Friday, January 23, 2015

That stuff comes later

When, at some point in the not too distant future, I am going to pen a self-help manual for higher ups across all industries and title it: How To Conduct an Interview. I don't know if the market is saturated in this arena but I suspect not since my interviewing experiences, at least as of late, have proven to be almost unbelievably unprofessional and ineffectual. (With exceptions of course...but those are anomalies.)

Based on recent interview, I'd start out the book by suggesting the following steps:

Step 1: Make eye contact. I spent a little over an hour talking "to" someone who was staring at the desk in front of him and/or the wall behind me. Unfortunately for both of us, he was describing the worst job on earth. As a result, it was like watching a one man play about someone describing how paint dries.

Step 2: Ask questions about the person your are interviewing. As I said before, the interview lasted MORE than an hour and I think I discussed my background and qualifications for roughly five minutes. Five minutes that were, each time I imparted new information, interrupted with some irrelevant fact and/or procedure explanation for the prospective job. Which leads me to Step 3.

Step 3: An interview is not a training session. Look, I get that you are short staffed and you need to fill the position fairly quickly. Your harried, hurried appearance posture and language indicates volumes of explanations that, frankly, are at home in the "cons" section of a candidate's list to take a job. But this hour and change during which I meet you to discuss the possibility of working for you is not the time to show me how to log into your various systems or the step by step explanation of how you place orders or deal with difficult students. Like a new relationship, you should keep in mind that timeless mantra to keep the relationship fresh: that stuff comes later. (That's the phrase that is sweeping the nation, right?)

Also, the venue of a recent interview, and I know this is through no fault of the institution nor of my interviewer at all but is something totally noticeable, noteworthy and unfortunate: the office smelled like cheeseburgers.

Anyway, enough of job interview bullshit. I've saturated my brain with it and honestly, if I had my druthers and the accompanying laziness required, I would just take a damn break from job searching and job applying and job interviewing. However, when I think about giving up and/or in I think of that Bright Eyes lyric: I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery.

The search continues. It freakin continues.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in empathy

We've completed a full two weeks of this year already. Perhaps "completed" is not the correct word. Perhaps "pounded", "ground down into dust", "thrown a thick globule of black mist in every single direction, obscuring our view of a way forward, through the dark nights of the soul." Or maybe it's just me.

I mean, looking over the first two weeks of this year on a global scale, one walks away with the notion that the world is a fuck stew, a hot glob in a scalding pot slowly coming to a violent boil, the kind that explodes all over your stove range and sometimes the floor. I doubt this is different from other years; as a species, we always cook from the inside out. It just feels worse this year. I suppose because a bunch of shit happened right at the start, when we were all still hung over, painfully celebrating the notion that all the shit from last year was over, we'd been fed through the grinder but we came out the other end.

Two weeks is a blip to me but I think about the people directly ensnared by the still flailing tail of the monster that was last year and the Parisians who are now marching or wandering the streets full of anger and fear and uncertainty and how like an eternity two weeks must seem to them. I know how it feels to walk out into a city full of hollow eyed people, afraid of your own shadow, uncertain of what to think, feeling the earth has been thrown off its axis just enough to make the days seem physically nauseating. It happened here in NYC. People have more and faster ways to shout about it now, surely, but I get it. I get that it feels like you live in a haunted house, always waiting for the moment when someone or something jumps out at you. And when you feel that, the most empathetic, comforting you can hear (even if it doesn't feel like it at the time) is that it will pass. It really will.

Looking over the first two weeks of this year on a personal scale, things are decidedly less dire, but no less strange than other years of my life. Nothing terrible or outstanding has happened. I've worked a lot at my part time jobs out of sheer necessity and desperation. I went out dancing and didn't come home until 5 a.m. one Saturday. I've taken a civil service test wherein my Spanish speaking abilities were tested (because civil service is forever trying, and failing, to effectively quantify communication skills), felt cold more often than comfortable, been rejected (over the course of 2 weeks!) by five separate potential jobs, learned the literal meanings of heuristic and pusillanimous (kind of cannot wait to use these words in conversation) and done a lot of reading and writing. I've also done a lot of listening: to others, to library patrons, to coworkers, to my body, to my brain. I wanted to open my eyes and my ears this year and I wanted to pursue adventure and empathy and adventures in empathy. If things keep up at this pace, there will be no shortage of chances to do so.

I think the world is in a perpetual state of recovery mode. As such, we would do well to take the advice of many of the most effective recovery programs: one day at a time.

To tomorrow...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

End of this year at loooonnnggg laaaast.

Time again for my year end meme. If you had a great year, good for you! You fared better than 98% of the rest of the planet! If you had a bad year, take heart, it is over.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
I visited the Dominican Republic, Philadelphia, took an actual bike riding lesson(s), got called for federal jury doody, got laid off from a job and subsequently interviewed for more jobs than I ever have in my life.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did not make any and did not accomplish anything particularly spectacular. I have a truckload of resolutions for next year and I'm going to do them all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No but 2015 is going to be very, very busy year. ;)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No and I'm grateful.

5. What countries did you visit?
Dominican Republic and assorted cities in the U.S. It was not a big year for travel.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A stable, full time job and an apartment in NYC.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
This entire year will be etched upon my memory, however, May 28, the day I got laid off from my job of 6 years. Afterward, with a tear stained face, I sat in my car eating an ice cream cone and a homeless person walked up to my car to ask for change, which I gave to her and then told her how I just got laid off to which she replied, "That really sucks, don't cry into your ice cream, though. It probably cost a lot."

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Adding sugar to lemon water. Not quite lemonade but not quite lemon juice.

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing notable whatsoever.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Concert tickets to all three Arcade Fire shows I saw this year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Almost everyone I know personally has come up against one personal trial or another and all have handled it beautifully and gracefully. That's all we can expect from ourselves and each other. (Same as last year and probably will be true until my life ends, and beyond.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
It happened years ago but the Bush administration and their tacit approval of torturing prisoners and subsequently every single person who sees nothing wrong with that.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Moving. Booze. Food. Concerts.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Arcade Fire in August, traveling with my family in July

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
"I Just Might" by Ryan Adams since I probably listened to it 700 times in a two week span. Ghosts dwell in the streets from a hit and run...

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? a little sadder
thinner or fatter? the same
richer or poorer? poorer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Traveling, writing, yoga

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying about the future. It takes so much time and energy from the present. (Same as last year. Same worry, same regret)

20. How did I spend Christmas?
Eating, drinking being happy with the family. (same as it ever was.)

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?

23. How many one-night stands?
Do I count the orgies? Then 56.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Men, as it has been and ever shall be, world without end, amen. (same as last year) However, props to Kroll Show, Parenthood and Bob's Burgers which always, always lifts my mood.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Hate is still a waste of time.

26. What was the best book you read?
Again, need to mention a few: Wolf in White Van, How to Build a Girl, One More Thing, Little Failure.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Due to many of my old favorite bands releasing new material this year, I'd have to say that musically, it was a rediscovering more than a year of discovery for me.

28. What did you want and get?
 Some clarity, some perspective and to get to live in the city again.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hands down it was "Only Lovers Left Alive". I am officially obsessed with it. A very, very close second is "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
38...time keeps creeping, through the neighborhood...
I worked on my birthday this year, it falling on a totally normal Tuesday. I was blessed with doing a lot of really great stuff on the days surrounding my birthday including seeing Cabaret on Broadway and eating a lot of good food.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Job security.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Same as it ever was. And, this cannot be stressed enough, THRILLED that the 90s are back in fashion.

34. What kept you sane?
 Honestly? Wine. and Whine. and the close friends and family i have...same as last year, and the year before that.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I'm going to have to go with Russell Brand.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Don't even get me started. Toward the end there it was a veritable blitzkrieg of things to be stirred about.

37. Who did you miss?
Old friends who live far away!

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I meet pretty remarkable people every year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
It is essential to be able to move and flow with life. It is a current that you cannot control, no matter how tightly you hang on. Life becomes infinitely easier if you move with it instead of resisting it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Spent more time contemplating this lyric than I care to admit.

 Lying in the bed at night
Feeling like I'm somebody else
My thoughts inside my head get lost inside the haunted house
Everyone I used to know left their dreams by the door
I accidentally kick 'em that's how I can tell you're still not sure

"My Wrecking Ball" Ryan Adams