Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's the calm before the storm, and I'm enjoying it wholeheartedly.

This weekend it's my step dad's milestone birthday. I'm not saying which one, as he might not want it broadcast. Not that he cares, but it's just not my choice to make. He doesn't like fusses made over him, so we're not allowed to refer to it as his birthday party, and have been instructed to bring no gifts. We'll see how many people stick to that one. Anyway, my sister and her fiance Dale are coming, as is my nephew Alec. It will be my first time meeting Dale and watching the family dynamic. It's always been just Joan and Alec, now it's Joan, Dale and Alec. From what I've heard about him and from talking to him on the phone, he seems like a really solid guy. Something both my sister and Alec need in their lives. I look forward to getting to know him.

My stepsister and stepbrother are coming, with their respective significant others. I've met Jen, who is great. But not Chase's beau. Luckily, we all get along and I'm sure many laughs are to be had.

There's been more mojo percolating in the job search. I got a call from the temp agency to work, but haven't heard back from them on my return call. My contact in LA has already put me in touch with one of her industry contacts. And, I'm starting to get emails from the creative temp agencies I'm registered with about other ones. I politely declined the interview for the software company, something which Felix chastised me about. He's a big computer guru and didn't see why I'd turn down the interview. Well, one because I'd have to fly across the country for it, and second because it was solely focusing on a hard drive product that I'm sure is exciting to someone like Felix, but just didn't have the things I require for a career and cross the country move.

They've been filming another movie in my neighborhood. This one is called Boy of Pigs, and I have a picture of it in my Flickr. Not much to see, just typical production. They've been at it again this week and I drove by tonight on my way to Starbucks and saw one of my Wire coworkers. Rolled down the window, said hello. Last night they were doing exterior shots and had the old cars lining the streets again since it's set in the 60's. And yes, that's Boy of Pigs, not Bay of Pigs.

It's been unseasonably warm here, and that's made the fact that it's practically dark at 4:45 PM easier to take. Just barely. I hate the lack of light in the winter. Makes me tired, uninspired and a little lazy. Oh, and I did take that nap that I mentioned on my last post. Crashed on my couch, then woke up and didn't know if it was today or the next day. Luckily, it was just a couple hours later. I got a late start today and it's so irritating.

Being restless last night, I went to Rite Aid with just my wallet in my pocket. I looked like hell, but decided to go with it and do a little psychological experiment. Hair a mess, no make-up, just lovely. My dress wasn't bad, but it consisted of a red overcoat, jeans with tears on the bottom and a very hip top that was covered. Now, to those in the know I'd look like any woman dressing down. To Baltimorons, I was possibly a shoplifter, heroin addict, and not respectable. Why, because there are so many people in Baltimore who fit into that category. There are two Rite Aid stores located near my apartment. I went to the one that is near the light rail station and gets lots of transient traffic. As I walked around, disheveled and to myself, I noticed that people kept their distance. I was playing an inside joke on the patrons and workers, and was enjoying my acceptance into the transient category. Trust me, I can look like shit with the best of them, especially when my hair is in dire need of a conditioning treatment.

Sure enough, when I got to the checkout, I wasn't greeted. Now, I've frequented this Rite Aid a lot, but no one ever recognizes me. I am always however, greeted. As I approached the counter with my basket of goodies, I was given a disapproving look by a tall man who was in his sixties. I said hello, and my salutations weren't returned. He scanned my groceries, if you want to call them that, as it was mostly junk food, in his eyes junkie food. He kept a surly look on his face and told me my total. I pulled my wallet out of my pocket, opened it and as if on cue, change fell out and clinked across the floor. Beautiful. I'd forgotten to zip the change purse. I scanned my credit card, then picked up my change from the floor. He asked for my identification, and I pulled it out and gave it to him to compare. Ever since Rite Aid implemented asking for ID, I've never, ever been asked. He held up my credit card, which had my picture on it and compared it to my California driver's license, the state license of choice for scammers. He scrutinized them, as my debit card had a picture of me with short dark hair, and my California license was glamorous with long hair. In front of him stood a lighter haired disheveled mess buying a bunch of junk food and a pack of toilet paper at almost eleven at night. And, I wasn't carrying a purse. Just a wallet I could have just lifted and bee lined to Rite Aid before the real owner knew it was missing.

And that's when I threw him for a loop.

As he was trying to be intimidating and disapproving, I said, "Thank you for checking."

It was the first time he made eye contact with me, and I met his eyes with the confidence of one who has been educated, worked professionally and lived a life far from the streets. Someone who could stand toe to toe with the likes of him. As he tried to put the pieces together, I said, "No one ever asks."

He stumbled over his words, "You're welcome." He gave me back both of my cards and I put them into my wallet. Not willing to give up the ghost, he kept up his demeanor, though at a lesser degree, so it wouldn't be obvious. I smiled as he looked at me again, signed my receipt and left.

Social experiment aside, I was glad that he asked. It's nice to know someone is out there protecting me. Even if it's from myself.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finally, some energy to write. Sorry for the lapse, but I've been wholly uninspired. I've also been working on some personal writing stuff and immersed in job searching.

Well, a little energy. As the day has been overcast but warm, the sun is starting to sink and the light has taken on a blue hue. I know I'm going to have to resist the urge to sleep when I get home.

I spent Thanksgiving with my mom's friends in Prince Frederick, MD. This is the same house that has the car graveyard in the woods. As usual, the drive was pretty and relaxing. Sometimes we'd pass a tree and there would be fifteen turkey vultures sitting in it looking ominous. If there ever was a foreboding sight, a bunch of turkey vultures in a leafless tree, silhouetted against an overcast sky sure ranks up there. In colder weather, turkey vultures tighten the muscles in their neck and draw their feathers up around their head, giving them a hunchback appearance. Dinner was delicious, company good and only one argument occurred. That was over politics between two of the men, later into the night after much alcohol and food. However, it was discomforting and I left the room before it escalated.

Right after dinner, the son (M)'s friend came over with his girlfriend, and the four of us went across the street to his house. M lives across the street from his parents on the property that is owned by the family. Their family has been in the area since the 1700's. The friend was part Indian, so his family has been in the area much longer than that. The history of the people on the east coast whose families have remained here never ceases to amaze me. I know many of you Brits who read my blog don't see that as such a big deal, but for us Yankees that's a long time.

When we got to the house, the girlfriend and I were treated to an acoustic concert given by the two boys. It was intimate, candlelit and very nice in the rustic setting of M's house. Joseph, the friend sang and played guitar, and M accompanied on guitar. What a treat! Both were very talented.

I finally got a call from a job in Los Angeles from a woman who saw my resume on Careerbuilder. Imagine that. However, I don't think it's the kind of job I'd move across the country for, copywriting for a technical company. That is, unless the pay is incredible. It was nice to know there are living, breathing people looking at resumes on the job sites. I also got in contact with a friend of mine who was a successful HR person in LA, now she is a successful HR person in Atlanta. She says she still has loads of contacts there and I've sent her my resume.

I know it will come down to the wire, no pun intended. I just know that. I'll have little time to prepare when the wheels start moving and I know I'll end up having to throw my luggage on the train and jump on. I'll be honest, that when this opportunity came up the thought of uprooting and moving again was daunting. I imagined packing my apartment, having to find a place to live, unpacking, and the bullshit that comes with moving. Then of course, being away from family. That's going to be the hardest when the time comes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sorry, I've found myself at a loss for words. No reason, it just happens sometimes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yesterday I was lying in bed and heard someone scream. I couldn't tell if it was a woman or a child, but I was half awake so I just lay there, staring at my ceiling. Having yelled in my sleep before, I thought nothing of it. About five minutes later, there was another scream, just like it. However, this one sounded like it came from a different place. Another five minutes, and another scream. This one sounded muffled. It wasn't someone playing, but it wasn't someone being attacked either. It was a clean, shrill scream, not one of struggle or full blown awake terror. At that time, I made up my mind that it was someone who was dreaming. On the third scream, I heard footsteps running to the person's aid. That, or it was the screamer running in her sleep, certain to soon collide into a wall. After that, it stopped. I never found out who was screaming or why. Or, where it was coming from.

The day before I'd been to a temp agency which does strictly office work, to register and take tests to prove I was viable. I've been so bored lately, but more important am in the firm belief that job karma is more likely to happen when one is working. The holiday doldrums are here, so hiring will be slow. In the meantime, temping may pick up. I've also re-established contact with a company that does content work. After I took the MS Office, math and spelling tests (which I aced, thank you), I realized I'd not brought my paperwork. It's been a long time since I've registered at a temp agency and therefore forgot that you bring your passport or social security card when you register, just like it's your first day of work at a new job.

No big deal. The next day, I brought it in and filled out the paperwork. While I was there, a man had just finished his tests and was told that he'd scored low on spelling and grammar, as well as the computer tests. He was in his late fifties, and I cringed while hearing it. The office there is open and therefore there isn't much privacy. The woman wasn't being critical, just matter of fact. The man was surprised, saying he'd always considered himself a good speller. Having just taken the test, I knew it didn't consist of what the kids are made to spell during the national spelling bee.

It was sad. I'm sure the man could do a good day's work. And, they offer training and tutorials so a person can improve their scores. However, I could see the defeat and embarrassment on his face, being told by someone thirty years younger than he was that he'd failed the tests. I don't know his circumstances that brought him to this agency. I can't imagine what that must have felt like at his age. I thought of my dad, who was able to very comfortably retire at about his age, and would never have to walk into a temp agency like that. I wondered what this man would be thinking about on his way home, if he would catch his reflection in a window and see himself as less than when he walked in. Would he pass affluent looking men dressed in suits and ponder his life? Would he feel that his entire worth of living for sixty years had just been summed up by a math, computer, and spelling test? I hope not. Sure, in the context of a temp agency who looks for certain skills, but not his worth as a human being or even as someone in the job market. The question is, will he know the difference when the mean voices set in?

For every sullen kid thinks education isn't important or parents who think their kids' education isn't something to fight for, I wish they could have seen this man in his bleak moment. But, no one ever thinks that will be them.

And speaking of job karma, sure enough, I received a check in the mail today for a freelance job I did ages ago. What a great surprise that was. Thanks, Ron. That's what I mean about the job karma. I've been putting the mojo out there all week, actually getting my ass into professional clothing and to a temp agency for work that I'm way over qualified to do, but I didn't care. I had to shake up some mojo, and boom, check in the mail that I didn't even know was coming. It was a nice ego booster, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm officially suffering from some type of repetitive motion syndrome. It started in my left shoulder and has increased in pain that has spread to my left forearm and bicep. The bicep and forearm aren't constant, but are a pulsing burning pain. The shoulder pain, however, is. It's gotten so bad that I can't lift things a certain way with my left arm without feeling pain.

I know what I've been doing wrong. One, spending too much time at the computer. Mostly during my late night wake-a-thons waiting for the sleep fairies to visit. But, I'm also looking for a job, and well, that takes being on the computer. Oh boy, does it. I've noticed when I sit at my desk that I lean on my left arm. If I'm not at my desk and working on my laptop, I tense my left shoulder. I've tried to stop doing that, but it's so automatic sometimes I don't notice I've been doing it. I know that I need physical therapy but can't afford it right now. And, with no job, that equals no insurance.

Either way, when I'm in pain it works on my psyche. It's been mentally getting me down and I've had to resort to talking to myself to keep spirits up. "Okay, let's get this finished," "Okay, time to join the living." That sort of thing, not full blown conversations.

Yet.

I'm on the laptop typing this at Starbucks and even with paying attention, twice I've had to untense my left shoulder. I'm a loss of how to stop doing that, short of tying my arm behind my back.

I've been having to be semi-rude to a man that keeps talking to me. Today was especially the wrong time to approach me because I'm close to the old monthly visitor. And, he did it from over my shoulder. I hate it when people sneak up on me in public places like that. If I know you, it's annoying enough. If you are just an acquaintance, it makes my blood boil. Once again, I was working, and clearly so. Internet up, applying for jobs. This person is an older man who is a bit overbearing. No, not a bit overbearing, very overbearing, a constant flirt who wants to monopolize my attention. Not only that, he announces to strangers that we're getting married. One or two times with the same jokes was entertaining, thirty times later it's not funny and just disruptive. Once, he asked me if I was working. I said yes, and he pulled up a chair and sat down. He was the customer I spoke of that took twenty minutes of my time and three hours worth of my energy. I feel bad for being short with him, but unfortunately it's come to that.

There will be a time in my life when no one approaches me. I do know that. I see women who are ignored all the time and wonder how that must feel, to be past their expiration date in the eyes of a youth obsessed society. I don't fault men for their need to connect with a female human being. However, one should understand and respect boundaries unless they've been invited past them.

Tonight, around 11:30pm I was in the shower and heard a knock at my door. Conditioner still in hair, I turned off the stream and asked who it was. My neighbor who lives below me answered, saying she had locked herself out of her apartment. I dried off, got dressed and invited her in. She was so embarrassed and sweet about it, but not as much as I was because my apartment was getting that clutter look. I apologized for it, then called the landlord who lives a few blocks away. Conditioner still in hair, I drove her there to get a spare key. The landlord was waiting for us, and walked to the car in his shirt and jammie pants. I told him he looked adorable in them. She kept thanking me, but I was happy to be able to help someone. When I got home, I jumped back in the shower and rinsed out my hair. It needed the extra conditioning anyway.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It seemed innocent enough, last night at around three in the morning to take two Tylenol PM to get rid of the non-sleepies. After, I turned on my space heater to read a little. My latest infatuation are Tony Hillerman novels, one, because one of my fiction stories takes place in Navajo Indian Territory, and two because he's a fine story teller.

Eventually, because I remembered to give into the sleeping pills, which usually have no effect on me, I fell asleep. And woke up at three fifteen in the afternoon.

Doh. Fuck.

I couldn't believe what time it was. I'd had an intense dream about September 11th. I dreamed I was inside this strange woman's apartment in Queens, but didn't know how I got there. It was in a high-rise and looked out to a view of Manhattan. For some reason, I knew it was her retirement apartment, the one that she'd saved up to buy, and thought how depressing that was, as it was small, had two views into the sides of other buildings, but did have a fabulous view of Manhattan.

To my horror, the woman came home while I was still there. She saw me, I pretended I was maintenance, and walked out the door. Some dealings with a parking garage later, and I was being driven from Queens and noticed the skyline. The Twin Towers were there. I remarked on this to my non-descript token dream companion and we realized that we'd traveled back in time. I told him we had to get to New York and warn the people what was going to happen.

Once there, I was met with some insolent security guards who looked at me like I was a nut, then said I was interrupting their tabletop football game. You know, that game you played in class when the teacher wasn't looking. The one with a triangle shaped ball made out of folded paper while someone makes a goal post out of their thumbs and index fingers. You try to get the ball through the goal posts by flicking it, usually ending up smacking the other person in the face. Never understood the allure of that one.

Anyway, I grabbed that paper triangle football and told him that I knew he thought I was a nut, but to just remember to get people out of the building when it happens. The absurdity of what I was saying, that commercial jets were going to hit the buildings and cause them to fall down, read on their faces. I told them that I didn't care what they thought, just remember to get everyone out as fast as you can.

In the dream, I knew I couldn't stop it from happening, but maybe lessen the loss of life. We told others, who also thought we were crazy. I said, just remember the 11th, like the two towers look like from far away, a big eleven. Remember that day, and remember this crazy lady telling you that everyone has to get out, not stay inside. The rest of it was spent telling anyone we could, mostly getting blown off but rattling the nerves of others.

I woke, unsure of where I was and wanting to go back to sleep so that I could warn more people. Instead, I looked at the clock. And that's where I realized I'd slept well into the afternoon, aided by sleeping pills and a sense of purpose. Tonight, or shall I say this morning, it's back to melatonin.

I did manage to kick in gear pretty fast. I went to the other Starbucks and had a nice discussion with a well to do African American family. The daughter was visiting home from college at Columbia University, and mom and dad were with her. They were stopping in for coffee before going out to dinner. Extremely nice family, and the discussion started over the daughter's purse, which I liked a lot. From there, the conversation was as natural as if we were old friends sitting around a coffee table. Me and the dad in arm chairs, and mom and the daughter on a nice leather couch. Amazing the souls you come in contact with. I think of all the people I've had conversations with at coffee shops, it's heartwarming. That is, unless you're a creepy person. Someone sent me this great cartoon today based on my last posts. So true. To the person that sent it, if you want credit for it, email me and I'll link ya. I know some of you like your privacy.

I got a bite on my resume on Friday. We'll see where that takes me. And, I did finish that cover letter after having the nice chat with the family tonight. They had good energy and apparently it rubbed off on me. I sent cover letter and redone resume to the intended target when I got home tonight. Then I made chocolate chip cookies and ate about ten of them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My nerves are a little raw today. I blame it on Halloween candy, given to me by neighbors who were passing out the goods to the kids. I sat with them a bit and it was fun to see all the kids.

I'm at Starbucks, my usual one. I was writing a good cover letter when I was interrupted and now I just can't get back to it. It was a customer that interrupted me, therefore interrupting my mojo. For this particular letter I need mojo. I tried to continue where I'd left off, but it was futile.

I guess I should be grateful that I'm a person that people are drawn to, but sometimes it can get very annoying. I chose to come to my regular place today hoping it was early enough to avoid the usual people, but no. This particular person takes way too much energy and didn't fail today in doing that. When he asked me if he was interrupting, I told him I was in the middle of a cover letter that I wanted to finish, and he just sat there and continued to talk. I gave several indications that I wanted to get back to work, but he stayed for twenty minutes.

He asked me if I was going to be here tomorrow and I said no. I like this place but it's become a hard place to concentrate.

I've been mixing it up because last week, it was rapid fire interruption. Last week, after exchanging small talk with a man with whom I'd done so in the past, he left the store only to immediately return, drag a chair to my table, sit and say, "So there." It was wholly awkward as I didn't know what to say. Turns out, neither did he. He just sat there and gauged my reaction. Note to men: If you're going to make a bold move like that, have a conversation planned. After an a few silent moments, he told me he thought I was a writer. I asked if that had something to do with the laptop I was typing on. He said that it was the descriptive language I used when I spoke. We chatted, awkwardly until thank God the Korean came in and sat down. She told me later over email that she felt bad for interrupting us, and I said "For Christ's sake, don't," then told her what had happened.

Thing is, I don't fault people for these kinds of things. Sure, I was annoyed, but only because my work was being interrupted. But really, can I fault someone for looking for a friend or just a friendly conversation? I reminded myself of this when I looked across at him, that he was a human being with feelings. I closed my laptop and decided to go with the moment and not be so annoyed. As long as it doesn't happen again and again.

I've been taking refuge at another Starbucks. The first time I did so, it was crowded and lively. The one I go to is in a pretty rich neighborhood. The new one is in a really rich neighborhood. And with rich neighborhoods come parents who are on the boards of their kid's athletic teams. In this case, it was the swim board, and they came for a meeting and talked animatedly about going to more meets vs. more practice, and how besides natural athletic ability, other kids had gotten so much faster. They spoke of team jackets, and listening to them my own swim team experiences came rushing back. I remember how proud I was of my team jacket and the cheers when I'd won a race at a meet. I remembered the deep utility sinks in the girls' locker room and how I'd fill the sink up with hot water and sit in it neck deep after practice, or sometimes when the pool water was just too cold, I'd beg my coach to go there early. Sometimes, rarely, he would let me. Oh, the anticipation of walking down those stairs to the locker room, already seeing the steam from the hot water as it filled the sink. I loved having the whole place to myself. A little girl in a big sink full of hot water. Heaven. This was in Springfield, Illinois where we lived from when I was around six until eight. The pool was a top of the line indoor facility, complete with diving pool and bleachers.

One of the men in the group I found very attractive. He was quiet, dressed in a suit, and mostly just listened. This was before I figured out they were swim parents, and we met eyes a few times. Just mutual interest, I think. It was his stoic nature that added to his attractiveness.

After they left, I stood to leave and noticed a purse beside my chair. It was a very expensive designer purse that looked brand new. I asked a couple who were the only people in the store at the time, if it was theirs and they said it wasn't. So, I picked it up and gave it to Max, an employee whom I knew from the other store. Mind you, the only person that I knew from the other store.

Everything was in it. Wallet, ID, credit cards, keys. She'd probably gotten a ride from another parent, therefore didn't immediately notice it was gone. I knew because they were looking for a phone number inside her purse so they could reach her. I thought about her worry once she realized it was gone, and how lucky she was that someone with honest intentions found it. I heard from Max last night that the lady and purse were reunited. Hey, we swim people look out for each other.