Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

‘Tis a Gift August 28, 2009

DSCN3952It’s been four months since I set out to simplify my life, and I thought it was high time for an update on the process. While I admit it took some massively complicated chaos this summer,  I’ve arrived at a living situation that is infinitely simpler.

Four months ago I drove to work each morning (and home for lunch to take the dog out) and home again in the evening. Today, Gabe has a better home in Ohio, and I ride my bike or walk two blocks down the street to go to work.

I used to cart myself and a fat overnight bag to J’s practically every other night. Now we’re settled under one roof, helping each other with meals, bills and household responsibilities. Also, we’ve both shed a quite a bit of unnecessary stuff, via either donations or sale. And while I’ve been adimant about keeping our load light, we were able to cheaply find the few furniture pieces we needed through Craig’s List. Not only were these in great condition and priced far lower than anything we could find in stores, but I felt pretty good about reusing these items, saving them from a wasteful end in a landfill.

But this is not the end of the road, amigos. I see my present situation as a good starting point for finding new ways to waste less, to want less and to unburden my life. Admittedly, a small beach town is not a shabby locale for such things. I feel much less pressure to keep up with Vogue, and more inclination to be comfortable. And with so much available in the way of outdoor activites (beaches, bike trails, parks, farmers markets…), I have more money to set aside for savings and clearing my credit card debt.

Speaking of which, I was talking to my manager the other day about this woman who comes in almost every day and spends between $30 and $50 on lunch (some rolls, a little sashimi, a couple glasses of wine…). How does she DO this?? My manager’s response? “Well, some of them are just plain filthy rich. But a lot of them like to live like they’re wealthy and just have massive credit card debt. They’ll spend hundreds of dollars here, and then you won’t see them for months because they’ve maxed out their cards.”

That blew my mind. And yet, I know just the type of people she’s referring to. And like these big spenders, I think many people are under the impression that you have to spend in order to enjoy life – and that credit cards are a necessary evil.

My next mission: to prove them undeniably wrong.

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Waiting? I Think Not. August 26, 2009

Filed under: adulthood,life,thoughts — curiouserx2 @ 1:39 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

L1000324Waiting, mes amis, is what I might have called my previous position as office manager of an interactive marketing agency. There, at my “real” job, I sat at a desk for 8 hours a day mostly biding my time until I could figure out my next move (read: until I could convince myself to stop doing what I was “supposed” to be doing and start doing what I wanted to do).

And what did I want to do?

By god I wanted to live by the beach.

Don’t ask me how it took 28 years to come to this conclusion. Haven’t I always decorated my apartments like beach houses? Haven’t I always doodled swaying palm trees and crashing waves in the margins of my notebooks? And haven’t I spent endless winters parked by a space heater vowing someday to replace all my pumps and stilettos with flip flops?

How, then, did I not get a clue a little sooner?

No sense dwelling on strangely spent years, however. Now that I write to you not from a swanky, little third floor office or even the Midwest, with its autumn already on the horizon, now that I’ve made it to the beach, I find that taking up waiting tables for the time being is not just bearable – it somehow makes sense.

And how seductive the waiting game is… I can think of at least five instances in which I’ve sworn it off forever, only to find myself tying on another apron. How hard it is to deny something when (damnit!)  you’re just really good at it. And then there’s the cashflow. Between that and a skin that’s been thickening for some six years, I’ve amassed something of a protective shell capable of deflecting any swing a customer can throw.

Add to that the rush. I liken it to a runner’s high – which I think I may have only experienced once, and which I’m convinced is only experienced by someone who runs infinitely more frequently than I do. What I mean is – you keep at it long enough, and you get into a sort of stride. And when you’re in the stride, and the tables are full and everything clicks… well it’s far more satisfying work than wearing adorable outfits behind a desk. There’s something to physically earning every dollar you take home that has always (and will always) appealed to me.

And because serving shifts are typically shorter than the average workday, I arrive home with time to attend to creative projects, to get outdoors, to head to the beach I moved here to be close to.

To live.

I’m not implying I’ll be a server until I’m old and gray. Of course I hope to mold one of my 342 interests into a career that’s both lucrative and stimulating. But in the meantime, I’m happy to serve a bunch of fellow sushi connoisseurs (or even the California Roll types – you know who you are) and to never again find myself just… waiting.

~a

 

One Year August 20, 2009

sushiBefore I get rolling on today’s topic, I’d like to report that I am no longer unemployed. It seems certain statements made in my last post, while laden with sarcasm, turned out to be strangely prophetic. I’d only been in Wilmington for one day when my cell phone rang with an unidentified Wilmington number. It had to be one of the 32 places I’d put in applications, and I knew that whatever job I was about to be offered, I would have to accept. Luckily for me, the voice on the other end of the line was the manager at a sushi place right down the street from our new apartment. With what probably seemed like excessive enthusiasm, I took the job, hung up and thanked my lucky stars someone had actually hired me.

I then got calls from 5 other restuarants, also offering me work.

So apparently there was never anything to worry about, but I’m happy to say that after a couple day’s training, I think sushi and I were meant to be.

Moving along, though… I was flipping through Facebook this afternoon when I came across a little artifact that had been sitting on my profile for precisely one year. It was a Graffiti note that I’d drawn –  painstakingly, nervously. So nervously in fact that, as I recall, this final draft was actually a third or fourth attempt.

I’m not an artist.

I draw stick figures and smiley faces. I have no perception of proportion, no hand-eye coordination. But I’d decided to draw this particular invitation, thinking it fitting because it was the recipient’s fault that I had the program at all.

I was a Myspace girl. He was a Facebook boy.

We’d met at a photography studio I was managing. He was a lowly intern, and although I found him intriguing, I put up a wall of professionalism and ignored him mercilessly. But at the end of his internship, I was about to leave my position at the studio as well. All of the employees met one night for one last bash, and he and I were the last two standing along with my boss and his girlfriend – who got into a fistfight. There was a cut eye (hers) and broken nose (his) involved, and the intern and I were dragged into the argument. After an hour or so of high drama, both the boss and his girlfriend left the scene separately, and the intern and I turned to each other in bewilderment.

We sat at a patio table, unclear of what exactly had just happened. “I’m glad you were here,” I said, just as the proverbial ugly lights cast their glare out onto the patio, and the barback began stacking the chairs around us. “Can I give you a ride home?” I asked, and he did not decline.

On the way to my car, we passed a playground. “Swing?” he asked.

“What?” I turned to catch his meaning, but he was already up and over the fence.

“Coming?” he offered a hand over the low fence to help me over, and I, without a thought, followed. The intern lead me to the swingset, where twin swings swayed in the warm night breeze. And there we sat, occasionally rocking back and forth, and talked about everything and nothing at all. For how long, I don’t know, because it’s times like these when time means nothing.

I did eventually arrive home at 5:30 in the morning. My alarm would blare in an hour to wake me up to go work at the outdoor market in downtown Columbus. That evening, I would sit, a little delirious from lack of sleep, and devise a way- a meaningful, clever way- to ask the intern on a date. Not because I was a particularly bold girl, or dated often, or liked making the first move, but because I was relentlessly aware that I could not let this particular guy pass me by. Hence the nervous rendering of the Facebook graffiti.

The point is, there were at least a half a million times while I formed lines and shaded with my mouse with that little art program (never quite to my satisfaction) that I found myself second guessing and playing the “what if” game, questioning whether what I was up to was completely silly and would be viewed by its recipient as, well, lame. For one of the first times in my life, however, it occurred to me that what I was doing was being myself. I found my little plan both amusing and thoughtful. So, if some guy found it otherwise, well, he wouldn’t exactly be prepared for the girl behind it. Having decided then that I had nothing to lose,  I clicked the “send” button, and off my graffiti went.

As you’ve probably surmised, the answer was a resounding “Yes.” Jeff and I met at a favorite cafe to share a bottle of wine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I did, however, make him ask for the second date.

~a

render

 

Gainfully Unemployed August 11, 2009

Great Depression Unemployment Line

Ah, to be young and unemployed!! To live out your days sending out and dropping off resumes! To dream not of finding work in the field you spent 4 years preparing for, but of finding work in a restaurant where the entrees cost more than $8.99 so that you might at least have enough free time to pursue your creative endevors pro bono on the side.

To be entirely honest, back when I held a 9 to 5 in a young, sleek, hip office, I caught myself silently envying my lesser employed (read: jobless) friends. Their daily struggles (which included quite a bit of free time and sleeping in because there’s only so much job groveling you can do in a day), announced via Facebook status,  read like mini adventures, romantic tales of strife, struggle and sacrifice. And free time.  Did I mention free time?

And now here I am. Walking in the shoes I had just months ago dared only to experience vicariously.

Am I nervous that after two months I still have no job awaiting me when we arrive in Wilmington? Does it frighten me ever so slightly that my bank account balance creeps perilously downward each day?

No, mes amis!!

In fact, I find it exhilarating! Like a swan dive into a crystal clear lake lit by the early morning sun!! Like biking down a hill with the wind in my hair!!!

Or so I tell myself – every time I feel like I’m being sucked down into a spiral of frustration and self pity. Every time a cover letter goes unanswered. Every time I wonder if I made a huge mistake leaving my safe, if terribly unsatisfying, office management position.

This morning, I spent half an hour filling out an application for an assistant manager position at a health food store. I was feeling especially bold having just proof read a gloriously written cover letter, when the application asked me several questions about my grocery management and/or grocery store experience (of which I have approximately none). It was at this point that I realized I would not be considered for this job no matter how eloquent my treatise on why I was the obvious choice.  That, and I really didn’t want the job.

So it was back to the drawing board – namely, the Craig’s List bulletin board.  My latest motivational theory? That these employers must simply meet me in person to understand the force of nature that is Amanda Heironimus. That once my irresistible life force is transferred via a simple handshake, they will be powerless to turn me away. So, all I have to do is get to Wilmington (moving day = Thursday), and all will be made right in the universe!

Or something.

It keeps me going anyway. Making follow-up calls, sending e-mails, applying for jobs I probably have no business applying for, but which sound interesting and not overly difficult to figure out nonetheless (cough… Marine Finfish Cultivation Technician… cough, cough).

So to all my fellow unemployed (I prefer the kinder, gentler, if less widely utilized term, “Vocational Explorers”): keep calm, carry on and make productive and creative use of this rare surplus of time. And maybe do your job-hunting using the pool’s WIFI, because when are we ever going to get to do THAT again??

All my best,

~a