Maid in 2012

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Note to self, dated May 2012. During the two years of “under-employment.”

The cleaning lady 2009_full

A year ago I considered getting a cleaning lady.

Today, while on my knees Windexing the water spots on someone else’s marble bathroom floor, I thought to myself, “Who the fuck do they think I am? The cleaning lady?”

Exactly. That’s exactly who I was at that moment. Someone’s cleaning lady.

Moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for. The universe gives you what you ask for, but it rarely looks the way you’d expect.

not so great expectations

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I recently found myself trying to talk an Executive team into allowing their employees the use of Facebook and Twitter. There’s a ton of already written about using social media for brandingbuilding community, fund raising, etc. I’m not inventing the wheel here. But they are afraid people will waste time on Facebook and Twitter.

Of course they will, especially if you expect them to. Especially if you tell them NOT to waste time on Facebook or Twitter or Bebo.

In my experience, everything flows downstream. People act the way you treat them, the way you expect them to.

There’s also a ton of documentation already written about that as well – particularly in educational settings. If you expect the child to fail, to be disruptive, etc. there’s a good chance s/he will. And vice versa. If you expect them to shine, that’s probably going to happen as well.

The thing is, nine times out of ten, you get what you expect.

Growing up, I worked in restaurants. The Jolly Swagman was an Australian restaurant on Long Island.  It was a family run business and they treated all of us like part of the family. Staff meals were delicious, the same fine food that was served to the customers.  Nothing was off limits, we could eat or drink anything we wanted. I worked as a prep cook, spending a lot of time shelling cooked lobsters and crab into two giant sinks. One for the delicious cooled cooked meats and one for shells. The first night, as I worked, I ate my fill of chilled lobster, well within eye-sight of the manager.

That was the first and only time I abused their generosity.

Years later, I found myself working at an Italian restuarant and piano bar on 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue. I was in desperate need of a job, food, help. It was a bad time in my life, a time I should have been grateful for any hand up. Also a small family business, but here, staff meals were restricted to pasta dishes and on the very first day, I was told I’d be fired if I was caught eating a single shrimp.

We were all reminded of that with regularity.

And so, I stole pounds of shrimp and bottle after bottle of wine. Not that I couldn’t afford the wine. I could, I made pretty good money there. And of course, I was a much bigger drunk by the time I got to 52nd Street than I was on Long Island,  but I got so much pleasure out of stealing something from someone who expected me to, who was waiting to catch me before they even met me and was ready to punish me the minute they did. If they already thought I was stealing and were just waiting to catch me, well, if the shoe fits, I might as well wear it, no?

Social media is a well designed time-suck but the point is, the time-wasting part is an administrative issue. People act the way you expect them to. I’m convinced that’s why I’ve never been in a Radio Shack, anywhere, where the staff is helpful or happy. Or why I’ve never been in an Old Navy where they weren’t.

Everything flows downstream.

and now, a word about god

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jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : about god : night road

My dream is to be paid for working on the farm . I’ve been working there for free for months.

We made it official two weeks ago. Well, semi-official. The offer was made and accepted, but there was still the ever elusive paperwork to bag. I worked. I worked again. And then came the great crash of 2010:

“We can only pay you two thirds of what we said we could pay you.”

Well, FYI, all three thirds was already slightly below what I needed to live on, but I thought, I love it here, it’ll all work out. I have faith. I have faith. I have faith.

Driving home, after the second week where the drive up took 90 minutes instead of the hour it’d been when I was volunteering…

How did that happen? I leave at 7:30am to drive 90 minutes to a job that can only pay me less than I make on unemployment and it costs me $20 in gas and tolls every time I go? But I really, really love it on the farm. I believe in everything they do, everything they stand for. The farm is all that is right with the world.

I have faith. I have faith. I have faith.

I checked in silently with god on the drive home – we do a lot of our talking during these long drives. It’s dark and the headlights of oncoming cars blind me over and over and over. I speak first. I usually do.

So, now what? How’s this gonna work?
You have faith?
I do.
Okey doke then, have faith. Trust me.

At once I become aware of the Randy Travis CD that’s playing. He sings “when you see me walk on water…”

Oh, you got jokes now? Now you wanna get funny with me?
I’m a funny guy…
You, you are not actually a guy at all.
Well, you know, whatev….

My god says whatev. I couldn’t have one that said “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not”. Or one that expected any sort of begatting from me.

Our conversations are silent. I can hear them; you can’t. Not even if you’re sitting next to me. Not even just my side of the conversation. This is why:

Outloud, a little later in the drive:

“Okay, god, so? Do I have a move, a plan, something” Silence “Oh, you don’t play that? You gonna act like you don’t hear me when I talk out loud? You don’t answer my out loud questions?”

And I hear, in my head No. And  then I swear I hear a little far off giggle.

That’s one funny diety….I have faith. I have faith. I have faith….

job hunting AC/BC

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The last time I had to look for a job I used a newspaper. A New York Times, the kind you buy at a newsstand, then use to annoy everyone on the subway. Before I had a life that demanded cruising the Times classifieds, I was a back of the Village Voice kinda gal.  But, I haven’t had to look for a job since 1998, which means BCL (before craigslist), if you can believe it, before both Monster.com (1999) and before Craigslist New York (2000).

jodi sh doff : onlythejodi : job hunting : Village Voice

Even I have trouble believing it. And honestly, when my company folded, besides the fact that my industry was virtually disappearing, I wasn’t keen on finding another job right away. I haven’t been unintentionally unemployed since…high school? So I took a few months to relax, to write, to explore my options. There’s always the back of the Village Voice to fall back on if things got bad. Granted, I’m not hootchy cooch material anymore but there’d always be a waitressing gig or a bartending shift that had my name on it.

When I noticed a dip in my bank balances I really started putting effort into looking for work, setting up RSS feeds for job searches through Idealist, Monster, the Times, Craigslist. I send out a dozen or so resumes a day and thanks to the magic of the Worldwide Interwebs, I haven’t found it necessary to go to my corner newsstand and buy a newspaper, mostly because if you haven’t noticed, there really isn’t a “back of the Village Voice” anymore.

Waitressing and bartending gigs want headshots.  Or that I work strictly for tips. Or supply my own customers. When did that happen? Where are the jobs that Flo would get if she weren’t still working at Mel’s diner?

At least 50%, maybe more, of the ads I answer on Craigslist are scams. Some are telemarketing scams that with online applications that can only be completed if you say you’re interested in furthering your education. Then you’re bombarded with annoying telephone solicitations, but no job interview ever appears.  Others are phishing scams, masquerading as employment agencies or claiming to need credit reports or security clearance before even scheduling an interview. This is ACL (after craigslist) stuff, stuff that absolutely did not exist last time I looked for a job. There was no identity theft unless you lifted someone’s wallet. Here are a few of the bogus sites, but I’m sure there are dozens and dozens more.

Each one starts out almost the same:

I am contacting you to confirm that we have received your application for the Office Manager position you submitted to Employment Forever . We have recommended you as a potential candidate. In order to log in, follow the link below. This will allow you to confirm your availability to fill the position currently being offered:

A few of the phishing scams are Nigerian email scam style, like the long distance employer who wants me to handle his business affairs here and only asks that I fill in the following:

Full Name:
Full Address: (NO P.O.BOX)
City: State: Country: Zip Code:
Phone Number: Age:
Please attach any valid id if you have any

On Craigslist domestic gigs, because I have no problem with doing manual labor, I’ve found these, probably all from the same person:

Ge paid $30 to act (East Harlem)
Job will be done in my home today. Pay is $30. You must be able to act weird. Send me your phone number along with your description.

Cheer on (Harlem)
Cheer me on to exercise while i exercise. I dont have a gym, so, you have to do this job in my home. You can be a male or female of any age for this job. Pay is $10 hourly. job is around 3 hours long. I need you today. send me your name, age and phone number

I need someone to clean my room today for around $20 (Harlem)
Ths job wont take more then 2 hours.

Harlem, dude, and I assume you are a dude – all I have to say is, you’re lonely, you can’t spell and dude, you cheap like a mofo.

Or this job, closer to home, that pays $15/hr.

SEEKING BI-LINGUAL (SPANISH-ENGLISH) FEMALE ENEMA ADMINISTRATOR (QUEENS)

on a part time basis to assist mature male. this will be twice a month for 3 hours each visit. please be skilled at giving a deep tissue, full body massage as patient has mild osteoarthritis. both these treatments are ordered by the doctor and you will be given a great letter of reference if needed! this is a permanent part time situation. please leave contact info and the best time to call. thank you kindly.

Harlem’s posts have all been deleted and EnemaBoy’s are still there, so maybe he’s legit.  Maybe, but that wasn’t exactly the kind of manual labor I had in mind. I’m not that desperate…yet.

getting there from here

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jodi sh. doff : onlythejodi : getting there from here : railroad tracksI have a definite writing process.

First I put down the basics. Where’m I starting and where do I want to end?

Then I add details. Every minute little thing I can think of. Color. Taste. Smell. Boring incidental distractions. Adding and adding, until it resembles a bloated carcass.

Then I start carving, cutting, deleting. Bringing her down to something toned and athletic. Then I cut more, give her a spit shine & a polish.

It’s the long way around, for sure, but it’s the way that works for me. And apparently, I’m building my life the exact same way.

I know where I’m starting & where I want to end up.
I’ve added every little thing, every big thing, every damn thing I can squeeze into 24/7/365. Then I added some more and while my life doesn’t resemble a bloated carcass, it did become unmanageable and I was fast approaching meltdown.

So, I started to carve, cut, delete, eliminate and bring her back down to something that fits. That’s where we are now. The carve and cut stage.

This method won’t work for everyone. The cousins knew what they wanted right out of the gate. I don’t know what I want until I can’t handle what I have. The journey’s a little longer on this road, but it works for me.

looking for the loophole

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jodi sh. doff : onlythejodi : looking for the loophole : loopholeIf I’m calling around to see if what I have in mind is ethical or not, I already know the answer.

When I ask, “Is this ethical?” what I really mean is “Hey, there’s this thing I want to do and we both know I shouldn’t, that it’s unethical or immoral or just plain wrong, but there must be some way around that, isn’t there? Something? Some loophole? Can you give me an easy out on this one? Would you co-sign my bullshit?”

Really. That’s what I’m saying. I know it. And you do too.

A friend told me about a job recently, one she thought she might be interested in, but the universe was just not aligning. Phone calls were missed. Interviews were scheduled on impossible days. And it sounded like exactly what I’d been looking for.  She couldn’t show up for it, but I could. Only she really wanted it and was trying to figure out a way to make it work.

I made the phone calls looking for a co-signer. It took a few before I got someone on the line and as the words were coming out of the mouth I was liking myself less and less. Honestly, I only called people I knew would not give me a walk, because you can always find someone to tell you what you want to hear. These days, what I want to hear is the truth, even when I don’t want to hear the truth.

The truth is there is something out there just right for each of us, the universe is a place of abundance & friendships are harder to come by and keep than jobs, at least for me. Trust matters more than convenience.

I’d forgotten for a brief moment, that I already knew all that. Sometimes I need a little crisis of faith to remind me of my faith. So, it bears repeating.

There is something out there just right for each of us.

dawn

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jodi sh doff : onlythejodi : dawn : erik gecas

erik gecas : hiding from the babylonians

I have some free time now, with the not working and all. I’ve been sorting through the boxes and boxes of “things” that have followed me. Diaries, photos, love letters. The memorabilia of a lifetime.

My sketchbooks are there. I used to draw & sculpt. I was pretty good, got a few awards and as a high school art major I’d thought about going into commercial art. I don’t know why I stopped, why it got dropped by the wayside. I can say it was the drugs and the drinking, but at this point in my life I know that the drugs and the drinking were there to disguise the fear. I didn’t even try to make my way as an artist because I was afraid of the competition, afraid to try.

I rushed to get out of high school, skipping my SATs and nixing any chance of going directly to a four year college. Eventually I entered Nassau Community College as acting major — my sole goal to become a regular guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. But actually being on stage felt risky, I abandoned that dream for the safety of a beer and of working backstage.

“You didn’t really have any talent for that,” Big Edie said recently, “but you were a great prop person.” I was. I am. I’m terrific at supporting other people’s creative efforts. I was made for backstage.

I went on to develop that fear of exposure, that co-dependent talent for support into an thriving career as the invisible woman. I’ve stayed in media and entertainment, but I’ve stayed safe. I’ve been a stage manager, follow spot light operator, casting director, manager.

The move from stage to print was simply more of the same. I wrote in college, getting validation and accolades but instead of taking a risk, I stepped back and once again offered my assistance. My interview selling point has always “I can make you look good, really good.”

jodi sh doff : onlythejodi : dawn : william-adolphe_bouguereau

william-adolphe bouguereau : dawn

Instead of creating art, I worked in a position where I bought art.
Instead of acting in plays, I did props, wardrobe, schedules, lights.
Instead of writing, I stepped into the shoes of a production manager.
Instead of taking a creative risk, I played it safe.

Someone called the other day, they were in the music studio producing a new, hot talent from England. “She needs NY management, I know you’re not working. You’re perfect for this. We should do this together,” he said.

“Sorry, but I’m not creative support for other people anymore. I can’t do that anymore. I can only be creative support for myself right now. But thank you.” I didn’t expect to say that, I don’t know where those words came from, but that’s what I said.

And right then, I knew. My angel is an artist.