Thursday, January 31, 2008

Love the tarot

Our new stuff!

I am a reluctant Facebook user. I never thought I would join until I started traveling and all my friends abroad told me to do it. Now, I visit my profile online on a daily basis and wonder why I need to know that Todd Schoeps added the New York Mets Fans application or that Tova Heiney and Joshua Kunis are now friends.

I do it to write messages to people, and I like to look at people's pictures, but I am currently addicted to my "tarot card" reading that gets posted on my profile everyday. Today I got the Wheel of Fortune card:

"The Wheel of Fortune deals with the unpredictable situations in life. Your path in life takes many detours, often directed by forces and events beyond your control. This card represents change in your life, so be ready for unexpected challenges to come your way. This card usually denotes that good luck is coming your way."

That's so exciting! And I get messages like that everyday!

Today, the furniture arrived to my apartment. The guys who delivered the couch from Macy's were very professional. Got the job done and were friendly to boot. The guy who brought the dining set from Gothic Cabinets was a lunatic. He had to put the table together and was devastated that he could not find the screws, making me look inside the box for him. He then told me that he couldn't put the table together, and I had to figure out something to do about it because, in his words, "you are the boss." When I called the store to reschedule the delivery due to lack of screws, he is outside in the hallway, banging all the boxes around and yelling on the top of his lungs. He found them. I watched him put the table together. He was huffing and muttering to himself the whole time. I don't know if this man likes his job.

In the middle of this chaos, I get a call from the HR department of a magazine company, asking me my salary requirements and if I want to come in for an interview for a full-time position at a magazine. It's full-time marketing, but I am a little intrigued because I think the job would be fun. I told her I would call her back. It was getting too crazy with this guy yelling at me and me trying to figure out what the hell I want out of my life at the same time.

It's kind of nuts. I am so confused. I am trying to do this freelance thing but sometimes the sure thing, the full-time thing, is so appealing, I can't help but feel enchanted by its spell. Getting the call from the HR woman, I feel both elation and a pit in my stomach.

For me, freelancing is about creating an environment in my life where I can earn money in a job that satisfies me, while at the same time, have the energy and time to focus on my writing. And maybe the reason why the full-time job is so comforting is because I have a definite excuse about why I am not writing, and if I succeed at freelancing, I would have no excuse but to write and follow my dreams.

Why are the things you want most the most terrifying?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Drinks, anyone?

Yeah, so remember how I told you that Dan planned to wake up at 4 am to do work? Yeah, so he did. And since there is nowhere to sit in our entire apartment, he worked in bed. First there was the alarm clock ringing in the middle of the night. Then there was the light of the computer screen, which in the darkness felt like a flashlight switched on my face. Then there was the non-stop clattering of the keys.

I could not fall back asleep. I had an interview the next day. I WAS FURIOUS.

After tossing and turning for what seemed like forever, in between some scowling faces directed at Dan (to which he replied, completely clueless, "What?"), I was finally able to fall asleep by smooshing a pillow over my face and ear.
It was good that Dan was already gone the next day when I woke up because I was ready to kill him.

But then I saw the nice little note he wrote and left on the refrigerator, pepping me up for my interview, saying the words I needed to hear. All the madness melted away and I decided he was the greatest guy in the world.
(He also apologized later).

The interview was going great, until the woman told me that she did not have any freelance work for me. After that, I kind of shlepped around town, head down and dragging my feet, feeling like a total loser. I had plans to meet my former coworkers for drinks and I totally had to force myself to go.

Having a few glasses of wine at Flute and a pizza at Serefina and chatting with my friends made me feel so much better. I told them I felt completely hopeless. They reassured me that I wasn't. I came home and watched bad tv including The Secret Childhood of Michael Jackson until past one in the morning, sitting in the empty living room in the desk chair, feeling fat and drunk and well, hopeless.

The next morning, I checked my email and voice messages at eleven (very shortly after climbing out of bed, deeply tired and slightly hungover), only to find that I had a very good freelance job prospect (interview on Friday, work starting next week, crossing my fingers) and a copy writing assignment from another magazine that I worked on today.

If this is what happens a day after drinking, I should start going out more often.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I am a pretty good cook, but for some reason I tend to set the fire alarm off. It happened often in the old apartment, especially when I was baking chicken or something, and I blamed the mini-oven and Dan blamed me.

Today, I made some Mexican food that required me to toast the tortillas in the oven and the exact moment that Dan came home from work, the fire alarm went off.

I don't know what happened. Nothing appeared to be burning, but by Dan's reaction, he makes it seem like I enjoy torturing him by causing this loud noise and acts like it will go away quicker if he yells at me over the loud noise. I don't like hearing the alarm either, but in the presence of Dan, he makes fire alarms a hundred times more alarming--for everyone.

The alarm stopped screaming. Dan got quiet. Nothing happened. Nothing was burnt (Why did it go off? Mini-oven, that is all I can say.) After dinner, Dan went to sleep (setting his alarm at 4 am to get up and do work) while I played my hundredth game of Mindsweeper today. Since we have no furniture in the house, I resorted to doing my job searching in bed (the only place to sit) and believe me, it was not a good idea. It wasn't very productive.

I miss being productive. I miss working. But more than that, I miss Europe. I am currently reading Bill Bryson's Neither here nor there about his travels in Europe and it makes me ache inside, wishing I could be back there. I miss my motivation. Despite my "keep going" mentality after this weekend's run, I couldn't pry myself out of bed to hit the gym. I miss everything but my current situation.

Everyone is telling me that I should enjoy my time off but it just seems impossible right now. In Europe, it was easy. In New York, I feel constant guilt and worry. I wish I could be one of those people reading leisurely at Starbucks but instead I am one of those pissed off people making copies of my resume at Kinkos.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Disappearing act.

In anticipation of new furniture being delivered this week (new couch! new dining set!), Dan and I sold most of our old furniture via Craigslist today. We put up our couch, dining set, desk and desk chair and three of the four items sold in one day. The desk chair still remains...any takers?

Dan, this morning.

Dan, same spot, this afternoon.

Dinner on the desk chair. I made a salad.

A run in the park.

Before I left on my trip to Eastern Europe, I used to work out about four to six times a week, often rising before work to go to the gym to lift weights or to venture into Central Park where I would run. My workout in the park was usually four to six miles of steady running or to do a warm-up of one to two miles and then pound up a steep hill ten times or do a few 60-second sprints with 60-second breaks. After this, I would wind down by jogging home and stretching, maybe some ab work, feeling tired but prepared to start my day, the hard part already over.

Yesterday, I went on a run in the park. Though running is pure perspective. Others might consider what I did a fast walk. I did the bottom loop of the park (my former warm-up) and then I jogged home. It took me 30 minutes. It was hard. I was breathing heavy. My mind was racing anytime I reached the bottom of a small hill. Can I handle this? For the first half of the workout, I wondered when it would be over, when I would break down and start to walk. But I did not walk, I simply trotted along, and by the second half, while still tired, I started to feel more comfortable and by the time I was by apartment, I felt pretty good.

It's upsetting what five months of inactivity can do.

But I know from experience that if I keep at it, within a few weeks, I will be able to run two loops and then four miles and then six miles and if I want it to, the torture of running as fast as I can uphill will become a regular fixture of my life once again.

The feeling that I got in my first few minutes of my run is a feeling I am having constantly lately--in job searching, in writing, in my relationships, in my new apartment, in New York City, in America, in the current state of my life. When will this be over? Can I handle this? Will I break down and start to walk? A part of me wants to keep running, another wants to walk really badly, while still another dreams to sit in the sidelines and watch the runners go by while eating a big slice of cake. And hopefully those sidelines are located in another country where I can sit in the sun, and explore new places and meet new people and not have to worry about anything.

I watched a documentary this week called the Spirit of the Marathon. The movie chronicles the stories of a few people training to run the Chicago marathon--showing how they spend four months running an insane amount of distance to build the strength to do the 26.2 miles. On the big day, the day they have all been waiting for, the camera flashes on the spectators on the streets, who are cheering the runners as they pass by. One man holding up a large sign sums it all up: "YOU ARE ALL CRAZY."

The sign flashing on the screen made the audience in the theater, I am sure many former marathoners like myself, chuckle knowingly.

But is it more crazy to go or to stand still? What I know about running, if I keep going, if I keep training, the runs will only get better and more enjoyable. So wouldn't that mean that if I keep moving on all aspects of my life, the discomfort will eventually go away? The laws of running would say so. I just never thought of it that way before.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Polar Bear Pants

I had to say good-bye to my absolute favorite pair of pajama pants this week.

I got these flannel pants on-sale at the Gap in the men's department. I recall getting them on a whim in the store across the street from the Conde Nast building. Might have been right after an interview or something, back in the day.

I didn't know then how much they would comfort me over the years. I have tried to look for others, but none match the goodness.

I would still wear you, pajama pants, but Dan put the kibosh.

It's okay, there needed to be an intervention. I can't walk around with a big hole on my ass for the rest of my life.

Good-bye, polar bears! RIP.

The War of Art: A Status

So I finished "The War of Art" yesterday. Really easy, inspriring read: 165 pages of short essays. Here is what I learned.

When it comes to my art (that being writing), I am an amateur. And I think that is no real surprise to anyone. I don't write everyday. I spend more time lamenting when I am going to write, how am I going to write, what am I going to write then just sitting down and actually writing.

The reason why I do that, according to this book, is resistance. It's the same reason why people don't start diets until tomorrow, why people don't go back to school when they know that they should, why people don't do the things they say that they want to do but for some reason feel like they just can't at this moment.

When you beat the resistance, and beating the resistance is an everyday struggle, then you can begin to work and then you can be professional--which just means that you take your creative work as seriously as you would your "real" work. You get up, you put in your time, and you get things done. And once that happens, once you beat the resistance and put in your time, then that is when things happen.

I want things to happen. I want to be professional.


I'm terrible. Steven Pressfield wrote this book for schmoes like me.

I have not beaten resistance today, and while I was a productive job hunter this morning (which does require some resistance beating as well--but that is because I am motivated by my empty wallet rather than a greater creative calling), I also engaged in some online shopping with an gift certificate I got pre-unemployment.

I got the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, which my mom owns and I love. I saw it at the bookstore the other day and almost picked it up but it was $40 at the store and much cheaper online. I want to make everything in there.

Since I cannot afford my beloved weekly yoga classes right now, I picked up Rodney Yee's Power Yoga DVD which for nine bucks, I can turn my apartment into a yoga studio (I have the space to do it now!).

I have been wanting to increase my flexibility. I used to be flexible as a child because I took dance lessons, but my post-marathon body is as stiff as a board--really, the reason why I do yoga in the first place. I tried to do a split the other day and I might as well been kneeling with one of my legs sticking in front. It was pathetic and it hurt! I am wondering if this New York City Ballet Workout will help get me back to splits shape.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

I emailed a marketing director today, looking for freelance work, and she writes me back, "Are you only looking for freelance or would you consider full-time?"

I hit reply and wrote back, "I am only looking for freelance opportunities at this time."

But I couldn't hit send.

Because I know why she asked me that question. They have a full-time, permanent position available. I saw their job listing on the internet. It's a good magazine. It would be a good job. It would be a similar job as I had before, and I could probably do it and be good at it. If I passed the interview, I wouldn't have to look for work anymore. I wouldn't have to worry where my next paycheck would come from. I wouldn't have to think about what I really want to do with my life. If I got this job, everything would be back in order. Back to where it all used to be before I took my trip. As is the whole trip never happened. It would all be so easy.

I hit the "save now" button and went into the shower, where I let the water stream down over me and I listened to my thoughts. I felt afraid. I don't know what scared me more: taking the easy way and going for this job and postponing my writing dreams again. Or taking the hard way and holding out and trying to live my dream.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
--Robert Frost

Does Robert Frost know what the hell he is talking about?

I just sent the email. I told her freelance only.

Two people I trust in two different conversations recommended the following book to me: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I was on the waiting list at the library, but I couldn't hold out anymore, and I picked up the book at B&N this afternoon. It's going to help me "unlock the inner barriers to creativity." Bring it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The weekend recovery.

Dan, shopping for dining sets.

So I gave myself one day to wallow in bed in self-pity. And I could have done it again the next day and maybe even the next, but I had plans. The depression did not go away, but plans means that I am forced to get out of bed and think about something else besides the fragile state of my life right now. I look at my apartment, with the red couch I no longer like, the piles of papers on the floor, the clutter of frames and knick knacks on the desk, and I feel like I am looking at a reflection of my inner self. Everything is out of order and I have no idea where anything goes. And the motivation to put everything in its place is low. Very low.

But luckily it was a weekend, and a three-day weekend due to Martin Luther King Day, and so I couldn't just sulk. I had Dan around to smile at me from across the room when I was lost in my thoughts or squeeze my hand when I dragged my feet as we walked. I also made plans with friends to distract me and get me out of my funk.

Top five moments of the weekend:
1. On Friday, Brian and I ended up at a Brandy's piano bar where we sang along to cheesy songs surrounded an audience of possibly some of the weirdest people in New York City. There was the guy with the long hair singing "Son of a Preacher Man" into his fist, the woman wearing the fur coat who was trying to convince me to sell ads for her motorcycle magazine, the yuppie in a suit who almost got kicked out, the Asian woman sitting alone and clapping offbeat. I loved this place. I will be back--most likely with my brother and sister in tow.

Brian at Brandy's Piano Bar.

2. Saturday, I headed down to Princeton to visit my stepfather's niece, Liz. Liz and her fiance Julian have invited me to be a bridesmaid in their wedding, and so I went down there for a dress fitting and to have some lunch. I was dying to take a picture of myself in this dress for the Ham, but in respect of the bride, who wants to keep some things a surprise, I did no such thing. However, I did find out my measurements and wow, not cool.

Me and Liz.

3. Sunday, seeing Brett Jackson, and his reminding me of the importance of putting time and effort into my work--not the marketing work, but the work that fulfills me. Why do I keep forgetting about that?

4. Monday, attending the Benjamin Franklin exhibit at the Grolier Club. We went to see Ben's work as a printer, including original copies of the documents and books that he printed. BF is a pretty inspiring man and just the kind of people I need to be surrounding myself with. People who get past the fears and get stuff done.

5. Baking snickerdoodle cookies. Because cookies always makes things better.

Start it up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Poor old me.

After my third and last day of work this week, I came home feeling a little sorry for myself. I could feel the funk starting to hit me as I waited in the long and slow line at Associated ("The Gross"--as my friend Danielle calls it) to buy one package of ravioli I would eat alone for dinner because Dan had a late meeting.

I came home, changed into my pajamas, and with my bowl of meat-filled pasta, I crawled under a blanket and watched Waitress, a movie about a woman who feels stuck in her life and whose only escape is the pies that she makes. By the end I felt completely miserable.

What was my deal? I had a great time this week, going back to my old job and seeing all my old friends, earning some much-needed cash in my pocket. But in some ways, going back to your old job is like going back to an old boyfriend. You meet up, it's been a while, he's looking pretty good, and you can only remember the great times you had together and are left wondering, where did it all go wrong? I kind of had to reel myself in. That's not my life anymore. I have a freelance life now. One that seems really overwhelming and lonely all of a sudden.

I went to bed and forced myself awake this morning at 10 with no ambition to do anything except crawl back into my bed to sleep some more. Which I did. I can't remember the last time I did something like that. So much for structured unemployment.

There really should be no reason for this depression. I got to work this week. I saw all my friends. I got an email in my in-box this morning from another magazine requesting an interview. Plus, I got a handful of contacts from my friends that I can reach out to.

I decided it was okay to give myself one day to feel like this. So I didn't do any job searching. I didn't go to the gym. I didn't go grocery shopping even though we have nothing to eat in the house. I tried my best not to feel bad about it.

The mess of the apartment has been contributing to my weariness so I tried to clean it up, taking breaks to check my email and read US Weekly about Trista's weight loss. It was not a great day, but a day I felt like I had to go through nonetheless. Tomorrow, it will only get better--right?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008



Some people gave me a lot of flack for eating so many cakes on my European trip. But I swear, I eat worse when I am in America. Especially when I am working. There's the M&M's in the vending machine. The brownies and cookies in the cafeteria. And then the random office treats--which I never can resist. Today, one of the Chicago sales reps sent Amanda some delicious Garrett popcorn in three flavors--salty, cheesy and caramel. The mixture of the three is heavenly. At one point, I had all three flavors PLUS some M&M's in my mouth. Wow.

The tin sat right next to my desk. Bad placement.

The amount of handfuls I ate defeated all earnest efforts at the gym this morning. I once was able to run 26 miles, and this morning I was dying after 15 minutes on the treadmill.

"Yeah, I am out of shape, too," Dani tells me, "Did I tell you I am running a half marathon at the end of the month?"

I think she and I have different concepts of what it means to be out of shape.

We all eat popcorn.

By the way, it is not my intention to take pictures at work everyday. Hello, I'm a professional! I have a reputation to protect. But these girls are Ham fans and they're dying to have their picture in the blog. I get that. (I mean, isn't it everyone's secret fantasy to be mentioned on here, nowadays?)

I almost took pictures of the Polish food they offered in the cafeteria today (I swear! There were pierogies and beet salad and chicken with mushrooms, right there at the buffet) but I thought it was crossing the line. I am looking for freelance work here and I don't want to be known around the building as the girl who is taking kielbasi shots, you know?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Working Girl.

And...I'm back.

Today, I worked. And got paid for it. It was awesome.

I got a call from my old boss last week. He needed a freelancer for a few days this week, and I gladly accepted. Before my trip, I had worked at this magazine for nearly five years. So going back felt like the first day of school. A night of light sleep. The slight panic about what to wear. Anxious to see everyone. Nervousness about my commute. Would I be late? (Meanwhile, back in the day, I would sometimes leave my apartment fifteen minutes to 9 when I knew it took me 25 minutes to walk to work).

The subway was packed like sardines. But it didn't bother me today. I was excited. I am sure it will bother me when I am commuting on a regular basis. No more walking to work now that I am living on the East Side. On the street, I saw a man walking and talking into a banana pressed into his ear. Is that a banana shaped cell phone? I squinted and looked closer. No, just a banana. Witnessing that, I knew it was going to be a good day.

Work was fun. It was like I was the most popular girl at school. Everyone wanted to talk to me and hug me and hear my stories and tell me how great I looked. Lots of compliments on my hair and my relaxed demeanor. Dude, this is what four months of not working looks like. Anjali and Kim took me out for sushi lunch--which ran way too long due to the slow service. Trying to get me in trouble on my first day back. It was fun to see everyone and hear the latest trials and stories. And I even got some work done in between all the chatting. It was so easy to slip right back.

Michael, my boss, kept my old name tag (wishful thinking?) which I attached on the desk. When I returned from lunch, there was mail addressed to me scattered near my computer. It was surreal. Like I never left.

"Are you going to write about us in your blog?" Amanda asked.

I think people read my blog to escape work, not to read about work. But today is an exception.

Right now, past 8 at night. My legs hurt from the elliptical this morning at the gym. My brain overwhelmed by the day's events. Eyes weary from looking at the computer screen. The crowded commute home felt really long.

I had forgotten: Work makes you feel really tired.

New Jersey furniture shopping.

This weekend, Dan and I were on a mission.

We headed to Jersey to get some dressers for the bedroom...

and purchase a new couch.

Mission complete. Victory celebration at Friendly's.

Reeses pieces sundae. Aw, yeah!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Everyone knows I have a cold.

Dude, everyone I talked or emailed today had one thing to say to me, "How are you feeling?" or "How is your cold?"

Are you people still reading this thing? I just assumed that when I got home, my readers would kind of drift away, but today it was a stunning reality. You are all there. Reading. Waiting for me to do something fun. Or get a job or something.

Holy crap.

Alright, so maybe I should stop putting horrible pictures of myself with eye styes and in workout clothes on this thing because you people are very attentive. Even my friend Katie, who was thrilled that I mentioned her in my post the other day (and here I am mentioning her once again) writes me an email, "Saw that lovely picture of you. We'll discuss tomorrow." As if I crossed the line or something. We discussed it yesterday over dinner. Consensus is that I am a true artist, willing to put myself out there--the good and the bad--for my art. Ah, the sacrifices I make for you all.

Day four of the job search. And I am putting away cds. And measuring my apartment for pending Ikea madness this weekend. And going to The Container Store to buy a garbage can for the bathroom. And calling my mom. And then I go and "network" with Anjali, over grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries at lunch. She too has done the whole drop her life for a trip thing and knows exactly how I feel right now.

"Aren't you depressed to be back?" Finally, someone who truly gets it.

She says it gets better. I believe her. It already has gotten better.

Anjali, having been in my unemployed situation before, suggests that I have a schedule for myself. Wake up early. Go to the gym. Job search for a few hours. And then spend the afternoon doing the things I wish I had time to do when I had a job: go see a movie, see an exhibit, bake some cookies, work on my writing, whatever. Because soon these days will be gone and I will be wishing that I spent some of my time off, having, well, time off.

It sounded like the best plan I have ever heard. I left that lunch feeling invigorated once again. The schedule begins tomorrow. Exactly like she said.

(By the way, no pictures this post. I keep forgetting to take pictures. It seemed so natural in Europe. In New York, in my normal life, I just feel like a freak. But I will be a freak for the hamsters. The pictures will return.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yvonne has a cold.

Me, the last three days.

So Sunday night, I was ready to be all hardcore, and then all of a sudden, I got all the makings of a cold: little sore throat, sniffling nose, that achy body feeling, and I am like uh-oh, I gotta get to bed. But I slept like crap and Monday morning I woke up at some crazy hour and end up in my pajamas for half the day.

Tuesday will be better, I told myself. But it all just repeated itself. Yucky I-am-about-to-get-sick feeling, bad sleep, woke up late. I changed my clothes only because I knew my super was coming to fix my tub which doesn't drain too well. (He didn't end up coming until today. I opened the door in my pajamas).
Still, not feeling my best, not feeling very productive, though I guess I have been. Emailing lots of people about jobs, looking on job web sites for most of the day. I had forgotten what it like looking for a job, one, because I haven't done this in a while and two, the last few jobs I got were of the "Oh, here's a good job for you..." variety and did not involve spending hours in front of a computer. So I haven't done this since I graduated college and was looking for my first job.

In some ways, it is kind of fun. I am smarter about it now. I know things I didn't know then. But sometimes I feel annoyed because all seems like all my energy is going into one big void. But then I have to remind myself that the reasons why people aren't getting back to me right away is because they aren't sitting around in their pjs like me--they actually have jobs. And I can't really be discouraged yet. It is day three.

I am getting a little stir crazy in this apartment, however, so yesterday I took a walk across the street to Starbucks to spend some time reading the new Lucky magazine and sip some coffee. Only I found myself in the huge table for handicapped people (the only one left in the packed coffeehouse), felt a little guilty about it, and then I spent the rest of the time looking at the pretty pictures and blowing my nose every two minutes in those rough brown Starbucks napkins. That was no fun.

Today I made it all the way to the gym. My first workout in months, and I kept it light and easy since I don't feel my best and I don't want to admit how out of shape I really am--yet.

All my energies for the last few days have gone into finding my marketing job, but I know I have to be careful not to forget about the reason why I am going freelance and make an effort to focus on the writing as well. It's just so much easier to do the marketing since it's comfortable to me and the writing is feeling a little scary right now.

Dan unpacked the records yesterday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Help Wanted (in finding a job)

Smart, ambitious woman, with an affinity for Polish pork products, seeks employment opportunities to finance future around-the-world trip, my writing habit (until I get famous) and next month's rent.

Have great communication skills: Fluent in English, broken Polish, and hand-gestures and facial expressions that work in every language.

Proficient in making travel arrangements, reading a map, carrying heavy loads, writing stories, taking pictures, cake tasting, cookie tasting, ice-cream tasting, wine tasting, and sleeping in rooms full of strangers. Can occasionally be fun.

If required, can also develop multi-platform, out-of-the-box, never-been-done-before integrated marketing programs for magazine advertisers. Have not developed multi-platform, out-of-the-box, never-been-done before integrated marketing programs for magazine advertisers in four months, but such talents die hard.

Newly acquired computer skills: Gmail, Facebook, Skype, Blogger. Determined that is always wrong, but it does not matter: Eastern Europe is always cold.

Will be kind enough to refrain using the following phrases in client meetings and conference calls:

"Well, when I was in Europe and you were not…"

"Do you speak English?"

"But the Germans said…"

"What country am I in?" Wait, what day is it?"

"I have a train to catch."

"What do you mean I have to work?"

"When do we eat cake?"

Looking for freelance opportunities but will consider full-time if the need for health insurance becomes an urgent matter (broken bones, liver failure, rabies, etc.). Travel bug does not apply.

Dan, New York, NY: Boyfriend and current roommate. He does not want to financially support me and will say anything to get me a job.

Maria, Cedar Knolls, NJ: My mom, who thinks I deserve any job I want and will tell you so, but is probably worried at this very moment that I might get rabies.

Katie, Boonton, NJ: Because she would feel left out if I didn't put her on the list. And she only has nice things to say about me. I love you, Katie.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What would you do if you had no job?

The Met on Friday.

I used to fantasize about this question when I did have a job. I can certainly remember sitting in meetings and conference calls, looking out the window at sprawling Central Park, and wondering to myself, "Why am I here and not there?"

And now that I am "there" I feel like I have not been taking advantage of my no job status. I have been back for three weeks. And the last three weeks have been mostly busy doing things I did not fantasize about when I was sitting in the office. Week one was spent dealing with New York madness, Christmas shopping and card writing and cookie baking. Week two was spent having Christmas and catching up with my mom in New Jersey. Week three was packing and moving and unpacking. Not bad ways to spend my time, but minus time with my family, it all feels a little errand-y and not too interesting.

Now it's week four. And now it's time to get hardcore. Not only get serious about my job search but also start rebuilding my life in New York. Re-introduce myself to Central Park and the elliptical machine. Start cooking and baking. Start seeing my friends again. Pursue my writing ambitions. And I may feel a little insecure without a job (I do spend at least a few minutes each day having a minor freak out) but I am going have to start taking advantage of these days off because I know (or least everyone is reassuring me) that these days will soon pass me by.

This weekend was filled with much needed socializing after a week of boxes. First, I met my fellow in-between jobs friend, Hila, to check out the
new photography exhibit at the Met. Now this is something I would think about when I was sitting in my cubicle. I usually always hand over the "recommended" $20 admission, but this time, I plunked down $5. Hey, I am unemployed. Hila gave them $1 in coins. "Art should be free to the public," she declared. I admired her stance. The photography exhibit was only one room, and we only stayed an hour, taking in some European realist paintings, too. By the way, Hila is a great person to take to an art museum. She's pretty insightful, talking about the paintings as if she's seen them a million times and she personally knows the artists.

I went home and poked around a little bit and fell asleep. It must have been a deep sleep because I did not hear Dan calling my cell phone or banging on the door (we only have one set of keys at this point). He had to get the super to open the door for him, and when he came inside and saw me sleeping, he yelled at me, "What happened to you?" I think he was so worried that something bad happened to me that when he saw that I was more than okay, he just got mad. Meanwhile, I was in such a sleepy state, I could barely process what he was saying to me. "I feel like a space zombie," I finally uttered, happy to make a sentence in my groggy state of mine. After a few minutes, my head cleared and we were able to laugh about it.

We headed to the Upper West Side for some dinner with the Jacksons at Community Food and Juice--yes, that is the restaurant's name--which specializes in organic foods. It was tasty, but a little pricey, but we had fun asking the waiter a hundred questions "What kind of bun is on the hamburger?" Dan asked with all seriousness. Brett got a giant red bloody steak that turned him into a mellow cat for the rest of the night.
And then we went on a huge tangent of dissecting Dan's "low-carb" diet he did when I was away. Bagel for breakfast, chicken and potatoes for lunch, pistachios for dinner? Hmmm...not very healthy, not very low-carb.

Dan explains low-carb diets to the rest of us...

I don't buy his story...

Emily, a doctor, says that Dan's low-carb diet is bull. Brett is still thinking about his steak.

Saturday, Dan and I were in apartment shopping mode but couldn't get our act together until the afternoon, where we dragged ourselves through The Container Store and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Dan became obsessed with a $169 trash can at The Container Store that flipped open to reveal a space for regular waste and recyclables. We had to admire the great design for about 10 minutes, but it was too expensive and didn't fit in the space, so it was not meant to be. That evening, we went to see the movie, Juno, which just might be my favorite movie of the year. Dan hated it.

Sunday, I caught up with former roommate and almost 30-year-old Meagan, who now lives in a chic luxury building in the west 50's. I went to see her apartment for the first time to catch up after four months and to get some inspiration for my own place. Her apartment is straight from a West Elm catalog and looks so neat and orderly, with everything is in its place, that was I was green with envy, knowing back home I had a big mess on my hands. I then took the uptown train to the Jackson's, in some disbelief that the week had flown by so quickly and here I was at their doorstep once again, with what seems like nothing to show for it. I know that is not totally true but feels that way.

This week, I am getting hardcore. There is going to be to-do lists. There is going to be job searching. There is going to be no-job fun.

Meagan, sitting on one of her comfy couches.

P.S. A Happy Birthday call-out to my brother Pete, who turned 38 on Friday!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The evolution.

Day one: The Living Room. Dark and gloomy.

Day Two: The Living Room. Light and messy.

Day Three: The Living Room. Lots of work still , but livable.

The kitchen.

The masterful closet organization.

Dan requested I write about his self-made tie hangers. Is this blog called Everyday Ham or Everyday Dan?

We interupt moving...

for a delicious dinner made courtesy of Emily. What a better way to spend our last night on the Upper West Side than with our favorite couple eating homemade clam chowder?

Adam, Brett and Emily.

This soup was so good. And I'll take the Le Creuset Dutch Oven, too. Red, please.

Dan, as usual, making faces at me.

The new kids in town.

Our moving team: Lindsey, Brett, Dan, Gretchen, and me.

New Year's Eve, Dan and I got up bright and early to pick up the U-Haul truck. Everything was going to plan when we turn down our street on the Upper West Side and find out that we could not park. Alternate side parking was in effect and everyone was just sitting in their cars waiting for the street cleaner to come so they can move out of the way and not get ticketed. I can't believe these people sit in their cars for an hour and a half twice a week. We pulled into a spot and saw the person in front of us had a television in his car. We got out of our spot when the street cleaner came and then went right back, just like the rest of them, then we could begin to move. So lame.

We had a great moving crew. Dan's co-workers Lindsey and Gretchen to bring the smarts and savvy, Brett Jackson for the masculine power. This guy can lift things like you wouldn't believe. While the girls carried most of the little crap outside, Brett and Dan strategized how to get the two humongous, but very beloved--by me anyway--wardrobes out of the bedroom. An hour later, it was decided: Those wardrobes were not coming out. There was no way to maneuver those things out of there--Brett and Dan tried every move, every angle, every shimmy--and the wardrobes were forever stuck. We would to throw those things out of the window if we were to get them out. (Brett and Dan considered. The girls said no. Smarts and savvy working hard for the East Side move).

Adios, small, narrow apartment!

It was hard to say good-bye, but we left the wardrobes there in hopes that our landlords would consider keeping them for the next tenant (They are so perfect for the space, really). If not, we'll have to go back to destroy them. We hoped to make one trip but had to make two. Luckily there was no crosstown traffic due to the holiday. On the ride back to the old apartment, the girls sat in the back of the truck. It turned pitch black when the car engine turned on, and we felt like illegal immigrants crossing the border. Good times.

Gretchen and I cross the border.

The moving team kicked ass. We were done by 4, celebrating in the new digs with some much deserved (and much needed) celebratory champagne. It was my first move without my family helping me, and I was nervous, but it all ended up working better and easier than I imagined. Now, we had a big mess on our hands. And a new year to celebrate. After a nap, Dan and I headed downtown to a party at Dan's poker buddies' apartment where we brought in 2008 with some awesome peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate covered pretzels and more champagne to get us through the night. (Well, until 1 am when I finally lost motivation to stay awake).

Dan pours the bubbly.

Our new apartment is really nice. Dan did a great job in picking it out all by himself. The rooms are square shaped and roomy and all the appliances are new. We have an elevator and a laundry room in the building. I think we were both a little nervous about being on a busy avenue and not being able to sleep (even though we're on the 6th floor, you can hear the cars driving by). But the two of us completely zonked out on our first night and I know I haven't slept that well in weeks. The next morning Dan said that after a while the cars sounded like ocean waves. I wouldn't go that far, but it didn't bother me.

Happy 2008!

Slowly and surely, we started cleaning up our things, finding new places for our stuff. I definitely need more space for my clothes (damn you wardrobes!) but so far, we seem to be managing pretty well. When Jan 2 rolled around and Dan went to work, it felt really strange not going back as well. I know I am unemployed but there was this weird part of me that felt like I was just on vacation and would go back as well. I kind of missed seeing everyone and comparing holiday stories. I continued working on the apartment for the next two days and am finally reaching a point where I am feeling stir crazy looking at boxes and papers. It's time to start calling my friends and making plans. Everyone should be back from the holidays now.

A welcome change from unpacking, a friend from my travels, Sarah, is in town this week, so we went out for a drink. We met in Croatia and she is spending one year traveling around the world. She is stopping in New York before heading down to South America for three months. We swapped stories about Europe and she told me of her plans which sound amazing. I am a little jealous especially since it is summer there and hurting cheeks cold here in New York.

She asked me what I planned to do about work and that seems to be the lingering question out there. I am back in the States. I got me my new apartment. It's time to see the friends. But it's also time to get the job.

Drinks with Sarah.