decision whether to shell out hundreds of dollars for treatment or have him put down. As much as she hated that dog, she just couldn’t watch him die. He’s still alive and kicking. I hear he’s besties with my mom’s new cat. She even lets him sleep in the living room hallway now – somewhere he was never allowed before. I think my mom secretly loves him. Good ol’ Tony B.

Now where did I put that damn tire pump? Is underneath all this beach and recreational gear? [Digging through our beach gear]

Oh, look at that! A kite! I remember buying this kite on our trip to Nags Head a couple of years ago. We went with Wifey’s extended family and had a huge beach house with all the amenities. Spent a whole week down there. That was the trip when Wifey totaled my brand new Mustang. Totaled it. Not even a year old. Loved that car. Love her even more. Funny thing was, I wasn’t even that upset about it. I could barely afford the payments anyway.

Man, I love North Carolina’s Outer Banks. So relaxing. We haven’t been back since then, though. I guess we just haven’t had the time or the money to support a week long vacation. But I remember her dad trying to fly this kite. Trying to run up and down the beach with his bum ankle. Kite in one hand, beer in the other. Big toothy grin.

But my tire pump. Where the heck did I put it?

I bet it’s over here with all my old clothes. [Rummaging through boxes and bags of old clothes]

Hey! It’s my favorite hoodie! I thought I left it somewhere and forever lost this comfortable, grease-stained and once-white sweatshirt. It’s got a hole in the hood from where my dog chewed on it when he was a puppy. It’s missing the drawstring because some drunk and angry Redskins fan pulled it out when he grabbed and tried to fight me because I was wearing my Bills jersey over it at a game up at FedEx field which the Bills won. He was so drunk and angry, silly guy. It’s not really furry on the inside anymore and the pocket stitching is starting to come loose, but man, is it comfy. I think I’ll put it on now. Yes, I’m fully aware that it is 95º outside, but I FOUND MY FAVORITE HOODIE THAT I THOUGHT WAS GONE FOREVER. I bet my wife put it down here. She does that sometimes, hide my stuff. She does it on purpose with the hopes that I’ll forget about it. But I’ll never forget you, my tattered and stinky friend.

What was I looking for? Oh, the tire pump. Right.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Wifey has it in the trunk of her car. Which, at the moment, is about 20 miles away.

Looks like I won’t be riding my bike today. [Standing in the basement, wearing my hoodie and bicycle shorts, staring at a box of all my sports memorabilia]

Guess I’ll go write a blog or something.

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Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

I didn’t get the job in Charlotte that I so desperately wanted. I got the rejection email at the beginning of the week. It was a major blow to my confidence and self-esteem. I thought I nailed the initial interview and all but had my bags packed and a house picked out.

I’ve been trying to remain positive throughout the job-seeking process, but this really affected me in a big way. For the first time, I let the constant rejection of the past four months get the best of me and I started to get down on myself. I was starting to think negatively and took personally their decision to go with someone else.

Honestly, I don’t care who they decided to hire or how many years of experience the person who they chose has. They should’ve hired me because I would have been better. Their loss.

This past Wednesday, I took part in the Virginia Career Network’s (@VaCN) discussion on using social media to grow your professional network. I was a panel speaker, along with 3 others (@rickwhittington @MightyCasey @jasonlinas) who have much more experience in the professional networking field than I do, having only been unemployed for four months. However, I think it was great that we each had different viewpoints and could offer advice from the perspectives of those who are doing the hiring to those who are looking to be hired. All in all, I think the topics that we touched on – including how to engage potential employers and influential people online – will help the jobseekers as they dip their toes into the pool of social media for professional purposes.

I was a nervous wreck, not having done any public speaking since college. But I didn’t faint. So, you know,  there’s that.

Then came the big news.

My wife got a job! She is now a kindergarten teacher in Chesterfield County – at a great school out in Midlothian. After working so hard to get her teaching license for the past howevermany years, and then finally being eligible to become a teacher when the economy is sliding and the Virginia education budget is slashed to reduce the amount of teachers on the payroll, she just didn’t think it was going to happen anytime soon. Luckily for us, the one school that is actually adding classrooms hired her. I’m so proud of her. She goes in tomorrow to start decorating her classroom. She’s going to be a great kindergarten teacher – one that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

This put the Charlotte rejection into perspective for me. It some cosmic way, I didn’t get that job so we wouldn’t be in the predicament of figuring out where we were going to live. Now that I know that we’re staying in Richmond, I can focus finding work here. I can begin to make a name for myself (whether by freelancing or whatever) in this city. This is a great thing for us. I’m happy to stay in Richmond. I’m going to be king of this city. As soon as I get some more money coming in.

Speaking of money…

Screw this whole unemployment thing. I mean, yeah, I’ll continue to feverishly look for regular 9-5 work, but this freelance writing thing is amazingly fun and I’ve never been happier in the work I create. I’ve met tons of people and can be extremely productive before I finish my coffee. All I need is another 2 or 3 clients and I think I’ll be alright.

That panel I participated in on Wednesday? Because of that, I have a meeting with someone this coming week about some social marketing work I can do for them. So I’ll be alright. I’m making unemployment work for me by doing what I love to do and getting paid for it. I guess since it’s not the traditional type of job, I still think of myself as an unemployed dude. But that’s starting to change.

If I keep getting work, I may just become my own business. That’s the direction I’m heading. We’ll see what happens. Until then:

This is Day 130, folks. 130 days of not having a traditional job. But I’m making a little bit of money – legally. So proud of Wifey. The kids in her class will be lucky to have her. No one can teach a kid to make macaroni art like her.

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Morning productivity

If there is one thing about being unemployed (or “freelancing”, as I call it) that I actually enjoy, it’s the waking up whenever my body darn well feels like it. I like opening my eyes and staring at the wall, trying to guess what time it is.

“8? 8:30?” [grabs phone] “Holy crap! 9:37! Sweet!”

I’m not a big sleeper-inner, so I’m usually up around 9:30. It doesn’t matter, though, because I have a few things that I force myself to do before noon – no matter what time I drag my groggy butt outta bed.

Coffee followed by some articles followed by some social media internetting followed by an intense application blitz followed by some fleeting thoughts about exercising followed by either the malljob or a sandwich with extra Doritos (on the sandwich, mind you). There also might be a nap in there somewhere. And maybe some more articles.

My sandwich shop

I make awesome sandwiches. I had one yesterday that I like to call The Cousin Larry™. If you’ve been reading my posts since the beginning, you know that I like to name my sandwich creations. One day I’m going to open a sandwich shop that will feature delicious sandwiches named after TV/movie characters. Most of them will be pretty obscure. It’s gonna be awesome. Just you wait. Anyway, The Cousin Larry™ doesn’t have pickles (most of my awesome creations do). It does, however, have Doritos intermingling between the salami and the lettuce. Fantabulous, if I do say so myself.

You know who eats salami? My dad. He eats bologna and salami with American cheese on wheat bread with KETCHUP. Every. Single. Day. In my shop, that sammich will be named The Carl Harrington™. Okay, so he’s not a TV character, but I’m pretty sure no one will buy it anyway. Except him. How awesome would that be to have your favorite sandwich named after you?

“Hi, I’d like a ME please. Extra ketchup.”

What I’ve got coming up

I’m speaking on a panel this Wednesday. About what? What else? Being unemployed! I’ll give a little presentation on how I’m using social media to network and create professional relationships with people who can put me on their payroll. Basically, I’ll be giving advice to unemployed people about how to use social media to their advantage. It should be interesting, since I haven’t done any public speaking in a very long time. Not to mention that I have no clue what I’m going to say. I should probably write some stuff down, huh? Apparently, I’m winning at unemployment if people want to hear me speak about my joblessness. Hey, I got a free lunch out of it. SO CHALK ANOTHER ONE UP IN THE WIN COLUMN, FELLAS!

I make unemployment look easy.

This is Day 124, folks. Just some Monday evening ramblings while the wifey is babysitting and making that real dolla-dolla. Still malljobbin’, still writing, still looking for more. Last night I had a dream we moved to Charlotte. Hoping that becomes a reality soon.

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