Unemployment – Got the Jimmy Legs

Unemployment

Do you write your name in the dust

Cat and MouseThe snow is magically (perhaps only temporarily?) gone, the sun is out and the yard is all grody from the muck. One of our flowerpots didn't make it through the deep freeze; its enameled midsection got all cracked and shattered. Can't wait to clean that up!

I'm hoping the improved weather will positively affect the economy, and produce many jobs like so much fruit on the vine. I have had several promising interviews recently, which I suppose is an accomplishment in itself. The interesting thing is, I actually enjoyed it. I like to think I'm pretty good on an interview, and the last batch have gone quite well. I guess it has less to do with my actual charisma and more to do with the fact that I'm finally going for jobs that really fit my disposition (and skill level).

I've been focusing on jobs outside of financial services (in which I'd worked for most of my time in New York), since I never really felt comfortable in that field. It doesn't hurt that the financial sector has been struggling of late and jobs there are scarce, but I have been looking elsewhere anyway. It has been particularly nice to be interested not only in the specific work I could be doing, but also the industry in which it is done. I don't want to get too specific now, but I've been looking for work in non-corporate environments, so even tho I'd still be doing web-related work, it's in aid of something a little more noble, frankly, than straight money management.

The hope here is to produce what they call a 'career' as opposed to simply another job. I'm not there yet, but I finally have a clear idea of what I'm capable of at least. And, short of getting a full time job herding cats (and believe me, I've looked), I feel like I could actually find one in short order.

To get bread from dough you gotta bake it

Now that the holidays are over, I've pretty much reached the end of my rope, unemployment-wise. I could stay on unemployment, continuing to dip into my savings until I hit the time limit, but this lack of true income is starting to affect my judgment. Every time I think about doing something, I stop and do an internal audit; if it seems too pricey, I don't do it. While this is sound judgment for most things, it keeps creeping into odd places.

For instance, at the grocery store I seem to be unable to buy canned beans any more.  Yes, cans of beans are too expensive for me to justify purchasing at the local Key Foods. Instead I buy dried beans. They are significantly cheaper than canned, but of course you have to reconstitute them for use. I figured this would be no big deal, the Joy of Cooking says I can just throw them in a pot of water overnight and retrieve fully hyrdrated foodstuffs. I tried this recently, giving the beans a good 24 hours to soak. The water made no discernable impact. Is New York water too hard or something? What's up with that?

I ended up softening the beans up in some boiling water. No big deal but what a hassle. The other bags of beans in the cupboard remain untouched thus far. I guess that's one way to save money: don't eat anything.

Here's another way to save money: spend a hell of a lot of money.

On Tuesday we rented a Uhaul cargo van and went to Costco and spent something in the neighborhood of $800. No one is more aware than I that this seems counterproductive during these leans times. But if we have played our cards right, we won't need another such trip for at least 6 months, if at all. For one great expense has been dealt a mighty blow by our brave quest: the cats have their food. We bought 20 bags of Costco's premium cat food. At 25 pounds apiece this adds up to 500 lbs. of kitty kibble stacked up in the cellar. Our basement looks like a feed store.

But of course we stocked up on human supplies as well. Since I am intent on not spending unwisely at the grocery store, I went kind of nuts at the warehouse store and bought a bunch of bulk items that should help sustain us until I get a job. Among other things, I bought a 25lb. bag of flour and a 2lb. bag of yeast. I've been baking a lot more of late, and I'm always running out of these items, so it sort of makes sense … until you look at the bags.

cookies, anyone?

cookies, anyone?

I have no idea how to store this stuff once I open the bag. I guess I can dole it out into several containers, maybe freeze some of it or something. But I've been going through a 5lb. bag a month, and once I start making all our bread from scratch, I'm sure this stuff won't last 5 months. I'll still have to buy whole wheat flour separately, I guess. They only had white in these institutional sizes.  It added up to a big bill, but pound for pound this stuff is dirt cheap!

In other cost-saving measures, I am happy to announce that one of our foster cats will be adopted out this weekend! Louie, who has been with us since the summer, will be moving to Cobble Hill to a home with an other (one one!) cat.  He is a fun cat and some of our other cats will miss him I'm sure, but it feels good to be back on this side of the adoption game. If his adoption is any indication, we will be adopting out one cat every month of the year and will be down to zero by Christmas!

This big noggin is movin on

This big noggin is movin on

Naw, that probably won't happen, but I sure hope we can find these cats some permanent homes this year; it's a full-time job taking care of them as it is. I'd hate for my paying work to suffer!

What side you on

So the past month has been full of house-fixin' and career-contemplatin'. I just registered with the outplacement company paid for by my old company as part of the severance package, so we'll see if they can offer any useful advice. Meanwhile, I'm tyring to brush up on my programming skills, trying to learn everything I can about MySQL databases using PHP. This is probably stuff I should have learned in, say, 2001, but instead I chose to waste my days sleeping late and pretending to work. In those days I was telecommuting and making a relative ton of dough doing very little. If I had those days now … like gold in my hand …

Oh well, guess I'm stuck with my resume-sharpenin' and book-learnin'. I still need a solid name for my cats website, I just need something short but memorable. Something like "Street Cats," "Gritty Kitties" or "Bushwick Rent-a-Pet." Maybe "Shwickitties?" The house's cats are holding steady, haven't had many responses to adopt lately. Several new cats have showed up outside as well but funds for cat-fixing are currently locked until I figure out what I'm doing with my life.