28 June 2006

Americrap

So I did turn down a job over the weekend. It was fun in its own way, but I think I'd rather have a job/future plan. In many ways, the position was perfect: part public policy/legal process, part community outreach, part research. The catch? It's an Americorps position, meaning you get paid not really enough to live on.

The point of the low Americorps stipend (as I understand it), is to have corps members live at the economic level of the communities they serve. Whether that's a good idea or not (debatable...), it seems totally irrelevant to the office job for which I applied. They're not looking for someone who can learn a valuable lesson by living in and helping a poor community. Instead, their ideal candidate is a recent college grad who has the ability to live at home, rendering the financials irrelevant. I'd be willing to bet that the person currently filling the position is doing just that. Either that, or she lives in a bad neighborhood while working in the loop alongside lawyers making 5 times as much (still not much for lawyers, but you get the idea). Also, they don't change the stiped based on where you live. Considering the circumstances, I'm fairly offended that the organization is even taking Americorps funding. Non-profit or not, if you want good work, you should find a way to pay for it.

Okay, rant over. My New Year's Resolution was to learn to let go of things I can't change. Well, that and to be more agreeable.

Off to bed to enjoy a good old midwestern T-storm.

25 June 2006

I'll Be Your Spiritual Guide This Evening

Finished The Da Vinci Code last week. I resisted reading it for a long time because I knew it would be poorly written. Which it was. And even poorly conceived in a lot of ways .

(Dan Brown's idea of suspense: 'she thought about telling him the important secret, but decided to keep her mouth closed for the time being' end chapter)

But I really enjoyed it. A good conspiracy, great (if often obvious) symbolism, and historical context to boot. If only the man had a decent editor.

My point, though, is that I really appreciate books that make you believe, even for a minute, that there might be a little magic in the world. When a lot of your day is spent with your face in some guy's armpit on the el or having people swear at you from their cars, it can be hard to believe that there's any spirituality or even enough basic kindness left in the world. Though Brown certainly tears down some of the foundations of modern Christianity (memo to Church: relax, it's fiction!), he also lays out a fairly convincing argument that we, as humans, are part of something greater than our individual selves. Brown's characters (both dead and alive) may be a bit flat, but they're cognizant of their place relative to the generations before them and the generations to come; they show us something above a plodding day-to-day reality; . I'm not religious, but it's nice to believe, even for a minute, that we're in this together.

I hope that makes sense. I haven't slept all that much this week.

I've moved onto The World According to Garp. John Irving doesn't disappoint.

Oh yeah, and the job didn't work out. More on that later.

21 June 2006

Feast

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a bite. Someone sent me an email on Monday night because he wants to "talk further" with me about a job I applied for (non-profit if you're curious). So that phone call is on Friday.

Monday night was positively thrilling. Work was exciting since we're having all-staff meetings, weather was beautiful, I had dinner with my friend, got the interview request, and found out the Gin Blossoms are playing Friday night at the zoo (believe it or not, there's a summer concert series called Jamming at the Zoo). I wasn't aware that the Gin Blossoms were technically still a band, so that was *really* good news. Whew. Needless to say if you're familiar with my excitability, I had some trouble sleeping and annoyed the cat mightily with the almost constant movement until 2 in the morning.

It's either feast or famine for me on the exciting life quest. I'll have to find a way to balance that out.

19 June 2006

A Non-Profit Girl in a Corporate World

Had dinner with an out-of-town friend from high school tonight. She brought someone she knew from college. Both definitely corporate types, but certainly down to earth enough for me to enjoy the company. S., (the friend of a friend) seemed a little stand-offish at first, but she warmed right up at my stupendous tour of Millennium Park (really, it’s good, you should take it) and dinner is going well until….


S: You know, the daughter of the owner of McSorely’s went to Yale. I met her once. It’s totally the best bar in New York. Seriously. Well, I mean, all the other ones like it are in Brooklyn (waves hand dismissively).

E (the high school friend): I heard her grandfather lost it in a poker game.

S: True story. And she’s really intent on getting it back. I can totally see why. How great would it be to own the coolest bar in the city?

E: Amazing

S: We should open a bar. You know how much money you can make through mark-up on a keg?

E: Why don’t we? How much capital would we need?

S: Quite a bit, but you already know tons of people in the finance industry. And plus, you don't even really have to pay the bartenders much because people tip so well in New York.

Me: (finally finds voice) Wait a minute. You guys could really be happy owning a bar for the rest of your lives? Selling overpriced beer to 22-year olds and making small talk for a living?

E: Sure

S: Why not?


Particularly interesting for me, since I’m starting to look for a new job and there seems to be a fork in the road. On one hand, na├»ve as it sometimes sounds, I honestly feel a responsibility to use my good fortune and my education to make some difference in the world. I need to make sure that my job allows me to look myself in the mirror every morning. And I'm proud of that, so thank you parents (and happy 29th anniversary, by the way!). Still, despite their sometimes inane conversation topics and occasional socialite-in-training comments, these two ivy leaguers are driven and really, really intelligent (Park tour led to dinner led to coffee and almost four hours of truly stimulating conversation, despite the bar blip) and I just haven’t found enough of that in the non-profit world. In some ways, elitism and over-ambition (thanks for the word, mom, it’s apt here) is easier to take than the frighteningly slow pace of change (??) and general lack of precision in the non-profit world.

So do I find another job with a small do-gooder non-profit (perhaps with a bit more leaning towards policy, which is where I ultimately want to end up) or do I sell out slightly and take a consulting-type job that guarantees young, intelligent coworkers and a faster pace? Guess we'll see who responds to the resumes first...

18 June 2006

Sands of Time...

The radio station I listen to is doing an all 90's weekend (coincidentally, the temperature is also in the '90's this weekend so they're thrilled) and I'm happy as a clam. Blind Melon, Savage Garden, The Spice Girls...hilarious! I was somewhat surprised to find that we're far enough out of the 90's that the music from it seems old. I'll be 24 in about six weeks and while that's still often embarassingly young, it's apparently old enough to be able to hear music and say "I used to listen to this in high school."

I never used to understand how people could get stuck in a certain music era with so much new stuff coming out all the time. But rocking out to my 90's weekend, well, it's starting to be a little more clear. Like it or not, I'm headed right towards being one of those 'back in the day' people.

A girl I sometimes play baseball with is 14 and while I know intuitively that she's spotting me ten years, sometimes it really bites me in the butt. The other day, we were talking about September 11th for some reason and she said, "I remember really well, because I was in 3rd grade." Whoa.

I leave you with the immortal words of Geggy Tah

All I wanna do is to thank you/
Even though I don't know who you are/
You let me change lanes/
When I was driving in my car/


What do you suppose ever happened to those guys?

16 June 2006

I Can't Sew Either...

My protocol for deciding when to get a haircut: One day, I wake up and I can't stand it anymore. That was yesterday, so I got a haircut last night. Luckily, my stylist seems to be available short notice, which is maybe a bad thing...

Haircuts, though, are not my favorite. I've realized that I'm mildly uncomfortable among women who have the so-called 'feminine skills' that I don't. Mostly because I have no idea how to answer their questions. Here's a good sample of the way it goes:

Stylist: Wow, you have a lot of hair.

Me: (staring at self in mirror) Um, thanks. It, uh, grows fast.

Stylist: Okay, so what are we doing with it today?

Me: Well, I was hoping *you* could make it shorter.

Stylist: Well, I can't make it longer. (popular joke)

Me: Yeah. I, uh, I just want to still be able to pull it back.

Stylist: (disappointed) We can't cut much off then.

Me: The ponytail is about 4 inches long now, so I was hoping maybe 3 inches?

Stylist: No way. If you cut off 3 inches, you'll have no hair.

Me: Oh, um, okay. Well, however much you can cut off then.

Stylist: 2, 2.5 inches maybe. Longer in front or back?

Me: Uh... (stares self in face in case answer is buried deep within eyes)

Stylist: If it's longer in front, it will be easier to pull back even when it's short.

Me: Oh, sounds good. Front then.

Stylist: Layers?

Me: Um, yeah, I think so. Whatever you did last time, I liked it.

Stylist: Oh, okay, I'll do that.


I like the haircut though, so I guess all's well that ends well.

I have the same problem at the dry cleaners, where they once asked me what kind of thread I wanted them to use to fix my sweater. Look honey, I'm not that kind of girl. Though to be fair, the Home Depot guy once wanted me to saw the wood myself (yes, good policy: customers use the saw!)

15 June 2006

My Office

I work for a non-profit and generally, that's a good thing. It's sort of like built-in tool repellent. No one's in it just for the money. Which is good, since there's not too much to get. So I like the people, but the administrative and organizational hurdles are *killing* me. I present to you the reason I can't get my work done this week.

We use an online system to compile our student data and different programs are stored under different usernames and passwords. My computer crashed recently (another bonus of non-profit work--crappy technology) and I lost all of my old email, including the password for a new program group I had created. No matter, right? I'll just ask the online support people to resend the password. Someone else in my office is the "account coordinator" so the password can only be sent to her for "security reasons." (if only terrorists wanted to steal the password and enter data for me). Fine, except her e-mail inbox is full, meaning she can't see any of her new mail and though she usually means well, she's totally incapable of thinking of anyone except herself. In conclusion, she "hasn't gotten around" to cleaning it out and without that five minutes of busywork from her, I can't do my damn job.

One nice thing about having no power and basically doing what you're told all the time is that I can just sic my boss on the account coordinator and cool my heels. Outside of watching The Office a couple of times, I wouldn't really know, but I bet this kind of thing doesn't happen at a for-profit. Time is money, after all.

I'm starting to understand why people like construction work so much. See pile of materials--create building.

12 June 2006

Pairs and Pork

Had some friends in town this weekend for Ribfest in North Center and general visiting. I was actually completely kidding when I told them they should come (though pork is GREAT it may not be worth 250 and 500 miles), but they needed a vacation and it's as good an excuse as any to see each other.

I didn't realize one of them was bringing her husband until sometime last week. He's a good guy (and generally when any guy is with 3 or 4 intelligent women, you barely notice him), but it's just that I'm beginning to realize that my life is on the verge of changing. I may have been expecting just my girls, but really, why wouldn't she bring him for ribs and beer? They're married, they both have weekends off, and though he and I only know each other through her (well, and one stupendously boring math class), we're certainly friendly. "Real adults" of the world, help! Is this something you're supposed to assume when people begin to pair off? And will I see her alone again, or is that part of our relationship over?

*Of course, no one is forbidden to do anything alone, but how many married people do you know who have a tight group of friends that excludes their spouse?*

07 June 2006

Arf

The American dog epidemic is really getting out of control. I've had three people in the past six weeks ask me if they could bring their dogs to my apartment, two for a short period of time and one for a the weekend. Luckily, I have a cat who is afraid of her shadow. Pontificating on what might happen were she chased around her own territory by a dog gives me a convenient excuse to avoid the dog zealots, but really I'm sort of peeved by the request, which makes me feel like the bad guy for refusing. Particularly the short term requests. It's not my fault you saddled yourself with a pet that's about three quarters of the way to a baby. If it can't stay home alone for a few hours, then I guess you can't be away from home for more than a few hours.

And lately just about every time I'm in a park or even on a public sidewalk, someone's lab or westie is all over me. I don't mind tossing a tennis ball with a friendly golden retriever, (the cat will play fetch with a headband on occasion, but I get the distinct feeling she's just trying to restore the household order I have so unceremoniously disrupted), but I don't understand when it became acceptable to make everyone else deal with your pet.

I mean, I love love love my cat and I probably talk about her a little more than everyone else ideally needs, but I don't dump her on your lap during your lunch hour walk, do I? In fact, I tend to ask guests in my apartment if they mind her on the couch. If they seem uncomfortable, off she goes. (Her memory is about 10 minutes, so I think I'm making the right decision).

I know they just asked and it's my right to say no, but I just keep thinking: if only people put half this time and energy into raising their children...

04 June 2006

Klutz For A Day

Last night, I walked directly into a screen door. Not once, but *twice* within the span of half an hour. And I was...stone.cold.sober. The first time I was thankfully alone, the second time not so lucky.

I don't want to imply that I'm a ballet dancer or anything, but I'm just generally not clumsy. I'm careful, coordinated, and relatively little, so other than ripping my pants jumping a fence when I was 12 and having a fantastic nap interrupted by the announcement of my train stop and subsequently stumbling into the door frame about three months ago, this isn't a frequent problem for me. But klutzes of the world: today, I salute you because jeez, that was incredibly embarrassing.

FYI: If you walk face-first into a decently-constructed screen door, you will, in fact, bounce off into the person behind you. Just so you know.