2013: My Year In Review


Since this is a personal blog, I figured that instead of writing a year-end review about other things, it would be better suited for me to give a year-end review of things that actually happened in my life. It’s much easier to do something like this now since chances are I captured those moments with my phone, giving me photographic proof of the events.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a month-by-month photo essay of how things went with me and the family in 2013, some of which was never mentioned here on the blog. Take a virtual trip of the things we did, places we saw, events that brought us happiness, triumph, and even sadness.

Got your scrollin’ finger ready? Good! Here we go!

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“Better Times Lie Ahead”


Bagua Mirror

“Better times lie ahead.”

That’s a quote from an Android dev whom I emailed regarding an app they created. I donated a few dollars since I use the app all the time and said that I would give more if I could but unemployment sort of prevents me.

He truly deserved my donation since the app is free and I appreciated the work that went into it.

He told me not to worry about it and that indeed better times lie ahead.

He was right.

Since adopting this new way of thinking with my meditation and elimination of all things negative, I haven’t had a single “Woe is me” day and continue to plug along as if everything was fine.

Because as far as I’m concerned it is, despite being unemployed at the moment.

Now, about those mirrors. What you see above is a bagua mirror, a Chinese mirror that is used in feng shui and believed to deflect negative energies away from the home. I found two of these at a thrift shop earlier this year and they sat around the den until I decided to place them on either side of my incense burner as a way to add some décor.

I later learned that using them indoors is highly discouraged. And strangely, whether you want to believe it or not, I lost my job soon after placing them as décor (when I had yet to learn about proper placement).

Soon after learning of their actual purpose, I hung one of the mirrors above the front door and one facing my neighbors to the north of me. We have quite a history. I did that in the hopes of the mirrors doing the job that they are supposed to do and ridding our home of any negative energy.

I also recently rid myself of someone who seemed to find joy in spreading negativity. Not sarcasm, flat-out negativity. I can be sarcastic. There’s a distinct difference, and this person was not someone I wanted to remain in contact with anymore. I don’t need that kind of person around me, even if only in pixel form.

I’m continuing to be optimistic about everything even in these tough times when my unemployment checks are akin to making $6.50/hr. working 40 hours a week. Yes, they are that small. But we’re getting by.

So, getting back to those mirrors. Are they really working?

Since placing them, we haven’t had any problems with the neighbors and the one above the door could very well be keeping the positive energy inside the home.

And tomorrow, exactly two months after being laid off from my job, I have an interview scheduled at 11 am. Considering that I didn’t get any calls for interviews the last time I was unemployed (except for the one that led to me getting hired), I’d say that getting called in only a few months as opposed to two years was pretty good.

If you can believe it, I was on the phone with one recruiter when another one called. The first job, however, was too far so I had to decline but everything has been arranged for tomorrow’s much closer interview.

You can call it luck, you can call it anything you want. As for me, I’d like to think that it’s been a combination of everything I’ve been doing in order to look on the brighter side of things. I even think those few words of encouragement from a total stranger put me in a better mindset about everything.

I’m heading to that interview tomorrow and giving it my best shot. And if it turns out I don’t get the job, it’ll be disappointing but definitely not the end of everything.

PHOTO_20130827_230019

But I’m counting on you, maneki-neko Smile

It Ain’t Happening


It’s been exactly one month since my former employer gave me the ol’ boot on the ass due to budget cuts.

And since then, I’ve been in touch with a former coworker who continues to give me a rundown of what’s going on which mostly surrounds my abrupt and, what many deem unnecessary, layoff.

I’ve been sort of thinking that with the sudden wave of work they’ve gotten, along with at least four quitting/finding other jobs since my untimely departure, that I would be getting a phone call and a request to come back and help pick up the slack.

Well, as the title of this post implies, it’s not going to happen.

My source recently told me that the company is no longer going to use temps, which means that some of them could very soon be getting their walking papers. If that’s the case then there would be almost no proofreaders left (but they are training others to proofread for the time being). Additionally, this person is also under the impression that one entire department will be phased out. And if that happens then there’d be almost no need for anyone else to be there. For the record, temps make up about 70% of the office crew and the temp agency they use is located on one of the campuses. That could be…awkward.

I’ve seen moves like this happen before and let me tell you, they don’t lead to good things. The outcome is always worse than you can imagine and the emotional carnage is unreal. With all of this happening, it seems that the work done at my former office could be slated for outsourcing.

That’s a far stretch from a few months after New Boss came to town and promised all of us that many of the temps would be taken in as permanent employees of Big Company. Everything was going well and there was all kinds of stuff coming around the corner. We’d be fine for a long time.

The work is most definitely there, but only two have been transitioned to permanent employees and that happened when I was still there. So much for that.

Then as we attended more meetings, the topic of the budget came up. This should have been an indication that things weren’t going to get any better. And during the last meeting, I heard that the information New Boss gave sounded more like smoke and mirrors. It was all so vague that nobody could think of anything to ask afterward since it answered nothing.

Do the math: budget cuts, no more temps, an entire department possibly being phased out.

At this point it seems that the days at Big Company are pretty much numbered for everybody. All I can say is good luck to all of them.

And That’s How It Ended


loserIt seems like I write these posts all too often and when I do, they always seem to bring me down.

This is the one time that I refuse to do that.

It was at about 2:45 pm on Friday when I saw one of the ladies from my staffing agency/employer walk in the building. As usual, she had her leather folder with her and as is normally the case when she arrives, all of the contract workers feel the hair on the back of their neck stand up because they never know what news she may be bringing.

She came into our little corner of the building and smiled, asking how everything was going. I gave her my input and then she asked if she could speak to me.

I was taken into an office where my supervisor was already sitting and waiting. Well, at this point it wasn’t hard to figure out that this meeting would have little to do with my getting a raise or an award for Outstanding Service. Kathy, the pseudonym I’ll be using for the agency rep, spoke first but not before she let out a sigh.

“As you know, the company has been going through some budget cuts…”

That was pretty much all I needed to hear and knew exactly what the next line, or at least the only line of speech that mattered, would be.

“As a result, your assignment is ending as of today.”

I sat there and showed no emotion. Kathy continued to speak which then turned into some spiel about how dependable and hard-working I was during my nearly three years on the assignment. She glanced over at my now-former supervisor as if to get some input from her.

“We’re really, really sorry to see you go,” she said. I spoke only two words to her the entire meeting and they were “Thank you.” I will explain later in the post when things get a little more…detailed.

The meeting ended without much else. I signed no papers, got nothing in return. It was over.

As is the norm, Kathy gave me a few minutes to gather my things and to say goodbye to the rest of the crew. It didn’t take me long to do either: as a contract worker, you learn to travel light and that’s exactly what I did. I stuffed what few personal belongings I had into my backpack and slung it over my shoulder. All the while, I explained to my fellow proofreader Lola what had just happened. She immediately burst into tears.

“You have my contact info. Give it to whomever asks about me,” I told her. I later texted her with a precautionary “Use your discretion when you give out my info. You know who I liked around there.”

It was always my wish that when the time came and I finally found another job, I would leave this place without a word. No news is good news; I figured it’d be best if they all found out as a group during the next painfully boring Monday meeting, which they will this coming Monday. Not that many would give a crap. I adhered to that wish but sadly, under completely different and unexpected circumstances.

Lola, still crying, asked if we’d catch up sometime.

“Karaoke Night, July 19th, 8:30. You know it.” I then shook hands with Grant, the other proofreader in our little nook of an office.

I then said goodbye to another fellow proofreader, telling her that Lola has my contact info if she wanted it. With that, I met Kathy and I walked out of the place for the last time – not a single regret, not one tear, no remorse.

Kathy later met me at the parking structure gate so that I could turn in my ID to her after I used it for the last time to leave. I walked to my car and gave Ann a call telling her the news. Naturally, she was upset but it’s nothing we hadn’t gone through before and nothing we won’t get through again.

I got in the car and made my way to Level One, where Kathy was standing at the gate. I swiped my ID, handed it over, thanked her, watched the arm raise and gave the Yaris some gas. I looked up at the Google building one last time.

And with that I was done. My time at this place was finally over. A contract position that was originally scheduled to last only from October 2010 to February 2011 nearly made it to July 2013. Not a bad run if you ask me.

Now if I may, I’d like to go into a few details about the job and why I show no remorse or pity toward my layoff.

In addition to traveling lightly, a contact worker understands that the chances of them being let go for any reason are exponentially greater than a regular full-time gig. That’s just how it is. I was there for almost three years; I’ve seen people get cut after only a few weeks. That’s the nature of the business.

As such, one of the things I decided to do was to not get too close to any of the permanent employees, most of whom had already dedicated a good portion of their sad, pathetic lives to this company. They will live out the rest of their working careers here in complete misery doing a mundane job and deal with the rigors of it because they have the safety of job security no matter which way the projects flow. Contractors, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen and when one is let go and another big project begins, the list of potential candidates is long. While I did associate with the permanent people, I didn’t get close – for my own safety and privacy. Many of them would be hard-pressed to tell you more than five things they knew about me if anything at all.

Let me put it to you this way: it’s highly unlikely I will be receiving any Facebook Friends requests from any of them and in the likelihood I do, they will not be approved. Aside from the few coworkers I’ve trusted to connect with on Facebook, nobody from there needs to know anything else about me.

There is a strange dynamic between temps and permanent workers. I had always felt that the temps were treated like second-class citizens who knew little to nothing about the job and could be replaced a moment’s notice. This is even more true when you are proofreader, rushing to get projects done only to have all of the glory go to the project manager or content owner. You try proofreading a foreign language like Bulgarian or Greek or even Chinese for 40 hours a week, in some cases under deadline pressure and people breathing down your neck, knowing you will get no glory or even the proverbial pat on the back.

Nothing.

Then there’s my supervisor. All I will say is that from the moment I met her, she was cold, unfeeling and robotic, which is why I only spoke two words to her during the meeting. Praise from someone like that is absolutely meaningless and if anything, insulting. During the meeting her eyes were cold and steely and said nothing just as they always did. I didn’t say a word or even glance at her as I walked by her office toward the exit. She’s just as over me as I am her.

On the job itself, one word: tedious. Okay, maybe two: tedious and boring.

Let’s kick it up a notch: tedious, boring and monotonous. You will never find a less rewarding job than this one. “Proofreading” in terms of this company meant comparing two copies to each other and noticing any differences. It was very similar to those children’s cartoon drawings where you have to find the difference between the Easter Bunny on the left and the Easter Bunny on the right.

“Oh, look! That egg only has one star but THAT one has two! Daddy, there’s a difference! I’d better circle it!”

That’s about how exciting it was to do my job. In addition, I can’t tell you how inconsistent things were around that place. What was correct on one document wasn’t necessarily correct on another and there were no style guides to refer to. We couldn’t mark up anything unless it was absolutely, positively, 100% wrong. All corrections had to be noted with a sticky and our notes on said sticky. We were not free to edit, suggest, do anything outside of count whiskers on the two Easter Bunnies. And when we did, The Old Guard of Proofreading came into our office and pontificate about what we did wrong and usually in a condescending manner. There was no reward here, ever.

The Monday Meetings were always a joy. What they usually came down to was how low the coffee supply was and what needed to be ordered for the next time. When work was discussed, it was always a “Me! Me! Me!” mentality. Every single one of the people in our department thought their project was the most important and always placed the blame on someone else when things didn’t get done. The Blame Game ran rampant around there and I will not miss it. The level of incompetence was astounding and I’m surprised anything got done at all. Way too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

The new boss, who still lives on the east coast and flies back and forth frequently, seemed more interested in assembling teams designed to manage our workload using PowerPoint presentations filled with Venn diagrams and business acronyms useless to anyone outside of management. I swear, if I hear the word “kaizen” again I’m gonna puke. We knew she was not the same as our old boss the moment she arrived: we never had a meeting announcing her arrival and she rarely spoke to us. I will not miss her. At all. There’s nothing to miss. At least our old boss was a fire-eater at Burning Man.

But I will miss my fellow temps — just not the commute. Not at all. It was an absolutely crappy drive, day in and day out for almost three years. Someone else can take it from me and I won’t complain.

Finally, there’s this. I was on the job for nearly three years and there were plenty of opportunities to move to different departments. Not necessarily a promotion but a chance to get away from proofreading. During my time, I saw many, many people (some of much less seniority) get placed into open positions and even taken on as permanent employees. I can’t think of a bigger slap in the face than that, even if I had no intentions of accepting any of these open positions. A little recognition, like perhaps inquiring with me about the position, would have gone a long way.

But it never happened. Thanks for nothing, yet again.

So with that all done, now what?

In the past I would have cried and gotten really upset over a situation like this, but today it’s different.

I pick myself up. I dust myself off. I move on. We have gone through this before and we will make it through again, this time with less financial difficulty. We recently refinanced one of the cars and with our last tax refund, paid off all of our credit cards. We have very little debt outside of utilities and we have a little stash in case of emergency. It will work.

I refuse to let this nightmare of a job make me shed one tear over its decision to let me go. If anything, it forces me to look at other opportunities I may have never considered and perhaps work outside my comfort zone. No, it won’t be the fantastic summer we had planned but we will still be able to go through with some of the things we wanted to do.

In my studying of Buddhism and meditating some evenings, I’m finding that there are things to worry about and things not to worry about. This, while certainly monumental, will pass as all challenges do. I will overcome it and things will continue because they must.

To quote the Dalai Lama:

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

Wise words. And it’s what I’ve chosen to do at this point in time.

Dave v2.0 is obsolete. This is the beginning of Dave v3.0, and I like it. I will pick up and continue on Tuesday. But why not Monday?

Because shortly after I got home last night, I started calling the casting line for Central Casting, my background acting agency. This has always been my backup, my go-to, my last resort for income should I ever need it.

I found a call I thought was a good fit and had the CD submit my headshot.

Then I waited — and got the call.

So the reason I can’t do anything on Monday because I was cast for a TV show. It’s my first background acting gig in years and it’s less than seven miles from home. Sure it’s only a one-day shoot but I get fed and paid to do nothing but walk around.

My layoff isn’t the end of something. It has already proven to be the start of something better than I ever imagined.

Namaste, my friends. And here’s to brighter days.

Ready for My Not-So-Close-Up


It’s been over a year full of flaming suck for me.

In addition to being laid off, I have had very few interviews for all of my efforts. Two of them, including one for the position of Publications Editor at my former employer, turned out to be a bust and I’m still waiting for the word on one that I went to over two weeks ago. And it’s not like I haven’t been trying–I’ve submitted applications all over the place for positions that did and didn’t pertain to my previous positions as proofreader and writer. One of them, in fact, was for a local grocery chain that was in need of Team Leader, a position that I believed I as more than qualified.

The result? Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail I received from them:

We have considered your application carefully and unfortunately at this time we will not be progressing it any further. We will keep your application on file for one year to consider for future opportunities.

So despite my management and retail experience, I wasn’t even qualified to manage a small group of people or even stock pineapples at a grocery store. Well, fuck you and your fucking pineapples, man.

And that’s pretty much been the way things have been going all year.

As you can guess, at this point in my life I’m pretty frustrated with it all, but not to a point where I was planning to jump off of a bridge or anything. That would just be stupid, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling any more useful on the employment scene, although I have to admit that it sucks to be unwanted.

And just as I was about buy a bunch of oranges and start selling them at freeway exits from a Target shopping cart, a thought came to mind. I decided that if things weren’t going my way, and they damn well aren’t as of now, I was the one who had to start making things happen. My unemployment benefits are running out very soon and I’m not quite sure if I can get an extension so it is indeed desperate times for me.

In addition to still applying for jobs that I don’t seem to be qualified for in any capacity (at least in the discriminating eye of the employer), today I decided to take a step in a direction I thought I’d never go: that of an actor. Or in this case, an extra.

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