Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Do I look too happy about this?
Ahh, that's a great word, isn't it?  Well, maybe not for everyone.  But at the moment, I can't keep the smile off my face every time I say it.  I'm unemployed!

After months of putting up with, rather than enjoying, my job, I sat down with my boss during what should have been my 6-month review (the point at which they would decide whether or not to confirm me in my contract, though this happened a little over 7 months into my working there) and told him that I didn't think he should confirm my contract, after all.  He had been leaning that way, and so had I, since November at least, and I explained that I just didn't think my personality well-suited to a marketing role.  I hate lying, I hate bullshit, I hate trying to anticipate what other people will find interesting, I hate having to dumb-down my writing so that other people will understand it, and I despise using marketing language to promote something I don't really believe in.  The events management aspect would have been fine, if I had ever managed to get clear communication regarding exactly what they wanted, but that was extremely rare, and when coupled with the kind of reaction I got when I went ahead and did things the way I thought they should be done, well, it was not the most pleasurable part of the job.

Tasting at the Summertown Wine Café
Anyway, I am not going to harp on what was negative, because I can honestly say that I have walked away from this job with a number of new skills and a greatly improved understanding of the education systems in the UK, as well as an insider's knowledge of fundraising for them.  Best of all, I have a group of excellent former co-workers (friends!) who threw me a glorious leaving party that included a wine tasting and a fantastic Italian meal.  I hope that I am able to keep in touch with them regularly, and to see them around Oxford when they are in the area.

So, what am I doing now?

W3, looking good before Torpids Dinner
Well, over the weekend I had a wonderful time watching most of the LCBC boats earn blades in Torpids (my W3, whom I had been coaching this term, didn't win blades, but they did get a spectacular bump on Brasenose while I was cycling and shouting next to them!), after which I attended the Boat Club Dinner and got the promise of a job reference from an Old Member.  For the past three days of active unemployment (I only left on Friday!), I have been spending a few hours each day working on job applications, and the rest of the day enjoying the Oxford I remember.  I have been rowing, erging, visiting libraries, and doing some window shopping (no real shopping; when one is not receiving a regular paycheque, one must be even more frugal than usual).  I have enjoyed the remarkably warm weather we have been having, and I have returned to baking and other kitchen experiments with alacrity.  (I always bake with alacrity, but my newfound freedom has engendered extra enthusiasm.)  I am regularly scanning the lecture lists and Faculty events pages so that I can get involved in all of the wonderful (and free!) stuff that happens so regularly around here.  Tonight, for instance, I went to a free showing of the Italian film "Un Marito," which is part of a commemoration of Triestine writer Italo Svevo.  Tomorrow I will see the Jane Austen exhibit at the Bodleian, and hear the lecture on her youthful writings.

So really, I am enjoying myself thoroughly since leaving my job, and though I know it can't last forever, I am going to continue to enjoy it for as long as humanly possible.  My grandmother and cousin will arrive for a visit in a week and a half, and at the end of March I will go with the Lincoln College Boat Club on a rowing training camp trip to Budapest, Hungary.  If by that time I don't have a new job lined up, I will reassess my situation and act accordingly.  But for now, it's all good.

I have to say, unemployment agrees with me.

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