Tag Archives: unemployed

Adventures in Redecorating


By Nicole Hosette

Moving blows. I’ve moved more times in the past four years than I care to count – into dorms, back home for the summer, into apartments, out of apartments. At least for those moves my parents (and their arsenal of Dodge vehicles perfect for hauling) were only 90 miles away. “Why yes Nicole, we’ll come out today to get a load of boxes, and then we’ll take you out to dinner!”

My parents were equally awesome when it came to moving from Iowa to Massachusetts – they supplied me with boxes, rented and drove a Budget truck to move mine and my boyfriend’s stuff out of our apartment in Iowa City and into their garage an hour and a half away, and then hitched a trailer to their Durango and made the 1,200 mile trip with us to Massachusetts (and the 1,200 mile trip back to Iowa). Because of all of their help, we saved at least a thousand dollars in moving costs and countless hours in frustration.

But there were still things that my parents couldn’t help me with – trips to Goodwill with clothes purged from our closet, packing up two years’ worth of accumulated junk, and cleaning every corner of our filthy apartment. And we were all on our own when it came to setting up our new place.

We were blessed with a pretty neat apartment in Iowa City. While it was a glorified studio with a curtain strung up between the living room and bedroom, it had tons of storage. There were two huge built-in bookshelves in the living room, and a wall full of built-in cupboards in the bedroom that were perfect for clothes, extra sheets and towels, cleaning supplies, and general crap with no other place to go. And all of this was on top of two pretty big closets. This made up for the cracks in the walls and hardwood floors that needed refinishing a decade ago.

So when we got to our apartment in Massachusetts, we were both pleased and disappointed. It had been recently painted, the hardwood floors were gorgeous, and the bathroom had been redone. But its three closets supplied less space than the two we had in Iowa City, and there were no built-in anythings. Plus, while we gained an office, we lost space in both the bedroom and living room.

Now we have the task of figuring out where to put…everything. We both had waaaaay too many books and one tiny bookcase. While we each have
our own closet now, my closet still doesn’t have enough space for me to hang all of my tops. We’re storing extra sheets and towels in a filing cabinet we found on the curb around the corner.

While this isn’t my first apartment, it feels like it is. I have never had to put this much thought into storage solutions or decorating, cruising Target and IKEA’s websites trying to decide who has the cheaper closet rod or which bookshelf would fit best in the living room.

In theory, this should be fun. Online shopping as a productive activity – who doesn’t like the thought of that? But it is frustrating, having an image in your head of exactly what you’re looking for and not being able to find something similar that fits your budget.

Now that we’ve been in Massachusetts for nearly three weeks, we’ve had enough time to get the basics, including one very tall bookshelf. We’re down to two boxes of random stuff that still need to be put away, but overall, we’re mostly unpacked. It’s not a perfect set up, but we’re getting closer.

These are absolutely insignificant problems. But right now, I still don’t have a job. I spend a lot of time in my home, and that’s exactly what I want it to be – a home. I want to be comfortable and happy here, not stressed out by clutter.

So fellow post-grad, if you haven’t found yourself here yet, you will.

A bit of advice – it totally helps to have a cat that makes you forget about the mess, your homesickness, and that “hopeless” job search. Trust me.

FOR REDECORATING TIPS, CHECK OUT THESE SITES!
Decorating on a Budget
Green Redecorating On a Budget
Interior Decorating Adding New Decor on a Budget

Post-grad on the Move


By Nicole Hosette

I cried at my graduation. The ceremony was horrible – last year the school sprung for Tom Brokaw as a speaker, but this year we were stuck with an English professor who seemed to have simply adjusted one of his class lectures for his speech. There was a brief moment of excitement when a student, with a flower in his hair, ran through the seated graduates and threw rolls of toilet paper before eventually being tackled by security, tased, and arrested. Besides that, the ceremony consisted of two hours of 2,000 students hearing their names called, walking across the stage, and shaking the hand of some University official. I texted my mom throughout most of it.

I felt silly for crying when I hugged my parents after the ceremony was over. But in retrospect, I would have felt worse for not crying. My four years at the University of Iowa were exactly what I wanted them to be.

Knowing that my years of formal education are over, and that for the first time in 18 years I won’t be going back to school this August, is breaking my heart.

But I’m sure most post-grads in my situation feel the same way.

Back in March, when I started making my first major post-graduation plans, I didn’t quite expect I’d feel like this – instead I was excited about all of the possibilities that came with graduation. At that time, my boyfriend and I were sitting down and discussing where he wanted to go to grad school, which equated to where we wanted to live for the next 4+ years while he worked towards his PhD. I had no plans of going to grad school – I graduated with a BA in Journalism and American Studies, and I didn’t think the general career path I was aiming for required that extra bit of schooling. I was already looking at a good bit of student debt and didn’t see the point in adding more if I didn’t have to. And so I decided I would just go with him.

The decision to move to Massachusetts didn’t come easy (more on that in a later post). But he had gotten into Harvard and really liked the work they were doing there in his field. He was also very interested in the idea of moving to a new place while we had the chance, and at the time, I agreed with him. You have to admit, there is something romantically appealing about picking up and moving halfway across the country just because you can.

So this past month has been full of packing, making preparations, and spending as much time with friends as possible. Finally, last week, we made the move. It was a mess – so many things went wrong, and I found myself wishing I was still in Iowa. But now we are set up in Massachusetts, in a great community 20 minutes from downtown Boston, and I have done my best to forget my horrible first impression of this city.

I miss my friends, my family, the Midwest landscape, my favorite Iowa City bar, and having my own vehicle. But this is what life after college is supposed to be – new experiences.

So this is my situation as a post-grad; trying to adjust to a new place, setting up an apartment, looking for a job, and making new friends. It’s exciting and terrifying. But I really am looking forward to figuring it all out.

Post Grads and Staying Active – Mentally and Physically


By sendmeonmyway101

Dishes?Check.
Laundry? Check.
Cat box? Check.
Floors? Check.

By the end of the day, I try to make sure that all of the above has been taken care of. Some days I get help from my mom and dad, other days I get distracted. Sometimes I’ll pick up a new project – cleaning out the linen closet, or helping my Dad remodel (if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that this weekend we will be putting in a new rug, and I can’t wait to get started!). If I’m not doing housework, I look for reasons to get out of the house.

This past weekend a friend of mine and I went hiking. She is also a recent post grad, but since she only has her associate’s degree she is going back to school this fall (she will also be designing Sauce Off’s new label – something to look forward to).

Z (we’ll refer to her as Z) has always been more active than I, so she was in much better shape for the trip than I was. Still, we successful managed to get lost, wind up in someone’s backyard, and chase after a bike rider without anyone having a heart attack (well, the bike rider may have been startled when he realized we were chasing him).

Anyways, when Z and I finally left the woods and went to chill on the swings for a bit, she suggested writing an article on why we (post grads) should keep busy. So what follows is a list of reasons why I slave over housework, subject myself to exercise, and find good reasons to get out of the house now that I don’t have any reason (i.e. a job) to go anywhere.

  1. Doing housework keeps my mind from wondering, “Why haven’t I gotten a phone call from that company that I just applied to two hours ago? Should I give them a call? Is it too soon?” (The answer is yes, btw).
  2. Doing housework gives me something to shove in my brother’s faces. “What, you have to go to work? What, you’re too busy sleeping till 7pm? Hey, dudes, I just cleaned the whole house. What can you say you did around here, huh? Huh? Yea, you know, the least you can do is … (insert some simple, meaningless task. Because after going on and on about all the work I did, they’ll do almost anything just to shut me up).
  3. I chose to study English because I have been writing since I was in the second grade. Over the years that writing has bounced around from short stories, novels, articles, and even the neighborhood newsletter that I tried (and failed) to start back in eighth grade. The logical thing to do, now that I don’t have school telling me what to write, is keep going. As long as I keep my fingers writing or typing (articles, short stories, etc.) I’m keeping my mind motivated in my chosen field. Post grads, especially those that are unemployed, should find something related to their field that keeps them going.
  4. Physical Activity! How many post grads get accustomed to spending time at the free gym on campus, and then get out of school and A.) can’t afford to go to your own gym, or B.) the gym in your town is too far away/you don’t have a way to get there? So maybe you’ll have to give up bodybuilding for a while, but you don’t have to give up physical exercise. I like to take time to ride my bike, take a walk around my neighborhood, or go hiking with friends. Keeping your body going prevents laziness – one of the deadly symptoms of Post Grad Panic.

Don’t believe me? Check out some of these articles.
Swallowing pride: Reasons why post-grads should get a job immediately
Recent Grads, Keep Your Head (And Morale) Up

Let's try and avoid this

Fish Killer Follow-Up and Other News


Toby (stripes) and Tucker

I think it’s only fair to let all you “Lessons From a Fish Killer” readers know how Toby’s tale of survival has played out so far. You’ll be happy to know that after seven days of living alone, sole companion his reflection in the aquarium glass (which he spent an unnatural amount of time with), he now has a brother!

We introduced Tucker into the tank yesterday afternoon, and the two have gotten along swimmingly! (Really? That was corny). Tucker is also an angelfish, and even though I wanted a tank full of fish, I’ve decided to stop with just the two right now. The woman at the fish store said that angelfish can grow pretty large, and any more than two may be too much for the tank in a few months. Besides, I don’t want them to start eating each other. I may decide to pick up a cat fish to help with the tank upkeep, but I’m going to hold off on that one for a little while.

I do have a couple of questions about fish maintenance, and I’m hoping someone may have the answers.

  1.  Besides water conditioner, is there anything else that belongs in the tank?
  2.  How often should tanks be cleaned out and refilled?

In other news, I went to the local Brewfest yesterday. Back in June I got a gig (without pay) writing an article every two weeks for an online magazine based in Central New York. Most events I review have been free, but this required my first press pass. Beforehand I contacted the creator – and man in charge of the event. I was pleased with most of the information that he provided regarding how the Brewfest started. But let’s face it – articles are nothing without pictures, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a quote or two from the general public.

I’ve discovered that my skills at approaching people are incredibly pathetic. For some reason, rather than reassuring people that I’m not a creeper – this is legit – I just make them look at each other like, “WTF is this chick doing?” They almost always say, “Sure,” but it’s long and drawn out, as if they’re saying “sure,” but they’re thinking, “hell no.”

Not that it matters, I suppose. I got my quote and moved on. Still, it would have been nice to find someone who was anxious to share their past experiences and what they thought about the Brewfest. But then again, it was Brewfest, and everyone was getting pretty tipsy.

On the home front, my father and I are getting ready to start one of our final remodeling projects of the summer. Since I came home we’ve been doing work in my parents’ bedroom – rebuilding the closet (my favorite part so far), putting trim at the top and bottom, putting in a new ceiling fan, etc. Now we’re going to pull up the nasty old rug and put down a new one. This isn’t my first time pulling up a rug – a few years ago I pulled my own rug out of my room, though I have yet to put a new one down. My father has pulled the rug out of the living room and put down wood flooring. We both have some experience, but our opinions on the project differs. I’m excited to pull the rug up, whereas my father isn’t so thrilled. He’s anticipating a lot of work in a few hours, because he would prefer to have the rug up and down in the same day.

Me? I don’t see the fault in spanning the project over two days, but he’s the task manager. Anyhoo, the project starts next week, provided the rug comes in on time.

Foot In the Door, Tossed on Your Bum Part 2


By sendmeonmyway101

The novelty of the table lasted only a few moments, and I was soon distracted by the notes scribbled all across the dry erase board. With nothing else to do, I tried to memorize what was on the board, as if I
 ould be quizzed on it, or something.

Finally the HR rep who had originally contacted me stepped into the room with a warm smile. (At this point we will refer to the HR rep as Judy).

Even though I knew I was about to be put under the same tormenting observations as a fish in the aquarium, I felt my jitters instantly recede. We shook hands, Judy and I, and then she took a seat across from me. I glanced down at the long, empty table, took a deep breath, and waited to begin.

Judy explained the 401K and health benefits that the company offered, as well as verifying some of the original information we had discussed over the phone (most of which were not my best answers). This time I was ready. With lines that I had gone over twelve times on the ride in, I expanded on my work history and my understanding of the job with absolute confidence. I could tell when I gave a good answer, because Judy would look down at her notes with a little, knowing smile.

After some time, fifteen minutes or so, she stood and left. I would now meet with three team members who had the job I was applying for. At this point I was relaxed – my back, which had been flush against the gray chair
when Judy first entered, was now slouching somewhat as I leaned over the table. The team members, each warm and friendly, proceeded to ask me questions, fervently scribbling my response. With every answer I wildly flailed my arms, barely noticing I was doing it. I’ve always been a very visual speaker.

When they were finished with their questions, they asked if I had any of my own. For any interview, I try to have at least three questions beforehand. One question that I use at almost every interview I’ve been to is “what are the best and worst parts of the job?” In the past, most interviewers have been caught off guard, but pleased, by the question, and this group was no different. They tried to hide their surprise, before explaining that the initial training was the hardest thing to get over. But after that, it’s like riding a bike.

I had a few more questions. That part of the interview lasted roughly half an hour. They thanked me in the end, and I made sure to get up and shake each hand once more, running over their names in my head.

By the time that the ‘big bosses’ came in, I was completely at ease. Until they started firing questions, that is.

“How would you define teamwork?”

“How are you at learning new things?”

“How do you perceive the responsibilities of this position?”

I did the best I could, spewing the first thing that popped into my head. I would normally stop to think about everything I say beforehand, but the way they were staring at me, like marble statues, made my brain turn to mush and my mouth into that of a child’s. Stream of consciousness, whatever popped into my head came out of my mouth.

The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind, and I can hardly remember much of what happened. Before I knew it they were asking if I had any questions, and I was dumbly saying, “No, I think all my questions have been answered.”

Judy returned, told me they would let me know if I got the job by the end of the next week. Then she led me to the door, and I was done. Just like that.

Dazed, I clambered into my car, started the engine and headed straight for the thruway. I spent the next few hours going over every word in my head, trying to find a weak spot, a failure. I arrived home, napping until my Father arrived.

The next day I sent a thank-you letter, but even as I hit ‘send’ I knew there would be no return call.

Businesses That Won’t Bounce Back


By sendmeonmyway101

I was unnerved when Borders went bankrupt.

Well, not as unnerved as a Borders employee should have been. Mostly because I would be graduating and leaving the store for greener post-grad pastures (seems my pastures are as green as Borders future).

Don’t misread – especially any of my fellow borders alum. Because I loved my job – it was by far one of the most pleasant work experiences I have ever had. Everyone got along with each other; the majority of the customers were sensible and fun people (same could be said for my fellow employees). If every Borders store operated the way our store operated, I don’t see how they could have declared bankruptcy.

Our store survived the initial batch of closings because we were small, and we were a staple in the community. The only other bookstore in town was a Half-Off-All-the-Time mess, in a closet of a store. Our Barnes and Nobles competitor was more than half a mile outside of town. We were it.

Now all of the Borders stores are closing, and a lot of good people are losing their jobs. And Borders isn’t the only one – following a merger with First Niagara, HSBC recently announced their intentions to lay off 30,000 people. And these 30,000 people are being laid off to make room for 15,000 people in the emerging markets. What does that mean?

Emerging market = Asia, Brazil, Argentina and … Mexico? No comment.

The point is that with chains such as Borders or Blockbuster downsizing or closing, we college grads are facing more competition from experienced members of previous generations than they themselves faced. Not to mention how little a Bachelor’s degree actually means anymore.

I’ve been out job hunting, and the majority of jobs are seeking candidates with more years of experience than most people will get just from sitting in a classroom. I consider myself very lucky, in that I had two professors urging me in all the right directions, so I received experience while I was in school. But hey – I’m still unemployed, and finding employment is by the far the most frustrating, exhilarating, and mind-numbing experience a grad can face.

I don’t know the science behind it, but I am aware that four out of six of my friends (or two out of three, if you want to simplify things) are either registered for grad school, or planning to attend after graduation. OK, so my friend pool is relatively small, but it doesn’t change the fact that the growing trend is to attend grad school. Which means more student loans – fueling an already loan-centered, debt stressed economy. And let’s not even go into how grad students will be paying more in their loans following the recent debt deal laid out by Washington.

To break things down – economy is bad. Companies close. Good people out of jobs – competing with inexperienced college grads. Grads return to school hoping to graduate again with a more stable economy and job market. Student loans and the high cost of education support a society’s poor decisions to buy first, and pay later.

Now, before you start firing your keyboards and accusing this blog of inaccurately depicting social events, American society, or even financial situations, I have to point out that I know nothing about finances (I prefer to leave that to the people who know what they’re doing … of course, the people who know what they’re doing have already failed in preventing all the things they were supposed to prevent, so maybe they’re as knowledgeable as I), and everything mentioned here is only my impression of what’s happening.

A sign of market end times for future students and graduates? Or a time for change? You be the judge.

(Check out Mustang Daily’s article, Graduate school: to go, or not to go?)

If I Have Teenagers, They’re Being Shipped to Boarding School


By sendmeonmyway101

OK, OK, I know that one does not have “a teenager” without first having a child. And before that you have the baby – I know how this thing works. But for some reason I never understood how a cute child could deform so horribly into the vacuous stomached, mood swingin’, attitude flinging, sex-craved, shoe throwing, demon-out-of-hell teenager.

That is, until I had to live with one.

My youngest brother, Michael, is sixteen. He’s a redhead (and the whole redhead = scary temper thing? It’s absolutely true). He’s also a lazy night owl with no sense of responsibility. He won’t do dishes because he’s terrified of touching any left-over food. He gets huffy if anything you ask him to do outside takes longer than fifteen minutes – it’s like he’s afraid of the outdoors. And he fights me on everything.

Back in June, I argued with him for an hour about getting out of the house and going to the beach. What follows is the brunt of our conversation, repeated and rephrased at least thirty times.

“I don’t like the beach.”

“You loved it when you were three.”

“Yea … because I was three.”

“Get changed, you’re going.”

“You never listen to what I want.”

“You’re not staying here. I’m asking you to do one thing this summer – one thing. Go to the beach with us.”

“Yea, well if we have a car accident on the way there, and I’m the only one that dies, you’re going to regret making me go.”

“If I leave you here and a psycho murderer breaks into the house and kills you while I’m gone, then I’m going to regret leaving you here. Get ready.”

“I’ll kill him before he kills me.”

Never mind the flaws in his logic (what’s he going to do, throw his DS at a potential psycho?), arguing with Michael is like arguing with Swiss cheese – it goes through the holes, bounces around, comes out the other end and remains completely unmoved.

I have to be on his case about putting his clothes away, keeping his room neat, taking showers (the boy went two weeks following the fourth of July without bathing), and going to bed at a reasonable time so that when his friends call at two in the afternoon, he’s actually awake to hang out.

When did I become his mother? And, more importantly, when will he stop smacking me with his slippers when he doesn’t like what I say?

Teenagers. My Mom thinks she’s sneaky, but I figured it out. That’s why learning experience #4 as an SHD: Someone else can raise them.

Am I overreacting? It’s very likely. Michael has his good days, and his days when he makes me laugh – like going on about what voice actor did what character – I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I love that he’s so passionate about voice acting. And OK, so maybe the teeanger isn’t as frightening as I first made it sound. Besides, he’s almost seventeen, and he’s already mellowed out so much since this teenager business first started. It can’t last much longer, right?

Still, if both my parents made it through all of our teenager years, they may have more balls than I give them credit for. Or than I do, for that matter (but, you know, I’m a girl).

He didn't last long outside

%d bloggers like this: