lextopia

my thoughts . my memories . my family . my projects . my fears
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘Unemployment’

“A Vision In A Dream. A Fragment.”

January 20, 2011 By: admin Category: Boston Beats, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, House, iPhone, Living, Love, Meditation, Michael, Unemployment, Video

This will be a very “meta” post, as I originally wrote part of the below in an email to my aunt, and then added to it a preface that I then, along with the email, published onto Facebook. It now here, in it’s entirety, with yet a new preface. A Pre-preface?

Anyway, I think the message contained herein should be shared far and wide, and so I’m publishing on the interwebs in the two places where I know it’ll do the most good. :) Enjoy.

“Hey everyone. This is my first FB note. It’s actually an email I wrote to my aunt who is a dream worker. I am adding it here because my situation is universal, and I thought maybe some of you are feeling the same way. I thought sharing might help some of you to not feel so alone and scared–as I do sometimes–and might help me let go of some of the hope I have that I will be able to keep my sweet, safe life exactly the way it is right now: sweet & safe. I’ve been studying Buddhist meditation and philosophy for over a year and have been resisting the concept of impermanence since the beginning. :) I guess sharing this note is my way of finally accepting it.

Anyway, I hope you can get something out of this. This is a terrible, terrible time for so many of us, but something I’ve learned recently is that the love in the artist community here in Boston is a-s-t-o-u-n-d-i-n-g. You all have helped me so much I almost don’t know what to say except that I am grateful. You are all so beautiful it actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this, and makes it sooooo clear to me why I’m a filmmaker: I have a classic excuse to stare at all of you FOR HOURS, and have the skills necessary to help share your beauty with the world. :)

Enjoy, and thank you so much for your grace and vulnerability. We are giants. :)

With love,

Alexia

“I had an intense dream the other night that I haven’t been able to forget. Thats impressive for two reasons: 1-I haven’t been dreaming much in the last few weeks, and 2-I think I can count on one hand the dreams that have lingered in my mind days after having had them.

The dream is very simple in imagery: my iPhone broke. That’s it. Here are the details…. I was talking with someone about the iPhone being very rugged, and that I’d dropped it a lot and had only incurred minor scratches and cracks. As I was talking I accidentally (truly an accident) dropped my phone. It crashed to the floor and looked fine from my vantage point of just bending my head to look. But then I bent my whole body to pick it up, and when I grasped it I saw that it had been split in two, vertically. This is almost completely impossible for an iPhone. In order to achieve this kind of break, you’d have to put the phone between two vice grips and forcibly snap it. Even then, you’d never get the straight-up-and-down break that I got.

I picked up the phone and rose. The edges of the breaks were jagged, but I could still push the pieces together and have them fit. So I did just that, and what do you know, the phone still worked. I had to hold the pieces together very tightly, but my friend and I thought it was pretty amazing that it still worked even in that scenario. Still within the dream, as I looked down at the blinking, broken phone, I thought to myself, ‘Well, there it is, I have to get the new iPhone 4.’ 😉

That was the end of the dream.

There was an ominousness to that last thought, however funny, about needing to get the new phone. This thought has it’s origins in my very scary economic situation… For two years I haven’t been buying anything. At all. Food and gas and the occasional beer. That’s it. I haven’t gone out to eat, haven’t gone to the movies, haven’t bought a book, haven’t gone to see any of my friends’ bands play if there was a cover charge. The only times I’ve left the house, actually, have been when I was able to arrange for several meetings and events to occur on the same day so I wouldn’t waste gas. You get the idea… My current iPhone-a used one given as a gift to me from Michael (my brother)-has been testy and slow for over a year. I have needed a replacement for a long, long time, but haven’t dared spend $300 to get it for fear of not being able to make the following month’s mortgage payment. This is a fear that’s been with me for a while. It’s no longer a paralytic fear, but still there none-the-less.

Anyway, the fateful day has finally come: it’s January 20th and I don’t have enough money to pay for February’s mortgage so I have to open up one of my retirement accounts. I only have two and the one I’ll be opening was started for me in 2003 when I was at Harvard-Smithsonian. They contributed to the fund, I never did, so, in a sense, all the money in there is “free.” Taking any of it out, though, before I’m 65, will incur a tax penalty. So for something like $4000 I have to remove $5000 and lose $1000. Again, as this is essentially “free money” I’m not stressing too much. I AM stressing about what will happen if I don’t get a job before April 1st. Because if that happens, then it will mean that I have to go into my second retirement account, the only one I have left, the one I’ve been adding to and growing since I was 23, and the one that I hoped would be my nest egg. If I have to go into that one, then the small life I have come to know, the tiny life here that I have worked and saved so long to build around me, will slowly evaporate.

In the dream, when I looked down at my phone I thought: ‘If you hold it together very tightly, it’s definitely still a phone, but you can’t ignore that if you let go… it just won’t work any more…’ “

Address the Front

August 17, 2010 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, PlumTV, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

"Untitled" by ImaginationRoom (http://imaginationroom.posterous.com/)

I don’t know where to start. This morning I’m feeling a lot of fear mixed with stress mixed with the intellectual knowledge of peace and relaxation. This job is just too much, I think. There is literally NO BREAK. I have one or two weekend days each week and they don’t even help me to catch up on sleep anymore. Tina was right, I need to train someone to share the load. I thought I had been doing that. Looking back now at May, June and the first part of July, I can’t understand at all how Hannah survived overseeing the show as well as ads creation. Insanity.

I spoke last night with a woman who is back from the brink. She has Lyme disease and mercury poisoning, but because she has a lot of money, she is alive. I’m afraid to watch the documentary about Lyme that she financed. I’m afraid for my friend Su, who has Lyme, and afraid for myself that I may not have the courage to help her the way she needs to be helped. At the moment I am stressed out enough just watching over my own life. The mortgage. Always the mortgage. But for me that struggle is worth it because I am surviving and my house is my life-raft.

Could I do this job again next summer? I might not physically or psychologically be able to handle it. If Courtney stays then I could train her in May and June and then, hopefully, something will have turned for me so that I can leave as Hannah left this past July. I just can’t imagine doing this all again. Not without someone like me to share the full load.

I saw “Eat.Pray.Love” last night–the Hollywood representation of one of my favorite books. The movie, frankly, sucked. I’d needed it to not. I’ve needed some kind of heart vacation for a while. Not romantic, something to help me feel at peace. I stayed in the movie while others left, not because I had hope, but because the images, at least, were something I’ll be able to hold on to later. And, hell, Julia Roberts is pretty, so…

There’s no one way to tell a story, but if you’re going to try, you have to settle on a direction. The director of Eat.Pray.Love, I think, shot a 6-hour film. Pity we didn’t see that version. Another film, “The Kids Are Alright,” reinvigorated my love of movies and visual story, and showed a decent, hard-working, loving family. Two lesbian parents and their teenage kids. I thought ti was wonderful. A friend thought it was insulting to lesbians worldwide because of something that happens in the story. Her anger and staunch position nearly destroyed the tender story for me. I got sad listening to her just not letting it go. There isn’t just one way to tell a story, and so you shouldn’t get mad at one interpretation.

I’m exhausted. This post is one, fucking stream-of-semiconsciousness, isn’t it? Sorry about that. I’ll try again tomorrow. If anyone sees a thruline here, please comment so I’ll know what the hell I’m talking about. :)

Cheers.

This Is

March 29, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Filmmaking, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, The Film, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

Whenever I feel afraid–and for me fear is always about the lack of control over my responsibilities, like not having a job so I can pay my bills–I gather my “totems” (usually books) and place them all around me, like a child playing with blocks on the floor. I set my mind to “accomplishing.” “Today I’ll read from each of these books and by the end of the day or middle of the day I’ll know what to do.” At least there’s a chance I might feel better…

In the last several months I have applied to hundreds of jobs and gotten responses from less than ten. My resume, if you haven’t seen it, is fairly extraordinary. I’ve done some amazing things and worked at a lot of impressive places and done well there, so it’s shocking to me that I have been passed over so many times. It is certainly wearing me down. Maybe that’s why I’ve thrown myself headlong into this film about coal–to keep my mind and body occupied so I won’t dissolve into despair. Truly, despair isn’t very “me,” but this economic crisis time is strange and powerful enough that I wouldn’t be shocked about a lot of shocking things happening all around me.

Last night I finished Isabel Allende’s beautiful, funny memoir “The Sum of Days.” Its a reflection of the lives of her family members in the thirteen or so years since her daughter, Paula, died. Isabel is looking at her “tribe” and trying to make sense of her own life and choices in the face of everything that happens within the group. Not surprisingly the book is gorgeously written and very candid. I like books like that most of all. I don’t see a need for hiding, especially the raw and ugly stuff. My greatest emotional liberations have come when I admitted I did something and then apologized for it.

Today is rainy and so I can’t work out in the newly cleared garden. Nik was here over the weekend and helped me rake. By being gentle, she first motivated me to not be afraid of starting the garden project. She sees, even this early in our relationship, how much starting something new sometimes scares me. My mind works in an odd way with new projects–I have no trouble starting, I just sometimes have trouble feeling it’s okay to start. I worry that if I’m starting this new thing it means I’m taking time away from finishing something else, but, truly, I’ve never had a problem getting things done. When I was little Mom said that Michael would never start his projects and I would never finish mine. She was talking about homework, but it’s a good analogy. 😉 My first therapist–the great Joan in NYC–thought for a while that I might be ADD, but I shrugged that notion off. I’m not ADD, I’m just organized. 😉

Anyway, so I had a block about starting the garden project that I think was fear of being alone. I think I shy away from some tasks or projects because I’m afraid of doing them all alone, when that’s usually how things end up anyway. I always do my projects alone.I don’t want to all the time, but that’s what happens. People aren’t as motivated or passionate as I about getting something done and done well, so I end up working alone. TV I can handle in this way, more domestic-like projects I guess are tougher. This is something I’m trying very hard to work on in meditation: to be okay with the journey being largely or occasionally solitary. The motivating, mind-opening phrase is “the path is the goal.” Isn’t that marvelous?

Right out of college, after only one year, I gave up on acting as a career because I saw quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make a living from it, and that I’d have to do A LOT of bad work and work with bad people until I finally found something fun. But then that fun would only last three months at best. The thought that I’d have to look for work every three months was enough to make me understand that there was much more to life than that kind of suffering.  So I moved to television… 😉 A much more satisfactory metier…

My meditation practice, and Isabel’s way of writing, focuses on staying right where you are and looking at THAT, just that and nothing else. Don’t let your mind wander. Isabel has this wonderful paragraph toward the end of the book where she describes the abusive inner monologue that greets her every morning: “Don’t eat the bread, do you think the weight will fall off by itself? You’ve been writing for over twenty years and still you haven’t learned anything…” etc. I don’t do that to myself, I’m much kinder about my accomplishments, but I do tend to think of my world too small. I forget where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’ll be going soon and allow myself, instead, to get caught up with “what if?” Dreaming. Dreaming when we’re asleep is fine, but “What if” doesn’t exist and has no value when we’re awake. Only “this is” has value, only the knowledge of love has value, and so today I will try to stay in the present, learn something, and reflect on all the love in my life. That’s enough for one day.

Dear Mom: Where I’m At Today

March 18, 2010 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, House, Living, Meditation, Mom, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

It’s been a while since I’ve written, I know. Don’t scold, you didn’t even like that I was blogging at first. I’m well, or well enough given the ever-present money problems. Yes, I WILL be going into one of my IRAs if things get even worse, but there’s still some time to wait to see if “anything turns.” I love phrases like that, don’t you? They imply some kind of beneficent moment of fate, like The Angels of Mercy are going to come swooping in and change everything for the better. Not to be cynical, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Still, it’s hard to complain a) when I have so many gifts, and b) when Spring is about to burst here in New England.

Laura said last night “At least we don’t live in a dirt hut.” She’s not unemployed but not as employed as she’d like to be and so she’s doing what she usually does in frustrating times like these: she picks a topic and goes to the library and gets every single book about it. This time, the lucky topic is Montana. I’ve never known or thought that I would ever know this much about Montana but when you have a walking, talking encyclopedia you do take stuff in. One piece of news is that Montana settlers used to live in dirt hut because they were warmer. There are few things that truly shock and/or astonish my sister-in-law and the stalwartness of these Montana settlers is one of them. They lived in dirt huts and eked out a living on hard, cold, wide land. Yeah, I don’t really have much to complain about.

Anyway, I’ve got to go but wanted to share about the Montana thing, and to let you know that I was alright.

All my love, A`lex

Burns

March 02, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Living, Love, Molly, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

The sting is ever-present. I can’t hide from it or it would be as if I’d scarred my face and pretended nothing was different. Everything is different. You wear shoes in for so many years, take the time, and then are told they don’t fit you… when you know they do.

I wear my scars on the bottom of my feet so no one can see.

Scents

February 25, 2010 By: admin Category: Coal, Faith, Filmmaking, Living, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

Since I bought my house there have been items and places on the property and on me that smell like skunk. It’s a semi-permanent thing. “Semi” because once I finally block up the accesses to the crawlspace under the barn where the little buggers live, the smell will fade over time (to be replaced by other more pleasant ones, I hope). But for the time being some piece of me or my life will smell like skunk.

hedden3full

Dr. of Animal Science and professor at Colorado State University and autistic, Temple Grandin said “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.” This is the simplest I’ve ever heard The Golden Rule described. It’s not enough, apparently, to let people know that they have to be kind, you have to paint them a picture. Dr. Grandin’s phrase is as clear a picture as there is. Just watch any National Geographic special about animals in the wild and you’ll get the idea…

Nature is on my mind today as it has been almost every day since my unemployment-forced convalescence began. It’s because when I wake up I can see it and hear it all around through the many windows in my house, and because the business of nature has permeated my smell. Smell is identity. It can pinpoint time and place, and sometimes emotion. Sometimes a scent on me will be the inspiration for me to change my attitude. If I’m dirty I shower, sure, but that’s not it. Sometimes I’m perfectly clean and shower anyway because I need that fresh, organic shampoo smell to clear my mind.

I’ve been wound-up pretty tight lately because of the unemployment. It seems that no matter how many resumes I send out there is no work for me. It used to be that I could figure out what I was doing wrong, what I was saying in a cover letter that I shouldn’t say, or what I should remove from my resume to make myself seem a little less experienced (read: “expensive”). It is just fact that I’ve been doing what I do as long as I’ve been doing it, but that’s not what employers in this economy want to hear. They want to hear that you’re “inexperienced” (read: “cheap”), but have been working at this thing long enough to… you know… know everything.When I first got into filmmaking you had to have experience as a producer. Then you had to have experience as a videographer. Then you needed to know how to edit, which made you a Preditor (Producer/Editor). Then you needed to know how to create basic graphics. These days, if you can’t do all of these things as well as know a fairly large amount of motion graphics, you’re considered unhirable.

When I was at AOL I was hired as a video producer/editor. When the economy started to tank, my budget was slashed. No more video. So with the help of my immediate boss, I learned to blog and kept my job for another year. When the economy sank even more our uber boss put up another set of hoops. I jumped through them all. Whatever was required I learned not only how to do it, but do it well. I worked my fuckin’ ass off and got good at a lot of things. When I lost my job I took the time to made two documentary films and today, still unemployed, I am hard at work on the third. I work my fuckin’ ass off.

If our societal systems can’t figure out how to use people like me in the day-to-day improving of the world, then i think it’s time to reboot or rebuild the systems. We’re doing something very wrong if people with such skills can be tossed aside. Truly, I’m no different than anyone who can do something well, or anyone at all, really, because I believe that everyone is good at something. If nothing else, everyone is passionate about something and that’s a start to being good at it.

Temple Grandin saw that cattle were unhappy in the rectangular pens they were being held in, so she designed pens that catered to what made them feel good. If there was another Noah-like flood, the day the water recedes and people are allowed back on land they’ll ask each other what they can do so society can be rebuilt. You’re a carpenter? Okay, you go over here. You’re a priest? Great, go over there. You can make a mean chicken catchitori? Perfect, please design us a kitchen. You’re a documentary filmmaker? Thank goodness, we’ll need someone to look around at what we’re doing and write it all down so we remember.

I have value, and so do you.

“…and wrap my arms around a pillow i’ll convince myself is you.”

January 13, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Food, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, PMS, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

Indigestion. It’s astonishing the things I can’t understand until I finally experience them for the first time. Is everyone like that, or is it really just me who lacks an imagination? Go ahead and say if it is, I can take it. I just find it exhausting, at 42, to still be learning more from looking back than looking forward…

500-Broken-glass(1)

For the last couple of days I’ve walked hand-in-hand with Tums, Prevacid, and something generic from Walgreen’s. The Walgreen’s version tastes the best and has the most flavors, but so far Tums wins the “killing the symptoms quickly” battle. The heartburn came on suddenly and became severe on Monday when I was in too much pain to get out of bed. I did some reading online via iPhone while doubled-over and am a bit worried that I might have an ulcer. Most of the recent literature disdains the possibility that stress can cause ulcers–as was once thought–but doesn’t rule it out. Whatever the cause, the result is that I am now afraid to eat, or drink coffee. Anything that might cause a heartburn flare-up is a no-no and so I’m stuck at the moment with apples, water, and caffeine-withdrawal. Anyone want to come over??? :) Those of you living on the brightside who are saying to yourselves: “Gosh, at least you have apples” are correct: at least I have apples. 😉

It’s been my history that nothing ever happens with my body that isn’t a sign of something else. When I started declaring my independence from Mom I developed chronic bad menstrual cramps after years of mild periods; when Molly was breaking up with me I developed a urinary tract infection (my first!); now that I have indigestion after several years of eating well and exercising I have to wonder what the fuck is going on this time. Is it really the stress of prolonged unemployment? Seems like a good fit to me. There’s only so much rationalizing/mental hoop-jumping a girl can do before she just sputters and falls to the ground. Ah… time will tell, eh? I can’t wait for the future, so I can look back and find out what the hell happened…

Mind The Gap

January 08, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

By now most of you know that when my mother died something in me died too. The reason I started this blog in 2006, one year after she died, was to try and make sense of the empty feeling I’d been left with, and, possibly, to rebuild. Well, as you’ve all seen, the rebuilding hasn’t gone so well. I made a lot of bad choices, a lot of passionate choices, and a lot of good choices. Sometimes I was lucky, sometimes I bit the dirt, hard. But at no time did the sum of all my choices put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The hole in me, that chunk that got carved out and was burned with her, is still missing. If it is to be replenished at all, it can only happen with a long, slow simmer of combined true love: mine for myself, mine for someone else, and someone else’s for me. This is what I’ve observed in watching couples these last years. Healthy, happy union is possible, and helps us weather so many things. That doesn’t mean I’m going to run off looking for someone to make me feel better about losing Mom, no. It’s just part of the process.

384760830_49098fcd4b

I got a message last night about that hole and something in my mind finally broke free. It brings with it the despair inevitable for someone who has been hiding the truth from herself: I will never talk to Mom again. I will never see her again. I will never find someone or something to take her place and fill the hole in me that’s been festering for so long. The message shocked me into a new perspective. Literally. It was like getting corrective lenses after years of blurry vision. I can read street signs now–think of it like that. There’s no more hiding emotionally. I know what my truths are and have no choice but to move forward with them as my guide instead of the fantasies I’ve been waving around hoping reality would be just a bit softer than this.

If anyone has any ideas how about how a person deals with going from talking with their mother/best friend 4-5 times a week her whole life to suddenly not doing that, I’m game to hear it. My friend Christiane from college, who lost her mother before we met, and with whom I recently reconnected on Facebook, said of the grief of losing one’s mother: “Hold on tight.” When author Isabel Allende lost her only daughter to porphyria at age 26, she wrote a best-selling novel, “Paula,” but was still so distraught after thirteen years that she was worried she didn’t have any more books in her. She called her editor, a woman who always seemed to have the right answers to her creative conundrums. “Send me a two or three-hundred page letter,” the editor said, “and I’ll take care of the rest.” The result was the book I’m reading now, “The Sum of Our Days,” a letter to Isabel’s deceased daughter, Paula.

It seems that since Mom died the only stories that have resonated with me are ones about the deaths of loved ones: The Year of Magical Thinking, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, If I Am Living Or Dead, The Sum of Our Days.

The last happiest time I remember in my life was while I was working at Oxygen. Before the attacks of September 11th my days were damned-near perfect. I was completely fulfilled at my job and had good prospects for a loving, healthy relationship. Last night, during my walk, I realized that since then my life has been a patchwork of unemployment, confusion, terror, anger, longing, frustration, disgust, disappointment, and sadness.

The attacks in NYC caused Oxygen to close their broadcast center for ten days. Those mere ten days of lost ad revenue were a body-slam to the network’s financials and so it wasn’t long afterward that we started hearing about layoffs. My show’s came in March of 2002. Working at Oxygen had been the best experience of my life and it was suddenly over because of something none of us could control. Sadly, with the job went my brand new relationship, and my incredible life in NYC… That was the first time I felt something had been “untimely ripped” out of me, but still… I didn’t get the message. Before I moved out to LA, I caught Molly emotionally toying with her ex-boyfriend. She hadn’t told him about us and he was trying to get back together with her. He’d hurt her so she said she’d wanted to play with him. She liked to flirt. A lot. When I discovered that the “toying” was a little too close for my comfort I confronted her and she stopped it, but still… I didn’t get the message. She was a child and I needed to steer clear. The problem in making sense of my relationship with Molly, though, is that working in LA for four years was the kick-in-the-ass my career and my career-mind needed. As soon as I was out there I knew I’d chosen the right profession. Production is my fuckin’ element. To borrow a phrase from my old Oxygen boss, Laurie, “I can make chicken salad out of chicken shit.”

So where does all this leave me? Well, it feels like I’m to be remaking myself again. But this time it’ll be the stripped-down version. No arm-waving, just me. One careful step at a time. Mind the gap.

Ode To A Woodstove

January 07, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Faith, Fire, Food, Happiness, Health, House, iPhone, Living, Meditation, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Yoga

This coming March I will have been unemployed for one full year, the longest I’ve ever been unemployed. And so, I straighten the books on my coffee table.

There are “prospects” of jobs on the horizon, but there have been for almost all of the last nine months, and so I vacuum, and vow that when I come into my house from outside from now until Spring, I will change from sandy/snowy hiking boots to slippers so I don’t track mud everywhere.

Every day I troll the interwebs for a job suitable for someone who wants to stay in the town where she lives and not have a commute longer than two hours, and so I jump rope, do yoga, and meditate to keep from going insane. The thinking is that taking this time to “improve” myself in other ways will somehow show the universe that I’m worthy of employment. “See? I just lost three pounds, and I don’t as angry as I used to! Hire me!”

woodstove

The one thing I can actually pride myself on is that I haven’t actually gone crazy in this time, but yesterday nearly brought me to it… I went to the Apple Store to participate in a “hiring seminar.” The exercise was fun, for the most part, but the overall feeling from the group of applicants was buzzing desperation. We were all ages and all freaking out. This was, for most of us, it felt like, The Last Resort. Retail. Yes, I am applying for a job as a “Creative”–someone who teaches customers how to use Macs and their associated programs–but I think in order to ascend to that lofty position you have to “work the floor” for a few weeks, or maybe even months. I did retail. The Hard Rock Cafe. In my early 20s. The honeymoon wore off quick then and I don’t think I can resurrect the love for it today. That said, if they call, what choice do I have…?

This time of economic depression, like the famous one before it decades ago, will be marked by the bodies and souls it leaves behind. If it’s assumed that most of us will come through this one alive, it’s also possible that many will be letting go of pieces of ourselves that, whether sentimental or destructive, good or bad, given our new weaknesses will simply be too heavy to carry into the next phase of our lives, a phase that will begin with us nervously rebuilding our senses of self. I can already feel that creeping in to me. Yesterday, during the seminar, I was in my element–I understand Macs and their software, own an iPhone and iPod, a Cinema display–but despite this couldn’t help but feel that the woman who was co-running the seminar along with a male counterpart had a thing against me. Every time I spoke up or answered a question when they asked for responses from the group she glared at me disapprovingly or dismissively, I couldn’t decide which. Now, was all this in my head? The damage left by nearly twelve months of self-esteem-crushing unemployment? Or did this chick really just hate me without knowing me? These days every little reaction from a stranger in a position to alter the course of my life sends me into a stock car race of abusive self-analysis. And so I chop up wood in my workroom and reposition the hand-me-down leather sofas in the hope that soon I’ll feel relaxed enough to sit by the fire…