On Monday

Hot and humid. A cat's head pokes over my laptop screen. Clouds are coming in, periodic rain. Yesterday we saw our upstairs neighbor's gorgeous 17-acre estate, all gas-lit, with wild gardens and antique fixtures. On Saturday we tested our relationship by building a workbench together; after realizing how messy it can get (all the sawdust and perfectionism), we banded together and got a little more effective. "It does have flaws, but I think it'll be really good in the end," said my husband, to the delight of my metaphor-seeking inner self. I love power tools; making physical structures; woodboring drill bits; sanding; making strong joints. Good to finally use those gym muscles. Now I've spent a morning job-hunting, and I just want to write, and not try to sell myself to another stranger today.


Weekends: The Time for Not Working on Resumes

I applied to four jobs this week that I'm reasonably qualified for, but haven't heard as much as a peep, even of acknowledgement. I even worked my connections on three out of those four. I'm not going to let it toy with my weekend, though. This weekend, I am still gainfully employed. My portfolio site is finally updated. My resume is circulating. The best I can do is build a work bench with my husband and then head out into the countryside. Let the cidada chorus begin! It's Friday!


Search for jobs, unable to find any that won't lay me off in a year, mourn.
Mom calls; discuss grieving.
Apply for job.
Glad for my work at the Foundation in which I clean up after women in shelters and pregnant 15-year-olds and feel good and grateful and forget about my knee and my job and meet cool, cool women who are working out, getting better.
Go work out, get better.
Many bicep curls.
Spicy crispy tuna sushi.
Malted frozen yogurt.
Cat litter.
Back home.
No emails with job offers.
Oprah; dinner with writing group.


It's Official

I got laid off. Again. I feel much more grief than I have in the past, but still there are the same old things: the signed letter, the quiet tones of those around me, the one-on-one conversations, the tempered sympathy, the professionalism I must display, the sheer legality of everything. The final date: September 20. There are also good things, like ongoing projects that I'm directing and a certain confidence about my colleagues and a grateful appreciation of everything I got here. I learned so much, and grew so much, too. It's hard to believe that when I started here, I wasn't married and I couldn't even paint my own walls without getting in trouble. This morning in Writer's Almanac I read a poem that pulled me back to the core of what's important:

"Lucinda Matlock" by Edgar Lee Masters

Lucinda Matlock

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed--
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you--
It takes life to love Life.


Spinning Wheels

My great weekend included a visit from my parents (!), Tara's wedding (!!), and seeing the 40-Year-Old Virgin(!!!). It was all so wonderful (especially the first two), but it was also tinged with barely suppressed panic about my job situation. And it takes a lot of energy to suppress panic. Energy that could be better used dancing with my husband, or gardening with my mom, or talking about movies with my dad. I funnel an awful lot of time and thought and anxiety into my professional life.

I realized with pain last night that the two-week vacation I'd hoped to take this fall is more or less in jeopardy, and I also realized how much is affected by having to get a new job every year. You never build up vacation days, so you can never take a vacation. You have long periods of time when you either can't see your doctors and your dentist, or else it's very expensive. You never learn how to ask for a raise, because you are never around for long enough to deserve one. In fact, I've been starting at roughly the same salary for years. You don't get promoted, you don't get to build deep professional relationships, you don't get to accrue sick time or build retirement accounts or get vested. How are today's twentysomethings supposed to get any traction?



What am I doing here? What is my life worth? Who am I helping? What do I want out of my life? What if my long string of bosses haven't really liked me? What if I'm betraying the people who really believed in me? This job scare has me facing little existential panics throughout the day, just what I hoped wouldn't happen. From an email to a career counselor yesterday to an almost-fantasy job application I submitted this morning, I'm feeling desperate and panicky. It's deep for me; I don't want a lot of jobs I'm qualified to apply for, and I don't want to be perpetually underemployed and starting a new job every year anymore. I want very badly to travel, and write, and have my own adventurous, caring family, and I don't need a job to validate me. But I do need to feel like my days aren't a waste, with little overall end result that benefits anyone. And when I look back on the last eight years, I don't feel especially satisfied when it comes to my professional decisions. Outside of work, I have a wonderful life. I know that it's ridiculous to question my worth or meaning because a stranger decided to pull funding. It's just that I feel despairing over my unstable, only occasionally-satisfying string of jobs. And lost. Again.


My Future as CEO Looking Dim

I just want to say that this is the "valuation graph" for Crawlspace on Blogshare. I don't really understand how the whole thing works, but I see that the value of this blog is very clearly going down. I'd like to talk it up, but I don't really know what to say. Based on the past few days of entries, I can't say it's looking very promising for the next quarter.
A World of Mysteries
I'll never understand how readers use the comments feature---it never fails that what you might think would solicit some sort of reaction, does not, and what does get a reaction, you might not have predicted. It's that or else everyone's tired of my self-pity. Fortunately, I have good news from Gawker today:
We hate to assault you with such life-shaking, faith-challenging news so early in the morning, but sometimes we have to put our emotions aside and focus on our responsibility to the truth. And so we urgently announce that the man formerly known as Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, Puffy and P. Diddy has made it official: From this moment onward, he will now be known as simply “Diddy.”

Say it slowly. Leave the “p” behind. Look towards the future. Let it roll off your tongue: Diddy.

Why the change? “I needed to simplify things,” said the hip-hop mogul. Diddy also plans to “go more rock ‘n’ roll” with his look, and
says he’s inspired by Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Keep an eye out for the Diddy Stardust press conference, which should hit in about 3 months.

8:32 He’s actually on the Today Show right now, making a live announcement of
this change. “I felt the ‘p’ was coming between me and my fans,” says Diddy.
Katie Couric feigns interest: “Wow…”


Doing Today:
Somewhat despairingly writing my resume, looking over my past history and how very slowly/almost not at all the "writing" section is growing, mulling over the travel I so very much want to do, not wanting to fall into another detached computer job, facing the prospect of being laid off three times before turning 30. Is it odd luck, bad choices, or might I *just possibly* be in the wrong field? Before too long, I predictably drift over to fbijobs.gov to consider the familiar old options. Happy to note that it's only 18 weeks in Quantico to become a special agent, not 24 as I once thought.

Overdoing it

I like the gym a little too much. I've treated myself for three overuse injuries in the last year: on my tricep, my ankle, and repeatedly, my knee. OK, so, I push myself too hard. Check. But last weekend I realized that, in an attempt to bring down the swelling, I'd actually iced my knee to excess: I learned that the little bruised spots on my kneecap were symptoms of frostbite. I gave myself frostbite. In August. I actually overtreated my overuse injury.



It's so hard to have to rethink your career (again), to feel like your job just dropped out from under you. I'm trying not to make this weekend all about self-pity, but it's still true that it's hard. Hard and familiar: at least I made it to a year at this one. Unless something amazing happens in the next few weeks, I'll have to switch jobs, meaning that I'll have to take a fifth job since graduating from college, and I'm only 29. Holding five consecutive jobs (minimum) through your twenties, having stayed in one city the whole time; doesn't that sound bad, somehow? It may be time to rethink that attraction-to-fragile-startups thing I have going. Maybe I just haven't learned how to choose the right employer yet. But that can't be it, because my current job and employer are wonderful.


When Work Stumbles

Well, once again I find myself looking down the barrel of a bad funding situation. I'm not actually unemployed, but this morning I learned my job has suddenly become significantly threatened by the termination of our center's one big grant, effective Oct. 1 of this year. There's shock, fear of losing the best job I've ever had, financial worries, fright over not having my own time anymore (the best perk of this job) and a greater angst of losing my wonderful colleagues, including one hell of a great mentor. But I gratefully have the stalwart emotional support of my husband, so I'm trying to think creatively about the whole thing. Maybe I now I can travel more, or do more writing for children, or go down this new fitness and nutrition path I've started. Something is going to change, even if I get to keep my job. And if I don't, hey, let me know if you hear of something, as Somebonnie presciently did.


The All-Knowing Times

I don't know anyone who uses the term "girl-crush" but I sure do love this article: She's So Cool, So Smart, So Beautiful: Must Be a Girl Crush.


In My Sight

The cat has been spending time outside. She's a housecat, indoors all nearly-four years of her life, but now we have a little yard and she loves nothing more than to lie on her side in the grass and watch ants moving cargo, white moths flitting, small sparrows in the branches of the cherry tree next door, and the now-and-then surprise encounter with a squirrel. She loves it. It's obvious in her face and her behavior. She's never acted like this with me, but I can see very clearly that she knows exactly what I want and don't want her to do, and she's so grateful for the opportunity to spend afternoons under a Japanese maple that she's willing to be picked up and carried inside when I just can't take it anymore. Instead of running away, she's become a reliable cat with an awareness of consequences. I didn't even know there was such a thing. She knows how crucial it is that she's not out of my sight, and so she stays in it. If she runs away, I'll of course regret this entry, but so far, so good. Now if only she could learn the concept of pointing. Why is it when I point the cat looks at my finger?

I just returned from a hot and sweaty afternoon with eleven teenage girls, walking around Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. We examined trees, spiderwebs, a goose, a pond, flowers, berries, fungus. We did a loud yelling chant on the bus, and our voices were strong. We talked about movies, video games, ourselves, each other. I could do it every day. I felt so close to them and protective of them right away. They are still just kids. On the bus, on the street, I wanted to stand in between them and boys who rode by on pocket rockets, showing off, stand in between them and the startling man yelling into his cell phone. They are tough; soon they won't need someone like me. But for now they still do.


The Support Network

About a week ago I was in the gym, bouncing on a small trampoline, when it came to me. "Something's missing," I thought. Urban Rebounding often allows me insight into those straightforward needs sometimes clouded by feelings or expectations. Perhaps it's a result of spending so much time in the air. As we bounded to Britney while pivoting towards the parking lot and pumping our closed fists in the direction of the ceiling, I realized I needed to drive back to my hometown to see Mom and Dad. And I needed to do it now.

I emailed my boss from the Treo as soon as I was showered and in my car. We watched Rize, and then I got her response, a nonchalant "whatever." I drove to Rochester two days later, making it in 5.5 hours driving 75 the whole time, which makes my car shake. Over wine, they told me all about their trip to the Northwest. For the next two days, we sat around and talked about movies, the Rochester Jazz Festival, the ferry to Toronto, my obsessions with my new condo and the gym, respectively. We ate a lot of frozen custard and swam in Lake Ontario. I played with the dog. And then, suddenly, it was over. We swapped cars so that their mechanic can look at the shaking problem and I drove back to my new home, making it in 5 hours going 80 the whole time. They'll be here next week, to see our new place. So far our only plan for entertaining them involves visiting Blue Heron Farm and picking up some of their delectable organic onions for grilling, the mere thought of which literally makes my mouth water. Unfortunately we have no table or chairs where we can all sit.

And then Jessica came up two nights ago after my begging. Well, I didn't beg, but I did send her a I-think-I-need-you-to-come-up-here email, which she gallantly, promptly did. I've known her since she was three and she has always been exactly this wonderful. We did Boston tourist things, like visit Boston Common, share nachos at Cheers and eat steamers at Fanueil Hall.

I've needed these people lately. In the middle of all this, we finished painting, and my knee began to hurt, really hurt. I stopped rebounding and wondered how I would achieve any clarity without it. I spent some time in Dorchester volunteering for my gym's foundation. Tomorrow it's off to the Arnold Arboretum with a bunch of teenage girls in the Young Women on the Move program. I like it. I like Dorchester, I like the loud rap in the gym, and I like being the only person not of color. It's different from my gym in Cambridge; you might say it's precisely the opposite. I'm trying not to think about it too much, just enjoying this unusual time in my life. Very special, oddly bittersweet, certainly stimulating.

In the evenings we like to take walks around our neighborhood. It always fills me with a dreamy sense of promise. In my head, we're never really alone on these walks; I always see us with children and dogs, a garden and good jobs, friends that live nearby. In this rich private life, we connect with lots of people who aren't like us, and we keep getting better and more self-aware. The weather yesterday was beautiful. In the afternoon we swam in Walden and a commuter train tunneled through the woods.