Curiouser & Curiouser

Life’s short. Get curious.

The Butterfly Effect January 21, 2011

Some things, mes amis, were meant to be. Some things are the result of such a long string of seemingly coincidental events that the only logical explanation for their existence is simply that they had to happen. I consider my relationship with Jeff to be one of these things. If I hadn’t moved back to Ohio having failed grandly at starting a music career in Austin, if he hadn’t made a rom/com style decision to drop his life and move across the country to be with the woman he loved (who, in a very un-rom/com turn did not reciprocate, leaving him single in a strange land), if I hadn’t seen something special in his photography portfolio (and then heard something special in his phone voice), if he hadn’t moved a trip to London in order to be at the intern interview, if I hadn’t begged my photographer to take on one extra intern (namely Jeff), if said photographer hadn’t got in a fist fight with his girlfriend at our “End of the Internship” party leaving Jeff and I to handle the fallout…. well, if any of those things hadn’t happened, I’d be in a very different place right now and I’d be there without the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with.

Similarly, if I hadn’t quit my job managing the restaurant, taken a month’s vacation to D.C., met Jeff’s cousin who introduced me to a certain yoga and athletic clothing company, run straight to the computer when I returned home to see if said company might be hiring anywhere nearby, found they had a position available right in my own little town, applied right away, gone to the store to introduce myself and spoken to the manager (who had not seen my application, and wouldn’t have because she’d already planned her interviews), been invited to come to the interview that night, and got a raving review from Jeff’s aforementioned cousin when the company called her for a referance…. well, I can safely say I would not be employed today.

As I sat across from my future boss during my second interview, terribly distracted by the Nicolas Cage doppelganger seated a few tables down (WTF?), I couldn’t help but think there was something inherently right about me being there. Now that the job’s mine, I’ve got my foot in the door doing something I’m good at, something that uses both the skills I have and the talents I’m passionate about (yes, the camera will be getting some use!).  I’m going to go all Goldilocks on you here and say: This job is just right.

This is not to say I’m out of the forest just yet (the job is only part time thus far). But, as I don’t believe in deforestation, I’m going to patiently hack my way out of it.

(….Although I’d rather straight burn this emmer effer to the ground!)


Keeping the Dream Alive January 8, 2011

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 5:08 am
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So….. I had an interview today. And it’s awful, truly awful because: I REALLY WANT THIS.

Goals are fantastic, as are dreams. But wanting things really, really badly? That’s a double edged sword, mes amis. On the one side, having a great drive and passion toward something gives you courage and pushes you to be your best in order to attain that something you want. On the other, you have to be prepared for the worst (i.e. not attaining it). Not getting the “Snack Bar Attendant” position at your local country club is easily laughed off. Not getting something you really want can scratch even the thickest skin.

You might recall a certain girl who had a certain tryst with a certain online reviewing community (cough, cough… Yelp!… cough) about a year ago. You also might recall how she rose through the ranks from out-of-town underdog to 4th-interview finalist for a community manager position in Raleigh. What you won’t recall, however (because I breezed right over this part), was that same girl getting some very bad news on Christmas Eve and crying into her parents’ guest room pillows because she didn’t want them to know how destroyed she was. (And if you’re new here and don’t know what in god’s name I’m talking about, here’s a refresher:

This time I’m doing my best to take a different approach to things, or at least to get myself in a slightly more shatterproof mindset. If nothing else, I’m starting to get a much better handle now on a professional direction for myself. This position (which will remain nameless… sorry) bears a striking resemblance to Yelp’s community manager. Between these two I’m drawing the lines and connecting the dots, and they’re creating an image of “My Dream Job.” It’s one thing to know what you’re good at (I write, I take great photos, I dig meeting new people, I dig people in general, I love fashion, I like to work out, I love good food…) and quite another to figure out how all of these piece of you can be amalgamated into a career. A good place to start is keeping a mental list of all the times you REALLY WANTED SOMETHING. Or even the times you got remotely excited about an opportunity. Or, for that matter, to make a list of the companies you love and respect and to start looking into how your unique blend of talents might be put to good use to further their missions. Maybe you’ll have to go out on a limb. Maybe there’s a move in your future. Maybe you need to do something that scares you a little.

Maybe (and I’m stealing this idea, but I *love* it) , you should do one thing that scares you every day.

I did my thing today. Did you?


Job Markets in Neverland November 5, 2010

Filed under: adulthood,happiness,life,photography,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 5:18 pm
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Last night, while driving home from work, it occurred to me that I am still not a full-blown “grownup” and in all likelihood, I never will be.

Exhibit A: I happen to know from experience that pinot gris pairs well with Chex cereal (but only the cinnammon kind – accept no substitutions).

Exhibit B: I left for work yesterday wearing a black dress, heather grey tights and (wait for it…) galoshes emblazoned with smiley-faced blue whales (and it took quite some self-coaxing to change into my black ballet flats when I got there).

Exhibit C: I still take playing dress-up quite seriously (see here)

Not that I necessarily find this to be a flaw. On the contrary, plenty of people have found ways to capitalize on their refusal to grow up: comic book writers, video game creators, Betsey Johnson, Amanda Palmer, Tony Hawk … Peter Pan.

So it’s possible, but I haven’t exactly got the hang of it yet – which makes me slightly envious of those who have some sort of built-in shut-off device for all of their “childish” leanings. Their desires to explore and adventure and create and play were shut down at a crucial time by some innate “Override,” allowing them to smoothly transition into an office, a company car, a nice salary with benefits and football and beer on the weekends and not too many questions asked. (Or the other type – the rocket scientist or mathematician who’s greatest love translated into a cozy career).

Well someone forgot to install my switch, so it’s up to me now to use my remnant love of bubbles, dirt and sparkly things as an asset rather than a handicap.

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this quest. I found out last night that my Fedex delivery guy moonlights as an upright bass player in one hell of a jazz trio. One of my bartenders not-so-secretly dreams of making a living off her designer hair flare and I recently had my hair done by a local stylist who’s not so far from making it as a bigtime hair and makeup artist. One friend of mine even quit her lame customer service job to start a handmade decor business and, after a slow and scary start, is making it work. I’m sure that all of us have, at one point or another, been told to get serious or at the very least to focus our efforts on getting a “real job,” to relegate our “hobbies” to the weekends.

Our talents may be considered fluff to some, but blended with a lot of hard work, innovation and drive, I think any of them can be transformed into successful careers. So here’s to discovering the perfect combination of creative genius and business savvy and here’s a big, fat raspberry for all the naysayers.



Well That Was Fun… October 25, 2010

I return to you, dear readers, on the eve of my leaving yet another job. I know you’re asking yourselves why I only seem to be interested in blogging when I’m on the verge or in the midst of unemployment, but I swear it’s purely coincidence. To be completely candid with you, I’ve missed you. It’s not that I don’t get a good dose of writing every day when I update my 365. That’s nice and all, but there’s much more to life than photography (understatement of the year) and I don’t think any of that’s been getting properly addressed.

Par example: My ever-lengthening list of  “Jobs I’ve Quit Despite the Shite Economy.” Just thrown another shrimp on the barbie, giving my notice at the tapas bar I’ve been managing. It seems it’s not just particular restaurants (although the hibachi definitely took the prize for unhealthiest workplace ever), but the entire industry that I’m not particularly in line or in love with. And yes, I’d worked my way through the ranks very quickly in this latest endeavor and I’d finally paddled hard enough to get my chin up above the poverty line, but in the end I found myself working harder than ever, earning less than ever, and forever feeling like a fish out of water. To say I’m not the most polished person in the world is to put it kindly. The reality of it was I didn’t have enough money to dress the part, and it was becoming too difficult to act like I liked every one of my my guests and loved being there.

Especially the nightclub. Watching people with more money than you (whether they earned it or not) blow said money and act like complete assclowns to the same, mind-numbingly awful 40 songs (it’s amazing how slightly altering the order fools people into thinking they’re having a different experience each week…), cleaning up after them when they dribble red wine all over the women’s restroom (or worse), helping them find the lost camel jacket (worth more than my entire wardrobe) that they left on the dance floor, getting the really wasted ones into cabs at the night’s end whether they like it or not (or, in one case, getting shoved aside by a grown man who insisted he was fine even as he stumbled to his car), returning their wallets – complete with credit cards and $700 in cash – to them when they return in their limo later and graciously accepting the $15 reward they offer you for doing so (wow. thanks.), and eventually crawling into bed (literally – because have you ever worn heels for 10 hours straight??) at 3 or 4 a.m. with your ears ringing loud enough to make it hard to sleep.


Who wouldn’t want this job?

Strangely enough, there are people who aspire to such things. I am, conclusively, not one of them. And, as if I needed another reason to quit, the night schedule had me missing out on far to much life. Having a schedule quite the opposite of Jeff’s had us literally missing each other. He’d be up and off to teach just shortly after I’d gone to bed, and I’d come home long after he’d hit the sack. Even my days off didn’t align. While it’s totally sweet to be able to run your errands or hit the gym or find parking at the beach while the rest of the world is working, the cost is resigning yourself to doing all of these things alone. Lesson learned: I don’t need as much “Me Time” as I once thought I did.

So what will I do? A very good question. I’ve got a few applications in at the university already and I’ll be taking some Windex to my resume and sending it out. Wilmington’s not exactly the Land of Opportunity, but if I gleaned anything from my managing job, it was the art of networking. It is a small town – and you can cry about it, or you can use it. I’ve met enough people now that (god willing) when word gets out that I’m leaving, I can at least get some advice or leads on where to start.

If nothing else, I plan to use the time off to work on 1201. I’m starting to do pro-level work now (granted, there’s a vast spectrum of “Pro” photography out there and I’m still hanging out in the middle somewhere with plenty of room for improvement), and if I’m going to ask for payment for my work, the business had better look like a business. Obviously, I can’t sink a lot of money into it right now, but the website needs a little spit shine and I’m in desperate need of a good business card (and thanks to work, I know a guy who knows a guy).

I realize that I’m in the same boat (it’s got to be like an ark or a cruise ship by now) as so many other people my age, creative people, intelligent people, extremely capable people who are stuck finding a way to make a living doing what they’re best at. Plenty ahead of us have figured it out. Maybe we’re late bloomers, or maybe the shuffle board and Mai Tais are keeping us on that cruise ship a little to long. As for me, the game’s over and I just got cut off, so I’m jumping ship and swimming to shore with every hope that land is close.

And not inhabited by cannibals.

(And –  just because – a little something from My New Favorite Web Comic: Hyperbole and a Half )


In Which We Go Our Separate Ways January 7, 2010

Filed under: life,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 4:05 pm
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Okay, so remember that part where I said, “I won’t be quitting my piece of shite day job any time soon?”

I’ve quit my piece of shite day job.

It certainly wasn’t calculated, but MY GOD did it feel good. Having just worked a 52-hour week and having not had a day off since I returned from vacation, I was feeling a little worn down the other morning when I came into the restaurant to find my boss (the owner) and some guy working to re-seal the marble slabs on the hibachi tables. At 11am. WHEN WE OPEN. Seems my boss had little idea of how this project might effect business (as in, every one who walked in was repulsed by the smell of the glue and walked right back out) and hadn’t thought that perhaps work of this nature should be done while the restaurant is CLOSED.

So – I certainly wasn’t going to be waiting any tables that shift. Instead I did the best I could to clean up after their mess and whilst doing so, the boss decides to go on a tirade about… well I’m not entirely sure what it was about. At any rate, he has a fabulous way of degrading, belittling and insulting his hardest workers (I DO recall clearly that at one point he told me I wasn’t worth the nine dollars an hour he pays me) and right then and there I decided to end my stint as a powerless Yes Girl. When he finished his rant by saying he wasn’t very happy with me lately, I responded that I was not very happy with him, either. That we had two very different ideas about how to run a business and how to treat a staff, and that on that note I’d have my two week’s notice for him in writing by the end of the day.

And I did.

Now I ignore him and he avoids me, and things are going a little more smoothly.

Of course this means I’m on a desperate search for a replacement day job. Never fear, though. This wouldn’t be the first time, and I’ve never failed in the past. I’ve got my stack of resumes in hand and someone always needs a great server. And now more than ever I feel the importance of creating my own future.


Of Failed Pursuits… December 28, 2009

Filed under: life,photography,thoughts,work — curiouserx2 @ 5:32 pm
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Thought I was gone for good, did you?

Hardly, mes amis! But, admittedly, I was on one helluva hiatus. Went exploring in the jungles of Raleigh in hot pursuit of one of the world’s most cunning and elusive beasts: the dream job. After a month and a half in the throes of the hunt, I came within spitting distance of this lovely, defiant creature before she spit on me (turns out this proximity is adequately named), kicked up her dainty heals and disappeared into the great vines and overgrowth that make such positions so difficult to come by.

To be slightly less poetic: I spent a month and a half pouring my heart and free time into a multi-step interview process, made it to the 4th of 5 steps in which I met with my would-be boss in Raleigh, then got the news that they had gone with another candidate. On Christmas Eve.

Suffice it to say it was a rough holiday this year. This job wasn’t just some sweet, cushy, creative position that I would have been incredible at. It was my salvation from poverty (seriously, we’re considering applying for virtual food stamps), from a restaurant that’s sinking faster than the Titanic, from feeling like a heap of wasted talent, personality and intelligence. It was going to get me going in a direction that would also allow me to start my life with Jeff – to get married, to travel, to (not just yet, but someday) have children.

Those lofty ideas took some getting over when the whole thing fell through. After a bit of wallowing (did I mention I’d come down with the mother of all colds in the midst of all this?), I woke up this morning with this thought swimming a luxuriant backstroke in my head: since when have I ever thought success was going to be handed to me in such a way? I think I’ve always known that my path was going to be the rocky, meandering, many-forked detour type. But I’ve never doubted that it would get me where I want to be  – why would I start now? I got a good look at the paved road. It was gloriously smooth and freshly paved and straight as an arrow.

But it wasn’t mine.

So – I’m headed back to Wilmington this afternoon, back to my little apartment and my crazy and often miserable job at the hibachi. But – Jeff received a valuable piece of photographic equipment this year for Christmas, and we’ve both been investing some time in learning the ropes of digital photo editing. And since I won’t be investing every moment of my spare time pursuing jobs for which I’m either over or underqualified, I’ll have plenty of time to build the job I was made for from scratch. No one will be able to say I didn’t try, anyway.

I’ve always been a proponent of fresh starts – out with the old and in with the new in the most cold turkey of fashions – and with the New Year right around the corner, I see no better time for this one.

Here’s to new adventures and indefatigable curiosity in 2010 – and to creating what you want rather than waiting for it to appear.


Waiting? I Think Not. August 26, 2009

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