Long Week

April 18, 2010

Day 23 of unemployment

It’s been a long week. I’ve been back and forth between my hometown, Birmingham and Nashville several times. I’ve gotten little accomplished other than seeing several friends, attending a luncheon, attending a wedding and getting the ball rolling on a new website for a non-profit I’m working with. This week I’m going to get back to business, the business of job searching that is.  I have little more to say right now but I wanted to share with you some wise words from a friend of mine. Read, do and be enlightened!

6 Steps to Overcoming Ignorance (By Missy Golson)

1. Read a history book….only one not from Texas.

2. Look up the word “socialism” in the dictionary.

3. ‘Just Say No’ to Glenn Beck.

4. Have one of the major newspapers delivered to your email each morning: NYTimes, Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal–just to name a few.

5. Double check your facts: We now live in a world with any and all information at your fingertips. If you want to check the accuracy on matters ranging from ‘what exactly is in the healthcare bill?’ to ‘which political party enlarged the government the most in the last 50 years?’, you can find all of these facts at reputable websites i.e. think tanks, government sites, CRS, journal articles, etc . No, no—Ann Coulter’s blog doesn’t count.

6. Embrace elitism. Sometimes you just know when you’re smarter than other people… and you need to share the truth with them.

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Behind the Veil

April 12, 2010

Day 15 of Unemployment

I’ve discovered that not driving to and from work everyday means I don’t catch the NPR programming I have become accustomed to hearing daily. Yes, I could listen to it online or at home but it’s not the same!

Today I was out and about during rush hour and heard a story on All Things Considered on the burqa ban in Belgium (follow the jump to read/listen for yourself).  It seems that in Belgium they are considering the passage of a law that would require that a woman’s eyes be exposed at all times. In other parts of the world similar laws are being enacted causing much friction.

As I was listening to the commentator explore both sides of the issue I remembered something. While  studying abroad in Egypt in the summer of 2007 I encountered countless women in head scarves, burqas, hijabs, niqabs and any other name you wish to use for fabric covering the head and, often times, face of an Islamic female. I must consider how countries with large Islamic populations ensure that the masked figure under the burqa is, in fact, the woman she claims to be. Additionally, how do you find out if she is hiding something, like a weapon or a stolen loaf of bread, under all of that fabric? That’s when I remembered standing in airport security in Cairo.

I remember going through the metal detector and having my bag searched AND I remember a small curtained off section to the side of the security line.  I had asked what this was when I passed through the line as I saw one covered woman after another escorted into this area. It turns out that it is a special screening area where all of the employees are female. Islam only requires that a woman be covered in the presence of a man. Therefore, if a woman is required to remove her burqa in a room full of female security officers she doesn’t have to compromise her religious values to meet the security requirements of the state.

Countries with large Muslim populations are dealing with the same security issues as “the West” but doing so with optimum consideration for Islamic religious values. I don’t understand why we can’t do the same by asking the Muslim population to assist the government in finding solutions, such as the one used in the Cairo airport.

The NPR report made a great point: By the Belgian government banning the burqa they will force the burqa wearing Islamic women into prison one way or another. Either they will be put in state prison for wearing the head covering outside or they will be imprisoned in their own homes unable to go outside due to the law’s conflict with their beliefs. This certainly doesn’t liberate women or modernize society…

Moving Day

April 11, 2010

Day 14 of Unemployment

Today’s Accomplishments:

  • Visited my aunt and uncle
  • Visited the refugees and gave them a copy of the documentary they are featured in (Check it out for yourself)
  • Ate a great lunch on a lovely patio with my parents
  • Visited a friend’s storage unit to pick up some furniture she is giving me
  • Packed up the contents of my Nashville home into 1 truck, 1 SUV and 1 Uhaul trailer… my life on wheels
  • Drove the caravan back to Alabama
  • Unpacked said caravan
  • Had some dinner
  • Watched a WWII documentary
  • Began this blog post…

It’s been quite a day. I’m very tired and still have countless boxes to unpack or move to storage somewhere. I’m officially at home with my parents. This feels….interesting.

In other news, I had an interview on Friday that was quite possibly the best interview I’ve ever found myself in. If the interview had of been a date, there would have no doubt, hands down, unquestionably been a second one. The group’s mission statement and my resume’s purpose statement are almost mirror images of one another (and no, I didn’t tailor my statement of purpose to fit theirs… it just happened that way) . So what’s the catch you ask? Well, the group isn’t technically hiring right now. They are in the process of doubling the size of their staff but are in the planning phase. They are laying out what positions they need and what the roles will be. The good news is that when this happens there will likely be a spot for me. The bad news is, the time frame is anywhere from a month to a year. Regardless, I feel that I am off to a good start and am very encouraged by this.

Maybe I should sleep now – it’s been a long day!

Posing for Pictures

April 7, 2010

Day 10 of Unemployment

I am at my parent’s house this week cleaning out some closets in preparation for moving my things home. In the process, I have come across several yearbooks, scrapbooks, boxes of pictures and the like and it has me thinking. I noticed that every picture is horrible: bad angles, over exposure, people’s heads cut out of group shots, awkward facial expressions, poor posture and so on. All of these pictures are from before the era of the digital camera. My how life has changed.

On Easter Sunday I was taking a picture with my mother in front of some lovely flowers. Just before the camera clicked I immediately went into photo shoot mode. I took a pageant stance/ballet’s third position, placed my hand on my hip, tilted my chin and smiled making sure not to squint in the bright morning sun. Who am I and what have I done with the awkward to photograph girl from 10 years ago? DIGITAL CAMERAS! They have revolutionized how we capture the moments of our lives and I dare say, it’s not for the better. I may look better (IMO) but it’s not a very real moment. Take a look at the photos your friends are posting on facebook. In 9 out of 10 of the images every girl in the picture has her hand on her hip and several are making that stupid pouty lipped, duck face (for those people please refer to antiduckface.com – yes, it’s a real website). Once the image is taken we immediately review it to make sure we look great and in the event that we don’t, we take another shot.

Back in the day of the 35mm we didn’t have this luxury. There was no way to review what we had taken and film was expensive and a hassle to change out so we didn’t take multiple shots of the same, posed moment. Thanks to this, I have a half of a lifetime’s worth of awkward, unedited, unattractive but very real images. Am I ashamed of that picture from the 7th grade homecoming dance where I look like an crazy dwarf with unkempt hair?  Yeah, a little. But I’m proud that that awkward phase of my life was captured on film.

I’m a little jealous of the kids of today. Every photo that their parents will keep stored on their external hard drives and on random in their digital picture frames around their homes, will be relatively flawless. Little Sally’s hair will be in place, the trash can in the background will be edited out, the color will be boosted to make the grass greener and the sky bluer and so on. These kids will spend their entire lives thinking they were perfect children as all of the evidence of their  grass stained onesies and the reflections off of their glasses will be eliminated as mom simply presses *delete*.

They Lied!

April 3, 2010

Day 6 of Unemployment

I went to an engagement party tonight for some friends from home. Half of my hometown seemed to be at this event. They say “The more things change, the more things stay the same” but I’m going to beg to differ. I think “They”  lied!

Everyone is older, some thinner, some hotter, some nicer, some (somehow) dumber, some broken up, some together, some back together…again- Things have changed! Everyone seems to get along better and seem to be over the petty things that divided everyone back in the day. What a breath of fresh air!

It’s encouraging really. I’m facing the reality that I may soon be moving home – seeing as I’m unemployed with no actual future plan as of yet. The social scene was what I was dreading the most. Turns out, lots of people still live here, contrary to popular belief. I can have fun here… who knew? It will be different but I might just enjoy it.

If nothing else it will be fun catching up with everyone. I found myself asking a million questions tonight – “Who is that?” “Who is she dating?” “Are they still on bad terms?” “What are you doing these days?” There is so much that I have missed while I’ve been off in my own little world…

I’m Asking for Help

April 1, 2010

Day 4 of Unemployment

Sometimes in life you meet people who seem as if they are placed in your path simply to lift you up.  Lately people have been coming out of the woodwork to offer me help in my job search and, in like manner, in my life’s journey. I am truly blessed and thankful for such wonderful friends, family and connections.

I received a call today from an old mentor. She had no idea about my current life situation. She actually called to ask a favor of me. How quickly that turned around (ha!). I have yet another wolf in my wolfpack out there sniffing out a new career. I sent her an e-mail with my resume and wrote the following:

“I have tried doing the job search thing on my own. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it without help or using my contacts. I did and that wasn’t the best experience. I learned that I am a people person, I network and make friends because I am naturally inclined to do so. I now have no shame in using the resources I have made available to myself over the years especially if it will make me happy in the long run. I have helped several friends search for jobs lately, I don’t know why I was ashamed to ask for help before but I’m over it now 🙂  We live and we learn…”

After I sent it, I realized it was something I needed to share with whoever might be following this blog as it is a little insight into how I ended up where I am.  Sharing this has made me even more ok with asking for what I want. I want your assistance, I want a great job, I want to be needed and important, I want to help people, I want to be a part of something larger than the people in the place where I work, I want to be as happy as I am when I am serving others, I want to be intrigued and engaged in the subject matter I’m dealing with, I want more.

Priceless

March 30, 2010

Day 2 of Unemployment

Cost of Groceries for one for a week – $43

Cost of movie from RedBox for the evening- $1 (though I will probably forget to return it so it will be more like $3)

Cost of a day spent at home applying to jobs – $0

Knowing what your pets do all day while no one is around to watch them- Priceless!

Apparently Ren and Stimpy (Gellar and Alburn) get a big kick out of staring outside. There isn’t anything out there… maybe some butterflies or something but no cars, no people, no animals… nothing right now. They just stare. It’s a little weird honestly.

I would let them outside but the dog digs holes and howls at our neighbors and the cat hasn’t ever been out. I don’t think he’s tough enough to hack it as a street cat. Plus, I watched this documentary on how domestic cats are creating an imbalance in the ecosystem by over predation. Basically, the world wasn’t meant to have this many cats but our love for the animal has led to an average of one per household.  And while they are domesticated, they are still hunters and kill lots of birds, rabbits, mice… This causes problems – you understand.

So the dog and the cat get to stay inside with me and stare out the window at nothing while I apply to jobs.

My First Day

March 30, 2010

Day 1 of Unemployment

Today is my first day of unemployment. It was pretty great! When I got up this morning I had a message in my inbox from the CEO of a company I had applied to a few months back. At the time the position I applied for had been filled before they ever looked at my resume. I received the world’s nicest rejection letter in which this CEO told me she was very impressed wiht my resume and would be keeping it on file. She said she would contact me immediately if there were any other openings and that she would be sending my information around to some of her contacts. Well, this morning a position opened up. Unfortunately it is only a part time job. While the job would be great, I wouldn’t have health insurance and would have to find another job that would fit in my schedule so that I would be making enough money to stay above the poverty line. This is not ideal but it was nice to find this lovely e-mail in my inbox on my first day of unemployment!

What did I do today? Well, I slept late, had lunch on a patio in the wonderful spring weather with a friend, took a mid-day nap with the sun in my face and my cat cuddled up next to me,  went to the grocery store… and applied to a job or two. The worst thing that happened today was that I broke a fingernail. If everyday of unemployment is this nice, I just may never work again (Don’t take me to seriously here. If you know me you will realize that I am not the type that sits around and does nothing for long. I predict I will be over this unemployment business VERY quickly.) The beautiful weather this time of year makes me feel like I’m on spring break (minus the three S’s- Sun, Sand & Sea).  If you ever have to be unemployed, opt for an out of work stint at the beginning of spring!

I work with a family of Refugees from Nepal/Bhutan. There are 15 members of the family and it’s growing. This week 4 more arrived.. here’s the skinny:

Grandma/Grandpa

Brother 1/Wife 1  – Baby on the way

Brother 2/Wife 2  –  2 kids

Brother 3/Wife 3  –  4 kids

Brother4

This week Wife 2’s Brother and his wife and 2 kids came to Nashville. Confused yet?

I was originally assigned to just Brother 3 and his wife and kids. However, there simply aren’t enough volunteers for each sub-unit of the family to have their own “mentor”  so I am working with all of them.

I’ve been helping this family since last July. I signed on to work with them for 3 months while they were getting settled in the US. I was to help them understand our culture and customs and introduce them to the many unfamiliar things they would find here.  The family had been living in a bamboo hut with dirt floors for the past 18 years in the refugee camp in Nepal. Imagine moving from there into an apartment complex with carpet, electricity, strange appliances and all kinds of new, interesting gadgets (the day I had to explain the microwave and how it magically makes a cup of water boil in seconds illustrates just one of the countless new technologies they have experienced since they arrived).

Now my commitment to the family has passed. I just spend time with them at this point because we are friends though they still need much assistance. They don’t have a vehicle which makes life next to impossible at times. Nashville has very ineffective public transportation leaving them few options for getting to work, going shopping, visiting friends in other parts of town…   I visit them on Sundays and we usually go to the grocery store. They live within walking distance of a Kroger but they like to go to the Indian market and the World Market which are a few miles away. By the time we return from our shopping trip my SUV is usually loaded down with several 40lb bags of rice, tons of vegetables (most of which I’ve never seen before), a few dozen mango juice boxes and a variety of other things.

Squid Pickle - Rose Petal Spread - White Carrots

In the past year I have learned so much from this family and their experiences. Their ability to persevere through the many uphill battles they have faced since they have arrived is inspiring. They have greatly impacted my life and helped me understand the struggles millions are facing as refugees in camps around the world. I wish I could share their story with everyone I see. I wish I could help others, other Americans, rethink their often negative opinions of immigrants.

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

~ Moulin Rouge

-1: The Last Day

March 27, 2010

Welp, that was it. I’m no longer an employee of that company. My life is now hanging in the balance. Where will I end up and what will I end up doing… we’ll have to wait and see.

My sweet co-workers/friends got me this balloon arrangement to celebrate my last day. There is a Whinnie the Pooh and a My Little Pony balloon in the arrangement and a large one that says congrats and when you hit it the song ‘Celebration’ plays. They told the balloon lady to put together something really embarrassing. Mission accomplished!  It was really nice of them though. I will miss those people – but I will see them again, I have no doubts. I can be pretty bad at keeping in touch but it will happen eventually.

Well kids, I have some bad news to share. I didn’t get the job in Birmingham. I’m bummed but not going to dwell on it. Everything happens for a reason right? I know I would have been fantastic at that job but that doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t be too. Ultimately, it’s my Alma Mater and I want what/who is best for them/us.  Congratulations to whoever it is who got the job. I’m sure he/she will do great things for the college!

Back in the day I spent many summers at camp. I was a camper as a child and later on I was a counselor. At the end of each night I would have my campers join me in a Pow-Wow. At this Pow-Wow each camper was asked to list the low point of their day (the pow) the high point of their day ( the wow).  If I were having a Pow-Wow today it would go down like this:

Pow: I didn’t get the job in Birmingham

Wow: I have unlimited possibilities right now and have the freedom to go explore them.

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”

– Maria, The Sound of Music