Friday, July 11, 2014

7/10/2014- Rubber Band Rejection

I DO have to work my part time job this morning but that doesn't make the fact that Thelma the cat woke me up mad early by licking the blinds like some sort of weird fetishist in my bedroom any more tolerable. Effing cat.

So yesterday this is how my day went:

8:00 am- Stopped into my neighborhood bagel shop to get a coffee and got stuck behind a sweaty, shirtless man in bike shorts buying lottery tickets. I mean he was going for broke with one lottery ticket after another after another after another. I suppose if one finds oneself in a bagel shop of a Thursday morning not wearing a shirt, one has reached a type of nadir that only winning the lottery would cure. All or nothing.

8:30 am -- Arrived at my parents' house to meet my dad's "car window guy" and to make sure everything went smoothly. My grandparents were home but my grandfather's every morning consists of getting my grandmother ready for every thing. I was unaware that "car window guys" operated like cable guys and only give arrival times in three hour increments, but they do. (Seriously? How many appointments can they have?) I killed some time on my laptop doing, what else? Applying for jobs. The car window guy arrived at 10, made a ton of old timey jokes (think "Take my wife...please!") and was gone by 10:30. I spent about an hour chatting with my grandfather about the World Cup and planning some far away future trip to Honduras with him to Puerto Cortes. We realized it was my grandmother's birthday and smiled quietly to each other and to her over her cereal bowl, all of us knowing nothing about what she did or didn't understand. All this goodbye without going away...

11:00 am-- I arrived back at my apartment to get ready for an evening in the city. I checked my email and found a rejection letter from a job I had interviewed for last week that I really, really, really wanted. The disappointment was palpable and made worse by the fact that the woman who sent the email didn't even bother to change the position's title in her blatantly form letter. It said how regretful they were that they could not offer me a position for which I did not apply. I did interview there but for something entirely different. I suppose I could have silver lined it by disassociating myself and laughing at how I am like a rejection superhero (Gets rejected from phantom applications! Can be rejected in a single bound! Marvel at the otherworldly decibels of rejection she can withstand!) Instead I closed my computer and cried for an hour. I suppose I could be the kind of person who handles rejection badly but I have developed a rubber band elasticity when it comes to "It's not you, it's me." I get the worthless, useless feelings out in the immediate aftermath and then it gets added to my rejection file cabinet, along with the dead case files that I take a peek through every so often (usually during slow days or other rejections.) But this one hurt. It really did.
In the middle of all that, I got a random text from Jason with a joke about a Rick Steves' impersonation that we first talked about in Spain last year. So I did one of the best things to do which was to stop crying and start laughing. I went to the mirror and stared out of my swollen my eyes and said goodbye to that opportunity and I feel remarkably over it. Rubber Band Rejection.

3:00 pm -- Got in my car and drove to the city. It was an uneventful ride, scored by Arcade Fire and my singing along. I say uneventful but only because it has become de rigeur for me to almost die a few times, driving on the scenic Southern State Parkway, a place that has modeled itself after Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome. Or NASCAR. One of them. I was very nearly side swiped by a blue van filled with passengers bound for the airport. I know this because the advertisement on the back of the van said "Airport Shuttle" and asked if I liked his driving. I didn't.

4:30 pm -- I parked by my sister Lorraine's apartment and walked to the subway which takes approximately 90 minutes. In yesterday's heat, it took 2 hours. I got on the subway and unwittingly sat across from a woman who looked like a female Drew Carey. She was having heroin nods and lit up a cigarette right there on the subway just like it was 1962. I transferred trains.

5:15 pm -- A beautiful man boarded the subway car and we made eye contact a hundred times over the course of the ride. He was 6 feet tall with golden brown hair and smooth, tan skin. He wore a watch (how quaint) and carried a gym bag. We smiled a few times and he got out at 34th street, only to get right back on. I felt a little buzzed. We both got out at that eternal confluence of sweaty humanity, Union Square. He floated ahead of me and looked back twice. Then he saw a man he recognized and proceeded to slam his gym bag into his butt and the spell was broken by blatant bro-hood. Meh. It was nice while it lasted.

5:45 pm -- I arrived at Tortaria early, before my friends. I decided to get in out of the oppressive heat of Union Square and have me a nice cold margarita. It was perfectly dark and cool and smelled of garlic and avocados. The bartender gave me what can most accurately be described as a "margarita slushy". The consistency took nothing away from it's flavor (and effect). The place was half full will a mix of students and tourists and happy hour seekers. My friends arrived and sitting for a delicious dinner over margarita slushies with two dear friends should be prescribed by medical professionals to heal all that ails you. We were sitting next to a group of four men in business casual wear. If pressed, I'd have to say they were all born in the 90s and I remembered suddenly how young the world became while I was off somewhere, getting old.

7:00 pm-- We walked to the multiplex at Union Square, a place where I spent a good chunk of my 20s. My sister Lorraine was waiting there for us because we had tickets to see Rifftrax's version of Sharknado. It turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be. My stomach and my face ached when it was all over from laughing so much. It felt so good to be reminded that that, however rare, is still a possibility.

10:00 pm -- I rode the subway home with Lorraine which is always one of my favorite things to do. Her move to London seems to be solidifying more and more each day so I'm doing my best to hang on to every moment I get now.

11:00 pm-- I drove home in the hopes that it would only take me exactly as long as it was designed to. Unfortunately, there was a horrible accident on, where else? The Southern State Parkway so there was traffic. When it is that late at night, when you are in a sea of gridlocked drivers, most too tired to even be annoyed and when you have spent the day talking and crying and laughing, the best thing to do is to sing loudly along to Rufus Wainwright. Trust me on that.

And that was my day. Not a hallmark or an event I'll remember, unprompted in 40 years, but one I'd like to.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Isn't it ironic? Actually, I'm not sure.

Time was I could channel my freakouts loudly on paper to my journal. No longer, my friends. No longer. I've sat staring at computer screens begging for the muse to poke me in my ear or pick little ticks out of my hair or something else annoying enough to make me write about how I'm slowly freaking out about the (mostly) jobless nature of my existence. But nein. Nada. Zip.

So here's something that just happened at the library that amused me. We are having a program called "Become an Optimist". I'm well aware of the notion that I could greatly benefit from attending the program but I'm working and it is completely full and there is a waiting list. Anycrap, a patron called about an hour before the program was scheduled to begin and asked if she could attend. When I told her it was full she said "I just never expected the program to be successful, so I never called."

The most ironic people alive will just never understand the joy they give the world.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Realizations, with bullets.

In applying for dozens of jobs, I realized a few things. Here they are, with bullets.

  • My laptop's software is severely out of date. I'm not entirely certain that I'm not working with the same level of technology as I was in 1996, borrowing my roommate's Brother word processor.

Dramatic reenactment
  • There are a surprisingly large amount of people who wander around downtown in my neighborhood in the middle of weekday afternoons. I mean, allowing for some staycations and students, overall, doesn't everyone have jobs???
  • I have to start giving myself props for my ability to speak and write eloquently, even when I am talking utter and complete bullshit. I am honing this skill in spades throughout job applications and cover letters. Truly, this is one of my gifts. If I were a sociopath, I'd be remarkably successful. Normally this kind of self involved thought would disturb me but I'm just glad that I'm good at something. I literally just came up with a teaching philosophy statement that I pulled from the nether regions of my butthole. Or maybe I gleaned it from various online samples, I don't know. Related question: Why is it not possible to answer questions honestly on job applications? Instead of employing my mad writing/lying (wrying?) skills, I could simply say, "I am not in any way passionate about this part time job I'm applying for but rather I am desperate for a source of income and would do a good job under those Pavolvian circumstances." Frankly, that should be good enough. Too much emphasis is placed on the expectation of "passion" on the part of the employee. Can't you people just be happy that your applicant NEEDS MONEY and will work as hard as they can in order to get money?

  • Even in bulleted format, I am capable of going off on tangents.
  • I just spent 3 hours, I repeat THREE HOURS filling out an online application for a PART TIME JOB. I get the vetting process and that they won't hire just anyone but I feel like a significant part of my brain has died. 
  • I really advise against job seeking and online dating simultaneously. It is an exercise in masochism. 
  • I need to go outside to take a walk because my butt hurts and I feel deflated. I just realized that butt and deflated were used in the same sentence. Maybe I need a nap.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Various levels of fidelity

Oh, hello!

I am still unemployed. However, despite this uncertain, cloudy sensation of SO MUCH TIME PASSING, it has in reality only been 20 days. Thankfully, my freakouts have become intermittent as opposed to constant and gnawing. As of today, I've applied to 48 jobs. I have gotten no callbacks. If I wanted this kind of silent rejection, I would have gone into acting. Or been a real writer.

I've been doing my ever loving best to fill up my time in such a way that I don't feel like an utter dirtbag with no job. It helps that I have a part time job to fill up the hours on certain days. I've started an exercise program and I finally got around to getting rid of that old laptop that has been in my possession since 2007. I took a bike riding class last weekend and I have been practicing singing at the top of my lungs during the quiet afternoons in my apartment. The conversations I have with myself have progressed from scintillating to slightly disturbing and Facebook has become a tether to the working world. (You guys are just like me, always online but at least you are getting paid for it!) I'm all caught up on Orange is the New Black, Law and Order SVU, Kroll Show and Inside Amy Schumer. I've read like, four books and endless piles of magazines. I have enrolled in a thumb twiddle workshop and gave myself a part way decent pedicure. I take 6 supermarket trips during the week instead of my usual 3 and my emails to friends have become luxurious, self indulgent opuses that I usually get so embarrassed by that I end up deleting them and sending pared down versions with the bare minimum of "I'm doing just fine, yes. I am totally NOT daydreaming that I'll sprain my ankle but have no health insurance to fix it properly and walk with a limp the rest of my days, no. But yes, I'll totally take you up on your offer of dinner and lunch and drinks." (I honestly have the BEST friends ever.) I'm spending way too much time poring over job ads that say things like this:

"Comfortable in an agile environment of rapid iteration and experimentation, prototyping at various levels of fidelity."

as a requirement. And asking myself "AM I comfortable in an agile environment of rapid iteration? Should I put THAT on my resume?" I've been hanging out for hours with Jeff Buckley and Frank O'Hara and Wes Anderson, wondering if it is at all ironic that back in those not so long ago days when I was working 6 days a week, 13 hours a day, ALL I dreamed about was the ability to do exactly what I'm doing now which is a whole lot of bullshit nothing and doing it with abandon, accompanied by a cloying worry that I'll start talking to myself in public like Jasmine, only not as blonde and in a decidedly less designer homeless outfit.

Future me?

I'm tempering my free time with invented tasks of decluttering, organizing, writing, wining, channeling, planning, driving, walking and oh dear god I just need a job. I'm getting all Colonel Brandon up in here. "Give me a task or I shall go mad." My career is like Elinor, thrashing around on the bed of a really bad head cold.

Before he was the Governor, he was Colonel Brandon. Either way, he had jobs.

Look, all I'm saying is, please hire me. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Dischargers

There are times in my life (lately with alarming frequency) during which I'll realize what date it is and find my brain in a groggy, disconnect, as though I have just woken up from a late afternoon nap, confused at the darkness outside. It could be morning, it could be evening. I feel panicked that I am not doing something I should be doing or meeting someone I've made an appointment with and in complete disbelief that I've arrived at such a late date in the year, utterly without ceremony or even an x-ed out calendar square to mark the days that came before.

If we are friends on Facebook or in real life, you'll know already that I was let go from my full time job after six years. Well, about 5 years and 361 days. The rumor mill was on hyper grind the past six months or so and each day as we got closer to the end of the semester, the more broken down and piecemeal our futures seemed to get. People were stressed, nosy, snarky and back-stabby. On more than one occasion, I heard tell of people crossing the great divide of that great divided building to come into the library to speculate about how we should all look for jobs. We were dunked, forcibly inside an ice cold tub of speculation. I tried to allay it by staying in my little windowless office for six months but it came to me. It floated on the echoes of all those gossipy sirens, marooned behind their desks with their little singsong desires to see people crash into the rocks with all their belongings in a lidless cardboard box. Toward the end there we may as well have started a pool; at least the ones who got voted off employment island could have had a monetary prize to take home and cry into.

In the end, I was one of ten who got called up to a room with two young executives who had business cards and business suits and business eyes. I saw them and just thought "You are the Dischargers." They could've been comic book villains, thwarting everyone who is too comfortably settled in their job with separation agreement and a cackle. They wore grey suits and wedding rings and slick hair and clean-lensed glasses. They spoke in hushed tones and, had my life been the movie I've always suspected it was, the song playing in the background of this scene would have been "Karma Police". It would begin at the most appropriate lyric:

Karma police, arrest this man
He talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge
He's like a detuned radio

And, after just one jargon filled, initial here and here, we're really sorry but it isn't you it's us hour, I walked out of that room with an escort. It was a long walk. I'd been punctured in a small but significant way and I felt myself deflating in the silence of the elevator. I threw all six years of my things in a box and as I said goodbye to my coworkers, I cried, but only because loss is always unexpected, even when you see it coming. 

I suppose it is a rite of passage of sorts, getting laid off. I hope this works on a quota system because mine is filled. I'd love to expound upon the next phase of my life but there is only a big old TBD stamp on its face, obscuring all the relevant text. I've sent out a million resumes, gotten in touch, lit the fires. I still have my part time job which is populated by the nicest, most generous and caring people I've ever worked for and they have given me extra hours and expressed concern about how I'm doing on a daily basis. Long term, I just need a job. It doesn't even have to line up with my career, such as it is/was, it just has to line up with my direct deposit. And now I wait.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Daily Rituals and Secret Rotten Apples

It is early in the morning and I'm in the midst of trying to form new morning habits. Naturally this means cramming in some blogging/writing time in the tiny corners of free moments. I've been reading a book called Daily Rituals by Mason Currey which details the creative habits of writers, artists, composers, philosophers and other people throughout history who became immortal through their work. I love this book. I love the glimpse into the human behind the creative genius of so many creators of art, not to mention how it satisfies the voyeur all of us has about other people when we observe them and think, "Just what the hell is it that you DO all day?" Am I the only one who thinks these things? Some of these artists were morning people, some had 9-5 jobs, some had no jobs, worked at home or in their studios or in cafes. Some of them drank booze all afternoon and night and worked like demons through the early morning, some slept a full eight hours, dressed and fed their families and managed to squeak out masterpieces while their children were at school and their husbands at work. Some of them worked for 12 hours a day, others for 2-3 hours a day. Some of them had truly bizarre habits. Friedrich Schiller comes to mind as he had a need to have rotting apples in the drawer of his desk at all times because the smell inspired his creativity. Patricia Highsmith bred snails. (Ew.) What ties them all together is that they put in the work, they sacrificed time and effort and they completed something. I find it inspiring that someone like Wallace Stevens could work his entire career at something as dull as processing insurance claims during business hours and then go home to write. Same with T.S. Eliot.

This book got me thinking about my own habits and routines and in doing so I hoped to understand why and how I went from writing every day and finishing things in my early 20s to only ever writing about beginnings and endings and/or writing about why I can't write. I don't have definitive answers yet but I'd love to be able to blame the internet and adult responsibilities and my delusional perception that time is on my side (despite knowing that time is never on anyone's side, ever and never will be.) In recent years, I've come to understand that I am thoroughly a morning person and am trying to form morning habits that will foster and fuel my creativity the rest of the day. This isn't terribly easy with such limited time and two jobs and all that other crap one is supposed to do as one becomes an adult. Yet I can no longer deny that I'm best on a freshly awake brain. The sunlight erases everything from the night before. So that's when work needs to be done.

I know my body will rebel against me on this most mornings. But frankly, if Toni Morrison can take care of her 9-5 corporate job and raise two children as a single parent and STILL manage to crank out her body of work, well that just proves it can be done.

And on another note, I would just love to find out the daily rituals of people I know. There is something so satisfying to me about knowing what all everyone gets up to on a typical day. I'd love to someday come to discover that someone with whom I share an office keeps a drawer full of rotten apples in their desk drawer at home or that the genial guy who serves my coffee at the local bagel shop is a ghostwriter for James Patterson. Until that day, I suppose I could just make it up...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Avoidance 101

I've been playing a game on my iPhone that is causing my brain to shrink. Or at least as I'm driving in the sunlight after longish bouts of playing this game I get this odd sensation of something constricting just behind my eyes and somewhere near the top of my skull. I can envision my brain's wrinkles. This could be deemed "a headache" but I prefer to call it "avoidance pains". I've never been a video game person, apart from that one summer circa 1992 when I played Sonic the Hedgehog in between trips to the library for more reading material. I never aspire to reach the next level or rescue the princess or find a beating heart in the middle of the statue of liberty (wtf is up with video games?). I can only surmise that this is because after a short while, well, shorter for me than most people apparently, all the colors and constant movement make me feel the wrinkles in my brain and not in a good way. In case you are wondering, there IS a good way to feel that.

Someone logical would say to me at this point, "Just stop playing the game." And I would just counter, "You are absolutely right." I'd definitely say that. And during the waking hours, when I'm up to here with things to do, menial tasks that need completing, people to watch and observe and frozen yogurt to eat, "just stopping" is easy. When it is 2am and I cannot sleep and everything is terrible in the half dark that dulls the edges of everything and my glasses are off and what I can see of the world is amorphous and I feel that dread creeping up on me with not one other person to distract me, it is less easy to just stop. It is a really stupid game but it keeps my hands busy and my eyes active and its clear, two dimensions are oddly comforting. And sometimes I just want to do really stupid things. Even if they shrink my brain.

Not helping my brain shrinkage sensation is the fact that I have some kind of blockage in my ear. It is a feeling that never strikes until after Memorial Day when the pools open and I'm overzealous about the amount of time I spend floating in chlorinated water or jumping waves in the Atlantic. It arrived early this year. What makes it different is that it is disturbing, since I have yet to go swimming and haven't dunked my head in any water that I can remember (I've cut back dramatically on my alcohol intake.) I tried that Debrox stuff where you put drops in your ear and then do your best "Detective Goren" while you wait for magic to happen.

I always expected him to keel over.

The process did nothing for me this morning, apart from being orgasmic and pleasurable. The "water" remains. I feel like I'm getting half the sarcasm of the library patrons today. Just as well, I'm working with a small amount of sleep.

I've been streaming entire series of shows, been cooking elaborate meals for one, been taking walks through town and drives around the block, been cleaning my closets, shredding old documents and giving things away and I want things emptied out. It's my mantra of late: Empty empty empty! I have scoured my kitchen and bathroom twice this week but there are little black, round bugs that sneak in on warm days and scatter, unafraid on the kitchen floor and sit immobile, in defiance of mortality, even as I approach them with a paper towel of death or a spray from the pesticide bottle. I am repulsed and humbled by their tenacity. Mostly I just want them out of my kitchen. I spend a handful of moments at work or driving in my car thinking about those stupid bugs. Wondering if they've gathered for a summit in my ear.

I'm definitely avoiding something. I just can't figure out what it is and the game, the water/bug summit in the ear, the incessant streaming of several seasons of shows at one time the cleaning and getting rid of...are just a freshman survey class in Avoidance. I've become so adept at this that I'm convinced that should I take the leap and strip away all the distraction I'd just end up hearing and old man's heartbeat under the floorboards. No one wants that.

And that's where I've been. Where have you been?