My Story : Chapter One

So over the past month or so I've asked for you to share your layoff stories (yes, I'm talking to YOU oh unemployed one), so I thought I should do the same ... and I wanted give myself more than 500 characters :)

First, let me introduce myself through the basics. My name is Jessica, a tall skinny-legged designer with a faux hauk hairstyle and chunky black glasses. I live in Chicago, my only love, since 2006 where I rent a tiny studio in an artists building built in circa 1902. My skylight leaks, I share my bathroom & shower with my neighbors and it is possibly the most beautiful apartment I have ever lived in.

Right now I spend my days doing four things: working on the website, consulting small businesses, serving stir fry at a restaurant two blocks away, and waiting for summer weather. The first two are my passion, the third pays the bills and the fourth means I can soon grill hamburgers near the lake. Woe is the life of the recently laid off.

My laid off story starts with comfortable employment at one of the most prestigious architecture firms in the country, Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Their bread & butter were large scale overseas projects in China & the Middle East. The recession came, these jobs went, and the rest is history.

About 3 months before the cuts began, I was already planning my graceful leave in order to start my own business. I had no savings, no experience to speak of, and no desire to stay unhappily employed staring at a computer for 9 hours a day. Naively I always thought that if income got tough, I could always get a bartending job to pay the bills or go back to my previous job. It's funny how hindsight is always 20/20.

I quit. They offered me a part time position. I accepted, as I definitely needed a way to pay the bills while I got things running.

After working three days a week for SOM & spending 60 hours a week on my new business for 3 months, I left for an an impulsive trip to visit a friend in London. HR left a message. I called back to hear the good news. It wasn't the best way to say goodbye to a 2 year position, nor was I in the best city to be broke.

So there I was. A handful of low-paying clients, bills to pay, and not a bartending job in sight. I was exhilarated by the challenge, and overwhelmed by the pressure. It was November 2008, now I had to MAKE something happen.


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  2. So what do you do now?? I'm curious on how you get to pay your bills. I'm still relying on payday cash loans whenever my budget is short due to extra expenses and my husband and I are saving a lot of cash for a new house. I get to do my favorite things even though it's quite tough to make ends meet these days.