Today marks four months in NYC.
It’s been awhile. And since I’m so busy, it’s harder to get to writing this. Except I’m always writing it in my head. This is my first weekend home (i.e., back in NYC) for three weeks. Last weekend I flew to Buffalo, NY to visit my father in Bradford, PA his hometown.
Do most of you have a place you can go where nothing matters? Where, when you are there time is at a standstill, and you are who you are with no adornment or pressure? I suspect for most people this is their childhood home. My childhood home, in Idaho, is too full of remonstrations (real, remembered or imagined) to be peaceful. But in Bradford, the world just falls away and for a little while nothing matters.
Growing up, we didn’t visit Bradford often because it was so far from Idaho. We drove out a couple of times, flew a few times. But when I first moved to New York at 22, I made it a habit to drive out to Bradford as often as I could. It was easier and cheaper than flying to Idaho, and it was more relaxed. I’ve never felt judgment from these, my Italian relatives. Now, since I’ve been living on this side of the country for the past 35 years, my dad makes the trek once a year, usually, and I go there to see him. My parents rarely came to Kalamazoo, choosing to fly to Bradford, instead. Or incorporate the Eastern visit with two stops, but this is rare. Of the 18 years I lived in Kalamazoo, they visited three times. It’s just easier to connect in Bradford with all the Italian family.
In August 2017 I thought it would be the last time I saw my dad. He was ill with heart failure, his body was retaining fluids, his sugars were all off. Every movement caused him pain, and the smallest walk left him breathless. On that visit we spent time in the emergency room. On that visit my aunt told me we should take him home, to his doctor and I think we all thought it would be the last time he’d be back. Shortly after returning to Idaho he ended up in the hospital for several weeks, and then weeks of rehab, and finally a new pacemaker which seemed to have worked wonders.
I am so glad to have gone on this visit because he was in great shape. Laughing, joking, moving well, and much more fit. The occasion was the reunion of St. Bernard’s private school. My dad and his siblings all went to this Catholic school and were taught by the proverbial strict nuns. The school ran from 1901 to 1961, but the students (or survivors) still meet every year or two, although the number who have passed on is averaging 20 a year at this point.
My sister Cate accompanied my dad on the trip. Vincent and Gali met me in Bradford, and we visited. And visited. That’s all there really is to do there. Once you’ve seen the Zippo Lighter museum/factory, there’s not much else. I hated “visiting” as a child, but of course now I love it. I drink it in each year, because time is growing short. They are all in their mid to late 80s or early 90s. Gali hated the visiting too. He slept a great deal of the time. Although at the very start he and my dad sat and talked for nearly an hour and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before. I confess I am quite jealous that my dad has a relationship with Cate’s daughters, who live with him, that he’ll never have with my boys.
At the reunion dinner Vincent and I were seated at a table for eight, and the couple who joined us outside of my family were delightful. The man was a professional conversationalist. He would turn to his right and ask Vincent and I about traveling, academia, his son was a Doctor and had presented at Prague, etc. Then he would turn to his left and talk to Cate about horses, and farming. The entire dinner passed in conversation. I need to work on this skill.
I flew back on Monday, a little sad. I really had such a good time. But, life goes on, and I still must conquer. I had another interview scheduled for Tuesday morning with a staffing agency, but on the Friday in Bradford I received an invitation for a phone interview for a company I’d applied to in early September. I had to look up my application, and it was one of the odder ones that I’d done. I had been asked to write an essay on something I was intentional about. I had written a short note on my intentional kindness and told the story of the old man on the train.
I also drafted a different sort of cover letter, one that listed my StrengthsQuest attributes. This was a Gallup thing that we were required to do at WMU and my Director frequently revisited for group understanding. My strengths are “Activator” “Context” “Intellection” “Input” and “Responsibility”. On Tuesday I put on an outfit I had been saving; black pleated skirt, nylons, black top and yellow blazer. The staffing agency was the same as all the others, and most likely will lead to nothing, like the others. Then I went to my job in the new office. Before it was down on the Canyon of Heroes, an hour commute. Now it is in Brooklyn, an hour and a half plus commute.
I arrived at the building after following the directions on Google Maps. Do you ever notice how walking to an unknown location feels longer than walking once you know where you are? When I got to the building I thought about food before I entered as I hadn’t eaten that day. I kept walking, looking for some place to buy lunch and bring it back. I almost ended up walking the entire length back to the subway, but finally found a deli. I ordered a breakfast sandwich and a lunch sandwich since I would be at my desk all day. The man who made them seemed to take a shine to me, giving me a little extra smile and nod. So of course, I go back there nearly every day. Still, it’s expensive to buy food, and I resolve to make my meals from now on. Fortunately, I made that sandwich last two days.
In the afternoon I had my phone interview with the consulting company. It was interesting. The awkward part is I needed to find a place to hold the convo. The office I currently work in is in a loft building. The office is a huge room, full of people at desks typing away, or sorting boxes of bankruptcies. To use the restroom, you need to exit the back door, and then you’re in the center hallways of this vast building, with empty lofts, and other offices, and freight elevators. And to come back, you need to press a doorbell to alert someone to let you in. The people sorting paper usually are there, but it’s clearly a nuisance. Every time I pee, I’m disturbing someone to be let back in so I take breaks judiciously.
The halls are mostly empty, but they echo a bit. I ended up sitting on the floor in a corner holding the interview and looking sheepishly at people who passed by. Not ideal. They asked good questions about what I expected, and what I wanted in the job. I then asked them about the position, and next steps. The good thing about the job is, although it starts as an administrative assistant role, it’s expected to grow into a full consultant role. The selected candidate learns the business in the first role, and then grows from there, so perfect for me. The bad news was that in the next steps she explained would come an exercise to complete to show practical knowledge, and then an interview and a personality assessment. She mentioned they were already in the process of interviewing the people who had completed the practical test. How many people are they interviewing? Sheesh! My first reaction when I learn about competition is “I’ll never get it, there’s always someone better.” But, then on Friday I did get the invitation to do the practical test and it seems to indicate the following interview is automatic. So, maybe I’m more fit than I think for this. And, if not, maybe they’ll like me for something else. They’re a growing company, after all. Or, maybe it’s all some sort of swindle. Who knows?
That evening I had to do a skills assessment for the staffing agency I’d met earlier. It had 90 questions and was quite exhaustive. I had also seen a graveyard WP position posted through a staffing agency I’d met with in May, so I wrote my contact there and asked her to submit me. She asked me to send her a bio, and resume, so I had to write that. I was exhausted.
On Wednesday morning on the train the contact asked me if I could come in and meet her colleague who handled the client with the job. I offered late afternoon, and we settled on 4pm. So, here I was leaving work early again.
Here’s my new commute: Leave the apartment building and turn right to walk up 238th, and toward 231st street. It’s about a 10-minute walk. I could walk to 242nd, which might be shorter, but right now I’m telling myself it’s good exercise. Wait anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes for the 1 train. Get off the 1 train at 168th street and ride the elevator UP (sheesh) to the A train platform. Take the A train one stop to 145th and change to the D. Take the D to 36th street in Brooklyn. Once in awhile all the trains are right there when I switch, but more often than not one or more is delayed, making the commute anywhere from 75 minutes to an hour 45 minutes.
I went to the Goodkind agency office at 4pm on Wednesday and met with Laurie. She remembered me, slightly, from before, and was very encouraging about submitting me for this job. I started getting my hopes up that something was going to happen this time. She asked the receptionist to send me a “Power Word” test – for advanced skills, and I went home to take it.
Just before I left the office a thought stopped me, and I turned at the door and returned to the young lady at the desk. “I just wanted to tell you that since I first was here in May I’ve been in and out of several offices, and you are outstanding at your job. I remember you from when I was here before, and you brought me water, and everything. You’re just really good.” She thanked me, said it meant a lot. I don’t’ always have the courage to say the nice things when I think them, but wouldn’t’ it be something if everyone did? I go through so much of life not realizing how appreciated I am, and I think it’s the same for everyone. And, if you can be sincere, then why not?
So, Wednesday night, more test taking. This time, for the first time, I got the results. 88% Power User! So, that’s good, right? The next day I waited until mid-afternoon to write my contact and ask for feedback. Oh. The job is filled. Okay. Maybe I’ll be first in mind for the next one? Please, God, throw me a bone.
Thursday I was a hot mess of snotty cold germs. Running out of pocket Kleenex I told my project manager I needed to go to the store and buy cold medicine. “You know there’s a store downstairs, don’t you?” Um. No. I thought I was in this big isolated warehouse of loft offices. Turns out, when taking the back entrance with the wide halls, there’s another set of elevators that take you down to a mall with a Saks Fifth Ave, a Bed Bath and Beyond, a real World Market, and a discount drug store. Yeah. I bought Puffs, and cold meds, and hand sanitizer. Enough to make it through another day, desperately trying to get my hours up so I’ll make some money. The best part is that when I took the elevator to the ground floor I was greeted with a statue of Captain America “a Brooklyn icon. It looks like it’s from the movie. Another realization, the coffee place welcomes “sunset park” residents. In Chapter 1, my apartment was in Sunset Park, but I would be hard-pressed to recognize myself in this neighborhoos.
Saturday was most welcome for sleep and recovery. I cleaned the apartment, and when I went shopping I found I had no energy. The result of the cold, I think. It was a struggle to get back to the apartment. Today the espresso machine died. Anthony and I have agreed there is a black hole in the apartment where things disappear, or stop working, and this inhabits one of them. Google Target told me I could find a replacement there, so I made the trip, but once there I was disappointed, no espresso makers. Tomorrow I will explore the Bed Bath and Beyond at work again.
In the meantime: I have applied for two training and development jobs, one communication job. I did ask the PM about permanent hires, and there are some, sometimes, but it’s so far away.
Anthony and I just had a discussion about what it takes, and what it is in the job market. I have the virtue of years looking back on the process and I can see some things clearly. The last five years in my job I reached out to the theatre department, hoping for some collaboration, some opportunity for growth to make my job more meaningful. Afterall, my job had originated in that department. Instead they consistently hired their own graduates for things I could have helped them with. Kalamazoo was so inbred, there was no room for me to grow.
New York is ripe for the entry-level college graduate. Every job is an opportunity to grow and be challenged, and even become an entrepreneur in a new field. When you’re older with a resume it seems less so, although that is exactly the spirit I am looking for. I have maturity, growth, skills, so much to offer, why not hire me? One renewed realization from the past two weeks: I’m happy. I’m scared, anxious, etc. But compared to the last few years, I’m happy.
I keep trying to not hope when an opportunity, or even a job application arises, but I find hope is like a lassoed kangaroo. Impossible to keep tied down. It will leap.
More things coming. Please wish me luck.