Archives for posts with tag: friends

The worst thing about blogging and job hunting and blogging about job hunting (especially blogging about job hunting) is probably the complete lack of response that follows a given post or application.

I didn’t necessarily start this blog for an audience, and have, in fact been reluctant to draw much attention to it. I have to admit though, that a “like”, a comment or a “follow” can make my day. The problem is that now that I’ve had a taste, I want more, (There. I said it.) and I fret a bit when I don’t generate a reaction.

That’s nothing to how I feel after submitting an application. I am pathetically grateful for an automatic email response, or a chance to track my application online. Something truly is better than nothing.

The best thing about blogging and job hunting is that there is always another chance. All I have to do is write something else, and find another job that looks interesting. Practice may not make perfect, but it should make better. I can find a new topic, or refine my arguments that I am the best qualified applicant.

In the meantime, I remind myself that I do exist in the real world. My family and  friends, the people at my little job, and the folks at the Literacy Center, B.R. in particular, provide a warm-blooded context to counter the cold-blooded isolation that is writing and looking for work.

I’m going to make that a thing.

Recently, I reactivated my search for a real job. After sending out about a half dozen applications to jobs I knew I could do, but wasn’t particularly excited about, I spotted one that got me charged up. It was outside of my fields of experience, but definitely drew on my core skills.

I considered it carefully. Over-carefully, perhaps. I sent the notice to a couple of trusted friends who were familiar with my resume. Was it too much of a reach? I wanted to know. My friends reinforced my belief that I had the skills, but may have a hard time getting noticed without the specific requirements.

Armed with reassurance that I wasn’t delusional, I approached a local friend who works at the target employer. She was encouraging, and offered to forward my application to the appropriate HR rep. She advised me to apply through the main, electronic channel as well.

Last week, I got a call. I survived the screening interview, and was told my resume would be forwarded for further review. The rep who called me indicated she had concerns about my lack of experience in the field. I replied that I had been successful in transferring my skills to disciplines where I’d not had previous experience, and was certain I could do it again. I went on to say that I have already joined a local professional group as an associate member, and intended to obtain the certification I lacked regardless of whether I got the position we were talking about. (All true. Unfortunately, I have since learned that although I can study for the test, I can not apply to take the test until I have a year’s experience in the field. A little Catch 22 situation to worry about on some other day.)

I really wanted a chance to interview. I believed that with a live interview, I would be able to illustrate how well suited I was by experience and temperment for this job. I was deconstructing the requirements line by line, preparing to demonstrate how my experience had prepared me. I read about the company. I saw myself in the building, visualizing my new routines. I already had the job.

At the same time, I knew it was a long shot. There is always someone who looks better, and has all the requirements. I prepared to be realistic, and disappointed, if need be. I kept looking for other attractive opportunities. Yesterday I noticed that something else I’d been interested in was still open, a week after I spotted it originally. So I took the time to apply.

I’m glad I did.

I checked my application status on the automated system for job number one. There it was: the dreaded “resume no longer under consideration.” Sigh.

I gave myself permission to feel sorry for myself for five minutes. I shot off a few emails to people who were in the loop on this adventure, giving them the update. I remembered to thank my friend at the company for her help. Then I went and took a shower.

Five minutes is a really long time sometimes. I got distracted, thinking about what to wear for work, and remembering that I had fallen off schedule for posting to this blog (I think I was in suspended animation waiting to see what would happen after that phone call.)

I am still sorry not to have been interviewed. I still think I could have done a great job, but I have things to do. If I start to get discouraged again about this or any other thing, I will make a date with myself for another five minute pity party, and set a timer.

Reunions offer a particular kind of joy: the past and present converge, and the resulting emotions are layered and complex.

I recently attended a high school reunion, and during the same trip I made a visit to my former office. I was also able to spend hours of time in long conversations with several of my oldest and closest friends.

I doubt a stay at the most exclusive spa would have been more reviving. I came home with a reserve of energy and optimism that I can still tap.

Today I am anticipating another reunion, but not for me.

My literacy student, B.R., had a Big Brother when he was a kid. I’ve heard many stories about the time they spent together. Jim, the Big Brother, took B.R. places he’d never been, and exposed him to music he’d never heard. B.R. was exposed to a broader world than he had imagined. He told me about his gratitude, and his wish to look his Big Brother up someday, just to see how he was doing. The last time B.R. mentioned Jim was  Monday night, as we were wrapping up our lesson.

At home that night, on a whim, I got to Googling. I had a name and an occupation to work with.

In a few minutes, I found someone who could very well be THE Jim, and an email address.

It took less time to find him than to compose a message and decide whether to send it. I knew how B.R. would feel about a reunion, but what about his former Big Brother? The internet offers a wonderful but creepy capacity to find people who may have very good reasons not to want to be found by a particular searcher.

I wrote a brief note, explaining how I knew B.R., and saying that if he was the right person, and wanted to be in contact, I could convey a message to B.R.  If he was the right person, but did not want contact, I just wanted him to know that B.R. remembered him with affection and gratitude. Then I went to bed.

Yesterday morning, I had a response. I’ve been smiling ever since. Yes, Jim said. Although he lives half a world away right now, he’ll be home this summer and would love to see B.R. In the meantime, we’ve arranged for me to show B.R. a video message tonight when he and I meet for our regular lesson. Jim also sent a link to a photo sharing site, where he has uploaded pictures from their time together, so many years ago.

I’m saving the video for B.R., but I peeked at the photos. There was my student in a picture dated 1981. There were several shots of him with the same serious, sad face I recognized, but several more with B.R. grinning like I know he can. The past and present converged, reminding me of the time between, and the violence and hardship B.R. had known before we met.

Somewhere between the smiling kid at the beach, fishing and learning to appreciate the Beatles, and the smiling man at the literacy center, reading and learning to overcome his fear of writing and spelling tests, there was a time that is not mine to share, so different from B.R.’s childhood fun and the present.

The sweetness in the photographs. The bitter awareness that B.R.’s happy innocent enjoyment would morph into something else entirely. The incongruence of his early adulthood to the person I know now. The cheerful thrill I feel at surprising B.R. tonight. Of course I wanted to cry, but were they happy tears or sad?

The weather was perfect. Waldo and I had a great walk. The Kid called me as I was driving to work, and we had a fine chat; she called me “the best mom ever.” I walked into the store with the sense that I was in charge; I could take it or leave it, and I liked my co-workers very much.

I had an excellent lunch- a beautiful soup made by Dr. T.  A friend from my last job sent me a message just to say hello.

I spent the afternoon off the sales floor, doing work in the office with my general manager (the big boss) at my side. We talked. I got everything I needed to do finished, and stayed a little late to handle a customer who was unhappy with somebody else. He and his wife were both satisfied by the time I left. My GM was happy too.

Dr. T fixed a nice dinner, we  watched some TV, and laughed at the dog and the cat.

Sometimes the smallest, most ordinary days are the best. I am very grateful to have noticed this one.

Two weeks since I’ve posted? Yikes!

It’s not that I have nothing to say; I’ve got at least a half dozen half-written posts, lined up on the tarmac like so many little planes, waiting for a little fuel here, a safety check there, before taking off to the great wide world.

It’s not that I have no time. Sure, I’ve been working more, and trying to be more disciplined about my house projects (upper kitchen cabinets are moving along, thank you) but I still manage to have more than enough time to feed my Lexulous addiction (the best on-line word game around, in my opinion) and daydream of future home improvements, often involving a catalogue from a store that once had a featured role on an episode of “Friends.”

I was doing most of my writing early in the morning, while the rest of my family slept. That worked very well until a couple of weeks ago, when we brought home a puppy. I write in our guest room/office/craft spot/storageforeverythingweareambivalentaboutunit. It is no place for an inquisitive creature with a burning desire to chew.  I have spent so little time there lately that the poor plants on the shelves over my desk required urgent care this week.

My early mornings now go something like this:

6:00 a.m.: get up, let Waldo out of his crate, go to the back yard and praise him enthusiastically for urinating and defecating. Go inside, feed him. Go back outside, and repeat step one.

Then we hang around until someone else gets up so I can take a shower. By this time, I either have to go to work, or someone wants me to do something or go somewhere, and the writing doesn’t happen. It’s been swell so far, but it can’t  last. Even if no one else misses my posts, I do.

I certainly don’t regret the puppy. He hasn’t kept me from writing; my reliance on my old routine has. It was great while it lasted, but things must change. I can:  a) find another time to write (like now, while everyone is asleep late at night) or: b) I can straighten up the room.  Or both. The thing is, what once worked no longer does, and I must take some action.

(Consider yourselves warned- when I get back into the swing of things, you will be hearing a lot about this puppy.)

One of the things I have noticed since beginning this little blog is that given the opportunity, I’d start almost everything I write with the phrase, “one of the things.” I don’t understand it; I don’t think I use the expression in everyday speech. I have never gone so far as to type it until today, either. It’s just a little warm-up exercise, I guess. I think “One of the things…” as I formulate my topic sentence the way someone else might crack his knuckles as he prepared to act.

Which reminds me of a boy I knew in high school, who used to love to tease me by cracking his knuckles (“Eeew, gross!”) when he sat next to me in Algebra. Given my math aversion, it was the highlight of the class. His name was Clint, and he was charming and funny and had a big mustache, which was fascinating to a sophomore girl like me. I had a vague, unrequited crush on him, one of many such crushes I carried for the boys who were remotely pleasant to me in those days. (I was no High School Queen, if I haven’t mentioned that- no mojo at all.)

I heard several years ago that he had died of cancer, which surprised and saddened me, and made me realize that my assumption that I would always have a chance to catch up with the friends of my youth was just an assumption. I’d like to say that the realization spurred me to finally organize that informal reunion I’d been contemplating, but it didn’t. I have, however, managed to stay in fairly good contact with my dearest friends from that time, even though there is really never enough time for that, is there?

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

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