Do it for the poor

I was told recently that ‘poor’ is no longer a PC term. I always used to call myself that, and I fling it around without care. ‘Low income’ is the correct term, but it doesn’t really encapsulate the same feelings in myself. Oh well.

So I work for a charity. This morning I have some time to kill because I just got a nice new camera and I need to take photos of all our shops–one of them is right down the street for me so I’m getting a late start.

I always wanted to work in the non-profit sector–which I guess university is supposed to technically be a part of. But what I mean is I wanted to make a difference and help the poor. Perhaps make it so there are less poor, or the poor at least can jump a bracket into the slightly impoverished state. In the western world even the poor have¬†#firstworldproblems. That makes my job more interesting. It doesn’t change their status, their pain and suffering, but its not quite as exotic.

Despite my post a while ago saying the honeymoon was over–it doesn’t mean I want a divorce. It just means I’ve got to work at this and find the balance.

Now that I realize that I can quit my job, change my career and do whatever its become a matter of fine tuning. Life is too short to be angry, upset or hate your job. I do feel some dread at the moment, but the good still out weights it all.

On the plus side, my celery plant and ginger plant are growing. I should learn from them…

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Job Honeymoons

I was sitting in my second review meeting a few weeks back and one of the board members I just met turned to me and asked how it was all going. Of course my answer was positive and excited and enthusiastic. He looked me right in the eye and said “ah, so the honeymoon isn’t over yet!” He explained how soon I would stop my enthusiastic climb and start to slump. The slump could last months, according to him, but the trick was to persevere through it, and it would level off. Then it would be okay.

Part of me disagreed vehemently (in my mind and silently of course) I don’t want to slump, and if I do, I will never ‘level off’. That means I am stagnant and I want to always be growing! Well, its good in theory at least…

I’ve reached the end of the honeymoon now, and I actually find myself yearning for that level period. Looking back on what he said its not so much about the physical actions of doing the job and love of work, its about emotions and relationships. That leveling off, I hope, means the extremes will mellow and that comfortableness will help me have more confidence in myself and my work. I still want to always improve, but coming home either bouncing with joy or in floods of tears is draining–I hope to settle for contentment.

The world hasn’t stopped spinning yet

You know how when you are little and in school, and you miss a day–you think to yourself, how could they possibly carry on? What were lessons like, and how did everyone not feel the gaping hole left by your absence?

If your school was anything like mine, you quickly learned that it did go on, because the catch up homework was insane. Everyone else had theirs done, knew the lessons and information except for you.

Last year as a teacher I learned that it can actually be quite lovely to miss class and set an assignment for someone else to oversee. I didn’t even mind the extra grading.

The world never stops spinning it seems.

Well, I had stopped blogging for a while and the world kept on. I stopped because I finally managed to get a job. That big magical J-word that should somehow complete me, give me an identity and pay the bills. Well, one step at a time. It is just for 6 months, and it is not my identity, but it will do.

Then I went to my sister’s wedding which required 2 weeks off ūüôā

At school, you know how to catch up, as a teacher, you pre-plan your missed days, but in the normal work force, your own little corner actually does stop spinning. Its an odd game of catch up that I’m playing now. I don’t hate it, its just a new experience. Perhaps it finally is satisfying that inner self-centered demon we all keep telling us only I can do that job…well, for the moment because you are the only one assigned to it, but lets end on a happy note.

Why should we hire you?

Today I had my very first interview here in New Zealand. It was my first non-Classics related, or teaching related job interview as well. I’m sure you can imagine how nervous I was, because every single one of us has been there.

Last night while watching scifi on the couch next to Chris, I typed into pinterest ‘interview’. The site came through for me offering hundreds of links to advice from what to wear, how to answer questions and other tricky topics. Reading it at first made me feel amazing. Then I clicked over and felt worse. I typed into Google ‘how can I get a job when I have no skills’ and was reassured that just by having lived, I certainly must have something to offer. I didn’t sleep well.

The interview was at 10:30, and I nervously stared off into the middle distance while re-reading and re-researching everything I had already done weeks before. I’m not sure if it helped. I left my house way too soon, walked too quickly and arrived 20 minutes early. I pretended to look at hair dye for 15 minutes. I should dye my hair.

So how did all the advice stack up? Well, I had dressed fine, tried not to touch my face or hair, gave some eye contact, but not creepy eye contact (I hope), and the hour of grilling passed quite quickly. I can’t tell how I did though. No one threw anything at me, or shouted, so that is always a positive sign. As sick as it may be, I loved talking about how I could help, and what I could do. I felt…useful. Perhaps the best bit of advice was from something I learned from a TED talk last year about body language. And yes, I totally did a power pose before going in…

There were many predictable questions: tell me about yourself, what is your greatest strength, how would you do X, and finally, Why should we hire you? I’m not sure I got that one correct. I had read, last night, about a question “If you were a brick in a brick wall, which brick would you be?” I think that may have been the question that threw me over the edge. Obviously I would be that left over brick that people stubbed their toes on as they walked past since the manager had ordered TOO MANY bricks. Does anyone know a better answer??

Its easier to interview and apply for jobs when you aren’t in love with the job. So now I try to convince myself that I didn’t want it, so that I will be ready for rejection if¬†it comes. Now back to more job applications. Does anyone have any useful interview tips, if¬†I get other interviews?

In other news–it is officially Christmas since I now have a sparkling gold tree…

Age and the age-ist world

Race and gender continue to be hot topics for debate, and their respective causes need to be written about and proclaimed from mountain tops. We need to educate the world, we need to judge less and love more.

A more difficult cause to get behind is age-ism. We persecute the young confining them in schools where they are forced to sit for long hours and try to persuade them that their worth is encapsulated in their grades that the gain on standardized tests.

When they are in college we barrage them with more knowledge and train them up to do things that aren’t needed in the ‘real’ world. We won’t hire them without experience.

And then they get too old. We won’t hire them because they are at pregnancy age, or you calculate that they can only give 10 years to your company rather than 30 (secrete: the younger will probably only give you 2 years, and the older is a safer bet, but that is pretty age-ist of me to say).

Then they get even older. They regress, retire, need care and what do we do?

I guess this is a way of saying: ‘life sucks’ but what I actually mean is that you are never ever too young to do something, nor are you too old to start something. Again, while reading Amanda Palmer’s book, the bit that was the most inspirational to me was one of the first sentences she wrote.

I’m thirty-eight. I started my first band, The Dresden Dolls, when I was twenty-five, and didn’t put out my first major-label record until I was twenty-eight, which is, in the eyes of the traditional music industry, a geriatric age at which to debut.

Those who get their PhDs usually finish sometime in their early 30s meaning until then they are living the perpetual life of a student and only afterwards do they begin a semblance of ‘adult’ life. The official age for a geriatric mother has been pushed back to more than 37.

I am 28. Will be 29 next month. Its not too late to start something–and that is my plan, so watch out. When I am 60, it is still not too late to find and capture a new dream. It is only society which limits us. This ‘lack of experience’ amuses me because from the moment you are alive you gain experiences. I know how to learn, how to think, so I can do anything.

Where is the pessimist today? Not here.

Do what you love, but make sure you get paid

Most people have been profoundly inspired by Steve Job’s insights way back in 2005 about doing what you love. I have 2 basic, rambling thoughts on this as they regard my own unemployment and period of worry:

First, he declares that he was lucky to find what he loved early in life. Starting young is a nice option for those of you that know yourselves. I thought I knew myself. That academia and the life of the mind was for me. I would read and write all morning, and I would share with keen students in the afternoons, and when possible I would commune with other scholars in a romantic exchange of ideas. This wasn’t how it was. I had a supervisor once, when I in passing to make conversation, ask her about her latest research declare to me “I can’t tell you, lest someone else find out.” Sharing must be done carefully and documented so it cannot be stolen I guess.

I thought loving it, and hard work, finishing a PhD would be enough. But when I got there, I still liked the reading and the writing, but there was student bashing, peer attacks and all manner of problems. No place is perfect. And to top it off, it was a system that was crumbling with lack of jobs and lack of pay. It wasn’t the subject I loved (although I did) it was the actions. The reading, writing, sharing, improving and publishing into the world. So I left what I thought I had been lucky enough to find when I was young.

But now, I’m not that young, not that lucky, and I have to try and dream with my wings cut. I’m doing it, but slowly.

The second point is about loving work in general. See, the way academia can get people to stay is the love. Its not work if you love it, so you should do it for free. Perhaps you remember a while back when this article came out. If your job is what you love does that cheapen it make you have to do it for free or else? The need for a living wage is a thing.

Well, I’m in the middle of reading Amanda Palmer’s new book¬†The Art of Asking and you need to ask for help, whatever the situation really and artists have to demand pay especially in this age where music and words are free. But it is the ‘no’ that is scary. “Please take a chance on me,” I’ll say, “You have no skills, so…no” they reply. I know the popular phrase is: “No one owes you a living”¬†but I’ll never get anything if I don’t ask. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch.

I won’t find what I love sitting here writing–well, unless the answer is writing.¬†Some jobs are boring, but that isn’t the same as hating it. You can love the paycheck so much that it doesn’t matter so long as you still have a life in the background.

This brings me back, again, to who am I? Am I my job? Why do we as a society put so much emphasis on how we earn money. The thing that we do from 9 to 5 (or longer if you are unlucky) that takes us away from home, family, friends, and other hobbies? Why would we define ourselves by that? I heard once that it has all been downhill since the Agricultural Revolution. We went from gathering what food we needed for the day, hunting, or gathering perhaps a few trinkets, and then mostly chilling, to toiling daily in a field and it got worse with each advancement. More work, less life.

My good friend said, only the rich say money doesn’t matter, because they’ve never been without it. Thats why we define ourselves by our jobs. Our worth is our paycheck. That means my worth at the moment is a big fat zero. I don’t need pity though, because right now, my problem is that I have too much life¬†and free time. Is this truly living? Or am I a parasite? I don’t know what I love doing that will get me paid. I don’t know even what I’m good at.

So I typed into Google a few days ago ‘Unemployment blogs’ and other such depressing variations but I didn’t find much by way of inspiration from it, or further wallowing as the case may be. But I’m starting not to care. I want more than a paycheck, a day-killer, and a sense of place within society. I want to be okay. And I’m getting there.