I got a letter from the State of California Employment Development Department, i.e., unemployment office.
The EDD asked me to register a resume at caljobs.ca.gov and informed me that "failure to register in CalJobs may affect your eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits." I haven't gotten any checks yet, and may not need to at all.
But I registered, answering questions like, "In the past twelve months have you been a farmworker or a migrant cannery worker?"
Though I have been contributing to unemployment insurance for almost two decades, I feel guilty. Am I pretending to be unemployed? Should I be ashamed of myself? Do I really need the money? Why can't I just take that job writing ad copy for BlandCo?
I remember when my family moved to America in 1980, my parents got two months of unemployment. Then, in July, father got a job at a costume jewelry factory. The next day, mother dressed me and my sister in pretty dresses and put the unemployment checks in her purse. I was 8 and my sister, 7. We took the subway to the unemployment office in the Bronx. My mother--a doctor in the Soviet Union--sobbed as a group of kids boarded the train rapping along with a boombox and a family argued in Spanish accross from us. She was 40, alone and scared. My sister and I pretended nothing bothered us, especially her crying. At the unemployment office we were the only white family, but not the only family headed by a woman with children in tow. We waited for hours, begging mother for change to buy soda from the machine like the other kids loitering in the lobby. No success there.
My mother didn't speak English and the woman behind the counter had little experience with Russian accents. For cultural reasons, Russian immigrants rarely took advantage of the government benefits, believing it dishonorable to accept handouts.
The unemployment worker could not understand what my mother was trying to do, thinking, perhaps, this Russian woman was trying to get more money. Finally, she smiled at my mother. "No," she said. "You keep the money, girl. Go on, spend it," pushing the check back into my mother's hand. My mother, silent for a moment, unsure. She took the checks. $320 was more than she'd expected to have for the month. She bought us some soda.
Man, my laptop finally died a slow and horrible death. Sputtering to its demise over the past few years, I've been ignoring its pangs of pain. So now, I am alone. Help.
I haven't been able to upload flickr or post on this blog and I feel desperate and outsiderish. Oh wait, that's kinda my natural state of being. Right.
My roommate Greg the Copy Editor has graciously allowed me the use of his elegant Vaio, so I'm kind of ok for the time being. But not for long.
Getting ready for my trip to NYC for the j-school reunion. Though I doubt I can lose 10 lbs in 12 days?
Now that I am without employer, my self-worth must come from, um, myself. It can't be buffered by the coolness of my job or my cover stories or my journalism awards. Do I have this kind of strength of character? I'll find out April 16th.
Like Jeremy observed with his friends, it certainly seems like I have less spare time than I ever did when I was working full time. My last official day at Red Herring was March 11, however I was already on my way to SXSW by 6 am.
Monday, I finally called the CA unemployment office and the entire procedure of getting my application done took less than 20 minutes. Not only am I eligible for unemployment, I also get a bigger stipend since I worked in my beloved New Jersey from Jan-July of last year. In CA dollars, I only get $330 a week. With the added bonus of my NJ residency, I will recieve $450 a week! Clearly, not nearly enough to maintain a lifestyle to which I am accustomed, but still....
Last week, I met with some folks to see about a job. One was Tom Donohoe, assignment editor at Court TV! We had dinner at the very fancy Sofitel in Redwood City, where he'd just finished up with the Peterson trial. Of course, I hit him up for a job and he said I may be able to do some freelancing for Jacko's trial in LA.
And, my Technorati internship is still a possibility. After my lunch with David Sifry, I continue to be impressed with his honesty and professionalism.
Still, I am running around the Bay with less time to spare than ever.
More thoughts on SXSW: The conference was a harrowing experience for me--looking back on it with a few days' distance to think, I see it as too big, too big and too big. Did I mention it was too big? I suppose in my inexperience, I had no reason to expect anything, though it seems I should have known it would be, well, BIG.
I tried to go to a few panels, but it seemed like the ones I was interested in (Blogging while black, Blogging Showdown, Blogging without borders -- do we see a theme here?) were pretty much people I already knew and had spoken to/worked with on a story. Some new ones too.
Perhaps I should have extended my interests to include panels on topics I didn't know well, but that seemed to make me feel lonely. I should have forced myself to work harder, right?
Pix are still fun to look at, even if I didn't have fun like normal.
My friend Jill had a bday party for her cat Matt. He turned one. Matt only got two presents. This freako cat muzzle was one of them. Clearly, Matt is nonplussed by this present. The other, a stuffed puppy that I gave him, is much more pleasing to Matt. However, this one was a lot more fun for the humans. DON'T WORRY. No animal was hurt during the making of this photo. Matt flicked off the "secure" muzzle less than one second after he donned it.
Bram Cohen and me after an hour of paneling at sxsw--here's the video of the talk. Bram was in character: "I don't like computers." It seems that a blogger complained about his "arrogance" which means he totally missed the point. An interview with Bram is an interesting proposition. In the dictionary, "interview" is defined as a conversation, such as one conducted by a reporter, in which facts or statements are elicited from another.
I believe then the panel was a success -- surely, facts and statements were elicited from Bram.
No, Bram does not go for the Barbara Walters "Tell me about your childhood" stuff -- had I tried to take the interview in that direction, he'd have resisted. Bram is the kind of person you want to watch in action -- someone who does not try to tell you what you think you want to hear, but rather, shows you who he is without worrying what the world thinks of him.
This kind of person is rare in this "sponsored" and advertised world where many have to watch what they say in fear of losing funding.
Brian Baily noticed the early hour and here, Glenn taken to task for being rude.
Bram is great. Switch.com did a really good video interview that I'll have to locate too.
After a mutual dissatisfaction survey, I am no longer a reporter at Red Herring! Though it was painful, I stretched the "leaving" part out for too long and it was a very simple decision on both RH's and my part!
The first perk of no longer working at RH? After begging Joyce for months, I finally attended a cooler-than-cool 106 meeting since I am not a reporter anymore. Jeff Winner of venture accelerator Alacrity Partners talked and some attendees asked questions. I tried really hard not to ask one, but couldn't help myself.
The information provided by Winner--and his delivery--was direct and simple, but essential to those starting a business in Silicon Valley. It was the kind of information that has been gathered by years of trial-and-error on Winner's part when it comes to getting money for his ventures. I can't go into particulars, but I can tell you that VC's like partners, and not the lone wolf lunatic engineer with his crazy idea.
The second perk? everyone seemed more relaxed to be around me! No more "off the record" every time someone comes near me!
The future? Hopefully, no one can ever tell me my story is "too human interest, not enough finances" again.
Journalist Eydie Cubarrubia moves to San Francisco--opening her apartment door for the first time! I picked her up at the airport Friday night. She starts at Red Herring Monday after spending 2 years in China and Japan.