If it’s Friday . . .

Wash and VacuumReaders of this blog know that I was laid off from my tech job at the end of July and have no chance of being hired into another tech job because of my age.  Despite my experience and skills, no manager will hire the equivalent of his or her grandmother.  I will rant about age discrimination in the tech industry another time.  Today I want to talk about job hunting as an older woman.

Rather than expending a lot of time and energy applying to firms that don’t want to hire me, I’ve decided to start my own business.  The Powers That Be at the unemployment office feel otherwise and insist that I look for a job if I want to collect unemployment.  They require that I keep a journal of all the jobs I have applied for and threaten to audit me for compliance.  I will also rant about that another time.

I need my unemployment to live on while I get my business off the ground so I have developed a fake job hunt.  I am required to submit three resumes a week to be considered “actively looking”, so every Friday, I go through the job listings and apply to three jobs, even if I am not entirely qualified to do them.

I joke that I may get a job in spite of myself.  I came across an interesting article that said that men are more likely to be hired in tech because men and women job hunt differently.  Supposedly, when a woman looks at a job ad, if she doesn’t have every single skill listed, she doesn’t apply for the job.  I have done this myself.  On the other hand, when a man reads a job ad, if he has at least some of the skills required for the job, he applies.  This works because it turns out that employers list both the required skills and the “nice to have” skills without making any differentiation in the ad (although some do).  So the man applying to the job with only some of the skills might get the job because he has enough of the required skills and maybe some of the “nice to have” skills.

This has resulted in some rather interesting job applications.  Last week, I applied to be the Director of IT for a major furniture chain reporting to the president.  The ad was obviously written by a non-technical person, probably HR, because I could list half a dozen technical skills missing from the list that would be required (which I don’t have).  It looks like they took an ad for a senior manager and merged it with an ad for a sys admin and posted it.  I have most of the skills listed so I applied.

Initially I dreaded Fridays when I would have to scour job ads and fruitlessly send off my resume knowing that I would never get a reply or if I did, would never get beyond the first interview.  I like to turn bad situations into positive ones, so now I look forward to Fridays to see what jobs are out there that I am only remotely qualified for and apply for them then add them to my journal in case I am audited.  I have a very impressive journal!

BlogHer Hates Me

BlogHer LogoI started this blog as a place to vent about being unemployed.  It was supposed to be a side project as I work to get a new business off the ground.  I thought that BlogHer was a natural place for this blog.  It’s supposed to be a site by women for women.  Most of the blogs that I’ve read there are written by young women, but hey, we’re all women and I thought that I had something to add to the conversation.  Like experience, wisdom and perspective.

My problems began when I tried to actually publish my first post.  Much to my dismay, I discovered that BlogHer has no space for women older than middle age.  My first post was about becoming unemployed as an older worker.  My choices of categories to publish under Work/Life were:  All, Childfree, GLBT, Grief and Loss, Humor, Midlife, Career, Pets, Finding Balance, Caregiving, Spirituality, Travel, Green, Money.

I don’t see anything about older women, do you?

When I tried to publish a post on Menopause, these were the categories under Health that were available to me:  Body Image, Mental Health, Diet & Fitness, Infertility, Wellness, Pregnancy.  These are all categories for young women.  I see nothing pertaining to middle-aged or older women.  I felt invisible.  Unwelcome.

So I took a closer look at BlogHer.  It was appalling.  To be successful as a blogger on BlogHer you have to be either a whiny mommy blogger or an angry black woman.  There are very few blogs written by or for middle-aged women and none by or for older women.

BlogHer lies.  It bills itself as “for” women but the reality is that it is only “for” young women.  Middle aged women will be tolerated.  Older women, Baby Boomers, are not allowed.  We are shut out of the conversation.  We aren’t even allowed in the room.

I was going to write an angry rant about it, but after reflecting on it for a few days realized that one should never burn one’s bridges.  I might want to publish again on BlogHer so I should stay in the good graces of the editors and bloggers.

I stopped posting on BlogHer and, as I got busy promoting my new business, I stopped posting here.  Yesterday, I received an email from BlogHer that my post on menopause was being featured.  I was ecstatic.  FINALLY, BlogHer was coming around.  Finally, they were realizing that older women’s lives and experiences have value.  And after all, all women will eventually become older.  No one has found a cure for aging.  I had dreams of creating a small corner in the BlogHer universe where older women could “meet” and discuss the issues that were important to them.  Younger readers and commenters would, of course, be welcomed.  We would love to share with them what they could expect as they age.

Reality has set in.  Only 99 people read the post and of those 99 only one commented.  To say that the post was too depressing.  Excuse me?  Too depressing?  Does this young chicky not realize that eventually she will get older and experience menopause too?  Does she not care about what is going on in the lives of the older women in her life like her mother, grandmother, aunts?

Believe it or not, something good has come out of this fiasco.  I realized that I want to write about the life experiences of older women.  So I’ve revamped and renamed this blog.  And I will continue to publish my writing on BlogHer.

But not this rant post.


What They Don’t Tell You About Menopause

American Pharaoh2Yesterday I went to the Haskell with my best friend.  We go every year.  She’s into horse racing, I’m not.  She goes to all the big races around the country.  I go once a year to Monmouth Park for the Haskell.  I make $2 bets, picking horses because they’re pretty or I like their names.  Between races we go to the paddock to see the horses.  It’s a fun day.

This year was different, of course.  American Pharoah, the new Triple Crown winner, was there.  The crowds were horrible.  He was not an attractive or graceful horse and he handily won his race.

The low point of the day was The Photo.  For some reason, my friend wanted to take our picture in front of the sand sculpture, something that we have never done before, and then post it on Facebook for the entire world to see.  I avoid having my picture taken, especially since going through menopause.  I’ve put on 30 unwanted pounds, gotten thick around the middle and now sport wings of flabby skin on my arms, all of which was on hideous display in The Photo.

Also on display and emphasized by my white tank top are what I jokingly refer to as my Stripper Tits.  When I was experiencing the dreaded perimenopause-menopause, I did research.  Lots of it.  And not a single page of the thousands that I read warned me that after 50 years of being happily flat chested I would develop a truly voluptuous cleavage.  At a time in my life when I had no need for it.  Men don’t date women in their 50s.  They divorce women in their 50s so that they can date 20 year old bimbos.

The bowling balls that are now clamped to my chest are making my life miserable.  I have deep ruts in my shoulders caused by my bra straps as that garment tries desperately to hold two heavy breasts in place.  Without a bra, they sag nearly to my waist.  When bra-less, I have to remember to turn slowly and majestically like an ocean liner.  Any faster and I’m liable to give myself whiplash.  The term “sports bra” elicits hysterical laughter.  Sports are out of the question.  Anything faster than a casual stroll causes my bosom to bounce painfully up and down between my chin and my waist.

I can no longer sleep on my stomach.  Finding clothing large enough to accommodate my expansive chest is difficult.  Finding clothing that is large enough and looks good is impossible.  Most of all I hate that no matter where I go, my breasts arrive a full five minutes before I do.


Doin’ it old school

CalculatorI love technology.  I was a technology worker until I was laid off yesterday.  I love nothing better than yanking a server out of the rack, opening it up and messing with its guts.  Or taking a printer apart with my favorite screw driver to see if I can fix it rather than having to wait for an appointment for a tech to fix it.  New version of my favorite backup software?  Bring it on!  Can’t wait to see if they fixed all the bugs in the old version.

So I was thrilled a few years ago when my (then) employer decided to join the 21st century and switched to online payroll software instead of paper pay stubs.  It was great to be able to see my pay and vacation time online anytime, anywhere I wanted or needed to.

Until I was laid off and had to apply for unemployment.  Which I did online of course.  When I got to the part where I had to report my income, I was stumped.  My login to the payroll system had been disabled upon termination so I had no access to my salary information.  I don’t know about you, but I have no idea how much per hour I was paid.  It didn’t really matter because I worked as needed – days, evenings, weekends, holidays.  If they had paid me for every hour that I actually worked, I’d be a millionaire and not needing to apply for unemployment.

Thank goodness the IRS is still stuck in the 20th century and requires paper copies of income tax returns.  I file online and then dutifully print out a copy of my return and tuck it safely away in case I am ever audited.

And thank goodness that my former employer is doing so badly financially that I can’t remember the last time I got a raise.  I pulled out my W2 from last year which told me the total of how much I made for the year.  All I needed to do was some quick math to figure my hourly wage so I clicked on the calculator program on my laptop . . . oops, I just upgraded to Windows 10 and have no idea where they hid it.  Is it an app now? Which screen should I be on?

You know what?  I don’t have time for this so I reached into my desk drawer and pulled an actual, physical calculator.  Yes!  I still own one.  It was a gift from a Japanese customer back when I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank.  32 years ago it was state of the art and quite valuable because it is solar powered.  Those Japanese were way ahead of their time!  And they knew how to build stuff because as long as I have access to a light or a sunny window, that calculator still works.

So there I was, a 21st century technology worker filling out an online form using a paper W2 and a physical calculator.

There’s a joke in there somewhere.  Maybe it’s on me.

The Last Day

cat boxThe loud cheering that you heard today was yours truly as I left the office for the last time. I have been laid off from my job. It is both exhilarating and terrifying. Exhilarating, because I was working in a toxic environment where I was harassed, humiliated, mocked and on a good day, ignored. I was excluded from meetings and conference calls. I was given poor performance reviews because of my supposed lack of skills but denied any training or mentorship to improve my skills. Yes, I complained to HR. At the end of the investigation it was determined that I was a troublemaker and was reprimanded for complaining.

Losing my job is terrifying. Employers don’t hire older workers, especially in the technology field.  I’m single, so no second income from a spouse and I have no family so I have nowhere to go if I am unable to support myself.  I have severance and savings equivalent to about 6 months of expenses.  My ex-employer is paying my COBRA for six months.  After that, I have no idea what I will do.  I hate to dip into the small retirement savings that I have struggled to put aside for years but I may have no choice.  At 59, I am too young to collect Social Security.

Rather than condemn myself to days, weeks, and months of rejection as I fruitlessly look for a job, I want to become an entrepreneur.  I want to expand my side business of garden writing and speaking and do something I enjoy for a living.