Sunday, February 22, 2009

Missions of Mercy

I would enjoy this not-working thing if only it paid better. Actually, I'm not un-employed, but under-employed -- I'm working part-time as a Web monkey for an office services company and taking on a bunch of fun Web site work. A month into my kiss-off from Sun, and I've been so busy that I haven't had the time to apply much serious effort toward looking for a full-time job. I've attended a couple of webinars (the person who invented that term ought to be slapped with a dictionary), talked with my outplacement counselor, and done some networking. My resume is still rusty and covered with cobwebs, though. That's the next task. I've just been too busy working to look for work.

This is one of those times when having a wide network of friends and acquaintances, many of whom have experienced the same situation at one time or another, will save one's sanity. I've been in touch with several friends who have experienced the same thing. They've supplied me with help, advice, leads to writing gigs, links to useful articles, and so on. One friend got me my current part-time job as a Web monkey for a virtual-office company. Dale has been more than helpful and generous, funneling a number of Web projects my way. Sue recommended that I talk to her neighbor about a site, and a whole new friendship is evolving thanks to her. If it weren't for the people I know, I probably would still be cowering under the blankets. Thanks, everybody, from the bottom of my heart.

Got Nothing But Time -- Oh, Don't Have That, Either

Spinoza knew what he was talking about when he coined the famous phrase "Nature abhors a vacuum" -- and he wasn't talking about our crappy old Electrolux, either. The very second I lost my job, dozens of tasks rushed in to fill the space where work used to be. How did I ever work 8+ hours a day and take care of all of the things that needed taking care of? Oh, yeah, that's right. I juggled. I juggled then as I do now, only twice as much and twice as crazily.

A couple of weeks ago, Dale and I were having a breakfast meeting at her favorite local hangout (the cafe at the local airport). That place serves up a pretty mean breakfast for not too much money, plus you get to watch planes come and go. Can't hate that! Anyway, while we were sitting there, I received a message on my Blackberry from Dinah's breeder in the UK saying that a mutual friend of ours had died in January. He owned a Breaksea dog (Dinah's uncle Badger), and did I know anyone who could help with the dog?

A few texts, some emails, and a bunch of phone calls later, and all was set: I would go to Virginia to pick up Badger and bring him here. I knew Badger back when he was living in the Old Country, and he became one of my best buddies when I went over to bring Dinah home. If I didn't have Dinah's dad Danny on my lap, I had her uncle Badger (Danny's half-brother).

Sure, Badger could have found a home in the area. The National Capital Bearded Collie Club has a crack network of rescue volunteers, and a number of people offered homes when they heard that our friend had died. I admit to being selfish about this one, though: I love Badger and didn't want him to go anyplace else. Greg will probably take us all to the animal shelter when he realizes that Badger isn't just here temporarily (if I can help it), but he's actually been fine with the idea thus far.

Since I'm technically out of work, I have the opportunity to make a mini-vacation out of the trip. I could just drive the 11-12 hours straight, pick Badger up, and beat it home, but why rush? I can visit people along the way -- stop in to see my dad in Massachusetts and give my sister some time off, crash overnight near Baltimore with a Beardie friend and go to a huge local craft fair, visit another friend's new house in the DC suburbs, and enjoy my time in Richmond seeing old friends. If Mother Nature cooperates, it could be a fine little excursion. Badger's a good traveler and gets along well with everybody -- we could celebrate our first road trip together.

That's the thing about being laid off -- the first instinct is to berate oneself for not getting a new job right away, coupled with the fear of what happens if you don't find one before the severance package runs out. It takes some time before you can look past that fear to the opportunities beyond. Having time is a vastly underrated opportunity. I can't say as I've used it all wisely in this first month, but at least I understand that my time is now mine to make use of, or to squander, as I decide.

More On the Time Thing

Although I haven't realized my dream of going straight back to art school as soon as I became newly unemployed, I did sign up for a daytime knitting class with a friend of mine. It's nice to be able to get out of the house and concentrate on nothing but knitting for a couple of hours. The instructor is a mutual friend of ours who once worked at our late lamented local yarn shop, and who has been teaching multiple knitting and crochet classes for the local adult education department since then.

I've taken the opportunity to learn lace knitting. Sure, I can do yarnovers with the best of them, but I've been averse to taking on projects that involve much counting just because I am constantly interrupted here. Any time I have to set down my work mid-row to answer the phone/answer Greg/let the dogs out/go to the door/change channels on the TV, I'm lost. This explains why I've had a simple basketweave throw sitting in a bag in the Frog Pond since the 2004 World Series -- being able to concentrate on anything here for more and a minute at a time is impossible. If I were smart, I'd just frog the poor thing and take it with me to class.

Anyway, the prospect of doing some dedicated lace knitting is exciting. I'll be making something tiny like a bookmark, but no matter. The important thing is that I get to devote two hours to nothing but lace knitting.

Bittersweet Man News

Greg says that he's almost finished with the editing of the recordings for the Sax Quartets CD. He took on the editing tasks for his piece and that of his former professor at BU, Lukas Foss. This past week, we got word that Lukas had died on February 1. We had known he'd been in declining health for a while, and the New Hudson Sax Quartet had to record his piece at Lukas's apartment in New York because he wasn't able to go to them. Still, it's sad news. I never met Lukas, though I answered the phone a couple of times when he called looking for Greg. Sad to think that Lukas won't be around when this CD comes out.

The same label that is issuing the Sax Quartets recording is also recording and releasing Greg's String Quintet. You might remember this piece from my post about "The Ugly Quintet." Anyway, in its new and beautiful form as a piece for strings, the Quintet will be recorded in the Czech Republic sometime soon (if it hasn't already), and will be released at some point. I have no idea whether the piece will be included in another collection, released on its own, or whether it will be part of an all-Greg CD. The label has a whole spiderweb of distribution agreements with Naxos Records, iTunes, and a gazillion other musical outlets. I've been promising that all these CDs in the works will be released Any Time Now, so I'm not going to make any more announcements until I have a copy in one hand and am typing into this blog with the other.

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