Coffee heat rising

Résumés on the wind!

No grass grows under this old lady’s feet, that’s for sure. Just sent out a résumé for a sweet part-time job that would be a great hoot, and e-mailed my book-length curriculum vitae to the English department chair at a nearby community college.

Hey! We’ve only got nine months here to find a new job! Better get to work.

Truth to tell, I believe I could do either of these p/t jobs on the side, while wrapping up the deconstruction of our office. We know I’m capable of teaching the equivalent of four bloated sections of freshman comp for juniors and seniors while supervising an editorial crew; after that, two sections of real freshman comp whose size is limited to normal NCTE guidelines should be a piece of cake.

Far more appealing, though, is the prospect of serving as p/t gofer and sidekick for an editor (and friendly acquaintance) at my favorite local press. This is the outfit that pays me to read detective novels. Mirabilis! Some of the novels I’ve had the privilege to read have been pretty entertaining. If you enjoy detective fiction and thrillers, you should take a look at their booklist. I know I can do this job to a T, and it sure would be easier than teaching freshman comp. Not only that, but once I walk out the door, it probably would provide the income I’ll need to keep from starving.

Yesh. I scared the bejabbers out of myself, along about three in the morning (as you can imagine, I enjoyed about 2 1/2 hours of sleep last night, between 4:30 and 7:00 a.m.), by loading Excel and massaging some figures. Didn’t take long before I was asking myself the Great Dark-of-Night Ontological Question:
What on earth was I thinking when I imagined I could support myself on Social Security and investment proceeds?

Wait! I remember: at the time, we all actually had some investments.

I was horrified to find that what with the 12-fold increase in healthcare premiums that Medicare will represent plus the need to take my share of the Investment House mortgage out of cash flow, my expenses will exceed my present net income, in the highest-paying full-time job I’ve ever held!

To get by, I’ll need to earn an extra $19,000 to $21,000 a year, above and beyond investment returns and Social Security. This will be a trick, since you’re allowed to earn a grandiose $14,000 before Social Security starts docking your benefits.

Not having the mortgage payments wouldn’t help a lot: even without those, Social Security plus proceeds from my total savings (including the money set aside to pay off the Renovation Loan and the savings fund to buy the next car) will not cover my expenses, post-layoff. Check it out:

Projected Expenses


Projected Net Income from Social Security and Investments


And oops, indeed: take a close look at what it’s going to cost me to live in blissful bumhood. And consider that my net income today is $39,000. I live like an ascetic: don’t travel, don’t own a cell phone, don’t subscribe to cable, satellite, or any other pay-per-view TV, don’t play computer games, rarely eat out, never buy more than the basic clothes and shoes, drive a 10-year-old car, don’t run a tab on the credit card, don’t even go to a freaking picture show! And I use up all but about about $2,000 of that each year. We’re looking at a $4,560 increase in my expenses once I’m on Medicare! Meanwhile, my income drops into the poverty range.

Clearly, I’ll have to work: either get a job or cultivate several income streams. The candidates are part-time teaching, growing The Copyeditor’s Desk, and monetizing Funny about Money.

Community colleges around here pay part-timers about $2,000 a course. The universities now pay about $3,000. Typical income from a freelance business is about $10,000 a year; I would be surprised, rusticated as we are in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, if Tina and I could generate much more than that, apiece. And what would FaM earn? It’s anybody’s guess. So guessy as to be negligible.

Hiring out to teach two courses from the community college district and two from the Great Desert University each year and ramping up our freelance business so that it pays a consistent 10 grand a year will produce something that looks like this:

projectedincomestreamsTwenty thousand extra dollars would do the trick, in theory. But that exceeds the Social Security earnings limitation by $6,000. Have the temerity to earn more than $14,000 a year, and you get your Social Security benefits axed. So, I would have to earn significantly more than 20 grand to end up with enough income to cover the bloated expenses of retirement.

If I’d had the prescience to sell my investments in the spring of 2008, today I would have plenty of money to live on, between SS and investment income. Too bad we didn’t all have crystal balls, eh?

Well, I felt a lot better, anyway, having sent out a couple of job feelers. Even if they come to naught, just doing something other than hunkering in the headlight while waiting to be run down feels like a positive move.


Ugh! Spent the entire darned day yesterday building a package to sell The Copyeditor’s Desk to university presses. I hate writing stuff like that.

It’s exactly the same as writing a résumé and cover letter to apply for a job, and just as stressful: not only what do I say and how do I say it, but what is the most effective way to structure a pitch, what do they need and how do I talk about that instead of talking about me, when do I say X and how far do I push Y and how do I get something that should be in the emphatic last position in a graf out of the freaking MIDDLE of the graf without coming up with something that sounds incoherent and….augh! And then I had to targetrésumés for both me and Tina and tweak our track record so the reader will easily spot the work we do that’s relevant to his or her needs…gasp!

After all that, I have one, count it, ONE package ready to mail. Meanwhile, I didn’t get a lick of work done for GDU. I expect this will go easier for the other three presses whose ramparts we need to assault this week: I set up the draft material in boilerplate sections, so that really the only segment that will need to be rewritten to customize for each press is the first paragraph or two. The routine is very much like applying for jobs. The first cover letter is torture, but once you’ve got it on paper, you can reuse a lot of it with relatively light revisions. Ditto therésumé: when you start with the “list of accomplishments” or “relevant skills,” you can adjust those to move the job description’s desiderata higher on the list.

Speaking of job applications, I need to do a bunch more of those, too, in light of Our Beloved President’s recent online fireside chat.

Unfortunately, though, I’m going to be forced to actually work today, as extreme as that sounds. Two new math articles have been sitting on my flashdrive since Friday.

And it’s already 6:37 in the morning. Dang! Gotta run! 😯

Interview No. 1

Yesterday afternoon I had the first interview in the new job search, for a program manager’s position at a prominent local cultural landmark. It seemed to go well. I think they liked me, and it certainly is a job I could do well. On the other hand, I’m pretty long in the tooth. The East Valley Tribune just laid off 120 employees, and so a great raft of people in “communications” will swarm across the land in search of jobs.

If I don’t get this job or something like it very quickly, I’m going to be in deep trouble. With the market tanking, my savings will not support me, not by a long shot. Apparently it can take up to three months after you apply for Social Security to start. If it is true that credit is pretty much nonexistent, selling my house or even borrowing against it to get enough to live on is an unlikely prospect. Unlike GDU’s HR people, the UofA tells retirees that RASL—the amount the state pays for unused sick leave—is considered earned income, not a retirement benefit, and so is taxable at your regular rate. This would cut the annual amount I’m supposed to get for that over the next three years to around $4,000. COBRA alone will cost $5,000 a year. I may end up without health insurance, since I may not be able to pay for it and also eat.

I do not know what I am going to do if I don’t get another job quickly.

At any rate, after the interview I wandered around the grounds and ended up in a monarch butterfly exhibit. There I met a meeter & greeter who was all alone and happy to deliver her lecture on the wonders of butterflies. When I remarked that I had just interviewed for a job, she said she had started there as a volunteer and wangled her way into paying work. She said she loved it; the place is a great place to work.

News from GDU is uniformly negative. The library director at the West campus has been replaced by a part-time interim director whose job, we are told, is to figure out what to cut. Librarians no longer have a budget to buy books, and the president is trying to spread the West campus’s library budget among all four campuses. Staff expect widespread layoffs in the near future.

While strolling around the gardens, I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful to work for a place whose management you don’t hate!

Well, we’ll see. I don’t hold out much hope. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here’s what it looks like at the place where I’d like to work.

The Continuing Saga…

1. Unemployment for Christmas?
2. Does any of this have meaning for individuals?
3. Rumors start to fly
4. On the trail of the elusive job
5. Beating the layoff stress
6. How low can I go?
7. Interview No. 1

On the trail of the elusive job…

I’m not going to sit here and wait for the ax to fall. My source has had further confirmation of the rumor that everyone in my job classification is about to be laid off, and, although my own spy in midlevel administration hasn’t heard the story, he remarked that it was entirely believable and that his unit is so strapped there’s some talk of closing down entire academic programs.

A couple of days ago I applied for a job at a regional nonprofit—an organization whose mission and philosophy seem very laudable and that has a high reputation among nonprofits. Yesterday I applied for three more jobs.

Given that we’re supposed to be teetering on the brink of another Great Depression, it’s surprising how many job openings are out there, with pay in the general range of my present salary. Now it’s true, my salary is middling at best—but I’m not starving and I don’t really need to earn much more.

One of the community colleges is advertising for a marketing director. I used to know the woman who held that job about 15 years ago. She really loved it. And it pays $9,000 more than I’m earning.

The strategy right now is binary (oh! can you believe I know a word like that!?):

Possibility #1: Get another job comparable to the one I have. This will carry me over to full retirement age, whereinatupon my problems will be solved.

Possibility #2: Collect early Social Security and start a 5% drawdown of tax-deferred savings; get a part-time job paying around $14,000 (the max you can make before the government starts confiscating early Social Security payments) and limp along until I reach full Social Security age. Then turn back the $31,000 S.S. will have paid me, reapply and obtain full Social Security (about $400 a month more than I would get now) and collect the returned taxes.

Both of these are problematic.

Scenario 1 could require me to (gasp!) actually work. Horrors. I’ve honed Creative Malingering to such a high art, I’m not sure I remember how to work. Seriously: at my age it’s unlikely anyone will hire me for a full-time job. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, of course; but truth to tell, it’s probably a waste of time to apply.

Scenario 2 entails a significant drop in income. I may be forced to sell my house (if I can!) and move to Sun City, where costs are a lot lower. I suppose I could rent it and use the rental income to pay a mortgage out there, but the tax complications make my head spin. By the time I’ve paid the various tax gouges, I’d probably come out way behind.

At any rate, one of the jobs I applied for yesterday is a part-timer: driving the tourist train at the zoo! LOL! Can you imagine? Actually, I think it could be a TON of fun during the winter months, when the weather’s good. And it would keep the wolf from the door for nine or ten months, until the heat comes back up. I’m not going to drive around in an open vehicle in 110-degree heat. But if I keep looking for work something better should come along before next summer.

My strategy is to consider the broad categories of organizations where I’d like to work: nonprofits, colleges, and publishing houses. Then brainstorm all the employers I can think of in those categories. And then go to their websites and check their HR pages—once every week. I’m also checking job links at various trade groups I belong to: Arizona Book Publishing Association, Society for Technical Communication, and the like. To ensure that I check each possible employer every Monday, I’m building a table with date columns to check off.

????News Flash!???

This afternoon as I was racing out the door to meet a friend, one of the employers I applied to yesterday called and asked me to come in for an interview!

Good grief! Somebody wants to interview me! One day after they get my resumé & cover letter! That is astonishing.

The interview is set up for Tuesday afternoon. I was able to squeeze into the beauty salon Monday to get my hair cut—I’m looking pretty shaggy after a summer of neglect and pool water. And…gosh. I haven’t interviewed in so long I can’t even imagine how to prepare, other than to get the hair styled.
The place is situated in the center of a lovely desert park—absolutely gorgeous. I have no idea whether they have cubes inside those rustic adobe buildings or what the rate of compensation is. But the pay rate may not matter: not much is a heck of a lot better than nothing. It would be a wonderful place to work, and the job—an educational program manager—could be a lot of fun.


The Continuing Saga…

1. Unemployment for Christmas?
2. Does any of this have meaning for individuals?
3. Rumors start to fly
4. On the trail of the elusive job
5. Beating the layoff stress
6. How low can I go?
7. Interview No. 1