Manic Monday

Six o’clock already. I was just in the middle of a dream. I was kissing Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream. Well, it was Valentino, but it didn’t look like Valentino, y’know? I’m pretty sure it was actually the guy I interviewed with last week at Company Y, but in my dream I still knew it was Valentino. Anyway, we kissed. Weird, huh?

Ahhh… Monday. The dawn of a new day. Last week’s slate wiped perfectly clean. A fresh start. All is forgiven, most is forgotten. As I sat at my desk yesterday, trying to think of what to write this week, I was suddenly struck by a most brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. What this blog needs more than anything is a theme week! Something to give both direction and continuity to the next five entries. Given my current state of joblessness, it’s hard for me to come up with a theme that doesn’t at least somehow tie to my endless job search. And being the spiritual person that I am, I decided that my theme will revolve around the one thing I believe will truly help me to secure my dream job – karaoke.

Now, recognizing that not even a writer as skilled and clever as Erma Bombeck could craft five interesting entries about karaoke, I instead decided that this week’s entries will be inspired by karaoke. Each post will be related to a karaoke song that has particularly moved my audience. Sometimes to laughter. Sometimes to tears. Always to applause.

I’m certain that the collective power of five straight days of karaoke-inspired scriptures will move the job gods and goddesses to bestow upon me the perfect job offer. And perhaps a golden fleece. Which I will promptly pawn to pay for my September rent.

But now to this blog. Manic Monday. Why manic? I’ll tell you why. Last week was particularly trying in the employment arena. Try to stay with me: the job in Department A at Company Y fell through, although a new company, Company Z, has now entered the picture. Department B at Company Y might have a new position, but I would still need to interview ASAP with the VP of HR and the SVP’s of both Departments A and B at Company Y. I am anticipating a job offer from Company X, but I really want the job at either Company Y or Company Z far more than at Company X. So, if Company X makes me the offer this week, I have to stall them long enough to finish my second interviews with Company Y and Company Z, all the while being careful not to turn off Company X in case that ends up being my only option.

U C Y I’m stressed?

In the event that Company X makes me the job offer before I’ve heard back from Company Y and Company Z, I’ve devised an elaborate three-pronged approach to stalling them. I call it: Operation Tangled Web of Lies and Deceit. Or alternately: Operation This Could Potentially Backfire and Leave Jenny with No Job Offers At All.

The plan is far too complicated and top-secret for me to reveal in this forum, but if it works, I will most certainly patent it and sell it to for a hefty fee. Then I will buy back my golden fleece and parade it around town to all the companies who snubbed me. In your face, Recruiter Man! Oh no you di’int! Oh no you di’int say my experience was not relevant enough! Who’s wearing the fleece now, sucka?!

Well, now that I’ve brought you all up to speed, I really must go. I have a multitude of things to accomplish today in preparation for this exciting and unprecedented theme week. And in a matter of hours, I will be launching Stage One of Operation TWOLAD. I can feel it, friends. This is the week. Something really good is going to happen to me this week. Or maybe something really bad. But for sure, something is going to happen to me this week. And it will be really something. Mark my words.

In closing, I’d like to just say that these are the days when you wish your bed was already made. Yup, it’s just another manic Monday.

Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves

I know I said I wouldn’t post any more entries about my job search until I actually landed a job, but as you’ve probably learned by now, I cannot be trusted. And forgiveness is the foundation of all solid relationships, so I feel we’re off to a good start.

I am vying for two positions right now – one at Company A and one at Company B, but for the purpose of this blog, let’s call them Company X and Company Y. Company X informed me that I’m now one of only two candidates being considered for the position. Calculus never was my strong suit in school, but I’m pretty sure that means I have a 33.3% chance of getting this job.

At Company X, I have already been called back for six different interviews, and they are proposing a seventh and final round to help them determine the best candidate. I say no. No more. There’s nothing that either of us can say that hasn’t already been said. I’ve got my interview rap down to such a science that I’m answering their questions before they even ask them. I even started bringing my own laughtrack to accompany my impromptu jokes. This has got to stop.

But I do understand and appreciate their need for a tie-breaker, so last week I emailed them my idea. What I am envisioning is something a little more definitive – something that will truly prove our commitment to their company. My recommendation is this: I propose we hold a winner-take-all Beyond Thunderdome type cage match. I don’t think that a fight to the death would be legally sanctioned in Illinois, nor do I particularly want this job that desperately, but at the very least, we should fight until someone cries “Uncle.” Or just cries.

Now, I’ve seen my competition, and he did look like one of those lanky, wiry guys who might be surprisingly strong, but I still think I may be able to outwit him. For one thing, it’s highly unlikely that he will be anticipating a cage match, so I immediately have the element of surprise. In addition, I’m older and more cunning. I have been hunting for a job for a long, long time now, and I have a little something I like to call the Eye of the Tiger working for me.

I can see it now: fake left, rush right! A strategically placed oil slick on the ground and BAM! - I’m one half-nelson away from that job!

I’m sure some of you are saying, “But Jenny! Violence isn’t the solution!”

Well, it may not be the solution, but it is the answer. I’m tired, people. Tired of talking. Tired of selling myself. Tired of explaining to prospective employers how the daily demands of keeping up a blog are even more taxing than most jobs. I’m done with words. Now is the time for action.

The HR team at Company X hasn’t been returning my calls ever since I sent them the suggestion for the cage match, so I assume it’s just taking them a little time to find the right venue. There aren’t a lot of post-apocalyptic fighting cages left in Chicago since Mayor Daley converted most of the original ones into “green spaces.” Not to get overly political here, but he’s the most anti-cage match politician I’ve ever run across.

In any case, I’m just focusing all my energy this week into training for my upcoming interview/battle. As soon as Company X calls, I’ll be ready!

Last One, I Promise

Okay, the interview posts will stop, I promise. Three posts in a row about anything just really gets dull. So, since I used up all my words during my 8-hour inquisition with the Dirty Dozen, I’ll give you the bulleted highlights.

  • BREAKFAST: Toast with peanut butter
  • SUIT: Navy
  • SHOES: Polished
  • LIPSTICK: Maybelline Long-Lasting Pure Color – Autumn
  • HAIR: Frizzy (100% humidity)
  • BEVERAGE: Water, 3 glasses
  • SMILE: Plastered
  • LUNCH: Turkey on whole wheat with sprouts, no mayo
  • CHARM FACTOR: Level 8.5
  • HEADACHE: Splitting
  • DINNER: Drive-through Chicken McNuggets

One way or another, I will have an answer in the next two weeks. At that time, I will break my promise that this will be the last post about interviewing, but by then you will have forgotten that I ever made that promise to begin with. That’s what I like about you.

I Concur

All right – I’m off to my eight hour interrogation, I mean interview, but thought I’d have just enough time for one more brief observation. Yesterday I had a second interview at a different company that went really well. The first interview I had there was with the head of the department, who is ultimately the person who will decide my fate. However, even though he thought I was outstanding and that his company would crumble without my marketing genius to guide it (I’m paraphrasing), he said that he wanted me to meet with the people who would be my peers, “just to see if the chemistry is there.”
Now, I have no problem doing that whatsoever – I want to make sure my co-workers have a pulse, too. But this started me thinking about a problem that has truly reached epidemic proportions in our country – it seems as though no one is willing to make a decision independently anymore. Everything has to go to a committee who must then confer with the sub-committee before passing it on to the advisory board so they can check with the partners who must run it past the consultants to make sure it pleases the stockholders.
I mean, if my background is a solid fit, and I’ve convinced the head guy that I can do the job, why should it matter whether or not my co-workers think I seem nice or fun? I’ll tell you why – it matters because people are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision. The same goes for this interview today – why would you possibly even want the opinions of twelve different people, unless you’re the defense attorney in a murder trial? Why must everyone’s voice be heard? I know from personal experience that when more than four or five of the voices in my head express an opinion, I become completely ineffective.
My theory on this is that because we’re forced to make so many trivial decisions on a daily basis, when it finally comes to the big ones, we’re just emotionally and intellectually spent. Skim or whole? Asiago or poppy seed? Fries or cole slaw? Paper or plastic? Regular or premium? Menthol or lights? Scratch-n-win or Powerball? 80 or 100 proof?
And that was just during my lunch break! Enough already!
Maybe I’m just way off base with this. Maybe I’m drawing conclusions where they don’t exist because I just happened to run into a few situations that supported this wild theory. Maybe most people don’t crave constant affirmation that their opinions are valid. I don’t know, what do you guys think? 

What, Me Worry?

Forgive me if I seem a bit scattered, but I’m afraid I don’t have time for overly wordy stories about past crimes and deep dark secrets today. Important things are happening in my life right now. Critical, life-altering things. Tomorrow, I have an interview. Not just any interview, mind you. This is an eight-hour interview with twelve different people.

When the recruiter emailed me my interview schedule, I had to do a double take. Twelve people? Eight hours? I rushed back to my files to see if I accidentally submitted my resume for the position of CEO. Nope – strictly middle management material. So what could I possibly need to talk to twelve different people about? I mean, I have the ability to lay on the charm, but even on my best day I’ve only been able to win over eight people, and I’m pretty sure that alcohol was involved.

How am I going to stay fresh and dapper in my blue pin-striped suit for eight hours? I wonder if it would be appropriate for me to bake brownies for everyone. Can I maybe bring some protein bars and Gatorade to get me over the mid-morning hump?

This is a big day for me, not just because I desperately want this job, but because this is the first time in the past three months that I will have spent eight hours in the same location.

Stay-at-home-moms-without-children can’t be tied down like that. Listen, I need my freedom – I know why the caged bird sings, and it ain’t because she’s happy. I worry that my attention span has rapidly declined during my three months of unemployment. What if I start to zone out around 2:00pm since that’s usually when I walk down to the coffee shop for a decaf iced skim latte?

I don’t even know twelve people. I don’t have twelve friends, not even twelve relatives. I’m not sure I ever want to know twelve people. How will I remember who’s who? What elaborate mnemonic devices will I need to employ so I don’t call them by the wrong name?

Okay, so I’m meeting with:
Janet from IS. Janet. Rhymes with planet. Janet Planet works with computers. Computers take over the planet in I, Robot. Good – really good!
Zachary from Marketing. Zachary. Zachary. Zachary whack a flea. Flea collar rhymes with dollar. Marketing earns dollars. Zachary – works in Marketing!
Andrea from Sales. Andrea. Schmandrea. Filandrea. Hand me a… okay, I’ve got nothing. Andrea has brown hair. Let’s hope that sticks.

I’m a visual person, so maybe I could draw a quick stick figure of each of them to help me remember what they look like. Would that be unprofessional? What if I sketched the drawings under the desk? Asked them to smile for a quick Polaroid?

I’m even interviewing over lunch. Great. So now I have to worry about what to say, what to wear, and what to eat. Throw in the good night kiss dilemma and you’ll have every first date I’ve ever been on. Just stay away from the spinach quiche, Jenny, whatever you do. And the garlic chicken.

All right – I need to start prepping for this interview. If I don’t post a blog for a few days, it may mean that I have completely cracked from the dangerous levels of human interaction. I mean, you should really ease someone like me back into the workplace. Don’t just go throwing twelve people at me all at once. I might get angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.


HR You Ever Going to Call Me Back?

Last week I was talking with a friend of mine about this blog, and how I fear I may be running out of things to write about. See, I’m no writer. I do marketing stuff. At least I used to, before I realized that my cats were falling behind developmentally, and decided I needed to spend more time working with them one-on-one. So far they’ve been doing really well with the flash cards.
I just mainly like to hang out with writers and literary people and artistic folks. It makes me feel creative and less corporate. So, when I was complaining about my struggles to come up with interesting topics, one of these writer-type friends told me, “Jenny, just write what you know.”
Now, I’m not sure if that advice is actually helpful to people who truly are writers, but to me, that’s about as useful as people telling me to “Just be yourself” before I go on an interview.
Write what I know. What I know. I know. Know.
So, let’s take a quick inventory of what, in fact, I know:
Marketing – I don’t even want to read about that, and I majored in it.
Laundromats – I’ve pretty much exhausted that topic. And, I’m never going back to one anyway.
Cats – I’ve got to be careful about too many cat stories. Makes me seem kind of loser-ish, don’t you think? I don’t want to be labeled a recluse.
Tap dance – hmmm… yes, still some potential there, but I need a different angle.
Unemployment – hey, wait a minute! I do know a lot about being a drain on society! This idea has legs – let’s run with it!
Okay, so the topic for today is unemployment. It’s a broad topic, so I’ll need to break it down into one specific area for this entry. Let’s go with the interview process, because anyone who has been in my situation knows that this is the most painful and drawn out of all the components of the unemployment machine.
This is the part of the process where the company is the star quarterback, and I am the treasurer of the chess club. I write him love letters. He ignores me. I tape notes to his locker. He calls me “four-eyes” behind my back. I ask him to the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. He goes with me, but talks the whole time about how hot my best friend is and how badly he wants to get in her pa… oh wait – I’m getting off topic here. The point I’m trying to make is that the interview process is a lot like an unrequited love affair. You wait, and wait, and wait for the Human Resources people to finally deem you worthy of a rejection letter.
In addition to marketing, I also took a short sidetrack into the world of staffing, and worked for an employment agency for a while. The experience of working with the Human Resources departments at hundreds of different companies, across dozens of different industries, led me to the conclusion that the people who are drawn to HR roles are generally the least qualified to be dealing with people.
Now any of you HR people out there who might be reading this, I don’t mean you. I’m talking about the person who was in your position prior to you and really messed the company up before you were able to come in and institute all those employee-centric policies that won your company those awards that you won that one time. That’s who I’m talking about. Those HR people.
So now that we’re clear, what I mean to say is that, for people who specialize in dealing with “humans,” I have just found the majority of Human Resources professionals to be extremely cold and power-trippy individuals. My theory is that this stems from the fact that, aside from the head HR honchos, they really don’t have control over anything, except whether or not female employees get to wear open-toed shoes, and what the theme for the company’s 25th anniversary party should be. Therefore, they act with extreme contempt toward the few areas over which they actually do have control: staffing vendors and potential candidates.
Take, for example, the interview I had today: it was just a phone screen, nothing major. In fact, don’t tell anyone, but I was totally wearing jeans and a T-shirt. But it’s for a job that I’m really interested in, so I prepped thoroughly, quizzed some of my smart friends who know a lot about the industry, read every page of their website – pretty extensive research.
I responded to each of the recruiter’s questions articulately, concisely, and with great insight into the inner-workings of her company. I smiled while I spoke (you can hear that over the phone), gave detailed and specific examples, and was funny when appropriate. Heck, I was on Charm Factor 9, but this woman was unbreakable.
So when it was all over, she said in her robotic voice, “If we are interested in bringing you in for an in-person interview, you will hear from me by the end of the day Thursday. Click. Buzz. Otherwise you can assume we are passing on you. Whirr. Click. I hope that doesn’t sound impersonal, but you just would not believe the stack of applicants I have to go through.”
No, that doesn’t sound impersonal at all. In fact, I was going to ask if you used to work for Hallmark, because you just made me feel so warm all over that I’m almost teary-eyed. I love you, HR Recruiter. I love you so much it hurts my tummy.
So the countdown begins. Will she call? If she does, will she make me wait until 4:55pm just so I don’t get uppity? Will I mistake her monotone voice for an automated telemarketing machine and accidentally hang up? Will she… oh shoot! I gotta go – the phone’s ringing!

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

I get really frustrated when people ask me if I’m working yet. Uhh, excuse me? What do you mean, yet?! What exactly do you think I’ve been doing for the past two months – playing Connect Four with my cats? I cannot believe that in this day and age, people still don’t get the concept that being a stay-at-home-mom-without-children is hard work. Personally, I consider it to be one of the most challenging and noble of all professions. And coincidentally, also the most underappreciated.
I don’t have the luxury of punching out at 5:05pm every day from my casual Friday wearing, ID badge sporting, Corner Bakery lunch eating, cushy job, and leaving it all behind for the weekend. Being a stay-at-home-mom-without-children is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job. We don’t get paid lunches, or long Memorial Day weekends. There are no fancy blue cubicles, or supportive managers to tell us we’re doing a good job.
Just once I’d like to hear someone say, “Hey, Jenny, way to shop wisely at the Jewel this week!” Does anyone even care that with my Bonus card and two coupons from Sunday’s newspaper, I saved $7.09 on my last grocery bill? I can show you the receipt if you don’t believe me. And is it too much to ask that someone tell me, “Wow! You really do a nice job of keeping the litter box clean! I can hardly even tell you have cats!”
I’m not looking for gold watches or pop can cozies emblazoned with the company logo. Just a little respect and recognition. That’s it. That’s all I ask.
Realizing that this respect is not going to be handed to me anytime soon, I have decided to go out and reclaim that which I am due. Really, I’m not just doing this for me, but for all stay-at-home-moms-without-children. In order to raise awareness for our cause, I’m working on putting together a demonstration, the likes of which this country has never seen. I’m tentatively calling it The Million Stay-At-Home-Mom-Without-Children March On Washington. I say tentatively because it’s a little hard to fit that all on a t-shirt, but I’m working on it.
I see the Internet as my greatest tool to reach like-minded SAHMWC’s such as myself, and am using my keen marketing background to target the prime audience. So far, I’ve started message board threads on key websites such as:,, and I’m reaching out to any woman who, like me, feels her contributions to society are being dismissed. You can either have a job, or have children, but god forbid you should have neither!
So far, my requests for support from the Rosie O’Donnell camp have gone unanswered. Apparently Ms. O’Donnell’s definition of women’s rights doesn’t include the rights of the SAHMWC’s of the world. I realize that people like me don’t have a voice in society – that’s why I went to her for help. If anyone would understand discrimination, I thought it would be Rosie. So disappointing.
But don’t worry about me – I’m not letting this minor setback shake my passion for the cause. The SAHMWC is everywhere – she’s your sister, your friend, your aunt, or your neighbor. And she deserves to be heard. So please – anyone who’s reading this right now – help the SAHMWC’s in your life rise up and be counted. Not because it’s the popular thing to do, but because our mission is just and good, and because we matter.


I need to get a job really soon. I’ve been unemployed for more than two months now, and I’m starting to lose my mind. Sure, there are some definite perks: my house is immaculate, my bills get paid on time, nobody complains anymore when I don’t wear pants. But all of these benefits combined still don’t outweigh the unbelievable stress that comes from being in a one-bedroom apartment all day long taking care of twin four-year-olds. That’s right, I’m talking about my two Siamese cats – Punch and Judy.
Unless they’ve owned a Siamese cat before, it’s hard for people to understand what I’m talking about. Most cats meow. Some just mew. I’ve even heard stories of cats that just kind of silently mouth the word “meow”. Siamese cats, on the other hand, scream. They yell, they demand, they shout. All the time, and for no apparent reason.
I’m starting to worry that my landlord is going to evict me. Other tenants give me dirty looks in the hallway, people let the laundry room door slam in my face, and somehow the Chinese takeout menus and political flyers always end up in my mailbox. In fact, I find myself wishing that the neighbors would hold loud parties, or take up the drums, or have fussier babies. Anything to take some of the focus off of me.
At one point, I actually took Judy to the vet to see what was wrong with her because I thought this just could not be normal behavior, even for a Siamese. She does this thing, pretty much every night, where she frantically paces around the living room like a dingo’s got her baby, and every time she passes the fireplace, she screams. Not just a quick meow, but a long howl that gets progressively louder with each second.
I did some research online and diagnosed her as having hyperthyroidism. She has all the classic symptoms. It was the vet’s first guess as well, so I was pretty excited at the idea of just slipping some Synthroid into her tuna fish every day and regaining my sanity. But unfortunately, when the blood test came back, the vet had to inform me that she was perfectly healthy. Damn.
The vet’s only suggestion was Valium. While I weighed this option aloud, expressing some concern about developing a dependency, the vet clarified that she meant for Judy. So my choices were to either have a cat with ADHD sprinting around my apartment all day, or live with some sort of crank addict jonesing for Whiskas liver snaps. What to do, what to do? I chose the drug-free route, but it’s comforting to know that I do have the option of getting her some meds in the event of an impending eviction.
When I first started spending more time at home, I wondered if maybe the cats were just yelling all the time because I was there. Maybe they didn’t do this during the day when I was away. Once I went back to work, they’d settle down and go back to their normal routine, right?
I hung onto that naïve belief for a few weeks, until one day when I was leaving my apartment. I thought I heard my cats yelling goodbye to me, but then realized that the sound was coming from the neighbor’s door.
Then I heard my neighbor’s voice:
“Who are you talking to, sweetie?”
Apparently, my neighbor’s two-year old daughter has been crouching by their front door, conversing with my cats for the past several months. This poor child’s first word may have been “meow” and it’s all my fault. I need to get a job really soon.