Hollywood Dreams, Empty Wallet

One year and 3 months ago, I lost my job of 13 years. I was making really good money, though I didn’t really know it at the time. (It never seems like enough, does it?) In an industry with high turnover and even higher employer expectations — television — I kept my head down and tried not to get much attention. I never got a promotion, really — but I never got fired either. It was the safest way to operate here. Coast through the middle, mostly unnoticed, get my paycheck and go home. After 13 years, I still enjoyed parts of my job. I knew that what I had was pretty great, so I appreciated the consistent work.

Then the millionaire host of the TV show I worked on decided he was spending too much money and started laying off entire departments of his show. No one understood why. We were a crew that built his brand from the ground up. He was very successful. But as the years went by, he wanted more money. Blatant advertisements went into the middle of his show, including his wife’s product lines. His staff was expected to work on several other shows and websites he and his family were producing. We promoted his books like they were the new Bible. It seemed like everything was about money in his pockets. Just as season 14 began, they eliminated my department, the website. They let go of 10 of us, kept 2 and brought in the parent company to take over all the sites. (I can only imagine how those people were shitting themselves. It was a massive undertaking keeping all his balls in the air.)

I was newly pregnant at the time. So were two others. It was shocking when they called me in first. “We’re eliminating your position. Here’s a check for the rest of this week and two more weeks. Good luck.” By the end of the day, the entire department was gone. I got home and thought, well, it wasn’t going to last forever, and I certainly earned a little time off. I worked on my resume and job search, but maybe not as hard as I should. I was also growing a baby, and the relaxing part felt really good. After a few months, when I was visibly pregnant, it seemed like a job was impossible at that point. Who was going to hire someone so close to needing maternity leave? No one. I did get an initial interview with Oprah.com, and worked for three days on a producer test that I thought I nailed, but that didn’t get me anywhere. So, I chilled. I had unemployment, then pregnancy disability, then I pushed a baby out, then I had family leave… It was nice. Money was tight, but we were doing OK.

Unemployment ran out, and then I scrambled. A friend got me a job – Yay! But it was less than half of what I was making before. Boo. It was nice to have something to get me out of the house for sure, and I was grateful to be working somewhere in such an uncertain time. But it wasn’t a great job. The company seemed shady. The commute was long. I had no leadership, not enough work, no feedback, and I had to clock out for lunch. (At one point, I was in an office that had rats. You could hear them running in the ceiling over your head.) It’s like the last 13 years didn’t happen, and I was down at the start again. After 3 months, they laid me off.

My child is 9 months old now. And we’re on our way to not being OK. We are $2-3K short every month. We need to work on our budget and cut everything back, but other than cable, I’m not sure how or where. We only have a couple grand left in our savings account. So that means in about 2 months, we’ll be in the red. Excuse me while I have a small panic attack.– ………

I used to be a Web Producer. But now, I just can’t get excited about it. I read the job descriptions and technical requirements, and I don’t feel like I’m a match. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing anymore. I came out here to work in film but landed in television, which up til now was really good to me. I love the entertainment industry. I don’t want to give up. I still want to get on another show, in any capacity (except one which requires nights and weekends, obviously.) But more and more, I’m thinking I’m going to have to go down to the local Target/Costco/Bevmo/Trader Joe’s and just work there. I’m not above regular work. But it scares me. The longer I’m out of the industry, the harder it will be to get back in. And then why live here?

Here’s a peek inside my brain most of the time:

I need to get a job. What is wrong with me? Why am I so bad at this? I suck. No one is looking at my resume. I can’t promote myself. Networking, ugh, it makes me sweat. I have a horrible time making phone calls, reaching out. I have no idea if my resume is any good. I don’t even know what my passion is anymore, or what my talents are. I’m just sooo tired. And fat. I have bad self-esteem, no self-confidence, and I’m sure there’s some depression thrown in too. Who’s going to hire me? I just want to curl up in a ball in bed and escape in sleep. The pressure on my husband is horrible, I’m sure. I know I need to work harder. I clearly need therapy. But I have shitty health insurance. I need to get to a healthier place, but I also just want to go to bed. I can’t sleep. My neck has been jacked up for about a year. I’m in a bad mood most of the time, and I’m sure living with me isn’t very fun right now.

And Donald Trump just became our president. Fuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk…. How on earth are we going to survive this?

I know, right?! I’m a mess. Am I the only one? Hello? Anyone else out there? Panicked moms unite!


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