Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The season of giving is finally upon us. The last time I was unemployed during this time of year was in the fall of 06’. I was supposed to be the host’s assistant on a reality show in Fiji. The plan was for me to arrive mid-November in LA, get my shots, prep the host and 3 days later depart for the South Pacific.

Unfortunately, due to a Fijian coup d'état the show was put on hold indefinitely and I was stuck in LA, fully vaccinated with zero income and a rental car. Thanks to the kindness of the freegans who took me in until the show's fate was decided I was able to remain on the west coast, well fed (that’s a whole other story) with a roof over my head.

When my straight edge hosts realized that I had nowhere to go on my first Thanksgiving away from my family they invited me to their friends mom’s house. There was just one condition – I couldn’t say anything about the pictures of John Candy everywhere.

Um… what?

Turns out Rose Candy, John Candy’s widow invites all the friends of her son and daughter to come over and celebrate American Thanksgiving with them (they are from the Great White North, our Thanksgiving is like any other Thursday to them).

When I showed up on 2 hours notice, Rose opened the large heavy oak doors to her Beverly Hills mansion, gave me a kiss on the cheek and welcomed me into her home with a sincere hug.

The mixed group of 20-something vegans, vegetarians and carnivores that filled her kitchen was dubbed “Rose Candy and the LA Orphans” by one of the 15 other guests. Rose cooked a wide variety of mouth-watering food to accommodate us all.

As the speed at which we shoveled the food into our mouths slowed down and pant buttons were surreptitiously undone, the conversation turned to the man who was responsible for buying the house we were all sitting in.

Rose and her kids Chris and Jen told tales about John Candy. Their stories weren't about red carpets and name dropping. They were about a husband and father who liked to tell jokes and take his family on road trips. It was all really touching and made me eager to head home and give my own dad a hug.

The only thing that was really "Hollywood" about the whole experience was eating dessert with my feet in a hot tub, 50 feet from the Olsen Family’s mansion (one of the twins has been obsessed with me ever since), overlooking downtown LA.

I’m grateful that this Thursday I will get to spend Thanksgiving in Philly and witness how much my cousins’ kids have grown up. I’m grateful that my parents, aunts and uncles will all be surrounding me too, not judging me for filling my plate with both dark meat and tofurky.

Finally, I am grateful to you for reading this right now. Every time someone new tells me they love my blog it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for those who feel they are alone in their unemployment situation. It's kind of like what Rose Candy did by treating 15 lonesome strangers as if they were family on a night they needed it most.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm one of You now.

Did i want it? NO. Did I need it YES.

To all the Blackberry and IPhone toting people out there, I did not want to be a part of your world. Sure I wanted to ask you for directions on how to get from A to B or what the name of that old Dave Coulier show was from time to time (Cut-It-Out!), but I didn't want one permanently glued to my palm.

But then my lack of ability to open up email attachments and Google on the go threatened my new freelance job only two days in. While my associates could freely roam the streets with their hand held devices, (we are scouting businesses in need of renovation assistance), I was tied to my computer. I didn't want to carry around my expensive laptop in a rainy Nor'easter so I had to keep running home to stay in the loop and avoid costly pit stops at internet cafes. As a result I kept falling behind on my work.

Faced with potentially loosing a long term gig (16 weeks!), I knew my wireless plan needed an upgrade. Before investing in a smartphone of sorts I threw my dilemma out there to all my smart people to see which type I should get. Thank you again for all your input by the way. Since I needed to open attachments more than I wanted to Shazam, I decided to go with the blackberry.

Right before opening the doors to the Verizon store I paused with my hand clenched tightly around my wallet. $30 more a month just for service? Really? The reality was that I could spend extra money in order potentially make more money or I could live frugally like a detached hermit. Hermits don't have jobs to my knowledge. So I opened the door and walked in...

I think a big part of being unemployed is learning how to distinguish your wants from your needs. My steady paycheck enabled me to indulge in all my ($10 pinkberry) wants. When my severance pay stopped I barely had enough to support my basic needs. As my savings account began to dwindle, spending cash on anything not necessary for survival gave me a huge sense of guilt. Getting an I-Phone just to find out where I was (it's hard to get lost while blogging on my bed) was out of the question.

Long gone are the days when clunky Zac Morris phones were considered a luxury item. The newest models are now a necessity in order to compete with the best in a time when jobs are few and far between. So I got a one, and yes, it does like to accidentally dial all the wrong people.

I'm proud to have matured from being a Pinkberry addict to Blackberry addict. Pricey frozen yogurt is still ok for me to splurge on every now and then. But by limiting myself to just one Pinkberry trip a month SHAZAM! - I am able to invest in something that will give me an edge. Totally worth it.

Now send me your bbm pin #'s!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Causes for a Celebration

Birthday Wish List:
*Headphones that don't break after 2 months
*A hug from my little brother half a world away
*Cupcakes with zero calories
*A weeks rest followed by another job.
*Facebook birthday appreciation - (check!)

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone! It means so much - and if you are reading this, it means even more because you are probably one of my blog readers who have shared in my hectic journey over the past year.

This time last 9/10 I was alone on a shaky plane coming back from a casting scout in Arizona. Little did I know about the real turbulence looming in my life.

Now that I'm about to be unemployed again I will have plenty of time to organize a party. Mark your calendars - it will take place December 4th, somewhere in NYC.

Date sound familiar? 12/4/08 was the day I was laid off from mtvU last year, kicking off my Saturn Return and making me a much stronger person with a longer resume and High Def shooting skills to top it all off. I would say that it is something to celebrate.

Also, in honor of my quest to be trilingual, the party's theme will be "Cara's Bat Mizvah's Quinceañera". So everyone, wear your favorite bar/bat mitzvah t-shirt (if you don't have one, I still have extras from mine to give out) and get ready to party like an animal.

I may also be departing for a trip to South America for a surfing/Spanish immersion course soon after the party, and I hope to see you all before I salir de NYC.

That all being said - see you at my 3 month belated birthday, 1 year laid off anniversary, Bat Mitzvah's Quincienera and possibly going away party. Don't forget your shirt!

And again, thank you so much for the birthday wishes and blog reading!


Monday, September 7, 2009


My job is ending this week and I neglected to plan accordingly. Damn denial.

12 weeks of working like a mad woman deluded me into thinking that I was back to the good old days of steady paychecks and personal trainers. So instead of heeding my own advice of packing my lunch I was getting gourmet takeout and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they're back!). My new dirty martini addiction hasn't helped to pad my wallet for the rainy days ahead either.

Considering I was casting women in debt, I really should have known better.

My upcoming unemployment is nobodies fault but my own. I was turning down jobs left and right during my gig at the BBC thinking things would keep coming my way the second it ended. I was looking forward to enjoying time off after working so hard and was planning a vacation instead of polishing my resume and letting my old contacts know I was available. On a related note, old contacts who may be reading this - I'm available.

I'm also turning 28 years old this week. According to my boss, my birthday is the root of all my problems. She enlightened me to the fact that I'm entering the Saturn Return.

Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon that occurs between the ages of 28-30, as Saturn "returns" to the spot it occupied at the time of ones birth. During the Return, a person supposedly crosses over a major threshold into the next stage of life.

Threshold crossing isn't easy. According to my research, the first return is a tumultuous time of self-questioning where job loss is common. Considering the fact that the blog you are currently reading is called "My Unemployment," the cosmic theory seems to hold water.

Saturn Return has also been known to help people better identify what it is they want to do with their lives, often causing a switch in careers. This has been true for people like my friends Danno, Veeder, Beth, Genshaft, Stacey and Vincent Van Gogh.

Still with me on all this? Cause there is more. Not only am I entering Saturn Return, but Saturn is also currently in Virgo (my sign). This means that until July 21st, 2010, cosmic forces are REALLY causing me to buckle down and get serious about one thing.

But do I really need to settle down into one career in order to "grow up"? Can't I be a tri-lingual travel writer who casts shows too? I don't want to risk falling victim to a self-fulfilling prophecy by getting that answer from a horoscope. So rather than try to tap the universe for answers I will just listen to my heart.

As of now I have no idea where my next paycheck will come from. Hopefully that won't cause me to panic and choose a path that will lead to misery. However, if the Saturn Return theory proves legit I will finally be able to identify and nurture my natural strengths; bringing out the best in my career and most importantly, myself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Murphy's Law, Miley's Song

This time was supposed to be different. I knew I was facing inevitable unemployment. Only this time, I was looking forward it.

Not only was I welcoming it with open arms, I was plotting a relaxing mini surfing escape to enjoy after it occurred. Then the unexpected happened – we were faced with the threat of shutting down a month early. After our first cast dropped out last minute, the casting department was told that if we didn't produce a new nuclear family to replace the other in one week, production on the show would cease.


That would definitely put a damper on my relaxing plans. Especially since I still have a bunch of wedding party expenses to pay for.

Fortunately, unlike the last time, this time I could actually help to prevent the lay off. If I worked smarter (AND harder), finding more outgoing ladies in debt with eager to help out parents I could continue planning the mini surf vacation I had been working so hard on earning.

But in order to fulfill my goal of paddling into the ocean, I have to first battle the waves at work. New deadlines keep rushing towards me one after the other. There is no time to rest. Because for every 50 girls that don't work out 1 will. If I actually set up an appointment to meet someone in person, it means that they have impressed me enough to work a full 13 hour day. Believe it or not- those are actually the days I love laboring through the most.

What I'm doing on a daily basis is finding/asking girls and their family members to put their situation out there just like I am now, but on national television. I understand that isn't an easy thing to do and hope that by being on the show, they can get the same positive feedback from girls in debt that I have received from people out of work. I also genuinely want them to get out of debt. Debt blows.

Hard to cast shows like this are a time consuming challenge and I haven't worked with any of the production team members before. Those were the reasons that I picked this job over the other ones suddenly offered to me over a month ago. Professionally this is just what I needed – an environment where I would be able to improve my basic camera skills while demonstrating my rock star work ethic to new contacts. So far my rusty skills have been brushed off and tested, brutally criticized, then tested again. A lot of extra dirty martinis have been drank along the way.

My theme songs are currently a mix of “The Climb,”and the WOO! Song, Infinity (happy birthday Courtney!). On another random note, I have no idea where the time goes when I'm casting. One minute it's 4:30 and the next it's 7:10. All I can do is hope that I have something to show for those few hours.

But here is the thing- I have a job. And despite the crazy stress, this is what I have been fighting for. No matter how hard work gets, at least I have something to work on. I can't complain or give up, because if I stop trying then the show will be pulled due to a lack of cast, and then about 100 people will loose their jobs. That would suck.

So I need to keep riding these challenging times out like a Maverick. Because when it's over this time around I want it to be on MY terms. This way, I will once again feel like I earned a vacation... otherwise known (by freelancers) as unemployment.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feast or Famine

Having only a few short gigs spanned over 6 months and then finally landing a longer term job is like starving yourself all day for Yom Kippur and then pigging out to break the fast. You do a lot of soul searching and complaining while you are starving for something, and subsequently pig out as soon as you get to the feast. Then you kvetch about how stuffed you are.

Feast I did my friends - in more ways than one. Donuts, bagels, chips and cupcakes runneth free at the BBC. And as soon as my mission was established (finding ladies in debt) I devoured it. Constantly hungry for my next big lead, I've worked 10 hour days for more than two weeks straight.

Am I almost burned out? Not yet. But I need to watch myself. I've been down this road before. I believe my record is 6 weeks straight working at the casting career bootcamp which is Wife Swap. Meet or Delete and Engine Room weren't much better (time commitment wise). But my hard work resulted in talented kids getting some exposure while uniting them with other amazing peers from around the world. How can you regret that?

I can't get sick though, because I have a mission to complete. And in 5 weeks, it's back to my unemployment.

I think the show I'm working on now will do some good. I believe I will actually be helping these girls get out of debt while doing some family bonding on the side. Yes I drank the Kool Aide. I know what's in there, I spiked it myself. Tastes like victory and chopped gala apples.

On days that I am ready to quit early, I think of all the people who are unemployed and would kill to be in my position. Then I pick up the phone and call one more newspaper to get my press release turned into an actual story to attract new candidates.

Financial lessons learned from my unemployment have regrettably not stuck with me. This is ironic considering the subject of the show I'm casting. I've slipped back into the $15 lunch habit. I'm also shopping and actually keeping the goods, rather than shamefully returning them soon after. This needs to change. It's increasing my belly while decreasing my checking account.

Unfortunately, the frustrated place I was at in my life 3 weeks ago seems distant, and it's hard to draw from my past experience when it seems like what I went through was just a dream. Surely I can buy low-fat vegan banana brownies for $2.50 a day and it won't matter right?


What lies for me come September is uncertain (my turning 28 and watching lots of college football aside). I have no idea when my next gig will come around after this one ends. I could very easily be in the boat of the girls I am casting if an emergency occurs, or if I'm asked to be a bridesmaid in another wedding. All that I can count on right now is myself, doing the best I can do, to cast this show the best that I possibly can.

My new schedule of waking up at 7am to squeeze in a workout in a futile attempt to counter the free carbs stalking me in the office pantry has left me exhausted. But I still wanted to put my new thoughts out there. The times I work are just as important as the times I spend in the job hunt. And so, I write.

Thanks for the push Ben!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Have I ever told you about my big girl glasses? A $395 pair of Pradas. I bought them 3 years ago to impress a table full of TV directors (co-workers) wearing big frames with designer names. When I discovered they ditched me (the only one left in the office) to have lunch together, I bought the glasses immediately to redeem myself. My thought at the time was that if I could afford them, I deserved to rock them.

I have done a lot of learning since them. Much of it in the past 6 months. But last week I really had to cram.

While on vacation in DC, I thought I had misplaced the Pradas forever. Fail. Then I got a call Saturday for a job I had applied for the day before. Unfail.

I went on the interview that Monday, thought it went really well, and then 2 days full of thank you letter issues later, I got a call for another interview. I went on it the next day, and for the first time since the Fiji/mtvU decision of 06' – I had a tough choice to make.

I felt positive about landing that first job - the gig also seemed fun and relatively easy to cast. The other job would require constantly proving myself on a very challenging project.

A good problem to have, the possibility of being up for two jobs, but it had the potential to go very badly. I could have played my cards wrong and ended up with 0 jobs and burned bridges.

The little girl in me wanted to take the easier job close to all the Herald Square shopping goodness. The adult in me was hungry for a challenge and wanted to work under a casting director who seemed to be the person I wanted to become in the next 5 years.

I went the mature route as soon as it was 100% offered to me and am now faced with the challenge of finding girls in debt whose parents are willing to live with them for a week (see shameless casting plug at the bottom of the post).

After my decision came one last query - how to let the other company who hadn't notified me about their selection know I was taking myself out of the running for their consideration.

The bravest most adult thing to do would be to give the other hiring manager a call with my news. Not quite 100% more mature adult Cara sent her an e-mail, a very tasteful one which thanked the company for their time and let them know I still
hoped to work with them in the future.

Other lessons I learned last week included how to be persistent without stalking, why being honest prevents trouble down the road and why buying $$$ items to impress others is never a good idea. I made some tough decisions and took responsibility for them. Rather than turning my back the situations I was afraid of, I listened to the advice of others and faced them head on. So today, when I finally found my big girl glasses in the eternal pigsty that is my room, I really felt like I had earned them.

And now for the casting call!


Need a financial makeover? Credit-card bills piling up? Are debt collectors calling non-stop? Is your debt keeping you from moving forward?

E-mail the following to cweissman@bbcnyproduction.com:
*name, age, location and contact #
*Your credit card crisis (how long, how much)
*How your parents feel about your situation
*How you are feeling about the situation


*You MUST live in NY / NJ / CT/ Philly (or close to Philly)
*People with big stories, big situations, AND with big personalities
*You CAN NOT currently live with parents
*MUST have both parents willing to take part in the show
*Parents must be in driving distance to you for production purposes
*Must be between 24-34 yrs. old

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This month, when it rained it poured. I'm not just talking about the record breaking precipitation we have been enduring in the Northeast. I landed two interviews in less than a week, and it's raising some professional etiquette questions.

After months of sending out resumes with no response, I got professional advice and a ‘resumakover’ from career coaching wonderwoman Gloria Schramm. I sent it out for the first time last Friday for a 3-6 month gig I was genuinely interested in landing and got a call the next day requesting an interview.

It occurred Monday, and I believe that it went well. My skills were a perfect fit for the job, my research on the company was appreciated and I discovered I had mutual acquaintances with the hiring managers. Acquaintances who loved my work.

But I did make one key mistake - I didn’t get the e-mail addresses of the people interviewing me. When I couldn’t find their contact information online and the 24 hour window of thank you letter sending time was almost closed, I called the woman who brought me in to get them. I entered the addresses on their respective e-mails (one of which was to her) and hit send. I then left my laptop to run errands take a class on a skill that will further my career. When I got back six hours later, I discovered that one of the e-mails had bounced back.

Pop quiz hot shot - what do you do?

I'll tell you what I did. Using Glorias suggestion, I pushed the feeling that I was acting like an incompetent stalker aside and sent her an e-mail saying that I hoped she received her letter since the other one bounced back. I added that I wanted to confirm the other address since I wanted to make sure he knew I was appreciative of his time as well. She wrote me back with the right e-mail and I was back in the game.

After hitting send, I got a call to interview for ANOTHER job. This one is for the BBC, where I have worked in the past. I'll be heading over there tomorrow to interview with a casting director I have never met before. Not sure how to handle the situation if I am offered that job on the spot since the first gig was supposed to last longer and that is always a big plus. I guess it all comes down to if the BBC is willing to wait for me to hear back from the other company.

I am struggling with how to treat both hiring managers with as much class as possible. In a freelance world where jobs are scarce, you can't burn any bridges. I don't want to get blacklisted by a company because I say I'm available then am suddenly not. It would also be tricky to say I'm holding out for another job that pays more, or will last longer, or is in the vicinity of more friends I can meet up with for lunch.

I'm trying not to count my chickens before they hatch (getting offered both jobs) - but I want to be prepared in case the best scenario happens. I think we all know what the worst case scenario is... another frustrated blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The unemployment rate has moved up from 8.9% to 9.4%. In an investigative report, a 30ish journalist applied for a wide variety of over 300 jobs. He landed 8 interviews, 2 callbacks, zero jobs.

Do those statistics scare me? Heck no they don't! They surround me like an invisible bubble and shield me when people ask innocent, well meaning questions. Necessary, because when people say:

"Really, no job leads at all?" "You are so talented, why haven't you found work yet?" "Can't you even get babysitting or waitressing temp jobs in the meantime?"

All I hear is:

"Really? Why haven't you found work? Can't you even get temp job?”

It stings like a bee, and I'm having the worst reaction towards the people I love the most. Even my own body is agitating me. I'm facing serious pressure from my sinuses. My eyes and throat are itching for more than just success.

Other ailments/Remedies:

STUFFY HEAD: Occurring when I cross paths with ragweed or the comment - "can't you waitress in the meantime?"

Hosting at Chili's in State College on a Football weekend? Been there. Waiting swing shifts at Pizzeria Uno's on the Upper West Side? Done that. And I may do it again. But I'm not in a rush to. Why? It's perfectly respectable to graduate college and serve salad till you finally get your "real job." However, after successfully coordinating a team of 22 casting assistants around the world, the thought of refilling sodas takes on a whole new meaning. It's not just about staying afloat till something better comes along, it's a blow to your ego.

RX: I would take a big dose of humility just to get the feeling of actually earning my paycheck back - but I'm making more on unemployment than I did on tips. So until the government stops sending me checks or it's an under the table gig, I'm not taking your order.

CONGESTION: The job market is being flooded with resumes, often for positions which aren't actually hiring. My jam packed page of experience went seemingly unnoticed. To help stand out of the crowd, I enlisted the help of seasoned pros to breathe some life into my moldy old resume. Sizzle words now litter my two paged “brag sheet.” It's funky but professional format at sends a clear message that I am the perfect fit for a job. And yes, it does change slightly depending on what job I apply for. Industries may be different but skills transfer! Still no signs of life from the other side though...

RX: I'm also trying to find opportunities from companies before they ask for help. I've been in the industry long enough to identify a problem before it happens and offer my skills in advance.

HIVES: I'm breaking out, trying to network as much as possible. I mostly only encounter other pink slippers at these events. It's very cathartic to share battle stories with them, but unless I end up brainstorming it's just another rash move in a dispiriting job hunt.

RX: Still creating a buzz for myself by being a social bee - attending conferences filled with people who are getting paychecks in the fields I want to work in but no little about (writing, all types of writing). I can go as a volunteer or get some cash for helping at check in.

As you can see, I'm trying to think outside the bubble. But I'm so much more than a statistic. Job hunting is a large part of my life, but not the only part. It can be painful to discuss it with friends. But other questions like “How is your Spanish?” “Why is Walt special?” “Ride your bike anywhere fun lately?” are easy to swallow and help me to breathe a little bit easier.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Use Your Cents

Another bird pooped on my head today. That aside...

Viacom still has yet to approve my Cobra subsidy, so I've had to seriously buckle down on my spending. To start, I've been returning everything I've recently bought but didn't need.

First to go was an impulse buy from The Body Shop. The saleslady gave me her best pitch for a few minutes on why I should keep the shimmering body bronzer until finally I told her I needed to put that $18.50 towards my health insurance - because I had been laid off. She quickly hushed up and proceeded with the refund.

I'm also trying to avoid convenience fees and fines that add up and could have been avoided by keeping a calendar of when things are due. But sometimes, thoughtless mistakes happen.

I realized a dvd case I had returned to the library ahead of it's due date was actually empty - the disc was still in a player in my apartment - 2 days too late on a holiday weekend. Ironically, the movie checked out was Volver (Espanol for return). By the time I noticed my mistake it had amounted to $12 ($3 for every day). In front of several preschoolers reading Dr. Seuss, I had to convince the head librarian to be absolved of my fine.

Unfortunatly, there are some fees and wasted cash I will never be able to get back in life. And the longer I remain on unemployment the harder it is to let these little costs go.

To even things out a bit, I keep my eyes peeled for ways to save or even gain cash. A few examples:

During the cleaning of my apartment/office space I count all the spare change recovered. I then take it to a penny arcade at TD Bank knowing exactly how much it is. For "guessing" correctly how much money is deposited, you win $3.

While cashing in a coupon for Snapfish pictures I noticed the savings were the same amount as the shipping fee. I avoided paying the $11 by having them shipped to a local Walgreens and picking them up instead.

This past weekend, the free shuttle from the Princeton Junction train station to a nearby Hyatt was m.i.a.. Rather than pay for a $10 cab to the hotel where my friend Kim's bridal shower was being held, I hitched a ride with a nice elderly Swedish couple. Ok, so that last money saver was kind of risky. Next time I'll use better sense.

The point is you can't cry over spilled milk and sit around cursing your situation. Let it go. Be proactive and find ways to save cash for the more important things in life. Like Phillies/Mets tickets. Who's goin with me?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Load of ...?

A bird crapped on my face yesterday while I was pedaling through the last stretch of a bike n' brainstorm session with Stacey Burgay. Half of it hit my helmet with a subtle smack. The rest splattered on my cheek and shirt. There's a stain that's not coming out.

Thankfully, I was a few yards from a public rest stop to wash it off in. I was raised to believe that bird poop is supposed to be good luck.... on cars. I was a moving vehicle at the time though, so we'll see what happens.

With "good" omens occurring few and far between I would like to think that I make my own luck. I reluctantly ditch fun plans for networking events. I stay up late writing for two blogs and creative contests with cash prizes. I take the time to get in touch with old contacts and scour job boards in hope of impressing new ones.

Waking up at a 9-5ers hours and starting the day off at the gym is another tactic I have employed to get employed. An evil truth is that sleeping until 10am does nothing but keep you unproductive. Rather than being lazy, I get the sweat session out of the way so I can focus on the rest of my to do list for the day. It also helps me to feel like I have already accomplished something while applying for entry-level jobs with low salaries/titles but room to grow.

I would like to think that I am one of the hardest working people in the business of not being in business. But if a force greater than myself is what decides if I ever work again... well I hope it realizes that I have 6 wedding gifts to pay for and shows some mercy. Seriously though, I would probably have watched all of Lost 3x's and average 11 hrs of sleep a night if I knew the outcome of my career quest was out of my hands.

But just like Jacob said to Ben, "you have a choice." (Linus is such a pawn!). My decision is that believing in fate and luck alone is too passive. That is why I am eager to set an effective chain of events in motion by constantly putting myself out there. Because opportunities, unlike bird droppings, don't just fall out of the sky.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vacation Guilt

For the first time since before college, I didn't feel like I earned the right to take a vacation. I'm used to working my butt off to meet a deadline which always happens to be the midnight before my trip begins. Packing always occurred 10 minutes before rushing out the door 20 minutes behind schedule. The moment my plane took off I would smile to myself and get ready to recline and relax, savoring every second of my well deserved escape.

But this memorial day, I delinquently gathered my luggage and headed to a remote bay in Erie, Pennsylvania. It was the first of the 5 weddings I'll be attending this year.

Even though I live a crazy life full of cover letter writing, job board stalking, aprender Español, various networking meet-ups... because I don't have a boss and feel the stress of deadlines, I don't view myself as actually working.

Ironically, for someone who “doesn't work,” I panicked at the thought of being away from my laptop for more than one day. Since I was saving money by splitting travel costs with a bridesmaid, I was going to be gone for four.

So I scouted the place online. I left my laptop at home because they charged for wireless but had free high speed computers to use in the lobby. Weather.com predicted a beautiful forecast for my stay, so I looked up fun local routes along the lake front to exercise along. The hotel had a gym and pool to work out at should thunder clouds come rolling in. There was also a jacuzzi that I spent an hour unwinding in while watching the once sunken US Brig Niagra glide through the harbor into a brilliant sunset.

Back to the vacation guilt. Before my departure I stopped by the Queens library and checked out a few books on job hunting secrets and careers in writing. My plan was to read them on the patio by the bay. But true to unemployment form, I couldn't find the time to do anything constructive other than applying online for a position as a game show casting AP. To be fair, I really put my heart into that cover letter.

Before I knew it, the $80 I brought for the 4 days of fun was almost depleted. This is what happens when the only thing within a mile of your overpriced hotel are fishing boats. To start saving money, I walked into town and lived like a dollar menunaire. I also stopped by Subway and brought back a 5 dollar foot long to chill in my room. For the price of one hotel meal, I bought myself a days worth of good eats and was back on my spending track.

Finally the big day arrived, and when I saw my friend walk down the aisle it was all worth it. I got to hang out with some of my favorite college friends who had scattered across the nation after graduation and experienced a true Catholic mass. I only made the mistake of putting my feet up on the kneeling thing once.

While I still don't feel like I earned that vacation, I really can't look at it as being one. Even though I was away from my laptop there were still ways I cut costs and remained productive. Plus, it's good to get the occasional change of scenery from your couch to find some new inspiration.

My summer/fall is filled with bridal showers, dress fittings, engagement parties and bachelorette fiestas. I'm not going to let the recession keep me from celebrating the best days of my friends lives. I just have to cut costs elsewhere and plan ahead to make do.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wait for It....

I vowed I would never do it again - putting a tray in my hand loaded with appetizers, hoping that if I gave my 110% people would tip me 25.  But there I was, dressed in a button down black shirt as if I were in mourning for the days of a disposable income.
After you can finally say "I'm unemployed" without shame it's only a matter of time before other pride barriers begin to crumble.  Head Coordinator positions non-existent, you consider being an assistant.  An intern.  A volunteer.  As it turned out, I couldn't afford to serve the public as a volunteer, so now I'm just serving the public - one pulled BBQ slider at a time.
The event I served at was a Wall Street fund raiser for St. Judes.  It was held at Marquee, and the attendees were well dressed men who seemed to be oblivious to the economy crumbling around them.  The women were all skinny, pretty, fashionable, probably intelligent - but not enough to notice the well dressed men plotting how to hook up with them by the end of the night.  I have never been in their world before.  It was like mine with more Grey Goose.

I wish I had a sign on my back that read – laid off in December, still looking – so that I could act as a cautionary tale circulating throughout the indulgent night. But it was the sick kids of Saint Jude's that the gathering was for. Their struggles put mine to shame.

I doubt anyone would have noticed a sign though. Most of the attendees were really tall. People saw the food I balanced with a straight arm above my head rather than my up do.  However, Garrett, founding 405er/giant was also working the crowd.  REALLY working it.  He was able to schmooze face to face with the brokers, holding the tasty platters at waist height while making new contacts, even getting tipped an extra $20. I hope shorter people are at the next group I cater to so I can mingle face to face rather than mouth to kneecap. 
Since I had fun, I've looked into more ways to wait.  I got this gig by networking.  (See, those events really do work!)  Last month I met two 405ers, who, after being let go in the same week decided to attempt their dream of running a catering business together.  Since they currently aren't cooking up a storm that often, I'm looking to match their business (Uptown Comfort) with new events.

I'm also checking yet another job wanted section on Craigslist.  There are companies advertising on there that can place you at events all the time, but I am looking for less formal (under the table) arrangements. According to articles on careerbuilder and cnnmoney this is a NO. Apparently I should be focusing my search on one specific field, customizing my cover letter for each new opportunity.  But that didn't work so here I am.
I'm not sure I'm up for being a full time waitress just yet.  Even those jobs are hard to come by, especially with all the new college grads out there. It's just a good feeling to actually work now and then, to actually earn money at the end of the day rather than merely being entitled to claim it.
So... starving for some cash?  Simply starving?  Suck it up.  Button down.  Bring Tupperware.  I took home enough leftover food to feed fellow unemployed friends and gain back the weight I lost on the recession diet.  But looking on the bright side, my wallet gained some weight too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bucket List Blues

Last week I wondered when it was finally time to take on a less than stellar job opportunity. Luckily I have wise friends who have been in my situation. Veeder, recent birthday boy and fellow blogger offered some great advice on the matter:

Veeder: I don't know if I'd look at it as settling. The big thing I'd try and do is make sure you're looking long term. Even if a job sucks now in terms of pay or title or whatever, if you could possibly be in a much better place in a year or two, then it might be worth it
Me: cool, maybe I can just copy and paste that advice
Veeder: I give you permission... I wouldn't take any job just to be employed, but if it's something that you can do to ride out the bad times that keeps you in the game a little bit, then I'd go for it
Veeder: Is it too late to write a blog about my company's asinine overreaction to swine flu?
Me: you are riding the edge of that flash in the pan
Veeder: I was going to write it last night and I think even now I'll have to acknowledge that the fad has passed.

I feel Veeder's pain when it comes to having to pass things up. It seems like I'm having to abandon more and more fun plans with friends to attend networking events or work last minute gigs. My days are typically filled with free time occupied by inane to do lists concocted the night before. (Pilates, job hunt, pay credit card, motivational coffee walk, job hunt...) But the times I actually have something exciting planned, a career related activity pops up and fun has to take the back seat.

I'm still waiting for one of these networking events to yield a promising work opportunity. Am I approaching them the wrong way? Like, should I be wearing my hair in a bun and splurge for the shiny glazed business cards instead of the standard matte? Or is it my bucket list that is really holding me back from succeeding in landing a new job?

When I woke up nice and hungover after Laid Off Eve I started to compile the list of things I wanted to do before going back to working around the clock. During my December staycation I crossed off seeing a play, musical, trying out cheap local restaurants and paying the MoMa/Met/Cloisters a visit. The things that remain can't be crossed off quite as easily. I'm still not fluent in Spanish, can't use a lighting kit and have yet to ride a short-board inside the popes living room.

Like a sign-up chalkboard for a beer-pong table, the list just keeps getting longer with new goals being written over old barely erased ones. For example, I have a plan to one afternoon bike to Long Beach, watch the moon cast silver ripples over the ocean (smore in hand), wake up, surf, and bike back to Astoria. It's a challenge, but yesterday I mapped an "Islands of the East River" bike tour that's just begging to be traveled as well.

If I had a job I would have to wait till a nice weekend rolled around to challenge my Trek. Without a job, I just have to wait for a nice day.

I think these fun little goals are preventing me from 100% committing myself to the job hunt. To make matters worse, when the laid back unemployment lifestyle grows on you it's hard to shake. Your life becomes a perpetual series of days filled with whatever you choose, especially when you go weeks without any solid job leads.

Luckily for me, the last project I freelanced on turned out really well and made me fall in love with casting all over again. Being able to work out 3 hours a day is nice, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to get back into the grind. The list will always be there but unemployment benefits don't last forever.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Settle for Less?

The second my unemployment began my friends turned into dedicated head hunters, forwarding to me any positions they saw which remotely fit my area of expertise. My support system rocks.

The problem is (and my friends honestly acknowledge this when they send leads my way), most of these jobs are a harsh title downgrade from what I'm used to. They require my bruised ego to grab a paycheck that is slightly more than unemployment, but half of what I was used to collecting.

It's hard to settle for meager wages when most of your friends are still living a fun lifestyle supported by the jobs and salaries they have been promoted to. My unencumbered situation could be a lot worse, but at one point do I need to give in and take any job I can find?

If I do cave and accept just anything, then what has been the point of me optimistically holding out for these past 5 months? My biggest fear is that as soon as I accept a longer term job out of frustration, the perfect one will present itself and I won't be able to grab it because I'm grudgingly committed elsewhere.

I've talked about interning for free to make connections in any field that interests you. I may do that after careful thought and research. But these low paying positions come out of the blue and you have to act fast. My hesitation before accepting or even applying to these jobs has led to them all passing me by. To prevent this from happening in the future, I have created a standard cover letter (Stacey Burgay approved) to send as soon as I get word of something new. It details my experience and why I'm interested in the position:

Subj: Dejectedly Sent Cover Letter of Frustrated Unemployee

Dear Hiring Manager,

I tried to think of a witty intro to make my letter stand out from the hundreds you will be ignoring but was sidetracked by Ellen Degeneres dancing on TV. Clearly, I'm taking the time to write you because I'm interested in the opening you posted on a mainstream job board. I've been seeking an opportunity just like this, but for a better salary and higher position at a company the general public has actually heard of.

As you deliberate this placement consider the following:

I have functioned efficiently as a unit for over 5 months while the economy is failing as a whole.
I have redistributed my streamlined earning output by 2/3rds so that I don't have to trade my gold 4 cash.
I have seen 86 episodes of Lost. Previous to my severance, I had seen zero.

After seven years in the industry, I have a thorough understanding of every aspect of what your business does. My last position was eliminated due to restructuring. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I worked around the clock being the best employee that I could possibly be. I view myself as a hard working troubleshooter who thinks outside the box. I'll save you the trouble of asking this question in the future; my weakness is that I am too much of a perfectionist who sometimes doesn't know when to stop. I used Internet research skills and Microsoft Office to find your post and compose this letter, clearly demonstrating that I meet the basic qualifications you listed in your want ad. Also, I'm a ninja. I believe my roommate's cat to be a pirate.

If you are seeking a self motivated, career-committed, team playing hire who isn't a tool, then please consider what I have to offer. I look forward to speaking with you in person so I can finally justify buying the power suit I got on sale. Please don't act bored and/or offer false hope of employment if we do meet face to face. My resume isn't attached - that file paper clipped to this e-mail is actually a coupon for free KFC, courtesy of Oprah. I hope this demonstrates how dedicated I already am to helping your company stay cost effective.

Yours Truly,

Regina Phalange

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swing from the Heels

Life is all about decisions. This week I made the responsible one.

For those of you who don't know, I am a Phillies fan. I'm also addicted to attending most sporting events. This past Saturday I was looking forward to combining my two loves by watching the Phillies play my favorite rivals (the Mets) with my favorite Dans. However, I was reminded about Laid Off Camp, a networking event that promised to help teach me to reinvent my career by utilizing digital media. Having already missed a day of "work" this week to eat Shake Shack/watch the Mets loose in their own house, I gave up my free ticket to attend the educational gathering.

I caught the last hour of the nail bitingly close 10 inning game at a nearby bar as soon as camp let out. Ten seconds after the walkoff walk by Shane Victorino, my elated attitude quickly morphed into a dysphoric shroud because I wasn't burning off 5 Yuenglings by climbing a Broad Street traffic light, waving my red jersey around in celebration.

Back to responsible adult decision making though. Those serious about transitioning into a new career shouldn't pass up a good opportunity to get schooled in something new. The grown up way of thinking is to put things into perspective. I missed one regular season game in a lifetime full of many for a unique experience. The result? I met lots of interesting people and gained fresh insight on how to market myself.

I also got a wake up call. During an expert panel discussion, a CNN personality talked about "try it before you buy it" - aka working for free as a way to see if a new career is right for you. Still bitter from my "Vandalay" experience, I approached him after the panel and asked if I made the right decision by turning down an internship in an industry I had already broken into. He told me I made the wrong one, that in this economy I should do anything I can to get my good name out there. His adept reasoning was that should a paying position open up I would be the first one called. But first, I needed to swallow my pride and accept that I didn't know everything - that I still had something to learn.

While I don't think the company I turned my back on was worth working at for free, I do believe there are others out there worthy of my industrious self. What I need to do is not attempt to watch season 4 of Lost in under three days. I need to make an organized list of the companies worth slaving at and customize a cover letter for why I want to work at each one. I need to find headhunters, do more research on different writing careers and see where I could happily excel. Thanks to Laid Off Camp, I know of new ways to get my oeuvre out there while figuring this all out.

The key is to keep looking at the greater picture rather than seeking immediate gratification. What is one weekend with friends missed when another is just 7 days away? I have the rest of my life to work. And as long as I'm financially able, what is a few months of interning if it leads to a job that will last many years? Take a healthy swing at something outside your comfort zone, see where it goes.

Next up on my list of responsible things to do - get apartment insurance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What am I?

When can you finally consider yourself to be a New Yorker? Is it when you sign up for that first Duane Reade card? Is it when a tourist singles you out of a crowd to ask for directions? How about when it takes 6 weeks to book an appointment with a new doctor? According to the NYS Department of Labor, I considered myself to be a New Yorker when I called their 888 number in order to enroll in their $405 a week unemployment benefits program instead of my native state of Pennsylvania's $547.

In addition to taking an (unemployment) pay cut, being a transplant from another city isn't easy. I have to deal with boo's when I don a Rollins T-shirt and confused faces when I ask for wooder ice with my hoagie.

But there are perks for those of us who retained our out of state id's - out of towner savings. I'm not gonna lie to you, I look really hot in my hologram emblazoned drivers license. I'm gonna rock that baby everywhere I can till' PenDot says no more. At Macy's in Herald Square I can save 11% with my non local ID. Comes in handy when I need to make summertime interview outfit shopping more affordable.

Think like the carpet bagger you truly are and even more thrifty opportunities will present themselves. Want to see a stage filled with A-list talent but TKTS is still too pricey? Stroll by The Ed Sullivan theater or 30 Rock and a Page could offer you free tickets to a late night talk show. Beats waiting months for a ticket reserved by calling the audience coordinator. You will probably start your new job the day to finally claim your seats rolls around anyway. Or, if you are like me, your next gig.

I've cast a show here and there in the past few months. So my dilemma is, when I network do I say "I am a freelancer" or "I am unemployed?" Initially, post pink, I suffered the inability to say I was "laid off." The L would stick to the roof om my mouth as if there was organic peanut butter on it. But now there is something totally cool about being in the scary 9% statistic. Newspapers want to interview you and the foreign media wants to film you. Wearing scrunchies n' sweats outside the house becomes excusable and people read your blog. It's a hard thing to give up.

Mostly it's just scary. Because if you do finally consider yourself to be a freelancer, it means you have settled into a new career that requires a lot of self discipline. Unions exist to support your endeavors. Are you ready to change your lifestyle? Try this test. If you can say "I am a freelancer" with a genuine smile on your face, congratulations. You proved the cliche 'everything happens for a reason' to be right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Electric Feel

Black Betty was my baby.  When I first carefully took her home all strapped in and bundled up, I felt all the responsibilities of a grownup.  Feeding her cookies byte by byte, I scrolled through job boards and uploaded pictures from my phone onto a new awesome website called Myspace (which my friends predicted would soon make Friendster a thing of the past).  After 9 months of paying off my Best Buy Credit Card balance, she officially became the most expensive item I have ever purchased.  
Black Betty was my laptop, and after I was laid off, she went from being used 3 hours a day to 14.  For a computer that's like going from living in dog years to dragon fly months.  The wear and tear showed.  She was running slowly even after I deleted space consuming files and steered clear of NSFW sites (althought that dog pooping on a baby was pretty funny).  My wrists wore dull spots into the silver enamel below the keyboard.  Yet it was the crackle and pop of a sizzling motherboard that finally snapped me out of denial.  The end was near. 

I turned my back to Black Betty, getting a flash drive to transfer all my files into.  256MBs of storage in hand, I turned back around and watched as she prepared to hibernate only to never restart again.
Three and a half years of memories being lost was the least of my concerns.  A laptop is a necessity to the unemployed.  It is our mobile office and cheap line of mass communication to friends im'ing or g-chatting it up from their stationary cubicles.  Rather than throwing my cash away on Internet cafes when I am already paying for wireless in my apartment, I had a local Geek Squad confirm Black Betty's expiry and immediately went back to Abington to get a new laptop for less taxes.  In 18 interest free months of payments, she will be mine.
Unfortunately, this means that the other items on my wish list (a new bed, bike, month long Spanish/surfing immersion course in Costa Rica and tickets to baseball games) will all have to be put on hold.  Those are all things that I don't immediately need and can save hundreds on by seeking out coupons, sales, teacher discounts (via mom/Irene) and friends company seats.  Always check to see if you can get one of the above before making a costly purchase.  Times are tough and establishments are luring consumers in with incentives to buy things they otherwise wouldn't.  Feel free to use that saved money to stimulate the economy splurging on something else (like newly a reduced COBRA health plan).
With my old cluttered motherboard wiped clean I can start fresh all over again. I'm hoping to use my new laptop, which still remains nameless, to launch my new career as a tri-lingual writer/freelance reality television casting producer. 
Please take this opportunity to grab hold of a flash drive and save all the important information housed in your computer that you will never get back if it suffers an electrical implosion.  Don't make my mistake in the future.  Back it up now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Hansel: So I'm rappelling down Mount Vesuvius when suddenly I slip, and I start to fall. Just falling, ahh ahh, I'll never forget the terror. When suddenly I realize "Holy shit, Hansel, haven't you been smoking Peyote for six straight days, and couldn't some of this maybe be in your head?"
Derek Zoolander: And?
Hansel: And it was. I was totally fine. I've never even been to Mount Vesuvius.
"So, does it feel weird?"
During the week long return to my old job (which I was laid off from) I got asked that question a lot.  The answer?  Kind of.  Upon arrival I retraced old footsteps to the printer, soda machine and floor to ceiling windows overlooking Times Square, feeling like I had just woken up from a vivid dream induced by a trip to a daiye spa.
Then a naked occupant of the hotel across from my building waved at me and I realized that nothing since December 4th, 2008 had been a dream.  This was still my old co-workers reality and I was crashing it like I crashed SNL parties back in the 'lost year'. Sadly, I was too busy casting my heart out to really enjoy catching up with them over my recession friendly lunches of leftovers, hidden deep within the fridge in all their tupperware glory.
I knew returning would feel slightly bizarre but didn't hesitate when accepting the temporary position.  I left that office on good terms with the hope that I could return in some capacity.  In this economy it is silly to pass on the opportunity to remind your former employer what an asset you can be.
Unfortunately I'm considered more of a luxury item than an asset in my industry.  Any producer worth their salt can do my job.  But usually, they're too swamped with locking locations and drafting scripts to devote 100% of their time to finding the best quality talent out there.
That's where I come in, working around the clock through rain and 72 degree shine.  I actually began to pity myself for having to labor indoors during a beautiful day last week.  But I checked myself as the words from my friend Veeders underemployment blog flashed through my mind - "I won't complain.  I can't complain."  I had a job, something which makes gorgeous days off spent biking by the ocean that much more rewarding.  In unemployment land, unfulfilled days blend together inconsequentially regardless of the weather.
Another downside to having such a hectic freelance job is you don't have time to look for a new one.  So the second it ends, you are left dog-tired and jobless. After catching up on your sleep, exercise and everything recorded on your DVR, you go back to taking sunny days for granted - opting to stay indoors job hunting, hoping to work again.
So don't fear going back to an old employer that wants you.  Should you feel out of place upon return acknowledge that the feeling is all in your head.  Keep yourself busy doing what you were brought back in for without shame.  Under the equalizing fluorescent office lights, you are just another person doing your job. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Other NYC Benefits

You know times are tough when even billionaires are taking advantage of inexpensive things. While getting my namaste on at Yoga to the People, (a Yoga studio with free but "donation suggested" classes at locations all around Manhattan), I noticed an Olsen twin slouched on a mat by the wall. Abiding by the unspoken rule of NYC that celebrities are to be seen and not acknowledged, I placed my mat just far away enough to look like I didn't care/sneak glances at her skinny legs.

Hopefully she donated the recommended $10 to compensate for those of us who can barely afford shelling out $2.

While embarking on my second donation funded activity this past weekend, a guided bike tour through Brooklyn, I learned about another star who enjoys having some fun for next to nothing. Apparently Bill Murray is wandering into random house parties and establishments around the city, initiating odd conversations, then walking away. I'm strongly considering buying three cases of Natty Light and inviting 20 of my closest friends over to my apartment to see if he will show up. My Mr. Belding singing karaoke in a Gristedes basement story is getting old. So is the one about my run in with Paul Rudd on a C train a few years back.

I won't be running into him on the subway anytime soon though. In case you missed it, Patrick McGeehan did a great job of explaining how I'm saving money by swapping the train for Murray (my bike who was donated to me by Stacey Burgay under the condition that I too will one day recycle it). Props to Ruby Washington, the soon to be vegan photographer for the NY Times for making me look good!

Anyway, no matter what your cheap fix may be, it's a slight bonus on top of the new extra $25 to be unemployed in a city where you may not even have to leave your own overpriced apartment for an invaluable, twitter-worthy celeb encounter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This One's For My Homies

I've lost a few friends over the years. Heart attack, car crash, leukemia... and that was all before I turned 18. Home for Passover, I was going through my bat-mitzvah album and it hit me where I got my "life is short and so am I" mentality. Peers in those photos who had passed were athletes, writers and genuinely good people that never had a chance to pursue their dreams. I wanted their spirit to live on in every risk I took.

Always eager to take on that next risk, I left Abington a few months early to start college. Next, I traded 8 sheltered months in Happy Valley to jump-start my career with an internship in New York. A few months before being handed a diploma, I was already back in NY trying to launch my career in TV. The day after being handed my diploma? I was in "pizza school" (located in a dreary restaurant basement) getting certified to serve bread sticks at Pizzeria Unos on 81st and Columbus.

Enter my mentor Kim. About 9 years my senior, she sympathized with my struggle and set me up on a few (unsuccessful) job interviews, then counseled me over cheap pints on how to rock the next one. "She was a risk taker that made it" I thought to myself. And when I learned she had committed suicide a few months into our bonding I almost resigned myself to a simpler life managing a Wawa's in Abington.

But I didn't. I needed to keep taking chances for those who couldn't.

This week I'm temporarily returning to mtvU to work on my favorite pro-social campaign - Half of Us. As someone who suffered a severe anxiety disorder in college, I'm adding 20% to my usual 110% to get the job done right. Towards the end of my Freshmen year, I was too afraid to let others know how panicked I constantly felt at the thought of leaving my dorm room. From my bed I looked out the screen window at others sprawled out and laughing on the grassy lawn below- trying to figure out how to get myself back to 'normal'. Those were the darkest days of my life. Now I have a chance to help others find the light.

In the future I'll keep doing what I'm doing till I can't any longer. Crippling autoimmune diseases that took relatives away from me are lurking in my genetics, ready to pounce whenever they say so. Until then, I'm writing for my Aunt Faye, who won prizes for her essays and succumbed to Parkinsons last year. I'll run for my Grandma Ruthie because she stayed active until scleroderma took her ability to walk. I'll work hard because I had friends that never had the opportunity to relish their first paycheck and I'll play hard, surfing into sunsets because I still have the 20/20 vision to see them with.

In the Jewish religion, when someone dies, mourners are not supposed to shower or bathe for a week. Customarily, grievers will sit on the floor to symbolize the heart wrenching actuality of loosing someone dear to them. It's kind of like the second phase of unemployment (described 2 blogs below), except you can always get a new job. You can't replace someone you love.

So to my friends of the past and present, thanks for shaping who I will be in the future. Your comments and e-mails have been a huge boost when it's hard to stay positive. I'll continue to be a living yahrtzeit candle, shedding brightness during gloomy times in honor of those both still here and no longer with us. I'm in it for the love of the game, it's outta here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Do It

I'm not alone in my unemployment blogging. There are thousands of us roaming the web. We all seem to have the same things to say about the initial shock and inevitable frustration that comes with getting laid off. But when it comes to the sex lives of the unemployed, the recession seems to be affecting us in many different ways.

When I first moved to New York I lived like I thought I should - drinking regularly, smoking in bars and crashing celebrity packed hangouts by night. My friends were all bartenders/struggling entertainers who kept me drunk and apathetic to the fact that I was without a real job. It took it's toll on my pale bloated body but the dark lighting of dive bars must have been forgiving. Somehow, despite the extra baggage on my belly and under my eyes, men found me attractive enough to take me home.

I call this period, "My Lost Year."

As Uggs were giving way to Skinny jeans my tab free nights turned into temp filled days. 8am starts forced me to go to sleep sober at earlier hours. Most of the week at least. Eventually the temping stopped and I began my "real career" as a casting assistant for reality TV. Boys fell by the wayside as I became involved a serious relationship with work. I chased 12 hour days with quick sessions at the gym while managing to squeeze in the time to find a whole new group of friends that made me realize there was a much more sane way to live my life (while still having of fun).

Then I was given the pink slip - my ticket to once again live on the rowdy side. Living without the structure a full time job provides has caused me to fall back into a lifestyle... That I'm withholding the details of because my mom reads my blog and my dad recently learned how to Google. So I'll just have to write about "other" people.

I've been reading a lot of columns about jobless folk in relationships either too ashamed to have sex or too depressed to take their sweatpants off. On the flip side, there are couples putting the Trojan CEO's kids through college because they feel they have to prove something to themselves or their partner. Unemployed pairs are frequently providing quotes such as "we are doing it more because all we have is each other." I believe the situation varies depending on the status of the relationship and how they view the other (friend, provider, nuturer, etc). No two couples are the same, but outdated studies from the Great Depression have shown that if you're seriously involved, you'll probably be getting it less.

For those not in a relationship, once the hibernation period ends recession victims are having it more often because they don't have to worry about waking up at any particular time, enjoy fleeting ego boosts, can't afford the gym and need to workout anyway they can, it's Friday! (or Tuesday?)... I could go on. But unfortunately -if you are looking for more than just a ...buddy- I've found most of these scenarios don't turn into anything serious. Much like the interviewer who never calls back - if the texts cease to exist they're just not that into you. This can be a serious blow to the self esteem of someone who is already down and out.

My advice? Avoid seedy ads on Craigslist seeking buxom 20-30 year old women with or without experience - I really hope you don't need money that badly. But keep living your life optimistically and don't feel bad about anything you have or have not done. Stay focused on how you are going to get yourself out of the rising 8.5% and remember to keep it safe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The 5 Stages of 'Severance'

Knit one, pearl two, newly laid off AIG friend, this one's for you...

The 5 Stages of 'Severance'

Even if you have been preparing yourself mentally for months, actually getting hit with the bad news will sting like a mother.  As you are guided through the HR process of finding out your individual severance package and putting your picture frames into a box, your mind shuts down while your body goes into autopilot to prevent a security guard from having to escort you out of the building. 
It is hard to be in denial when you discover that your computer has been locked before you even had a chance to update your facebook status to 'axed.'  But, it is easy to mentally detach yourself until you can physically attach your lips to a frosty beer/shot/mixed drink/keg...

Self Medication

While you may not want to deal with co-workers who are still employed, let them buy you a damn drink.  They aren't the cause of your current situation and they honestly want to help out any way they can.  They may not be able to get you a new job, (hell, they may not have one soon either) but they can buy you a round to help numb your pain.
If you don't feel like you can cry your eyes out to them, even after that 3rd shot of whiskey on an empty stomach, speed dial your favorite 'therapist' and just let it all out.  Whether it is your grandparents, best friend, diary or actual shrink you are entitled to wail and whine to them until you have a headache from all the events of the day truly setting in.

The healthiest medication is a butt kicking workout. You will get an amazing high from knowing that you can chase down your old boss and “make an impromptu presentation using a four pronged approach” (hit them with a chair). Just kidding, but I do reccommend trying new classes as it opens your mind up to new things.


Your eyes are puffy, body sore and your head is a jumbled mess.  You know the saying "nothing good happens after 2am?"  Well nothing good happens after you were just handed a pink slip.  
This is no time to start your job hunt – hiring managers will smell your desperation along with the alcohol sweating out your pores.  This is a time to wallow in your misery (sans pants and alarm clock) like a hermit.
If you try to jump into a new career immediately you may regret it soon after.  It's kind of like getting dumped by a significant other.  You rarely want to marry the first person you meet at a bar the next night.  Take some time to figure out what you just lost and what you want to find so you don't get stuck in a job you hate.


One day you finally wake up with a sense of optimism.  Like a Visa commercial come true, you open your eyes and see that you are free to GO. Do whatever you want as long as your wallet allows.  You can start your own business.  You can go on a vacation (taking advantage of the special rates for the newly jobless).  You can even aprender espanol :)
Get on those job site boards and research new career paths you have always been curious about but too hesitant to ditch your 401k for.  Have your friends look over your updated resume and compliment you on what you have accomplished to bolster your confidence before interviews.  Alert references you would like to use them and see if they have anything for you to work on as well.

Lastly, make yourself some business cards for all the networking events you are obligated to accompany your pink slip posse to.  Never know who you are going to meet!


All the planning in your Hope phase seemed like fun didn't it?  You went to Barnes and Noble and researched that genius startup idea that popped into your head while visiting a gallery a networking event was held in. You even took that tropical vacay to temporarily escape reality and regroup.
But 4 months later your tan has faded along with your hopes of ever working again.  Leads go nowhere, resumes are sent out unanswered, business schemes prove too unrealistic... Despite all the steps you've taken to further yourself you feel stuck in the same place.

Just realize that you are actually miles ahead of where you used to be.  You are now a stronger person - a great asset to any operation because you are hungry to succeed and have new skills you would have never learned if you were still working the same old 9:30am-8pm days. 
It is harder out there than it may seem to those not in your place. Try not to let the frustration keep you from acting irrationally. Embrace your role as the unemployed friend trying to get back in the game.  Recognize you are not alone in what you are going through, that it's not the end of the world. Then go cycle back to the Hope phase, fingers crossed, this time for good!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Estoy Aburrido

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
I am so bored.
And now that severance has given way to unemployment I cannot afford to mess around and do fun things with all my free time.  No more staycations filled with Broadway shows and 5 hour bike rides.  No more trekking to foreign beaches and meeting new people on roads paved in molasses.  That's not fiscally possible if I want to afford COBRA, rent, a metro card (when necessary), gym membership, food, social life and bridesmaid dresses.
Don't be jealous because I'm not stuck in a fluorescent lit office all day.  I'm full time job hunter.  I'm chained to my charged phone and laptop - which is frightfully showing signs of old age.  Tasks include constantly scanning websites that post openings and take them down soon after due to an overwhelming response to their ad.  You need to get your resume in there before they decide they have seen enough.  And - if an employer responds via e-mail you have about an hour to get back to them before they decide to bring someone else in. Don't even get me started on the Mandy.com resume uploader...
Sensing my weariness yet?
Imagine going to work everyday and not getting acknowledged for anything you do.  I research, draft, revise and send letters nonstop (between coffee break walks) just waiting to hear back from somebody. It's a thankless job and I'm just hoping to get noticed.  I'm about to send a dead worm in a white envelope to a production company along with my business card.  Worked for Maggie Gyllenhal.
But it's not just getting feedback that I yearn for.  I miss being involved in social office activities like discussing professional sports.  I used to know who was injured or traded to my favorite teams and I could share that information with other people - who hated my teams and wished them physical harm.  Still, it's much easier to care about something when you have people to share it with.  Last year I had two Superbowl boxes and a March Madness bracket.  This year I have Danno texts (keep em comin) and watch Sportscenter alone on the treadmill.
On craigslist, I noticed a fresh faced and already frustrated college grad that is offering a $400 finders fee to someone who gets her an interview that leads to a job.  I think that is a GREAT idea. I'm currently trying to save my cash, but if anybody reading this has a job lead that turns into a paycheck for me, I'll compensate you with a drawing of a spider.

One side project I've been busying myself with is the Astoria Film Group (AFG). It's a random group of locals that want to have fun and stay creative. We make the mini projects in our minds come to life while networking and learning new camera, editing and lighting skills. I've been named Casting Director of the group. So if you want to get some high quality footage for your reel for free, lemme know.
So despite not hearing back about anything and only talking to people via IM/Google messenger I'm keeping busy.  But it gets frustrating, old and boring quickly.  If you ask me what I did all day I'll probably say 'same old' rather than throwing my hands up in defeat.  Because even if I wrote 29 cover letters and created a new design for my professional website without any acknowledgement,  I would still like to think I made some noise.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I wanna dance.

I exist because my parents loved to dance. They saw each other groovin to the music from across the room and the rest is history.

Their love and natural talent for dancing has been passed down to me. And baby, I dance more than you know.

Rocking out on furniture has been my guilty pleasure since forever. As a child I twirled on every surface but the floor. As a teenager I was grinding on every platform Delaware Ave had to offer. In college, I bounced to the beat on my bed. A few years ago, my hips didn't lie on bar tops. Now? Barely ever. But I need to start shakin it again like its money cause rent's due next week.

Dancing has always been like a natural Prozac for me. Pair the perfect song about what affects me with some rhythmic motions and watch the sadness fade. I commonly prescribe myself two Whitney tracks with a pants free bailar-athon to feel better in the morning. Right now I'm trying to chase the blues away that come from living off the government rather than myself – but it's hard finding a song to self medicate with.

By watching my shadow shapeshift in Rorschach-like patterns across a wall to match my body expressing itself I can analyze how I really feel. And in a very Peter Pan turn of events I feel I've lost my shadow and need the perfect melody help me catch it and sew it back on.

There are a million ballads about mending a broken heart that have a great beat. But with all due respect to Tom Petty, (I won't back down), songs about being downtrodden are usually too slow to unleash my inner Bo Jangles. I need lyrics and a tempo that I can let loose to.

On a related note, I successfully rose to the challenge of casting couples and using a Z-1 Hi Def camera to film their Realtors for the BBC. High off of that achievment, I went on another job interview in NYC for a position I was so sure of landing that I missed celebrating my brothers 30th birthday party in Philadelphia for. I was told I would know by the end of that day (Friday) if I was starting Monday or not. It's Sunday. I want to dance.

I was born to move. So not dancing is like going against Nature. And with the ailing environment, Mamma needs all the help she can get. So who wants to help save the Earth? Let's show the world we can dance.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Recession Diet

Yes, I have lost weight. I have yo-yo'd my entire life and I don't ever see that changing. Currently I'm at a happy weight though, which is ironic because it was caused by an unhappy circumstance.

The recession took my frugalness and magnified it by ten. In the 48 hours after being laid off I found it hard to eat anything. When my appetite came back, I decided not to pamper it with a 14 dollar omelet. Instead, I tortured it with an approximately $2 one I cooked up after shopping at Keyfoods. For lunch I got an epicly delicious sandwich from Sal Kris and Charlies for five bucks. Instead of attempting to stuff myself with the entire hoagie, I stopped eating when I was full and had the rest for dinner. Add some colorful produce to the mix and voilà, a days worth of healthy eating for under $10. Kind of a big deal for a girl who used to on average blow $12 on lunch.

I know guys can't stand a girl who talks about what they ate all day. So I'll spare you an in depth look at my daily menu (almonds and salmon and Fage oh my!). But for the first time in my life I am obsessing about nutrients and cost instead of fat and calories. I want more bang for my nutritional buck. COBRA is expensive. Gotta stay healthy.

The gym also gives me something to do with my plentiful unemployed time. I make it my job to take a few classes or hit the treadmill. Getting a workout over with in the morning is my best bet if I actually want to do it that day. Plus, I feel like I've accomplished something before digging in to whatever it is I just burned in a pan.

This thrifty lifestyle isn't something I'll be able to keep up forever though. When I work, as I have been temporarily for the last week, I have little time for the gym and crave chocolate cookies at my desk all day. More fat in than fat out ='s I won't be at my happy weight for long. But I need to decide – do I want a nice job or nice legs?

If I get up early enough in the morning to work out and avoid random free office donuts I can have the best of both worlds. But when you are tired and hung over from ditching the gym to hit up a happy hour... the vicious cycle continues. I gave up a social life to run 10 miles a day in high school and I'm still regretting it. There has to be a happy balance between fun and fiesta nachos.

For now I'm going to enjoy numbers on a scale I haven't seen since high school. I'm going to stay healthy because I respect my body. I'm going to avoid buying $2 red velvet cupcakes because they are costly empty calories. I used to talk about food and my weight all the time. Now I constantly talk about how I'm spending/saving my money. Thanks for (pretending to be) listening. Now, time to reap my Duane Reade dollar rewards and pillage another Cheerio sale...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rick Allen lost his arm yet found a new way to Rock.

tick. tick. tick.

Can you hear it? That's the sound of my severance clock beating down.

Three months ago I was given a monetary allowance which shielded me from going into a state of hysteria. My severance pay enabled me to get my head straight without stressing over how I was going to pay my rent. Up till three days ago though, my thoughts were more scattered than ever and my problem remained the same: I needed to find a new job in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis.

As my days of "paid vacation" became numbered, I was forced to seriously consider what I was going to do with my life. I was entertaining numerous, unrealistic possibilities but needed to decide on one of two: A. Find a long term job B. Freelance until December, giving me freedom to go on a Latin American adventure. My choice would decide my job hunt approach.

Last week while picking up a paycheck from one of my day jobs, I ran into the one contact I forgot to notify about the layoff. I have no idea how she slipped through the cracks of my extensive job hunt, but I found her at the right time. She had one casting producer position still available - a week long gig casting Realtors and Home buyers for TLC/BBC Worldwide.

On day one of work my head became clear. I want to surf. I want to cast. I can do both. There is no guarentee that any job is permanent, especially these days. So there is no sense in throwing a dream away for a a steady job that can vanish in a second.

I still like the idea of a permanent job though and can try to get a new one when I get back. If I want to go the scripted route - a smooth CelebReality transition would allow me to get the agent/actor contacts that CSA's desire.

This plan will take long hours, business cards, networking, learning new skills and even making trips to New Jersey (thanks Chuck!) to adapt to a new style of casting that pays even more. I lost my old job but now will be a better casting rock star because of it.

To the unemployed who are reading this, here is my advice on getting back to doing what you love; think back to every job you have ever had and contact those you worked with. Think beyond who was in your department though and get in contact with them too. Directors I used to run into at the 770 office pantry, had the same bathroom schedule as, or even sneezed on in the elevator are all suddenly coming out of the woodwork with projects I could potentially work on, giving me hope that my dreams (of being a bilingual casting director who surfs) won't come to an end when my severance clock ticks down to zero.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Interview

"Say you've got a big job interview. Throw back a couple of shots of Hennigans and you'll be as loose as a goose and ready to roll in no time! And because it's odorless, why it'll be our little secret."

Nobody likes going on job interviews. But unless a position falls into your lap, it's a necessary step to getting employed. So you do it. And like a bad breakup, this last one kicked the shit out of me.

The negative way it turned out was mostly my fault. Even though I fought hard to convince “Art Vandalay” to meet with me about the paid casting position, I spent more time deciding what to what to wear (tricky for production peeps) than researching the company and recalling my biggest strengths/weaknesses.

My lack of readiness showed and my credibility was attacked. All the redeeming things I had to say about myself seemed to fall upon apathetic ears. At one point during the ill prepared interview I thought I was going to throw up. My head got fuzzy and my throat felt ominous (maybe it was the Hennigans). But I persevered and choked the feeling back, trying to remember why I thought I was qualified for any job let alone the one I was there for.

I left feeling lowly and miserable. Thoughts swirling in my muddled brain included that I was capable of nothing and should give up on my dreams. When I got back to Queens I bought some baklava and beer to ease the pain, wrote my thank you (for nothing) note and passed out.

Then I woke up at the crack of dawn to spend the day helping to manage a crowd of teenage girls for a Jonas Brothers concert in the Rainbow Room. It was my first day of work in over two months and it felt great. I did great. Somewhere in that nonstop day I realized that nobody ever taught me how to organize large groups of people. Huge screaming crowds of teens and their protective mothers do not come with a training manual, I just hit the ground running.

Since I was in 30 Rock, I decided to stop by the new(ish) offices of my old internship at Late night with Conan O'brien- which I loved and happily worked at for free weekdays while working weekends for minimum wage/drinking money at the NBC Store. If I could go back to those eight months of my life I would. But six years of learning have passed since then and it would be ridiculous to think that they didn't amount to anything. If I really want a career in the entertainment industry I need to take a step forward rather taking a leap back.

So here are the new mantras I'm repeating. "Remember what you want and aim for it. Keep applying to challenging roles. Don't turn down an interview. Prepare for that interview. Don't let someone who barely knows you make you feel like you are less than what you are. You are never too old to try something new, but you can be too experienced to work for free."

Cue Barney's get psyched mix.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bigger Problems

You lost your job and suddenly think the world is coming to an end. Well, it's not... yet. According to the ancient Mayans you have at least three more years before that happens. So live it up!

One of the (totally not nerdy at all) things I've been doing with my borrowed time is researching the grim 2012 theories and getting psyched for the predictable disaster movie about 12.11.12. Since first learning about Judgment Day while watching Ghostbusters as a child, I've been morbidly fascinated by any event which could instantly eradicate all my problems along with everything else in the world.

Don't judge. It's easy to become obsessed with something out of your hands when you are living proof of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Many New Yorkers are spending fruitless hours searching for jobs and salaries that match their old ones. It is a total bummer but it could be worse. For example, a landslide in the Canary Islands could cause an 80 foot tsunami that would wipe out everything on the Eastern American seaboard. Short of seeing Zuul in your ice box, no matter what your problems were, that 80 ft. one would be worse.

The attraction to cataclysmic scenarios has proven profitable for Hollywood (with the exception of movies like Waterworld, which was way ahead of it's time). Humans have evolved in part because they are genetically programed to be mindful of danger - seeking information on things posing a threat to them. They also enjoy a good thrill ride.

But are there actually valid lessons to be learned by watching faulty-science filled blockbusters? Y2K scammers now feeding off the growing 2012 frenzy say yes. I say don't waste your money on their $900 dust masks just yet. Obama wants you to be frugal with your money for a reason. If a mega disaster happens, you will have between a millisecond to a few miserable months to live no matter what is in your bomb shelter. So take that money and spend it on something else like cancer research or paying down your debt.

Whether the apocalypse comes in the form of a supermassive black hole, 4 horsemen, pandemic or apoxic event, seriously, you'll be f*cked. The Nat Geo channel has made that very clear. There is no harm in studying religious myths and scientific facts on the subject though. I'm partial to documentaries on tsunamis, mega volcanoes and the medieval predictions of Merlin. Just remember that if the End of Days does come, and someone asks if you are a god - you say yes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Serenity Now!

Times are tough. People are desperate. Thanks to my quest for a new job, I'm learning just how employers are taking advantage of that desperation.

The Film and Television industry is a tricky beast my friends. You can get called at 9pm for a job that starts at 5am the next day. Positive word of mouth and perseverance will get you everything. Obscureness and passivity will get you nothing.

When all your contacts run dry, so begins the tri-daily job site dance. Everyone plays favorites with certain sites, but mine goes a little something like this: Media-match.com, Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, entertainmentcareers.net, mediabistro.com, craigslist.com.

Craigslist/gig/crew stalkers such as myself are familiar with the helpful posts about who NOT to work for. There are companies out there that will try to use you for free in return for a bad lunch and a reel. At least those guys are honest. Many companies will make you work consecutive 16 hour days and then not pay you at all.

I prefer when companies are upfront about their compensation before you sign on to work for them. This week I discovered something new... the employment bait and switch.

It works like so - You see a posting for something you are slightly unqualified for. You apply to it anyway, noting in your cover letter that you can rise to the occasion and are a quick learner. Sensing your eagerness to try something new, they write back that... well, for a better effect I'll let you read the exchange for yourself. Names and companies have been changed for privacy sake (curious? E-mail me and I'll tell you on the low).

Hey girl!

We received your resume for the casting assistant position at Art Vandelay Casting and Art would love to meet with you for an interview as a possible intern instead, if that's okay with you. If you are available on Tuesday, please e-mail us back as soon as possible...

I wrote back:

Hi Mulva,

Thank you very much for your reply. I am a fan of Art Vandelay's work from Rochelle, Rochelle to Sack Lunch. However, due to my experience ranging from interning on a national talk show to coordinating two global casting efforts, I can only accept paying positions at this time.

As I said in my resume, I'm a quick learner and a very hard worker. I'm eager to break into scripted casting and would still appreciate the opportunity to meet with him to discuss the casting assistant position. Please let me know if he has time in his schedule to speak with me as I hope to benefit the company in the future....

Times may be tough but I'm no longer the cow that gives it's milk away for free. I've cast the world and won't sell myself short when I know what I am capable of. I'm still hoping to meet with 'Art' though, because as a very wise woman (Jen Kovel) once said (like, 4 minutes ago) “it never hurts to meet with someone.” Let's hope this time isn't the exception.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

¿Cómo se dice...?

Ever met a person who looked back on their life and thought, "I'm so regretful of the time I spent becoming bilingual..." I did. She was an ignorant tool. Her name was cara haley weissman.

I took four years of Spanish in high school, had a tutor, took a semester of it in college and can still barely string a sentence together. My mind was more primed for learning back then, but I was too busy watching Saved by the Bell reruns and fighting urges to shoplift white eyeliner to care. The government paid for my blue ribbon high school education and I threw it away by cramming before tests or.... gasp... cheating.

I know I wasn't the only person "looking for a new pen" in their crib sheet lined backpack, or rolling up their sleeves to "scratch an itch" that reminded them what the difference was between por que and porque? If I was, then most high school educated people would be walking around speaking at least two languages. I actually know more high school drop outs with dual tongues than ivy educated ones. To be fair though, I really don't know that many ivy league educated individuals.

This past fall, pre-layoff and before the Costa Rica trip even crossed my radar, I took Spanish lessons at the 92nd street Y for fun. Just like high school and the free Hebrew class I took last winter, I didn't study between lessons and crammed 15 minutes before each session. But now, financed by my severance pay, I'm seriously buckling down and attempting to become bilingual (in between job hunting/soul searching of course).

Now I have a new reason to put my (non black yoga) pants on everyday. My Hebrew lessons were doomed because I couldn't actively practice with anyone, but there is no shortage of Spanish speaking inhabitants in New York. They key is to go out there and just start talking without fear of sounding stupid. Who knows who I'll meet any given day.

I’ve popped into a Mexican bodega to buy something I just learned how to say to see if they understand me. I have walked a mile to get coffee from an Ecuadorian named Pepe because he's good at explaining tenses. If I see a poster on the subway in Espanol and I hear people speaking in Spanish, I will go up to them and ask if I'm translating the text correctly. I have no regrets. I have no shame. I'm a casting producer for god sakes. Or at least, I'm still trying to be.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recession Becomes Reality

Until I was laid off, The Recession felt like a cautionary story I kept hearing about.

The 11 o'clock news segments, magazines, and my frugal father were all warning me to save my money because the recession, much like the Nothing in the Neverending Story, was taking over the world and making things disappear.

So I became a thrifty consumer - trading Starbucks for free office Flavia, packing cheap lunches instead of buying 4 pieces of sushi for $10, not purchasing the same American Apparel tank top in yet another color because the cut really flatters my shoulders...

Then the Recession devoured my job (along with 21,137 +) and what I heard about on the news became my reality. It all just suddenly became real. There is no other way to put it. I was one of those people on TV walking out of the office with a box full of photos, files and cleverly hidden staplers.

Spared co-workers either couldn't look me in the face when they saw the folder holding the details of my severance package or they awkwardly sat by my desk as I packed - each one telling me the same things. What they said was "Everything happens for a reason... you'll find a new job in no time..." what they meant was, "I'm so glad it wasn't me... better pack my lunch tomorrow just in case."

I kept a brave face, but of course I broke down when I left the office, hysterically crying to my 91 year old grandparents who managed to survive the Great Depression. They gave me sound advice, "Quit crying, you'll survive."

So, rather than sink into the Swamp of Sadness, I picked myself up and dusted myself off. I looked at what was out there job wise for a reality show casting producer (nothing, there is nothing) and got in touch with old contacts I would love to work with again. My trip I had planned pre-layoff was exactly a month away, so I decided to have a NYC staycation in the meantime and finally did all the things I always said I would do in the city (like seeing plays, visiting museums and taking epic bike rides to Coney Island).

Atreyu and Falcor are currently unavailable to rescue me (and no, I don't think Obama will fix the situation of the economy anytime soon, but I'm certainly pulling for him to do so!). However, my trip to Costa Rica - especially the part where I explored the country on my own- made me realize what I am capable of and what other lifestyles exist in the world. I can save myself. I don't have to follow the career and life path I set out upon the day I packed my bags in 2001 and gave NYC a try. I'm taking a swim in the Sea of Possibilities - strongly considering a stay in Latin America to teach kids English and learn how to surf. Maybe even cast a Telenovela?

Yes, I was drinking absinthe before I wrote this, but to sum this blog all up - Fantasia is my new reality. I'm learning about the hopes and dreams of myself and those around me. Because hope and dreams have no boundaries, neither will my life. In the Neverending Story, The Nothing was the by-product of human indifference and despair, destroying the positivity and goals of mankind. I refuse to let it get me.