Monday, April 23, 2012

Living Lean... not the lovin' part yet

I'm hoping this leads to a wrap. It's so hard for me to condense all the events that have led me to this point. And I tend to get distracted... really easily. 

So, the winds of change are ripping through me as I stand at this particular crossroad and evaluate my options (or lack thereof). I've considered going freelance but I have to be honest and say that my preferences and, more importantly, my strengths are on the technical side of what happens between design and the placing of ink on paper. 

I can do design well enough but there are giants in the land that carry degrees (this is often a requirement) plus many of them know html, CMS, CSS and whatever else needed for web design; these skills are often thrown in as an asset. Personally, I see web design as a separate trade from prepress which is a separate trade from design. Apparently, one has to wear many hats in the digital world of print these days. I have no formal training in design and I've never had the opportunity to learn web design. As well, I've been basically flying solo for the past seven years. Make that 7.5 years, but who's counting? That's like 100 years in today's digital world of change.

I do have key technical skills many designers are lacking when it comes to preparing for putting ink on paper. I know spreads and chokes, rich blacks, creep, pagination, knockouts, overprints, metallic inks, dies, imposing perfect bound vs. saddle stitch magazines, dealing with cross-overs and yada, yada, yada. I critiqued designer's work so it would come through the other side as intended. It was critical for jobs to be 100% correct when it hit the presses. Press down time meant hundreds of dollars per hour lost in production. In 20 plus years, I went from analog prepress (a five year apprenticeship) to digital prepress - producing colour proofs, bluelines, film and plate making, and finally the transition of computer to plate (CTP). All manner of troubleshooting was required along the way and everything had a tight deadline. I had to know a lot of stuff. As you can see, I have learned valuable skills and, yes, I really can pull off reasonable design work. If only I could get my foot in the door. 

Now, here is the major hurdle... a major beef that I could rant endlessly about. I don't read French, write French or speak French. It matters not that I may not be dealing with the public directly, that I would be working alongside colleagues that are bilingual. It matters not that the majority of New Brunswickers are Anglophones. The powers that be have decided to make this fine province officially bilingual. And that coveted diploma I obtained? Useless. It's just a piece of paper, but that's another rant that I'd rather not get into.  *sigh*

Without French, I'm basically deemed unemployable unless I want to work at Subway, Tim Hortons, Home Depot, etc. earning minimum wage, commuting 1.5 hrs each day and losing a week's pay on gas. Factor in a new car payment as my aging car would surely get 'tired' and I would have two weeks of minimum wages to live on but I'd be putting in a 50 hr. week including the travel time. 

I've also learned the ways of the locals (from their mouths to my ears). The jobs that are hard to come by are generally reserved for their 'own', whatever that means. I'm told that 'good' jobs are given to relatives or friends but they have to post the job to the general public by law. I don't know how true that is but I think I might have experienced the bad end of it. I applied for a job that I was fully qualified for and I didn't even get the courtesy of an interview despite my follow up correspondences with them. You see, they had the job posted for TWO months. Seems they forgot it? I did find it odd that the only place it was posted was on Kijiji. 

So... there's that path which looks grim. I'm eyeing a new path that would be like a dream come true but it looks like I'll have to continue this in yet another entry. I tried to condense it but the rant part is feeling good. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living Lean Part Two...

When we arrived here in rural New Brunswick, settling into our 'forever' home, my feet didn't touch the ground for a year. The beauty outside my window that greets me each morning is never taken for granted. The cultural changes, however, took time to adjust to and I had concerns about small town living. I carry a horrendous experience from my teen years, when my Mom moved me and my two younger sisters to small town PEI. I would leave home at the tender age of 17 and vowed to never live on the East Coast again. Famous last words.

Now, as a (ahem) mature adult, I'm here on the East Coast and it's been OK. One of the hurdles has been finding work but naive me thought "No problem! I have a skilled trade with 20 years experience!" I said I was naive, right? 

I was told one had to have a diploma in order to get a job.... any job. Nonsense! I have a trade. But wait! There are not many printers in the area and the demand for prepress technicians is almost non-existent. Uh oh. Red flag waving. And wait! This is a bilingual province. I'm not bilingual.

I found out I could attend full time school for a year and a half, receiving benefits for the duration. And by gosh, by golly, I got that coveted diploma. With honors, I might add. I had to work during the summer in order to continue with my schooling and was fortunate to work from home for a small print shop in a neighbouring Maritime province. Things were working out for me.

After finishing school I continued working for this sad little company. Trust me on the sad part. Unfortunately, the boss was a head case, highly abusive... name calling, swearing, yelling at me; a head gamer who toyed with my wages and emotions, accusing me of all manner of things that are totally not my character. I would tolerate this nonsense for five years. FIVE. LONG. YEARS! 

Last August, I couldn't do it anymore. I was either going to have a nervous breakdown, a stroke, an aneurysm, a heart attack or a combo of any two or three. I quit. Just like that. It was a desparate decision. I was miserable.

I'm standing at the crossroads and the winds of change are blowing. More like howling. What's not to love about it? Well.....  to be continued

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Living Lean and Loving It...

A fellow blogger and friend posted a link on Facebook about a family living on $20,000 a year. And they pay rent! The home is beautifully decorated and they're close to an incredible beach. They have my respect.

Sometimes life moves in directions you hadn't planned. Sometimes? Let's be real here and make that oftentimes. 

Seven years ago I had left a good job with good pay. So did Hubs. We realized when we met (nineteen years ago) that we might not always be in that position so we created a goal to work towards. That goal became owning a home which then became the plan to make the dream of homeownership a reality. Yea... something like that.

We had no debt so this was a good start. We lived way below our means which was pretty simply done. All it meant was that we didn't move up the ladder of higher rent and bigger, more expensive things. We still enjoyed day trips to our favorite places, eating in trendy restaurants and didn't have the financial pressure of those unexpected expenses that happen to all of us. 

In eleven years, we were able to reach our goal and I was chomping at the bit to get on with the plan. So, we bought our house here in the East Coast country, clear across Canada. A big move to say the least. 

That was seven years ago. Much has changed. Things we didn't plan for, hurdles we didn't think existed. 

I am at a crossroads of sorts. It's not bad. I get excited about it really. I'm about to venture down a new path but I can't finish this just now. I'm getting ready to go walking with a friend. This is becoming my daily requirement. Finally.

Oh, in case you're wondering about the subject header? I'll get to that later. Hopefully, tomorrow and I plan on keeping my blog exercises in better shape.