From Zero to Sixty in Six Weeks

Remember when I had no job? Now I have two! Seriously.

I started working for this guy that flips houses. He thinks I’m great. Then, another guy who flips houses on a much larger scale hired him–and me.

Right now I am very frustrated because I am trying to handle all of his accounts and the passwords and user IDs he has given me do not work. So I am accomplishing zilch at the moment.

My boss, Jim, is a little ADD. And I am a little Asperger-y. He wants me to handle all the non-physical aspects of the company. If I had access to the accounts, things could get accomplished, but no. My autistic-ish tendencies make me want to rock back and forth in my chair until something changes. So I’m trying to be Zen and meditate while awaiting someone who can actually help me to call or show up.

I sooooooo want to do a good job.

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Younger Me Still Exists!

A few days ago, I was at the Biggby’s coffee house where Barry and I always went on his meeting days. I miss him so much and the people there know me and knew him.

Anyhoo…I was staring out the window into the sky, watching the clouds go by and had this sudden feeling of recognition: it was the same feeling I always had staring at the sky while lying on my back behind the high school growing up. I have always loved being alone. But I hadn’t had that feeling in over thirty years.

I thought that part of me had died after 29 years of marriage. Has it been hibernating for three decades? Where has it been?

I feel like I am resuming my single life, which I had never developed in my youth.

And I have a job! I am working for a guy that flips houses, Jim. He’s a really good guy, but a tad ADD. He is unorganized and that’s where I come in. So far, I am simply organizing his receipts, but I have learned how to run payroll. He trusts me with everything, which is huge. He just started his business. My work has started small, but I realize that this job will probably take over my life in the next year.

Long-term agenda: get some awesome experience so I can leave Michigan and work anywhere. I am contemplating Columbus, OH, because I have family there.

Short-term agenda: contact my Indian friend in NC and schedule a long weekend with her before the job takes over my life. I haven’t gone to see her in years. She came to visit me in February 2017. I could not go to her because I could not leave Barry. I have gone nowhere for years. Literally and figuratively. I can travel now that Barry is gone. My first trip was this past February to visit my parents in FL. Now I can have my own life.

Am I ready?

I have been helping this house-flipping guy. I was referred to him by a friend. Thus far, I have been organizing his receipts (and putting them in an Excel spreadsheet) and helping him efficiently receive his Menard’s rebates. Menard’s is a home-improvement chain headquartered in Wisconsin. He just started his company.

The other day, he was online doing a bid for some job. He emailed someone and referred to me as his “administrator”. Holy crap. This is a new company. This is a mega-opportunity. I cannot turn it down. But I feel a little in over my head. I have been intentionally applying only for part-time positions and have now signed up for a job that might threaten to consume my life.

I feel like Joey on “Friends” when he got the lead in a movie in Vegas. He’s sitting in the coffee shop and says, “This is my big break. It’s what I’ve waited for my whole life. Why haven’t I been preparing?!” I need to clear up my apartment to make room for a real-life office. Just for starters.

I have realized that we are all preparing for something. If you want Mr. Right, you must make yourself desirable to him. You have to be Mrs. Right. Centuries ago, women went to actual “finishing schools” to learn house-wifery. The concept is ridiculously antiquated today, but the principle still and always applies. Same thing with employment. You may be looking for the perfect organization, but they are looking for the perfect employee. The question is, “What do you bring to the table?”

The next phase of my life is really starting. I have a lot to do.

Heard Myself

My life is going in a good direction slowly.

I am now working a house-flipper. He’s very interesting. He just started his company about two months ago. He has no system, so I am helping him the way I helped the Chinese lady, entering his receipts onto an Excel spreadsheet and keeping track of them. I can do a lot for him.

My normal job search has not gone well. But I know it is not just me. I apply for a job I see posted online. I interview for it. I don’t get it. And I keep seeing the same job posted over and over. I am not what they want, but clearly neither is anyone else because the position is going unfilled.  Whatever the local employers are looking for is simply not in the labor pool. Everyone keeps telling me that the problem is not me. I believe them now.

The issue is one of skill range versus wage range. The skill requirements for these jobs range wildly, from burger-flipping to high-end administrative skills (three years experience of data entry, two years of customer service, and must be familiar with databases). However, the pay range is minuscule, from $10/hr to about $14/hr. Reality check #1: absolutely nobody with the skills being demanded for some of these jobs is going to apply for them at $10/hr, unless they just got out of rehab or prison. Reality check #2: nobody in their right mind is going to go up to their eyeballs in student loan debt for a raise of $1 or $2/hr. Employers get what they pay for. A $10/hr employee might need time off to see their parole officer or some leeway if the buses are running late because $10/hour is insufficient pay to support yourself and own a car.

Long story short: employers in Michigan are driving away everybody with an education and real skills with their low wages and zero opportunity for advancement.

About six years ago, my friend who now lives in Maryland graduated law school and was looking for a job. I kept telling her, “You have an amazing and unique skill set. I do believe there is a fabulous job out there for you–but you will likely have to move to another state.”

A week or two ago, she repeated it back to me practically verbatim. Suddenly I understood. It sank in.

So I have expanded my job search area to include Grand Rapids to the west, Jackson to the South, Brighton to the east, and Dewitt/St Johns to the north. For the time being while I live in Michigan.

But my long-term plans are elsewhere. I am looking at other job markets: Columbia, Missouri, Charleston, West Virginia, and even Columbus, Ohio. Places with reasonable rental costs and abundant jobs all at the same time. But it would be hilarious to go to Columbus, home of the nemesis of both U of M and MSU: the Buckeyes.

In the mean time, I am helping the house-flipper by getting him organized, doing data entry, and doing research for him.

My future is bright. Michigan’s, not so much.

A Good Sign?

I have been dealing with strong feelings. There is the “OMG! Why doesn’t anyone want me?!” panic, with occasional bouts of optimism.

Why is this a possible good sign? Because it takes a certain amount of energy to panic. Having dealt with depression since I was about 10, I know that true depression precludes panic or even giving a rat’s ass about anything. Serious depression means simply not caring about what is going on because there is a zero percent chance that any possible event would have an  emotional impact to make one feel better.

I see my life right now as having crashed. My car has crashed from Barry’s passing. I have gotten out of the car with the smoking engine. I am standing in the middle of nowhere, scratching my head. Everything in the car has splattered on the inside of the windshield from the abrupt halt. I am okay, but really, really lost.

A friend suggested I start looking for jobs in Grand Rapids. I might do that. Lansing has nothing. I seriously mean nothing. Just the same old re-posts of jobs I have already applied for. This tells me that neither I nor anyone else is meeting the expectations of employers. Whatever it is they are looking for, they are not finding it. At all. It is so not me.

I can’t even imagine hunting for a job with an opioid addiction or felony on my record. I am squeaky clean and having these issues. These people must be ready to off themselves. I am not kidding.

Trying to be Positive

I’ve been trying to keep a positive attitude lately, with varying degrees of success. I concluded that I am pushing too hard to find a job and that is part of why I have not been doing well at it. So that is one part of what is going on.

Then there are people’s physical problems. I found out last week a friend has cervical cancer. She does not know how serious it is because she just went to the doctor for the first time since she was a teenager and she is in her early 50’s now. Who knows how long it has been spreading? And she has little insurance. And then there are my brothers. One has COPD. Another had a heart attack last year and didn’t tell anyone for a few months. And the other, you guessed it, has cancer, a baseball-sized lump on his collar bone.

And a couple weeks ago, I found out that the cemetery had not even started the paperwork for Barry’s grave marker. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt because we had had such a soggy spring. They just put in the paperwork about a week ago and things should take six to eight weeks.

The only person in my life whose life is going uphill, as opposed to sliding down the slippery slope of entropy and self-neglect, is my friend out in Maryland. She is studying for the bar in PA. However, the only reason she has the time to do so is because she got fired in March.

One of my thoughts has been that perhaps I haven’t been fortunate getting a job because my friend may need rides to chemo, radiation, or whatever.

I want to be around people whose lives are improving, not deteriorating. I want to be inspired. I want to start my life over. What is going on?

Struggling in Some Ways

I am no longer numb, that’s for sure.

I have been applying for so many jobs and getting nothing. The worst part is that some of the jobs are full-time even though they are listed as part-time. That means I am deceived into going to interviews for jobs I don’t even want. And then somehow feeling like a loser when I don’t get them. “What’s wrong with me?! Why doesn’t anybody want me?!” The emotional drama is exhausting. I don’t do drama well, even my own.

All I am looking for is some experience before I high-tail it out of Michigan. I would like to live here maybe one more year.

I am not sleeping well. Sometimes it feels like a weight is on my chest.

On the fifth was the memorial. It was great. There was a beautiful cake with a bulldog face and it said, “Dogs rule, cats drool.” I was out of it for the next few days. It took everything out of me. But Barry was honored and my parents thought the Toastmasters really made me a better speaker.

I miss Barry so bad. Not the guy that died, but the guy I married. I’m sure the guy that died is way more comfortable in the afterlife than he was in that hospital bed. His life at the end was miserable for both of us. But I was seriously unprepared for the loneliness. I haven’t been single since I lived with my parents before I got married. There is the one friend I want to talk to but I will not call simply because I do not want to listen to her talk about her husband and her boyfriend. I resent her putting me in this position. So, even though I am painfully lonely, I do not call her because I might go off on her. And no one needs that. Life throws so much drama at us. Why do some people insist on creating more of it?

I have decided to take it easy on myself. I am giving myself credit for putting myself out there and looking for a job. I am making the effort.

But now I see why some women run out to the bars looking for a new mate. I hate bars and drinking. But being alone just feels wrong on some level. All this freedom gives new widows opportunities to make poor choices that never had the chance to make earlier in their lives.

My challenge now is to figure out what I want to give to the world. I feel like I have a lot to offer, but I need something very meaningful. There is almost nothing I couldn’t do, if I just knew what it was.