Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm at Starbucks, chillin'.

I had an interesting day at work yesterday being that they had to let an employee go due to poor job performance and too many "I can'ts." "I can'ts" don't work in companies, especially small ones.

These are all very nice people. It wasn't catty, or petty. It was someone who hated to have to let this person go and had tried everything possible to help her to improve her job performance. It was very awkward for me, being a temp, because they had to alert me to the fact before the employee knew what was coming at the end of the day. One, because when this happened I would be the only other person in the office, and two, because I had to know when to leave the intimate setting when I got the signal to do so.

So, I worked all day, knowing this person's fate. I knew that she was going to get a shock, and that her reality was going to dramatically shift. She would leave the office without a job and not come in on Monday morning. Not be welcome, that is, to come in on Monday morning. She would do so knowing that it was because of her performance, and not due to company finances. Today she was going to be told that she didn't measure up and why. It was a sad feeling, and when I was performing my tasks I felt my hands shaking. Finally, I took some deep breaths to steady them. There was nothing I could do but wait for the signal.

On the contrary, I've been getting nothing but praise for my performance. That very same day, one of the employees told me that the president of the company was upset that I was moving to California because "she'd snap me up in a minute." The president had also told me that herself, and that she couldn't believe that I was moving. I thought that was incredibly nice of both of them. One, for the president to tell me that, and two for another employee to make sure that I heard her sentiments. If this sort of work fell within my career goals, I'd go for it. It's a fabulous position for someone who wants to do event planning, run by smart, nice, wholly competent and understanding people. The employees also fall into that category.

I also have an "I can" attitude. Like I've said before, I am extremely willing to help and take pride in my work. I also set goals during the day to complete my tasks, and am a great multi-tasker. On the day that I couldn't speak at all, I pitched in to ready a ton of boxes for Fed-Ex shipment. The person who was let go didn't offer to help, except for at 5:30PM when everything was finished. Then, in an even more audacious move, left for the day while the others worked late. They were probably working late to finish their tasks that the immediate need to get the shipment out pushed back. As everyone rushed around her, boxing, and laminating, and taping, and packing, and printing out Fed-Ex forms, she sat at her computer. It was something I noticed. But just noticed, that's all. There were other things that I won't mention because I didn't witness them. Still, this was a nice woman who had some good qualities.

As I sat there and continued my work, I said a little prayer that good come from this for all parties, and that she will be able to take the lessons learned from this and apply them to her next job. Then, for her to have strength during the time that it would sting the most. Which, as I sit here and type, is probably right now.

But back to that day. Around 5pm, I got the signal and went downstairs to have a very garlic laden slice of pizza. As I sat there, I called my friend Shannon and told him what was going on. After about twenty minutes, I went back up and played completely dumb. She was packing up her desk, eyes watery but not teary. Holding back, retaining her pride. I sat back down and worked, and the boss was in his office. I asked him if he wanted me to leave, and he indicated that I should stay. So, I did until she left. She approached me, knowing I was moving and looking for apartments, and said, "Good luck with everything." I thanked her, told her to have a good weekend. What more could I say?

That night, I went to get another deep tissue massage from Vladimir. Vladimir is attractive and has a slight Russian accent which is very soothing to me as he massages me. I enjoy listening to his perspective and stories as I lay on the table, face up with my eyes shut. We talk about a lot of things. I do massages completely naked and couldn't care a whip. Some people aren't comfortable with that, even though you are under a sheet. To me, it's a completely natural thing and almost required, in my opinion. You are there to heal your body and reconnect with it. Being naked seems the only way for me to do that. Vladimir has been working on my neck and shoulders to try to rid me of the tightness that is there due to poor posture while I'm working. I tense up my left shoulder and it's taken its toll. I'm working to rectify that, but habits don't die easily.

Since my yard sale was a bomb, I'm revving up for part two. I'm going to hold a sidewalk sale and hopefully rid myself of some smaller items like the coffee tables and such. I'll have pics of the larger items in case people are interested. If the weather doesn't hold up tomorrow I'll do it next weekend. I think it's a better idea to do it outside because people walk by and see me. Should be fun and a lot less stressful than the first one. I've totally relaxed about it now. That, or it's a side effect of Vladimir's strong hands.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To Atlanta and back. To being around tons of family, eating and drinking too much, remembering names and shooting hoops with my nine year old nephew, to sitting here in a sun flooded apartment after a day of work. I can hear birds chirping and Atticus is watching my every move, in case I magically pull out a Doritos chip. Atticus has placed himself directly in the warm golden caress of a sun beam. Scout lays on the floor, stretching.

I don't feel like blogging, because there are so many things I have to do. I'm working tomorrow and Friday as well. They keep asking me back so I keep coming back.

Now, it's night. Yeah, I gave in to the not feeling like blogging thing. Since then I've been to the grocery store where an old man tried to use his wheely walker/cart to boost some groceries, including $500 worth of aspirin from the store. He'd taken the loot and stashed their entire inventory inside a stolen plastic trash can, looked for an opportune time and went for it. Though I'm sure his sneakiness would put a lion's prowess to shame, he got made by an aware, not to mention completely astounded, checker. Calls for security and a slow speed chase later, the geriatric bandit was apprehended, led back into the store and into a room for holding until the poh-lice arrived.

I know I feel that much safer tonight.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My sale was pretty much a bomb yesterday because of the weather.

And well, that just fucking sucks. What sucks the most is that I worked hard to get it together and really wanted to move some furniture. However, from reading the Craigslist postings, everyone else who had a sale this weekend got fucked too and are rescheduling. Two days before my sale, we got a nice dose of sleet, rain and snow which left a cover of ice over well, everything. On the day of my sale it was cold and windy and no one was outside. The steps were covered with an inch of ice which made it treacherous and unwelcoming. I had signs all over the neighborhood at the kiosks, but with no one outside they weren't going to get seen. Three days before that, the weather was eighty degrees outside.

Add that this weekend is my sister's wedding reception, in Atlanta. I've been feeling pressured for time beyond belief, and may just have to postpone my move until the 10th or 15th. In fact, I just emailed my landlord and asked just that. It's the only way that I think I can manage, since there's no reason I have to be gone from Baltimore on the 1st. Also, the extension can allow me a trip out to Los Angeles to apartment search after the reception.

I can pick up any newspaper and know that people had lots worse days than I did on Sunday, but it was just a bummer. My mom had stopped by on Saturday and helped me trash a lot of crap, then cleaned the items to be sold in that sparkle clean way that only moms know how to do. After she left I arranged the items in my apartment. It looked fantastic and showcased everything really nicely. I got to bed at 3am, all to have a trickle of people actually see it. Of those that did come in, I enjoyed meeting them. Always interesting to hear people's stories, and see their faces. Some of my neighbors stopped by and it was fun to show them around the place and introduce them to the cats. The cats loved Joe the neighborhood pharmacist and his girlfriend Michelle. Scout greeted them with a squeak and stood up to meet them, which is a huge compliment. For most of the day, they lay there on top of the piles of clothing on my bed. My bedroom is cluttered and stocked with everything I didn't want to sell, and there's something oddly comforting about it. It looks homey in an eccentric way. The last two nights that it's looked like that I've slept amazingly well.

Even though the traffic was sparse, I did make some sales, the biggest coup being my window air conditioner to a really nice family who showed up at 10AM on the dot. It's a great AC, but big and heavy. And yes, I even cleaned that up and made it look special. I sold it to them for a steal, making both of us happy. Before my sale, Jack and I took it out of the window and set it on my living room floor.

On other notes, I got my voice back and no longer have people trying to communicate to me in sign language. That was a very frustrating thing, to not have a voice. But, it added a layer of interest to strangers that I met and communicated with, even when it was a squeaky voice. For the one day that I couldn't speak at all, I lived a completely different perspective than my normal life provides, and got to take a tour in the shoes of people that have to communicate like that every day. I received everything from "special", overly helpful treatment to the confused looks that I'd get when I couldn't communicate back to strangers who wanted to share idle chatter with me on the subway. It was an interesting and humbling experience.

My cluttered, comfy room is calling and I'm more relaxed now that I've given myself some extra time. I'm still temping and enjoying it. They keep asking me back, which is nice coming from smart, capable people.

Tomorrow, they will learn that they have me for two more weeks if they want me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I had to order my Starbucks by handwritten note this morning. I had it all prepared, and when it came to my turn in line I held it out and the woman took it from my hand. Even though I've been going to that Starbucks the entire time of my temping for this company, she was unfamiliar to me. She took the note, nodded exaggeratedly and read my order. After ringing me up, she began to mouth my total to me. I already had my card out, so it wasn't necessary.

I realized she thought I was deaf. It was too busy to explain that my ears worked just fine, it was my voice that couldn't utter a sound. A whisper wouldn't be heard in the swirl of morning coffee grabbers. She motioned for me to get my coffee at the other end. I kept trying to make eye contact with the one male who knew me, but like I said, busy morning. Thing was, in trying to accommodate me she'd forgotten to give me my blueberry muffin. So, she was motioning for me to go one way, while I was motioning for her to go the other. I tried to make a sound. Nothing. So I pointed to the case and mouthed the word, "muffin."

Her face morphed from confusion into understanding, and she grabbed a muffin out of the case and said, "sorry," almost mouthing the word back. I waited for my coffee and saw her hand the barista, another unfamiliar girl, my note. Now, she'd already written my order on the cup, but she gave the girl the note as well. After making my iced mocha and setting it on the ledge with my note, I shit you not, the barista signed in sign language, "Thank you." And not just signed it, but gracefully and almost in a grand balletic way, formed the sign, and mouthed the word. Humiliated, I smiled as I took my coffee off the ledge, nodded back in thanks, and walked off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Viral laryngitis. That's what I have. I can't speak, and have been ordered by the doctor not to try. A doctor that looked like Eric Bana, by the way.

This, four days before my moving sale.

So, I have no voice, and occasionally break out in violent coughing fits. I hate those the most. They hurt. It started last week with the cold, and graduated into this. When the moving estimator came to my house today, he got a look of surprise on his face when I answered the door. "I thought you were a little old lady, based on your voice," he said.

Not yet.

By the end of this move, I'll be a few steps closer.

It was gorgeous out today. Warm, blue sky with big clouds and warm wind blowing my curtains from my open windows. Everyone was out, including the six-toed manx cat that I knelt down and pet for awhile. She is not to be mistaken for Sammy Six Toes, the other six-toed feline in the neighborhood.

At the end of the day today, I asked myself why I'm doing this move. Truth is, I don't have to move. Even after my moving sale, I don't have to. I know this illness is the stress this has put on me. So, I'm going to bed. My big bed, in my apartment. And I'm not going to think about moving.

Yeah, right.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Things have started to come together.

I've rounded up the help that I'm going to need for the sale, have spoken to my sister about yet another trip to LA to look for apartments and have talked to my dad about his offer to drive with me to Los Angeles. That's right. Anne and dad doin' a road trip. Oh, and let's not forget, the two cats. I can't wait to see how dad deals with the cats, but it should be okay. On the last trip, at times I'd forget they were even in the car, they were so quiet. Both of them have extra big carriers and all the necessities in them. The litter box goes in the car, which worked perfectly last time as well. I let the doors remain unlatched in the cages so that the cats can exit if needed. Mostly they just stay inside and sleep, except for when Scout sits on top of hers and peers at the road ahead. The first few miles are touch and go with the cats, then they settle in and all is well.

Just as I was typing, the owners of the business that I'm temping for saw me in here (Starbucks) and came in to say hello to me. How sweet was that? It's run by a husband and wife team and they have a great gig going, organizing events for Microsoft. I've enjoyed the work and they've been very nice to me. I'm on for another week which is perfect. Like I said, one of the smartest things that I ever did was walk into Randstad. I didn't know what to expect, but the clients that they've sent me to have been great. It's done wonders on keeping me moving and on track for this move. Now, I can also temp for them once I get to Los Angeles while I'm looking for that full-time job.

The LA trip that I'm taking by plane will be bundled into a trip to Atlanta for my sister's wedding reception. I'm going one more time to scope out apartments before the move. That was my little stroke of genius. With buddy passes, it doesn't have to be a two leg back and forth trip. You can keep on traveling, and that's what I plan to do. Yes, there are moments where I think I'm absolutely insane for doing this and ask myself why. I know why, and I'm moving forward, but I still don't believe it yet. Even when I look at the Great Wall of Boxes in my room, or at my sale items piled and organized. Even when I take pictures of the items I'm selling to post on Craigslist, I don't believe I'm moving. That's how I survive it, I guess.

Then, in the middle of it... a wonderful unexpected happened. In an incredible gesture of generosity, Jack paid for fixing up my car. This isn't a small thing, either. Apparently, as the Goodyear mechanic put it, "everything" needed to be done on it. Our family has been going to this Goodyear for years, so they aren't putting one over on us. I knew the car was in need of work, but didn't know how much work. Jack and I went on Friday morning to drop it off, and I told the mechanic of my upcoming cross country trip and the need for reliable wheels that won't break down in the desert. Then, I let the men talk it out. I knew on the surface what needed to be looked at, but was sick and couldn't really articulate. Jack told me that I looked "unwell" when I came to his car in the morning. He was right. I was in the middle of a nasty cold, no doubt brought on by the stress of the upcoming move and sale. I'm still suffering the symptoms, which includes a hoarse voice that seems to be a sultry attraction to the men. I'm not a fan of it, myself. Update today, Sunday, I woke up and had no voice. None. Now that the day has gone on, it's a barely audible scratchy squeak.

As for the car, it needs $3K worth of work. Yeah. Like I said, no small gesture on Jack's part. I'm still floored, numb, in shock. But that's Jack. No strings attached, no guilt trip. No big discussion before it, just a gift to make my journey easier. One incredible gift. And my goodness, it's going to give for years. The car has more than 100K miles on it, and well...had just reached that point. I'd gotten the tweaks and oil changes done through the years, and a year ago put about $1200 in it to get it to pass inspection. Now, it's apparently like new and I can guarantee going to last 100K more. I can't wait to drive it and hear it purr. I just love that car. Silly to be sentimental about a car, but I am. This will be its second trip across the country. The first time, I got it in tip top shape in California. Now, it's coming home.

My neighbor came over today and bought some of my items. She bought my curtains, a floor lamp, and a beautiful side table from Bombay Company. I'm so happy to see my things going to good people. This woman works as a night editor for the Baltimore Sun and is not only attractive, but friendly and smart as well. Her dad was in the Air Force and she's lived all over the world. It shows in the worldly perspective and calmness she projects. She brought coffee to my apartment after several email exchanges and we chatted. Scout was all ready for a new person to pet her, while Atticus took a while before he approached her for some good old head scratching. I love learning about the souls who share the world with me. Hearing about their paths and what brought them to where they are now. Many times, it's when you're leaving that you get to know those that live the closest to you. It creates an openness in all parties. I'm going to try to remember this feeling of openness for the times that I'm not leaving. It feels much better than being shut off which can become habitual in the day-to-day "get to work, go home, pay bills, do errands, write, sleep" mode. Things like sales give people a reason to contact you. I'm glad I met her before I left. Funny enough, people from "The Wire" has been at her offices a lot due to the upcoming fifth season, which has to do with the newspaper and a media sensation. What that sensation is, I have no idea.

Saturday morning, I received a great massage from Vladimir. I've been to Vladimir several times and he works miracles with my shoulders. This was part of my gift from yep, Jack, that he gave to me and my mom.

Last night, our neighborhood erupted in sirens and lights, speeding cars and squealing brakes. It was around 11:30 PM, and I grabbed my mace and ventured out to see what was going on. When I stepped outside my building, I saw a mass of firetrucks and ambulances one block down on my street. I walked closer and saw a giant plume of smoke, darker than the night sky billowing from a rowhouse on the corner.

Oh shit.

The firemen had already hoisted their ladders and were spraying the building with water. I thought of all those men, rousted from their bunks or from in front of the television at the firehouse and springing into action. How lucky are we that there are people who risk their own safety to do jobs like this. A cluster of us neighbors gathered on the corner to watch the scene and heard glass breaking as the firemen punched it out to get to the flames. Smoke belched out from the third and second story windows. In the middle of it, a man carried a beautiful long-haired cat, its tail curled around his arm, down the sidewalk away from the fire. It was heartbreaking. I didn't know if the two were from the building on fire or from a neighboring rowhouse, which no doubt also suffered damage. I met a few neighbors, one who walked me home after everything was under control. A few firemen had suffered injuries and were in the ambulance in front of me, but it appeared that the residents had all gotten out.

Today behind the wheel of my mom's SUV, I drove by on my way to the coffee shop and saw some students sifting through the remains that they'd carried out to the lawn next door. They wore shirts tied around their faces, and I pulled over and spoke to a girl. I told her I'd seen the fire last night and asked her if it was her house. She told me it was her boyfriend's house, and I asked her if everyone made it out okay. She said they did, even the cats. I told her I was really glad to hear that and how sorry I was that this happened to them. She thanked me, I wished her luck with getting everything back on track, and drove off. I really feel for them. Poor things. There can't be much that survived that fire. Thankfully, all the living things did.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I packed a couple more boxes yesterday, and the stack against the wall is growing taller. I've bought all my boxes from the U-HAUL store and therefore they are the same width and stack nicely. Today I'll make another trip as the reality sinks in that I'm really doing this. Once the apartment sale is over, I'll be in a better place emotionally. The closer I come to the date of moving, and the more boxes I pack, the more I want to sell. I just don't want to deal with stuff from the past, and as I prepare for this move that becomes all the more evident.

What I dread about the sale is the logistics of it. Moving stuff, having people poke through my things and being the go to when it comes to bartering over price. Some of the stuff I'll be flexible on, some I won't. Just because it's in an apartment sale, doesn't mean that it's worth less than it is. I go back and forth about selling my television, and even today I turned around and looked at my gorgeous Restoration Hardware sleigh bed and wondered if I could do without it. Mostly, because I don't want to bother with taking it apart and dealing with it. A part of me just wants to be free from things, not tethered down. However, sometimes that tether is the thing that keeps one securely grounded.

After this post, it's off to U-Haul to buy more boxes and tape. My shelves, cupboards, and drawers are emptying out. I have a ways to go, but I'm where I want to be in the packing process. I have moments of panic, that I'm not going to get it finished in time, but that's because I haven't had the sale yet and things that I'm not taking with me lay in piles around the apartment. My goal today is to get things picked up so that I can photograph the larger items that I plan to sell. I've also created a pile of clothing that needs to be dry cleaned to prepare them for sale. There will be some good stuff there, including a pair of Gucci pants and Frette sweaters. I think my sale will be on the 17th of March. That gives me two weeks to prepare for it, get the help lined up that I'll need, get permission from the landlord to hold it and warn the neighbors. I'm a stickler for presentation, mostly because I want it to be organized.

Then, at least that part will be over.


Went home, indeed packed more boxes. I emptied out my kitchen cupboards for the most part, only keeping necessities available. Popcorn maker, waffle maker, things like that. Never know when I might crave some good waffles. My foyer is becoming cluttered with the pile I'm collecting for the sale, and for the second time in the last week I've allowed the stress to creep through. A mild panic. Perhaps that's good, that I let it through. That way I won't be setting myself up for a big stress fest. I don't like it though, not one bit.