Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bitter is the New Black

Jen Lancaster, Bitter is the New Black. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. paperback, 400 pps.

Jen Lancaster had a high tech career and an expensive wardrobe, a live-in boyfriend, and a penthouse apartment in
Chicago. The memoir opens with a series of e-mails before one is transported to a high-tech chartered fishing boat
where she holds court via an impromtu comedy routine. She was a rising star in the company one day with a promotion
in hand. The company was in the process of a merger/takeover and thus two days later she was dismissed. Laid off.
Done. Five years later she was still unemployed.

During those five years, Lancaster sold most of her extravagances on E-Bay. She also married the boyfriend, moved to
a "slum" (in comparison with her old digs), and acquired two dogs. She never did buy the fancy 8K couch with no
back. The two dogs were a total riot, her quest to find employment was one I can relate to. These days employers
want one's experience to be specific to their job offer. For instance, years of tutoring adults with a myriad of
disabilities somehow does not translate into the ability to make sure that the folks living in a community residence
for those with "mental health challenges" are doing their laundry on a regular basis or washing dishes.

The reason why I had picked up this book at the island library buck for a book sale is that Lancaster became a blogger
during the time of her unemployment. In fact, she was not hired at one company because they had mysteriously "found"
her blog. She had published a list of places which passed on her for work. Some of that company's client companies
had made the list. The interesting thing about finding her blog is that the domain wasn't registered to her, but
rather to her live-in boyfriend. The personnel woman refused to say how her blog had been found. It turned out that
a former co-worker competing for the same position had spilt the beans about Lancaster's website.

The first half of the book to me was boring. I have never been a clothes horse. Lancaster made the point many times
over that she was. The second half moved quicker for me and there were some priceless moments. Her description of
her Las Vegas wedding made me smile. The best thing about the book was it left me curious about her blog.

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