Rebranding Myself: Semi-Retired

Since everything is about marketing these days, I have decided to go proactive and launch an aggressive campaign targeting consumer perception regarding my current situation. As a result, I am no longer unemployed. I am semi-retired.

There are several immediate benefits to this type of marketing strategy.

As a semi-retired person, I can choose to come out of retirement at any time. This is also known as “making a come back.” [See: Travolta, Britney, the two Coreys.] This is also known as “getting a job.” The subtle change in perception is that, being semi-retired, I am in charge. Which as anyone who believes in having a positive attitude will say is an essential way to look at things, and not at all delusional or a self-defense mechanism against the feeling that I am powerless and falling into the huge dark abyss of despair. Which is something that an unemployed person with a tendency toward cynicism, such as myself, might possibly feel.

So. Semi-retired it is.

As a semi-retired person, I can engage in leisure activities without guilt. For instance, I could totally go golfing every morning. Being an unemployed person, such behavior might viewed as irresponsible, since I should be looking for work every single moment of every single day. But when you are semi-retired, you are expected to golf. It might even be in the rules. I might be required to learn how to golf now, except –

As a semi-retired person, I am also allowed to be a little crotchety and “difficult,” so if I don’t want to learn to golf I don’t have to, because what is this, the Army? and when you’ve lived as long as I have you deserve to have a little peace in your life and I’ll do whatever I want with my own damn time now leave me alone my stories come on in five minutes. If I was unemployed, sitting around watching daytime TV might be considered slothful and indulgent but since I’m semi-retired, I’ve earned it.

Because, as a semi-retired person, I am afforded a sort of respect which an unemployed person is not. Semi-retirement suggests a willing withdrawal from accomplishment, while unemployment suggests bad luck. Much better to be perceived as someone who got in, did what they had to do, and got out early rather than “last hired first fired.”

So, for all these reasons I am now officially “semi-retired.” There are probably other and perhaps better reasons. However, now that I’m semi-retired I can totally take my own damn time figuring stuff out.

Semi-retirement. Rebranding at it’s best!

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Coffee Shop Face-Off

I met two different friends at two different coffee shops.
Which cafe provided the better experience? You decide:

Option #1 – CAFE AT THE VISTA
Location: Los Feliz/Silver Lake – young, hip, artsy area on the East side of LA.
Size: Tiny. About 7 tables inside, maybe 3 tables outside.
Decor: New, modern, slightly architectural.
In the Cup: Strong. Good flavor. Really strong. Nice foam. Is this a triple? Because I asked for a double but it’s fine because I’m totally into the triple if this is a triple and if it’s a double that’s some really good beans you got there cause I like it strong and my friend should be here any minute now and I might have to get another coffee when she comes because she’ll probably order something and I don’t want to be sitting here not drinking if she’s drinking because that just feels so rude and I usually take a double but this totally feels like a triple not that I’m complaining because I know you charged me for a double but I probably shouldn’t get another double although I totally like this and it’s really good and strong and oh look here she is and actually I think I’m good for now but thanks.
Clientèle: Two tables pulled together at the front with small group having a production meeting for an indie film. Single hip young woman with computer doing some sort of research. Cool 30-something woman with computer writing script. Single 20’s cute guy rocking the sweater vest/bowling shirt combo and knitting.
SPECIAL FEATURE: Did I mention the young guy knitting? KNITTING! (Is that the new pick-up line for Gen Y? “Wanna come to my place and look at my collection of scarf patterns?”)

OPTION #2 – COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF
Location: Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. The Strip. The heart of Hollywood. A few blocks from the Viper Room, the Standard Hotel and the Chateau Marmont.
Size: Medium. Several bar stools at counters inside, nice size outdoor patio with heat lamps, umbrellas and a fire pit.
Decor: Corporate. Exactly like every other Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the world.
In the Cup: Good. Exactly like every other Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the world.
Clientèle: Hott young actresses with dogs in yoga pants. (The actresses were wearing the yoga pants. Not the dogs.) Sixty something “producer” in jogging suit with Bluetooth headset, steadily texting with one thumb. Hott young actors in jeans and white t-shirts discussing the biz. Schizophrenic homeless woman bumming cigarettes.
SPECIAL FEATURE: Valet parking. ONLY. (I parked waaaay up the hill and walked my cheap ass down to Sunset.)


Adventures In Shopping With Ann Taylor

This story is completely true.

I recently ordered a necklace from the Ann Taylor internet site. It arrived yesterday.

With a little card.

Which was strange, because I don’t usually send myself a gift card when I order something for myself, although now that I think of it, I totally will, because why not? (“Hey you! You totally deserve this! Enjoy! Love, You”)

The gift card read as follows:

“Happy Birthday Presh! I can’t wait for you and JG to visit. I love you so much.
Love, Boo-Boo Kitty.”

Well. Okay then.

My first thought was the customer service department at Ann Taylor was having a slow afternoon and decided to get a little creative. If so, I’d really like to work there.

But then I thought, what if someone in shipping had just mixed up two orders. Two necklaces, exactly the same, only one gets a card and other doesn’t. Except the card went with the wrong box.

Maybe it really was Presh’s birthday. (Happy birthday Presh!) Maybe Boo-Boo Kitty actually had sent the necklace as a gift. (Nice taste, Boo-Boo!) I hope JG likes the way it looks on Presh, not that Presh NEEDS JG’s approval or anything. They don’t have that kind of relationship. They’re totally cool, and JG really likes Boo-Boo Kitty too, so it’s all good. I imagined Presh wearing the necklace out to drinks with JG, and they meet up with some friends and have a really good time. They even hoist a round to the absent yet generous Boo-Boo Kitty. They’re probably really nice people. Or possibly video game avatars.

I guess I’ll never really know.

If it all turns out to be some kind of viral marketing campaign, with these characters taking on lives of their own and ordering snappy outfits from Ann Taylor, I’m going to be a little bummed, because I totally want that job.

Unless someone out there knows the real Presh or Boo-Boo Kitty or JG.

In which case, Presh and I should coordinate, so we don’t both wear the necklace on the same day.


Lose Job, Get Ham Sandwich

Here’s how it works:

Get laid off. Husband, concerned about financial situation, decides to start taking lunch to work.

Husband makes delicious ham sandwich with quality brand cold cuts and swiss cheese and the good mustard we bought at the Honey Baked Ham store. (Sweet yet tangy.)

Unaccustomed to taking lunch to work, husband forgets and leaves sandwich on kitchen counter. Every day.

I score delicious ham sandwich for lunch! Booya!


Gonna Take You Higher

Dear Universe:

Look, you know I love you and everything. I love your lessons, I love your sense of humor, I love your sly hints at a meaningful endgame.

But here’s the thing. I still gotta be ME. We both know that I am a slightly grouchy and ever-cynical New Yorker. This is not going to change. So please, can you stop with the uplifting already? Last night I was inundated by so much uplifting I had to grab the end of the sofa so as not to take flight.

First, it was IDOL GIVES BACK, with the images of the sweet African children who could be saved from Malaria for the cost of a couple of cups of Starbucks, and children right here in our very own country, who need books, medicine, homes. All so sad, but totally changeable, if everyone pitches in.

Uplifting!

Then it was ABC’s THE LAST LECTURE: A Love Story for Your Life, a story about Randy Pausch’s indomitable will to enjoy life, despite having only months to live. Pausch talks about being honest in life and having fun and honoring childhood dreams. Sad, because he’s dying soon, but so inspirational because he’s living now.

More lifting in the direction of up!

Then it was a story on Nightline about Young @ Heart, the chorus made up of members all over the age of 70 who sing rock and roll songs. The age of the singers adds a startling element of compassion to angry lyrics about wasted lives and angst. Touching and ultimately life affirming.

So so uplifing!

I woke up this morning in a fog of uplift.

Are you trying to change me, Universe? Because I thought we had an understanding. I need to get back to wallowing in self pity because I was laid off from my job. I need to get back to obsessing about myself and my own relatively comfortable life (What Will Happen To ME???)

Geez. If I want to be uplifted I’ll go get a triple shot latte.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run. I’m hosting a pity party for one, and I have hors d’oeuvres to make.

Love, Tara


Well Done, Medium

Television has the power to change lives.

Watching the first man walk on the moon, watching the wall come down in Berlin – those were pretty good. But TV has recently touched my life in a much more important way. It has helped me look for a job.

I was laid off two weeks ago, and it’s been depressing. Looking at the staggering unemployment statistics, looking at my not so staggering resume, wondering how I’m going to find a job.

I was watching the show MEDIUM a few days before the cruel BLO (Big Lay Off). I like this show a lot. Patricia Arquette (love her) stars as Allison Dubois, a woman who solves crimes through her dreams, which reveal information about dead people who have met some sort of untimely demise. [SPECIAL NOTE: Dear Medium show – although I truly love your show, I do have one tiny complaint. Every week Allison solves crimes through her dreams. And every week, when she has a dream, the people around her, usually her husband, spend the first two acts telling her the dream probably doesn’t mean anything and she should forget about it. This is getting tiresome. When you establish that a character has a talent, please don’t waste the audience’s time creating false conflict by denying that talent is valid. Allison is always right. Every week. Work with it. Thank you. Signed, your loving fan.]

In the show, Jake Weber plays Allison’s ever-supportive husband Joe, an aerospace engineer who, this season, has been struggling with being out of work. In this particular episode, Joe went to his routine appointment at the unemployment bureau where he affirmed, yet again, that he was still out of work, and still looking for work. He was noticeably frustrated and angry, and was trying not to take it out on the man who was conducting the interview. At one point the man, very aware of this frustration, looked at Joe and said “Mr. Dubois, why are you waiting for someone to give you permission to earn a living?” This question/statement startled Joe, and you could see that it registered, in some way. Later in the show he came up with an idea for an invention that could potentially provide him with an income.

My own cruel BLO didn’t happen until several days after that episode aired, and for the first few days of unemployment I was in shock – angry, depressed, lost, confused (mostly because my normal Starbucks routine had been disrupted.) But yesterday I was looking at the umpteenth job board online, at a writer/producer job that seemed interesting. A job I knew I could do, to which I could contribute a lot, creatively. But I also knew that my resume wasn’t a “match.” I have all the real world skills and experience through the independent projects Rick and I have produced, but not the kind of experience “they” look for – no title, no big name company I’ve worked for. I don’t look good on paper.

Then suddenly, for some reason, I though of that line from Medium.

“Tara, why are you waiting for someone to give you permission to earn a living?”

I’ve basically been an independent producer for the last two years. Why not think of myself as the one in charge, not the one standing, hat in hand, begging “Please sir, may I have some more?” Why not believe in the work I’ve done for Post Haste? I’ve wrangled 60 drunk rock ‘n roll fans, coaxed a vulnerable performance from a comedic actor and edited 13 short videos on Final Cut, without any formal training. Not to toot my own horn, but why can’t I toot my own horn? Why do I need “them” to validate what I’ve done? Why am I letting “them” define what I can do?

In reality, I’m still going to have to ask someone to hire me. But somehow, one random line from a TV show made me stop and think about my situation in a different way. Somehow, that one random line has given me a little bit of courage.

And that’s why I say well done, Medium! Well done. Now if you’ll just listen to me about those story lines …


This is My Now

What is every writer’s dream? It’s to be contacted by an editor at a major publication who has read your work and likes it and wants to do something with you.

This has happened to me.

I received an e-mail from an editor at a very well-known prestigious magazine. She’s been reading my blog! She wants to speak to me!

Does she want to syndicate me for a monthly column “Tara Talks Turkey,” a Nora Ephronesque collection of witty observations about daily life?

No.

Does she want to assign me to an article, subject of her choosing, where my wry sense of humor and witty way with words can reach millions of readers?

No.

Does she want to talk to me about some possible future freelance assignments, to which I will no doubt apply my own particular slightly skewed yet generally appealing sensibilities?

No.

She wants to interview me as part of an article they are putting together. I don’t want to give it away, but roughly, it’s about finding yourself in a place in your life where you didn’t expect to be. And not in a good way.

She wants to know about my new life as a non-contributing member of society, a worthless lay about with nothing to offer, a useless sloth dragging through each day with no purpose and little hope for the future.

I may be slightly exaggerating. She didn’t actually call me a sloth.

But I’m not one to look at the negative side. (Okay, I totally am.) But still – I’m finally getting recognition! This could be my big opportunity! Maybe my story of confusion and despair can help someone else get their life together. It’s too late for me! Save yourselves!

I am your humble servant, and I will do whatever I can.