Last Monday the sky was such a deep blue and the air held such promise, change was imminent. I had a professor who used to say there was a certain day in the Spring when everyone was beautiful. For me, that day is in the Fall. It almost felt certain. Routine has taken place.
I went to work where there has been a Cold War going on. The Cruncher and others in the room are cold, and have several small personal heaters going on. Myself and Sariah are hot and think they are crazy. The heaters are adding to our discomfort. The helpful receptionist/dogsbody of the office at one time appeared with a maintenance man. They pointed and conversed for a bit, and then left. Shortly after I realized there was actual heat coming from the vents above. In September. It was 80 degrees outside. I tried, as nicely as possible, to express my discomfort with this choice. She insisted that all the personal space heaters were a danger, and she was trying to get rid of them. I replied that the heaters were still in service, along with the main vents. Heat and not being able to breathe make me grumpy, but I don’t want to jeopardize my spot, so I tried my best to not complain. Two days later the project managers got involved. Apparently, some of the electricity had gone out for some of the computers, and the blown circuit was attributed to the space heaters, so they had to go. The PMs came to our room and asked how was cold and who was hot and gave us the option to move. Since it was Yom Kippur and Saraih was absent I made clear her argument, which was she couldn’t wear skin baring clothing, and had to have her arms covered for religious reasons, and did not have the option of layering. We could switch seats and I happily exchanged with a young man at the other end of the room directly under the vent. This turned out to be a great improvement for two reasons: 1) it was much colder, I had to stop wearing sandals; and 2) there’s white notice coming from the vent which helps dull out the talking around me. Finally, everything was solved.
Vincent’s birthday, 9/27, was coming up and for the past nine years I had worked the weekend doing Certified Peer Education training. This year I was determined to spend the weekend with him, so had bought an airline ticket and made plans. More unexpectantly, my father was visiting his siblings in Pennsylvania and I have always made it a habit to visit him when he’s on this side of the country. Ergo, for two weeks in a row, I am taking days off. Since I am paid hourly, and on an “as needed” basis, I was a little nervous to let the PMs know, but at last I did. In the meantime, the HR person from the job where I wanted to test again gave me a Wednesday slot. I not only had to ask for Two Mondays and two Fridays off, but came in late on Wednesday as well.
My friend Mary had invited me to a gala for a women’s theatre on Wednesday night, and I was trying to be creative with my wardrobe. An interview in the morning, a gala at night, work in between. I have a dress I bought and haven’t worn that I thought could work – with nylons, but then it rained on Tuesday and promised to do the same on Wednesday. At the last minute I pulled out the pantsuit I’d worn on my first foray in May. I had had it taken in back in May, but it was again too big for me. I had to find an old belt to cinch it up, so the legs hung straight. The entire day was very uncomfortable – in the way of wearing ill-fitting clothes.
My second attempt to test at the law firm. My appointment was at 10:30 and I arrived at 10:15. I went to the security desk with my passport and told him I was to see Richard on the 33rd floor. The security guard handed me back my passport and a printed pass and told me to go to the 26th. Okay. I awkwardly jumped on an elevator and belatedly realized it was one where you choose your floor before you got on. I managed to squeeze out just in time, feeling clumsy. I then found the right elevator and arrived at the 26th floor. So, there I am, outside the elevator bank (i.e., hallway) with the doors on either side of me needing a security card to access. What to do? I pulled out my phone, googled the company, called the main line and asked for the Richard I was supposed to meet. “Hi Richard, I’m here on the 26th floor!” I said. “You’re not supposed to be there – I don’t have access on that floor even! Come to the 33rd!” Okay.
On the 33rd floor I arrived and caught a glimpse of him walking away. Rather than chase after him, I waited, and he returned after a moment. (Last time I arrived, some nice man had let me in and when I approached Richard he’d said, “How did you get in here?” So, there’s that.)
He gave me a couple of sidelong glances, and once settled I asked, “do you remember me?”
“Well, you do look familiar”, he replied.
“I was here a month or so ago and you told me you’d advance me for an interview. I didn’t hear anything and when I saw the job listed again I decided to go with it.”
He seemed to be flustered and muttered that he wished they’d told him I was returning, but I rushed in with “I’ve been studying and I’m eager!”
So, I took the test again.
I was the same test as before, and I started off fine, as before. But when I got to the financial table, which I had been confident on the last time, I started getting adrenaline rushes of anxiety trying to make it perfect. When he came in to check I told him I was having a wee bit of difficulty matching the original in terms of spacing. “Well, there’s a way to do that.” He came over to show me how to Spread Columns Equally – Please. I know that. I had to assure him I’d done that, but I was trying to guesstimate his exact widths [fun fact: guesstimate is in the Word dictionary!]
When he realized what I was asking he brushed it off “if I cared about that I would have given you specific coordinates.” Great.
Now I was into the stuff I didn’t know before – the automatic numbering and the columned Table of Contents. I set everything up using the Styles Heading 1, 2 and 3 – and I’d learned. Everything worked except for the second field code. I was making Style 2 say Section 1.1, etc. Instead of the second digit updating (1.2, 1.3, 1.4, etc.) the first digit was changing (1.2, 2.1, 3.1, etc.) This had not come up in my practice. So, when he checked on me, remembering that he’d told me to ask questions, I told him I was stuck on that. He sat down and started fiddling with it, reaching over for the mouse. Now, I describe this man to my husband as “gruff, but helpful, like my dad”. He sort of sticks his tongue out while he’s working and it’s a little unsettling. He started futzing with the options and became instantly confused by the Styles Pane that appears to the right of the page. I had it set so that all the Styles showed their formatting – this means instead of saying “heading 1” they say Article 1 bold heading 1 – reflecting whatever you’ve done to the style. He starts muttering “well, I don’t know what you’ve done here. It’s all messed up.” I’m getting those adrenaline rushes every minute and can feel the blood rushing to my face.
I kept assuring him that those were the headings, and they were linked, and I had done it properly. “You’ll have to start over. Just finish what you’ve got.” He says, and leaves. I do. Then I save it as a 2nd document and start messing over again. I remove all formatting and start over with the numbering styles. It’s the same. I didn’t do anything wrong. I realize later, after leaving that there is a very simple box to click with the option to show the formatting or not, which, if had not been checked, would have shown him what he wanted to see. He comes back, and I show him what I’ve done. He’s repeats most of what he said before. He then mutters something about another person who he’d given my name to for the next step and he had no responsibility after that and walked me out.
On the way I asked him if this was the same position or a new one. He didn’t really know, but thought someone had just retired, so probably a new one. At the elevator I asked him about his knee, which he’d mentioned had caused him a sick day last time I was there. “Thanks for asking!” So, points? He promised that I would hear something this time. One way or the other. I have not idea what he’s thinking. I sent him a thank you e-mail later (again guessing at his address) telling him about the check box and I am still hoping something comes from that.
Feeling very uncomfortable I went to work and did my batch. At the end of the day I went to Lauren (my PM) and reminded her I’d be out of the office for a bit. She seemed disappointed, and again assured me I was one of the fastest and most accurate. “So, you want me back on Tuesday?” I asked. “Oh yes!” she said. I asked her how long the project might last, and she said next week and maybe the week after. Of course, I’m trying to figure out ways I might get a permanent job out of this as well (albeit higher paying).
That night I went to a gala for Parity Productions with Anthony. It was nice to get out for a bit. Blessedly it was just off the subway, so not hard to find or travel to or from. Anthony and I arrived a good time before my friend Mary. We bought appetizers for dinner, and our two mandatory drinks for entry. It was held at the Gotham comedy club. A nice space on 23rd street. For the gala they performed three excerpts from plays that I think are in their season. This is a very inclusionary theater and the plays were interesting (although at least one of the scenes Anthony and I agreed I could have directed better).
They are accepting new plays, but full-lengths and the only unproduced things I have are one -acts or ten minutes. However, they mentioned they received over 400 submissions, so I am going to volunteer to be a reader – which I have done quite a bit of, and maybe get in that way. Mary and her friend were interesting and there were a few creative discussions with them for the evening. We left before 10:00 and made our way home, both of us having to get up very early in the morning.
I arrived in Kalamazoo on Thursday, and did a quick round of dentist appointment, meeting friends, getting a blessed massage (which is a twofer, catching up with friend at same time). Vincent and I went out to dinner for his birthday without me being totally exhausted for the first time in nine years.
One useful bit of news I got was that my former office now reports directly to the VP of Student Affairs which is something my boss had wanted for as long as I was there. She kept saying she was being “strategic” about trying to make it happen. But my former boss, as far as I’m concerned, was hopelessly indirect – to the point that it was hard to figure out what she wanted most of the time. I was the direct one that would say. “Wait. Do you want us to do this? Or that?” In my exit interviews I spoke with the VP of Student Affairs and laid it all out. When I asked her about the reorganization, she told me she didn’t think my boss wanted that because she hadn’t supported it. I told her to ask for a meeting with my boss alone, without her supervisor, for clear communication. I guess it happened. Hmm. Funny.
When I flew out on Thursday my boarding pass said, “seat assigned at gate”. This was confusing. When I arrived at the gate I asked the man behind the counter when I would get my seat assignment and, frankly, his Queens accent was so thick I was not sure what he said. So, I waited. There were screens available that had some information about seating, but I was still confused. As I waited an older woman approached me and asked what zones had been called. I told her I was waiting, and most of them had been called. I then approached – with trepidations – and he nodded and gave me my seat. Fine.
Later in the flight, the same older lade joined the queue for the bathroom. She told me I was in her seat and they’d suddenly changed when she had scanned her boarding pass. She mentioned Prague. “I love Prague” I told her. Then Budapest, and other countries she’d visited.
When I left Kalamazoo on Monday and took my window (preferred) seat the woman was seated next to me asked me if I’d enjoyed ArtPrize. (Sorry to say, I’ve missed every one.) Then told me she was glad to get an aisle seat. She looked so familiar, so I asked her if she’d flown out Thursday. It was the same woman! I felt that this was fate in some way, so I tried to make conversation with her as much as I could. She told me she’d found a job after six months on the market at the age of 62 (she was now 72) so it can be done. I spent the flight alternately reading and talking to her, mostly about our mutual dislike of Trump.
When we disembarked, I went for the restroom and lost track of her. I would have probably met her at baggage, but I stopped and did the whole TSA precheck thing. I had thought I’d have to go to an obscure office for that, but it was right there. Then the baggage carousel was quite far away, and by the time I found it, everyone was gone. Fortunately, it only took me two hours to get home.
Today there were not many jobs to apply for. They are recycling, and I’ve already applied for many. I called my landlords office because I got charged a late fee for paying rent (I’d sent it through my bank and the receipt of the bank, and the deposit of the check bridged the deadline). I didn’t really mean to argue or anything, just said I wanted to check it. The guy kept telling me to wait because his computer system was slow and then he’d sort of sing “doo, de doo,” into the phone while we waited. Once he’d waived the late fee for me, I told him about a suspicious call one of my references had received. I had tried to call back the number and the gotten a message “this number is being investigated for fraudulent activity.” I thought he should know.
He thanked me and asked me where I was from. I said Michigan. And he then told me I was charming. Huh? Well, maybe I can be.
Next week I go to Bradford, PA, to visit my dad and relatives.
Connecting moments on the train:
On the way to LGA a man got on who was rapping with whatever was in his ears, loudly. A bit later the automated announcement said, “no spitting, no whatever, no radio playing” and I made eye contact with the teenager standing near me and said “no rapping”. He smiled, but then I realized he was deaf and was having a conversation with his friend. At one point they announced the police were boarding to check passes (this happened to us in Lyon, they board to make sure you’ve paid and there is a hefty fine if you haven’t $75 in Lyon) so I took out my ticket and showed them, assuming they would not hear the message.
On Sunday night I got a notice from work that we are on “pause”. So, I am not currently working. Again. I am trying not to panic. I have savings for one more month, but I would really like a job to happen.
Finally, it is time to let the cat(s) out of the bag. At first, I thought one way to have a place of my own without loneliness would be to adopt a bonded pair of cats. Vincent objected strenuously. With good reason.
Background: back in 2003 I worked as a technical writer in Bradley IL. I would drive down on Monday early am (like 3am) and work Monday through Thursday, staying in the local Fairfield Inn, or whatever Priceline got me. After awhile I got them to hire me Monday through Wednesday at 12 hours a day, so I could be home. I thought, at the time, that I would love being on my own part of the week – but in fact missed the boys, missed Vincent and hated the dinginess of the hotel. Plus, they didn’t really have work for me, I was “on hold” and not doing much. Back then I read David Copperfield and Vanity Fair on the computer to look busy.
I partially equivocated this move with that and rationalized that cats would make a difference. Vincent wisely vetoed the adoption of two new cats and offered to bring me Jasper. My Maine Coon from Kalamazoo. Jasper is a spirited and funny cat, with lots of personality. In the meantime, at a very nearby pet store I had found a cat who used to have a Maine Coon as a bonded buddy, and was languishing in this little 2’x2’ box for two months. I confessed to Vincent that although I agreed with everything he had against getting another cat (and he’s right!) I just literally could not stop myself and I have adopted J.J.
I looked him up, he’s a British Shorthair. The description fits him to a T! He has a course short coat. He is completely, uniformly one-color grey – nose, lips, everything. He is the same size as Jasper and I took him in and they love each other. They wrestle and run after one another at all hours (including 3am more often than not). Slowly J.J. (Jeremiah Jeeves) is letting me pet him and making inroads into my space. The people from the rescue assured me he was worth it but had been locked up for so long that he would take time to come out of his shell. I have had him a month, and today he jumped on my desk, let me pet him while he was sleeping and used the cat tree. Great Progress. I cannot tell you how beautiful he is, but that’s my pic for this blog so you can see.
Today, unemployed, and with Anthony gone at his new job, I spent the day just being in my apartment and watching the cats. It was amazing.