Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, Technically Spring, Still Unemployed

This is my fourth post in as many days, I haven't been that productive on this blog since this time last year, when I attended Story Studio's In-Town Writer's Retreat. The best thing to come out of that weekend was connecting with the women who I've met with regularly over the past year for writing dates: Ms. Angelica, and Johanna Stein. This past Friday, in celebration of 365 days of writing (or at least thinking about writing), we had our own version of a write-a-thon, which involved cupcakes, wine, and tapping away on laptops.

A lot has happened over the past year: I lost my job; participated in a mini-triathlon; traveled to France, Spain, Portugal, and Senegal; volunteered with the Green City Market, Alliance Fran├žaise de Chicago, Old Town School of Folk Music, 826 Chicago, and Habitat for Humanity; and became a staff writer at Gapers Block. I still don't have a flippin' job, but not for a lack of trying. For the most part I've kept busy enough not to let it get me down, but from time to time it's been hard to stave off negative thoughts. I've had my share of days spent oversleeping and lounging on the couch, wondering when the hell I'll be invited back into the grownup society of the working world. January and February were particularly bad months, I'd had several promising interviews, none of which turned into job offers, and the disappointment combined with winter weather really slowed me down. I didn't post much. I kept hoping I'd be able to publish a really optimistic post with a title like "Guess who just got a job?" or something like that, and when it kept not happening, well, it got me down.

It helps to have a project, one that doesn't involve cleaning the house (turns out, I'm a terrible housewife.) Having scratched my itch for international travel, I've started thinking about how much of this country remains unexplored to me. While visiting my sister in Boston last summer, I happened to see a flier at R.E.I. for an organization called the American Hiking Society. They have something called volunteer vacations, where for a nominal fee you can spend a week or two at a national park clearing brush and readying trails for the tourist season. The trips are assigned various levels of ruggedness, ranging from "easy" to "very strenuous" and you can decide how hard core you want to go. I managed to convince Ms. Angelica to join me on a volunteer vacation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which gets a "moderate to difficult" rating on the work level scale. It wasn't hard to convince her, she's from Michigan and loves the outdoors. I tried getting Johanna in on the fun too, but she has parental duties that cannot be ignored. We'll be working at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which is so far north its on the shores of Lake Superior, which is practically Canada.

In the coming weeks, in addition to my usual work search and writing activities, I'll be preparing for this trip. I have plenty to write about between now and then - I haven't even begun to touch on Senegal, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to publish a heroically optimistic post announcing my re-entry into the working world.

Thanks for reading,



j.cro said...

I have the slowest internet connection right now, so I'm commenting on multiple posts here while I can get online...

Those antique tiles are incredibly beautiful and I'm glad sharing them with Frances after your terrible night helped you find some calm and restore good memories for your trip. How unfortunate it is that another person's thoughtlessness can so grossly effect our own mood.

I'm so glad you've started posting with such frequency - this is one of my go to places when I'm scanning my blog list for my favorite things to read.

I can't wait to read more and thank you for sharing so much with us as it is. Keep it up - everything else will follow.

JP said...

Of course, now I've slowed down again with my posting, but I'll be back soon, very soon, I promise! Thanks for being such a loyal reader.