Lose Your Job? Do These Five Things

Well it happened.  Today I lost my day job.

I wasn’t the only one, unfortunately; the manufacturer I worked for is restructuring.  There’s no telling who else will fall under the ax.  Even though I was kind of unhappy there and thought they might have cut my hours or something, I didn’t expect them to do it so soon.

I did some things right today.  And there are some things I know I have to do in the coming weeks.


I liked the job when I first took it.  Later it morphed into a bloated, evil, decaying version of itself.  No, I won’t be sorry to sleep in tomorrow morning.   But there are definitely things I will miss.

  • All the guys in the shop.
  • Most of the people in the office.
  • The potlucks we had.  Chili Dog Day was epic.
  • A frigging paycheck once a week.

I have to have a (short) period of sorrow for the fact that in a shithole economy, I actually had a job.

Image: artemisphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#4–File for unemployment
After going to the bank to deposit my last check, I came home and filed for unemployment immediately.   Government moves so slow that if you wait, you’ll find yourself with a gap that’s hard to fill.  I already had a garage sale that didn’t do very well.  Which leads me to:

#3–Start going through the house for stuff to sell

Some of the nice things I bought may have to go.  L  I tried to sell some in the garage sale but I guess no one else has any money either.  Well, try, try again.  Or scope a different venue.  Not only do I need the money, but if I have to relocate, it’s less crap to move.

You can own chickens in my city now. Maybe I can sell eggs!

Photograph by Elizabeth West

#2–Eliminate all unneeded expenses

There are some things that are necessary that years ago would have been considered luxuries.  Besides food, clothing and shelter, today’s job seekers must have these:

  • Internet, or access to it.  Not having email or regular access narrows your choices.  Many employers have nixed paper resumes and prefer to receive applications over the tubes.  That is, if they can get them through all the cat hair in there.
  • A phone.  Prepaid phones have made it possible for even us poor folk to be reachable.  If you have a smartphone, you’ve got your Internet right there.
  • Depending on where you live, a car that works.  Mine is a rustbucket but I only have one more tiny payment.  Good timing!
  • At least one really good outfit, preferably a suit so you can mix it up, for interviews.  Thrift store/irregular shop, here I come.

Things that I do not need:

  • Fayncee groceries.
  • Satellite TV.  This is a tough one.  I’ve been keeping it on the low end tier hoping things would get better so I could watch Bridezillas again.  But I just got a roku (more good timing!) so Netflix will hold me for a while.  They’ve added Kitchen Nightmares and I’m working my way through the old Dark Shadows.
  • To beat myself up.  This wasn’t my fault.

But…MAWWWMMM….I waaant it!

Image:  Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#1–Look to the future, not the past

I no longer have to worry about their silly crap anymore.  All the stuff that got left on my desk is no longer my problem.  Now my tennis elbow can heal.  Now my knotty stomach can calm down again.  Now I can work on my book and seek more writing opportunities, without being so tired when I come home that I fall asleep over my chat room.

Like the song says, I will survive!

My First Guest Post!

I have a short post today, because I already wrote one.  It doesn’t appear here, however.

I’ve published my first guest post, over at bloggish and diverse web magazine The Soap Boxers!  Thanks, Kosmo, for asking me to submit.  Kosmo is an interesting guy.  We met in the comments on The Consumerist, a blog about consumer issues that’s owned by Consumer Reports. .

Click on the link below, to see it in all its political rantyness.  While you’re over there, knock around a little.  Lots of articles to see about lots of things.   :)

How Can Politicians Earn My Vote?

And Now Back to Our Regular Programming

I’m back to the normal blog this evening.   I started early yesterday and ended early tonight because I have to work in the morning, but I’m very glad I had the chance to participate in the protest.

I emailed my congresscritters this morning.  One of them has joined the opposition.  YEAAAAH!!!  I don’t hate you quite so much this afternoon, Mr. Roy Blunt!  Now quit robocalling me!

The SOPA / PIPA blackout protest did a great job of raising awareness of the restrictive, bat-ass crazy legislation today.  Reports are coming in that increasing numbers of senators have reversed themselves on the bill.  Congratulations, netizens!  Thanks to everyone who participated and demonstrated today.

This is very good news.  IT’S THE POWAH OF TEH INTERNETZ!

Now to annoy them even further, the rest of my blog post will consist of copied LULZ.  Enjoy!





SOPA Web Strike!

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, this blog and many, many other sites including Wikipedia, the entire Cheezburger Network and the Center for Democracy & Technology will go dark.  We are protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills looming in Congress, in which lawmakers who don’t understand how the Internet works are trying to throw a blanket over piracy.

The intent is to prevent rogue websites overseas from reaching U.S. users and pirating movies, etc.  There are better ways to do this.   Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, is a staunch supporter of open-source software and a major content producer.  He made some very intelligent remarks that are summarized on this post at techdirt.com.

See more here at www.sopastrike.com, with a list of some of the sites participating.

These bills are too far-reaching and the enforcement is too vague to be anything but trouble.  In this story on CNN, the White House has said it will not support the bills.  Maybe our geeky Crackberry-toting president means it.  Let’s hope so.

Writers should care about this because it could have a devastating effect on our content.  If a website or blog gets tagged under these rules, it can be shut down.   Fair use of licensed content may be targeted.

The really scary part is that accusation alone can allow the government to remove your content, block your posts and restrict your speech.  So anyone who doesn’t like your opinions, or that you shared an LOLcat, can report you.  And you can’t do squat until you prove you didn’t commit copyright infringement.

If you did, even unintentionally (and this goes on all over the Internet), you can’t make it right.  The system we’re under now means if you copy a post here and post it on your own blog, I can email you and say “Hey, did you mean to link to this, or what,”  thus giving you a chance to fix it and still reference the content.

SOPA and PIPA undermine the legal structure that permits the Internet to exist in its current accessible form.  They are a step toward the censorship that plagues countries such as Iran, China and North Korea.

Please email or call your senator (BE POLITE!) and tell him/her you oppose this legislation.  Thank you.


Stop Internet and Social Media Addiction from Derailing your Writing

I was introduced to this great blog recently, BitRebels.com (how did I not find it before!) and while perusing it found this post about how social media messes with our brains.

Go check it out here:  http://www.bitrebels.com/lifestyle/how-social-media-is-ruining-our-minds-infographic/

Pretty crazy stuff, eh?  I always thought the Internet made me smarter.  Maybe it does, but not the way I thought.

The graphic says Internet addiction is real.  I can tell you that from experience.  I don’t smoke anymore.  Instead I spend that time looking at cat videos and reading Cracked, hanging out in my chat room and talking to Certain Someone (hereafter referred to as Egon) on instant messaging.

No, I'm not dating Harold Ramis.

The Internet has given artists and writers an amazing new platform for our work, both in publishing and promotion.  If it’s changing the way our brains work, how does that affect our content?

A shorter attention span screws with concentration

It’s painful to sit and do homework for a long time, as any kid can tell you.  Adults aren’t typically as restless as kids, so we can concentrate better than we could then.  But if we’re constantly checking everything else, we’re not giving 100% to our work.

How to unplug

Walk away from the computer.  Yes, you heard me.

Take a stroll outside after dinner if the weather is nice.  Sit in another room for a bit and read a few chapters of an actual book.  Pick one thing and do that exclusively for a while.

Whatever activity you choose, set a time and stick to it.  You may find you can only concentrate for fifteen minutes before the siren song of your electronics begins tugging you away.  Keep it up, and the time will get longer.   Soon you’ll gain superpowers of concentration.  Booyah!

Multitasking is bogus

When you’re looking at a blog you love, do you find yourself reading for hours?  Or do you skip around, going back and forth between it, Facebook, a chat room, Messenger, Twitter, your Netflix queue, joke sites and Amazon?

All the electronic feedback will clutter your brain.  According to this New York Times article from 2010, multitasking isn’t great for social relationships or work.  See, they’ve known this for a while.

How to unplug

Try to keep open apps at a minimum during writing time.  Close your email, chat rooms and social media sites.  To do articles that require research, consider printing a web page source as a .pdf using a program like CutePDFWriter.  You can then open the file and work from it without the distractions lurking on browser tabs.

My day job is fraught with interruptions, especially in the morning.  I save tasks that demand my full attention for late afternoon, when my shipping deadline has passed and the phone quiets down.  I practice so when I sit down to write, it’s easier to focus.

Social media is not socializing

I’m getting really conversant with the tops of people’s heads as they click away on their smartphones or tablets.  I rarely see anyone’s face anymore.  Worst is getting a text or message from someone who is in the same house.  Really?

Walk your sorry butt in here and talk to me!

I need to connect with other humans IRL (in real life).   I can’t do that if I’m busy blog-hopping, posting LOLcats on Facebook or giggling over damnyouautocorrect.com.  How annoying is it to spend time with someone who won’t get off the phone or computer?

But it's so funnnyyyyyyyy....

How to unplug

Plenty of freelance writers like to work in coffee shops or libraries just to get out of the house.  If you do this but you find you’re tuning out as soon as you sit down, leave your laptop closed for a while while you sip your latté.

Stuck at the airport?  People-watch.  This simple pleasure, a boon to any writer, seems to have been lost.  Resist the temptation to snap covert photos of fellow travelers with unfortunate clothing or hairstyle choices.

In meetings or with friends is not the time to text or download ringtones.  Your loved ones will appreciate you much more if you give them your undivided attention when you’re together.  Then they won’t be clamoring for it when you’re supposed to be working.

Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach.  Just as soon as I finish watching this YouTube video.  Maru is so cute…I just love that little kitty….


20 Things I am Thankful for in 2011

I borrowed this idea from freelance writer and writing guru Anne Wayman’s post here, where she has listed 108 things she is grateful for in the year 2011.  You can read her list and see what you have in common with hers.

This past year has been less than great, but I’m sure I can come up with a decent list.   In no particular order, here are the things that inspire my gratitude.

1.  A Certain Someone.  Okay, this is number one.  :)

2.  I have a job.  Yes, I hate it, but it’s a job and it pays.

3.  My first paying writing job for wiseGEEK.com.

4.  The fact that I can write at all.

5,.  An overall great family.

6.  Getting to go see John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl.

7.  The music of John Williams and countless others on Streamingsoundtracks.com.

8.  The Internet.

9.  All the terrific people I’ve met on the Internet, from all over the world.

10.  Video games.

11.  BOOKS!

12.  Magazines.  I love’em!

13.  Figure skating.  Being able to actually do it.

14.  Kitties.

15.  Skype video calling.

16.  Clean water.

17.  Central heating and air conditioning.  I’ve been considering a book at least partially set in the Victorian era.  I can’t even imagine wearing those long dresses in 98-degree weather with no AC and no fans.

18.  All the great blogs out there I’ve read this year:  Hyperbole and a Half, Tossing it Out, About Freelance Writing, my American Indian friend’s blog ikcewicasa (seriously, read this; I’m jealous so it must be good), and Author! Author!, which I am woefully behind on.  I promise to read you more this year, guys.

19.  Any and all writers out there who have shared their advice, struggles and triumphs with the rest of us.   When you commiserate, we feel like we’re not alone.  When you succeed, we have hope.  Thank you for sharing.

20.  Not least of all, those who read my words.  Without you I would be yelling into the wind.  I may still be for the most part, but I hope I’ve at least entertained you a little this year and/or made you think.

Thank you for reading.  Happy New Year!