Employable Employability!

I’m noticing a trend. Normally I like to keep it light. Positive. But when my shell cracks and I really put it out there, I tend to eat crow shortly after. Like my infamous post on Facebook that Graham was JUST. NEVER. GOING TO BE BORN. (2 weeks early… ::huge side-eye to my impatient pregnant self::)

Only to go into labor literally an hour later.

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So of course I write this post last Friday. And in the following Monday’s post, I wrote:

… I feel more positive this week. And I feel in my bones that this job hunt is drawing to a close.

Wouldn’t you know it? I was right!

Tuesday afternoon, I was folding laundry in my bedroom while Graham had a snack downstairs. I had been feeling like it was reaching time to hear back about a job interview I’d had a few weeks back. They had told me at the time that it would be a few weeks before I heard.

And you know that old adage about envelopes when you’re applying for colleges? About how acceptances come in big, fat envelopes and how rejections come in little ones? Well, the job hunt equivalent is this:

Offers come in phonecalls. Rejections come via email. 

Knowing it had been a few weeks since this particular company’s interview, I was compulsively refreshing email and making sure my ringer was on. While putting a stack of towels in my bathroom, I heard the phone ring. The caller wasn’t in my address book and it was a local number.

Which means I was like…

When I picked up and the HR person immediately offered me the job, my face was like…

But in my head I was all:

But to the HR person, I was like:

I went downstairs and told Graham. His reaction when I told him:

Someone doesn’t want to give up our after-school hangouts.

But then when I called Andy, he and his coworkers were like:

And ensuing texts and phonecalls with friends and family are basically…

And the rest is history. I start March 7th, which gives me just over a week to get everyone and everything ready for a dual-working household again and properly work up some first-day nerves. Better get busy!

Sympathy, Empathy and The Road Less Traveled

Apologies in advance for this not-much-of-an-update update. It has been quite the month!

Job hunting is not my favorite thing to do. It has been during this process that I realized – although this sounds sort of obnoxious – I’ve never really had to look for a job before. I mean, I’ve applied for jobs, but it was always for people who were looking for exactly my skill set and experience. They were looking for me. It’s not hard to find a job when someone is looking for you specifically.

Food science is a niche-y field, and I work in a somehow-even-tinier niche within that field. Suffice it to say: there aren’t many jobs to be had. On the other hand: there aren’t many people who do what I do either. This isn’t a terrible situation to be in, really, but it does mean that you need to be willing to move to wherever in the country has an opening.

So there’s that. We were super choosy about where we took this current job because it fit a criss-crossing criteria of being near family while not being in such a big city that we lose half our non-working hours merely getting from place to place. But we didn’t want to be in a little city either.

Basically we’re fussy prima donna millennials that want the world on a platter and don’t want to make sacrifices. K?

Anyhow, I’ve been riding the job hunt roller coaster – feeling alternately completely depressed about myself and just-OK about myself. I have appreciated the kind words of ‘this is meant to be’ and things about doors and windows closing/opening and “you’re awesome, you’ll find something”s, but pouring your heart out in cover letter and emails to get absolutely no response time and time again will seriously mess with your head. Also to go in for a job – as I am – with a colleague and have it be only her who gets all the callbacks? You can really only take so much of it.

As with most crappy life situations, it’s easy to spot who has been in this position before, because they don’t slather on sunshine and hope and positivity. They sit next to you and tell you how much it sucks, but that you do eventually come out the other side and then ask you out to lunch so you can give your brain a rest from all the mind games and doom. And I should say: I really do dislike all the “Things you should/not say to a person going through _____” articles that get reposted on Facebook, because I believe that people are earnestly doing their best and that some manner of reaching out is better than none at all because it means that they’re trying. That said – when you’re down, the line between ‘sympathy’ and ’empathy’ is super obvious. Sympathy does have an ‘up here-ness’ to it and empathy has a ‘down here’ quality about it. It feels almost identical to the giver and worlds apart to the receiver.

It’s been a month and three days since I had my appointment with HR. I have rewritten my resume at least a dozen times, applied for positions and flexed my network. Things are starting to come back, and I’ve got three paths that are starting to come into view. I won’t go into specifics here, but these three new jobs are very different.

Job #1 is basically exactly the same job I’m doing now at a really great family-owned company that people love working for and who has been super nice to me, but would require us to move. Probably a little less pay but in the ballpark of what I’m making now.

Job #2 is a stereotypical huge career opportunity, with several people reporting to me and a lovely title but also requires up to 50% travel and likely short term as I’d either have to move or leave the position in a couple of years. I have a sponsor/mentor who has been pulling all kinds of crazy strings to get me a chance at this one.

Job #3 is a management job at a small company owned by smart people. Their product is renowned, and their industry growing like crazy. The pay will be less and the commute would be long (like 45 minutes each way). It’s a production job, but it’s still in the food industry and has to do with sensory. My first interview was with the president of the company. They bring dogs to the office. (Don’t tell Hugo, because nope.) This job would be my exodus from corporate. This excites me more than I can say, but I also wonder if it’s not just because I’ve been burned so recently and in a few years would wish to have it back.

So that’s me. That’s life this past month. In another month, I should have a decent idea what my next job will be. Stay tuned!

 

Nervous Energy

Well, it’s been all about keeping busy in a climate of we-know-something-but-can-tell-you-nothing-but-it-could-have-everything-to-do-with-your-job. I’m a girl who likes to know things, so I’m going a little crazy.

Andy and I have created several Plans B, if you will, but none of them are turnkey and we just don’t love any of our options in the event that I am let go. Sigh.

So we’re just trying to fill our dance cards for evenings and weekends. This weekend, we visited the National Mustard Day festival in Middleton. They are serious about their mustard, man. It was a gorgeous day. Folks around here were complaining about how hot it was that day, but we’ve lived in Texas – we know better. 😉

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Graham tried the climbing wall.

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Just… no comment. Graham was so excited to see the Wienermobile, and it just makes me sad right now. Things are just not how they should be, and it all feels pretty unfair. But I, like any mother would, pushed it down and mugged for the camera.

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He makes a pretty cute hot dog.

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Reid and Andy searched for food. Free hot dogs! Free mustard! (Ketchup? $10) See what I mean? They are serious!

Don’t worry, Jim Gaffigan. They’re on it.

Otherwise, this weekend we did our darndest to keep the kids busy. Graham lost TV privileges this weekend, so we had to get creative.

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One roll of painter’s tape = highway network for matchbox cars!

I’ve also been systematically decluttering our house. I chose to start with the unfinished basement (?!), so it’s plugging along slowly. This weekend I made it to – dun dun DUNNNN! – the baby stuff.

I’ll be frank. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to be a family of 4. Logic is sort of in the vein of: know what you can handle. We’re so wishy-washy though, we refuse to completely shut the door on the possibility. So fine. We’re operating under the assumption that we will not be having any more kids and decluttering the stuff accordingly. The only things we’re keeping are things that: (a) are akin to keepsakes for the boys, super special jammies and nice outfits, handmade things, etc or (b) don’t take up huge swaths of space and would be expensive or a complete pain in the rear to replace.

Case in point – I’m keeping the breastpump, but allllllllll the nursing supplies, covers, storage necessities are gone. Even bottles. The carseats will go after they grow out of them. Not sure about the crib yet, but we’re thumbing our nose at old wives’ tales and leaning toward giving it the heave-ho.

Anyway, because I know this is all so fascinating… there is something cathartic and empowering to decluttering. I’m sort of done storing stuff we are only keeping around ‘just in case’.  I’m selling a few marketable things on a Facebook community. I’m passing on treasured things to friends. And I’m loading up a carful each weekend to take to goodwill.

Mostly though, it just keeps me busy. I’ve got a ton of nervous energy, so I’m channeling it the best I know how.

Better than doing nothing while we wait.

Too Much Noise

I’ve heard from a few people lately, curious why I haven’t been posting. On here, on Facebook, on the family photo stream.

I don’t have an answer, except to say that I recognize that I’m withdrawing. Almost like I’m protecting myself. From what, I can’t quite articulate, except to say that there is too much input for my head right now. More incoming information than I can fully process.

  • Family vacations
  • New babies
  • Celebrity news
  • International terrors

And there are so, so, so many opinions on everything: victories/defeats of social movements, how we should be parenting our kids – or not, decluttering, redecorating, saving, spending, the good old days.

If that’s not enough, everyone – including myself – has apps on their phones and devices that allow them to not only weigh in on today’s happenings but also experience the nostalgia of what transpired on this particular day 1, 2, 3 or even 5 years ago.

I have so much noise going on in my life right now without ever opening an app, turning on the TV or flipping on the radio, that I’ve found myself almost repelled by the thought of introducing more.

Michael Ginsberg, Mad Men. His nipples are unforgettable.

Headphones

*~*~*~

This merger that closed with my company a few weeks ago? It’s huge. Like… we all said it would mean big things, and I think we all underestimated what that really meant. I’m preparing myself for the possibility that I may not have a job here in a few weeks. Or… I might. I might still be reporting in through R&D… or I could be a part of the marketing function. My job could still be in Madison… or I might report in through a central office in the Chicago area. These are all very real possibilities that swirl in the air.

What work looks like post-merger is like a huge puzzle, and they’re laying down one piece at a time through a series of emails. A lot of times, just like a puzzle, the announcements are filling in details for big pieces we already knew existed. But every so often, new pieces are laid down that reveal a new element that you had no idea was going to be a part of the picture.

That’s all I really feel comfortable saying.

*~*~*~

Meanwhile, in light of all of this, I’ve been quieting my head by focusing on family and enjoying our perfect Wisconsin summer.

Sunset

Butterfly

Flowers

Graham picked me some flowers at school.

Papercrafting

I’ve been having so much fun with my new hobby. Paper had better run and hide, because nothing is safe!!

Popsicles

Our evenings are often spent playing out back. The kids have been having a blast with the neighbor kids. We and the two houses next to us all have kids around the same age. The kids have been spending a lot of time running around in a giant pack between the three backyards. Lesson learned, if I want to offer the kids a popsicle, I’d better have at least six to hand out.

Veggies

We joined a CSA this summer. You may have never heard of one, but they are a part of mainstream vocabulary around here. What it means for us is that we bring home a big box of fresh vegetables every week and have to figure out how to cook, eat or preserve them before we pick up next week’s box. It’s a lot of veggies, and we have learned how to cook with bok choy, turnips, kohlrabi, fennel, and many other new things. I have had so much fun (and have eaten so much salad) with this challenge. And the kids have cemented their love and hate for many new things. :)

Spelunking

Trains

Rainbow

Sunflowers

If you don’t hear from me right now, don’t worry. It probably just means I’m playing trains in the basement or pulling weeds in the garden… watching kids play or sitting with Andy in the cool breeze watching the sun set over the fields.

And my phone’s back in the house somewhere. If you call it to catch up, I promise I’ll answer.

Making it Work

There are moments when I realize that my kids are living the lives of kids in a dual-working-parent household, and their willingness to go with the flow makes me so utterly grateful.

Camping and other weekend trips are fun, but reality soon sets back in. Since weekends and evenings are the only free time Andy and I have, those mundane daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc. all get pushed to the narrow space we have after work, mealtime and bedtime for the kids.

Last night, I tried something a little different and loaded Graham into the car right after dinner (a dinner comprised of frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwiches, no less) to do our grocery shopping (to avoid future frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwich nights). In order to abbreviate the time it would take to corral a 4-year-old through the grocery store, I told Graham he’d have to sit in the cart for the first half of the shopping trip. If, however, he chose to stay in the cart the whole time, I’d let him have a treat at the end.

Hashtag BRIBERY

Pushing through the store, Graham and I chatted about games he plays at recess, discussed sugar content in cereals, and thought up funny [read: gross] new names for my recipes. We were at our last stop in the store, picking out yogurt flavors and whining over the removal of aspartame in Yoplait Light (okay, that was just me), that I looked at my tall, gangly preschooler in the baby seat of the cart and became overwhelmed with emotion.

I used to wonder how Andy and I would make it work – having kids while we both work outside the home. I realize now that it’s the kids that make it possible. Sounds like a Catch-22, I get it. It just struck me last night that it’s not just Andy and I doing our parts to make a happy home, the boys pitch in to make that possible too. I wasn’t able to sit down for a minute between dishes and the boys’ bathtimes, I was pushing a cart around the grocery store. But, likewise, Graham wasn’t watching his nightly episode of Curious George after dinner either. Instead, we were making jokes and catching up on the day together.

That trip was both a sacrifice of routine and a gift of time together.

I gave Graham a big sappy hug, right there in the middle of the cultured dairy section, and thanked him for being such a great little boy and making his mommy so happy.