Tag Archives: looking for work

And Then There Was Change

Photos 319I was informed of my layoff yesterday.

Wednesday will be my last day, until enough work returns, or the company is forced into harder decisions.

Kudos to the bosses, we’ve had an inkling this might happen. I’ve been grilling them weekly to see if changes were happening, but there has been no news, which was bad news. But what can you do?

Unlike any time in the past, I used this foreknowledge to spend a little money investing in my writing — ink cartridges and a new cabinet so my desk is now 3 inches lower — a long story, but long story short is, I was getting migraines from writing/working, and hope it’s no longer the case.

Normally, something big like a layoff  comes down, I panic and tell myself I can’t justify that spending, and I operate from a place of fear. This time, I just came up with a cheaper bare-minimum plan, and told myself it’s not optional — it’s about investing in myself.

Migraines don’t make good writing. And I’m too much a “writer” to not be good about it.

Now that I have some time to write in between the requisite job-searching, it’s obviously a priority.

I’m hoping I get called back to my job in a couple months or even by the fall. I know it’ll be tight and hard living, but I’ve been through this before and impressed the shit out of myself, so maybe it’s time to prove we only get better as we age.

There’s a difference now from back then — I now recognize I’ve suffered from mental illness, and live with difficult ADHD. I can, and do, learn new jobs, but I need to find the right fit for me, not just any job. I need the right kind of employers, work environment, and schedule.

Knowing this means I’m empowered, not a victim, by those challenges. I’m better off than most people; I know what I really need for success.

I’d rather return to my company, who’ve become like family over the years, who I trust and can approach about nearly anything, and who place the same value on life-over-work as all the employees do. Our schedules have been flexible, they accommodate the little things that pop up and would be better done with a shorter workday or a day off.

I’ve never made much. I’ve made $18 an hour while my friends have all being going on to bigger, better, amazing things, and I’ve been scraping by.

But in the time I’ve scraped by, with my work allowing me to flex my days and hours on a weekly basis, I’ve managed to:

  • overcome years of intensive rehab after almost dying a couple times
  • fought (and I think overcome) once-frequent forays into dark depressions and other mental illnesses
  • gotten through a number of tight layoffs with nearly no help from anyone despite my challenges and lack of savings
  • not only beat but beat into a bloody goddamned stump my writer’s block
  • rediscovered myself
  • gained 40, then lost 70 pounds
  • conquered many fears
  • discovered my inner athlete
  • and done a million other things, while never making the money to have others help me accomplish it easier

Scraping by the last three years let me improve myself more than most people accomplish in a decade or more, and almost all done by myself.

I have constantly been trying to heal or get over something — be it a physical or mental issue — and my work, my pseudo-family, has pretty much been there and made it possible, as possible as they could and still make an income, through it all.

Knowing myself now, in my post-head-injury, post-depression, post-unhappy life, I KNOW I can’t just work for anyone. I know I can’t just waltz into any company and “make the best” of it. It will tear me to shreds. Mental illness is a real issue; me working in a negative, high-stress job with evil people is like making someone with lung cancer work in a restaurant that has smoking. You can TRY, but what’s the fucking point? It’s got “FAILURE” and “CATASTROPHE” stamped all over it.

Like when I worked at a place for 6 months in during 2007, with The Dragon Lady and her art school, ruling by terror and venom, poisoning me with her negative depression on a daily basis from seven feet away with no wall. Oh, lord. Never, ever again.

I spiralled close to suicidal working under her. I gained 20 pounds in 6 months. Then I quit, went back to my old film job, and they gave me a non-judgmental, supportive, flexible environment in which I’ve made the most progress of my life, changing EVERYTHING with no trainers, no financial advisers, no real therapists — just a supportive workplace that let me make myself a priority.

I’ve changed me, inside and out. I’ve so much more empathy and enthusiasm for life and others now. I’m such a better person. I’m not gonna die young — not from my health, anyhow. And work played a big part in giving me the control to make that happen.

And now the future of the company that gave me such a fantastic environment that encouraged my change & growth is in danger. It breaks my heart.

All because of stupid government and bad tax policies. What a tragedy.

None of us employees wants to work for other people, the bosses don’t want to work with new people. None of us is in it for the money, not even my bosses. All of us live lives of sacrifice and budgeting because the job lets us put our art, creativity, and private lives first. We don’t make a lot but we’re under no illusions what kind of people we work for, and that’s why we’ve stayed.

But the government doesn’t want us to stay anymore. They won’t match film industry tax credits from other provinces, and now some asshole in Ontario or California is doing my job, since domestic film production is down by 40%, and 50% of the workforce has been laid off.

So here I am. Four days left.

And a book to write.

And a newly-adjusted desk to write it at.

Looks like I know what I’m doing.

Unlike most people, when I write this book, it won’t be gathering dust. I won’t be sitting around micro-panicking over every word. There’ll come a time when I’m Ready.

I have NOTHING to lose from publication. NOTHING. Anyone I stand the chance of pissing off in my book has probably already been pissed off at me and either knows that’s part of knowing me and my unflinching-but-always-trustworthy honesty, OR they’re already not talking to me and there’s no skin off my ass if I maintain the status quo.

I’m a WRITER. Through and through. My friends know this. Anything’s on the table for me, but they also trust me to toe a line. We’re good.

More importantly than the trust I have for my friends? I write about all my failings and weaknesses and dreams and thoughts all the time. It’s not like I have to dig that much deeper. If I’ve already told you some of the embarrassing bad things in my life, then why not just keep that ball rolling?

So, the writing? Not too stressed about that part. Organizing? Ooh, yes, trickier. Some of the get-an-agent-get-a-deal stuff scares the shit out of me, I admit it.

But you know what? I’m at that point where languishing in obscurity scares me more.

I deserve better than this. I owe it to myself. I’m tough enough to take it, too.

I have nothing to lose — except my home. But I’ll figure it out, I’ll get by. Times like these, having no savings, living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, yeah, things get daunting.

It’s uncertainty. My job might be back in 6 weeks, I don’t know. I could spend the whole year writing and looking for a job that fits me, I don’t know.

Where will I be in 6 weeks? 6 months? Where’s life taking me?

I don’t know.

And there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Except adjust my desk and get to work. That’s one area I know I can make a difference in, accomplish something in. That’s one area I know. That’s a start.

_________________

SO, HEY:
If you know of any agents for memoirs, let me know — this process entirely daunts me, but I think my work is worthy. If you have an “in” for publishing and think you can help, I’m all ears. Drop me a line, scribecalledsteff (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’m working until next Wednesday, with paperwork to deal with for employment insurance next Thursday, but after that, I’ll be all over emails, etcetera. The book is in full-on “go” mode, and I hope to have three chapters done by early June, with a workable outline for pitches. So, please, spread the word with serious publishing contacts that there’s a little ball of awesome right over here that’s looking to explode onto the scene. Thanks!

From Poutine to Self-Love, Baby!

I should not be writing.

Another probably painfully tiring day awaits me tomorrow, before what is liable to be a mockery of a weekend, on which I believe I need to work Sunday, but the verdict is not yet in. (No, not real work. Taking a bunch of kids to a space museum. Yeah, who’s your sex goddess NOW, huh?)

I should not be writing, but I am.

You see, I took a terribly sinful break earlier today on what has been a gruelling couple headtrip days, and I acquiesced to the evil that lurks within: I submitted to my craving for poutine. If you’ve never had poutine, then you’re probably not Canadian. A pity for you, you poor fuckers. You’ll hear about it, and you’ll think, “Ew, ick!” but really, that’s just your ignorance talking, or perhaps it’s the silly little granola-loving freak you nurture deep within. Either way, it’s all about the fat. Mm, fat!

Poutine’s french fries smothered in cheese curd and gravy. In other words, it’s potatoes that died tremendously worthwhile deaths. And I salute them! So do my lovehandles. But I do digress.

There, there was a paper lying about. I shouldn’t be so brash as to call the Province a newspaper, because it’s hardly a good newspaper at all. It’s a tabloid. It’s the McDonald’s of news for people who are news-tritiously challenged. Or chronologically challenged, and I was the latter. Oh, and apparently the former. How convenient.

Dammit, again with the digressions!

Lemme get to my fucking point, shall I? They had a story today about seven Vancouver chicks (you go, girls) who’ve opted to get married to themselves.

Yep.

They’ve all got the gowns and they’re doing a public ceremony down on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach, and when it comes to the “Do you take this…” part of the ceremony, I think it’s going to be changed to, “Do you take yourself, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until your dying days?” or something like that.

I wanted to fucking stand and cheer then and there.

It ain’t some feminazi gig or anything, boys, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s about saying, “Hey, I don’t need no man for happiness. I can provide that to myself.” None of us really needs anyone… it’s just nice to have them.

Like Margaret Atwood once said, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I happen to believe that goes both ways, but too many women are too fucking obsessed with getting a ring on the finger and being validated by having some studmuffin by her side. It’s a sad state of things, and I would have thought we’d be farther along by now, but here we are: same shit, different story.

I made a brief comment about the “How to Get the Guy” show the other night, a show that still pisses me off on premise, even though the things it’s saying are sort of on the money. Yes, good ways to get a guy. Just bad ways to keep them.

If you’re not yourself when you snag a guy, it’s gonna be pretty fucking hard to keep yourself in that hyper-perfect state. And when you’re not that woman anymore, is he still going to be interested? Or are you just the dating equivalent of spam – building up an average product into something extraordinary, only to have it fall flat? Only you can know.

These chicks, they have the right idea. They might be being weird about it and taking it a bit far, but hey. Whatever gets you through the night, baby. You want to embrace yourself, love yourself, and make a commitment to yourself, then I say more power to you.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week, wondering what all my stress and frustration about this job search is coming off as for the masses. I mean, you all look to me for whatever the hell it is you want to find here on these pages – mantras about your body type, tips on hand-jobs, profundity on being single, scathing commentary on whatever the hell the flavour of my day is… Honestly, I have NO idea what you’re here for, but I’m thrilled you tumble onto my doorstep, and I thank you for it.

But here I am, in all my flawed glory: Stuck in a financial conundrum that I know will end, but I’m terrified won’t end on schedule, my fears and my horrors hanging out for all to see, and the fact that I’m brutally, completely human. I’m as fucked up as anyone, man. I don’t have it all together, and I probably never will. Do any of us? No, probably not. We just play the roles well.

It’s that old, “I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV” schtick. I ain’t no guru, baby, I just play one on the ‘net. I hurt, I get vulnerable, and, baby, I get scaredy-scared some days.

In the face of all that, I found myself there on Commercial Drive, strolling around in the mid-afternoon sun, a few minutes to kill, when my cellphone rang. Yes, yet another job interview call. (I’ve sent resumes around for just under two weeks, and by Monday’s end I’ll have had eight interviews, all for “real” jobs, so let that tell you what it will.) The funny thing was, this was an agency, and I responded to an ad of theirs earlier this week. I got The Big Rejection Letter. And there she was, calling me now, about an ad I responded to earlier today, knowing full well they’d already rejected me once this week.

She goes, “Your name sounds familiar!”

“It should, I applied earlier this week and got The Big Rejection Letter. But I’m stubborn, and it sounds like a great job for me.”

“Well, it’s a new posting, and I’m glad you’re persistent! I’d like to have a chat with you and see if you’re a good fit for our client!”

I got off the phone (the appointment’s at 9:00am, for an advertising co., one of two interviews tomorrow) and felt SO FUCKING SMUG.

The thing is, keeping your head together and being strong and loving yourself in the face of adversity’s the hardest thing in the world to do. When you’re single, it’s even harder. And that’s why I love hearing about women like this, the ones who say, “You know what? Fuck convention. This is about me.”

Oscar Wilde said my all-time fave quote that I keep citing here and should finally just put in my fucking sidebar, that loving yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. It’s times like these when I need to consciously try to love myself. It doesn’t come with ease. It’s work. Every damned day right now, it’s work. Every employer I talk to, every resume I send, my first thing I tell myself is, “I fucking ROCK. I can DO this.”

I don’t really believe it… but I play a guru on the ‘net, you know, so it’s convincing.

Where’s Steff?

Hey, kids. I’m still looking for work. Honestly, it’s just beating the creativity right out of me. Like a fucking dog in an alley, my friends. I don’t feel like writing. Today was a two-interview day, which is great, ‘cos it’s interviews, but I didn’t receive any other responses, so I feel like there’s an insta-wall in front of me. I don’t really have the time to “wait it out.” Either I get a job and keep a place to live, or the fit hits the shan and I run like the wind.

I should be getting greater responses, but there’s a pretty crazy job market and who knows what’s going on. Either way, I’m frustrated, I have nothing of value to say, and there’s not a lot of point in updating unless something good happens. It comes and goes, the goodness. This morning’s interview was good, but the second wasn’t that great. It went well, but they kept me waiting thirty minutes for the interview to begin, and I’m not sure I want to work for a company with so little respect for my time already. Unfortunately, I have no choice. I’ll take the first job that comes.

I didn’t get the job from the other day. They decided to look elsewhere. I decided that was fine by me after I saw them repost the ad before they decided to tell me I wasn’t up for it any longer. Again, it’s a question of basic etiquette and doing the right thing. It’s a pity I seem to be more an anomaly than a common standard when it comes to perception of what the right thing is.

I should tell you about a strange thing that occurred, though. Were one to Google my full name, it wouldn’t take long for this weblog to appear in connection with it. I am a Scribe Called Steff. Shit, it’s on my resume, the “Scribe” moniker. Whatever. I’m not ashamed of what I write here. I toe the line between smut and sexy with aplomb, I believe, so, y’know, “whatever.”

However.

I do NOT publicize a certain email address in conjunction with this blog. There’s an address that is explicitly tied to my resumes, and nothing else. A few friends have it, and some publishers, and that’d be that.

The other day, I got a pretty overtly sexual email (and I have ideas about who sent it) and the person emailed me at my “job” address. This leads me to surmise only one thing, that a potential “employer” has specific designs on what writing about sex means about me as a person. Whoever he is, he has another thing coming.

I have to say, it pisses me off, the judgments that are made on the basis of who we are behind closed doors. I’ve written about it before, and I’ll write about it again, but this recent occurrence has really irked me a bit. The fact that this person sent the email to the board’s email, and THEN my “employer” email as if to say, “Hey, look, I know who you are,” is what creeps me out.

Whatever. Suffice to say that looking for work isn’t as fun as I wish it could be. It’s essentially a prolonged exercise in vulnerability and submissiveness — both qualities I try to endure in very sparing quantities. I want a job. I want this over.

And when it is, I’ll be a better writer. For now: Hi, I’m Stressed-out Steff and I’ll be your tourguide through the jungles of the jobless, where the prey pray for fortune and speedy resolution. Sigh.