I started writing this post like two or three months ago (I want to say right around Thanksgiving), before Australia had totally burned to the ground and before Trump decided to provoke Iran, thus destroying any chance we have at all for a future. Let’s be honest here, I don’t think humanity is going to make it another five years.
Since this post was initially written, the holidays have come and gone, the New Year has arrived, and I have decided to stop buying fast fashion, or any new clothes at all… yes, I will continue wearing the same damn shoes until I receive warnings from HR about how my foot odor is offending people at work.
I have also decided to become a vegan (not sure how long I can last without cheese or eggs, but I will try), and give up alcohol and other illegal substances. I am also going to try to be more consistent with this blog. Cheers, kids.
Daydreaming about Robbie Williams….
TIPS FOR SURVIVING A RECESSION (Blog entry from November, 2019):
I wanted to write this blog a few months ago when I started reading about another oncoming recession all over the news. I figured I have some viable tips for those of you who were too young to really experience the recession of 2008 firsthand, or those of you who weren’t affected the first time around (consider yourselves very lucky). I survived the great recession of 2008 – just barely though: I haven’t touched my student loan debt, I don’t own a house nor can I afford to, I work just to pay bills, I throw money to the wind each month, renting an apartment I will never own, and at this rate (and given a number of other extraneous factors such as global warming, imminent nuclear war / terrorist attacks at the hands of Iran, and societal collapse on the horizon…) I doubt I will ever have children. C’est la vie…. at least I’ve got my cats.
Anyhow, I’m currently sitting here browsing slutty clothes and 7-inch platform boots on DollsKill.com. Hey – life is short, and no matter what, I’m not going to be able to afford a house or kids, so I might as well purchase some cheap thrills while I’m still semi-young (not that I’m young) and decent looking (not that I am that either). I can honestly say I never spend money on lunch or coffee… I don’t even eat lunch. I think I deserve some frivolous party shoes once or twice a year to compensate. The press is always bitching about Millennials wasting money on Starbucks and avocado toast, but when you’re $50K in the hole with no future in sight, you kind of have to live in the moment and treat yourself to the tiny luxuries that you CAN afford. If we never went out for a night of drinks once every month, or bought a new winter coat we desperately need, our quality of life would be even more miserable than it already is, just trying to save and pay our bills.
I digress though. I graduated in 2011 when the recession was at its’ worst and the unemployment rate at its highest. The times were basically rock bottom in terms of available jobs/work. I have two worthless degrees in fashion merchandising and theatre. I still sometimes hate myself for not swallowing my pride and my passions, and just going to school for engineering or to become a doctor. At least then I would have a lucrative career. JK…. I would never. I’d rather continue to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck with enough time to still pursue some of my passions on the side (i.e. this blog, a social life, cooking, my cats, etc.).
When I graduated, and I’m speaking generally here, one was lucky to even find a part-time RETAIL job. I’m being serious. This isn’t a lie or exaggeration, kids. Even jobs that required no degree and minimal experience were extremely scarce and hard to come by. And finding a job in your own home town (if you came from a small, rural town)???? FORGET ABOUT IT. I started working at the Shiseido makeup counter at Macy’s, which was a 30 minute drive from my parent’s house where I lived after graduating. I got “lucky” (I use this term very loosely here… ) to have a friend who worked for Abercombie & Fitch as a manager and hooked me up with an interview there after I’d spent the summer of 2011 playing with makeup. I thought I’d scored big-time, because at least the job with Abercrombie required a 4-year degree, had benefits like a 401K and insurance, and paid time off. Little did I know, I was in for a real ride….
One day, when life affords me the luxury of no longer having to work a 9-5 day job, you can read all about my days with Abercrombie/Hollister on my old blog, which is currently incognito on the inter-webs. I had to make the blog private for the purposes of my current, corporate job…. since I didn’t hold back in terms what I wrote about or discussed online back then. I could write a book about my time with A&F/HCo., and one day I truly hope to do so…
Enough about that though. I eventually saved up a decent chunk of money and moved to NYC with no job lined up in the fall of 2012. This is where the struggle truly began, and how I learned to thrive (or just barley scrape by, rather) in the midst of the economy’s worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1920’s.
It took me three whole months to find a “job,” and then, the job I had was working only part-time at a night club/concert venue as a cocktail waitress and weekend hostess. I never knew if I’d be working 5 seated-shows a week (the most lucrative type since people would order food and drinks), or only 2 standing-room-only shows with an audience of underage kids (the least lucrative shows… obviously). My paychecks ranged from $120 on a terrible week (i.e. 4 dark days and 2 nights of hostessing) to $480 on a decent week, working 4-5 seated shows. Of course there were take-home cash tips, but those were usually spent going out for after-work drinks at the Irish dive bars on 14th street with my fellow co-workers, where we would commiserate over how little we’d made that night, how awful the crowd was, and how depressed and poor we were working at this shitty venue when the lot of us aspired to so much more in life (i.e. artistic endeavors, full-time employment… sugar daddies…).
My rent was only $650 when I first moved to NYC (don’t ask… I literally had the most baller apartment for what is the BEST DEAL ever heard of). My rent quickly increased to $800 after a couple of months, and then to $1,000 after a year. My fickle work as a server wasn’t allowing me to even make rent, so I swallowed my pride and went back to HCo. on fifth ave, working as a manager, where at least I had a consistent paycheck and health insurance.
Between 2012 and 2016 when I finally landed a decent job, were the toughest four years of my life, financially speaking. This is when I really honed in on my skills as a chef, learning how to survive on one bag of frozen peas a week and a handful of uncooked rice. I learned how to scrape together just enough money to pay rent doing whatever it took – whether it meant counting spare change, taking on babysitting jobs in the morning before working closing shifts at Hollister, or forgoing what most people consider household essentials, like coffee creamer, paper towels, and well…. food in general.
Given the current state of the economy, and the fact that things have been slow as hell for me at work in the last month or so, I’m growing nervous that it’s true that another recession is on the way. This time, I’ll be prepared though…. bring it on baby. Nothing can hurt me now. You know what actually makes me feel even more carefree these days? The fact that we’re probably all going to die in a nuclear war or from complete global destruction due to climate change before I ever even begin to pay back my student debt….
MY TIPS FOR SURVIVING A RECESSION
- There is no such thing as job security. Never get too comfortable – it can be taken away from you at any time through no fault of your own. Never take your job for granted either, even though you hate it (we all do). You need money to pay rent and bills and to purchase enough food to survive and/or enough alcohol and drugs to make you occasionally forget how fucking shitty and pointless your life is. No job is permanent and any job can be taken away in the blink of an eye (usually when you least expect it to). You could be laid off if the economy tanks and your company can no longer afford your position. This happened in the last recession… workers who’d been with the same company for 25 years and were only 3 years away from retiring lost their jobs and their 401Ks. Pretty shitty, right? This is why I wake up each day with the fear of God in my heart. It’s better to be scared about losing your job then it is to be too confident that it can’t happen to you. It can happen to you, and living life with anxiety over job security simply prepares you for the worst. It happened to me once and it wasn’t even the recession. The start up company I worked for in 2016 tanked after five months and couldn’t afford to pay me. No notice… no nothing.
- Girl, you better WORK. One does what one must to make rent and put food on the table. Even if this means selling yourself short of your credentials/qualifications/education/desired salary, or, in some cases, literally selling yourself (I’ve never done it, but I know girls who basically have sex with someone they’re not really into, in return for having their rent paid or fancy dinners here and there or like, a Mysterland ticket and nice hotel). I’m not saying this is noble or respectable, but sometimes desperate means call for desperate measures. If you’re young and attractive and don’t have a family to hurt, stripping is always an option too. In a major city it will definitely be much more lucrative than elsewhere, and people less likely to find out if you’re trying to keep it on the down-low. If you’re attractive and young, in fact, I highly suggest capitalizing on it while it lasts – because it doesn’t last forever. You might as well make a decent living off of what your mama (or your plastic surgeon) gave you. There are always ads out for bottle servers, hostesses, bartenders, etc., and in this city at the right venue, you could make a SHIT TON of money doing any of those service jobs. You don’t really need experience if you’re young and hot and/or know the right person. It’s also good to be flexible in tough economic times, and willing to do shitty work. I mean, if your standards are too high and the economy crashes, you’re not really going to survive if you’re not willing to do some less-than-savory jobs to make ends meet. For example, I cleaned houses and a church on a weekly basis at one point in college, because it was impossible to even find a part-time retail job. I’m not making this up. In 2008-2009, I cleaned a church rectory on a weekly basis, and then a few older ladies at church inquired about me cleaning their personal residences, and I did. It honestly wasn’t a bad job – kind of gross to clean someone else’s toilet and bathtub, but the money was decent and not taxed, and old people are generally very sweet and lovely to talk to. I would do it again. Hell, I would probably do it now, if someone asked me if I had availability to do so. Could always use some extra spending money…
- Learning to live on a bare-bones diet. Have you ever cried because you’re so hungry and all you have in your house is some white rice and mustard? I have. Have you ever had to choose between buying paper towels to clean your counter tops, or some coffee creamer so you didn’t have to keep drinking your coffee black? I have. It’s all about priorities – and sometimes we think that we can forgo food, or at least eat minimally to save money, especially when we also prioritize thinness. Well, when your parents already put some extra money in your bank account but you used it to pay rent and then foolishly bought a couple of $5 vodka sodas at McKenna’s (because you don’t know how to tell your friends that you’re broke), and now you don’t even have $6 to buy a box of pasta and some Prego at the local grocery store, shit really hits home. You’re going to have to learn how to get creative with some frozen white bread and a couple of teaspoons of Parmesan or how to make a meal out of lentils, curry powder, and some frozen corn last you three days. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about the next time that you can afford to get drunk and order a pizza at 2am, since you’ll likely be malnourished as fuck.
- Interviewing: It’s not you, it’s THEM. Just because there isn’t a real availability of viable, living-wage paying jobs, doesn’t mean there won’t be hundreds of listed positions and interviews which you’ll desperately go, on trying to make something work. You’ll probably apply for jobs you have no interest in whatsoever, just because you need a paycheck: part-time retail positions at a shoe store that sells ugly clogs, a dog-walking position, a nannying position, even though you hate kids…. the list goes on. If you’re like I was (and still am), you’ll apply for and go on hundreds of interviews and you won’t get offered any of the positions, even though you are mostly likely A) qualified, B) experienced, or C) could easily do whatever is asked of you. I started to think it was me and beat myself up. I decided I wasn’t getting hired because I was too old, too ugly, too short, too fat, too nice, etc., etc.. I honestly probably wasn’t getting hired, because they were saving the position for the assistant manager’s brother-in-law who just graduated and wanted the job. Jobs go to those with the personal/family connections when there aren’t many jobs to be had. Don’t take it too personally or it will really wear away at your self-confidence.