8/16/2018

Bruce carrying the flag during the Pride Parade

Once again, I am without internet. It’s frustrating because it slows me down on the job hunt. I feel cut off from possibilities. Although I do have my phone, it’s harder to tweak up a resume and letter and send it out.

In the meantime, I have been plugging away at this job. It’s okay, and I’m busy, and at least money is coming in not just out. It is incredibly tedious, though. There are floors of rooms filled with people typing away at these claims. When I started last week the Project Manager said we’d be inputting for a week, but then move on to QA. Great. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it does for others. The room next to ours occasionally breaks into very loud talking that lasts for some time. When this first happened, the guy next to me said “Don’t they have a supervisor?” But as time has passed we realized that the guy with the very loud voice who likes to wax on any subject IS the supervisor. At first my neighbor, Ajann, who sits next to the door, would lean over and push it closed, but I noticed yesterday he was leaving it open when these people started talking. I gave him a quizzical look and he said to me softly, “You ever watch Family Guy?” I immediately got what he meant. Not only does the loudmouth next door sound like that character, he kind of looks like him too. Personally, for me the woman he’s always talking to has a very whiny voice, and she’s the one I don’t like to listen to.

We’re doing bankruptcy claims, and they are in Spanish, so I’m picking up quite a bit. For an hour on Monday we got to switch to another case in the Midwest that led to an interesting moment. As we were inputting Ajann mumbled “I’ve never even heard of this store.” I said, “I have, my cousin works there.” Which led to him asking me where I’m from. I told him, and he says, “Oh, I went to law school at Western Michigan University.” “Kalamazoo?” I asked, “No, Lansing.” Then the guy down the row goes, “I went to law school in Michigan! I’m getting ready for the bar.” My neighbor acknowledged he’d taken it already and was waiting for the results. So, that sort of explains why there’s all these young dapper men in the room doing bankruptcy claims with me.

In the meantime, I’m still searching for jobs. Something odd has been happening. First, I got a lot of emails from people with Indian names and heavy accents asking me if I’d be interested in certain jobs, and they’d found my resume online. For a few I’ve said yes and been submitted (I suppose) but nothing further. This used to happen in Kalamazoo and led to work now and then. Even though I wasn’t the most qualified as a technical writer (a lot of times they want you to have a software or engineering background), they would be desperate enough to let me in. And it paid well. Lately these calls and emails have picked up in urgency. I got one from an American in Texas yesterday, and another from an Indian woman last night at 9pm. I am hoping that the urgency will lead to something. They are contract positions, but they can last up to a year and pay very well.

The man from the social justice documentary film company I met with last week hasn’t sent me anything yet but emailed me on Tuesday asking if I was free to call him on Friday. Okay. I am trying not to let my imagination run rampant with possibilities. (Don’t want the Hanover thing to happen all over again. If you don’t know the Hanover story it’s sort of the whole reason for my break from the past. I had been on the professorial job track for five years and finally got an on campus interview that I thought I really nailed. After waiting the obligatory three weeks to hear back the Chair emailed me to ask for a phone time to talk. EVERY higher ed career site says rejection comes by email and offers come by phone, so I thought it was an offer and Vincent and I celebrated our unhatched chickens that night – congratulating me and telling me how much I deserved this after working so hard and persevering so long. Well, the next morning I answered the phone, pen and notebook in hand to take down the details of the offer, and he just wanted to reject me “in person.” It was devastating. And the last straw. Or one of them. There were also a few last straws my boss threw down, my student colleague telling me how to write, the lay-off of my last friend at work, etc.)

Anyhow. I am curious but trying not to think about it. I am also getting into the rhythm of the work. I had meant to work 10-hour days for the overtime, but honestly, I just can’t. I’ve been averaging eight and a half with an obligatory 30-minute break. By then my eyes are twitching.

I am sitting here once again waiting for Verizon, hoping they come early so I can go to work, and not lose too many hours.

Each time one of the headhunters calls I almost get excited at the possibility of doing something new, but then nothing happens, so I’m trying to find a neutral cruise control place to exist. I also am getting plenty of rejections from things I sort of hoped would work. It’s a funny world. I get discouraged, but it’s not a new feeling, I’ve been through this before each time I’ve been out of work. Vincent keeps encouraging me. It will happen.

In the meantime, I still love New York. My therapist had told me to beware of the moment that happens in Study Abroad where the novelty wears off and things get hard. I think I’m there. Or almost there. I have moments, and now that I’m so busy and not in “vacation” mode, it is harder. But I still enjoy the encounters. I had one in the elevator yesterday, a short chat with a woman about the elevator doors which close viciously, and you can’t stick your hand into to block. She blew me a kiss as she got off. Several people I’ve encountered who looked lost on Rector street I’ve offered to help. Sometimes successfully.

When I first moved in to my new apartment I met a young man named Ismael (I would have spelled that wrong a week ago, but now I’m up on Hispanic name spelling) who took over a deli next door and was trying to make it work. He and his friends and family have lawn chairs set out in front of the store and often he’s sitting with them. Last weekend they were blaring loud music from a huge speaker. On the way home from work on Monday he and a friend were there, and I nodded and said hi and the friend held out his hand and introduced himself as Apache. So now I always say hi to Ismael and Apache. Today I got a flyer with his name on it “Ismael’s Deli” so I support him as much as I can. The rummage sale I spoke of earlier on 145th is replicated on 238th on Saturdays, although not as bit here as there.

There’s a man who runs a food truck next to the subway exit on 238th who I exchange pleasantries with each night. And the man who sells fruit on the overpass. Hola. I think I said this before, but when I first moved to Montreal in 1989 there was a tense political issue known as Meech Lake going on. Although a lot of people in Montreal who identified as English could speak French fluently they resented a new law requiring all commercial signage to be in French so some were refusing to speak it. (There was a lot more to Meech Lake than this, but for the point I’m making….) Back then, Vincent advised me to greet everyone with a “Bonjour” so they knew I wasn’t speaking English only as a political stance, but because I didn’t know French. I’ve also learned over the years that people usually appreciate it when you acknowledge them by trying to address them in their language. So, I’ve been trying to use “Hola, Gracias, Buenas Dias, etc.” as much as I can. I hope they don’t find it condescending.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about in New York is all the diversity work I have been involved with for the past nine years at WMU. One of the statistics I found several years ago was that the United States birth rate ratio between whites and people of color hit parity and past. Which means, there are officially more POC (People of Color) in the US than whites, finally. It’s something like 54:46 percent. But out in most of the country you don’t see that. It’s still very white dominated. Vincent was looking up some demographics while visiting and he found that this ratio is reflected in the population of NYC. Which I was thinking makes a lot of the emphasis we put on teaching diversity unnecessary. What I mean is, I feel like I’m living in the future, where we don’t have to talk about the need to understand diversity all the time because it’s the reality. Whereas back in Michigan it must be explained repeatedly.

So, living in NYC is living in the future. Or, more accurately the present for some but the future for others – so many people need to catch up to it. I take the subway from penultimate stop to penultimate stop to work. I keep looking for jobs. And I am so excited by the people and the history and the presence of all that is NYC. NYC is constantly growing new skin and sloughing off the old, but it leaves remnants. In the office building I work the bathroom stalls still have ashtrays affixed over the toilet paper. I haven’t seen that for years. I love it here. I feel energized, with all the possibilities and I know that something will endure.


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