Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friends have remarked on my unwaning positivity in dealing with unemployment second time around. It’s simply how I cope; reasoning that there is always someone a lot worse off than me and life is easier if I stay upbeat! Apart from once a week where the world threatens to cave in on me, the rest of the time I just get on with it.

Granted, I am lucky to have my writing to tide me over, but I do miss the routine of an office environment and to beat the monotony I have been indulging in lots of free activities to keep me busy. Overdue visits to family, a free check-up at the dentist and helping my Mam feel better about her own recessionary woes by decluttering her wardrobe, took up my time last week. I refuse to spend my days sleeping myself into depression.

For me work is more than making money, it's an extension of my identity and my career was something I worked long and hard at breaking into, involving four years in college and various unpaid internships before landing my first position. I’m attempting every day to view this time off as an extended holiday, a time to enjoy, Luckily I have racked up a number of interviews and meetings as well. I've surprised myself too how well I am faring in reigning in my finances. Quite the resourceful recessionista, I hauled two boxes of paperbacks to the local book shop and earned an impressive €65 for my efforts.

Helping Mam clear out the house inspired me to reorganise my own wardrobe and I was surprised to find I had at least nine dresses yet to be worn! This has forced me to promise that even if I can't shop again until 2012 I will survive and teach myself to be more creative with what I have.

I offered to help a friend organise his club night in return for free drink and, by hunting around all the supermarkets for different offers, managed to drastically reduce my food bill without compromising too much. The only thing that is still costing me unnecessary spending is actually looking for jobs. Dry cleaning and hairdressing ensure I look picture-perfect for interviews for that all-important first impression, and I have reluctantly hopped in far too many taxis these past few weeks so as to avoid the torrential downpours and not turn up as a drowned rat. The more meetings I manage to secure, the more broke I become!

Fingers crossed something comes along soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Check out this gold sequin skirt I got from Therapy at House of Fraser in the sales last week! Despite being totally broke it was so worth digging my wallet out to pay a tenner for this dazzler..I couldn't believe it was reduced down from €60 and skipped home from Dundrum forgetting all about my recession's the first time I've bought anything in ages but well worth it I think..wore it out on Saturday night with black opaques, black patent heels and plain black top and no jewellery..looking forward to wearing it lots over Christmas!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I felt sorry for my brother last week who missed out on his beloved mudfest at Oxygen. Despite working harder than ever, his disposable income isn't what it once was. I felt sorry for myself as well, as, ironically, the first year that I'm not working while the festival was on, I couldn't afford to go. It irked both of us then to see our younger brother, who I'm sure now knows the local dole officers by name, spend a weekend in his wellies having a grand old time.

How the hell does he afford it, the two of us mused? Only days before he had begged me for the use of my credit card to book a cheap flight to London to see his girlfriend. Sitting in for a week and being fed at home by our mother accounts for his shrewd amassing of coinage that allows him to continue his social life with no cutbacks. He headed for Oxygen with 24 cans of beer and €25 but, somehow, the cuteness in him means he never goes without and possibly because at 21 with his baby faced charm he still arouses sympathy from the family and is the one who gets handed €20 by a generous relative.

'Just move home' is his advice to me as I struggle with unemployment. He advised me that a social life is important for one's mental health and that I shouldn't be struggling with rent if it's making me miserable! But rather than succumb to such a disheartening alternative, instead I have been frugally calculating ways to stretch my euro further. I have brought clothes to the local swap shop, flogged unused vouchers to friends and reluctantly parted with my Electric Picnic ticket. It does annoy me slightly, however, that, afraid to even carry my credit card around right now, I'm using it to book my brother's flights! During a rant about how broke I am his eyes widened when I told him the limit left on my visa. “Sure you've loads of money,’’ he quipped, “and you have the column'.’’ Fair enough, I won't go homeless just yet but, unlike Carrie Bradshaw, my column does not allow me to skip around Dublin in Manolos.

Selling my Electric Picnic ticket is a pity, but putting food on the table is more important. Okay I’m lying; I sold the EP ticket to finance a pre-booked weekend away! Selling the ticket was a last desperate option as I was determined to find a way not to miss the weekend, no matter what. Maybe I'm more like my little brother than I realised …

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If being unemployed is a short-term blip, I’m lucky it’s happened in July, rather than in the depths of Irish winter. Our recent heatwave has been perfect for lazy days in the park and lolling about town while others have had to endure sticky afternoons at their desks.

It’s many years since I enjoyed the perks of a summer off. As a child and teenager I spent summer roaming the streets of Skerries, cursing the town for its lack of excitement, not yet realising how lucky I was to grow up there.

During school holidays we got to experience endless hours of hanging around with friends, funded by pocket money or part-time work. My jobs of choice were babysitting and, later, waitressing, earning just enough to line my pockets for trips to town or to rent videos on drizzly summer evenings.

My days now are strangely reminiscent of these times, listlessly attempting to fill my afternoons with frugal but fun activities. I have now become queen of the coffee date, wandering around waiting for excitement, forced to be creative with my dwindling finances.

Plenty of friends are currently free for meeting as well. One of the lads is painting a fence as a favour, while another is enjoying the heady weather, his only interruption being some pizza delivery work.

Nice to spend time together but still the thrill of being free loses its appeal when it becomes the norm and most of us long for the return to a challenging routine and work that will afford us the money to finance our free time.

The difference is we aren't teenagers any more and my friends with the part-time jobs aren't just using their positions to fund some seasonal fun. The fence painter is an engineer and pizza boy has a degree in aerospace physics.

My coffee companions are an ever-growing group of experienced and eager, yet currently unemployable, professionals. And the little money that any of them has scraped together is not for ice-cream or day trips … it's for rent and bills. There is a heavy cloud looming over their otherwise stress free summers.

As teenagers it is typical to moan about the summer holidays, the common chorus of complaint being that there is 'nothing to do' and 'nowhere to go'. But when September came we always returned to school wishing for more time off.

Hopefully my friends and I, will have somewhere to go this September, only, unlike the kids currently on break, we won't be moaning about getting back into a routine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spent Saturday trawling around Penneys with my mam in an effort to convince her how far this shop has come and that it is now a wonderland for trendy recessionistas..a job well done it seems as she left with an armload of half - priced cotton casuals, a tribal patterned skirt reduced to 3euro because of a missing button, and the best pair of jeggings I've come across yet that look amazing on her slim legs.We continued our credit crunchy afteroon by stocking up on body lotions and shower gels at Tesco before marvelling at the amazing sale in A- Wear where there were rails of skirts for a fiver..three of which I had bought a few months ago for a much more expensive price unfortunately!
I love this pic of Rachel Bilson, who looks stylish as always stepping out in LA in her jeggings..

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This is week two of unemployment, for the second time, and I'm faring well so far, I suppose. I'm still in a kind of forgetful stage and wake every morning with a start before rolling over again, remembering it's another two hours before Jeremy Kyle starts.

When working I would always hit the snooze button for a final hour of snatched sleep, drifting in and out of a light slumber, the stresses of the day ahead plaguing my mind. I never really enjoyed the snooze button time but rather awaited anxiously the final shrill of the alarm that signalled the last possible minute had arrived for me to get up and face the day.

Now I can enjoy endless sleeping in without worrying - every cloud and all that. When I finally rise I can take my time getting ready, preparing wholesome breakfasts. I remember to take my vitamins every morning and have time for a second cup of tea. The mornings involve channel hopping, reminding myself how many stressed workers would love to spend a morning like this and I should be grateful now for the chance.

However, after two weeks the novelty of the leisurely lie-in is starting to wear thin. Rather then fretting about emails and meetings, my thoughts centre on wondering what will Phil and Fern include in the holiday capsule wardrobe segment after the break.

I wonder is today the day that Jeremy Kyle reveals the lie detector results to show if Scott from Barnsely did get Tracey's sister pregnant even though he was in prison.
I wonder which of the irritating Loose Women will make up today's panel and which former Emmerdale hunk will be the guest star to keep us stay at home women entertained. Of couse my daytime TV habit is coupled with stalking companies for a chance to meet and impress them. Lunch times are more varied and depend on which unemployed friend is available for a coffee or a walk around town.
Time off is all very well but, despite still being paid for these next few weeks, a strict monitoring of every penny is needed. Luckily I was only unemployed for three weeks the last time and knowing I had a new job to start meant I really did enjoy that time off and was refreshed for my new position.

Hopefully I will have similar luck this time round, because if I'm still unemployed in September and the return of the Afternoon Show, I'm in danger of not getting dressed at all!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How good are the summer sales this year?! The tricky thing about being out of work is having endless hours to trawl the shops unearthing bargainous gems, but with very little money to buy it's a dilemma! Window shopping is my new favourite way to pass the day but I did give in to temptation twice this week when I discovered an amazing dress in Top-shop reduced from €68 to €22! Leaving it behind was simply not an option and it's definitely an investment for my new job, wherever that may be!

Also got sucked in while browsing in Oasis and bought these cute toe cap pumps reduced from €55 to €25, a total bargain for a flat lover like me..I live in flats so am always on the look out for well heeled and priced pairs at topshop and oasis, unfortunately my odd inward leaning feet just can't withold the cheap thrilling footwear at Penneys, there are somethings that just can't be compromised on even in a recession!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Last week I was stuck for an idea for this column. With my deadline just days away I hadn't heard of any life-changing events or recession wowing stories, and the news reported nothing too interesting.Then one afternoon, up to my eyes at my desk, I got a call to the boardroom that would change my life and shake things upside down, yet again. I was let go from my job, a mere 16 weeks after I started, and the second time in a year I found myself in this situation!

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

After apologetic explanations about cutbacks, I left in a rage. I had heard it all before.Unfortunately for me, and my chosen industry, it really is a case of day-by-day at the moment. I had a choice of two jobs back in February and hedged my bets that this was a safer choice, boasting as it did an impressive portfolio of long term clients. But no one and no where is safe from the evil recession, like a wildfire spreading and damaging lives at all cost.

As a victim of the 'last in first out' syndrome I just can't seem to get a break. I had just settled in, learnt how everyone takes their tea and how the printer works.I had sensed no warning that this was about to happen again. In my first job there were whispers of impending cuts for months before any of us were shown the door and on the day I finally received my notice my overwhelming emotion was actually relief, relief that I hadn't after all been paranoid during the previous months.

The knots in my stomach were justified and although I was devastated to leave somewhere I loved, I was ready to start a clean slate.But now my clean slate has been muddied. I was completely caught off guard and hadn't suspected that my call to the boardroom would deliver such a blow. One minute I was stressing at my lengthening ‘to-do’ list for Monday, the next I was running up the canal in shock.

It's been a few days now and I have regained my usual positive disposition and 'glass full' perspective.

Everywhere is experiencing cutbacks; all clients in all industries are clawing back and slashing budgets where they can. I know it's nothing personal and I am lucky to have worked for these two great companies and learnt a lot from both.

Now I am ready, yet again, to fight another day and not let the recession get the better of me.