Friday, January 27, 2012

Please Please Please

Okay, on my last blog post I wrote about how much I love Seattle and know that I want to stay here for awhile.

Unfortunately, that realization doesn't necessarily mean that all the "moving to Seattle" puzzle pieces just fell into place immediately. Sometimes there's some lag time between deciding that you want something and it actually happening.

My first order of business was finding a job. I had been landscaping part-time but was looking for more hours. I found an ad for a full-time position that I was really excited about, and put my whole heart into the application process. And it was a loooonng application. I could probably have applied to grad school in less time. Then I sat back to wait. I paced. I checked my inbox. I decided the only reasonable thing left to do was to learn "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" by the Smiths on my baritone ukulele. (Here's a uke version on You Tube) It was like my prayer. I really wanted that job and I deserved it. A couple hours after learning the chords and singing it forlornly to myself, I got an email: they wanted me to come in for an interview the following week.

It worked! My musical prayer was heard. I did the interview, which went great.

Later that day I was talking to my mom about the job interview and an interview for a house that sounded awesome. "When you are working at that place..." she started saying. "I'm not counting any chickens before they're hatched!" I replied. "But if you move into that house..."
"Ahhh, no counting chickens, no counting chickens!" I shouted.

Later I was talking to a good friend who lives in DC. We were discussing bicycle shopping and dating and looking for places to live, not quite knowing what was going to happen with any of those things. "There are so many balls in the air, it can be a little tiring," she said. "I know! I'm so tired of the balls too!" I said.

So it became my strange mantra for the day, "Tired of the balls, no counting chickens!" It's a difficult place to be in, to have so much uncertainty that you are trying to peg down, but not able to get too set on any one thing happening.

To make a long story short, I didn't get that job. January had started out hard and didn't seem to show signs of getting better. First of all, there was the nausea. Now, anyone who knows me knows I have a stomach of steel. I've eaten street food all over the world with negligible consequences. I can eat on a bus winding through the Andes while reading a book. I can cook and eat meals on sailboats lurching and heeling way over. I never get any kind of motion sickness, nausea, or loss of appetite. But for some reason still unknown to me, I have had a low-grade, constant nausea for weeks. It's hard to get anything done when you feel sick all the time.

Then there is the black hole that appears when you have too much free time. If you work full-time, you are probably reading this and groaning, thinking what a luxury that would be, what you wouldn't give for a day off- all the things you could get done with so much extra free time. The problem is, you really don't use the time the way you think you would.

On a related side note: I took this awesome Modern Lit class in college with a great, if very eccentric professor. He seemed to be stuck in a 19th century British persona- affected way of speaking (read: fake accent), top hat, wool and tweed suits, fitted overcoats, vintage spectacles, perfectly trimmed pencil mustache. (He was very reserved and proper, except for the day we started reading The Metamorphosis by Kafka. The first line of the book is "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." I will never forget that line because this professor repeated it while lying on his back on a table, writhing as if an insect in bed.)

Anyway, we were reading something, maybe Madame Bovary, and this prof said how no matter what the tragedy in the novel is, the character will be consumed by it. Basically, your emotions will expand to fill the vacuum. Then he mused, "Maybe time is that way too. Have you ever noticed that if you have a weekend to do homework, it will still take you all weekend to finish whether you have one assignment or five assignments? Time expands to fill the vacuum."

And I think that's true to some extent. We get done what we need to get done for our lifestyle, and the reality is that when you are underemployed, you're too depressed to do all the fun projects you initially think you'll do. I've had a lot of days where I go for a run, drink some coffee, do the dishes, drive my brother to an appointment, send off a resume, revise a cover letter, and then it's fucking six pm! Later some one asks, "What did you do today?" and you just stare at them, bewildered at how to go about an answer.

I know I want to stay in Seattle but I definitely questioned that at times when things kept not panning out. The good news is, I think things are on the upswing. I'm working more. Transport-stiffling Snowmageddon has passed. I have a renewed faith in the house search. Mostly, I feel so grateful to have such caring, supportive friends who were there for me when I was in dire straights. I want to give a big, huge thanks to Elizabeth, Lindsey, Tegan, and Annie K especially, for always being there to talk, share a meal, have a drink, or go out to see live music, and listen to me and remind me of all the good in life. Those ladies can officially cry on my shoulder until the end of eternity.

My mom said to me recently, "Things don't happen quickly for you." I don't think that's necessarily accurate, as it sort of depends on what I'm doing. This is also the woman who told me, "If you ever find yourself pregnant or just want to have a baby but don't want to get married or have a partner- that's fine! We'll all help you raise the baby." (This comment had nothing to do with the nausea. She actually said it awhile back- I just still think it's hilarious and mildly ridiculous) Did I mention my mom is a conservative Christian? Apparently her grandma biological clock is ticking louder than her sense of propriety.

Point is, I really respect her, but I have to take some things she says with a grain of salt. I don't know if things happen slowly or quickly for me, but they just happen when they happen. These last few months I've had to find a balance of being proactive and making things happen, and accepting that I don't have control over things. And that the recession and high unemployment rate are real things that affect our daily lives, not just numbers that happen to some one else.

Apparently I can't write a blog post these days without a quote from Anne Lammot's Bird By Bird.

"It helps to resign as the controller of your fate. All that energy we expend to keep things running right is not what's keeping things running right. We're bugs struggling in the river, brightly visible to the trout below. With that fact in mind, people like me make up all these rules to give us the illusion that we are in charge. I need to say to myself, they're not needed, hon. Just take in the buggy pleasures. Be kind to the others, grab the fleck of riverweed, notice how beautifully your bug legs scull."

I'm happy to let this month trickle into February. Meanwhile, I'm watching my bug legs, not counting my chickens, and offering up unconventional prayers for what the rest of 2012 may hold.


Katherine Jenkins said...

Good luck Amber...I'm 42 and I still don't know what I want to changes moment to moment! Hope you are well and it was nice having bibimbap with YOU! The idea of settling down is a myth, I think....we will always be challenged in some way. I believe good things will come your the meantime enjoy the ukelele...I think it would be awesome to learn that some and send it to an employer for a job you want to get! How could they not hire you after seeing it! If you feel bored, come try yoga at Yoon's Yoga Bliss ^_^!

jessymessy said...

we are leading somewhat of parallel lives my dear, really wild. my mantra, "just keep taking steps". and "put myself out there everyday" in whatever way that means each day.
love you lots. I'm gonna talk to you real soon.

AmberAnda said...

Jessymessy, I'm sorry to say I don't know who you are! I can't tell from the picture and there is no access to your profile. But if you love me I'm sure I love you too :)

AmberAnda said...

Hi Katherine! Thanks for reading, and for your kind words. I really enjoyed our bibimbap meet-up also, and think back to your Tony Roma story! Yes, it's good to remember that we are always changing, and there is no end point to "arrive" to. I think I just had a different idea in my mind of what "moving back to Seattle" would look like... mostly I need to be more flexible with what that might look like, and that unexpected things can happen along the way. For example, I didn't really want to go back to being a barista, but I finally decided to do it. I sent a few resumes to coffee shops, and a couple hours later got a call from the man who was my recruiter for my job in Korea! His wife owns a cafe that I had sent my resume to, and they hired me that week. She is Korean, and from Iksan, the closest city to Gunsan! It just felt very serendipitous, even though the coffee shop route was not originally what I had envisioned doing. I never recorded a version of myself playing that song, but I enjoyed playing it to myyself! :) I love the idea of sending a video to potential employers though, haha. Yes, I still want to come to a class at Yoon's Yoga Bliss! Hope you are doing great and thanks for comments!

ElizaBeth said...

It's a pleasure to be your shoulder - how else would I know I'm useful in life if people don't ask my advice??

I don't think things happen slower or quicker to you, I just think you're intentional about what DOES happen so you don't take any old thing that comes your way. This might extend the process a bit but it guarantees better results.