Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

314799_4865839976057_1080256591_nYour resume must look sharp.  Your job search methods must be fresh, creative, powerful.  You need a prepared list of personal and professional references and a versatile cover letter that can be tweaked for every different type of potential interview.  And you need to network, network, network!  This was just some of the helpful advice doled out this morning by my Jersey Job Club leader, a lovely woman named Cynthia.

What is a Jersey Job Club?  It’s a helpful meeting place for unemployed people living in the Garden State, a “club” where job seekers can go to get ideas, get advice, get encouragement and, of course, network.  I sat through a 90-minute orientation this morning in a drab East Orange building staffed by cheerful and helpful Department of Labor workers and I left feeling better about my chances of winding up back in the workforce.  There were about a dozen other women in the room with me, ranging in age from mid-60s to early 30s and crossing a wide swath of the career and education spectrum.  We had all been downsized by companies looking to save money, stay afloat or just plain go belly up.  We were all frustrated and rather stunned by our current situations and while we may have been a bit depressed and discouraged upon entering the room at 10am, I believe we all left feeling positive and empowered.

Some of the unemployed women in the room had had clerical jobs in nearby schools.  Some had worked in collections.  A few had worked for lawyers or executives.  They had all been employed in what I would consider more “conventional” fields than mine.  For the better part of three decades I have worked as a freelance television stage manager.  It’s never been the kind of job for which you would see a help wanted ad in a newspaper (remember newspapers?), or on a typical electronic job-search bulletin board.  It’s not the sort of position that requires the help of a headhunter.  It’s the kind of job that you somehow manage to get in your 20s, hopefully right out of college, and then maintain and grow through internal networking.  The more you work, the more new job leads you hear.  The different and creative ways that people use to obtain their first jobs in the industry are about as varied and numerous as there are job titles in TV production, from following in a family member’s footsteps to interning or working as a page to DJ-ing a TV station’s Christmas party and asking everyone there to send over the person who hires crew members.  Yeah, that last one, that was my creative path into the land of television.  Smart, right?  Serendipitous, even.  It worked and I had a fabulous 30-year career.

But lately the jobs have been hard to come by.  I worked the Olympic games in London, Vancouver, Beijing and Torino but not earlier this year in Sochi, and I’m still not really sure why.  I’ve had a few freelance gigs here and there, but not enough to live on.  And at the start of this year I thought my troubles were over when I landed a position on the crew of an awesome new cable health and wellness show.  We were supposed to be on the air for at least a year, maybe get picked up for syndication and survive past that projection, but the show was hemorrhaging money and was canceled after eight short months.  So now I’m unemployed again and having a hard time with it.

At the Job Club today we were reminded to stay focused and stay positive.  I have a difficult time with that no matter how much I try.  I asked Alyson Charles, one of the hosts of the show I had most recently been working on, to suggest a few daily affirmations I could say to hopefully keep my mind filled with positive thoughts that would crowd out the feeling of doom and gloom I so often experience in stressful situations.  She happily obliged.  My favorite was, “I am a being of Divine light and love and my purpose here is to embody that through my words, thoughts and actions. And so it is!”  Thanks, Aly.  I have been repeating that every day along with, “Help me please, thank you,” to stay positive and grateful and attract the job I desire.  I have treated my search as a full-time job and I have been networking my butt off.  Friends and colleagues have chimed in with leads and ideas, for which I am so very grateful.  I have looked through old contact numbers and reached out to people I have not heard from in years.  And, meanwhile, I have remained open to the idea of a new career in a similar but different field.  I’m not exactly 21st-century-ready but I’m smart and I learn quickly.

One suggestion the Job Club leader made today was to create something called a visual board.  It’s supposed to be sort of like a poster that you place where you can see it daily and it should contain images that represent your goal.  I told Cynthia and the other women in the room that I have been continuously and frequently changing my profile photos on Facebook and LinkedIn and rotating through older and newer pictures of me working as a stage manager to remind myself, other people and the universe in general what it is that I have done, what it is that I DO, still.  Then I asked if that counted as a visual board.  It does.  But just to make sure, here are some more photos that I send out, with all good intentions, to affirm what it is that I am, what I do, what I want and deserve:

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Thanks for reading this blog post.  If you have any job leads, please let me know!  DJGRRR17@aol.com


I love women. 

I also love men.  As a person who is trying her best to “Do unto others…” and lead an authentic, wholesome life, I tend to love everyone first and ask questions later.  There are, most definitely, people on the planet who turn my stomach and fill me with nothing but wholesome disgust, but I love them anyway and wish for them happiness, enlightenment and peace.  It amazes me, though, how many people there are who simply assume that, because I am a lesbian, I automatically hate men.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, I worked at a local TV station in Secaucus, New Jersey.  I would make the daily drive in from Brooklyn, against the usual flow of rush-hour traffic to my job as a stage manager, working on shows such as 9 Broadcast Plaza (with a young Matt Lauer), Steampipe Alley (with an even younger Mario Cantone) or, if I happened to be on the late shift, The Morton Downey, Jr. Show and the 10 o’clock news.  I loved my job and I worked with a lot of great people.  The place was so busy that parking spaces were difficult to find and the lunchroom was always full.

As a television stage manager I have to tell a whole crew of people what to do and when to do it.  I have to cue talent and guests out and give time cues and get the audience involved and keep the director informed about what is happening on the studio floor and backstage and do whatever he or she needs to make the show successful.  It’s an important but fun job, suited perfectly for a multitasking, think-on-your-feet, physically fit, motivational yet polite person.  You can never panic.  You can never bark at people.  You need to be able to get the audience members to applaud even when they’re not sure they want to.  And you have to stay one or two steps ahead of everyone and everything.  I have been a stage manager for more than 30 years and I can’t think of a regular job I’d rather do.  My job has taken me all around the country and the world, to presidential conventions, dog shows, basketball and football games, museums, debates and five different Olympics.  It’s been a blast.

At Channel 9 in Secaucus all those years ago, I made some lifelong friends.  A lot of them were men.  A lot of them went on to bigger and better things as the station started to shed productions and jobs.  We were there in the good old days and didn’t have a clue at the time.  It’s only now, all these years later, that we can reflect, through social media opportunities, on how good we had it back then, when we all worked together and thought of each other as family.  I had friends who were cameramen and audio engineers and technical directors and associate directors and show directors and janitors.  There were women in all those jobs, too.  Everyone said hello to everyone.  The hallways were abuzz with activity.  There were days, back then, when it even seemed like everyone was “sleeping” with everyone.  That sounds like an idea for a future blog post.

Recently I was hired to work on an independent TV production that airs daily on cable.  The broadcast company needed studio space so they shopped around and found some nice, clean, available studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.  Channel 9 is nearly empty now.  Almost everyone who ever worked there is gone.  The hallways are quiet, the whole upstairs floor is dark and old equipment litters the studios and control rooms.  Two of the three studios have not been converted to digital, so no one wants to rent them for anything.  Studio C, though, where up until recently WWOR created its own nightly news program, is fairly up-to-date.  The audio board is an ornery relic and the arm on the jib camera isn’t very long, but the whole place works so it was available to rent.  A friend called me and told me to get my butt over there and ask for a job.  I got one.  Not exactly the job I was hoping for, but after three years of almost complete unemployment, I’ll take it.

When I walked in for my interview, the first person I saw in the studio was Richie.  He was up on a scissor lift, working on some lighting in the grid.  “Yo, Bro,” I yelled up to him, to the surprise of the production manager who was leading my interview.

“Slim!” Richie yelled back, using his old nickname for me.  He brought that scissor lift down and gave me an awesome hug.  Soon, Billy was there and hugging me, too.  Then Tommy and Jim.  My old stagehands.  My men.  My brothers in production.  I had known them all for at least 25 years but hadn’t seen any of them in eons.  They were old.  I was old.  We’re in our 40s and 50s and 60’s now, but working together again has given us all a renewed youth and a chance to scoff at the kids working alongside us who seem to have very little respect for the accomplishments and experience of their elders.  Twenty and 30 years ago, we weren’t like that.  Richie and I discussed what it was like coming up in the industry in the early 1980s, when the old guys then were all part of the greatest generation.  They were WWII photographers who became cameramen, Navy radiomen who became audio engineers, men who, as mere kids, parachuted into France to free the world of Nazis.  By the mid-80s they were middle-aged, the way Richie and I are now.  And we treated them with the utmost respect and reverence.  We listened to their stories and learned from them.  We loved those men.

And I love my men.  I love Richie and Billy and Tommy and Jim.  We don’t see eye to eye on every little thing.  We come from different backgrounds.  We’ve taken different roads.  I have always been out to them, though, and could not even imagine any of them acting judgemental of me because of my sexual orientation.  I have told them all, many times, if a crazy war suddenly broke out in our backyards, I would want them on my side.  They have said the same about me.  We work well together and treat each other with respect.  No, I don’t want to sleep with them.  But I really do love working with them.  And back in the day, I really loved partying with them, too.  When we were kids who had the energy and the time.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, as of yesterday, my position at the new show has been eliminated.  I still love my men, but they will have to carry on without me.  Anyone who knows of a production looking for a good, reliable, professional stage manager or A2, please let me know.

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Image     Hello, I’m Kimberly and since I can’t seem to find a job in my field and I’m really tired of having no income, today I will be playing the part of your, um, dentist.  Yes, your dentist!  Come on in and get comfortable in the chair while I figure out what all these nice, shiny instruments do.  I’ll have you out of here in no time, what’s left of your teeth gleaming like the noontime sun!  No, that would never go over.  I’m not much of a sadist so I’m sure I’d be found out pretty quickly.  Hmmm….  Okay, hi, my name is Kim and today I’ll be your pilot.  Yes, I have logged many, many hours in the air.  Why, as a network TV stage manager I was sent literally all over the world for very cool and interesting gigs.  What?  Oh, you mean hours flying a plane?  Well, none, but I’ve seen all the Airport and Airplane movies and I’m sure I could do a better job than Charlton Heston or Leslie Nielson.  So, where shall we go today?  No dice?  Ooh, dice!  Hi, I’m Kimberly and I’ll be your croupier this evening.  Hey, look out!  Oh, I’m not supposed to throw these at people?  But, where’s the fun in that?
 
Think, Miller, think.  What do you do well?  You can control large groups of people.  You could be… an usher at Yankee Stadium!  A traffic cop!  An extras wrangler for Cecil B. DeMille movies!  Huh?  Dead?  Really?  Well, somebody must be still making those epic, Biblical films.  Eww, Mel Gibson?  Oh, no, I don’t think I could work with him without trying to kill him.
 
Let’s try this again.  Hi, I’m Kim and today I’ll be filling in for your… proctologist!  I think all I have to do is say, “assume the position” and then….  What?  Why the heck not?  My, my we’re a skittish prude aren’t we.  Your loss, buddy.  But, you see, I really do need a job.  It’s been 3 years since I’ve had steady employment.  I know!  Hi, my name is Kimberly and I’ll be grooming your dog today.  Pay no attention to the lawn clippers I have hidden behind the counter.  I promise to use them only if your dog tries to bite me.  Then my hands can be far away from the fur, see?  As long as your dog keeps absolutely still it should….  What’s that?  You want to see Candy, the regular groomer?  But I can do this, I know I can!  Nice doggie.  There, there.  No, I don’t mean PEE there!  Ahhhhhh!  Brutus, you go right ahead and relieve yourself wherever you would like.  I’ll go get Candy. Okay, here comes the elevator.  Wait for it, wait for it.  Deep breath and… go!  Hi I’m Kimberly and I’ve written this exceptionally awesome screenplay that I think you would love it’s called Nothin’ Doin’ and it’s kind of based on the story of my life and you should think The Jerk meets The Wrath of Khan with a little bit of Stand By Me thrown in and it’s really funny yet poignant and hey wait you pushed the button for the 27th floor and we’re only on 10 where are you going I didn’t get my full 30 seconds yet!  Ugh, freaking media moguls!
 
Come on, kid!  Think!  What else do you do well?  You tell celebrities where to go, don’t you?  Or, at least, you did.  With all that experience you could get a job as, maybe, the receptionist for a botox doctor on Rodeo Drive?  The recreation director at the Betty Ford clinic?  The bouncer for the back room at Spago!  No, I’m just not perky, sedate or burly enough to do any of those jobs.  But I’m very smart.  I could do just about anything I set my mind to.  Hi, I’m Kim and I’m your new philosophy professor.  Let’s see….  Plato was a sexist, Voltaire was paranoid and Diogenes dressed as a beggar, lived in a tub on the grounds of a temple and was called “the Dog” by his students.  Oh, hi, Dean.  Yes, I was just sharing some little-known information with my students.  Why are you laughing?  Sheesh!  These eggheads are a confusing bunch!  What?  You don’t want me to be your proctologist but it’s okay if I’m your dominatrix?  But I’ve already told you that I’m not enough of a sadist to be your dentist!  Get your act together, baby boy!  Heel!
 
Alright, time to get serious.  I really do need a job!  Let’s try this:  Hi, I’m Kim and I’m the stage manager.  Welcome to our studio.  Thank you so much for visiting with us today.  Coffee?  Sure, I can ask the stagehands to transfer your green room coffee into a show cup.  That way you can keep it for the interview.  Our host will be right in.  Why don’t you have a seat and make yourself at home?  Here we go, stand by please.  Yada, yada, yada.  Wow, that was really great.  I’ll be sure to take my kids to see your new movie this weekend!  Thanks again for coming in today.  Okay, crew, take a ten-minute break and when we come back we’ll do some promos.  You know, promos, like the one you just read.     Image

“I’m not a magician, Spock, I’m just a…” simple stage manager.  Ask me for no miracles.  I will illicit no oohs or ahhs.  There are no rabbits in my hat or rubber chickens up my sleeve.  I’m just a television stage manager.  If you need an actor to walk through a certain door at a certain time, or a talk show host to stop talking precisely when the countdown reaches zero, or a weatherman to wait a second and a half to speak even though the big red light is on, I’m your person.  As a member of the Directors Guild of America, I have cued and prompted and held back all kinds of anchors and celebrities and surprise guests and clueless first-timers for more than two decades.  The last three years, though?  Not so much.

And it’s not as if I haven’t been out there, trying to find work.  I’m on LinkedIn, Media Match, Monster, tvgigs.net, Beyond.com and a whole host of other online job-search sites.  I know hundreds of people in the industry, all of whom have been amply made aware of my need for a new job.  My experience is vast and my resume is pretty impressive, I must say.  Still, I sit in the bullpen, waiting for that email or phone call that will change my life.

At first, I thought it was my disability that was holding me back.  After years as a club DJ and headset-wearing stage manager, I find myself hearing-impaired.  It was indeed a problem, not just on a professional level but on a day-to-day level as well.  So I fixed it.  I have hearing aids now and can hear just fine.  I saw to it that the word spread; Kim’s no longer half-deaf.

Then I got paranoid and pictured some not-so-nice people in the industry working against me, as if anybody actually would have time for that.  I thought maybe I was being blackballed for some unknown reason.  Don’t hire Kim for anything, I heard in my sleep, in my dreams, in my more paranoid and depressing moments.  I felt certain that I had enemies and  they were making sure I suffered.  I asked the people I trusted most to listen carefully for words spoken against me.  There was nothing.

So then I settled on fate.  On my belief that the universe gives us what we need, not what we request.  That a job in television was being denied me because there was something else I was supposed to be doing.  Something more important.  And for a while I thought, okay, bring it.  Let’s do this important work, whatever it is.  Show me the way.  My friends chimed in, said yes, stay positive, it will come.  Some relatives said our door is always open.  Stay with us whenever you need to, meaning when it gets so bad that you find yourself homeless and penniless.  As in now.  Former coworkers called and sent texts with job leads, some in my field, some not.  I tried for everything.  Still, the universe kept saying no.  And you know what I now say back to the universe?

I don’t give a flying you know what about your plans for me, what it is I’m destined to do, where I should be spending my energy.  I’m tired of this.  I am living with friends, my house snatched up just in time to avoid foreclosure, my possessions sold or given away or put into temporary storage thanks to buddies with spare room.

Let me tell you, universe, what I need.  I need a job that I know how to do.  A job that I enjoy.  A job that will enable me to pay for an apartment, buy food and clothes for my girls and myself.  A job so I can pay the bills and be a responsible adult.  A job with benefits so I can go to the eye doctor and the dentist.  A job, a simple job, like the ones I used to have and like millions of other people have.  I am not a loser.  I’m not stupid or dishonest.  I am a loyal employee, once I am hired.  The kind who shows up ready to work every day.  The kind who is a great team leader, making sure everything that’s supposed to get done is done, on time and well.  I am a good stage manager and a nice person.  So take your fate and shove it.  There’s something else I’m supposed to be doing?  I don’t care if it’s in my stars to write an Oscar-winning screenplay or a Pulitzer-winning book.  Or run for mayor.  Or walk naked into the woods to “find” myself.  I can’t do anything amazing while under this suffocating cloud of unemployed stress.  So you bring me the job that is rightfully mine and then, THEN, we’ll talk about whatever ELSE I am supposed to be doing.

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