Friday, May 14, 2010


So, the time for choice came.

Last week, we packed up the kids and hopped on a plane to Florida to see my parents. We try to go every year. In the past five years, I only missed the year where I was 8 months pregnant when we would visit. And, truth be told, I could have gone then, but I didn't want to deal with a crazy two-year-old on an eight hour flight.

Monday, Volunteers of America called with the offer. It was top of their range, but their benefits were so weak that it ended up being $800 less a month than the other job at the same salary. I asked for 24 hours to decide.

Tuesday PSU told me they needed a few more days before they could make a decision. I hadn't yet heard from Papa Murphy's but they were my last choice and most likely offer, so I kept them tucked in my back pocket.

I was stuck. So at the airport, I called VOA and told them I had several offers and I wanted the opportunity to weigh all of them before making a final decision. I explained that I was still very interested, but I just wanted to make an informed choice.

At the Houston airport, between flights, I checked my messages. VOA left a voicemail saying that since I wasn't able to give them an answer they were going to move on.

I felt my mouth drop open, looking at Dane while I listened. Somehow, I hadn't expected that response. Once I heard it, I realized it was a reasonable risk, but I had the feeling I was their only real solid candidate. I thought that I was good enough to be worth waiting on. Obviously, I wasn't.

So I had blown my first real job offer, and it being the first job I really wanted. Wanted more than the other options. I could have called then and there and asked them to reconsider, say that I would take it all back, but I didn't want to do that. Even before the other job offers, when I did the math on VOA, I realized my salary wouldn't be terribly more than unemployment at the end of the day and since we weren't making the bills on unemployment, I didn't think we would be able to make the bills with them. Just the damn insurance, but it pushed it over the edge.

We got into Florida late that first night and I didn't mention anything to my parents that night, but I was spinning. The next day, I checked my email. Papa Murphy's emailled saying that a key person was out of town til the next day. PSU emailled saying they wouldn't be deciding until the end of the week.

The next day, there was nothing. Finally, on Friday, I called. I got voicemail for PSU. I got the HR person at Papa Murphy's. She said she was hestitating on calling me because they couldn't offer the salary I wanted, but they wanted to extend the offer. I asked if she could see if they could get a bit more.

I cried. I got the job offer, but I didn't want it. It would be the same thing I had been doing the past ten years, or close enough to it, and I was so bored of it. Even though I really liked the company, really liked the people I met, and felt confident I could be successful and have opportunities to move on within a couple years, I just didn't want it.

I went out to dinner with my parents and the kids. While I was changing Reed in the Women's room, I got the call from PSU. Luckily, the connection was bad so I hung up, slapped on a new diaper on Reed, dropped him off with the grandparents and went outside to call back.

They wanted me. They offered less than Papa Murphy's but the benefits were so good that in the end it wasn't than much of a difference. I asked for more, but they said they already tried. I accepted.

I was relieved. It was done. It was an excrutiating week, but it was over. I had three offers and accepted the one I thought was the best fit on money and challenge. Even when Papa Murphy's came back and offered much more than they first had, I was sure I didn't want to go with them and confident in my decision.

Now, though, a week later, I still question if I made the right decision. Not for Papa Murphy's, but for VOA. Maybe I could have made it work? Maybe the salary would have been alright.

I hate having choices. Even at a restaurant, I'll choose a couple items from the menu and only decide once the waitress takes the order and often I'm surprised by my choice. If VOA had given me the time, would I have chosen them? Maybe. They were the most flexible. The closest to home. The most creative. The most in line with my values. I would have had more time with my kids (every other Friday off which the other two being people-management, wouldn't concede to). I wouldn't have the stress of managing people. I would have been doing work I really loved.

But it didn't seem worth poverty. Well, maybe not poverty, but not comfort, certainly. But, had they been my only choice, would I have found a way to make it work?

So I'm left feeling less than confident in my decision. The last job, my Nike job eleven years ago, I was feeling elated. It was a creative job that was more money than I'd ever made doing something I had no qualifications for but every enthusiasm to do. I was single, I only had myself to consider. The only negative was the commute.

Now, after a year of unemployment, I was looking at jobs that were all less money than I was used to making and I needed to consider my husband and kids in the decision. Dane had been very supportive during the job hunt, not pressuring me to make the money I had and instead pursue something I wanted. But, in the end, the burden was still on me. His income, his benefits, were fixed. It was my choice that would effect our lives.

I'm left with a feeling of limbo. I couldn't afford the job I wanted, but got the job I chose.

The thing is, I have very little idea of what the PSU job actually is. It was very cryptic in its description and I'm still not sure. I know there's lots of budgeting. I know I manage a staff or 4 or 5 people who do jobs I know nothing about. But, I am excited to be immersed in the world of academics. I'm curious to be part of such a large, unfamiliar, organization with deans and chairs and professors instead of VP's and business directors and designers. I'm excited to partner with an academic (I'm the department manager, my boss is the "chair" who is a professor who is assigned for a limited time to running the department). I'm eager to leave my mark and make things better. And, I'm thinking of getting a master's degree while I'm at it - hard not to with nearly free tuition.

But, was it the right decision? Do we ever know? We make our choices and never get to review how it would have been if we went the other direction. It was funny, when facing the decision, I told Dane I had never been unsure of my decisions before. It had always seemed fated. It wasn't until days later, sitting with that statement and reviewing my memories, I realized I had agonized over every decision and the "fated" feeling only came after when everything fell together like it was meant to be. Hell, even my choice to be with Dane came after a year of wavering to the point of regular break-ups every six weeks. My choices were never easy. But after they always felt right. But, in reality, we never know.

I don't think I'll regret sacrificing for my family. There are some things that are non-negotiable. I'll never settle for cheap daycare. I've experienced cheap daycare in the two months after Dane first found a job when Quinn was ten months old. Even though it was "fine", "fine" was awful. I will never settle for mediocre daycare. And, I don't want to struggle financially. We're not lavish people and struggling is just too stressful.

But, I will always wonder a little about the one who got away. Maybe in another month, I'll be loving my job, who knows? I just wish I knew.

And I also am agonizing that I didn't find the career of my dreams after being laid off. I had the fantasy that that was what layoffs did. But, I have a better idea and maybe after a few years in this job, i can work towards my dream job. But, i don't think this is the dream. But, it's the reality.

Monday, May 3, 2010

1 offer in, 2 to go...

VOA offered me the position. I was so awkward on the phone, knowing the other two pending offers are hovering out there - possibly.

I called PSU and told them I had an offer and was wondering when they were going to make a decision so that I can give an answer to the first. I just got voicemails, so it's a drag. I called the one person three times today, only leaving one voicemail though and hoping she wasn't screening her calls.

Papa Murphy's I'll wait out until I hear from PSU.

Right now I'm ranking PSU, then Papa, then VOA. Even though VOA is my favorite as far as the work, I just can't afford it. It sucks, really. But, I'm sure the other jobs would be fine. Just not quite as good. But, I have my family to figure in and I don't want to be poor if I don't have to be.

So, I'll keep you posted!

Friday, April 30, 2010


I think I have an offer.

I had my interview with Papa Murphy's this morning. I met with the boss' boss and his colleague. They seemed very nice. Then they brought me back to meet with the manager again and he was talking like I was in the role: "you'll want to meet with this person, you could do that, etc." It felt like I was it. Then they took me to HR. The woman cut to the chase. She said,
so the job was posted at this amount, but we want to know how much it would take to get you because we don't want to lose you. we don't want you to get an offer from another company in a year that's more money and end up losing you.

So, I put it on the table. I said how much I wanted - still less than my Nike salary by a good bit, but quite a bit more than Volunteers of America and who the hell knows what PSU is going to pay, but more than that.

Then I told her that I would like to work 9 hour days and have every other Friday off. I said that I realized that it's probably not realistic for the position, at least not at first, but that would be a big incentive for me.

So she said she was going to talk to everyone and get it sorted out and get back to me today.

She didn't.

That's OK, I figure I put her on the spot by asking for $15,000 more than what the job was posted for and the rest. But, if they want the honest truth, that's what it would take to get me at this point. They're not the only offer on the table.

One of my references told me that Volunteers of America called him yesterday and that PSU called him today. Another reference told me Volunteers of America called her today (which I knew because i accidentally gave them the wrong number and had to call with the right one!).

I'm trying to remember whether in all my years of hiring if I ever called more than one person's references. It almost always was just calling the person I was offering. I don't think it was ever between two people and so I called both references.

So, if that train of thinking is correct, I believe I should be getting offers from both.

Then, at 4:50pm I missed a call on my cell phone. I checked my phone at 5:30 (I had been playing dinosaur attack in the basement) and it was Volunteers of America saying she really wanted to talk to me. I could call her back in the next 10 minutes (which had passed) or call on Monday.

So, I am thinking Monday is going to be an interesting day.

I feel literally cramped about the whole situation. How do I choose. As I sat in the Papa Murphy's interview, I thought, hey, this would be kinda cool, I like this place, I like the people, it would be easy for me to make a huge impact immediately and then just grow and learn about marketing and communications. I could do this job and be happy.

But that's how I felt about PSU.

And I totally felt that with VOA.

So which do I choose?

VOA is the job that I would like the best. It would have writing in it, I would love the people, I would be proud of my work and love what I was doing. I would be challenged. I would be close enough to come home at lunch and put dinner in the crock pot.

But I don't know if we'd be able to pay all our bills. I would be paying almost $1000 a MONTH for insurance, which takes the already low salary down another $10K when you figure that in.

PSU is a job that would be fine. Not thrilling, not necessarily challenging once I learned it, just kind of crunching numbers, supervising a staff and dealing with the administrative side of a university department. They still have a christmas tree up in a lobby. But i realized if i looked past the tree and looked past the bare penitentiary-white walls, that the people were OK and the university setting was great. I had lunch downtown after the interview and was serenaded by a wandering musician - and he was great. I didn't have any cash, so I gave him a card for a free cup of coffee that had been long forgotten in my wallet. It was wonderful. And it would be amazing benefits. Amazing. And it's a state job which would open me up to all sorts of potential opportunities.

Then there's Papa Murphy's. I would like the job fine, but it's also the job I've been doing for the past ten years, just in a difference place. I would do fine with it, and quickly, once I got a handle on the group, I could branch out and get into other parts of the business. I could work my way up there quickly, i think.

Maybe the reason all the jobs sound appealing is because I am just ready for a job. I'm ready to contribute. But to what?

I guess I just have to hear what all the offers are and type them into my spreadsheet and then choose. It'll probably be like how I order something at a restaurant. i pick two or three things off the menu, not sure of what I want and then I don't think about it. When the waitress comes to take our order, whatever pops out of my mouth then is what i get, and it's usually the right choice. I am thinking it'll go something like that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dramatic Turn of Events

Well, a turn of opinion anyway.

Today, I had my second interview with PSU. I wasn't looking forward to it. This was the place that still had the Christmas Tree up in the lobby. It just felt dank and depressing. Today, however, felt ... different.

I met with the Chair - the current Chair, who is leaving and the one who is probably replacing her. I don't totally understand what a "Chair" is, but I think it's a faculty member who agrees to be the administrative head for awhile. Both were Eastern European and the questions seemed like no-brainers. I think I do well in interviews. I'm relaxed, conversational. Maybe I have an overly high opinion of myself, but I'm pretty confident in my ability to do any of the jobs I've been applying for, so I think I come across well.

Then I met with the Dean. He was lovely. We discussed our philosophies of management and academia and he was just wonderful. If I were reporting to him, it would be more appealing. But, at least the college is all under his leadership.

Then I met with an Accounting person (a lot of budgeting work in this job - whoo hoo). She, too, was lovely and personable. She's new to PSU and she really likes it there.

They'll be in touch with me soon.

According to my friend in HR, it's between me and one other person. The other person is the temp they had in place who no one liked, especially the Dean. I knew this going into it and so I asked the Dean why the position was open. He said that they had a temp in the position and they could have hired the temp or opened the position up for someone new, so he decided to open it up. To me, that sounds like she's not in the running as far as he's concerned.

Yesterday, I was all for Volunteers of America. I would be helping people, I would be writing (grants) and it would be oh so close to home that I could come home at lunch, get dinner put together and go back to work after a stroll around the prettiest park in the city. They would probably be flexible with my schedule. But, now, I'm not so sure.

PSU pays $5000-10,000 more and pays 100% family benefits and pension. For VOA, I would have to pay over $10,000 a year for insurance. So that's a $20,000 difference. Plus, tuition. Tuition! It's $30/credit or $400 per term for FT. Crazy! I could get a master's. I could get a bunch of master's or a doctorate or pick and choose. I could get an MFA in writing and then a MA in counseling and anything else that caught my fancy. I could go to lectures during my lunch hour. And the gym is 5 blocks away. And I could take the max (which is subsidized). I could get student discounts on all sorts of things. Oh, and 3 weeks vacation PLUS 3 weeks sick leave (cough, cough, can't come in today - please disregard the sound of the ocean in the background). Suddenly, Nike's amazing benefits don't seem so amazing anymore.

But, I don't know if they'd go for the every other Friday off. I really really want that. If they offer me the position, I would try to negotiate it, but I suspect I wouldn't get it. That would be a bummer.

Tomorrow is Papa Murphy's. I'll see what they have to offer. I suspect it's more money. Their benefits aren't bad, but they're nowhere near PSU level. If I don't get any offer by any of them by Monday, I am going to be going nuts. Tuesday we leave to visit my parents in Florida.

which had a big impact on my outlook. The job seems much better than it had originally and I met some great people in the department. Then I talked to my friend in HR who told me that PSU pays 100% medical, dentail, vision for the whole family plus they contribute 100% to pension, plus transportation fees, plus crazy crazy rates for tuition. So, to my surprise, I'm now leaning towards PSU. The bummer is that I don't think I could do the every-other Friday off, which would be too bad. But, I might just ask anyway!

I haven't heard from Volunteers of America yet. Seems weird. But their benefits were rough, financially. It would have a big impact on the total compensation. We'll see.

I have second interview for Papa Murphy's tomorrow.

Please let me know if anyone contacts you. As always, I appreciate the reference.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Interview, interview

Tomorrow at 9:30 I have the PSU interview. It's between me and one other person. I have a friend on the inside and she's told me that the other person is the person that they fired in the first place. Strange. But also goes to show that they're not the most well organized group.

I just got a call for a second (third, including phone screen) with Papa Murphy's. Friday again, so they'll be wearing their Papa Murphy's polos. Another two hour interview.

And, still no word from Volunteers of America. I also haven't heard from any of my References about them calling. Weird. With all the other interviews going on, i kinda feel like the girl who is going out with all these guys, but waiting on the one guy to ask her to prom. But he still hasn't called.

Housecleaning...Not going so well

Yesterday I was inspired. I read about the Happy Slob and got inspired to get the house clean. After all, it's just 10 minutes. 10 minutes of a quick clean in the morning, 10 minutes in the evening and 10 minutes of a focus room at some point in the day. No problem.

So I start with the kitchen. However, there was something getting in the way. Two somethings.

"Mom, I'm a Spectral Tarsiay!" To which I had to respond or else that phrase would be repeated over and over until infinity.
"Mom, can you help me take my pants off."
"Mom, I just spilled"

So I go in the livingroom to deal with Quinn. When I come back into the kitchen, Reed has taken everything out of the toy tool drawer (one of the most brilliant things we did was take the tool drawer in the kitchen and dedicate it to toy tools) and spread them across the floor. I start to pick those up. I start to clean again.

Quinn needs something again, so I go in the living room. He's pulled all his stickers out of his woodland book and they're on the rug. I come back in the kitchen. The tools are all on the floor again.

The kitchen went uncleaned.

I think I'll try again in a couple years.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My job search

It's interesting. I've been writing all about the housewifing side of being home, but not the other big side - looking for a job. It hasn't been pretty.

So I've divided the three days a week that the boys are in daycare to the three main chunks of my life right now - Housewifing, writing (mostly the memoir but I'm going to expand to all aspects of my writing life), and looking for work.

I started looking for work, "for real," after the holidays. It was quiet at first but then in the past month it's been nuts. I've been interviewing for four different positions at four different places.

Interviewing is exhausting. All the selling yourself gets really tiring. Last Friday I had a first interview that took over two hours because I met separately with two different people.

One, I didn't get. It was a fun one. The Pear Bureau - a non-profit marketing organization that supports the pear growers in Oregon and Washington. It would have been a lot of communication (aka writing), some design, and lots of events. It was low pay but I would be writing, it would be fun and casual and I would get to travel a lot. Unfortunately, they didn't hire me. I was the second choice, but they felt I was overqualified and would be bored after six months. They felt it wouldn't be fair to me. I get it. It makes sense. But I think it would have been fun, but that I probably would have gotten bored with it after awhile. And, it was a sucky commute, so at least I don't have to deal with that after 11 years of awful commuting.

The one I'm most hopeful for is Volunteers of America. In fact, given the choice between Pears or VOA, I probably would have chosen VOA. It's a non-profit organization helping all sorts of people - homeless, elderly, poor, addicted. It does great work. I had worked in social work before Nike and had told myself that I'd work in a big corporation for a couple years to learn, and then come back to non-profit and apply what I learned. So, it took a little more than a couple years, but it would feel good to actually be back on that plan.

The position is grant writing and process developent. I would get to do writing (yay) and develop my grant writing skills (very marketable). I love process development - it's my "thing." The job description was kind of weak, but then when I interviewed the actuality of the job sounded great. Unlike Pears, where it would have been below my skill level, this will require brainstorming with the director, process development, autonomy, initiative, drive, problem-solving - and I love all that stuff.

And what a difference in the vibe of a non-profit vs. a huge corporation like Nike. Everyone's friendly, genuine, relaxed. Relaxed! And they're the ones dealing with people with addictions and problems that seem insurmountable. You go into a big corporation and everything and everyone is all polished and slick. Even Nike, even though I would wear jeans and tee shirts to work, there was still this high-powered, intense, competitive vibe going on. It would be lovely to work in a place that was the opposite of that.

I've had two interviews and they seemed to go really well. They're checking references this week, so that has to be a good thing, right? The pay is crap, but that's to be expected. I think I can probably negotiate working 9 hour days and have every other Friday off and have Dane do the same so that we can have the kids in daycare 4 days a week instead of 5. That would be huge. And I would enjoy the work and feel good about what I'm doing and would be proud for my kids to know that I help people for a living.

Oh, and it's 2 miles away and across from one of the loveliest parks in the city.

There's that and then there's PSU for a department manager. I'm one of two finalists. Interview is Thursday. I thought a Univerity job would be idyllic, but it was kind of bleak. Off-campus, very office-building feeling, dark, drab - they still had a Christmas tree up. I asked one of the staff who would be reporting to me what she liked or didn't like about her previous managers. She said she had 3 managers in the past 3 years - that's saying something. And there's no creativity in the job. Just management. I thought that would be okay with me but apparently it's not.

And then Papa Murphy's. Yes, Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza. No, not making pizzas (thank god I'm not at that point yet) but as design manager. I've had the phone screen and the first interview. It would be a snap since it's the same job as I've done for the past 8 years but on a smaller scale. And that would be better money and all that. But, it would be the same thing as I've been doing for the past eight years and that just doesn't seem inspiring.

Luckily all the jobs lined up to be around the same time so I should have a good amount of information on all of them before I get an offer or have to accept anything.

So, I'll keep you posted. I should hear more this week!