A Somber Anniversary

This week marks a frustrating and sad anniversary for me: Two years ago–January 21, 2011–was my last day at my editing gig at a trade/B2B publication here in Chicago.

First, allow me to back it up a titch and regale you about how the fun began two weeks earlier.

I arrived at work on that crappy cold-as-fuck morning, had just enough time to put my stuff down on my desk, take off my coat, and say hello to my co-workers before the Editor-in-Chief asked me to take a walk with him. I found this a bit odd since he never paid me much attention, unless it was to gripe about something, or if he needed me to order some sort of pen.

So, when we rounded the corner that separated the newsroom from sales, and into a small conference room where the resident HR drone was waiting, my stomach flip-flopped. My mouth went dry and my chest felt like it was going to resemble Kane’s in “Alien”–but with my heart bursting out & smacking both the EIC and HR right in their mugs instead of a parasite that would eventually kill the entire fucking masthead. A wry smile crossed my lips for a brief second at that thought, but it quickly vanished when I heard the following:

“Um, yeah. Julia. We’re going to lay you off–it’s nothing personal of course–we’re just eliminating your position so we can add more to the sales team.”

What happened next few minutes was a blur. I do, however, remember giving the EIC a look that would kill a planet, tightening my jaw until it ached and feeling the tears starting to build up. Sadly, the death glare didn’t land because he wouldn’t look me in the face, but he did manage to set the land speed record for waddling out of the conference room so he could alert my colleagues of my fate.

You know, to save face and look like a fucking hero.

“Gosh, we really like Julia, but tight budgets are preventing us from keeping her on. So, I know she’s looking for work, so please help her out if you can.”

My immediate boss was absent that day so when she got my tearful phonecall an hour later, needless to say, she was furious. The next couple of weeks were a blur of phonecalls to friends slash possible employers, resume prep, buckets of tears, lashing out at everyone, allowing my shocked soon-to-be-former co-workers take me out for lunches and post-work drinks, and trying my damndest to not kick both the EIC and ME in the balls. It took alll of my god-given strength to NOT throw my ass in the shitastic Chicago River when I learned that an intern would be doing my job.

Not personal, eh? Go fuck yourself.

The last couple of years hurled all sorts of puke/jiz-filled crappy crap at me. I don’t know which moments were the most fucked-in-the-head: Was it the the snow storm that hit the area about a week after I was canned? Or was it the pubic-hair freezing cold that pounded Chicago in the ass afterwards? Or, was it going out to LA to look for work and have many jobs dangled in front of me only to have them taken away just as I was making arrangements to move my life west? Maybe it was three interviews I had with a certain Chicago media outlet that always hired someone too young and inexperienced over me, only to have that person leave a few months later because the work was “too hard.” This happened three times.

It coulda been the publisher in Florida who flat-out asked me my age during a phone interview, and when I gently reminded him that what he was asking me was, gosh, ILLEGAL, he proclaimed he didn’t care. I ended the interview soon after.

Perhaps it was the approximately 500 carefully crafted resumes with the appropriate key words and phrases I sent out that were probably mocked, laughed at and tossed in digital circular files–I have no idea which one of these events have helped push me down Crap Mountain the fastest, but I do know this much–


Somedays, I can’t move. I don’t leave the apartment. I read my New York Times, the New Yorker, maybe watch my stories on the tee vee, watch porn on the computer–anything to distract me from the fact that I am a miserable failure. While I am well aware that there are many in my situation–and in worse situations–I can’t worry about them. Does that make me cold & heartless? Naah, it makes me realistic because I highly doubt they give a red rat’s ass about me.

Other days, I work on my book that no one will ever read, do Bikram yoga and consider cooking meth in my kitchen. I help other friends find work, read reports and a thesis or two for a pittance. I cheer when my friends find work, and am sad for them when they lose their jobs. My happiness for their successes is genuine, but so is my anger and resentment. It’s difficult to be around friends who are successful and have jobs, so I don’t go out much. Plus, this city is expensive.

I’m thankful for my health (knock on wood), and the facts that I’m well-educated, and don’t have a mortgage or kids to worry about. I don’t want to think about where I’d be if either of those were a factor.

I felt some cold-comfort upon learning that both the EIC and ME were canned under new management. Since it’s not my style to revel in someone else’s misfortunes, my happiness immediately turned to concern because they both have families and mortgages. But then again, they’ll probably find work before I do, so fuck ’em.

So, what am I to do? Keep getting out of bed every day. Keep on with the writing because my book is turning out to be a gem.

And most of all, not listen to those folks who tell me I can’t succeed. One of ‘those folks’ happens to be me, but that voice is getting fainter and fainter with each passing moment.

I think Madonna said it best below.

38 thoughts on “A Somber Anniversary

  1. Honey, I’d kill any ten people you’d ask me to, just to enjoy those Chicago storms and cold again. Now ain’t THAT screwed up? 😉 Seriously, I’ve been through that same crap. One time I got fired because someone ELSE screwed up a program I had written, and did so while I was off on vacation outside the dang COUNTRY! It always sucks, but as hackneyed as this sounds, ya just gotta push through. Have faith – you WILL find something. In the meantime, feel free to crab at us out here, we’ll support you, even if just with words.
    And by all means, consider that first sentence of mine. We can shed the dog and cats quick, we don’t take up much space, you’d be getting a live-in repairman and housekeeper, as well as a 2nd worker to share the rent/mortgage, I already know the area, and trust me – I really do know a dozen ways to make annoying people disappear. Like Argentinian “disappeared”…..

  2. Fuck em is right and you are not a failure– half or otherwise. I am cheering for you. I love your writing.. your bold, brooding, the whole package. Please keep plugging along.

  3. Too bad your name wasn’t in one of Romney’s Binders — he sure needed someone with talent to spin his nonsense ….. then again I think you would be too real for someone like him and you would probably stay on the soup line before working for someone like him!

  4. Like Myndi, I found my way here because of Susie. I have two things to say. The first is “Suckagawea” because that seems to fit your situation right now (though Myndi’s phrase is definitely much better). The second is “Don’t give up.” Maybe life is giving you this time to get your book finished so you can move on to the next chapter of your life. There are always blessings hidden somewhere inside all the crap. The trick is to find them. Don’t stop writing. It may lead you some place you never imagined you’d go.

  5. One reason I moved to Florida is that I could sit in the warm sun while out of work instead of a cold apartment. This turned out to be a brilliant life-strategy: 3 years now out in the sun while prospective employers sneer at my resume or — even better — call me up and ask me to work for nothing because it would turn into a great opportunity for somebody as talented as I am. So: no money. Great tan.

    Needless to add, I have neither suggestions nor encouragement for you. The ground on which we built our foundations has shifted in such a way that most of what we learned, produced, and now have to offer is deemed worthless by the forces we’re obligated to deal with to get anywhere. By all means, take it personally. I sure do.

    Keep plugging on the book — it’s probably your best shot, especially if it’s written like this post.

    • Thanks Klotz. I appreciate it. While I love the idea of living in sunny climes, I don’t want to be a melanoma posterchild. BUT, that’s not to say I couldn’t 6 months a year shrouded in a lead blanket on St. John in the VI.

      Thanks for the encouragement and one thing I’ve realized lately: Diablo Cody ain’t got nothing on me–talent-wise.

  6. Pingback: Today in the Hurled | Obalesque

  7. I look forward to reading the post when you announce that you’ve been hired. I hope you’ll soon meet someone like my boss who hires all over the age and experience spectrum. It took me eight months to find her back in 2004 when the economy was in good shape. That person is out there that will recognize your value. As discouraging as this search has been don’t lose faith Jules.

  8. After you publish your book (hell, probably the day you’re on Oprah), I’m going to come back to this post and comment NYEAH NA NYEAH NYEAH NYEAH NA!!!

    Not sure where in this story you’re a miserable failure.
    Yeah, I said it.
    Because it’s true.
    So there.

  9. So…I followed Susie here for the header (which is pretty much the best thing I’ve seen in AGES) and I stayed for the post. I found myself cackling – not at you, but with you. Relieving to know that we’re not alone when Life decides to drop trou and wag his hairy balls at us like, “Yeah. Impressive, right?”

    Hang in there! Maybe tomorrow will be your day. And if not, there’s always vodka. *grin*

    • Why, thank you, Myndi! Thanks for following. I do appreciate it and as soon as I’m done scribbling, I’ll mosey on over and check out your blog.
      Yeah, I’m trying like hell to keep my chin up but it’s a Herculean effort at this point. This is happening for some reason, you know?
      I refuse to believe the whole ‘that which does not kill you makes you stronger” bullshit. I swear, the next person who utters that to me is gonna get cunt/choad punched.

  10. I don’t want to ruin this by leaving a cheese-ball comment. Let me just say however, that this was the first time I’ve ever read your real voice. Am I allowed to say that I enjoyed reading this? I’m by no means making light of your situation. I like the real you.

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