Gali and the Whale

OMG, so much has happened. And nothing has happened. I am still working the tedious bankruptcy claim job, possibly for another week. I still haven’t received my check from the EA job I had for a week that is supposed to pay my September rent. For all their talk about efficiency, their payroll guy is anything but. I sent him an email with my latest address, asking if that’s where it was sent after it went missing for a week. He responded the whole batch from the bank had gone missing. Okay, so I waited, politely, for a few days and sent another request, and he responded he’d reissued the check to the old address – even though we had a chain email with my new address, and the payroll HR person had my new address, and it was right there – in the email. Jesus God. But hey. He has a penis, so I’m sure he’s fine jobwise.

Anywhoo. In the last two weeks I had the family to visit, both my boys and the husby for a short time. I tried to entertain them, but the boys insist on being kept separate. On Sunday I meant to take the youngest to SpongeBob and the oldest to a tour of Times Square. The youngest freaked out about the 40 minute subway ride (yes, I mean “freaked out” literally), when we arrived he was upset, wanted to go home. So, I put him on the train to home, but he couldn’t remember where to get off and freaked and exited the turnstile ($2.75 lost). I had to go the bathroom in the worst way in Times Square, so I had no patience. Bathroom hunting in NYC is a treasured pastime. In the old days Barnes and Nobles were good options. Now, usually Starbucks are a sure bet, but not in the heavily touristy areas.

We resurfaced and were immediately accosted by a guy from the Greyline bus tours. I brushed him off, but then thought “who else would know where a bathroom is in NYC?” So, I tapped him and, sure enough, the Olive Garden, third floor, no questions asked. Thank. God. Once that was taken care of I re-approached the boys with ideas. I wanted to thank the Greyline guys, so I bought a ticket for Gali and I to do the “downtown tour”. Pax, I left to explore Times Square on his own. He likes being independent and all.

The tour was fun. We were on the top of the double-decker bus and our guide, Patience, was quite entertaining. We did the whole loop through Tribeca, Wall Street, South Port and back up to Time Square. I was able to point out go Gali where I currently worked, and where I’d worked in the past. All in all, worth it. Pax meantime ran into the rap CD scammers. Apparently, they hand you a CD, sign it, and then demand you hand over $20. Pax had Canadian $20 and they took it, and then he was mad. I ended up paying him $20 as a bribe to get him to stay another day with Vincent. I know, he’s spoiled.

On Monday Gali and I went to the Museum of Natural History. This was my first job in NYC in 1988. I worked in mammalogy, which is like being backstage in a gigantic theatre of memories. Where I worked, the halls were full of rat skeletons and one of my jobs was to write the catalog number on each tiny skull. I had a colleague there who claimed to be having an affair with the director and according to her they frequently copulated in the “elephant room”. A dusty attic space with the bones of “Jumbo” PT Barnum’s elephant. The room was full of old LIFE magazines, several of which I took when I left.

I also had the pleasure of seeing the bones of the Great Blue Whale whose silicone body hangs in the Ocean Life exhibit that I took Gali to. He was amazing. He could spot each animal, name what it ate and how it bred, and when I could decipher the writing on the placards he was right! It was so dark, and the font and ink choices could use severe updating, but overall, we had a great time. Gali’s face lights up around science. He is so intrigued, and he knows so much. It is so tragic that the school system can’t meet him where he’s at.

Vincent and Pax left on Tuesday morning. On Monday night I kept offering food, and Pax kept insisting he’d go out on his own to get pizza. Pizza is just next door. I want him to be independent. We have encouraged him to find his own way in Chicago, Montreal, Lyon, and now New York because it’s something he’s expressed a desire in. So, he went off to order pizza. Five minutes later he’s texting me “Fuck, Fuck!” What? I went out to the street to find him. He’d gone to the pizza place next door which typically sells pies and slices and asked for “meat lovers” (that’s Pizza Hut code). They had obligingly built two meat pizzas and put them in the over and charged him $20 a pie. He paid. And then realized what they were doing (two pies, instead of slices), and objected, but by then it was too late. So, he was throwing a fit when I found him. Stomping feet. Loud swearing. We got the pies and brought them home, and I told him he’d have them to eat in the car the next day – but he wanted his $40 bucks back. Just like he got his $20 CND back from me earlier. I refused. It turns out he thought when they charged him $40 bucks he though “NYC prices were high, and he was buying two slices!”. Yeah. He tried to connive $40 bucks from me, but I told him he had $40 worth of pizza.

What can I say? Boy has no sense of the value of a dollar.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I worked and Gali stayed home. He’s comfortable doing that. On Thursday we went to LaGuardia for our flight, leaving very early in the morning. When we got there the line for security was absurdly long and I was frustrated. We weren’t late by any means (my father instilled in me the habit of getting to the airport extra early), but I still was drawn to a new enterprise called “Clear” in which you register your biometrics and pay money to jump the line. Not happily, though. Once I’d gone through all of it we jumped a very irate line of people, and no wonder, they kept getting bumped by those of us who’d paid $80 to jump in front of them at security. Capitalism at its finest. Don’t worry, I plan to cancel ASAP. Well, maybe after my next trip.

Once inside I was hungry and wanted an Egg McMuffin. I could smell it, but only local vendors were in sight. I went to the nearest and bought Gali earbuds (he had forgotten his phone in my apartment, which was a potential catastrophe, but I had figured out a fix), and a sandwich. I offered the cashier my bank card and he asked if I had cash. The tab was $40+. I didn’t have that much cash, so I offered again. He asked how much I did have. Well, $34.00 and change. He admitted that the earbuds were overpriced and offered to take the cash. I offered to go to the very nearby ATM and get cash, but no, he wanted what I had. I think he was planning on leaving work that day and not coming back.

We flew into Grand Rapids, direct flight. The best. So much quicker and so much less transition. My first time back to the area in three months. It was weird. All the time I’ve been in NYC I’ve had the feeling that the past 18 years in the Midwest is a dream. But once ensconced in Kalamazoo it felt like the whole NYC thing was a dream. Parallel universes.

As soon as I arrived in Kalamazoo I got my hair cut. (I intended to get the cut I’d gotten at NYC Great Clips, but, you know – anyway it’s super short but it’ll grow.) Got a massage with the beautiful and sensitive Julia, met with the wonderful Jenna and my first night was done. After that the routines of my house settled, and I honestly felt like I’d never left. So. Weird.

Vincent and I hung out, saw a movie (BlackKKLansman – very good- had to immediately read the book after.) But it was so routine. Boring. Couldn’t wait to get back and actional. Still worried about the job.

So, now it’s September 1st. I love being back in the city and my apartment. Although the job is boring, – I had allergies on Tuesday and took Benadryl, and was pounding nails the whole afternoon – at least I am busy. At my old job I had NOTHING to do outside of rehearsal for the past two years. (My director retaliated against me for a big HR thing that happened and gave me no new committees or assignments for two years. At the same time, the place was so fussy about being at your desk on time at 8am, and not being flexible. I became very frustrated over the past few years as every moment had to be accounted for and reported, but I essentially had little to do when students weren’t there. So fussy.)

I would sit at my desk and dream of being busy. Occupying myself with the job hunt. Now, I have to do the job hunt when I get home, and I feel like there’s not enough hours in the day. It is an improvement.

The job hunt update. A few weeks ago, I applied for a mysterious job listed on Craigslist, asking for creative types – writers, etc. for a company called Citizen. I googled them, and the only thing I could find was a newspaper article comparing them to The Circle (a book and movie in which apps become ways of watching everyone and controlling lives). Their original name had been “Vigilante”, so you get the idea. The creator was trying to capitalize on the way people use their phones to record crimes and witness events. For the application I wrote a thoughtful piece on bystander intervention – stressing I could get behind the app if it was not used with bias. I got an invitation for a phone interview.

Phone interviews are difficult in the office as every spare bit of space is crowded with workers. I have been resorting to going to the lobby, but it can be very noisy there. For this one I stood in the foyer next to the revolving doors. The guy called me, asked me why I wanted to work for Citizen and I was bullshitting away, then he asked if I’d downloaded the app. I kicked myself for being twelve kinds of stupid. You apply to an app company, you download the app before the interview. Duh. But just then he had to take a call and hung up on me. I immediately downloaded the app, so when he called back (apparently his office had been broken into – ironic), I was thus able to answer truthfully that I had.

I also asked about paid training, etc. And I must admit, something about him put me off so I wasn’t upset when I didn’t make the cut. Good thing, too. This app is disgusting. All the things I have been glowing about NYC – trusting people, believing in the basic good – this app will destroy it. They monitor police reports and the job was to write them up quickly in real time, encouraging people to film, and upload to their site. For the week I kept the app on my phone it constantly alerted me to any form of crime in my neighborhood without much detail or context. This thing could make you paranoid crazy. It reminded me of life in Chicago in the early 90s when I still watched local news. I realized I was developing a real bias because every single news story began with black on black crime. It was so pervasive I could feel it affecting the way I thought, so I stopped.

Another job this week. On Tuesday night I spent the evening, as usual, applying for jobs. One was for an English Instructor at a small Chinese-American college in NY stage. I looked it up on the map and it seemed only an hour away, so I sent in my application. Two hours later I got an invitation for a phone interview. The next day I found a quiet corner and there I was, interviewing. I didn’t think I did that well, and I hadn’t had time to prepare much, but school starts in a week! They needed someone to teach MWF, two classes. When asked if I’d be interested in teaching an ESL class I jumped on it. One of my retirement dreams is to teach ESL in foreign countries, but it can be hard to break into. A large part of the interview was about the commute as well. I assured them I could figure it out. An hour later, I got the job!

A quick perusal of the website stressed Chinese spiritual basics like truthfulness, etc. Okay, not bad. I sent it all off to Vincent and tried to figure out how I could make the commute.  Since I was at work and couldn’t spend any time doing my own research Vincent did it for me. You know you’re in trouble when Google Maps basically tells you “you can’t get there from here”, offering no alternatives no matter how long. Vincent found a bus that would have been a 1.5 to 2 hour commute both ways. I was still thinking it could be worth it because I’d have time off to write and pickup money on days I didn’t work. But their first offer was $40,000 no benefits. I countered with $60,000 (I have a PhD after all). She countered with $50,000 with a promise of more when the college got up and running better in a year. By then, even though I would have if I could have, I’d decided to turn it down. On top of all that, Vincent did more research and found out that the college was part of an anti-communist China sect. He claimed that China imprisons members of this sect and keeps them alive for organ donation. He assured me a job there would have made me persona non grata in China, should I ever get to go there. My own thought was that the only academic job I could get was in a place of desperation. It is better for me to pursue the NYC corporate strategy I set out with.

On Thursday I was once again wearing a suit and nylons for an interview at a staffing agency. I felt good about it, but we’ll see. The young woman I met with complimented me on my amber ring. I told her it was from Prague, and she exclaimed that she too had bought an amber ring Prague. So, we had connections.

That check I mentioned up top? The guy finally emailed me on Thursday and apologized for all the hassle. He told me he’d overnighted the check Fedex and it would arrive Friday by 10am with the tracking number. At first, I was appeased, but Friday morning I entered the tracking number to see if it had been delivered and was informed by FedEx that it would be arriving Tuesday by 10am. I wrote to the guy and told him I hoped he hadn’t paid overnight shipping costs as that’s not what he got. Like I said, penis possession overcomes incompetence.

I have just enough saved to cover September rent and when the check finally does come that should get me going. The job has been promised to go on for one more week at least. I’m steadily applying and really hoping something comes up after the Labor Day weekend. Things. Have. Got. To. Move. Besides, I’m told Mars is out of retrograde, so things should move forward from now on, right?

I get excited about some of the jobs I apply for. Mostly in communications, writing advanced or technical things out for laypeople. Or maybe training. Some I think I am perfect for. Some maybe just wishful thinking. The agency on Thursday asked me for a full chronological resume. I told her that all other agencies wanted me to do a skills-based resume because of ageism, etc. I worked on it Thursday night and managed to keep it to two pages. As an experiment I have been applying with this resume one to see if it makes any difference.

Today I managed to do three loads of laundry! Go shopping, clean a bit and catch up on this blog. This long weekend is finally appreciated, instead of seen as a waste of time. Labor Day always marks the beginning, for me, as I have been living the academic life for so long. Here’s to hoping it will mark a new beginning, with lots more job offers.

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