Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Employed

I haven’t had a paycheck in over twenty years.  This was a choice, mostly.  I did a little freelance work when my first born was an infant but he was wildly unenthusiastic about napping on a schedule or taking a bottle so I settled in to the domestic engineer career ladder.  Stepstool. Milking stool.
I'd work for this guy

My youngest is starting high school in the fall and I am acutely aware of my lack of marketable skills. When I opted out of the workforce, the Internet wasn’t a thing yet.  I had a carphone that had to be installed, laptops hadn’t been invented, and to apply for a job you mailed out paper resumes and made phone calls. 

My last job official job was in an art gallery where among other things, I reviewed artist’s work by looking at sheets of slides that were mailed to the gallery.  I mailed press materials to newspaper and magazine editors.  I visited artists’ studios to select work or dropped off pieces at collector’s homes for consideration. People wrote checks and we had to wait 10 working days until they cleared.  Back then people smoked in galleries too, which seems bizarre now. 

In the twenty one years since I retired, the art gallery as a sales venue has been all but replaced with eBay and websites, but shows do still happen. I’ve been to a handful.  My money goes to other things, like graph paper, cleats, and iPads, so I’m not a patron of the arts and my gallery opening invitations dried up pretty quick. 

So how does one step back in?  A lot has been published about this lately, or maybe I’m just noticing it. I have zero marketable skills, at least compared to an unencumbered twentysomething with a relevant degree and practical experience.  How does navigating elementary school volunteer & carpool duties translate to a W-2? I am nowhere near hip enough to be a barista or bag groceries at Whole Foods.  I’m way too hormonal to be a crossing guard.  I might be too hormonal to be around other people, or their dogs. 

I’m open to suggestions.

Mary Allison Tierney's essay The Gingerdreadman is included in the anthology Mamas Write, available at Amazon, or your local independent bookshop.


  1. Oh Mary Allison we NEED to talk. I just, I mean within 15 minutes sent off an acceptance letter to return to work FT after being home for 14 years.I networked with former colleagues and they all said- remember you are NOT competing with the 20somethings as your years of experience have value. Private message me on Fb and we will talk. Much of it for me was getting my confidence back up.

  2. FT! yikes! I appreciate your comment - thank you Sue! I will be in touch. I'm packing for Spring Break trip right now (yay, Europe with a teenager- weee!) Last week was wisdom teeth extraction for the 19 year old. I know there's value, just the translation to marketable skills. Of course now the dog has this thing with her leg...