I think I’ve mentioned before that this is the third time this decade that I have been laid off and unemployed. The first time, in 2001 was announced to us on 9/10 and put into perspective by the events of the next day. The second time, I was called while on short-term medical leave (stress related – caused in no small part by the job, but to be fair I wasn’t exactly surrounded by circles of support at home) and told my job was eliminated. Slightly illegal, but given the circumstances felt more like being sprung from jail than anything else. Especially when I opened the mail after hanging up the phone to find my acceptance to graduate school. That one was in March 2003 just after GW declared war – so I had a lot of time to watch as the mission was “accomplished.” Or something.
This time around The End was announced in November with a vague date of “beginning in April and ending by July.” I was fully engaged as a middle manager in the organization so I worked as hard as I could to both support my team and motivate the parent company to engage in meaningful transition activities before it was too late. Because I’m weird like that, I guess.
I didn’t spend a lot of pre-last-day time looking hard for a job. I knew that the timing meant that I would be given the gift of time just before the wedding. I spent the first couple of weeks of “freedom” establishing relationships with the transition services we were being allowed and trying to get a foothold on the enormous task of combining two over-full households. (Send me a couple of crampons and some rope would you? because I still don’t have a foothold!)
During April and May I half-heartedly looked for jobs to apply for but refused to panic about it. I just didn’t have the time or energy to panic. I had other things to panic about. After all, I was still training for a half marathon, too!
Plus, I had a severance package.
I kept reminding myself that bills were being paid just the same way they were as when I was working and beating my brains out at Evil Corporate Job. It didn’t matter that the FT jobs I was having some conversations about wanted to pay me less than what I was making 15 years ago. It wasn’t critical that the PT music jobs that were posted were for “hobbyist” pay. It was trivial that the corporate jobs I saw posted only made me sick to my stomach. I could wait for better opportunities to come available. I had time.
The wedding is over (by about 37 days today) and the half-marathon is over (by about 10 days) and the last full severance check was deposited last Friday. The next check will be a half check because I qualified for an odd-number of weeks of severance.
And the fact of the matter is that I can’t pay all my bills on the $538 a week that I’ll get for unemployment benefit. More power to those who can. G tells me not to worry, but he still has all the same bills he had before we married and doesn’t have piles of money to hand over for my bills. Sure he could pitch in on food money (which he did this past weekend) but when it comes to it, he’s got a new bill in the name of Spousal Health Benefits (so at least I’m not having to pay COBRA!)
I’m really grateful that I got a call the other day from a colleague asking if I had time to do a quick writing project. They thought maybe it would take a couple of weeks. Maybe 60 hours. I’m a little “too good” so I can only bill around 25. But still… that’s better than billing zero.
And she called me again about another project she can’t take on. That one starts Wednesday. I’m not sure how long that project will be. Maybe another couple of weeks. So there’s a trickle of money coming in. And that’s a good thing. It will keep me afloat until we can find the next right job.
I feel a little like I”m standing on the brink again. That last time was the beginning of the final descent into the pit (divorce) – even though it was also the beginning of some of the best things in my life (graduate school).
All I want to do is use all my skills and experiences in ONE job. ONE call where I can give my all. ONE ministry to make at least one corner of the world a better place. ONE JOB has been my prayer for, well, almost the whole decade. What does that say about answers to prayer? I’ll explore that a little more tomorrow.
For now, I’ve got to get moving. Decluttering calls.