Monday, June 30, 2014

Continuous reinvention


After working for seven days straight my son has the day off today. One year out of college, he and his friends are starting to make moves on the job front. They've all been working their first jobs and now have a better idea of what they want and how to position themselves. There are doors opening, light spilling through. He's out buying a pair of dress pants for an interview tomorrow as we speak. Send good thoughts.

My daughter meanwhile is still in Chicago where she attended the Pride Parade on her day off yesterday. I love the way she gets out there and does things without needing anyone else in tow. I'd like to be more like her if you want to know the truth.

I've made an appointment to see a communal writers room in the city, one of those open concept spaces where there are desk stations and comfy chairs and large windows with natural light pouring in, which writers who become members can use as they choose, 24/7. If the work isn't going well at home, you can go there to write and feel a part of a community of other writers working away. My friend Martha belongs to this particular writers room. She's written three novels in that space. It calls itself an urban writers colony. If I like it, I may join the community so I can change my work environment sometimes, and see other people working, too.

When the woman called to set up an appointment for me to see the space, I was so distracted and weird on the phone, just something about the moment she caught me in, the way the conversation went. I thought, they won't want someone so strange-sounding as a member, and then I thought, wait a minute, they know strange. This is my tribe.

I feel as if I'm slowly setting up a whole new life, now that I have decided to keep working for myself. I really do get that companies are not likely to hire me at my age, or pay me for the experience I have amassed in three and half decades of working for magazines and book publishers, or contribute to my retirement. Why would they when they can get a thirty-something year old, pay her half as much, and move her on long before she retires? This is the corporate way in America in 2014: Once you turn 55, you better have a gig of your own to fall back on. If you're a woman, anyway.

I'm not sure why this is happening more often to women than to men, but it is. Fully two thirds of the mothers of the boys who were in my son's middle school class, all highly competent women my age, have been laid off from their jobs of many years. A couple of the fathers have been laid off, too, but many more mothers. It sucks to be an older worker in this economy. But I'm not bitter. My son is back home now, and he's in the kitchen cooking up a late lunch for himself. I'm editing a manuscript in front of the TV and the Germany-Algeria game is on. It feels companionable and good in here. I feel free.


14 comments:

  1. My sister-in-law who held a position of very high esteem (and big salary and incredible benefits) was laid off a few years ago when she was sixty or a little more. She went out, found a sort of agent/contractor who arranged work for her and now she's through with her contract with them and making more money than she's ever made in her life with the company they set her up with. I LOVE that.
    And it's GOOD money.

    Yes for your son! And for your daughter too and I can look at each one of my kids and say, "I wish I was more like her in this way," or "I wish I was more like him in that way."
    I so get it.

    Vergil has office space at a communal working place. It's beautiful and he loves it. I think that is an amazing and wonderful idea. Yay for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms Moon, here's hoping it works out for the rest of us the way it did for your sister in law! xo

      Delete
  2. Awesome, I get it all because I've done the freelance bit and you're right---the freedom is priceless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. e, definitely better than being yoked to an office!

      Delete
  3. Sending good thoughts to all three of you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hope your son's interview goes well. He seems to have such a good head on his shoulders - how could it not? That writers space sounds very interesting, Sometimes a change of scene does get the creative juices flowing either more, or in an unexpected direction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah, I think you're right about the change of scenery helping get the juices flowing. I imagine that writers room is like having a separate studio to go to, with creative energy all around you. Love to you and Ron!

      Delete
  5. I've tried to get some part time work and just can't find it. I am beginning to believe that my hope lies in my youngest son's entrepreneurial skills, and since he's only thirteen years old, that is a bit of a scary outlook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, Oliver's entrepreneurial skills seem to be in full swing, and the years from 13 to 20 go lightening fast (which come to think of it, may not really be that comforting to you!). xo

      Delete
  6. I love the communal office space idea. It IS challenging to work from home all the time -- the distractions and the sameness. Seeing others in a dedicated space would be a huge boost, I think.

    Here's my speculation on why more women seem to be laid off: They tend to work in industries that are facing radical downsizing, like media, publishing and government. There are men in those industries too, of course, and plenty of women in finance, but I think the women on balance tend to be associated with more vulnerable employers. Just a guess?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, I think you're on to something with your analysis, but I also think the fact that men still hold the highest positions at most of the corporations has something to do with it. They protect their golf buddies but feel no connection with the women, and so they're the ones who are let go. I'll let you know how the outside work space pans out!

      Delete
  7. The communal space sounds good. I joined a printmakers group for that reason but I don't like the area it is in so I never go. I'm working on setting up a space in my house right now. Hope it works out!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristin, I just found one in Harlem that looks amazing. Not just writers, freelancers of all kinds, including entrepreneurs. Might be good to mix it up!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...