It's cold and raining and we might even get snow! at sea level! this weekend. You may recall that I'm not really a fan of the snow, but I feel better remembering that it felt like summer was just a few weeks ago, and the rain always ends eventually.
I've had four interviews for three different jobs in the last seven days. Boy, when it rains, it pours. Before this week, I hadn't had an interview since mid-December - and it was awful - the absolutely worst interview I've ever had. Prior to that, my last interview was in October.
And now four in a week - and they ranged from decent to really good. I'm feeling pretty confident that something is going to happen soon. But mostly tonight, I'm just feeling a little shell shocked. I have spent a ton of time studying websites, researching organizations, and trolling the internet to find any potential red flags for these potential employers. And I'm tired. I'm thrilled with my good fortune, but interviewing is exhausting. I hope it's over soon.
As I sat squished next to several friends in a church pew on Saturday, I had a lot of time to think. We waited for the bride to arrive. And waited. And waited some more. And somewhere amid the waiting and shivering (because the church was COLD) and chatting, I overheard the murmurings of the old lady behind me. She wasn't dressed in wedding attire, and she seemed to be pissed about being there. And then the groom's sister approached her with a corsage, and the lady got angry about wearing it. They argued in somewhat-hushed voices, and I heard the sister whisper "Grandma, just wear it!" as she stomped away, leaving her uncle to help his mom pin the corsage to her shirt.
Later in the weekend, I was making lunch when my brother called me. He needed to know the lyrics to this song. He could only remember one phrase, but I could immediately fill in the blanks. We have a history of doing that in my family - calling one another to ask questions along the lines of "what are the lyrics to this song?" or "how do you spell this word?" or "do you remember this family event?" I'm the history expert, and also pretty adept at music lyrics, though my sister's also a rockstar in this regard.
My grandma was a champion of these phone calls. She loved the daily crossword puzzles, and she knew she could rely on each member of my family for help. She called my dad for clues relating to religion. My sister had her specialties, and, in addition to history (because my MA should be useful for something, right?) I was her go-to person for anything having to do, however remotely, with San Francisco.
That day, the phone rang and she told me somewhat hastily that she needed a seven-letter word for "hippie haven." Commune was the obvious (at least to me) answer, and grandma was thrilled. We chatted for a little longer before she expressed concern about the cost of the phone call and said goodbye. She never really understood the concept of free cell minutes.
I saw a lot of my grandma in that cranky old lady sitting behind me on Saturday. And also a lot of her in the conversation with my brother. And I felt her absence more than I have in a long time, but I think she'd be pleased that we're carrying on the telephone tradition. Though I sang to my brother. I don't think I ever had the opportunity to sing to grandma.
I was chatting with a friend this weekend about our job searches. She's been out of work around the same amount of time I have, and she took some time to travel. If there's one thing I wish I could have done with my funemployment, it's travel. But it was just too much of a financial risk.
As I was talking to this friend, I mentioned that I got to travel last year, so I was pretty content to spend the past several months playing tourist close to home. And then I got an email from the organizers of the Great Aloha Run. And then I read this. And I realized that I was away this weekend last year, preparing to race in Honolulu.
Rainbow over the U of H campus.
And then I really thought hard about 2010. I spent two weeks in Hawaii with some awesome people, on my first real vacation in several years. I was only able to travel thanks to the CA state employee mandatory furlough days.
Yeah, it wasn't such a bad way to spend mandatory, unpaid time off.
Sunset from Waikiki.
I went back to work after that trip ready to tackle whatever ugliness lay ahead. And I did a respectable job of remaining professional in the face of some pretty atrocious actions. And then I got laid off. And I've been able to spend the past seven months playing tourist in San Francisco. 2011 holds promise, but I fear 2010 will be hard to top.
When I started my funemployment adventure last July, I set some pretty strict rules for myself in order to avoid spending every day in my pajamas. I'm by no means passing judgment on anybody who does spend all day in their PJs, nor am I in any way indicating I think this is unacceptable behavior. I just know myself well enough to know that a lack of structure in my life leads to some sloth. And, having spent most of 2009 in my pajamas, the past seven months have not been the time for that.
So I set some rules, and I wrote down a list of goals. I wanted to finally move into the apartment I'd lived in for 11 months, to arrange the furniture and get rid of some boxes and purge a bunch of stuff I no longer needed. While I was at it I reorganized the closet and just today made a final trip to donate a few things.
I finished most of my house goals by the end of the summer, but while I was doing that, I was making some serious progress on a few fitness goals. Somewhere in my mono misadventures, I lost all my muscles. I spent last summer trying to find them, and this winter making them bigger. I'm so much stronger now than I was in 2008, and I can such a tremendous difference in my workouts. I can't wait to see what happens when I'm racing again (hopefully) at the end of this year.
In addition to getting stronger, I wanted to push a few limits. I got over my fear of hot yoga, and discovered I love it - and can't wait to get back now that my foot is feeling better! I've increased my pool fitness and distance workouts, and become an unlikely devotee of spin classes. I haven't met a few of my cycling goals, due mostly to some mechanical issues I can't have fixed right now. But I'm overall so much stronger that I think those goals are within easy reach once I've got the cash to fix my bike.
On the social front, I've spent incredibly valuable time with friends. We've taken full advantage of everything this city has to offer, and I've had a blast doing it. I'm in such a better place than I was after my layoff, and I'm so grateful for every minute of it.
I've checked off just about all of the items on my list for my time off, except the big one at the top of the page. I still don't have a job. But I have my first interview of 2011 in a few days, and I'm feeling pretty good about it, but please keep your fingers crossed for me. I don't really like phone interviews, and I'm hoping I don't sound like a babbling fool.
I've wrapped at least four rolls of kinesiotape and seven or eight rolls of athletic tape around my left foot in the last six months.
I've been to six doctor's appointments and had my stride and sneakers evaluated six times.
I've gone to ART sessions at least twice a month, but to date I have shed zero tears during a session.
I've had one painful cortisone shot.
And every night, I wear a splint on my foot. And several times a day, I stretch and then roll out my feet. And this morning, for the first time, my left foot didn't hurt when I stepped on the roller. It was tender, yes, but it didn't make me wince in pain.
I am so surprised that I've been through the same routine two other times today, and even after a couple of hours on my feet, my left foot does not hurt. I'm refusing to get my hopes up too high, but maybe all the work I've been doing and all the months I've been off my feet are really starting to make a difference. I'm probably not ready for a victory dance yet, but can somebody please cue the band?
I grew up outside of Manhattan in a small suburb. There were about 110 kids in my high school class. I'd known about a quarter of them since kindergarten, and almost all of them since sixth grade.
I'm not really in touch with anybody I knew growing up. I went to college out of state and only spent two of those summers living at home. And then I left the east coast, while most of my graduating class stayed in the tri-state area. At a high school reunion six years ago, I learned that a few classmates were living in the Bay Area, but none of us stayed in touch.
And then this morning I ran into a classmate in the gym. He lives around the corner from me. We've been neighbors for years, and we keep similar gym schedules because he and his wife are also currently not working. Given all the people I run into in any given week, I'm surprised we didn't see each other sooner.
Two years ago this week, San Francisco was in the middle of a heat wave. It was sunny and in the 80s and spectacularly beautiful. Or at least that's what I heard from everyone I know. Because while they were all out enjoying the sunshine, I was in the midst of mono and unable to get out of bed. I vividly remember Superbowl Sunday 2009, finally being able to drag myself from my bed to my couch, sitting next to the open window taking in the warm breeze, and being incredibly sad that I was missing the Kaiser Half Marathon and the spectacular weather.
Fast forward to this past weekend: while my foot still isn't healed and I couldn't race the Kaiser, I was by no means disconsolate over it. I spent Friday with a friend, wandering the Stanford campus and soaking up the sun. Saturday I sang at a retreat, met a friend for the Giants annual FanFest at the ballpark, enjoyed several hours of baseball and sunshine, and then swam a mile before going to bed. Sunday morning I went to spin class and lifted some weights before a day packed with good friends, more sunshine, and great food.
As I reflected on the highlights of this weekend, I couldn't help but think about two years ago. I've exceeded my pre-mono level of fitness on so many fronts. I'm stronger and healthier than I was before I got sick, and I'm working really hard to stay that way. But more importantly, I am so grateful for every day I am healthy. I might lose this race season as I work on healing my foot, but given the gains I've made in the past year, I think I'm OK with that.
I got on the train in San Francisco last week after several treks along the platform, and a stroll through three or four train cars, trying to figure out how to work my transit card to pay my fare. It wasn't until I got to Palo Alto, about 40 miles south of the city, that I ran into a friend. He had also ridden all the way down from the city, but I missed him in my trips back and forth across the platform.
And he was meeting another friend at the station. They were getting together for lunch, and were just as surprised to see me - 40 miles from my usual stomping grounds - as I was to see them. We had a great time catching up and pondering the odds of running into each other that far from home.
Walking down the street on Saturday, leaving an event at the baseball stadium, I walked past a woman who looked really familiar. She was about 10 steps away when we both turned around to stare at each other. I called out her name, and we had a nice reunion on the sidewalk. We once worked together, but hadn't seen each other in several years.
Last Friday I walked through Chinatown and the Financial District on my way to meet a friend for lunch. A former coworker was loitering at the entrance to a restaurant. We chatted for a few minutes before I went on my way. I ran into her lunch companion, another former coworker, about a block from the restaurant.
I might live in a city of 800,000 people, but run-ins like this happen to me all the time. I grew up in a pretty small town, and always hated running into people I knew in the grocery store or on our main street. But here, I like it. I feel like I belong in this big city with a small-town feel. And I know to always keep an eye out, because I'm pretty sure a friend is just around the corner.
I walked into a local pub on Sunday night to meet a friend. It was after 7:30, and the place was mostly empty, except for a few couples at the bar and a few people scattered around a table or two. My friend and I hadn't seen each other in awhile, and we had a lot to talk about. As we were sitting at the bar, I noticed the slow trickle of hippies through the door.
Some were carrying musical instrument-shaped cases. Other were carrying backpacks brimming with black boxes. These mostly older, graying, long-haired folks looked more suited to the Haight than an Irish bar in the Richmond. And they seemed decidedly out of place on Sunday, a night meant more for recovery than for live bands in most local bars.
And then the tunes started. I didn't realize that I was sitting in the middle of a Sunday night jam session. A traditional Irish music jam session. With Irish hippies! Circled around the tables in the middle of the bar sat about 8 musicians with a variety of flutes, fiddles, drums, a few things I couldn't identify, at least one mandolin, and a guitar. I think I may have found my people.
My friend left around 9:30 - a respectable time for a Sunday night departure. I decided to stay and listen for a few more minutes. And the next time I looked at my watch, it was 10:45. And I only decided to leave because they'd played variations on the same reel for at least 10 minutes, and I was hoping for music with lyrics, but thinking it would never come.
I left elated, and I sang and danced (well, at the stop lights anyway) the whole walk home.
I feel like I have spent a lot of the last few days running at the mouth. I've met up with lots of friends and gone to a couple of parties and chat, chat, chatted my way through the past few days. I've also been making (and listening to) a lot of music over the past couple of days. And all that talking and laughing and singing has gone a long way to ease some of the burden I've been feeling lately. I think February is going to be a better month.
Writer. Marathon walker. Sometimes-photographer. Cyclist. Musician. Lover of cheesecake, San Francisco baseball, and comfy sweatpants. See Jane Run Ambassador. Team in Training cyclist. My philosophy? Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines.
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