Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I know I've been absent for a while... let's just say that unemployment doesn't suit me all too well. On the bright side, I'm caught up on errands, I've had lunch downtown with friends, and I'm playing piano a couple of hours each day at the library.  Hooray!

The whole point of this post is just to say that I have a first round video conference interview with 'best place to work' tomorrow.  I'm incredibly excited, and scared, and have been preparing for most of the week.  It looks like Nick is getting an incredible offer in the next day or two, so if I can pull this off, we'll be back on our feet again!

I'll certainly post a rundown of the proceedings of the interview tomorrow, which is a fabled nightmare in the blogosphere...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The horrible cycle...

I always think I've got it beat, but this always happens.  Things start rolling, I get into a nice groove, and then they change.  I try to keep my momentum, but end up crashing hard.  I'm sure a therapist would say that I'm lacking some sort of maturity that keeps a person functioning during seemingly neverending bouts of under-stimulation, but I'd like to think my problem is just that no one else has to go through with this sort of thing.  Don't worry, I am fully aware that I'm kidding myself.

Week one of unemployment was fine, due to a ton of craziness (hair photo shoot for salon, coffee date in Evanston, free ticket run-off from TSG) and then I spent a few days in Georgia visiting my parents.  I've been off the plane for four hours, have already bathed the dog and cleaned my room, and I am crashing.  The library will be too crowded to play piano, it's too cold(!) out to walk Elvis or enjoy the sunshine, and I feel like a giant lump of failure-ridden mush.  

My dad is definitely a product of his generation: this week, I could not get him to understand the fact that I need to be working.  I need stimulation, inspiration, and a sense of getting things accomplished.  I also need the feeling that I'm paying my own bills (at least some of them).  He thinks that having all of this free time is an incredible opportunity for me to 'be happy'... but I just don't understand how a 23 year old can be happy by being a complete failure in their own eyes.  I'm not a good enough writer or musician to embark upon all of these projects people keep suggesting, and I'm definitely not in the mental state to make the much-needed return to ballet classes.  In a nutshell, I don't know what to do with the gift of time.  I am such a spoiled brat.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Well, I've got to hand it to Kate, because that's one lady who's got it all figured out. She called me out on yesterday's disillusionment, and I definitely deserved it. What I really love about blogging is that you end up with a network of people who might actually really relate (or disagree) with what you say, and the resulting discourse can really make you think things over.

'Best place to work' called yesterday, and my HR contact has finally come through with an interview. Not only is it an interview, but one with a team involved with a product I'm super excited about. The position is also going to be a lot more than filtering phone calls and calendar management: I'll have a chance to plan and implement some really interesting events, while helping along a process that I think is really changing the way that this company does business.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's all winding down

Well, it's Thursday. After an insane week at work (in a position that's supposed to be extremely low stress), I'm passing the torch to my new incumbent. I've been rather stressed about training her, as I basically created the position and care very deeply about the office, my co-workers, and the clients. I don't want to let anybody down.

Tomorrow's my last day, and then I'm officially unemployed. It's a little frightening, especially considering I did NOT get the research job, and 'best place to work' is being slower than molasses. The woman hiring for the research job was incredibly nice about it, and they assured that I was extremely qualified and definitely in the final decision. What it came down to, I realize, is that the other candidate was able to interview in person, while I was doing everything over the phone. All the more reason to move soon!

Nick and I had a great talk last night while enjoying what will likely be our last dinner for a long time at our favorite Chicago restaurant. As it turns out, I really do not think that I want to go into nonprofit development. The idea of making a living out of asking people for money leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially asking for money for something like dance instead of for a life-or-death cause. I had gotten wrapped up in the idea of still contributing to the dance world before I really thought it out. I'd love to work for a dance or arts organization, but not in development.

We realized together (Nick is so good at helping me toward my own conclusions) that what would make me exceedingly happy is to be some sort of Project Manager. I thrive on busy situations where I am in charge of the operations, the nitty-gritty. My happiest times in college were when I was stage managing or producing shows, or when I was putting together choreography. I love orchestrating something large; I can see the big picture and how to get there. 'Best place to work' would certainly help me get to this sort of role, and so would a number of other places.

While I haven't made any sort of true commitment, I'm leaving May 3rd. Hopefully, once I'm in San Francisco, I can take advantage of the connections Nick and I have made. I'm expecting that someone in the know will be able to point me in the right direction for this new sort of goal!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eye on the Prize

It's been an interesting weekend, bleeding into what promises to be an interesting week (and end to the month). Nick flew in Friday night, and I carted him around the city showing him all my favorite places. He's in town for his graduation from the Professional Development Program at Abbott Laboratories, which means that he too will soon be unemployed (my last day at TSG is Friday, and I made a hire for my replacement today). We're screwed! Okay, we'll probably be fine... he'll be especially fine, what with his highly marketable majors...

It was a good weekend for me because I got a lot off of my chest. The past few months have been heavily precipitated with panic attacks regarding work, life, love, and my ever-expanding ass. My buddy Tony has been trying to get me to 'write it all down' ever since I met him, and I've fully resisted it up until now. Nick suggested making lists of our goals, what needs to get done, and what we'd like to get done, with everything categorized and prioritized properly. We only really got around to the Travel list, but the others should be forthcoming. It really does make me feel better because: A, I know that Nick is focusing on the same thing as me, B, I have some sort of focus besides just getting it all together, and C, I can entertain the thought that this list of hopes and goals is actually a loose timeline of a successful and happy life together.

Nick also commented on the future of this blog. All weekend he marveled at how I knew how to get around the city, knew exactly where to go eat, and had a wealth of interesting websites at my fingertips to figure out, say, how to get a Chicago-style hotdog in Logan Square at 11pm. Interestingly enough, this Chi-savvy is a huge reason why I am less than enthusiastic about the idea of a new city, because I'm afraid that I won't develop such an urban fluency in San Francisco or that it won't be quite so user-friendly. However, I am looking forward to getting to know San Fran as well as I know Chicago, and hopefully better. Thus this blog will turn into a diary of sorts following my explorations, discoveries, and recommendations in the new city. I'm rather looking forward to it!

also: hopefully this blog will need an aim different than 'looking for a job' soon

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Holy ballet, batman!

Last night my good friend Tony and I visited the art-deco perfection that is the Civic Opera House, to see American Ballet Theater perform 'Sleeping Beauty'. In all honesty, I hate story ballets, Tony had never seen a ballet, and it seemed like a good excuse to take advantage of incredible free tickets and go out for a few drinks.

The production, in all of its over-the-top glory, is quite easily the most lavish and beautiful show I have ever seen (I love the works of Paul Taylor or Mark Morris for their simplicity, and thus they are like apples to ABT's oranges). Usually, when I see dance, I am crying because I miss it so much and wish I was on stage. Last night I cried because I was able to see some of the greatest moments of ballet performed incredibly by some of the greatest athletes/artists in the world. The corps de ballet was a divine collection of individuals (not clones), the charactere roles were perfectly done, and the principal dancers absolutely took my breath away.

When I was in middle school, my ballet teacher Sergey asked us "how do you define grace?". The room of pre-teens gave verbose, dreamy descriptions having to do with beauty, style, poise, etc. Sergey replied, "Grace is to have no extra movements; grace is purity of movement and line; grace is to be without style or affectation." At that tender age, I didn't completely buy it. The most graceful people I noticed were generally in ball gowns or tutus, with as many extras and as much style piled on as possible.

Since then, I've 'gotten it'. But the idea never hit home so much as it did watching the suave (oh so sexy) Jose Manuel Carreno run through the paces as the Prince last night: it was the cleanest, most effortless, most graceful (in every sense of Sergey's definition) dancing I have ever witnessed. The dancers who wow-ed last night were the same: knife sharp, clean, effortless grace.

Tony, I believe, is now a ballet convert. He loved it, he 'got' it, he'll certainly be back. As an art history major who dabbled in design (but works in construction management... go figure), he is incredibly insightful and has a wealth of knowledge that can be tied into his analysis of the form, and it was refreshing to speak with someone who isn't so jaded with the form as I am. All in all, the evening was a splendid success and a sign that one, I'm coming out of mourning for my lost dance career, and two, ballet is coming back in a big way.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Updates, updates, updates

Lately I haven't been finding a whole lot of time to write... because I'm suddenly enjoying reading, being outside, and hanging around humans again. What a concept! We finally had a weekend here in Chi-town where temps were consecutively in the 60s, so I was able to take Elvis on long walks, walk home from work (okay, I probably shouldn't have done that anyway), and go to a Cubs game with my new friends. Leave it to Chicago to put up a fight in losing a 23-year resident.

Yesterday's talk with the Director of Development was a bit odd; on one hand, it felt like a formality, but at the same time I also had the acute feeling that if we didn't 'click' then I could kiss the job sayonara. I played it well, however: I played friendly hardball in the interview, shot a thank-you email out to them immediately, and then emailed 'best place to work' to fill them in on the details. This might seem a bit bold, but my contact there keeps telling me to let them know when I'm interviewing elsewhere. Needless to say, I got a frantic phone call from Nicole telling me of prospective teams interested in me, and I've been written into her schedule for a phone update on Thursday. Show momma the offers!

Moral of the story: play your hand the best you can. A little bluffing can do wonders if you do it right. You're tryin for a job, and it is the same as any other business transaction. You have to be tactful, witty, and on the offensive.

I'm also really looking forward to tomorrow: American Ballet Theater is performing 'Sleeping Beauty' at the Civic Opera House! And, of course, PR girl has free tickets courtesy of this great job I'm leaving in just a few days. For once the second ticket in my pair is getting used, as I'm taking a new, great friend who also happens to be a ballet virgin. Look for a fun re-cap on Thursday, or perhaps tomorrow night after the festivities.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A quote...

to dwell on, from Waiting for God by French mystic/political activist Simone Weil (1909-1943):

"When an apprentice gets hurt, or complains of being tired, the workmen have this fine expression: 'It is the trade entering his body.' Each time that we have some pain to go through, we can say to ourselves quite truly that it is the order and beauty of the world that are entering our body."

Come on, order and beauty, do your worst.

(On a side note, the ballet company as well as the 'kickass' company emailed me last night for further phone interviews; 'best place to work' is still silent. We shall see what happens, seeing as how I am fairly certain I shall be loading up the Prius with clothing, books, files, and dog at the end of the month!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

An update on it all...

People who know me know that when things get bad, I get silent. So, since I haven't talked to my mom in days or blogged, that means that things aren't going all that swimmingly.

After coming down from my phone interview high on Friday, I became skeptical. The last time this woman got my hopes up, she called me while I was walking to an in-person interview in San Francisco to tell me that she had offered the position to the first interviewee. Apparently the girl is wonderful. I'm happy for them, but justifiably skeptical this time around.

Turns out I was right to be skeptical: between Saturday and this morning, the job has been posted in several different areas. Apparently I didn't quite 'fit the bill' as much as I felt that I had, and they've continued the search. Bummer!

It was a research and stewardship position at a ballet company. Ballet experience: 20 years. Arts administration experience: probably around 4 by now. Research and stewardship is essentially what I do right now at the PR firm: for our president I research prospective media outlets, VIP's for event attendance, etc. and help to make suggestions for pitches for features/partnerships. However, the woman at the ballet company seemed to be bothered by the fact that all of this experience wasn't completely correlated.

Oh well, this isn't to say that I heard a resounding 'no.' But it's always disconcerting to be able to tell that you disappointed someone when you were trying your best (I've found that one of the big realizations of growing up is that often your best is simply not enough).

I'll survive, though; 'best place to work' is due to call with an update soon. The last thing I heard was "we all know you will be a great fit, the stars just need to align for you". I need to be excited for this, and remember that I am moving to my dream city! I was scolded last night by Nick for forgetting that life and love come first, and I have been forgetting the great changes about to come in those spheres in favor of dwelling upon career issues which just require patience, perseverance, and time.