Friday, May 30, 2008

It's No Act, I Need a Job

I'm sitting at the airport because I missed my flight this morning (I
know, retarded) and just read an article in today's NYT's about the
crazy things people are doing to get a job. Listen to this: "Japanese
culture tells you not to brag; in the U.S., interviewing for a job
means bragging about yourself and I am not comfortable doing that."
That's what I was saying! Does anyone else feel this way? The article
also gives some scary statistics on job scarcity and how to "stand out
and differentiate yourself." It's some interesting advice.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Interview Tips: Selling Yourself

I had a JOB interview today, out of nowhere, and I guess I could blame the last-minute nature of the meeting as to why I'm sure I came off as a dork, but that would be typical and stupid. You'd think that after 8 months in constant "job seeking" mode that I would be an interviewer's dream, ready with oodles of bright and thoughtful answers to typical interview questions and gems on how to "wow" potential employers tucked up my conservative, pressed sleeve. Actually, I didn't do badly - I have the experience and the job is a perfect fit. And then I was asked to list my strengths. Christ! Listen, I have strengths, I have loads of strengths, really good strengths even, and I know this is typical interview crap. But for some bizarre reason, my splendid ego loves to book it at the first glimmer of any abrupt disclosure. How can we not compare interviews to the experience of meeting those people at bars who ask all the personal questions he or she has no business asking after knowing you for only 5 minutes--age, occupation, birthplace, net worth--so it can be decided whether to shoo you away or give you the big break you were looking for? What's wrong with getting to know each other, hanging out a bit, going for a walk or two and maybe watching a movie to see if you have similar tastes?

I've never been able to sell myself. My mom could barely get me to smile when I was in the state pageant at age 6; I avoid giving personal highlights to anyone I haven't known at least 2 to 5 years. I feel like a floozy when I sell myself, which is not a terrible stretch of reasoning, people. Truthfully, I don't know if interviews, as they are, even work, and I've been on the giving end several times. Which is probably why the expression "It's not what you know, but who you know" exists... first impressions don't seem to be enough these days. But more importantly, there's this to consider: If I get the gig, it would last 27 weeks. 27 weeks! That's, like, a real job! Which is not a bad promise in light of the most special bout of cabin fever I've been nursing over the last couple of weeks. But I'll worry about that later. I'm off to the west coast in a couple hours to see my family and eat well and watch Lost. Nice. I also have a meme to pass on....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Best Friend, The Boob Tube

I've just USED television to comfort my loneliness after cleaning, cooking tofu for the first time and drinking a bottle of wine had nothing to offer. The cat and I just watched an hour of Seinfeld, and I swear, I'm going to sleep like a well-milked baby, a well-wine'd youngster. Earlier, I listened to an episode of "This American Life," where David Rakoff attempts to watch 29 hours of television and reveals that people who watch steady episodic television might get the benefits of actual "friends" by staying tuned... well, quite an interesting offer, until you need someone to call the authorities because you've died, alone, in your apartment. Even the cat became calmer when I switched to Seinfeld from public radio, I swear to god. Obviously, every other human being in the country watches television nearly every night (29 hours a week, according to TAL), so who am I to complain? I watch a ton of movies, but as David says, those movies-people are not the same as Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer, who I've known for years, thanks! The drug-like trance I got tonight reminded me of another needy time in my life.... when I first came to D.C. and I had just left my then-boyfriend in Seattle and thought I was going to die. Were it not for That 70's Show. Sitting in the friend's cousin-who-I'd-never-met-'s apartment, I watched those funny people and wondered what it was like to be happy. No knitting or reading could sooth that sad little girl, and in later retrospect, I wondered--Was that a moment when TV saved me? Well, that sounds stupid... I mean, it's the boob tube. Isn't the real answer for tranquility meditation or writing or volunteering for world peace? Oh god... the Tira Bank's talk show is going to make depressed, un-sexualized couples "touch" each other in the green room with a therapist on hand.... this is so depressing....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Bad Smell in the Apartment that Won't Go Away

I'm nearly positive something died in my apartment a few days ago because I could smell a pungent, death-scent every time I walked past the door to our home office on the way to the loo. JBO is in Australia playing with koala bears and I'm stuck here dealing with dead, bloated carcases. That outburst was "anger" three days ago, followed by "denial" on Sunday when I played bocce ball all day, then at last "acceptance" yesterday when I got a friend to come over and stand there in case I freaked out at the sight of rotted rat guts. We looked everywhere. This is the longest time I've been alone in this apartment - 3 weeks - and I (of course) wonder what this incident says about me, my self-sufficiency and general ability to be alone. I suspect that months of working alone in the apartment all day is advancing a disconnectedness that is getting exceptionally morbid, especially when evenings alone and dead bodies are added. For example, I wonder if I'm in a weird horror film where the star will eventually find HERSELF dead and bloated under the floor!!! But seriously, I don't think all this alone-time is good for me, and yet, I love it. The cat laid next to me the whole night and whenever I opened my eyes, her head was up... which was obviously a sign of someone in the apartment or something diabolical happening, so I didn't sleep. Today I cleaned out the whole apartment and I still can't find where the smell is coming from!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nothing like a Drunk on the Sidewalk to stir Philisophical Thoughts on Existence

A friend and I were sitting outdoors at a bar on 18th street last night when a man in a wheel chair had in one way or another shimmied down to the sidewalk in front of it. A few people attempted to help him back in the chair and we could see the guy was tanked... evidenced by the way he waved his hand around and his head flopped from one side to the other, and in the lack of complete shock or terror from the people helping him back in the seat if it were serious. We couldn't tell if the people helping him into the chair were his friends or strangers offering a hand. The man was older, maybe in his late 60's, wearing a camouflage green button up shirt and hat. We drank mojitos. My friend said to me, what should a person walking by do in that kind of situation? I said if I were a man, (since I, as a cute girl, avoid drunk guys at all costs, even in bars) I would go up and ask him if he was okay, make sure he's conscious, and if he was, help him to a nice patch of grass where he could sleep it off. We've all been drunk before, after all. Yeah, and maybe ask if he lives close by or if you could call someone. What else is there? He recommended calling someone. Call who? The police, the paramedics, 911. Well that's a bit severe and doesn't that turn into some sort of petty offense, like public drunkenness? I said. And he's a grown man, after all, probably a POW even, give the guy a break. But he was in a wheel chair, and maybe that made the difference. Left on the foul streets of Adams Morgan, he was also likely to be robbed or pissed on or abused in one way or another; plus then, you have all those people standing around with thier deep fears of guilt who must "do the right thing" with nowhere to put their good deeds. It's hard to know what the "right thing" to do is, I said, and we--as in our generation-- lack any kind of social mores that would have helped previous generations pick one or two of the tried and most-accepted (therefore least offensive) options in this kind of situation instead of everyone taking a crack at it for themselves based on their own limited experiences and judgment because we all have a mind of our own even if we're actually a complete idiot. I slurped a bit more of my drink. "What's best for him" can be subjective, so why doesn't he decided for himself? Doesn't he at least deserve a say? Maybe what's best is we just sit here and drink and think nothing of it? Another swig. Existentialism has resulted in idiots taking charge, I ponder to myself. The paramedics and fire department came and picked him up, and we ordered another drink before heading to the Prince Dance Party at Chief Ikes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quitting the Gym, At Last, the Unemployed Girl Gets Realistic

Today, I'm heading to the gym to end my membership, which is something I have been dreading since unemployment. I think I looked at my gym membership as a sign of some stability in my life, some level of security, some level of accomplishment, combined with a love for elliptical and the unease of losing the corporate rate that somehow never disappeared. Maybe I looked at the gym as an office, some place I could go to every day, a place I belonged? I'm over it now. A sympathetic but practical voice says, "It's okay, it's time, you'll live." On to bigger and better things. I've rekindled old passions that I abandoned when I moved to DC, when I was too overworked and young and exhausted and ambitious to do anything else. Yoga, rock climbing, dance. Okay, so I'm not exactly going to be saving money. But maybe the money alone isn't exactly the point. Maybe what's more important is what it gives back, and though the gym gave me a good dose of dopamine and the promise of a good bod, it didn't give me a life outside of my job/jobless identity. You know how I was saying that people don't have much of an identity in DC other than their work? Yoga may not be the answer to everything either, but I know it's a solid part of who I am, and knowing that, and giving it it's fair share of attention seems worth a shot at bringing me closer to figuring out what I want professionally and who I am as a whole, if that makes sense. This is my once chance to rebalanced my life before I really get into the heat of it, so I'm kind of pissed that it took so long to get here. I also wished I had picked up hobbies that were free. More cutting of the nonessentials, as I get closer to figuring out what the nonessentials are.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jobless People Are Not That Scary

An article in The New York Times Sunday found that nearly 240,000 American jobs disappeared from January to April and all those rejects (I use this term endearingly) don't know how to deal with the shame of it all with their friends and neighbors. Instead, they're staying in the house and away from soccer fields. But don't blame it all on them-- they say friends stopped calling, too!

This country has an amazing stigma about joblessness, one that supposes laziness and lack of ambition and something wrong with the person who can't keep a lame job. Okay, some people are exactly that. But not everyone. Ex-coworkers still have a hard time around me... I sense they're worried I'm depressed (no fun) or I'll ask them for a job. I guess it's not really their fault--In D.C., what more do you know about a person than what he or she does for work?

Some great advice - for both the jobless and the rest - was expressed by one man interviewed in the article: Put it out there, give friends a way to be useful if they want to, and stop feeling sorry for yourself or anyone else. I'll add: talk about something other than work, for godssake! Then it won't be so hard to be around your poor, sad, little jobless friend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh Hell - Another Identity Crisis

From the lack, and random assortment, of postings you've seen on this blog in the last month or so, you may have figured out that I'm currently in the middle of what some people call an "identity crisis." An identity crisis is a moment in ones life when one is uncertain about his- or her-SELF due to a change in aims or role in society. As a mostly-broke professional who must practically flaunt herself daily to find ways of making money while still trying to hold on to some level of integrity and "artistic" expression... who is young, inexperienced in her new career, alone most days, cute (just to throw that in there) and locked in a sunless basement apartment... a change of aims is so common that a regular identity crisis is practically fucking guaranteed.

Am I jobless or not? Am I a selfless journalist or an ego centric? Am I a writer or a filmmaker? Should I go back to programming or stick with production? Is my favorite movie Chinatown or Wings of Desire?

I've heard that certain individuals who function well in a state of chaos will... um... seek trouble. But when I think of life in that unhappy job, I can't believe leaving it was more destructive than staying, or that change is a bad, or that learning to be myself and comfortable with it isn't necessary, just because it can really suck to feel so confused and to be poor. It's just temporary, after-all. But long-term temporary, no doubt.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reality Check: Stevie Wonder

First of all--Let me tell you how much I love Stevie Wonder. That dude is the shit people... he's happy just singing, playing the hell out of a piano or harmonica, and spreading the funk. "Sir Duke" will cheer up any gloomy, wet day, guaranteed, friends. I walk differently listening to Stevie Wonder, I don't buy things I don't need listening to Stevie Wonder, I just keep it REAL listening to Stevie Wonder, you know what I'm saying? And "In the City"... shoot, that's good stuff. This idea of "real" has been at the forefront of a few weeks of traveling without a job and visiting to two very different but similar places: Buenos Aires and New Orleans. Complex, I know. What's real? (For me anyway, at this point?) Stevie Wonder. We'll go from there.