Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back To Square One

Earlier this evening, I set out on an uphill/downhill walk to the park. It’s a hilly neighborhood. The drizzles of the day appeared over, the sun shone wanly on the world, and the humidity wasn’t hot – yet. I needed the walk to clear the cobwebs from my brain. Time for a spring cleaning, polish the windows of my mind – there are windmills there, too, aren’t there -- for I needed a long, clear view, and I wasn’t getting it sitting in front of the computer or playing with the cats.

Up the hill I walked, fully determined to think strategically, to decide who I want to be when I grow up (this time) and what on earth I’m going to do with whoever she turns out to be. My job search has been sluggish from the start, for two reasons: First, the world has changed enormously since I last looked for a job, and I’ve been pulling myself up a learning curve. You’ve no idea how many webinars are out there on how to find a job these days, how much conflicting information and advice, how many websites you have to publish your entire life on – unless, of course, you’ve been looking for a job yourself since the economic downturn started turning. When I resigned last year, I had no idea what was going on out here! Second, since I haven’t yet grown up, I haven’t narrowed down what I want. That would require strategic thinking, not to mention commitment.

All of this planning of intended thought processes was done before I left home. Once I started walking, my mind did indeed clear. To nothingness. Well, that’s a start, is it not? Not winded but a little sweaty, I got to the Overlook in Forest Park. People played in every court, on every green, rode bicycles, walked arm in arm. Damp or not, it’s spring in New York, and we’re out in force in our parks. What is not out in force is the public bathroom. All doors barred. I determine to write an annoyed email to whomever is in charge of such matters once I circle back and stop in Starbucks to plan my future on paper.

But first I wandered through a well-to-do neighborhood, so my circle back to Starbucks was rather more elliptical, and when I arrived, all the indoor seats were taken. It’s spring, however, so the outdoor tables are in place. I got my soy chai latte, commandeered a metal table and chair, and angled myself so I could see my computer screen despite the weak sunshine.

And what did I do? Did I open up the document I had created with a list of companies to be researched? That would have been somewhat strategic. Alas, no. I went straight to the document with my notes on the new article I’m writing, and spent a few hours researching, taking notes, making tables…. Tactically valid. Strategically not.

Mind you, none of this entered my mind until I started the downhill trek home through the gathering dark. Pleased with the research (a bit more than was strictly necessary, but two articles back I was on my second revision before I realized I’d missed some important information by not asking one more question. Write and learn.), I knew I could write a quick first draft in the morning, and move onto other work. More tactical thinking.

So. Another weekend has passed since an old friend told me at my goddaughter’s wedding that I just had to grow up. Don’t be mad at him. Friends are supposed to tell friends the truth. This doesn’t mean I won’t catch a $7 movie on Tuesday and write about it! Tonight, though, if I think real hard about growing up in the 21st century, maybe in my dreams I’ll creatively visualize a grown-up, taller, thinner, smarter me in a new job. Instead of having my usual strange dreams about the old one….

~ Molly Matera, determined to turn off the computer and research inside my own mind.


  1. We are doppelgangers, I'm sure. No doubt you check Craigslist and MediaBistro? From previous posts about yourself and your experience, I've recently seen several writing and editing jobs that might work well. But then, what do I really know? Good luck. It is a tough world out there and I'm thinking very Thoreauvian thoughts these days....or perhaps rather than a solitary life, a woods-bound commune (a somewhat respectable one, that is!).

  2. Deej, I think there must be something we middle-aged gals can do to knock the world's socks off!

  3. Become a grant writer for a not-for-profit. See The Foundation Center. Big $$$ in "development," and can be for a good cause....Know

  4. Of course, being able to type your own name helps, too. Oy.

  5. M, are you sure of your spelling yet?? Since I posted this one, a number of people have told me not to grow up, just to grow confidence. I applied to several jobs today, at least one through MediaBistro; I've yet to look at Craig's List, looking at many other sites like Indeed, FlexJobs, and continue to write short non-fiction web content for pin money. Interesting times. I'm not sure I could do the Thoreau scene -- too much time on my own in the last few months has taught me that I want to be able to get to a local pub or tea shoppe in town without having to stay overnight there!

  6. Do look at

    Similar situ here; 'tis very dreary and I am aweary. Fighting to find work for each semester, then when there are breaks, it's panic time and near destitution, though I never stop trying to reinvent myself even if/as I live in triage mode. Now trying to find something for the summer. Truly, I'm with you about tea shoppes and pubs. Ideal? A wooded cottage with much-coveted garden near a stream (or beachy setting like Chatham, MA or somewhere in Blighty), yet still be able to hike/bike to a publick house of some nature for cultural convo. Here, lack of relationships with like-minded people, at least in NYC. (Seem to have grown in a direction always meant to do, but heartbreakingly away from, loved ones. Oversimplification, that, and poetic justice.) Just one goal to accomplish that *may* help secure autumn and winter years, but then--and for you to note--will still require additional lateral certification. Even so, result should be far more marketablity. Have done the homework, have often taken to bed with covers over head, but do have a plan and a strategy (obstacle: $ and time!!). Ecoutez: We women of a certain age must acquire additional certification or new skills at this stage [and on our hour on the stage] or we will become the 21st century's version of 19th c redundant women. Then, "Out, Out" (Frost via Bard). So it's really hope that keeps us going, isn't it, and not childishness. Mix in a strong sense of survival and a fervent belief that life should be rich and worthwhile, and that keeps us seeking. Would that reinvention be as easy for us as The Doctor.

    But do look at CL--are always writing & editing jobs available for computer and web savvy folk, and if not at first perfect, for certs will lead to something else. Or temping? No doubt you know the drill. Member of (if that's still the name)?

    P.S.--If ever interested in brainstorming over a cuppa or pint, send smoke signal.