Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bad Things and Good People

I had just finished doing my Zumba 2 for Wii and was standing in front of the TV sweating profusely when I heard that there had been a shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  This time it was at the midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and it was like a scene out of a horror movie.   It seemed crazy, all those people going to have a fun evening out with their favorite super hero and then the unimaginable happened.   There was panic, fear, and yet in those moments of confusion, incredible bravery as strangers helped strangers survive.    On the news, you've seen family members' faith in God unshaken even as they stand by the bedside on of the victims and you wonder how they can be so calm and have the wisdom to forgive someone who shattered their lives?   Time and time again, tragedy after tragedy, you see good people at their very best after the dealing with the reality of the absolute worst. 

You probably know the horrific details of the shooting so I'll only deal with the numbers, at this point, 12 people dead and 58 wounded from bullets and the gas bomb that this whack job used to keep people from being able to leave the theater easily.   The victims range from a three month old baby to a man who was celebrating his 27th birthday.   It's another inconceivable act from the mind of someone so emotionally disturbed and evil who wanted to spread his misery to others.   It's emotional terrorism whether it's part of a political or religious group - it's designed to make us feel scared and helpless - to shake us so that we don't do what we love like going to a movie because we're afraid someone will hurt us.   It reminds us how fragile life is and that we can't take anything for granted. If anything good can come from this tragedy, maybe realizing that you need to tell the people that you love how much you love them because - well - you just never know.   But if I know my fellow Americans, and I've been one for almost 50 years - I know we'll raise past this, hopefully learn from it and work to make sure it never happens again. 

I was just a few months old when President Kennedy was shot.   That act also was designed to make us scared and ask:  if the President of the United States is not safe, then who among us is?   The heartbreaking image of a young John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's casket is an image that is burned into most American's collective unconscious even if they weren't around to actually see it live.  The assassination happened almost 49 years ago around Thanksgiving and I'm sure that many people in 1963 thought that they could never enjoy another Thanksgiving after what the Kennedys and the country had been through.   Few people felt like having Christmas and probably muddled through as best they could to keep some sense of normalcy for the sake of the children.  I'm sure that the prayers on that New Year's Eve is that 1964 would bring better times.    Ironically in my family it did, my sister Sharon was born just nine months after that fateful day in Dallas.   It occurred to me one day in the mid 1990's on my way to work on Metro-Rail in Miami, that perhaps one part of the divine purpose of something as tragic as John F. Kennedy's passing is that we all need to connect on a deeper level - to reassure ourselves that life goes on.   A year later, people were still missing the young president and his family in the White House, but Thanksgiving eventually came back to realizing just what you had to be thankful for.   Like loving the time you have with the people you love because sometimes there are no do overs. 

I remember when the Columbine shootings happened - Max and I just had to turn off the TV after a while because school is a place that a child should be safe and the reality of what was happening in real time as it happened was just to horrible to conceive.  Amber was just two then and we had just moved up to Georgia.   I thought about how I was glad that she was sleeping in her room at home after were we could keep an eye on her and thanking God that for that moment in time I had that sort of control - to keep my child safe in my arms but knowing I won't always be able to keep her that way.   As the days, weeks and months after the Columbine shootings occurred you saw a community and people all over the world come together and send well wishes to the children and teachers who had been victimized.  Strangers were raising money to help the victims and their families because it helped them and you heal.  The end result is that it spurred closer scrutiny at dress codes, school security and threats posted on-line which has prevented similar atrocities from happening.   
Max and I also saw 9/11 happen live on TV - just after Charlie Gibson had finished his interview with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York who was once a princess and how she had made a real mess of her life on Good Morning America.   Those last few seconds of normalcy were the ones you take for granted just like the night before when our family had gone to Golden Corral with five year old Amber and nine month old Daniel.  We, like most Americans on that September 10, 2001, had no idea that was the last dinner we'd have before the country felt like it had been kicked in the stomach and thousands of people would die in coordinated attacks.   I remember then that we had to turn off the TV after about 11:00 a.m. because it was just too much to comprehend.  I kept on thinking that it was a bad Bruce Willis movie and that at the end - the credits would roll and life would go back to normal.   But there would never be that same normal again.    There were grounded airplanes and travelers not stuck for hours in one place, but days with limited supplies because some very small airports now had hundreds or thousands of travelers.   The townspeople in these cities rallied and brought food to these very weary travelers - unlikely friendships were struck out of that tragedy as total strangers bore their souls to each other out of fear and loneliness.   Everyone felt bad, everyone had seen the news - everyone hurt and as a collective we were there for each other.  

I remember working at Actor's Express in Atlanta and coming out of the theater and seeing a young woman in tears a few days after the attacks.  I didn't have to ask why, I knew.  I instinctively gave her a hug and told her it would be alright as my own tears fell to the pavement.   The woman noticed Daniel in the stroller and we started to talk about how fast babies grow and for a moment - it felt like before 9/11 - before your sense of security being seared off your soul.   She got Daniel to smile and for him to hold her hand.  She was grateful to have someone to talk to as she waited for her husband to pick her up - he was running late and that added to her anxiety.   He arrived, we hugged again and she got in the car.  I never saw the woman again but I'll never forget that quick connection to the mutual pain we all felt - my God - how could you not?   After that, I frequently brought the baby Daniel with me to work during those tough days and weeks.  He was a welcome respite from all the terrible news that was going on then.   He would be passed from lap to lap, cheerfully eating his Cheerios and playing with his baby keys.    He was a happy baby because his world was exactly the same as it was before 9/11.  The people who worked at the theater needed to touch that sweet innocence - that new beginning of hope that babies bring.   I imagine that during the days after the Kennedy assassination, I played the same role - being that infantile philosopher that showed the world that life goes on even when everything looks bleak because it has to - life is like that.  It's self renewing and having that knowledge can pull you out of the darkest times.   

In these first few days after such a frightening event, saying prayers for the victims helps momentarily but then you just feel like nothing makes sense.   You can still have your belief in God, but question how this could have been part of his/her plan.   A six year old and a sailor should be sharing ice cream and not the fate of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Why did that man have to die on his 27th birthday on a night when he was tweeting on how psyched he was to see The Dark Knight?   Why didn't fate step in and stop James Holmes on the way to the theater?   How could something as simple as going to a movie become more hazardous than traveling down a hostile road in Iraq?   I'm not sure if there is a greater plan at work here - maybe it's just a wake up call to finally get some responsible legislation on gun control.    Because this time it wasn't about kids in school, or a President - it could have been any of us sitting in a theater trying to forget about life to awhile - even someone who belongs to the NRA.   

This weekend, I'm thinking about those other tough times in history when we've been tested and we've come back stronger than before.   We support each other - churches and other religious organizations see up ticks in attendance and for that moment and let's face it - the moment doesn't last forever - but we're united because that's the way it needs to be right now.   People will enjoy going to movies again and not be afraid.  After 9/11- Broadway struggled but in a few months was back to the same audiences it had before the attacks and unlike the airlines, without a government subsidy.  It took time for the airlines to come back but now there's metal detectors, air marshals and security delays that most people don't mind because it's what we need to be safe.  It's been almost 11 years since 9/11 and yet their has not been a successful attack - just thwarted plans because of that security.    People understand that need and don't complain because we don't want to go back to that horrible day in September 2001.  

Good people will always trump the bad - that's just who we are.    There are the heroes from that night who don't want the attention and were just glad to be there to lend a hand and just had enough insane courage to make a difference.   There are good people out there trying to do the right things for the victims of the crime - like the United Way of Denver that is taking donations for the victims and local churches holding vigils and offering comfort because that's just what they do.   So hold your children tighter, kiss your partner harder and love the time you have together - because bad people never triumph and the Dark Knight will rise again.   

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Making Up

I've been using make-up since I was about 15 years old when my mother finally let me do more than use Vaseline as lip gloss and baby powder as eye shadow.   Getting that okay from the lead female in your household to don the universal women's camouflage is a real rite of passage.  It means that you can change you look at will.   You can correct that blemish and make it disappear, you can change the way your lips look, your eyes look and even the way your nose looks if you get the shading right.    You can become a completely different person with the right skill and know-how.   It's a heady experience the first time you are able to truly change your appearance and face the world as a slightly more perfected version of yourself.    You feel grown-up, worldly and prettier than you ever have before.   You go from ordinary to extra ordinary in just 10 to 20 minutes (depending on your make-up routine).  That extra boost of confidence can do a lot to help you get through the day.   That red or pink lipstick can help you smile bigger - the world is your oyster.  It's all good - so why am I having such a hard time with my daughter's use of make-up?   Why does it turn into a battle at times when we get ready to leave the house?  It's just face paint - so what's the big deal?  But beauty is more than just skin deep and sometimes the made-up face that we show the world is a mask trying to hide something much deeper. 

I remember learning how to put on make-up from my older sister Kathy by watching her get ready for school and dates in the late 1970's.   Back then, women were wearing false eyelashes, had wig-ettes (they were pre-styled buns or a more elaborate up-do with tons of curls that you could clip to the back of your hair to make it look like you had just walked out of the salon).   There was liquid eyeliner, frosted lipstick, pink blush, blue eye shadow, tons of foundation and powder.   I remember watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show and marveling at how Rhonda, Mary and Phyllis could keep their eyes so wide open when they had to be weighed down by triple sets of false eyelashes.   Eyes in the 1970's got more than a pass of eyeliner like in the 50' and 60's.  Women's liberation heralded in the use of using as much make-up as you wanted to - a paradox for the liberated who wore more make-up rather than going fresh faced.   It was like their eyes were being opened to the possibilities of the world and the make-up reflected it.   Probably the biggest make-up icons of that time were Charlie's Angels.    Farrah's Fawcett's flip (trying saying that three times fast) and her heavy bronzed make-up became the standard that most women of a certain age (mid teens to mid thirties) strived for even if it was impossible to maintain.  Never mind that she had stylists on the set resetting her hair constantly and touching up the make-up - it was fun and so not Twiggy.   

As high school loomed - I begged my mother to let me wear make-up and she thankfully relented.  I was daughter number two and soon daughter number three would want the same thing but at least we could share blush, foundation and eye shadow so the cost of make-up was not as much.   Once I started to wear make-up, the bronzed look of Farrah played into my make-up routine.  The natural look for me included two different color foundations and three different types of blush and 30 minutes in front of the mirror.  My eye shadow was peach and I used a blue eye pencil which I even put in my water line (which now seems gross but then really made my eyes pop).   It was a ton of make-up to wear to Southwest Senior High in Miami in the late 1970's and early 80's which at that time had no air conditioning.   My overall look was more Annie Hall then Farrah, but wearing a tie and oxford shirt could be brutal.  By the end of 6th period in the middle of June, most of the make-up had worn off as the drops of sweat with the bronzers and blush would drip onto my notebook paper and leave lovely tan splotches.  Then there were the Bon Bell Kissing Potions which were roll on lip glosses in flavors like chocolate mint, strawberry and bubble gum.  I'm not sure my father ever really got a load of those "kissing potions" because that might have stopped the unescorted trips down the Sentry Drugstore cosmetics isle for me and my younger sister.   

I think now about how my 15 year old skin was back then - not perfect but not blemished all over.   I would kill for that skin again and yet I was so hell bent on covering it in layers of make-up and powder.   In the 1980's, make-up was so heavy - it was more like strips then blended.   The natural look of the 70's faded into the New Wave of the 80's and the girls in the Robert Palmer videos seemed to represent the new look on the newly formed MTV.    The early 1980's were my college years where Princess Diana was on every magazine cover and I got my hair cut like hers - I mean I went from mid-back length to up to the back of my neck.    It was the first time in my life since I was a toddler that I had hair that short.   I had to compensate with make-up.   Tons of eyeliner just like hers - the shy Di look which interestingly enough did not go over well with the horny college guys - they wanted the Madonna look or just a really slutty girl from a David Lee Roth video.   Needless to say, my parents were all for the Di look while I was at FSU.  

In the late 1980's I met Max - 1988 to be exact.  By that time, I had been out of college and waiting tables (ironically at Houlihan's where they insisted that we were a narrow tie and oxford shirt and I hated it - it was not what Annie Hall would have wanted).   My make-up routine was more about practicality - I needed to get it done in 10 minutes or less.   I was also doing theater where you sometimes spent hours doing your make-up to make yourself either look a beautiful fairy queen or like a wicked step sister.    In the 1990's I started office jobs and learned how to look professional and polished without a ton of make-up.   But the pressure to fit in and wear make-up can also come at a heavy price.  I've actually worked with two women over the years that freely confided that their husbands have never seen them without make-up.   They would wait until their husbands fell asleep to take their make-up off and then set the alarm to be up 30 minutes before their spouses woke up to put it all on again.   They even insisted that they have make-up on during child birth - a really weird time to worry about how your face looks when another part of your anatomy should be taking center stage.   What were they afraid of - that their partners would see the real them and flee in horror?   My God, that's not much of a marriage if you have to work that hard to keep up the facade.   Max often tells me that he can't tell when I have make-up on or not and that I don't really need it.   I thank him for being sweet and he says very matter-of-factly that he's not being sweet - he's just being honest.   You gotta love a guy that's willing to be that honest. 

Amber just turned 16 and has been using cosmetics for the last year and she loves it.  She watches tutorials on YouTube by Michelle Phan - a make-up artist that gives you all the tools you need to create looks like Lady Gaga and other gender-bending artists.    For her sixteenth birthday, we went to the Lancome counter and she got two eye shadows for $38 but we also got the free gift and since we told the salesperson it was her 16th birthday, she threw in a ton of extras.   She has 50 different shades of eye shadows, eye liners, blush, pressed powder, lipsticks, eye liners, pencils- she could literally be a make-up artist with all the stuff she's collected over the last two years.  Of course when you own that much make-up you want to try out as many eye shadow combinations as possible which leads to the battles when we try to get out the door.  The stripes of eye shadow streaking out from the corners of her eyes announcing to the world that she now has possession of that magic wand and can change the way her eyes look a will - from quiet and subtle to "Hey, Lady Gaga has nothing on me!"  I can imagine now how my mother felt seeing my fresh teen face being transformed into the war paint of the woman-child and the heady power that comes with it.   You lose your identity in the process of finding your identity and the process of watching this for the mothers can never be easy.   I tell Amber everyday how beautiful she is with or without make up and half the time she goes without it - mostly at home and sometimes to school which I think is a good sign.   Once I started wearing make-up - no one outside of the my family's house ever saw me without it for years.   I was afraid that if I appeared in public without my "mask" people would not pay as much attention to me - I would be ordinary and to a creative person - being ordinary is the worst fate of all.  

Yesterday I helped Amber with her make-up to show her how pretty with just a little bit of foundation, blush, a touch of eye shadow and mascara could be.   She smiled sweetly and when we went to Mall of Georgia, she asked if we could go into the Sephora store which is massive place that's filled with top of the line make-up and each display has disposable applicators so you can try tons of make-up yourself.  Before I knew it, she was into the gold lipstick and dark grey eye shadow that went almost all the way to her hairline.  It made me mad and I snapped at her.  She had this very pretty look that I had made for her and then she had to take it over the top with all this new make-up.  Afterwards I felt bad -she felt bad and frankly over what?  The make-up that was not permanent - and it was just her way of expressing herself.   In the car, I apologized and said that if she wanted to wear her make-up a certain way, that was fine.   I needed to learn to pick my battles and a battle over something that would remove over soap and water was not worth waging.   I guess back in my day (boy do I sound like an  old fart!) a girl who wore too much make-up was considered a slut but times are different now- you have Facebook and Twitter to help determine that.  The truth is that my daughter wanted to stand out just like I did when I was a teen.  I have to accept that and the fact that she's growing up whether I like it or not.  

Having the power to wave the magic wand of make-up can be a two edged sword - you begin to love it so much you hate to see yourself without it - the true you - the one whose earned those winkles, blemishes, dark spots, scars and all.   But at the end of the day, that's who you really are - the person whose lived a life that gives you those badges of honor if you allow yourself to see them as that.  So this is me - the real me.   The one on the weekends when I'm going swimming with the kids or down the grocery store just doesn't bother with make-up.  To date no one has gone running  and screaming in horror at the sight of me.   It can be hard to be yourself in a world that treasures youth and perfection but at the point that you just stop caring about what the world thinks and you just allow yourself to be you.  You realize that physical perfection is a concept that no one can possibly live up to.   It frees you focus on other things that are more important and not worry about what other people think.   It's a lesson that comes with age and like a fine glass of wine - it's a lesson worth savoring.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Long Journey Home

I really feel for Ann Curry.   10 million dollars or not (although I'll say that is one hell of a severance package) it's still hard to come to work during those final weeks and days when you know that you're on  your way out.  It's tough when you're being blamed for things that are not in your control and having to keep up a happy face while those around you know that your time at that company is coming to an end.   It must have very hard for Conan O'Brien as well - doing the best he could with the promises he'd been given for the Tonight Show and seeing that relationship that he had cultivated for 20 years go down in flames.   Ann had been at the Today Show for 15 years including the one year in the anchor chair but she seemed to be the royal whipping gal because the one successful franchise that NBC has is getting chipped away by Good Morning America.   It might not have been you Ann but rather that the Today show is on for four long, long, very long hours - it seem obvious where some of the problems might lie, but the brass on top has to blame someone.  Sometimes a head has to roll and sure as hell is not going to be theirs (although why not get rid of Kathy Lee?  Seriously - has no one in NBC Programming ever had to sit through that fourth hour of Today?)   But from my experience, sometimes that final straw - that moment when you get the call that it's finally over - there comes a sense of relief that you won't have to deal with the same old crap anymore and that uncertainty can be a welcome change from the sense of dread you felt coming into work each day. 

Ann, you have a pretty good golden parachute.  I doubt that you'll be filing for unemployment anytime soon.   But leaving without it being your choice can hurt and it knocks your self esteem pretty hard.   Really hard - like you had a title and now you're a non-person in the eyes of a lot of people kind of hard.   I know how that feels.   I was laid off of a very prestigious job.   I had a pretty good standing in the community and I got a three month severance package (though not 10 million).  I was told a month before my actual last day that I was being let go and then had to spend the next 30 days saying good bye and trying to help my coworkers fill the void.   That staff meeting where I had to break the news myself was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.   I had grown very close to two of the women I worked with and the idea of not seeing them everyday and sharing those daily tidbits of our lives was frankly going to be the thing I missed the most.  The office politics - not so much.  

So once the announcement was made, I tried to make the transition as easy as possible and tried to set up checklists and timelines so that at the time I actually left there would be a smooth transition.   Why did I feel the need to do that?  They were the ones letting me go.  Why did I care?  Those that found out that I was leaving were usually pretty mad for me - but I had to stay professional and let them know that it was going to be okay even if I wasn't certain that it would be.   I'd have to cheer up those coworkers who were in tears and would drive to work with water streaming down my face and drove home that way just so that no one would see me doing it in the office.  It was exhausting some days but I managed one of the hardest times in my life with class and dignity because no one was going to see me trying to do it with anything less.  God dammit, I was not going to give them that satisfaction.   

So the weeks and days ticked by and the last day drew near.   I was going onto the uncertain but certain that I could not take another month of people either really sorry to me see go, or wonder why it happened.  They would ask me what my next step was and I didn't have an answer because the resumes had just gone out.  I'd have people who I was quite friendly with before this barely make eye contact or speak to me because they were either uncomfortable or were afraid that  my soon to be unemployment would be catching.   At the last luncheon that the office would have with me, the women in the group arrived a little late because we were having a hard time getting ourselves together.  My soon to be ex-boss was sitting at the table playfully pointing to his watch.   I fought the urge to lean in very close to his face and say "Yeah, we're a little late- so fire me."   As the last night of my employment drew to a close, ironically at the lighting of a huge Christmas Tree - I drove home with a huge sense of relief tinged with sadness.  I had given it my best shot and now after almost four years it was over.   

The next day I couldn't really sleep in because the kids still had a schedule even if I didn't.    I got them off to school and Max off to work and sat in the house which was perfectly quiet except for the white noise of the dishwasher and washing machine.   The cats looked at me quizzically as if to say "Mom, what are you doing at home?"  and then "Okay, since you're here - feed us and scratch our bellies!"  The weird thing was that even through I was alone in the house for what seemed like the first time in months - I didn't mind it.  I actually enjoyed the solitude.   I guess having a family and knowing they will be back at a certain time keeps you focused on what you need to do before they all got home rather than watching day-time TV all day (interestingly enough - I think I only did that twice the whole time I was out of work).  So here I was during the holiday season with the time to actually get my holiday lists done.  I had to watch our money as closely as possible but probably not close enough because I was so sure I would find a job.  I needed to find one before the dreaded date of March 1st rolled around which meant if I was not working I would be eligible for unemployment (which is $330 per week before taxes in Georgia - not great but enough to buy groceries, gas, the utilities and then fall a few months behind on the rest of the bills).  

I was so sure I would get a job quickly - people knew me in this town.   They liked me.  I had connections.   I would be out of work for maybe two months, tops I thought.  It would be enough time for a  professional sabbatical and then right back into the fray.  I saw job ads for different types of fundraising including: international health, theater, museums, healthcare, animal rights, refugees, literacy, religious organizations etc.   I sent off at least three to four resumes with thoughtful cover letters to match each week.   I would get phone interviews but not be able to see the person on the other line to see if I was giving the information that the needed but would get a second interview think I aced it and then nothing.   I would get the interview - give them my references which they mentioned they would check immediately and then nothing.  I even had an organization ask me to do a strategic plan for the first month if I got the job with specific questions that I answered with contact names, phone numbers and grantors who were people I knew at the various foundations.  It was a consultant level document which they took, thanked me for and then never called me about until I sent an e-mail asking what was going on about three weeks later.  There were times especially after Skittles, our cat and my husband's car (which had once been my dad's car) died in the same month that I lost my job when I was wondering what God's big plan for me was.  We were down to one car that was already 13 years old and would not be able to get a new one anytime soon if that one died.   I knew this was a test and like all tests, the teacher is silent while you're taking it - so God seemed to be sitting quietly by while little by little things kept slipping away.  

I kept praying to my guardian angels and yet nothing of substance was happening.   I was a hot commodity but in this recession, the demand for hot commodities was not very high.   It was humbling.  I found that before this period of time I might have heard about people who were out of work for a year or more still trying to find a job and thought "You're just not trying hard enough."  I understood now how hard this job market is.   I had never been out of work for this long outside of coming to Georgia when Amber was two.  I had been doing fundraising in Miami for a long time and just needed a break for about a year.  But this time was different - it was not voluntary and we didn't have the money for me to coast for a year or until I figured out the next step.   I needed a job now and the uncertainty was beginning to bruise my already inwardly fragile ego (although outwardly I was still cracking jokes).   Luckily the OTC Comedy Troupe - my improv group, was getting bookings monthly.  I was also working with a group called ArtWorks Gwinnett which is a coalition of arts groups that promotes culture in the county.   Those two things along with this blog helped keep me sane and allowed me the chance to still network while I waited for that dream job to appear.   March 1 hit and I had to take the plunge and apply for unemployment and interestingly enough it was not as bad as I though it would be - everyone was supportive and in the same boat - there were no judgments.  

On my birthday, my friends (who were the two women I was close to in my last job) called to tell me that a job for a Development Director had opened up at a non-profit that helped adults with developmental disabilities and that I should apply for it.   The person that was in the job was moving to work with the foundation of a major corporation that had recently moved to town.   They sent me the job description and I applied but with less enthusiasm then usual.   It wasn't the job - it was just after six months of fruitless searching,  this too might be another dead end.   I got over myself after a few minutes and  was willing to give it a shot.   The resume and cover went out and by the end of the week the CEO asked me to come in and interview.   "This might finally be it!" I thought. I might finally have reached the end of the unemployment desert but I was also afraid that this might be another mirage that was not going to materialize.  

The night before the interview, I prayed to my guardian angels to give me a sign that this was the right place.   The next morning, I dropped Max off at work and drove to the location of my perspective employer.   I met with the person I would be replacing and my future boss in her office.  We sat down at a table that had an interesting piece of artwork behind it - a six paned window that was repurposed and painted with one angel dancing in each glass pane.    I got my angelic sign big time!  Inside I started to well up and quickly asked about the painting to give me time to gather my thoughts and keep my tears at bay.  It was a painting that one of the clients had done at the center and she loved having it in her office.  The rest of the interview went very well and I got a tour of the organization.   What was interesting was that it felt very comfortable and natural.   I had missed doing more grassroots one man band fundraising and this place was definitely what I was looking for.   I had raised money for abused children and always found social services to be very rewarding for the donor and those that got the donations - it was a win-win no matter how you sliced it.   After two more interviews with the volunteer leadership (one of which was in a restaurant where the my two friends showed up with my ex-coworkers randomly and waved as they walked by - another sign that my angels both human and celestial were looking out for me.) I finally got the last meeting in which I finally got a job offer.   While it was not quite as much as what I was making in my last job, the rewards of working for such a great established organization outweighed that.  I would be a member of the team making such a huge difference in the lives of adults that many times society doesn't want to deal with or acknowledge.  It would be a ton of work - there was no six person development department like the last place I worked - but the days would fly by.   I'd get to do some marketing and grant writing in addition to special events, direct mail and major gifts.   I started this new job the beginning of May and I can say that I am really enjoying my boss, coworkers and getting smiles from the people we serve as I walk in the door.   Unlike the last few weeks of my old job,  I look forward to coming in every day and there's not this sense of impending doom.   

So I guess the advice that I would give you Ann or anyone else who finds them self out of a job is to network, have interests outside the job and keep busy.   I got to taking long walks in the park to connect with nature and put another job rejection in perspective.    Conan O'Brien was booted out of one of the most successful late night franchises in history but found his way to TBS where he has more creative control and the people at TBS are going to stick with him as he builds his audience.  In fact he's been renewed through the spring of 2014.   Ann, you might just find your dream job after your contract with NBC runs out at any number of places that are looking for a strong woman who can bring their journalistic experience to a smaller network or cable station that will give you what you need because they appreciate someone like you.    It can be a long tough journey to find the place you're supposed to be.  But once you find it - you'll understand that your guardians angels had your back all along.  Your future is anything you want to make it - so smile and don't feel so sad about Today.