Saturday, August 7, 2010

Act IV Chapter 2: Goodbye to Cable

If my life was a play I would be in Act IV. Act I was my time growing up in New Jersey, Act II took place in Washington DC, and Act III was set in Bloomington Indiana. Now I'm in Act IV living in San Diego, Ca. And tomorrow begins Chapter 2 of Act IV (I think chapter sounds better then scene).

As I prepare to embark on Chapter 2 I must admit I'm feeling a bit indifferent. I mean I can't really call Chapter 1 a success seeing as how I lost my job and all so I'm not sure how to feel about Chapter 2. I'm hoping that the move from Oceanside to San Diego will provide me with the opportunity to start fresh and put the job loss situation behind me, but of course there are no guarantees. And not having a job just adds to the lack of stability that hinders my ability to enjoy my new chapter.

Nonetheless, Chapter 2 is beginning no matter what I feel so I must make the best out of it. Unfortunately Chapter 2 does start off with the loss of a few amenities from previous chapters. I must say goodbye to having a dishwasher; a parking space; a washer and dryer in the apartment (although I might be able to rent one) and most importantly cable. Now there is nothing I can do about the first three but the loss of cable is a personal choice. Sure I can blame it on the fact that I don't have a job, but since I've always been the type of person to live beyond my means, I can't truthfully say that the economy has caused me to give up cable.

I've been toying with the idea for a while now. For years now I swore to myself that when (not if) I finally get around to having children I would get rid of cable so they can grow up free from the clutches of MTV, reality TV, and advertising. But why wait for the children to get here before I free myself from the bonds of cable TV?

Truthfully I'm scared that I won't be able to go long without cable. To me cable is one of the elusive status symbols that separates me from my impoverish childhood. Cable was a luxury in Act I. Sometimes we had it but more often than not we didn't. Once I moved on to Act II I made having cable a priority. It was like food, a necessity. Nothing short of being thrown out on the street would have stopped me from having cable.

Not even being a poor graduate student in Act III could stop me from having cable. So what if I had to use my Sallie Mae loan to pay my cable bill? Having cable kept me from feeling like that poor girl in New Jersey. I was a success because cable was no longer a luxury but instead it was a symbol of how far I've come.

And then I moved into Act IV and not only did I have cable...I had the ultimate cable package. With my new job and ridiculous salary I had no reason not to get the UVerse 400 package with every pay channel, except for Playboy. I mean $200 a month for the UVerse 400 package, internet, and home phone seemed like a good deal to me.

But then I lost my job and slipped into a short but real depression. I spent my weekends locked up in my apartment with my cable to soothe my wounded ego. I came home from work each night and let the cable wash over me but it didn' couldn't...wash over the depression. In fact I think it made it worse.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity I should have been working on my dissertation, or writing an article, or volunteering with a local non profit. But instead I choose cable day in and day out. I'm not sure what got me out of my depression, but one day I realized that I was wasting my time watching TV. The life I set out to have in Act IV was passing me by. Instead of enjoying everything So Cal has to offer I was obsessing about Sonny and Carly and the rest of people in Port Charles.

Somehow I snapped out of it and I realized that cable had to go! Not having a job and having cable would surely be a recipe for disaster for a procrastinator like me. Life is too short and I'm too old to waste any more time with cable.

But all is not loss. Thanks to the internet I will not have to give up all my favorite shows. I can watch General Hospital anytime I want online and now with Hulu I should be able to watch a few of my other favorite TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and Top Chef. And of course there is Netflix which will allow me to watch many of favorite shows, even if have to wait until the season is over.

But the real loss, the hardest part of cable for me to give up will be the Food Network channel. In a strange twist of fate, I began watching the Food Network channel a few months ago (I guess it had more to do with my depression then fate) and now I'm on my way to becoming a Foodie. And for some horrible reason Hulu doesn't have access to full episodes Food Network shows, so for now I must find a way to say goodbye or convince my mom to let me watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay, The Next Food Network Star, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives at her place.

So as I sit here writing my farewell to cable blog I'm also watching a few episodes of the Boondocks I had stored on my DVR. And you'll never believe what cable shut off! And now it looks like I might lose my internet as well so it's time to end this blog and say goodbye to cable once and for all. It's been an exciting ride for the past 32 years but I think it's time I moved on and discovered what else the world has to offer as I begin the next chapter in my life!

Friday, July 2, 2010

One job, two job, three job...Me!

Since I was 11 years old I've always had a job. I started out babysitting around town for any family that would welcome a young black girl into their home (for a few families in New Jersey they would rather a Catholic priest babysit their child instead of a black girl). When I was finally of legal age to work I began serving dinner in nursing homes, cleaning hotels, and working at McDonald's. One year I had 11 W-2's to file. Needless to say I have always had a job.

When I moved to Washington DC, one job was not enough and I often worked two jobs. I would work one job that was related to my field of early childhood education and then another job that paid the bills...waiting tables. I knew at an early age that working with young children would never make me rich so I found other jobs that could keep me afloat while I went to school and worked in my field.

Finally I finished my undergraduate degree and I landed what I thought would be my dream job...a kindergarten teacher at a school down the street from my house. This was it...this was why I spent 5 years taking classes full time while waiting tables 40 hours a week and working as a child care I could finally have my own classroom! I wanted to be a teacher since I was 12 and finally victory would be mine!

There was one teeny problem...I didn't like my job. Teaching was very different then what I thought it would be. I spent 7 hours a day trying to get 22 five year old's to listen to me and learn from me. And even though I had a full time assistant, I never felt so alone in my life. I only saw the other teachers during lunch time and staff meetings. I was on my own and I had to make all the decisions. After teaching all day I went back to the restaurant because I still made more money waiting tables.

After a few months I knew I would never be one of the women who introduced themselves as being a teacher for the past umpteen years. That would never be me. I loved education and I loved working with children but I didn't like being a kindergarten teacher. So where does one go from there? Graduate School.

I had already been accepted to Indiana University so I figured why not go back to school and see what else is out there. I had no idea that the purpose of going to graduate school was to become a college professor but I soon found out that this was the path I was taking. I loved being a student and although I was making peanuts as graduate student employee I was happy again. Maybe it's because I was back in the classroom as the student...or maybe it was because I spent time with other adults socializing and learning. Regardless, graduate school made me happy.

I knew it wouldn't last forever and as I began my fifth year of graduate studies I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All my course work was done, I was working on my dissertation, teaching college courses, waiting tables at Outback, and working as photographer. For the past five years I once again held many jobs. I had a friend once compare me to a Jamaican who works 3 jobs and although she found this behavior strange it seemed normal to me.

As I prepared to enter the world of academia I applied to 11 teaching jobs in the fall of 2008. By April 2009 I had received 3 rejection letters and 6 job search cancellations. Things were not looking good. I was at the AERA conference in San Diego surrounded by colleagues who all had job offers for the upcoming school year...while I was close to tears. And then one day it happened...I got a call to interview for a position at a school in southern California.

I remember when I saw the job position announcement thinking this is MY job. It was a split position for a faculty and director of a child development dream job. I would teach college courses, which I found out while in graduate school that I loved to do, and direct the child development center, which would give me the experience I needed in the field (one year of teaching kindergarten isn't usually enough to get a full time faculty position).

I'll never forget the day I got the job offer. I was at the Boys and Girls Club doing an interview for my dissertation research when they called to offer me the position. At that moment it seemed like everything fell into place. All of my life goals were about to be accomplished: Move to southern California, drive cross country, and finish my doctoral degree. For the first time in my life I would only work one job. No more waiting tables for me! I had arrived into the adult world of work with a kick ass salary to boot! What else could I ask for?

Well I guess I could have asked for it to last for more then one year. I knew I was only being hired for a one year contract, but I had every intention on being hired back for another year and hopefully making tenure in 4 years. But it didn't work out for me. I was not offered a second year contract and my dream job blew up in my face.

Honestly, did I see myself staying in that position forever?...NO! I would have done it to make tenure, but it was not my life ambition to stay as a faculty/director for ever. The director position took away all the things I enjoyed about being a professor...such as setting your own work schedule and creating a research agenda. Instead I was another 8-5 employee with no opportunities to do the kind of work I spent five years in graduate school preparing for...RESEARCH!

So now I'm soon to be unemployed and back on the job market. What's most surprising is that the first time in my life that I worked only one job, things went terribly wrong. Maybe I'm not built to have just one job. Maybe I'm supposed to work 2 or 3 jobs because one job will never make me happy.

I really don't know what the universe is trying to tell me but I do know this...