Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sometimes you have to roll the hard six

You know, there's nothing like driving all the way to the 'Couv (and I'm not talking the nice northern neighbor) for a third round job "interview" that's been presented as a mere formality on the way to hiring...only to slog through three hours of traffic to find that it's very much a real interview because "We're interviewing at least 10 candidates!"

Fuck. This.

It's just the kind of morale booster I need, really. I burn through gas money and a hotel stay -- because of course the interview couldn't be at a time that would allow me to avoid rush hour traffic or crazy early driving -- and then learn that not only am I still very much needing to fight for this job, but I also may have to come back for a FOURTH round. Four interviews? People, you are not that important. Please consider creating an inter-office hiring panel, because unemployed people like me are really having trouble making ends meet as it is, without the gas and the food and the overnight.

The worst part is that I really want this job, and I actually felt cautiously optimistic until I showed up today and encountered an intense interview I wasn't expecting. Maybe this is what I get for telling my family not to get their hopes up, since anything can happen. Well, it did happen. I am seriously depressed right now. While I'm told by former college advisors that this extended period of unemployment is "perfectly normal" for recent grads, it doesn't make me feel better. I never thought I'd have to live at home for more than a month, and while I know I should be grateful for being able to (and I am, at least in brighter moments), it's killing me. I take care of myself. That's always been something I've been very proud of, and it's been taken away from me. Maybe some of those temp agencies will call me back. Sigh. I was so down when I returned this afternoon that I resorted to watching Leaving Las Vegas just to feel better about my own life. It almost worked, until I realized I was watching Leaving Las Vegas just to feel better about my own life. Damn the man.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

_______ has died

God, I hope this makes sense to at least one of you, because revealing the full extent of my geekdom isn't worth it unless I can drag others down with me.

When I look back on middle school, very little stands out -- apart from the constant bullying, the clumsy colt's body, and the electric green braces. Somehow, I thought that last one would be awesome because the X-Files season finale was coming up, and these were sort of an alien green, thereby broadcasting my undeniable hipness to the world at large. It's shocking, really, that the first day I showed up with my new bands, the girl in the front row asked if I was cultivating a new fungus for our science class.

What does stand out? Hunching over my computer playing the Coolest Game Ever. C'mon: if you didn't die of dysentery, you might be able to pick a crapload of berries before fording the Columbia on your way to pixellated utopia. It pleases me to no end that there are several dozen Facebook groups devoted to Oregon Trail, because obviously all of us geek kids have become cool, fully functional people in the current day.

And it's not like I named my characters Fox or Mulder or anything stupid like that. Sheesh. I had a little more sense, please. My wagondriver's name was Duchovny. Today, having reached the stage in my life where I'm actually purchasing adult-looking clothing, I would christen my OT characters with names that acknowledge the difficult road they faced as they trudged through their two-dimensional landscape, a place where oxen perished in three feet of water. The names would be completely unrelated to television fantasies and would instead invoke images of bravery and all-American courage, like...erm...Jamie. Or Apollo. Who is a Greek god, after all, and was long before a far more attractive character adopted the moniker.

'Scuse me. My sister just died of snakebite.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Conversations with Rachel Corrie

So, I saw My Name is Rachel Corrie tonight. I didn't expect it to be as profound as everyone reported; after all, this girl was my age, right? What could she say that I hadn't heard before? I'm an idiot for missing the point: it's how she said it.

I'm sitting here now in front of the fire with a cat on my feet, and I feel completely frustrated. Two or three years ago, I think I could have been like Rachel -- not her, by any means, but out in the world fighting the good fight. I'm not sure what happened between then and now. Partially, I'm less comfortable with adopting the self-assigned role of a world-saver. It's a position you take only when you're priveleged enough to be able to choose to do so. Being a white, middle class American lets me think I'm special enough to make a difference -- but now, I'm a little bit older and a lot more aware of that privelege in all its problematic glory...and I just don't feel quite right storming off into Gaza or Chiapas or wherever, because I'm not sure if my presence there is helpful or hurtful. These are issues Rachel clearly considered every day, as evidenced by her journals (the source of the play). I wish she'd lived longer to enlighten us about where she went with those thoughts.

It's one thing if you-as-outsider can actually find a way to support a local movement, as it seems Rachel did, but more often a group of outsiders winds up creating a separate movement instead. Or, you come in thinking you know what it's like and projecting your sense of right and wrong into the situation, when in reality (*cough* Cuba) you don't have the slightest clue what's happening because you haven't been there; moreover, as someone who's present voluntarily, you can't ever be a part of it in the same way as someone who's "in it" without a choice. I spent most of my time in Mexicali sweating over how my identities -- as academic researcher, as higher-educated person, as white woman, as American, as young and Spanish-speaking gringa -- affected the information I gathered. I probably spent as much time analyzing and questioning my own actions as I did conducting the research itself, and I don't know if that's such a good thing. I think it's a common trap to encounter: as you become more self-aware, the awareness creates more questions about identity politics. So, what if you go abroad to "change things" and wind up doing as much harm as you do good? Is there any way to avoid that?

And then, there's the selfish side, too. The part of me that thinks nothing I do can have a big enough effect to matter. The part that gets burnt out and frustrated because I can only tutor one inmate at a time, and most aren't going to be released, or won't have any job opportunities when they are released, so what the hell good am I doing? If I can barely make an impact in my own community, why go somewhere else to try the same thing? Plus, if I did go somewhere, like Palestine or the DRC, and get killed for it, I bet the news media here would focus on me, the American. Instead of on the people living there who die every damn day. What good does that do?

It's stupid, I know. Deep down, I think I'm largely feeling inadequate because I can't do what she did. Correction: I won't. There is no way I'm going to go stand before tanks in Gaza. Knowing it makes me uneasy. At the core, it's part of my larger, growing uncertainty over what role I can play in this world -- and what role I should. Why do I feel like nothing I do will be enough?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Requiem for a Jetta

My car, Nikita, I think she died.

She's been in the shop for three days. I took her in on Tuesday and was told, "Oh, yeah, we'll totally have it back to you by tomorrow." I patted her on the trunk (hey, we've been through a lot together) and wandered back down the road towards home. That was Tuesday. This morning, I got a call from the same mechanic, who said he totally hadn't expected her to be, you know, so fraked UP!

Like, her transmission is probably coming to pieces, but the only way to tell for sure is to dismantle it. This comforts me slightly less than the original diagnosis, which was that the engine was about to drop out of my car. Oh, and also, the idle? The periodic burbling idle I noticed because it started resembling the last gulps of a person with congestive heart failure? Yeah, that's bad, too. And the broken sunroof? Still broken, he said. Completely screwed, if I wanted him to be honest. (Hint: I didn't.)

For Sale: 1994 Jetta. Excellent mileage (94K)! Charming exterior: that pesky antenna will never get in your line of sight because IT'S NOT THERE because some drunk-ass frat boy snapped it off when I was overnighting at my future husband's house four years ago. You see, I stupidly never imagined that parking on Greek Row might mean I'd pick the one block where every single car on the street lost its antenna on a Saturday night.

Oh, wait, this is a want ad. Anyway. Sunroof. Well, more like a moon roof, as you can't open it. You can try, if it would make you feel better, but don't worry: see, it started leaking when I was in England, but my awesome family didn't notice until I came home over Christmas and backed down the driveway, at which point the angle caused about four cups of water to spurt forth from the ceiling all over me, the dashboard, and my radio which is useless because I have no antenna. You get FM, though. But there is a sunroof. It's sealed shut with some kind of magical glue my Dad thought would be a good idea, and I think the last dealer I took it to actually ripped the wiring right out of the control box, but hey: it's there. This is more than I had in high school, so you'll still be the envy of your friends if you live in, say, Forks. Or maybe the outer Hebrides.

Did I mention the 94,000 miles? On a 14 year-old car? Now, how many cars can you find that have less than 100K on them and still manage to have mysterious idling problems and "could-be-on-the-verge-of-disastrous-but-maybe-not" transmission issues? Also, the trim above the driver's side door has come loose. Watch that -- it always seems to smack you in the head right when you're making a dangerous turn onto a major interstate. Oh, and the speakers? The right side doesn't work. Hasn't since I purchased the car. This generally isn't a problem, except when you have songs on your MP3 player that require full speakers to function properly. Or when you have a guest in the car who can't hear what's playing. Sometimes, they think you're singing along to nothing. Or arguing with a talk show host who isn't there. Could be a good thing, really, if you need cover for occasional bouts of insanity. But: 94K!

$1500 OBO. Hell, make an offer. Please. Would consider swapping for an office chair. Or a fancy teakettle.

Never mind, of course, that I have no idea what we're going to do if this car actually turns up dead tomorrow. I'm still waiting on the idle, since the last I heard was that the mechanics had "no damn clue" why it was running about 250 rpms below where it should. It's not like I have anything major coming up, like a possible job relocation or other pressing financial matters. A new car is just what I need! When I have no paychecks!

If I could just figure out a way to bike everywhere, forever, I swear I would. Some other day, I'll write a sentimental post about this car and all the memories I have in it (my first kiss with CB, driving to the wedding, surviving a hellish trip over the passes this winter)...Tonight, I just need to polish up my for sale ad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And now, a little lighthearted rebellion

C'mon, peeps, how can you not vote for that guy on American Idol (the one with the hair and the not-so-much singing) when the site advocating for him gets great fan mail like this?

I was so mad Wednesday night when they announced that Sanjaya was not in the bottom three and therefore NOT GOING HOME THIS WEEK that I was shaking and in a flood of emotional rage caused by this STUPID website and the people that keep voting for Sanjaya I threw my glass of coke at my FREAKING BRAND NEW 65" HD TV and NOW IT DOESN'T WORK. So now not only is Sanjaya still on American Idol for another week, thanks to you jerks, I can't even watch the show and the TV warranty won't cover the damage from what I did. THIS SITE CAUSED THIS PROBLEM SO YOU SHOULD PAY FOR A NEW TELEVISION, which should not be a problem since you are making so much money by trying to ruin American Idol. Please email back and tell me how you want to pay for the TV. I have not been able to sleep since Wednesday and I don't think I will be able to until you pay for what you did and Sanjaya is kicked off the show. Please do the right thing and help me.


Listen we were talking about vote for the worst at my Bible class (my teacher is a huge american idol fan) and you people are the spawn of satan. you all are stopping melinda dolitle from a million dolars. she is a wonderfull person who cares about everything like God and Jesus and u people are stopping her from winning. sanjaya is a evil satan worshipper who doesnt beleive in God and he will go to hell JUST LIKE YOU PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO GO AWAY AND DONT EVER COME BACK.

C'mon, fellow spawns of Satan. Please do the right thing and help me take this show to new heights by letting those judges know what we really want: an end to this fraking nightmare that's inhabited my television for far too long. Now, if I only had the slightest understanding of how to vote for anyone; I just tried and failed, so I guess I'll have to use my satan-worshipping skills to fix the voting machines this time.

Momentary respite

I need to take a quick breather from this fuck of a week:

Ah yes, that will do it. Since I can't exploit the jaw-droppingly seductive, "Why the HELL aren't you home RIGHT NOW?!" photo of CB for viewing pleasure (damn morals), the least I can do is come up with a suitable substitute. Like the Speedo scene from X-Files, but about 1000 times better. Once again, the placebo effect lives: I feel better already. Don't you? (Courtesy of many places, but particularly this one.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Out of words

I'd love to write something funny or witty today, but the fact is that I'm sick about the Tech shootings and tired of how people are already turning it into a debate over gun rights or a forum to argue over whether or not this was god's will.

It's a tragedy. Can we just leave it at that for now? There will be plenty left for vultures to pick over, but just shut the hell up until people have had time to process what happened.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hitting the trails

It's mid-morning, and I am running the dirt path that loops around the city zoo's outer fence. The trail is shaded by many cedars, doug firs, and red alders; I flit from sun to shade and back again, while a herd of elk stares from the slopes of their enclosure.

The last quarter of the trail is a jagged uphill stretch, riven by exposed roots. By the time I get halfway up, I'm shattered. Suddenly, I recall the last time I ran the trail -- another jogger ahead of me ran this part backwards, and he seemed less worse for the wear when we both reached the top. Besides, isn't backwards running supposed to be en vogue, better for the shins, and all that?

I glance up the hill. No hazards in sight, no major roots coming. On rubbery legs, I spin and propel myself up the hill, keeping within a few inches of the fence. Suddenly, my legs are pumping faster and easier than ever. This is great! This is fantastic! Effortless, even! I don't know why I don't do this more--


Everything, from my head to my calves, hurts. I fall forward, but catch myself before I bite it in front of some sort of weird deer with a foot-long, fuzzy tail. Confused, I spin back around. The open trail I saw is not so open: I have run into a tree. A tall, very round tree with fissured bark. The deerthing looks amused. Perhaps I need new contacts.

I am back at my neighbor's house now, cat-sitting. By cat-sitting, I mean toasting my legs in front of the fire while two throw-pillows sprawl bellies-up beside me. That's the beauty of watching cats. You don't have to do a single thing, except occasionally poke your charges to make sure they're still alive. But the head, it sort of hurts, and sadly I couldn't remember why until I poked the sore spot hard and contemplated how I could have smacked the back of my head with such accuracy. Maybe the collision gave me temporary amnesia. I hope so.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sitting, waiting, wishing

Some days, all you need is a warm spot in the sun and a book for company.

Although the presence of a certain spouse of mine wouldn't hurt, either.

Not much to report. I'm still searching for environmental work, and am applying for entry-level jobs in my new field, as well. I just received an email from a new job gatekeeper (e.g., HR Department personnel) informing me that they'd received my application; I should receive word on a job within two to three months. I was feeling pretty good about this job until I talked to a friend who'd applied for it last time -- he said they received over 200 applications, and he didn't even get an interview.

Fortunately for me, the sun is supposed to linger for another day or two, which provides me with enough time to completely forget what my friend said.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I don't think anything - moving to England, getting diagnosed with Graves', moving back without CB - has been as stressful and existentially challenging as this job hunt (four months and counting, since I'm not about to count that one interlude as a success).

Right now, I'm looking at my options. They include working part-time without benefits (with a serious commute involved); temping full-time and edging that much closer to career Admin Assistant; and accepting the apparent norm in environmental nonprofit land, which means working without pay until the group I'm with decides to hire me. Then, there's the whole challenge of making a two-career couple work. Where are we going to go after CB finishes school? How can we each pursue our dreams while being mindful of the other's, and how on earth do we find a compromise that won't leave either of us feeling like we sacrificed too much? It's a frightening balancing act, but hey: it's only the most important relationship of your life, right? Sometimes, I wish I could be someone who would be happy staying home with the kids, or working wherever I found a job, regardless of what it entails. But then I remember that I wouldn't be who I am if that were the case. And he wouldn't have married me.

CB and I made the decision to marry each other knowing full well that our biggest challenge would be managing to balance work and home in a household headed by two ridiculously driven people with very different career goals. So we work on it, every day, even when we're 8000 miles apart.

But now, on my end, things need to change. When do you decide that your plans need tweaking?

There's a new career I'm considering, but it involves a major shift, a lot of dues-paying, and more grad school. The latter doesn't bother me, but I'm hesitant. I feel like I need to investigate every possible avenue that this new path might lead me down; I thought I'd covered my bases last time, and yet here I am with no real job prospects in sight. Plus, I do need to think about what's best not only for me but also for us. No problem -- what's one more ulcer, right?

So for now, let's just say that I'm planning to either: a) find that elusive environmental job; b) temp full or part-time and research/start on my new career after hours; c) curl up in bed until it all goes away.

I like c) best.

Random thoughts from an overworked mind

Dear God, Jamie Bamber is hot.

The fact that King County makes you fill out 9 .pdf pages for an entry-level job is a good indication of just how sadistic government can become unchecked. Seriously, don't you people have better things to do than make me sweat over my computer for three hours, swearing as I reformat text boxes that somebody put in the wrong place?

Both husband and I went running in our respective countries today. Both of us made sure to run until we were feeling slightly ill, which in our minds indicates a good workout. Clearly, both of us are insane. Distance does not appear to be fixing this shared affliction.

Any ideas on how to convince well-meaning family that maybe it's not such a good idea to have a dog with my name, even if it did come that way?

Career guides make it all sound so easy. They are liars.

No, I mean Jamie Bamber is REALLY hot. I cannot deny reality.

This whole two-year drought thing is going to be a problem.

The husband, although he cannot conceive of it now, is maybe possibly going to be sorry by the second day home. The neighbors might be sorrier.

I cannot believe I just wrote that.

Let alone that I am going to post it. The blogosphere really is a bad influence on us all.

I am definitely getting rid of all references to my real name tonight. And hoping all family members stopped reading months ago.

(But Jamie? Still hot.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hitting home

This article really hit home with me. Not because I come from a highly privileged town (I don't) or attended an elite public school (I didn't), but because I think that every girl I know can relate to the pressure these kids are feeling today. We were on the cusp of it eight years ago, when four AP classes were becoming "the norm," when I felt like I not only could take, but also needed to take those courses, plus serve as the yearbook editor, plus volunteer at two different agencies, plus hold down a job.

I worry about these kids. A lot. What happens when they turn 25, like I have, and realize that they never paused long enough to figure out where they were going? All my life, I've been on a self-selected track that I just assumed would lead to somewhere that made sense. Instead, I'm here, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do now when all of that work (which I loved) isn't leading to jobs, or bliss, or a real sense of what exactly I crave to do more than anything in this world. So what do I do now? What happens when you realize that all of your work to prepare yourself isn't going to help, because you never quite figured out what you were preparing yourself for? You just thought you'd be on the right track because you thought (with the limited ability of any young kid) that you had done everything you could to get on it. Now, I'm not sure if there is a track, let alone if I know how to find it -- or if, in this speed-crazed, income-disparate, "do it all asap" world, anyone my age is really going to have a chance to figure things out before their options pass them by.

To be blunt, it's fucking terrifying. Paralyzing. I know what would make sense: pull back, take a breath, do something random until the picture comes together. But I can't. There's something in me that drives me to understand right now, to pick a direction and get moving before it's too late to choose. It's like most of the people I know are frantic, throwing things up in all directions to see what sticks, or going with the one track they're on even if it doesn't feel right anymore. None of us know what to do now. And I worry for these girls. The mounting pressure to know what you want before you even understand who you are, the sense that nothing you do is good enough to get where you might want to go...sooner or later, people are going to crumble under the weight of their own expectations. And I don't know if anyone knows how to slow us down before we come undone.

Gotta love your mid-20s crisis, right? Gaaah.