General Uncategorized

A New Year

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I got about half way through December and realized I hadn’t blogged yet, and decided to take the month off. But now, it’s a new year, and that brings with it all sorts of changes.

For starters, Eva and I  adopted three new cats yesterday. A sibling pair of black cats with white markings, and one brown/gray tabby male. All are about two years old, and have lived together since kittenhood. The names they came with are Diana (f)  and Dancer (m) for the sibling pair, and Classy for the male tabby. Diana, at least, is likely to undergo a name change, since we just had a cat named Diana. To date, Diana is the only one who is actively out and visiting with us, while Classy is hanging out under the couch. For the moment, we aren’t quite sure where Dancer is. (As I type, Diana has become Eva’s laptop).

No photos as of yet because I don’t want to freak them out (any more than they already are), but I assure you, there will be photos.

In far less momentous news, I’ve started the new year by working out each day. The holidays brought me a Wii Fit, and while I’m not fit yet, I’m working on it. As weird as it seems to have a video game leading me through Yoga or fitness training, it does seem to work pretty well for me. On the other hand, we’re only 4 days in.

Any other news will have to wait, because someone wants attention. And what’s the point of having cats if you don’t drop everything to attend to their every whim.

General Uncategorized

The Rhythm of the World

The world marches to its own beat, which those of us living life just sort of have to try to keep up with. Yesterday I announced I was going to give NaNoWriMo a try since it looked like I wasn’t going to be employed during the month of November. The world, therfore, in its inimitable way, today put two job possibilities in my path (by the way,  I am completely not complaining…I’m just bemused).

These job possibilities are not brand new…I’d been chasing them for the last week. But neither did they come out of any of the previous four months of job search I’ve been doing. It’s not as though work I’d done earlier was finally paying off, but rather the blooming of two new possibilities.

I’m not going to describe either possibility in detail, both because they are very potential at this point, and because I don’t want to jinx them, but they are two positions that probably best use my business skills of any I’ve looked at. They are both small business generalist positions: some marketing, some administration, some finance and some community outreach. In both cases, I believe I am the only candidate (in fact, in at least one case, the position would be built around my skill set).

My point is, however, that yesterday, when I announced I was going to do NaNoWriMo, I wondered whether that announcement was the surest way to produce a job. After all, as the saying goes, humans plan, God laughs. And while God isn’t laughing yet, things are beginning to line up in a way that would be both lovely and make it difficult to complete NaNoWriMo.

I am sure you all will  be watching the progress of this as closely as I (okay, I might be somewhat more interested in the results than you), so I will keep you posted. After all, the fate of a novel hangs in the balance.

General Uncategorized

New Project: NaNoWriMo

Up until now, I haven’t been taking on any longer term (like, say a month-long) projects, because I wanted to be ready to start a job at a moment’s notice. Therefore, I did not sign up for NaNoWriMo back in August, thinking that if I were at a new job by November, NaNoWriMo might not be a good thing to have on my plate. But now, I am announcing my participation.

Wait, what’s that? You want to know what NaNoWriMo is? Oh, just this little cult thing…

Well, not quite.

Actually, it is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. Every November, people dedicate themselves to producing 50,000 words of text, often fiction. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years, but haven’t felt like I had the time to do so, what with CubeSpace and all. So this year, with no CubeSpace, and no steady employment to interfere, I’m in.

Do I have a plot for my great work of fiction. Umm….I have a premise, isn’t that enough? Okay, I’ll grant I need to flesh out my plan a little. I might even give tidbits of progress and hints about where it’s going here and on Twitter. And if you’re really nice I’ll shut up and keep quiet about it.

Let’s just say that the plan is for a challenging, funny, theological novel. Not necessarily my own theology, but theology. Oh, and it will probably be written in the 1st person (though I have one plot in mind that might be partly written in the first person subjunctive).

So, as I set out on this writing adventure, any words of advice? Any tools I should know about? Any jeers from the bleachers? Bring it on, ’cause I’m a NaNoWriMoer.

General Rabbinic spirituality Uncategorized WorkPlace Spirituality

Wow, Turns Out I am Competent

As anyone who has been unemployed can tell you, the toughest part of unemployment is the hit your confidence takes. After hearing “I don’t think we have a use for someone with your skill-set” enough times, you begin to feel like you just aren’t useful. At least, I do.

This isn’t an intellectual belief, but rather an emotional reaction. Intellectually, I know I am outrageously competent. I have both extensive life experience, academic credentials and work experience that are hard to match. I know this, but when I hear enough people telling me their organization can’t use me, it begins to erode that intellectual confidence.

But, it turns out, I am competent. I spent about an hour on the phone doing what I do best: problem solving. Someone wanted some advice on contracts for visiting rabbis. I happen to have signed several such contracts myself, as well as cleaned up messes in congregations when such contracts didn’t work out the way they wanted. I’ve also signed lots of contracts in the business world, and dealt with lots of contractors of various kinds. All of which means, I have a lot to offer someone who is less familiar with contracting for rabbinic services.

Admittedly, I didn’t get paid for this advice. On the other hand, I got my name out there. And more importantly, I reminded myself that I am competent and my work is valuable. Now I just need to convince someone with money to hire me of this.

General Uncategorized

Disaster of a Job Interview

I went for a job interview today. I’d tell you what job I was applying for, but I never quite figured it out. I’d tell you who the company was, except that I’m not completely sure my impressions of the company are true, and I don’t want to falsely cast aspersions. Nonetheless, let me tell you a bit about this:

I responded to an posting on Craig’s List last week. The posting was pretty general, talked about looking for people who are team players, and want to be involved in an exciting Fortune 500 company. Pretty (extremely) vague. Yesterday (Monday), I received a call from a hiring manager. I asked what the position was. She asked what ad I’d responded to. I told her, and ,she said they were hiring for a number of positions, but didn’t give me more details. She asked me to come in for interview this morning at “11:05 AM.” She did tell me to bring a resume, a reference list, and to dress professionally, “because we are a Fortune 500 company.”

She did give me some company websites to look at. I looked at them, and discovered something that looked a lot more like a multilevel marketing scheme for life insurance than a company that was likely to be hiring real employees. I couldn’t quite tell where one company left off and another began. I certainly couldn’t tell which of the three companies which were thoroughly enmeshed would be hiring me, or whether any but the holding company would qualify as Fortune 500, but I have my doubts.

This morning, I showed up for an interview, and was asked to fill out a form, asking some of the usual job application questions, including for references. By this point, my instincts were all pushing me away from this company. I decided I wasn’t comfortable giving my references to this company until I knew more about them or the job. After all, I have very little invested, at this point, in the potential employer’s opinion of me, and a great deal invested in the opinion of those who serve as references. At the very least, I wanted to know what position I was applying for.

There were maybe 5 of us in the small waiting area, dressed professionally for interviews. The hiring manager came out, and called one of us in, and 5 minutes later the interviewee returned. Shortly thereafter, it was my turn.

We came into the room, and began talking. But her first questions were all ones she’d asked yesterday: “how long have you been looking for work?” and “what kind of work are you looking for?” Verbatim, she’d asked those jobs over the phone. She also asked for my references.

I explained I wasn’t comfortable giving my references until I knew a bit more about the job and the company. The interview went downhill from there. Apparently, that just isn’t their process. They talk to references first, call back some people for a group orientation, and then tell you about what job opportunities exist. Which to me, sounded a little bit too much like the process for being sold a timeshare. When I asked once again what the range of jobs they were hiring for, I was invited to go home, do more research on the company, and contact her again if I were interested in proceeding. Total elapsed time since I entered the room: 4 minutes.

I still don’t know what was going on. My best guess is that I did just fine by being as defensive as I was in the interview process, and that the company was not one I could have worked for (and that the job I would have been offered was as a life insurance salesman). What I”m taking away from this is that I need to trust my instincts. This one felt wrong from the beginning: too vague, and asking me for too much information without offering enough in return. On the other hand, I’ve now completed a first job interview, and feel pretty confident that I’d rather work as a barista before I sell life insurance.