In my male-mode professional career, I’ve never made too much of a big deal about August 3 being my birthday. Part of the reason for that dates back to when I got my first paying job about three weeks before I turned 21. Back then, I was too evergreen, not yet mature, far too unsure of myself, and just fortunate that I found a job. I also made too many mistakes in that job, which was… well, I won’t tell you where I worked or what I did, although I will say it was a small office where I had a lot of responsibilities and was let go after two months. Naturally, the last thing on my mind during that run wasn’t a desire to have balloons and cake at my desk. So, I didn’t tell a soul at this business that August 3 was my birthday.
A famous sports situation to tell you: Picture a football stadium. A crowd of over 75,000 people are on the edge of their seats. There’s about three minutes left in a tightly-played game. The two teams are separated by only three points on the scoreboard. The team that’s trailing has the ball on the own 8-yard line, and they’re likely feeling some anxiety. But their quarterback seems cool, calm, and collected. Matter of fact, it appears that said quarterback has his eye on something else other than the opponent’s end zone 92 yards away.
If you’re a football fan, you’ve probably heard of this very situation. The game was Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. The team that was trailing was the San Francisco 49ers. Their quarterback was none other than the legendary Joe Montana. And before he and his offense started a drive at their own 8 with 3:10 left in the game, he got the attention of one of his linemen and motioned to the stands. “There, in the stands, standing near the exit ramp… Isn’t that John Candy?”
The last time I posted on here, I talked about a human trait I’ve noticed during my job search. That trait is known as “compassion,” in which one person is moved so much by another’s pain and distress that they want to alleviate said pain and distress. This time around, I want to talk about two other human traits I’ve noticed of late:
“Empathy” and “Sympathy” are traits that have been easily interchanged for each other over the years, but they are distinctly different. Let’s break them down one at a time, shall we? Continue reading
Time to bring back a feature I haven’t done on here in a while, “Allison’s Word.” Sorry, no disembodied voice in this entry (last I checked, they’re getting their nails done), but there will be a word representing a beautiful trait of human emotion I’ve encountered so far during my job search:
Compassion is a human trait that allows people who are moved by someone’s physical, mental, or emotional pain to want to alleviate or ease that person’s pain. Compassion is that feeling that prompts a person to reach out to someone in their time of need as if to say, “Don’t worry, things will be all right for a little while.”
This week, during my job search, I took time between sending lots of resumés and practicing for phone interviews to have lunch with someone who showed a lot of compassion my way — the first supervisor at my now-former place of employment. She’s still employed at that company, and that allowed the two of us to keep in touch rather easily during my time there (she was just one floor below me in our building). Since I departed the company, she has shown quite a bit of compassion in her e-mail conversations with me. And on Thursday, for the first time since I left, she offered to meet up with me for lunch. I thought, why not? I’ve got all the time in the world for lunch at the moment. We had a pretty nice conversation at that lunch, and she offered nothing but lots of encouragement, including a few statements of “be confident” and more than a few mentions of “there’s a job out there that will be perfect for you.” And, yes, the lunch was her treat.
My old boss’ lunch wasn’t the only form of compassion from someone at work. Another person who’s still at that company and was also my supervisor (albeit for a brief time) learned of my departure from my supervisor. And, yes, she’s reached out to me via e-mail with nothing but support and compassion and advice. (It goes without saying that both are among my list of personal references during my job search.) One of my first supervisor’s current colleagues also learned about my job search, and she asked for a copy of my resumé. I’m not sure who or where she planned to send my resumé to, nor have I noticed any results from it. But I’m appreciative of her efforts.
Compassion allows one to identify themselves in others and motivates them to do something for the sake of making that other person feel okay for at least a little while. That thing can be a word or two of support, a lunch with a good friend, a forwarding of a resumé… or perhaps even that next new job opportunity. No doubt about it, I am very, very appreciative of all this compassion.
Okay, folks, since my post from earlier today regarding my job search might have left some of you as bummed out as I am, something slightly more jovial is in order. I did already mention a couple of these in that last post and just touched on them in passing on social media, but I’ll expound on them somewhat here.
- Staying home isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. Or to be more precise, staying home when you weren’t planning on doing so. I have done the whole one-week “staycation” thing before, but that was with the intent of returning to work the following week. Even with that, sitting in an apartment watching tennis or cycling or your DVR can leave a soul a bit stir crazy. Actually getting out of the house to do anything does help that fear of being in stir. Speaking of walks…
- A nice summer afternoon’s walk doesn’t always clear one’s mind as much as it should. Yes, you’re out of the house, but your mind is still pondering other personal things, like “what do I need from the store?” or “did I send out that payment?” or, yes, “where should I apply to next?” Perhaps I should find nicer destinations to take my walk; maybe that could help ease my mind.
- I feel much better when I’m preoccupied with something important and meaningful to do. Like working at the office, of course. But as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working on a meaningful project for a LGBT resource center here in town, and during the afternoons I worked on said project this past week, it did take my mind off of those job search worries for just a while. I’ll be working more on it this week, and that should help ease my mind a little more. If you find yourself in the house with nothing to do, do indeed find yourself a project, even if it’s just cleaning house. (Oh, memo to self: My apartment needs cleaning.)
- The car deserves a rest, even if you weren’t intending to let it rest. In the 12 days since the day after my employer let me go, I’ve had to use my car just twice for transportation, and both were for reasons that had to do with my feminine side: Last weekend to and from a poetry performance, and yesterday to and from a support group meeting. Any other trips outside the house (for errands or just a walk) were done on my own two feet. And believe it or not, my mind got used to not having to drive, so much so that it felt somewhat weird when I did my driving yesterday (“okay, which one is the brake pedal?”). And speaking of things I didn’t have to do…
- Having a big, bushy beard does not look good on my male-mode face. Normally when I didn’t need to go to work, or go to support groups or poetry readings as Allison, I would usually give my electric razor a rest and let the stubble grow for a day or two. This past week, I let it grow so that by Friday, my brow and chin and jawline looked like a combination of pepper and salt (mostly the former). And it didn’t do a thing for Male Mode Me. I think my face may not have as many beard follicles as the average male, especially just under the lower lip where I’ve had a cut scar since I was a kid (darn blade razors). Shaving before getting dolled up yesterday actually felt good. And with an interview scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, I am looking forward to getting rid of that stubble once again. Yay for clean-shaven faces. And legs. And underarms. (That’s for my female side of course.)
So, how many of you out there read my previous post and wanted to reach right through your computer screen and wanted to give me a hug, or at least a pat on the shoulder, of sympathy and support? If you did not read that previous post, I did indeed lose my job and have been seeking new employment. No, it’s not fun. Matter of fact, it can get frustrating, demoralizing, and downright depressing. I say all of this because I’ve experienced all of those emotions in the 12 days since my previous employer eliminated my position:
Frustrating: There are times when sending a resume or application can be a snap… and there are times when the submission process on a prospective employer’s website can be so confusing, you don’t realize your application was incomplete until three days later, when the company sends an automated e-mail letting you know of your error. (At least this particular company invites applicants to take feedback surveys on the application process. Yes, I gave them a piece of my mind.)
Then there are the time-wasters, the open positions that come in from the deepest distances of left field that you know you’re not qualified for, are not good material for, or it just seems downright suspicious. Somewhere on the internet, there has to be some sort of algorithm that picks up whenever a new resume or profile edit is made to, say, Monster.com and sends the person who made those changes an invitation to consider a position in the “amazing,” “tremendous,” “fantastical” world of insurance sales. Yes, that’s happened to me more than once over the years. And it likely doesn’t matter what my resume says: I could post a CV of nothing but janitorial services, and someone will e-mail me saying I have the skills to be a glad-handing salesperson. Nah.
Demoralizing: Many, many moons ago, when I was younger and learning the ways of the job-seeking world, one of the things I was taught was to first send a prospective employer your resume, then follow up a couple of days later via phone to ask if they received my resume and if they were interested in interviewing me (that is, if the ad didn’t strictly say “no phone calls please”). These days, it’s more of “don’t call us, we’ll call you”: You send a company your application; you include your resume, cover letter, and references if asked; and you wait. And wait. And wonder if either they didn’t receive it (hard to do with the internet these days), or they did receive it but aren’t interested in you, or they did but they’re not ready to interview you yet (hard to determine if they don’t post a deadline for applications).
Obviously, I have been sending resumes to as many companies in the Madison area as I can, including a couple of companies with stellar reputations and who are the type of employer I’d be comfortable working for. (No, I won’t say who these companies are.) At least one of those companies have indicated application deadlines in their postings, giving me at least a possible idea of when they may be ready to interview me if they want to do so. The other company, unfortunately, has not, nor have they replied back to me with their interest. It’s that uncertainty, or at least that not knowing if they really like you, that can get me down. But, of course, a prescription for all that uncertainty is to not consider just one prospective employer, no matter how stellar that company’s reputation may be.
Downright depressing: Since having to hit the bricks, I’ve spent some of my midday and early afternoon periods getting out of the house and taking a long walk. Usually, in addition to the health benefits, a long walk also helps clear one’s mind. If that’s the case, my mind must be in a pea soup-type of fog that not having steady employment created.
A network of support of any kind does help ease that depressing feeling. I’ve been in near-daily contact with a friend who’s gone through their own job search (a lengthy one) and has been a giver of both recommendations and words of support. And on Saturday, I received a couple of good words in a support group meeting. Still, support can only go so far in easing your heart. At one point of that very same meeting, the participants were informally asked what they looked forward to doing this summer. My honest answer was looking forward to finding a job. I didn’t have to answer if I didn’t want to, and looking back on it I shouldn’t have, for my answer left me down in the dumps for the remainder of the meeting and the rest of the night.
But there has been one thing I’ve been doing this week and next that has actually eased my mind a little bit: I won’t get too much into specifics, but through my connection with a trans/CD support group, I’m helping compose an important resource document that a LGBT+ resource center here in Madison will make available to the trans community. It’s great in that it lets the volunteering side of me give back to our community, it allows me to give my typing and creative skills a workout… and it lets the worries of a job search drift from the front to the back of my mind for a few hours in the afternoon.
And, hopefully, those afternoons and mornings will soon be spent actually working for a living. This week, I do have a couple of in-person interviews with staffing agencies. I’ve always been hesitant to work under the auspices of a temporary worker agency (emphasis on the “temporary” in the job nature). But, I fear that once my severance runs out, I’ll need something to fall back on no matter how temporary it may be.
So, despite the moments in this job search that have left me… well, down in the dumps, I am trying my darndest to keep optimistic. Madison has a great economy and, hopefully, many great opportunities where someone like me can use my people-pleasing talents. Keep wishing me luck, and keep offering advice if you have any.
In my mental calendar, there has been a date that was marked in big, pink highlighter marker. It was marked that way as a reminder to myself of a day when my personal world was shaken up to the core and I had to start anew. That day was Wednesday, May 15, 2002. That was the day that I was pulled away from my desk, led into an office, and was told by a Human Resources person that my faithful service was no longer desired by them.
Well, I now have to wash the highlight from that date on my mental calendar, for there is now a new, much more recent date that will need to be marked in that ugly, haunting shade of pink: Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Continue reading
Well I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
— lyrics from “Maggie’s Farm” by Bob Dylan
It’s almost June 2018, but there’s a leftover topic from one of my WordPress friends’ list of “June Jour” writing challenges from June 2017, a topic that I had started response to but never finished until now. I’ll start with old news from the sporting world from the very end of last June. Well, it was peripherally from the sports world, but it did involve a figure from Major League Baseball. Umpire John Tumpane was heading back to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ home ball park, ostensibly to prepare for that night’s game, when he saw something strange on the suspension bridge that approaches the stadium. On the bridge was a 23-year-old woman who told Tumpane, as he would recall later, that she wanted to “get a better look of the city from this side” — that is, from the other side of the railing that separates the pedestrians from the Allegheny River down below.
Naturally, Tumpane, when noticing that the woman appeared to be very emotional and distraught and did not want to climb back over to safety, grabbed her in order to prevent her from jumping, doing so until others came to assist him in securing her better and until authorities came to take control of the situation. Tumpane has since been lauded for his actions (and deservedly so), from those in local media, to those to assisted him, to at least one mental health expert, to even the Pirates, who recognized Tumpane for his actions before that night’s game.
I want to share a thought or two that occurred to me today, and it peripherally has to do with a couple of tidbits about Alone: A Love Story, a podcast I recommended in my previous post. Alone is an audio memoir written and narrated by Michelle Parise, and reading up about the show at this link, Parise mentions her penchant for writing down details about her life as soon as they happen. She mentions that she’s has hundreds of journals in her possession, all carrying short story- and dialog-style details about her daily life. It’s the details in those journals that allows Parise to bring out specifics about this and that in Alone.
Earlier today, I listened to an episode of another of my podcast recommendations, The Debaters. By pure coincidence, one of the subjects put up for debate in that Debaters episode had to do with writing memoirs. It was a debate (and a pretty funny one, of course) considering the reasons people need to write memoirs (to leave behind insights on life and the stories to back them up) versus refraining from doing so (they can be pointless and uninspiring).
Last week, I wrote about a podcast I frequently listen to and enjoy. The show is called Under the Influence, and it explores how the world of marketing and advertising influences the buying decisions and opinions the general public makes. After I published that post, I couldn’t help but think about a key word in that show’s title:
One of the definitions of “influence” is this: One who possesses the power to affect or sway one’s actions, behavior, opinions, etc. Everyone has had at least one influential person in their lives, be they positive or negative. I know I’ve had several people influence me during my proverbial journey through life. I won’t bore you with those details here, although I’ll obviously state that my mom and stepfather are two. (Perhaps I’ll dive into all that into another post.) Continue reading