Abuelitas in the time of COVID-19

How do we make sure the grannies are OK?

My grandmother, canning something. She would actually be completely unfazed by all of this. She grew and preserved her own food and had her own well. There were some store-bought things in the house – salt, flour, coffee, but other than that, she and my grandfather were quite self sufficient.

Mr. T and I have been putting our unemployment to good use. One of the things I have been doing is calling people who are homebound. Yes, I know we are all homebound, but some are more homebound than others. I got a list from a local group that helps (in regular times) keep senior citizens in their homes and started calling and even though I hate talking on the phone, it has been fun.

The purpose of the calls is to make sure the people have enough meds and enough groceries and to just chat with them for a bit in case they are lonely.

What I am discovering is Milwaukee senior citizens are On It, thank you very much.

Here is how my conversation went (in Spanish) with señora Isabel:

Me: How is it that your Spanish is so good?

Señora Isabel: Because I am from Puerto Rico!

Me: I want to go there! I want to eat the food!

Señora Isabel: You come to my house. I make you arroz con gandules.



Me: Do you have your meds?

Señora Isabel: Yes, my daughter order for me from the Walmart and she is picking it up. She lives cercita.

Me: How many days of groceries do you have?

Señora Isabel: Pfffff. Enough. My daughter lives cercita. She shops for me.

Me: What are you doing to keep busy?

Señora Isabel: Oh you know. I talk to my friends on the zoom. My priest he does the Mass from his living room on Facebook live.

Me: (I am so clearly not needed here.)

Then I called Ms J.

Me: How are you keeping busy being stuck at home?

Ms J: ……..Oh, I have a lot of paperwork to do.

Me: Are you doing anything fun?

Ms J: ……….No……………. Just paperwork.

Me: Not even reading some good books? Watching some good TV shows?

Ms J: ………Well……………. I do have my soap opera………..That I am watching right now.

Me: I will call you later!

Then I called Ms M, who was also quite settled, and, as the other recipients had been, a bit confused about why anyone would call her to ask her such personal questions, as she KNOWS HOW TO RUN HER OWN LIFE.

So I told her about inadvertently interrupting Ms J’s soap.

Ms M: Oh! Was it General Hospital?

Me: I don’t think so. This was at about 1:15.

Ms M: Right! Isn’t General Hospital at 2:00?

Me: Or 3:00, even? I thought I watched it when I came home from school that summer. We didn’t have a TV but my friend did. We took a summer school class together and would watch it after.

Ms M: What’s on at 1:00? Days of Our Lives? All My Children?

Me: I think Days. I think that’s what my grandmother watched.

Ms M: General Hospital. I watched that.

Me: I still can’t believe that Luke raped Laura – who was underage! – and then they got married and that was supposed to be romantic!

Ms M: That was a different time for sure. The actress was underage. Was the character?

Me: I don’t know.

Ms M: I guess we’ll never know.

Me: Speak for yourself. I know what I will be spending my afternoon doing.








Job hunting in the time of COVID-19

Basically? It sucks and don’t try it

Just a pretty photo to make you happy. This is in Cuenca, Spain. Pre-virus.

Despite everything, I continue to look for work. Either the world is coming to an end or it isn’t.

If it is coming to an end, oh well. I will have wasted my time.

But it’s not like I could be sitting around twiddling my thumbs anyway. I am not wired for idleness. I know it seems that way – I talk about binge-watching TV shows. But that’s on the weekend when I have a job.

Straight unemployment? That doesn’t work so well for me. I have tried. Even when Mr T was employed and I was not, I got bored. We don’t have children and cleaning our house does not take that long.

As I am sure many of you have discovered, having a lot of free time does not mean you suddenly devote that time to exercising. I did not exercise a lot back then. (And I have not now, either. Hmm.)(What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.)

I volunteered back then. But what I learned from volunteering is that if I am going to work, I want to be paid for it. I mean, some volunteer work should be free, for sure: reading to little kids. Shelving books at the library.

But setting up inventory systems for a small shop at a church? Yeah, I know they don’t have any money, either, and I didn’t expect it from them, but that kind of work? That is skilled labor and I want money for it.

So even if the world is coming to an end, I have been looking for work. I need something to do.

It – the job search –  has not been going well.

But my baseboards, my blinds, and the insides of my windows are clean.

COVID windows
Also, I have dusted all the pictures and their frames.

The outsides of the windows will be clean as soon as it is warm enough to go outside to wash windows.

That has not happened yet. We are in quarantine and it is cold and dreary outside.

Back to the job search.

It has not been going well.

This is not the best time to be looking for work.

And when I get a question on a job application like, “What are your three most recognizable negative characteristics?” I really have to think about how to answer it. I have no filter at the best of times and being under house arrest is not helping.

And I am pretty sure that, “I am super snarky and I have no patience with stupid people asking me stupid questions when they should know better” is not the answer they are looking for.

I put this post on facebook and a friend said he wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t follow instructions: the question asked for three characteristics and I gave only two.

Which – he is correct.

Also – I actually am patient with stupid people because they can’t help being stupid.

I am impatient with people who should know better. Like the HR people who wrote this question. Or the hiring manager.

Because – how is it relevant to my ability to do the job? (A marketing job with a museum.)

And am I really supposed to narc on myself?

(But now I need to think of a third characteristic. Can’t follow instructions? How about “smug and condescending?” That’s what the husband of one of my best friends accused me of on facebook the other day after I posted a meme about the current US president that the husband did not like. Apparently, the husband likes the president.

I. Do. Not.)

(And I am usually – no, I am never political on facebook. But I have decided now is the time. And I am learning things about people that I did not want to know.)

I don’t think I will get the job. I don’t think I will even get an interview. I think I will be unemployed forever unless I want to work for the US Census, which does not seem like a smart idea right now, or at a warehouse or a grocery store, which appear to be the only places hiring these days.

Fortunately, I rock at warehouse work. Mr T and I volunteered at the food bank yesterday, processing donations, where we saw things like feta cheese flavored olives, which made me think, “SOMEONE actually got paid to think of that product and develop it and I can’t even get a job interview,” which is not the part of warehouse work I rock at.

And actually, I don’t really rock at it. Mr T is way better than I am. He packed his boxes way more neatly than I packed mine.

It was an interesting job and I was tempted to steal the toilet paper and sell it so we could retire. (Not really.)(But I did think about stealing the stuff for hot flashes.)(It would have fit into my pocket.)(I’M JOKING! I’M NOT A THIEF!)




Love in the time of COVID-19


My sister, my brother, and me at a rest stop in Texas. Those rest stops had bathrooms. Wow. I can’t believe I thought I was fat.

I hope you are all well. I hope the worst thing in your life right now is that you are either bored or going nuts from being cooped up in the house or both and not that you have discovered to your shock and horror that you have friends and family members who not only think this whole virus is a big hoax but also that they are determined to go out and be in crowds because even if it is true, it’s “only old people who die.”

Which – I can’t even talk about that.

I had to block someone on Facebook for that.

I wanted to argue. I wanted to say, “You mean your grandparents? That kind of old people?”

But – has arguing on Facebook ever won anyone anything?

Let’s step away from the virus for a few minutes and forget about reality and return to the days when our biggest – my biggest problem was finding a place to pee.

Mr T and I were in Spain a few weeks ago. We rented a car, which is not my favorite thing to do in a foreign country because the rules are different.

Mr T had wanted to park in the space that came with the apartment we had rented, but this is what the streets looked like:

You can’t even see the tight corners that go with these streets, but believe me they are there. The nice thing, though, is that Spanish drivers and pedestrians co-exist nicely. They appear to view the street as a shared resource.

I mean, the pedestrians move when the cars come, but still.

Mr T, despite wanting to win some coveted Man Award For Driving In A Medieval European Mountain City, agreed to park the car on the outskirts of town, where the roads were wider and flatter.

Then we had to drive from Teruel to Cuenca to catch the train to Madrid (Mr T had worked all this out with logrithms and calculus and whatever – that this was the Best Deal – we are more or less aligned on our approach to money), which meant I had to put up with more Driving In A Foreign Country, which is Stressful, but he showed me the map – wide roads, few mountains – and promised that the Avis return place was on the outskirts of Cuenca, not in the city, which turned out to be mostly true.

Here’s a hint:

Never ever ever rent a car in Paris. That is, never return a car in Paris. EVER.

Paris is still designed to foil the Germans. (Or whoever might invade.) The streets are crooked and you can’t find the street names and even if you could, it wouldn’t matter because they change every few blocks.

Mr T and I are still married despite having to return a car by 7 p.m. in Paris and that’s all I will say about that except I still have PTSD. Did you know there is a peripherique – a ring road? – in Paris? WE DID NOT!

Back to Spain.

And toilets.

I heart Spain. I really do. I think I could move there and live there the rest of my life and be happy.


Where on earth do Spanish women pee?



That sign you see in the photo above?



I was so excited.

Because I needed to pee.

Because dos cafes con leche for breakfast, y’all.


We stopped.

There were picnic tables.

But no restrooms.


But I had to pee.

What’s a woman to do?


I did what women have done since the dawn of time.

We do what needs to be done.

I walked along the path, through the bushes, until I found a spot where I could not be seen by the road.

And I realized that this was The Spot.

The Spot that others had used as well.

How did I know that?

Because – how do I put this delicately?

I don’t think there is a way.


There are schools of thought, apparently, about peeing in the wild.

I had always thought that if one does that, one leaves as few traces as possible.

As in, one pees and that’s it.

One suffers the consequences of some – discomfort.

One does not leave evidence.

OK. I will say it.


And yet – this spot – AND SPAIN I SAY THIS WITH LOVE – was littered with toilet paper AND THAT’S JUST WRONG.

  1. It’s environmentally really bad
  3. If you have to use the TP, you need to take the TP with you. YOU DO NOT LEAVE IT BEHIND ON THE GROUND FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO SEE

The end.

PS I still don’t have a job. Now I probably never will.








When it feels like the world is ending, it’s nice to spend time (or to have spent time) with Las Abuelitas

Unemployment. Coronavirus. Stock markets. Winter. Crumbling mortar. Stupid TV shows. Dust. Death.

Las abuelitas

So this happened more than two weeks ago, before we knew how bad things were. Back when we were on our vacation in Spain and we were insulated and happy and somewhat remote from the drama of unemployment. I knew I had interviews waiting for me when I got home so I had some hope.

Now I have none.

I have had the interviews and now nothing is happening and I don’t know if anything will ever happen again. There might be a recession and all the companies might decide to freeze hiring and the stock market might crash, which would mean not only would we both be unemployed but our net worth would plummet and we would have to eat the cats.


We would never eat the cats.

But there would be belt tightening.

Only we already live really frugal lives. We don’t have cable. One car is 19 years old. The other is three years old, so I guess that’s newish and we could sell it. We have no debt. We don’t have cable. We rarely eat out. We do travel, but that’s on frequent flyer miles and of course that would stop. I don’t buy books – I get them at the library.

We eat. We turn on the lights. We feed our cats. That’s about it. My plan is for my jeans to last me until I die. It’s the stupid health insurance that costs so much money. Other than that, I don’t know where we could save.

We’re just screwed.

So I am going to think only happy thoughts for right now because what else can I do?

Back to las abuelitas.

We were at the Mercat Central in Valencia.

Desayuno mercado

We were eating our desayuno mercado for 2 euros: un cafe con leche and a pastry.

I noticed the woman next to me had gotten her pasty a la plancha, which is grilled.

That looks really good! I said to her.

Would you like to try some? she asked.

I am shameless, so I said sure and took a piece.

It was delicious.

She urged me to take more, but I am not that shameless.

But the floodgates were opened and now she and her two friends wanted to talk to Mr T and me. Who were we? Why were we there? What were we doing?

Because of Mr T’s Spanish classes this winter, he was able to participate in the conversation and even tell his joke:

?Que hace el pez?


(What does the fish do?

Nada, which means both “nothing” and “swims.”

This is especially funny in Spanish because puns are rare in Spanish.)

Which of course they loved.

They approved of our itinerary – a visit to the Albufera, the wetlands at the Valencia coast, and a trip to Teruel, a village in the mountains.

In each case, Abuelita Numero Tres nodded approvingly and said, “!Es muy bonito!”

They thought Mr T was very handsome (which he is).

Abuelita Numero Una’s husband had been in the navy and had been to Puerto Rico and New York, but she is a widow now.

Abuelita Numero Dos has three children.

Abuelita Numero Tres has no teeth.

They were lovely and warm and wanted to know all about us and I, who am the nosiest person in the world, which means I have to really hold back in interviews because I want to ask way too many personal questions, wanted to know all about them.

It was the best 20 minutes ever and Mr T and I want to go back there every morning and have breakfast with our Abuelita Peeps.







When you’re jetlagged but you have a job interview (this is a good problem to have) and don’t know what to wear and then the tuckpointing guy shows up and neither of you are dressed

Do people even wear suits to work anymore? I don’t even know and honestly, I don’t want that kind of job, which I shouldn’t even be saying because I am not really in a position to be picky. I’ve always had to take what’s offered and be happy about it.

Mr T and I went to Spain at the end of February because we had already planned the trip and thought screw it, nobody’s going to offer me a job in the next ten days. This is Albarracin.

I think I just gave away the entire plot.

But yes. I had an in-person interview! This is good!

But it was at a bank.

I have been wearing jeans and t-shirts to work for the past few years and before that, it was business casual.

So I didn’t even know what to wear. My friend L, who is a senior VP at a bank in Chicago, wears suits to work.

I don’t even own any suits anymore.

What to wear to an interview at a place where people might be wearing suits?

I posed the question on Facebook and was instructed to wear a suit (which I do not own) and then was instructed to buy a suit (which I do not want).

I was also advised to wear leopardo, which, in retrospect, I could have. I have a great skirt of leopardo and I could have worn it with my black jacket and a black t-shirt. Hindsight.

I tried on dresses and skirts and stuff doesn’t fit or it didn’t look right. I finally settled on a black jacket and a black skirt, even though they were not the same black and it was completely obvious that they were not the same black but I figured that once I was sitting, my interviewer would forget my fashion crimes.

It was half an hour until I needed to leave the house. Too early to get dressed. Why?

Because cats.

There is no resting in work clothes, especially black ones, in a house with cats.

See how they have every color in her fur? No matter what I wear, their hair will show on my clothes.

Which meant I had to stay in my robe.

Which would be fine except the doorbell rang.

Which – is not what I was expecting.

Mr T had just stepped out of the shower.

As in, he was nekkid.

I was in my robe.

Normally, I would ignore the doorbell, as it’s usually someone trying to sell me something (like lawn chemicals, which clearly I am not interested in – our lawn looks very unfertilized and un-weed controlled, which is BY DESIGN – I do not want to put chemicals into the lake) or to talk to me about a political candidate, which I get enough of that from Mr T.

But Mr T said, ” The tuckpointing guy is coming today!”

Getting our mortar repaired has been on the list since we bought the house 12 years ago. Mr T had found a contractor and arranged a time. Only the only information he had gotten three days ago was, “Sometime on Friday.”

One of us had to answer the door.

And I just re-read the headline of this post and realized it makes it sound like the tuckpointing guy was also not dressed!


Neither Mr T nor I were clothed. I mean, I was in a robe, but Mr T was nekkid. Of those options, the person in the robe has to answer the door.

Which was – so awkward.

I opened the door, explained Mr T would be out in a second, and closed it.

Mr T got dressed and ran outside. A few minutes later, as I was getting dressed, he came back in, announcing he needed to figure out something about the telephone line, which was going to be in the way of the tuckpointing guy, and could they move it or whatever, and all I heard was, “I am embarking on an engineering project that will take a lot of time and I will not be ready to drive you to the interview.”

(He was going to drive me because I didn’t know what the parking situation was – this was downtown – and I wanted to arrive unrattled and on time.)

And then we were arguing because we were both super stressed because a lot was riding on this interview and you know, Life.

Fortunately, Mr T is a whiz with engineering problems, though, and he resolved the phone line thing and we got in the car only ten minutes after I wanted to leave but I still arrived 15 minutes early to the interview. In the waiting room was a woman having a very loud, very personal conversation along the  lines of, “And then he called me a B-I-T-C-H and I told him no, I am not having that and I will go to court to stop the adoption.”

Which – in ordinary circumstances?

I would have sat next to her and started taking notes, because how can you not want to know what happens next with an opening like that?

But I needed to stay in a good frame of mind and I also thought, “What if she is the hiring manager? I can’t eavesdrop on the hiring manager!”

So I started pacing the halls, stopping to examine the beautiful black and white photos of Milwaukee while still trying to listen.

The hiring manager came out – not the phone lady – and she was wearing jeans, as was everyone else I saw, which was a huge relief, because #NoSuits.

And we talked and I think it was OK. She was great. I could be very happy working for her.

Then Mr T and I went home and the tuckpointing guy was grinding out the bad mortar, which was making an awful noise and casting dust everywhere, including under the back door, and I sent texts to our neighbors apologizing for the noise, and when the tuckpointing guy finally left at dusk, I took to bed with a cold.

The End.



Mr T bringing the sexy on Valentine’s Day

What’s hot for one is not hot for all


I want to talk about Valentine’s Day and all that stuff.

I don’t care about Valentine’s Day. I don’t care about any holiday where I am supposed to get or give a card (except birthdays, mine and those of the people I love).

I feel manipulated by so many of those holidays – that they are just reasons for companies to sell me stuff.

(Although the half-price candy days at Walgreen’s the day after a holiday? Those are legit.)

I don’t judge people who do want the cards and the candy and the flowers, though. For some people, that’s their love language.

My love language is not candy. It’s not cards. It’s not flowers.


It is living a life without anchors.

It is living a life of space and light and open counters.

I am married to a hoarder.

He says he is not – that he is especially not, when you compare him to his parents, and I will agree with him. He does not have as much junk as his parents did.

(They had a lot. He had to clean out their house after they died. They had moved a bag of old newspapers from Pittsburgh to Florida. It wasn’t “Dewey Beats Truman” papers – it was just a bag of newspapers that they threw on the moving truck. That’s the level of junk they had in their house.)

(Also. The night before his mom’s funeral, we were looking for photos of her and of the grandkids to show at the funeral home. The house had photos on every wall and every horizontal surface. This was a house of photos. We found lots of photos of Mr T’s ex wife, but, even though my mom had sent them a bunch of photos from our wedding, not only could we not find those photos, but we could not find a single photo of me. Not. One.)(They did not like me.)(I ate bacon wrong.)

Anyhow. Where was I?

Oh. Mr T is not as bad as his parents, but he does like to hold onto things.

I do not. I moved so many times as a kid (and as an adult) that I am used to shedding possessions.

I came into this marriage with the essentials and with only two boxes of mementos.

Mr T came in with an entire basement full of boxes, boxes he brought with him when he moved here from California over ten years ago and have not been opened since. Boxes I have told him I will throw away without even looking to see what’s inside once he’s dead. If you can go more than ten years without opening a box, you don’t need what’s in it.

But we have been having many conversations about What Does Our Life Mean and What Do We Do When We Retire and (from me) Why Do We Have All This Crap In The Basement?

So he finally started going through the boxes to throw things away.

And we have found some very interesting  things.

Like his lease from 1986.

And his employee benefits packet from 1988.

Which made a person weep because the coverage was so good.

And his stepdaughter’s college tuition bills.

And coupons for auto repairs. (Expired.)(For decades.)

He was going to dump almost everything in the recycling except he discovered something we had forgotten: In the 80s, almost every kind of transactional document had your social security number on it.

The OG will remember: We used to write our social security numbers on checks. That makes no sense now that I think about it. Even without the spectre of identity theft, how on earth was that information useful to KMart? It’s not like they could validate that number.

But there you go. All these documents with social security numbers, which means they can’t go in the recycling and which also means, unless we want to put every single paper in the “shred” pile, each paper has to be looked at individually.

Which is how Mr T spent Valentine’s Day night: Looking at old papers and making the decision whether to recycle or to shred.

He got through three boxes that weekend and that’s about the sexiest thing that could have happened.

Don’t make eye contact

My cats perceive direct eye contact as hostile and aggressive; apparently bosses do as well


I found yet another reference to the study about how women are criticized for being “aggressive” while men are praised. (This time in Everyday Sexism.)

I found the original study and I am more cranky than ever.

A few years ago, Kieran Snyder, who, based on the LinkedIn profile I found, has a PhD in linguistics, dug into the issue. (I think it’s the same Kieran Snyder.)

She wrote (the original article was in Fortune, but it’s behind a paywall – I found this at Stanford.edu),

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?” I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

She asked people to give her copies of their performance evaluations.

She analyzed them.

And guess what she learned?

This will not be a surprise to any woman who has ever had a performance evaluation.

Women are told to shut up way more than men are.

Men are given constructive suggestions. Women are given constructive suggestions – and told to pipe down. 

The kinds of observations my friend offers about his reports Jessica and Steve are pretty common. In the 177 reviews where people receive critical feedback, men and women receive different kinds. The critical feedback men receive is heavily geared towards suggestions for additional skills to develop. A few examples:

“Constructive feedback on your performance as a feature crew tester can be summed up by saying that you still have some skills to continue to develop.”

“Hone your strategies for guiding your team and developing their skills. It is important to set proper guidance around priorities and to help as needed in designs and product decisions.”

“There were a few cases where it would have been extremely helpful if you had gone deeper into the details to help move an area forward.”

“Take time to slow down and listen. You would achieve even more.”

Women receive this kind of constructive feedback too. But the women’s reviews include another, sharper element that is absent from the men’s:

“You can come across as abrasive sometimes. I know you don’t mean to, but you need to pay attention to your tone.”

“Your peers sometimes feel that you don’t leave them enough room. Sometimes you need to step back to let others shine.”“The presentation ultimately went well. But along the way, we discovered many areas for improvement.

You would have had an easier time if you had been less judgmental about R—‘s contributions from the beginning.”

This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.

I had a phone interview yesterday. My interviewer was a young woman, maybe in her late 20s? (Her photo was on the company’s website.)

Five minutes and ten seconds exactly after we finished our conversation, she sent me an email telling me they were “going in a different direction.” That is, thanks but no thanks.

I am trying to figure out why. I hope it’s not because she thought I was Too Loud. She asked what my weaknesses were and I told her.

I am being completely honest these days because I don’t want any more jobs where I am stuck doing the things I am bad at or where my personality isn’t a fit.

Well, I was being completely honest in this interview because I don’t really want to work at this place anyhow, but I applied because it’s good practice to interview as much as possible. Their website is all about how they have fun together after work drinking and partying and there is nobody in their company photos who looks to be over 35 years old. Culturally, it would not be a fit. I don’t want to hang out with my co-workers and drink. I want to go home after work. I work for money.

The first weakness I told her about is that I am not strong with details and numbers. A few years ago, one week after I started a new job, the man who hired me quit. He was in charge of all the financial reporting. His boss told me I needed to do these reports now. (But Big Boss did not give me Quitting Man’s salary and when Big Boss replaced Quitting Man, he did not ask Replacement Person – at $30K a year more than I was making – to take back the financial reporting responsibilities. I am still a little ticked off about that.)

Anyhow, I can do financial reports but I hate doing them and it takes me three times as long as anyone else because I have to build in so many checks to make sure all the numbers (which are usually fiction) tick and tie.

The other weakness I told her about is that I am outspoken.

This company was founded by a woman. It’s run by a woman. It’s mostly women who work there.

One would think that other women would embrace outspoken. And would understand that “outspoken” does not mean “abrasive” or “judgmental” or rude or mean.

Sometimes, “outspoken” just means, “eager to contribute ideas” and “doesn’t sit meekly while everyone else talks.”

But maybe not.

Men sure don’t want outspoken. Unless it’s from other men. Then it’s perfectly OK.

Words like bossy, abrasive, strident, and aggressive are used to describe women’s behaviors when they lead; words like emotional and irrational describe their behaviors when they object. All of these words show up at least twice in the women’s review text I reviewed, some much more often. Abrasive alone is used 17 times to describe 13 different women. Among these words, only aggressive shows up in men’s reviews at all. It shows up three times, twice with an exhortation to be more of it.

Maybe I should just sew my lips together.

(Read more of Snyder’s work:

It’s the Culture, Bro: Why Women Leave Tech

The Gender Resume Gap and How to Close It)






Maybe binge-watching “Vera” counts as being productive?

My cats are very happy to watch TV productively with me

Shirl tv
Usually, I have the blanket over me, Shirley, and the space heater. It’s her little spa. As soon as she hears me turn on the TV, she bounds down the stairs and glares at me until I put the blanket on top of the space heater.


Things I have done since I lost my job

  • Visited my 98 year old great-aunt
  • Visited my 96 year old friend in Madison
  • Watched every episode of every season of Vera and why aren’t there more than eight seasons?
  • Watched the last two seasons of Longmire and got really ticked off at the ending. What happened to Travis? He just disappeared. And no – come on. Vic and the sheriff do not belong together. I would never have written the story that way.
  • Watched season five of Blacklist and cheated and read ahead about Red’s secret and now I am not sure if I want to watch season six
  • Started and stopped watching these shows either because I had already seen them before and forgot or because I started watching and realized they were stupid
    • Covert Affairs
    • Blood
    • Looking
  • Watched several movies and realized that movies have gotten really bad and really crass and that Mr T and I are in danger of moving into Get off my lawn! territory but really, NORMAL PEOPLE DO NOT TALK OR ACT LIKE THIS, MOVIES!
    • Booksmart
    • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
    • Long Shot (also – blessyourheart Seth Rogen – but yeah)
    • Get A Job
  • However, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont was sweet
  • Read several feminist manifestos and have gotten even more ticked off than usual
    • Everyday Sexism
    • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud
    • The Vagina Bible
    • BITCHfest: Ten years of cultural criticism…
    • Toilets: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing
    • Dear Ijeawele, or A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions
  • Applied for about 60 jobs
  • Had five phone interviews, which are great because you don’t have to be showered or dressed well for a phone interview
  • Spent hours every day on my friends’ blogs:


Things I have not done

  • Visited my mother (except this is an awful time of year to fly to Denver because so many flights get delayed or cancelled and then once we are at my mom’s, we can’t go outside because it’s too darn cold, although not as cold as here, where we have -2 today)
  • Worn makeup
  • Showered often
  • Put on clothes other than elasticized items appropriate for exercise for a person who exercises but for me just make it easier to flop down on the sofa and eat
  • Gotten into amazing physical shape or even exercised more than 30 minutes a day
  • Caught up on my sleep. Thank you, unemployment for giving me the time to sleep but stressing me out so much that I can’t
  • Organized the basement, although in my defense, it’s not my stuff that’s the problem. I have almost no stuff in the basement but SOMEONE ELSE IN THIS HOUSE DOES AND HE JUST OPENED A BOX AND FOUND HIS LEASE FROM 1986
  • Volunteered every single day for a worthy cause
  • Learned new skills like programming or mechanical engineering, both of which would get me a job immediately
  • Networked. Everyone says to network, but I have never gotten a job that way. I have always applied to posted job ads. I am so envious of the people who Know People and who find out about and get hooked up with jobs via networking. It sounds like such a better process than looking at LinkedIn or indeed.com every day to see what’s new and what I should be applying for and spending 30 minutes writing a cover letter and then going through the usually awful online application process that asks what country I’m in and makes me go to the bottom of the list to find “USA” although really, Acme, how many people are applying from Antigua?
  • Learned Mandarin
  • Created elaborate gourmet meals
  • Cleaned the baseboards
  • Made a book of the photos from our trip to northern Spain last fall, even though that item has been on my list for four months
  • Figured out what we are going to do when we retire. Where do we want to live? When should we move there? What is the meaning of life? Why are we here?

When you think you won’t be lazy but you are

At least I am not as lazy as my cats


Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were unemployed and suddenly had hours and hours of time to fill every day?

It’s not relaxing time, mind you. You spend the mornings looking for job postings and then writing cover letters and sending them and then wondering what on earth happens because it’s like you’re sending an SOS into this giant void and guess what?

You are.

It’s a giant void – a cold, empty space that goes back to eternity and light disappears and nothing happens.

So you wait and you wait and you wait.

And you wonder if you will ever have a job again and why doesn’t anyone want you and it’s not as bad as not being invited to a single high-school dance but it feels like it.

And actually, it’s worse than not being invited to a single high-school dance because not being asked to a dance is not on the first level of Maslow’s hierarchy. It isn’t. It might feel like it at the time, but you do not die from not being asked to a dance.

You can, however, die from unemployment and its effects.

Don’t worry. Mr T and I are nowhere near death. WE ARE FINE. But it’s the psychological part of this and the uncertainty that is (not really) killing me.

So maybe you have wondered – have wished for – vast swaths of uncommitted time? Time where you could do nothing but catch up on those projects you’ve been meaning to get done? To write that novel? To get in shape? To finally get things done?

I am here to tell you that it might not work out that way.

Or maybe I am the lazy outlier and everyone else gets things done and gets in shape?

Because here is how unemployment is working for me:

It’s been since January 1 and I am not yet in shape.

I have not written a novel.

I have not completed The Projects.

I have all the time in the world but I am not using it for good.

I am not working out six hours a day.

(What would that even look like?)

(Who does that unless they are being paid to do so?)

Instead, I spend most of the time that I am not writing cover letters (which takes way more time than I would like, but I am applying for jobs that involve writing, so I need to be spot-on) goofing off and, occasionally, diving into existential crisis.

I do work out, but I am resting on the laurels of 30 minutes a day, which – my future self I know is going to judge. Even my current self is judgy about that.

I never thought I was a Lazy Person but now I have learned that I am.






Would you rather be rejected by someone really smart or by someone who is in charge of “corporate highers?” Asking for a friend

When you have a hard time interviewing because the person who is interviewing you don’t know geography, which should not matter but it does

Do these guys have the best job in the world er no? They get to make people happy all day long by serving them churros, chocolate, and cafe con leche.

I’ve been looking for a new job, a task that might be even more demoralizing than trying on bathing suits in a dressing room fitted out with fluorescent light and a five-dollar mirror.

I have applied for about 50 positions in the past six weeks.

I have gotten five phone interviews.

I have gotten no in-person interviews. Yet. I hope that’s just a “yet.”

But this morning, I got a rejection from one of the places where I had a phone interview.

I have to admit that I don’t seem to do well interviewing with young men in their 20s. Maybe it’s me? Maybe it’s them? I don’t know, but my attempts to establish rapport fall flat.

[The women I have spoken to – the other phone interviews – have been fabulous. They made the experience nice and easy and they were absolutely lovely. They represented their organizations well.]

This guy who rejected me got on the phone last week and pretty much jumped straight into his prepared questions. Barely any “Hi how are you doing? Isn’t this weather awful? Do you think spring will ever come?”

Just straight to his questions.

Which I guess I answered wrong.

He is my second data point for interviewing with young men.

The first time was years ago when I had an in-person interview on site.

I got to the place and was waiting in reception, which was a two-story atrium. Recruiter came down the stairs to get me – and stopped on the landing midway between the first and second floors.

“Texan?” he called as he looked around reception.

“Hi!” I said as I walked toward the stairs, waiting for him to descend completely.

Which he did not.

He stayed.

On the landing.

So – I climbed up to him.

He shook my hand and turned to lead me upstairs.

We went into a meeting room.

He did not say, “Would you like something to drink? Do you need to use the restroom?”

These are always my first words to anyone visiting me at work.

The “Would you like something to drink?” are the first words to anyone who crosses my threshold at home. I also ask if guests to my home want something to eat.

It is my intention that nobody ever leave my house hungry or thirsty and I certainly don’t want them hungry or thirsty while they are in my house.


It gets better.

He did try to establish some rapport with me.

But BlessHisLittleHeart.

He asked, “Where did you go to high school?”

Well OK. High school was before college and college was before grad school, but whatever. He was trying.

“My dad was in the military,” I answered. “I went to high school in the Panama Canal Zone.”

I didn’t expect a detailed conversation about it, but – that is kind of unusual for someone in the upper Midwest to have gone to high school in Panama, I think. Isn’t it?

“Oh!” he answered brightly. “I love Florida, but I usually go to Tampa!”

What do you even say to that?

What do you say to that when the person who makes such a statement is the gatekeeper between you and possibly employment?

You don’t say what I wanted to say, which was, “How do you even have a job?”

I swallowed, took a breath, and said, “Yeah! Tampa’s great!”

But. I did not get another interview.

I hate this process.

This is Panama. This is not Panama City. It is also not Tampa. It is not Florida.