How to Wait

Searching for a job is difficult work. It requires diligence. Perseverance. And most of all, it requires patience.

As each day turns into the next, we wait. Wait for that phone call, the email telling you yes! you have a phone interview! Or yes, you’ve made it to the in-person round! Even yes, you’ve made it to the second, third, or fourth interview. And the elusive grand-daddy of them all – yes! we want you! for this job! Please, come work for us. Join us. Be our expert in this field. (And hopefully, that comes with yes! we will pay you lots of money, but that’s just the cherry on top at this point.)

But until that call comes, it’s how you pass the time that matters. What can you during your (non)working days?

  • Rework your resume: Yes, back when you left your last job you updated your resume. But have you updated it this quarter? This month? This week? It pays to take a look at your resume as often as possible. Tweak wording, add new content. Nothing says “throw it in the pile” like an outdated resume.
  • Network: I know, sometimes it can be tedious, but networking really does help. And it doesn’t have to be just attending events as some anonymous job-seeker. Often it can be as simple as reconnecting with an ex-colleague over lunch. You don’t want to be a vampire do you? So get out there and make some friends!
  • Learn¬† your industry: Of course you know your industry, you’re an expert, right? But things are always changing, so it’s important to keep up with the latest news and trends while you’re out of work.
  • Follow up: Sent the resume, but haven’t heard anything? Follow up. Had the interview, but haven’t heard anything? Follow up. Always follow up. And write a nice, hand-written thank-you note while you’re at it! It’ll help you feel proactive, and it beats waiting around, that’s for sure.
  • Do something else: I know for a fact you can’t spend all of your time job-searching. And you can only cook, and clean, and do other housewife-y things for so long, so do something else. Perhaps some reading? Or taking a class? Anything you can do to stay sharp is going to help you in your search. Or, you can check this out. You know, just to pass the time.

By Color

As a book lover, I have a tendency to hoard everything I’ve ever read. Yes I loan books to my friends and reserve from the library, but for the most part we have an ever-increasing pile of books that lives in our guest room on two bookshelves that are much, much too small.

One day I intend to have a lovely library, the kind with books all the way up to the ceiling and a moving ladder and a cozy recliner with a throw I knitted myself. Maybe something like this:

Until that day comes though, I’ll have to make due with a guest room/library with ugly yellow paint the previous owners slapped on the wall, my sister’s old double bed with my crusty college bedding, and two lovely bookshelves crammed full of books.

When I walked into the guest room last week to take stock of said books, I was confronted with the following:

before books

before books2

No rhyme or reason, just piles upon piles of books crammed onto the shelves. Not to mention those sitting in piles on the floor, in boxes in the guest room closet, and in the attic. And on my coffee table. And my nightstand. And in the office.

On this day, my goal was clear. Something needed to be done about these books. I decided I could alphabetize them by author. Or I code organize them by subject or theme. Fiction vs. non-fiction. Yes, those are all classic ways of organizing a library. But why not do something bold? And something beautiful?

I chose to color code.

First step was to take all of the books off of the shelves and organize them by color.

floor piles

Tons of blacks and whites, but you’d be surprised at the number of blue-ish spines out there. And maroon/red was a close second. Greens and yellows and oranges lagged behind. Strangely enough, there was only one book with a purple spine. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An anomoly wrapped in an enigma. Or something.

Anyway, once the hard part of color coding had been done, it was simply a matter of cleaning off the shelves and then putting the books where they belonged. I tried to alternate between vertical and horizontal arrangements, and I even added a few display pieces and a vase to make it a little more interesting to the eye.

post

post2

Yes, there are still some books on the floor and in the closet, but now that the books on the shelves are organized, I feel a sense of calm opportunity. Next step, getting rid of those yellow walls.

For Love of Reading

I’ve always been somewhat of a bookworm. When I was a kid you could often find me sprawled out on my bed with one of The Babysitter’s Club series or maybe some Roald Dahl.¬† Sometimes I’d even go sit under a tree in the backyard because I thought it was a romantic place to sit and immerse myself in a fantasy world. I envisioned my would-be prince Charming would find me under that tree and sweeping me away some day. In high school I transitioned to the local coffee shop, actually a number of local coffee shop that would let me sit and chain smoke and lose myself in John Steinbeck or e.e. cummings or J.D. Salinger. Those teenage years really helped solidify my love for literature. I excelled in Language Arts classes even given my tendency for rebellion, and I devoured almost every book I was assigned. In college I continued down the path, knowing almost immediately I wanted to major in English Literature (although I toyed with creative writing for a while, I’ve found I’m better evaluating and appreciating the work of others than creating my own).

Since I left college and subsequently graduate school, I haven’t given up reading, although I don’t consume nearly as many books as I used to. When I was working full time I often felt there wasn’t the time to read, and now that I’m unemployed I tend to think of reading as a guilty pleasure that I shouldn’t always indulge in. I am trying to change that mindset however, because reading truly does give me pleasure, and aside from that it helps to keep my mind sharp and fuels both the creative and logical sides of my brain. While I like to read as much as possible, spending money on books isn’t always an option. Because of that, I’ve taken a few different tactics in order to satisfy my desire for fiction.

  • Go to the library. I’ve been frequenting my local branch of the Denver Public Library, which is a short bike ride away. The system encourages you to read quickly because you have to return books in a timely manner, and with the online system it’s a piece of cake to request any book. Yes, sometimes there’s a waiting list (I’m number 144 on the list to read a current best-seller) but in the meantime there’s always something else to read.
  • Subscribe to a magazine. I paid $39.99 for a year’s subscription the The New Yorker, meaning I get a new fiction story every week and now have unlimited access to their online archives. Hundreds of short stories, only a click away.
  • Listen to podcasts. In addition to my New Yorker subscription I also download a monthly fiction podcast that features one of the magazine’s previous writers reading aloud a story they’ve always admired. Every month I’m exposed to new stories and authors and I can listen while I’m doing something mundane like cooking dinner or doing the dishes.

These days I’m usually back sprawled across my bed reading, or in our hammock if it’s a nice day, but my joy is no less than it was when I was 10 and reading those Roald Dahl books. I’m about to start The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Have you read any good books lately?