so i went down to the career source office on 185 alewife brook parkway to attend my re-employment options seminar. ever since i got the letter in the mail informing me that my unemployment benefits would be dependent on me showing up at one of the seminars within a few weeks, i've been dreading this appointment. i wasn't afraid that somebody would actually be helping me find a job, that part was okay. i was afraid they'd want to check up on what i've done so far in terms of job searching, and to tell you the truth, i haven't done anything at all, other than yesterday, when i briefly glanced over some job openings at the MIMC website (which by the way included a job listing from my former company for developers - ouch, where the love?) and quickly updated my resume to reflect what i've been doing the past two years. while every other unemployed person i know has been busy job hunting (a lucky few with freelancing gigs already or temporary work), i've been doing other stuff (see all entries below for what i mean).

so that's what i was afraid of, that my one month of unemployment would be under the scrutiny of the unemployment office, like i was being audited somehow.

but guess what? the seminar was actually very helpful and i feel a lot better about my job prospects after having attended this class. originally i thought it'd be a one-on-one thing, but turns out it was a group event, about 15 other unemployed people all gathered around a u-shaped conference table, a manila folder thick with papers already waiting for us when we sat down. our instructor was a guy named dave, nicest guy you'd ever want to meet, sort of looked like cliff claven (cheers) a little bit, kind of soft-spoken, kind of dry, but sincere in his desire to help us and full of information. right off the bat he apologized for the wording of the letter we received informing us that we'd have to attend this seminar. he told us that his office and the unemployment office are two separate entities, and that he's not here to check up on anyone, just here to help, and that this seminar should really be voluntary, not mandatory, and your unemployment benefit shouldn't have to be tied to attendance, which it wasn't really, just a ploy to get people to show up. i looked around the room, sizing everyone up. i sat in between a muscular hispanic guy and a skinny white indie boy with black-rimmed glasses (amanda rawson bait). across from me sat this black guy wearing a marijuana t-shirt, a brunette who've i could've sworn i've seen before (she looked familiar, definitely a web person, i can just sense it), a middle aged man, an indian woman, a chinese woman, two guys who looked like they thought themselves to be some kind of hotshits, a mother who brought her young daughter with her, a few other people. dave essentially dispensed job searching advice from his overhead projector, reminiscent of high school/college classes, even down to the corny cartoon clippings to add a touch of levity to the presentation (my high school biology teacher mr.howick was the projector master).

you can't spend every waking hour looking for work, also budget time to relax, enjoy the time off, even if you have very little money. exercise is very important, a healthy body will give you more energy which will help with the job search. think positively, optimism is key, the power of positive thinking. looking for a job should be fun if you do it right. being unemployed allows you to rethink your priorities in life, allows you to have a fresh start. make a to-do list everyday, follow it, most people say what they miss most about working is the structure, create your own structure. review past accomplishments, make a list. hang out with other unemployed people, create a support group. don't use want ads or internet job sites, 2/3 of all jobs are not advertised, networking is the key. be creative and adventurous in your job search, stray outside your comfort zone. don't say "i've been laid off," use phrases like "i'm looking for my nexy job," "i'm in between jobs," glass is half full principle. make a list of 5 work accomplishments and weave it into a 20 second commercial. know your strengths. and so on.

i actually think everyone who gets laid off should attend this seminar. if you feel like you don't know what you're doing, or maybe not motivated, or maybe depressed about the job search, coming here will cheer you right up. they also had other free seminars to acquire other skills, things like interviewing, writing a resume, networking, even entrepreneurial help if you're thinking about starting your own business. it just blows my mind that there are people out there who's job it is to help me find work. i always figured landing a job was a solo mission, but it's comforting to know there's all this support if i need it. they also have internet access computers to do your searching (if you don't have access at home), phones to make calls, copying machines, audio/video instructional material, books, directories, everything.

it wasn't all one way information, a few times during the class we had to interact with other unemployed folks. my group was the two guys i sat next two. compared to them, i was in pretty good shape. the hispanic guy, cesar, 37 (although he doesn't look it, i thought maybe he was 29), his field is computer hardwares, setting up networks, setting up computers, an IT guy. unemployed for two months, he's recently divorced, the father of three children, all of them different mothers. "hey you guys, keep it in your pants, not like me! but seriously, i love my kids." he kind of reminded of my friend gary, sort of world savvy, knows a lot of people, has a lot of connections, don't care what other people think. the other guy, john, 23, he had the look of maybe a computer geek, but he was on the other end of the spectrum for that look, that is, indie starving artist type who never went to college. he worked three years in construction (never would've guessed, he was all skin and bones), then the past year he worked in a store that sold cowboy outfits and riding fear for motorcyclists and equestrians (don't try to find this store, they went out of business, hence his unemployment).

so now i'm really glad this happened, this whole re-employment thing. it's like getting a shot at the doctor's office, you know it'll help you yet you're still afraid, and then when it actually happens, it's very quick and painless and you feel better afterwards. this is the kind of medicine that everyone unemployed should be getting.

i think i'm ready for re-employment.

what was postponed yesterday would start today, or so i thought when my father and i went to cambridge early this morning to wait for the floor guys to show up once again. they came, and even though they had working equipment this time, jimmy (the guy in charge) said that it'd be better to do the floorboard laying and sanding and polyurethaning all at once instead of splitting it up, which was my original plan, to give the electrician/plumber/general contractor time to do some more work (explanation: once the sanding and polyurethane goes down, no more work should be done in order not to scuff the new floors). i gave jimmy a check for the material (floorboard strips), they took all their equipment, and then left in their van.

oh i almost forgot, i dropped off my father at the house first and made a quick stop to my old company to deliver checks for my continuing health and dental coverage. (just one more month left before i start paying the big bucks for COBRA health insurance! what little money i have left, i hardly knew you!) down beacon street, down hampshire street, i got stuck in morning rush hour traffic. i was surprised to see the number of bicyclists going off to work, i almost envied them, weaving through between all stranded the bumper to bumper cars. i arrived at the office and i was just going to tape the envelope to the door because i didn't want the awkward experience of returning to a place that didn't love me no more, but i was fortunate enough to bump into brian, one of the remaining project managers, coming in to work. he was gracious enough to bring in my checks for me. "how're you doing?" he asked. "oh, fine. relaxing. taking it easy, looking for work, enjoying the summer. 26 more weeks of employment benefits!" i replied. "don't tell me that!" he said. i drove back to the home, the traffic not as heavy going in the opposite direction of the city.

since we were already at the house, we figured might as well make the best of it. while my father did some clean up, i was busy stripping more paint from one of the living room windows. i think i got my technique down now, i'm working exclusively with the tear drop shaped scraping tool, work my way from top to bottom (instead of bottom to top, which i realized was a bad direction to go). i'm getting faster the more i do it, but it's still a time consuming process, and sometimes i wish i had three arms, one to hold the heat gun and two to work the scraper.

the late morning sun warmed the backyard, inviting me to go outside and take a look around. i finally discovered what those mysterious blue flowers are - they're asiatic dayflowers! the other place where i use to see them a lot was at my daily morning 73 bus stop. those tiny purple balls finally bloomed, tiny yellow flowers, i'm still not sure what plants those are. and what i believe to be chamomile has matured since the last time i saw it.


purple blooms


saw a new insect outside as well, hiding underneath a hydrangea leaf. at first i thought it was just a ladybug, but years of hunting insects has made me very perceptive when it comes to spotting different bugs, and i was able to see that it wasn't a ladybug after all, but rather a tortoise beetle mimicking a ladybug. i like tortoise beetles for their transparent rim around the edge of their shells. i can remember the very first time i saw a live tortoise beetle, outside my friend toby moore's house in high school.

at 1:30pm i had an appointment to attend a mandatory re-employment options seminar down at career source near the fresh pond mall. i thought it'd take just 30 minutes, an hour at most, but it took over 2 hours to complete the seminar.

back in belmont i went running before the start of the 5pm rush hour traffic that would dangerously congest the normally safe and empty belmont roads. the weather was perfect and i was feeling pretty strong. everything was going fine until i got to the two miles mark and started to cramp. i had to walk off the pain but as soon as i got to watson road i sprinted up (as much as you can sprint up a hill after running 2 miles already). midway on dalton i cramped up again and had to slow down to a walk. when the cramps went away, i sprinted once more all the way home. a shower and then that relaxing post-run high sitting on my bedroom chair in front of the computer drinking a cold beverage.

in my belmont backyard i took some macro photos of leaves, held them up to the sunlight so i could see all the veins. i couldn't help but notice that the patterns looked like aerial survey photos, the veins resembling meandering roads, every leaf a map to an imaginary complex city.






tonight was the first time in a long time where i didn't have to be at the house in cambridge to meet the contractors (since as you recall their work is temporarily done for now). it's like being on vacation! finally, check out that sweet full moon behind all those clouds! (thanks to laurie for pointing out the incredible sky tonight.)