Well, kiddies, I just lost my job. This post isn’t going to a bitchfest. No whining. No cussing. No pointing the finger. This is just a heartfelt expression of my disappointment in the current state of my daytime career life.
Here’s what you know: I’m a chick with a blog. Now, here’s the stuff you may not know …
I went to school for politics, generally speaking. Loved it. Got a BS in it. Took a gap year off and lived in London working as a bartender and, later, as a peon in the fashion industry. I came back to the US and got an MA in sociology with an emphasis in comparative politics. I graduated and returned to Europe. In the Netherlands, I researched and published on immigration, learned Dutch fluently and got a kickass job working as an economic policy analyst intern at the American Embassy in The Hague. I eventually came back to the US and worked in international education. For five years, I created and promoted educational programs that sent Americans to Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and Europe. In short, I had a life. A good life.
In Chicago, I found myself living in a beautiful 2-bedroom apartment with a 15-foot garden leading up to the front door. I managed a humanities, arts & sciences program at a top tier university. I presented at conferences, took a group to meet Sir Ridley Scott to learn about the craft of filmmaking, delivered high school students to Greece to learn about the ancient world, and brought international journalists to Chicago to speak about freedom of the press. Chicagoan Roger Ebert was an instructor for one of the film courses in my portfolio. My coworkers, staff and managers were brilliant, interesting, driven and truly inspiring people. I had the best job in the world.
But, I worked in academia and I eventually “topped out.” If I wanted to grow any further in that field, I needed a Ph.D. I looked around and noticed that others with terminal degrees lived their life first. They’d taught, run for public office, started families, traveled the world and followed their passions. I was the youngest staff member at the managerial level by many many years; I hadn’t “lived” my life fully yet. “What,” I asked myself, “would make you happy? If you could live out your dreams, what would you do?”
I moved to New York to pursue a more creative life in a bigger city. And, I started writing a book.
My NYC start was bumpy and difficult. In my first 24 months, I had 2 different full time jobs, 2 part time gigs, and 3 different apartments. I hadn’t had this much change and instability in such a short time. Ever. So, I started temping until I could figure out what was next. I worked at a newsweekly magazine. I liked them. They liked me. They hired me. I was 30-something, double degreed and multilingual. I was an assistant. Child workers in Guatemala had more prestige and made more money than I did. But, who cared? The job provided financial stability and I left the office by 5:30pm. At the time, I had loads of free time to pursue my passions.
Eventually, Nerve magazine hired me to write a freelance dating blog column for their site. Additionally, my personal site, FUNKYBROWNCHICK.com, appeared at New York magazine, Vibe, EbonyJet, Baltimore Sun and elsewhere. It won awards. I posted a video on YouTube that garnered more than 36,000 hits. I decided it was time to really “go for it” with my creative self. I applied for a full-time editorial job on the dot com staff of magazine. I liked them. They liked me. They hired me and paid me well. I was finally on the masthead of a national magazine. But, I made cold calls and more cold calls. My editorial job started to feel like a marketing job. By six months in, I’d written and edited 0 straight-up articles, and it was to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
So, I quit. I didn’t have anything else lined up. Maybe I should have stuck it out. Maybe I’m impatient and difficult. At the same time, I’d spent 2 ½ years trying to make the artsy stuff happen; I wasn’t willing to waste another six months or a year negatively impacting my creative life – the very thing I’d moved to NYC to pursue in the first place. No worries. I still liked the company. They still liked me. But the match wasn’t meant to be. So, we stopped dating each other professionally.
Luckily, a recruiter at a temp agency got me a gig with an amazing, powerhouse broadcast company. It wasn’t a writing job and I’d be underemployed, but at least I’d have my evenings free again. I was grateful. So, if I was going to return to temp life, I was gonna be the hardest working temp there ever was … by day, of course. By night, I happily had fun working on my personal online, print and video stuff.
Then, came SXSW. I gave a presentation called “Adult Conversations: Sex, Intimacy and Online Relationships.” In short, I had a BLAST. Eureka! I’d finally found my people. I met filmmakers, musicians, blogger, techies, vloggers and other amazing folks who were really going for things that interested them. I was in heaven. When I returned to earth in New York, it seemed life couldn’t get any better. E! Entertainment called me. They invited me to a casting call for one of their shows. Publishing house editors came sniffing around to inquire about my memoir in progress. It was all so unbelievable. I was building a creative life that I enjoyed, and I was just so happy others supported it too! None of this stuff paid the rent or bills, but I didn’t mind. I had a day job that generated a base income. I also had me time to figure out what my next, long term steps would be. Then, I got the call.
“Hi, this is ,” the recruiter at my temp agency said into my voicemail at 9:48am on Thursday morning. “Can you call me as soon as you get this? I spoke with _. They love you, but I’d like to discuss the timeframe with you.” Oh, fuck! When I returned the call, the recruiter confirmed what my gut already feared. My contract was ending. In roughly fourteen days, that little hill of money that allowed me to pay my rent, buy groceries, wash my clothes and go out with my friends would stop. I knew it wasn’t permanent, but I had no clue when it would stop. I was just glad it didn’t end immediately!
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my first thought was that I’d been dooced. Previously, I’d kept the name of my daytime employer secret; yet, I’d recently begun revealing it in private conversations with friends, acquaintances, and random people I met at networking events. Had my employer read my blog? Is that why my services were suddenly no longer needed? I didn’t know, and I didn’t ask. I know that I was hired to fill a gap. With new hires, the gap closed. So, that’s the most likely reason why the temp gig ended. Hence, the word “temp” in temp gig. Besides, my blog is on my resume and employers know about it. If anything, it has opened more doors than it’s closed.
Happy anniversary to me, I guess. In April 2005 — exactly three years ago this month — I moved to New York with big dreams of living more creatively. My primary money line ends in two weeks. Funny thing happened on the road to a creative job. I walked away from an embassy gig and ended up in the unemployment line. Quick. Remind me. How the fuck did I get here? I thought about taking a short hiatus from blogging. I need some time to myself. Man, I hope all of this is happening for good reason. I’m just not sure what that “reason” is yet. I’m thankful that the temp recruiter will probably be able to line up another gig when the current one ends. If not, I might make this blog even more interactive by issuing a plea that you send me words of wisdom, career advice books, tips about job openings, love, prayers, a sexy Euroboy dipped in chocolate, money, whatever. Hell, if two heads are better than one, certainly the brilliant and loyal readers at Nerve and the FBC can help solve this dilemma if needed.
I’ll keep you posted.