Monday, July 19, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of kindness

Hazy. Hot. Humid. Chance of thunderstorms. Classic July weather forecast said Fox 5 Weatherman Mike Woods.  I laced up my sneakers, grabbed my water and Ipod and headed out. I drive each day to a local park, walk three miles outside of the park and finish up with two miles in the park. It usually goes well, until today.

I was about two miles from the park - and my car - when suddenly the sky turned black and I could hear the distant rumbles of thunder. I had no choice but to keep going, when the lightening lit up the sky. Okay, now I was getting a bit scared. I headed towards a main road - away from trees - and picked up my pace. Then the rains came.  Torrential. Drenching. If I was driving, the type of rain where your wipers seemed useless. I tried to run - it wasn't pretty - but I knew I couldn't run the whole way back.

I tried to think of someone who could come and get me, but I wouldn't be able to see my phone contacts in the downpour. I was totally soaked - shoes, shorts, hat....I kept squishing along the road, desperately looking at the cars flying by me, splashing even more water on me, to see if I could recognize anyone who could drive me back to my car. No luck. Then I started to wonder...would I stop for a complete stranger - a soaking wet stranger - and offer them a lift. Granted I look like what I am - a middle-aged woman, trying to get her daily exercise - not exactly on any one's terror watch list. As I distracted myself with these thoughts, a car suddenly stopped, the window rolled down, and a woman said "hey, do you need a ride somewhere?"

I quickly jumped in her car and apologized for being so wet! She said "don't worry - where can I take you?"  I couldn't stop thanking her and babbled on and on - she kept smiling and said "no problem". She took me to my car and drove off to work.

I'm not sure how you can really thank a stranger who took a chance and did the right thing. I just hope that if I am driving down the street in a rainstorm and see a bedraggled looking woman I won't hesitate to help. Now, if it was a man...not so sure. I am paranoid enough to think the worst...don't want to be a headline on the The New York Post ( mentioned on Page that would be different!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

I did not choose unemployment

My usual Sunday routine is to pour myself a mug of Irish tea, flip on the CBS Sunday Morning show and file for unemployment on my MAC. However, tomorrow will be different. The bank is empty. I will be one of the 3.2 million people hoping that the Senate does pass the extension bill on Tuesday, now that we have the 60th vote from the new interim West VA Senator, Carte Goodwin.  If for some reason, I don't get my extension - then what? What can I do to find a job that is any different from what I have been doing these past 18 months?

I have networked, updated my resume, crafted individual cover letters, attended job fairs, worked with the counselor from the New York State Unemployment office and have tried to be optimistic that there is something out there for me. It is embarrassing and and yes, sometimes I even feel ashamed that  I haven't found anything yet. I keep coming back to the line from the movie "The Wrestler" when Randy 'The Ram' Robinson says to his daughter "And now, I'm an old broken down piece of meat... and I'm alone."

Lucky for me, I'm not alone. I stand with my fellow unemployed Americans and try to keep my head up, ignore the slings from certain groups that we all could have a job if we really wanted to. 
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

60 votes...please do not forget us

It has been a few months since I have written in my blog. I just reread what I have posted in the past and was pleasantly surprised by them. I think I captured a lot of what I was feeling at the moment...and isn't that the point?

What's on my mind today? The biggest concern I have now is the fact that my unemployment is out - unless the US Senate can reach the 60 votes needed to pass the extensions. I have been all over the Internet trying to find out how to make my voice heard - and was cheered on by the fact that there are a lot of people out there giving out very useful information and links to email our senators to urge them to vote it in.      Unemployed Advocate

The stories are heartbreaking. Too many people are now living in their cars, moving in with family members, or are becoming homeless. You can't find a job when you don't have an address, access to a shower, or money for gas or public transportation to interview for a job. 
It's even harder for the terminally unemployed...people who have been out more then nine months. There are actually companies that are now including in their job postings not to apply if you are unemployed! Looking for a job? Unemployed don't need to apply (

I am married, my husband is still working, we have health care, so I count myself as one of the lucky ones. He is under tremendous pressure as the sole breadwinner, with one adult daughter at home (can't afford to move out - even working two jobs - and she has a college degree) and one son still in college. He goes to work every day, dreading the workday that never really ends - thanks to his blackberry.

Jobless need Congress' help ( Let's stop the finger pointing and give all the Americans who want to go back to work a chance - but please continue to help us out along the way. Together we can try to dig ourselves out of this crisis - or face the real possibility of two-three million people scrambling to find food and shelter.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is this it?

After a few spectacular days of spring weather, the rain and clouds have settled in again and with them a sense of gloom about where my life is going. Yesterday I couldn't summon up the energy to do much of anything - I actually "took" a mental health day off - even though I am unemployed. I sat on the couch, watched daytime TV, finished the Sunday papers and yes, I even ate some chocolate to add to the whole "woe is me - chocolate will help kind of mood".

Today is a bit better. Followed my usual routine - channel surf the morning news shows for a bit, throw in some laundry and work out for an hour. I cleaned out my dresser drawers and then tried to be productive - in the job sense. Nothing was new on the boards, joined yet another job site, and now I am writing down my thoughts yet again.

The feeling of "Is this it" - is becoming more acute the longer I am out of work. I actually had quite a few jobs I really enjoyed - they were financially and professionally rewarding and led to many great friendships. Now I am worried that I am past my prime and that I can only look back and not forward.

Usually I am a very optimistic person but with unemployment running out and no solid leads coming in, "Is this it" is looming  - like the dark clouds that fill the sky today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beagán agus a rá go maith. Be (e as in echo) gawn og us uh rah go (as in going) mah. Say little but say it well.

What the heck? My title for today's blog is in Gaelic - with the pronunciation and English translation provided. Tomorrow is, after all, St. Patrick's Day, and I am getting in the spirit.

I love the above quote but I am afraid I don't practice it too well. When I tell a story, I feel compelled to give you lots of background information. I think this adds to the story - in minutes as well as in flavor. It's ironic because I used to fault my beloved mom for getting so off track when she would tell a story - I am now doing the same thing.

Mothers and daughters. Mothers and sons. As my children have grown and become adults, it has been interesting to see the different paths they have taken - although looking back on them as children, where they are today and how they were as children can sometimes be a straight line.

My children were raised as Catholics and attended Catholic school up to High School. As the Sunday grumblings grew about attending Mass, I told them that I wanted them to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and then they could choose what spiritual path they would like to be on.  Confirmation literally confirms them as full members of the church - but if they chose not to be a member anymore, I would not pressure them. I have been true to my word - for the most part. I do ask them to come on the holidays but if they choose not to, I let it go.

This past weekend, my son was home from college on spring break and there was a Memorial Mass at our parish for a wonderful nun who had taught at my kids school. I asked him to come - out of respect for her and to be part of the church family once again, if only temporarily.  He agreed to come and to my surprise, he seemed to actually be getting something out of all the rituals and prayers that were being offered.

I held my tongue and did not make a big deal out of his attendance. As he showed me with his attendance, Say little but say it well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I did it!!

You know when you get an idea and think "this will be the greatest - and most lucrative - invention since liquid paper!" Well I had such a thought last spring I was sitting in my back yard and sipping a nice, chilled chardonnay when all these flies kept landing in my drink. I kept scooping them out of my glass with my nail but that was getting a bit icky. I could always have drank quicker - not a problem - but then I realized why don't I invent a glass that would shield the bugs from getting in?

After exhausting research and much testing of the rudimentary prototype on friends and family - I have finally submitted my design to a wonderful, inventive website called If my invention gets chosen by the members of the "quirky community" then it is put out on the site for people to vote, suggest changes and - of course- slam it down if they feel it isn't worth an investment.

I did look into bringing it to the market by myself - but I don't have the capital or the connections to realistically get it out there.

Curious to see it? Do you have the next great idea waiting to come to the market? Check out the site - it's fun and maybe you will have the next Sham-wow!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My wierd connections to local weather reporters...

I have been selling items on to make a little extra cash while I have been unemployed. Last summer, I listed a brand new hammock that we received as a gift and weren't going to use. All weekend long I was emailing back and forth with someone named "Storm". I remember thinking it was an unusual name but was just happy to have found a buyer.  We agreed on a price and he arrived on Sunday afternoon to pick it up. At the same moment that "Storm" arrived and walked into my garage, my neighbors arrived, bearing six-packs of beer, for our weekly bocce game. I looked at Storm and realized, Oh my God! It's Storm Field, a local weatherman from Channel 2. He smiled and shook my hand and said - "Hi Marian, I'm Storm".

My neighbors placed the beer in our trusty avocado fridge - circa 1960 - coldest beer and wine in town - and went to set up the game, not realizing we had a celebrity in our midst. He turned out to be a really nice guy - and I knew he realized I knew who he was but that wasn't important. As he loaded the hammock into his pick-up, we spoke about more mundane things - kids, etc - and he volunteered that he grew up with a bocce court in his neighbor's yard. I invited him to stay for the game, but he passed and drove off with a special surprise for his wife.

Last night I was watching the As usual, Janice Huff was reporting on the weather. She is always well dressed but last night she had on a particularly pretty necklace. She seems like a member of the family because I watch her every night, so I decided to email her and ask her where she bought the necklace. My husband and kids thought I was crazy and my husband even muttered "you really do have too much time on your hands, time to get a job!". I composed a short email and sent it off. To my surprise, 10 minutes later!,  she sent me an email, told me where she bought it - and thanked me for my interest. I did check the site - alas - it is no longer available - but sent her another email thanking her for her quick response.

Channel 2 - check. Channel 4 - check. Channel 7 - Bill Evans - watch out!