Survival of the Awkwardest

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read my last post. Not only was it the best traffic this blog has ever had, but the subject matter is something that is incredibly important it to me, and the idea that it is important to others as well makes me absolutely giddy. Make the arts great again! Down with the MacGyver reboot!

I feel like the opening paragraphs of several of my most recent entries have been me apologizing for taking so long to write a new entry. This is me doing that again. Consistency of content is important.

I really am trying to get myself into an actual routine and thus I am hoping to be able to update every Sunday. If someone wants to hold me to that and possibly reward me with pizza, I probably wouldn’t say no.

I was good tonight, though, because I caught myself thinking that it was fine if I didn’t update, that nobody cares. But I kind of care. And also what would I have done with that time? Watched more episodes of a show I’ve already seen? The older I get, the more I despise the notion of killing time. The action is certainly aptly named.

But anyhow, I started my new job at the university. I am entering my fourth week tomorrow and I feel pretty okay about everything, but the whole thing has been a slew of adjustments for me.

For one, there is the commute. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Long Island traffic, but to put it in perspective, LI is a highly over-populated 120-mile long piece of land with, like, three roads that go all the way across. According to Mapquest, 50 minutes is a reasonable amount of time for my journey to take. However, because some genius many years ago decided everyone was going to work 9-5, 90 minutes has become the pretty-damn-good standard. Much of my life is now driving underneath the “Delays Until…” marquees on the LIE thinking they may as well say, “You’re gonna die here.”

However, this commute has allowed me to get really into podcasts—a medium I had never before dabbled in—and I’m learning all kinds of interesting things, so the time is not completely lost.

There is also the fact that I am working with people again, and really cool people at that. While I was in publishing, I felt like I never met anyone who truly cared about what they were doing. I think it’s because most of the small press business is watching numbers and praying a lot. At my new job, they want to get students engaged and they want to help them, and I’ve always wanted to help people, in some way. Also, did I mention the people? Yeah, that’s a real adjustment. It’s sort of like learning how to talk all over again: worrying about if I’ve said the right thing or did the right thing, am I listening enough, responding enough, is my talking-to-myself habit as blatant as it has been in the past?

I have realized I am terrible at feeling out when a conversation is over. Sometimes I think it is over and then I realize the other person is looking at me hopefully, so I try and add something really insightful and inspiring like, “So, yeah…” Other times, people are trying to get back to work, but wait, did you know about this joke that was on an episode of Parks and Rec once? Hold on so I can explain it to you in its fullest context so you can understand why it is so hilarious and partially pertinent to what we were talking about when you had the time.

Perhaps it is because my conversation with myself has been going on for 26 years, but frankly, I really wish I would shut up sometimes. I just go on and on to me, repeating myself, reliving the past through a series of self-loathing grunts and profanities. Seriously, me, give me some peace!

But the hardest adjustment has been not bumping into things. I have terrible depth perception and the bruises to prove it.

The crazy thing is, though, I feel okay. I feel like a future I can be comfortable with is unfolding before me. I feel like I’m getting the hang of myself. As Darwin has taught us, life is about adjusting to the changes if you want to come out on top. And I don’t even want to be on top. That sounds exhausting. The middle will do just fine.

When It’s Time to Change, Then It’s Time to Change

I thought about many titles for this entry, such as “Ch-ch-ch-changes” and “The Times, They are a-Changing.” Then I realized that whenever one needs a lyrical reference to define a point in one’s life, one cannot go wrong with the Brady Bunch.

Soooo…I quit my job last week.

It was a long time coming. Frankly, I hadn’t been happy there for the past 18 months or so—aka once they put me into a managerial position and suddenly it was my job to save a failing company and no matter how much effort I put into it, somehow they would still forget to pay me.

However, I wasn’t planning to leave so quickly, because change, even for the better, terrifies me. I told myself I would stay until December, make sure things were sorted out and my projects were completed. Then I had a breakdown at 2am last Monday and wrote a resignation email. My fingers shook as I hovered over the “send” button, unable to get even the smallest breath in. And then I had one of those elegant moments of clarity as my snot ran into my tears and the salty, snotty mixture made its way to my mouth. Nothing is worth feeling like this. And then, finally able to take a deep breath, I hit “send.”

As it turns out, my internet wasn’t working, and I had to make three attempts to send the email after that. It suddenly became one of those quintessential human vs. uncooperative technology moments. Lots of swearing, lots of huffing and puffing. If you ever want to witness the truth of human nature, watch a room full of people with slow computers.

Once it finally went through, I wish I could say I felt amazing and triumphant because not only had I overcome the machine but had also overcome my fears and negativity. But I didn’t. Instead, I tossed and turned all night asking myself what the hell I just did.

The amazing, triumphant feeling sets in slowly, gradually, when I think of the next job I could have, one with a steady pay check and benefits and security and some time on the side to do the things I love. One that doesn’t have me answering emails and taking phone calls on weekends and late at night that leave me wishing all my fingers were middle fingers.

I have decided to apply to graduate school for the fall at the very last possible minute because that’s how things happen for me. I’m going to study student affairs administration with the hopes of doing academic advising and career counseling for a university. Because despite my complete and utter inability to figure out my own life, I am damn good at telling other people to stop screwing around and to pull themselves together. I am the pot and you are the kettle. Let’s get all steamed up!

I will leave you with a few sometimes helpful clichés: life is ephemeral, do what makes you feel alright, the perfect job is not out there, perfection is not out there, but if you find yourself screaming your feelings of hopelessness into your pillow every night, then it’s time to make a change. And as the Brady Bunch would say, it’s a sunshine day, you’ve got to be in love to love a love song, let me hear some of that good time music, and we’re gonna keep on keep on keep on keep on dancing all through the night.

My Top 5 Biggest Job Interview Fails

I was going to write an entry about how I’m adapting to a new-old routine, which would playfully explain why I’ve been absent from blogging and also why I am currently in the throes of an existential crisis. But frankly, I’m tired of all that! Let’s have some fun.

I will, however, add that I think one of the reasons for my recent depression was a very poor diet. I decided to commemorate my leaving Astoria with a takeout extravaganza. This turned out to be less of a celebration and more what my stomach has been training for for the past 25 years. Since moving back to my parents’ house, I’ve been drinking water and eating salad like some human or something and it’s made all the difference in the world. Cheers to you, FDA. Make no mistake, folks, they ain’t lying.

Anyway, onto today’s topic. A lot of those closest to me are on the job hunt and, suffice it to say, they are finding it to be a grind. We all know the old paradox: you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience (plus, in today’s economy, some witchcraft and a rosary might help, just so you have all your bases covered…or do they cancel each other out? I should learn math). It took me two years after college to find a “real” job (the quotes are based on the somewhat misguided colloquialism that blue collar work isn’t real work and the fact that I don’t think my current job is that real). I had some admin experience by the time I got to this point through internships and the like, so it wasn’t hard for me to land the interview.

However, if you couldn’t guess where this was going so far, and if you’ve never met me or read anything on this blog, you might be surprised to learn that I do not interview well.

I’ve gotten better. You live and you learn. I read advice articles and whatnot. The funniest thing was that the number 1 piece of advice on most of these articles was “be yourself.” Over the course of my job search, I learned the best course of action was to most certainly not be myself. I am the person who will get the job done, but when most of these extroverted HR whackos interview you, they also want someone they can have fun in Vegas with. Hey, I could go to Vegas! Someone needs to hold everyone’s stuff.

Anywho, here are 5 times out of many when I walked out with a more than fair degree of certainty in my failure as an interviewee.

Where am I, again?

Interviewer: So, do you know what we do?
Me: No.

I had no idea.

This was part of a freak two-week period where I just had a marathon of interviews. I was tired from the 2-3 hour commute and from the essence of complete hopelessness that filled the air. So here I was at another agency possibly vaguely related to my career goals for a low-paying assistant position (or maybe it was a receptionist position?), not ready for anything other than another rejection.

She explained what they did. It turned out to be incredibly boring. But that doesn’t mean you should miss the lesson here, kids. Do your research.

I like to think, though, that since the interview was cut very short once it became obvious that this wasn’t my passion, the interviewer was able to use the extra time to accomplish amazing things.

Look Good, Feel Okay

I had landed an interview at a fashion firm (I hope you weren’t drinking anything as you read that, and if you were, I apologize for the spit take). I’m not a fashion person. I hate shopping. But this was one of the first positions I interviewed for that had any creative aspect to it whatsoever. So, I had dressed for what I thought might be success.

I walked into the conference room to meet my interviewer. He gave me the once over.

Him: Well, the font on your resume was pretty.

It was the shortest interview I’ve ever had.

Cutie Patootie

 The interviewer introduced himself to me. He was really, really good-looking. You can see where this is going.

Him: Hi, I’m Adam.
Me: *long pause* I’m Jill.
Him: Is that tape?

He pointed to the hem of my pants, where the duct tape I had used to shorten them in a pinch was falling out.

Me: Yes. Yes, it is.

Some things never change.

Cry Me a River

For this one, I didn’t even make it to the actual interview. I was having a hard time finding the office, so I called, only to be told the position had been filled and no one had bothered to tell me in advance.

And I was so frustrated. I’d been looking for a job for over a year. I was exhausted, I was lost, I was emotional. I tried to hold back the tears. I cried at him into the phone while saying, “Thanks…for *Sniffle* letting *snort* me….knoooooowwwwwww.”

Not really an interview fail, but super duper awkward.

Dreams Can Probably Come True if You Don’t Make it Weird

 One of the first interviews I had was with a publishing house. It was an internship that paid minimum wage, wouldn’t even cover my train fare, but it was something I really wanted. A step. I was so excited for it. And extremely nervous.

I was also fresh from homecoming weekend at my alma mater and was probably still a bit hung over.

Him: So, what sort of aspects of publishing are you interested in?
Me: Editorial.

I ended it there. I felt no need to expand. Why would I? I had answered the question. We were off to a great start.

Him: *Drumming his fingers on the table, thinking about the nap he could have had instead of interviewing me* Did you do anything fun this summer?
Me: No.

I’d actually had a really fun summer that year. I had worked at a Shakespeare Festival. I’d gone zip-lining for the first time. All of these things escaped me and shockingly, he did not find me to be the most interesting person in the world. Stay where you are, Dos Equis man.

For the interview with my current company, I knew where I was going, what I was interviewing for, and the interesting things I had done that summer. I wore the same outfit I had worn for that fashion interview. The best thing about publishing is we’re too occupied with hiding behind our words to notice what we’re wearing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York, I’m Breaking Up With You

New York and I had a whopping nine months together, and all I can say is we’ve gestated a pretty ugly baby.

When I was in college studying acting, everyone always talked about how they were going to live in New York after graduation. I tried to hop on that bandwagon, envying their starry-eyed aspirations and the glamorous outlooks they had for their futures. I made plans with friends to move to New York, to pound the pavement, looking for our big breaks. But in the back of my mind, I knew both acting and New York weren’t for me.

However, because the world works the way it does, I ended up having to move to New York City for a job.

Hi Jillian,

Will u go out wit me?

YES      NO

Xoxo New York City

Eh…I guess?

And so, I packed up what I could fit in my new tiny, overpriced room, and headed off to the big city.

In some ways, I was really excited about it. I had a lot of friends living in the city and I thought it would help improve my social life. Despite the fact that many people think I’m this really intense and serious person, I’ve never had much ambition when it comes to my career. All I’ve ever really wanted was friendships like the ones on I saw on TV. And if you ever did find me staring at you like you’re nuts, it’s simply because you’ve gone off script.

I’ve now found out that New York City friendships are rooted fundamentally in the, “You’re broke, I’m broke, and you’re either in another borough or a far walk from my apartment, so let’s just text each other occasionally” mentality.

And now, because fate is a fickle fiend with a twisted sense of humor, after nine months, I have to leave New York, once again for work. Because my boss no longer wants to pay a monthly fee that could feed a family of four for a cubby with no ventilation.

And while I’m always the kind of person who gets really anxious about any sort of change, and the kind of person who clings on to nostalgia, I can look around at my New York apartment, my first real adulthood home, and feel absolutely nothing.

I suppose in some weird way, I will miss being on the subway, told that I am being delayed because of the train traffic ahead of me, cursing the MTA under my breath, avoiding the overly affectionate couple next to me while I vigilantly scan the train for suspicious characters until some old lady does a hip hop dance for quarters. I will miss the constant threat of terrorism. I will miss how every Starbucks has an inexplicably long line. I will miss thinking I have money until the 1st of the month arrives. I will miss walking in the rain with my arms full of groceries. I will miss the church bells across the street ringing every hour, starting at 7:30am on weekends.  I will miss the tremendous sense of culture I felt whenever I got yelled at in another language. I will miss being enveloped in the hot scent of old sewage like a warm hug. And I will miss you, people who blast Kanye West out of your car at 3am, so loudly that my walls shake. You, I will miss most of all.

In a completely serious, non-weird way, I will miss the fact that Coldstone delivers. And speedily, at that.

To all of you tried and true New Yorkers out there, I am not mocking you. I have nothing but envy and admiration for artists, for dreamers, for those who can look at something like New York and see unending possibility, see home. I look at New York and see a TV show I might enjoy if I didn’t have to keep getting up to shift the antennae.

So…

Hi New York,

I have 2 break up wit u. I like da suburbs now.

Sry,

Jillian

P.S. As a small update from my last entry, I came home to find the dead bird had finally been swept off the ledge by the rain and is now resting comfortably in the grass. I like to think it was some kind of metaphor.

Random Thoughts from J. Awkward Prufrock

Man, I’ve really been sucking at the blogging thing lately!

Actually, I’ve just been sucking lately.

I used to write and do things (like my job…sometimes…occasionally) out of my office, but now my company is in the middle of weird and drawn out relocation process, so I am working out of my apartment. My apartment has terrible lighting and uncomfortable chairs. I tried that whole working out of a café thing but the café with the most seating is on the way to the park and thus distracting doggie passersby frequently occurred.

If I were half as good at focusing as I am at making excuses, well, I’d probably have at least one viable skill by now. But alas, here we are!

My apartment, I will also admit, is woefully uninspiring. I live with three mid-20s gentlemen. We have pizza boxes. And a dead bird on our back ledge that has not decomposed one bit over the past year, which says a lot about preservatives in modern food. I am now convinced if I eat enough Kraft, I will become immortal.

Then, there’s TV. Man I love watching TV. I remember when it was cool to say you didn’t watch TV. I’m really glad Netflix nipped that in the butt. What’s weird is that I rarely expand my horizons. I watch the same shows over and over again. I put on an episode of Gilmore Girls a couple weeks ago and man oh man was that a mistake. Now not only am I spending hours of my week watching episodes of a show I’ve already seen, I’m also realizing that this show I used to love isn’t all that great. I used to love the idea of a town where everybody talked fast and made obscure references. Now I’m realizing that they talk fast and make obscure references to cover up their deep-seeded and absurd emotional issues.

You now what’s one thing that bothers me about TV shows? How in one episode, the characters will be going through the couch for pennies and in the next they will throw a big and elaborate party to cheer another character up. And oftentimes, the party is really inconsiderate of others. How many times did Lorelai Gilmore make Sookie drop everything and cook food for her and one of these parties she shouldn’t be able to afford?

I suppose that’s what makes good TV, though. A show about me would consist of me sitting alone in my room, trying not to inconvenience anyone.

And then perhaps the worst happened. I ended up on Reddit. It’s one of those sites I’ve been avoiding (the other being Tumblr) because I know how much time I’ll spend on them. I then discovered the Gilmore Girls sub-Reddit because I was looking up stuff about the upcoming revival. Man, people are really pre-occupied by which boyfriend Rory will choose. I find it kind of funny. I never really considered them a big part of the show. And why does everyone like Jess so much? That guy sucks.

To recap, what I’ve learned this week is that I really need to get off the internet, away from the TV, and out of my apartment in general.

My mind also tends to drift off to weird places when I’m not getting out much.

Some thoughts I’ve had this week:

-It’s kind of weird that, in our language, you can have words that are made entirely of vowels but none that are made entirely of consonants. But then, consonants don’t make any audible noise, and vowels do. I looked it up on my etymology app, and consonant at its root means “sound together,” and vowel means “vocal letter.” It’s also weird that our whole language is made up of 26 letters. Do you think that limits us? Language is such an imperfect system as it is.

-You know what’s also weird? That dating is two-sided but breakups are one-sided. Two people need to agree to a relationship starting but only one has to decide when the relationship is over. You can’t go up to any random person and say, “We’re dating now.” That’s creepy. You can go up to someone and say, “We’re breaking up.” They will be confused but they can’t argue. Oh, life.

-I found an article from three years ago that said the computer industry is working on changing the QWERTY keyboard system. And I’m already getting anxious about learning it.

-I want to make a modern parody of that Fred Astaire movie, Holiday Inn and call it Holiday Inn Express. That is as far as I’ve gotten with its development.

I do have plans for the weekend, which I’m hoping will help spring me back into (comparative) normalcy. Until then!

Awkward White Guilt

A LOT of crazy stuff happened to me this week. But by far, the most emotionally and physically trying event was my Keurig being diagnosed with Broken Disease. Whilst we are still waiting to hear on the prognosis, it is looking grim.

I love coffee. There was a period of my life when I was seriously addicted to the stuff, walking around all jittery and unblinking and the like. The funny thing about caffeine though is it really isn’t good for perpetually nervous people. The addiction coincided with my insomnia side quite nicely, but my heart felt like it was going to bust out of my chest at any moment. Since then, I’ve tried to live off of one cup (occasionally twothreefourish) a day. That said, it is still a vice for me. I hate getting out of bed most days, but the thought of the taste, even the smell of delicious, dependable coffee is enough to motivate me.

So suffice it to say, when I discovered my Keurig’s illness, a scene ensued comparable to Marlon Brando yelling, “STELLLLLLLAAAAAAAA!” in A Streetcar Named Desire.

I live in a godforsaken city that I’m convinced is filled with underground, green bacteria that surface in the middle of the night and eat all of your money with maniacal grins on their faces. My frugalness and my strong cravings for things like booze and takeout food are often at intense odds. I now have had to temporarily add sweet, sweet coffee to that list. For two days, I sat in my office, droopy-eyed, my blood feeling empty, my disposition changed from, “Maybe I’ll be quirky and fun today,” to, “Whhhhhaaaattttttt?” But still, I held my ground. I would not let New York City win. They would not have my 2+ dollars.

And then yesterday, I caved.

I don’t even know how it happened, really. One minute, I was at my desk, pretending to not be sleeping and telling myself, “No, no coffee. You cannot afford coffee,” and the next, I was robotically wandering down the stairs and into the street, following the same voice I can only imagine was the one Moses heard in Egypt, and spent $2.80 on a medium coffee. The café unfortunately did not also sell hypodermic needles, so direct injection was not possible.

As I exited the shop, enjoying the warmth of the cup against my fingers, I heard someone say, “Is that tea or coffee?”

Every part of me was saying, “Don’t answer, keep walking. It’s a trap, Jillian! It’s a trap!” but in my bleary-eyed, decaffeinated trance, I felt myself turning around (my mind screaming, “No, what are you doing?! Nooooooo!”) and for whatever reason, my mouth and my voice decided to have a séance to summon my stupidity and together they chanted the word, “Coffee.”

And there was a man in a cheetah print button-down carrying pamphlets. PAMPHLETS! How did I not predict the pamphlets?!

“Coffee. Interesting. Hello, my name is Placenta—,” (that wasn’t his actual name. I don’t remember it. But he kind of looked like a Placenta. Not an actual placenta, but something he might call himself if he chose a hip hop career).

Immediately I began searching my mind for ways to get out of this. A spiel was coming. I needed the nearest spiel shelter.

“I, uh, I have to get back to work!” I took a step away from him, but swift as can be, Placenta was already in my pathway.

“I’ll give you the short version.” He held out his hand for me to shake. I did not shake it. Not out of rudeness, but out of sheer confusion and distraction as I replayed all the moments of my life, trying to figure out how I got here.

As someone who doesn’t care much for strange company, I really often hate being a small, white woman. I always get a seat partner on the train and people always see me as an easy target. Placenta also must have sniffed out my need to please.

He proceeded to tell me about a charity he works for that feeds and educates children in remote countries for the reasonable price of a zillion dollars a month, .0000000001% of which will actually go to the children and the rest of the CEO of that company.

Placenta also probably picked up on how if you start telling me about any misfortune that falls upon children or dogs, I immediately start fighting the urge to weep. Oh God, children! He’s talking about children! Fight it, Jillian. Kids don’t deserve anything nice, Jillian. It’s their fault they’re hungry. Oh, God, they’re hungry! FIGHT IT! Bite your lip, twitch your eye, and fight it!

 What’s that thing my dad always says to telemarketers?

“Listen, I think you’ve done a very good job on your presentation, but I am going to have to pass right now. I wish you luck with the rest of your endeavors.”

“What, are you on a budget or something?” His eyes traveled down to my coffee.

I had forgotten that you can hang up on telemarketers.

“Yes, I am on a budget,” I replied, holding my coffee closer to me.

“A budget that buys you coffee but you can’t find room to help kids go to school? You probably went to some fancy private college and spend more on coffee every month than this program costs.”

Placenta had touched a nerve. My eye began to twitch for different reasons.

“Listen, Placenta! (I don’t think I actually called him this though who ever knows with me?) I have spent three days convincing myself to buy this coffee because I am broke and you cannot make me feel guilty for that! YOU CANNOT!” In my recollection, I like to think I raised my fist and shook it in the air.

He was probably a lot nicer than I’m remembering. I think my conscience was actually dubbing him. I know that nothing bad has ever happened to me and I lead an extremely privileged existence. I know that there are people who need help. And I will help them… After I finish my damn coffee.  Dammit, Placenta!

I stalked off at that point, and, not paying attention, took a very steep step off the sidewalk, which caused my scorching hot coffee to spill all over me.

What Not to Do When You Work Next Door to David Tennant

No, I do not work next door to David Tennant. Dreams do come true, but not those dreams.

I do, however, work next door to a man who looks…exactly…like…David freaking Tennant. And he is British and awesome. And naturally, I want him to think I’m cool.

…And naturally, when I want people to think I’m cool, my tactics for said coolness usually result in some sort of natural disaster. Here comes Hurricane Awkward! Whoosh!

So…I’ve never actually really said a word to the guy other than, “Hello,” because I know what I would do if I let it get any further.

He is still incredibly nice to me: always smiling, saying, “Good morning,” etc. Probably because he hears my coworkers and me talking about his David Tennant-ness constantly.

Here are some things I’ve thought about doing that you definitely should not do when you find yourself face-to-face with an FDA-approved David Tennant doppelganger.

-Stare at him without responding to his greeting because your thought process is always as such: 1) Is that David Tennant? 2) Did David Tennant just say hi to me?

-When he comments on the lobby art, say, “Better than angel statues, am I right?”

-When he pretend-chides you for being late, use the term, “Wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff.”

-When he excuses himself from conversation: “Have fun in your tardis…I mean…office.”

-Refer to his grumpy-old-man office mate as his “companion.”

-Do your best impression of Detective Alec Hardy by saying, “Miller” over and over in a heavy Scottish accent.

-Ask him anything about Sandbrook.

-Call him Kilgrave whenever he goes with the purple tie. Follow-up with a sinister, “Jess-i-ca.”

-Pretend he can control your mind.

-Yell, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” As you walk away from him.

-Ask if Professor Moody is in his filing cabinet.

See guys, I’m learning!

P.S. Special shout-out to my friend, Tom, who wrote a wonderfully entertaining awkward-inspired Valentine’s Day entry. Tom’s an awesome writer, and you should read his blog here.