June 29, 2007

At least I used the insomnia well

I never, well hardly ever, dream about work. Last night I woke up from a dream about a job I don't even have. I dreamt I returned for a third interview and brought with me a former client from Baltimore, Ms. Intensity. I kept asking her to tell them how far above and beyond the call of duty I'm willing to go in my work. In the dream, everything seemed normal. For some reason though, I woke myself up. Once awake I realized what was bugging me:

Ms. Intensity is dead.

In fact, she had an aneurysm during one of our client meetings. It was nothing I said, really!

The short version is that we got her to the local hospital just before the aneurysm burst. We'd called an ambulance while she was moaning that her neck hurt. When she broke out into a cold sweat, I told RyGuy to bring my car around, then my boss carried Ms. Intensity out to my car. While murmuring, "Keep talking to me, Ms. Intensity" and checking both ways at red lights, I didn't stop once on the way to the hospital. My boss carried her into the ER and while we were filling in the triage nurse, "Smoker, post-menopausal, hormone replacements...", Ms. Intensity's head came back and her pupils dilated. They rushed her and me to a room and I stood in the corner re-telling her symptoms while they stripped her clothes. My last memory of my client, and my friend, is of her lying under the white glare in her matching black bra and panties.

Understandably, seeing her in my dream was enough to flash a red light to my subconscious. Wake up!! Something is NOT right.

Is it a bad sign that I'm already dreaming about this job? I did go to sleep thinking about what I wanted to do for the three thank you cards. Three guys grilling me with questions like, "What are you scared of?" "If you weren't in a creative field, what would you be doing?" "What's on your iPod?" means I get to make three cards. After the dream I couldn't fall back asleep, so I spent the rest of the night working on the cards. The Mutt sighed copiously and repeatedly during our exile from her nice, dark bedroom.

Here's where I need help: they haven't called me back. The interview was Tuesday. I got the interview through a head hunter and she hasn't told me it's a NO, but hasn't called with any encouraging news, either. How long before I hide in my room in a black despair? (I really want this job. It sounds like a great fit for my skills and interests.) Is it normal to wait this long before you say, "We love her!"? I'll be sending the cards tonight, but otherwise all I can do is wait. Sighing copiously.

June 28, 2007

The Fat Lady has not yet sung

The job interview seemed to go well, but not so well that they've offered me anything yet. Unfortunately, I don't have time to give a detailed update. My current contract job has extended for two days next week. They've given me a couple tasks that are start-to-finish-in-two-days! Good times...

June 26, 2007

I couldn't help it

It's a very slow day at my current contract job, so I redecorated my virtual home. Whatcha think?

At 3 pm today I have my second interview at my dream job. Hopefully I can keep my foot out of my mouth long enough to impress them.

June 24, 2007

Emo* Again

I couldn't believe this got me through to a human being:

"City and State, what listing?"
"University Hospital."
"One moment, please...."
"University Hospital, may I help you?"

"I need the maternity ward?"

"Hold and I'll connect you."
"9-West, how can I help you?"

"Is OTRsis there?"

"Please hold..."

"Hello, OTRgirl!!"

It's not supposed to be that easy. I tracked her down while walking to work Friday. I'm the pround aunt of Soltice Baby, aka Minor Prophet. I haven't seen him yet so I can't give him a descriptive name like Blond Niece. Let's just say that the name he was given offended my Dad. As a sporadically loyal Harvard Man, any reference to that OTHER school (starts with a Y and is four letters long) is offensive. His new grandson shares the name that Those People are called. Mind you, I'd never heard of it until he told me, so if you don't know, you're in good company.

My brother called me on Saturday, quite proud of the fact that he's foregone his Reds/Mariners tickets in order to be there when Minor Prophet came home from the hospital. OTRsis is doing well and the baby sounds perfect, of course.

OTRsis commented that it was much harder to have her in-laws there than me. Only because I gave her credit for her stoicism while they took it for granted. Me: "You never even screamed at me! I didn't know you were in labor!! All you did was get quiet. Maybe a few hurried requests for more ice chips toward the end of the labor, but that was it!" Them: "Oh, you have contractions? Let's go for a walk, we'll stop each time you need to."

*Emo or 'Imo' as I like to spell it, is the Korean word for aunt. I've never liked the nasal midwestern pronunciation of "ant" and certainly never liked the slightly pretentious "Aunt" so I figured Blonde Niece could appropriate at will. So far she calls us "Imo" and "Jrex" (she uses his Korean name). She calls my brother "Uh-oh Dee", a completely apt title for the man who tries to instigate her to dump displays in the grocery store.

June 21, 2007

Good Times

I'm excited for this coming weekend!

Tomorrow night one of the women from my wives small group is picking me up for Friday night at the de Young museum. Her hubby is also a work-aholic so we should get lots of chances to hang out!

Jrex's uncle moved within an hour of us last week and promptly had a very mild heart attack. Jrex has been trekking over there almost daily since then to be a medical and linguistic go-between for the family and surgeons. His uncle is scheduled for surgery (valve replacement and bypass) tomorrow and we're probably going to head over there on Saturday to check-in. I haven't been to see them yet. The great thing is that his cousin owns a Korean restaurant in SF, so we'll get paid back in lots of free meals!

Saturday night is the West Coast reception, aka Chinese Banquet extraordinaire, for one of my closest friends from Baltimore. She moved out here a couple months after I did. I haven't seen her since they got married at the end of May. It'll be great to see them both and very fun to dig in to a twelve course meal that includes some shark-fin soup.

Then Sunday afternoon we drive another hour to hang out with Philosopher and her husband and daughter. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the husbands (two introverts, a Brit and a Korean, are dragged together by their wives...)

Anybody else doing anything fun this weekend?

June 19, 2007

What not to say in a job interview: Round II

When asked why you want to leave a successful freelance/contract career, don’t be honest and respond,

“Well, in the background I’ve got a husband muttering ‘budget, budget, budget’. Honestly, though, the girly answer is that I’m tired of having to buy a new wardrobe every few months. The way one dresses for corporate SF is very different than a game design company on the peninsula.” I did go on to blather about how those are just reflections of a desire for stability, but more than that, I’m excited about their work and would love to be involved. Blah, blah blah.

When asked what your process is, START by talking about needing to know the end from the beginning and design with those targets and goals in mind. Don’t stumble along with, “I always start out sketching on paper. I find I’m more creative that way.”

June 15, 2007

The Prize

That was fun! I feel like an evil genius, or else a good liar. Hmm...

A few of you guessed correctly, but you hedged your bets, only the fabulous K stuck to just one—that mechanic? He’s a no good, dirty, rotten lie. Your prize is this link to K’s fantastic grammar guide. She needs to give Grammar Girl a run for her money—cause she’s hilarious. I don’t have a fabrication about her; a fabrication about K is impossible since her life is already stranger than fiction. Robo-leg? Check. Finnish-Native American? Check. Musician husband? Check. Knitted a scarf a mere seventeen feet long? Yup. Death threats from the Arab world? They “know where she works and have people watching her”—it’s hard out there being a word pimp (she works for a dictionary).

Instead of a vain attempt to add to such a bio, I have a dream for her.

K and her peeps are moving to Philly soon. I’ve been reading a book called The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. He’s part of The Simple Way, a church of ordinary radicals, based in Philly. My dream for K is that she and her hubby would start to hang out with the author and his peeps. Then I could live vicariously through them. (Cause it’s all about me, right?)

The Expo-say

No mechanics in my past. K could have taught me to change the oil or the brake pads, but we were too busy discussing our real boyfriends to take time out to muck around inside an automobile. Also neither of us owned a car in college. You might be into fantasy car repair, but you are at the wrong site if that’s the case.

Fear of heights?
Yup. OTRsis and bro jumped across roofs (over the 4 story drop to the concrete passageway). I never did. Heights make me nauseous. This is why I like climbing with a rope, and I’m usually very careful near edges. I hate bouldering. With a rope I am fearless. But bouldering? The part where I project myself toward a rock sliver and hope my buddies below are able to guide my falling carcass toward a tiny mat? Not me, not now!

The real truth is that while I’m scared of heights, I’m also an adrenaline junky. Therefore, as long as I feel in control of the situation, or trust the person who is, I’ll try it.

After med school and PhD graduation and before the start of Jrex’s internal medicine rotation we took 14 days and maxed out the credit card on a 14-day trip to London and Scotland. I even have a scrapbook of the adventure (my one and only venture into that mysterious world…)

Racist dog? Sad, but true. As kids we had god-brothers and sisters in a range of ethnicities; the worst of my bro’s teen rebellion was his racist phase.

As he and the dog walked by an African-American he’d say, “Sic ‘em!” The dog didn’t care, but the person would jump, which excited the dog, then Bro praised her for jumping. Pretty soon she jumped toward ‘people of color’ every time she walked by them.

And yes, she chased rocks not sticks. She could jump a chain-link fence with ease. Her weirdest quirk was digging mini-boulders out of the field and insisting on dragging them home, her head awkwardly tilted to carry the rock. She had a pile she ‘hid’ under the baby grand. (Yes, we lived in the ghetto and had no money, but could walk to a grass-covered baseball field. We inherited the baby grand from Dad’s parents.)

So there you have it. Even my own sister, who’s heard all the boring boyfriend stories, didn’t get it. Ha! I win!! (Would you guess I’m just a little competitive?)

June 12, 2007

Five Facts Game

I saw this over at Korean Goldfish and thought I’d give it a try. I’ve modified it a little into the Five Facts Game.

Basically, I’m about to tell you Five Facts and one Fabrication. You get to figure out which one is the fabrication.

1. In my klutz factor, I came one misplaced foot from falling off a 30-foot cliff while setting up a climbing anchor. I’ve never a paler face on a trip leader. I never told Jrex.

2. When I was a teenager I had a dog that had been trained to be racist. At the request of neighborhood kids we would throw rocks for her to chase. Usually she didn’t care about the kids, just the rock, but it made them feel like they were being chased by a dog. One day she actually got excited by the running pack of kids and, to their horror, easily jumped the chain-link fence to continue the chase.

3. Growing up in a neighborhood where it was common to be talked to on the street by older guys (cars slowed down every time I waited at a light to cross the street. Damn Johns), I gave myself a fake name. “Yo, slim! What’s your name?” I’d toss out my pseudonymn. If a guy called out, “Hey, Amy!” I knew to just wave and keep walking.

4. I once dated a guy who’d worked briefly as a car mechanic. He refused to teach me to change the oil and the break pads. Not because I was a woman, or ditzy, he just didn’t want to deal with the klutz factor.

5. I’ve always been afraid of heights.

6. When asked to describe a perfect vacation day, I remember a trip Jrex and I took to Scotland. In the morning we shopped for gifts in the only town on the Isle of Skye. After a lunch of Fisherman’s Pie we hiked up to the Old Man of Storr in gale force winds. We then drove to the northern tip of the island and changed into fancy clothes in the car so we could go to dinner. We still compare every seafood restaurant to the fresh-caught seafood platter we ate at the Floragarry Hotel. None has yet measured up. During the 40-minute drive back to the B&B the deep blue twighlight lingered enough so we could steer around sheep basking on the asphalt and gasp at gorgeous views of the ocean and craggy rocks.

The winner will get a free, all-expense paid link to their blog, or if they don’t have one, I’ll make up a fabrication about them in their honor.

June 10, 2007

Just for this, it was worth it to move across the country.

In our first few years of marriage my Mom died, my husband grew increasingly depressed and I was in a church that talked a lot about God’s victory without being comfortable with suffering or negative emotions. In order to survive those years I ended up shutting down bits of my soul. As a result, I grew apart from most of my college friends. They were used to me being earthy, funny, transparent, sure a bit 'religious', but someone you could talk with about anything. Suddenly they had instead someone who spoke brightly of all she was learning from the Lord as her world crumbled. It didn't fit.

As you can imagine, emotional comas and long-distance friendships don’t work very well. One of my closest friends, Philospher really, really tried. She was wonderful after Mom died. She sent me The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, she continued my Mom’s tradition of sending me children’s books for Christmas and birthdays, she called often. Every time I got off the phone with her it took me a few days to regain equilibrium (a fragile balance as I stood on an abyss of emotion without any real relational support). I had lots of prayer from amazing people, but not many safe places to be sad. Philosopher was trying to help me be real in my sorrow, but I didn’t have anywhere else to do that at the time, so it was easier to stay shut down and resist her efforts.

For some strange reason, we grew apart.

We tried for the next couple years as I found a safer community and started becoming ‘myself’ again. But it was hard to reknit our friendship’s ragged edges long distance. During our time in Baltimore, she wrote me a letter about getting married and losing her Dad. I wrote a long letter back sympathizing and telling about my emotional journies. I never heard from her again.

During my four recent days of glorious unemployment, I saw her name on an on-line networking list. I sent a tentative email and received an enthusiastic one in return. Wednesday we met for lunch. And picked up where we left off during college. She tried to write back to me after my long heart-felt letter, but was embarrassed by her own melodrama as she mourned her father. "I wish you'd sent the letter," I answered. "It's still around somewhere," she responded, "I'll show it to you sometime."

The weird part is that it’s hard to convey how whole my soul feels with this raveled edge knitted up. Very few of my current close friends know anything about her. Jrex knows, and he’s really happy for me, but it’s not like I can run around saying, “Philospher is my friend again!” and have instant, “That’s great!” reactions from my friends. I have to give them the whole long boring speech I just gave you.

I’ll just hug it to myself and inflict it on the five people who read my blog…

June 6, 2007

This shouldn't be so hard.

In Psalm 46 there’s a verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It can also be translated, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” For two years I’ve sensed that’s what God wants for me. In the midst of packing a house to move. In the midst of meeting people, hunting for work, walking Muttolah, doing all the little things to get through a day: rest.

You’d think that would be good news, right? What does the God who made the Universe want from you? Rest. OK! Sign me up, right? Yet it’s been a huge challenge. I’ve avoided it far more than I’ve obeyed that gentle tug. Why?

On Sunday I realized again why it’s so hard. I decided to do ‘house church’. Literally. Just me and God at home. It started at 10 am. I played a worship CD which includes a song that repeats, “You give and take away, you give and take away, yet my heart will choose to say, ‘Blessed be your name’.” I had to play that song a couple times as I cried and yelled at the Lord. Somehow rest implies acceptance and part of me doesn’t want to accept my life. On the surface it’s great, right? I’ve got a career, a husband who loves me, a mutt with a great personality, plenty of money for our needs but not so much that it owns us, a great place to live, blah blah blah. But it’s not what I dreamt for myself. I don’t want to rest here. I want God to get a move on and move me toward my dreams. Rest = death in my head.

Yet after the emotional storm, I felt really happy and peaceful. I moved out to our little balcony and sat in a deck chair, feet up, facing the trees that line the back parking area. This is what I journaled as I sat there:
It’s so true, Lord. In order to rest in You I have to battle through, or at least feel through, this sea of emotions. Let that salt bath cover me so I can rise from its wet embrace to sit quiet on the shore. Until I wade into those waters, I run around on the boardwalk, window-shopping and playing games to grab a pretend rest and avoid myself. Exhausted at the end of the day by my efforts. This silence after the storm is thick with golden quiet and tender motion. I am embraced by peace and can finally hear the whispers of Your affection.

At the moment, I'm liking 'rest'.

June 4, 2007

Saved from the brink of starvation

Phew! Just had a phone interview (with the people in the gray building). I've got a three-week gig creating trade-show graphics. Now I have to run out and get a really fast external hard-drive to supplement the measly 3 GB of free hard-drive on my famous $99 (cost of shipping) laptop. Let's just say, it's good to have a sister who also works as a designer and just happened to have a leftover laptop when I needed one. I dedicate this freelance job to you!

And, for the fun of it, in case you ever wondered, click here to see San Francisco in jello.

June 1, 2007

Wrapping Up

Had a farewell lunch today with a co-worker who also bikes to work from Menlo. For an office with some of the bitchiest guys (as in gossiping, back-biting, game playing and posturing) I’ve ever worked with, no one gossiped about me leaving. I don’t know if that means I’m not even on the radar or what?! Everyone I told seemed shocked I was done here. Unlike my previous contract job, where the whole department took me out for lunch, this time I set it up and we ate pizza. Hey, it was good pizza but still…

My portfolio is richer by a bunch of skull t-shirts, an I [heart] Lara shirt, a cover wrap for the New York Daily News and a triple box for a single-player assassin game. Nothing I’d ever expected to add, but I’ll take it.

In any case everything has gone well. My creative director told me he was trying to advocate for them calling me when the work picks up. My main liability is that they found me through a placement agency, so to hire me full-time means they’d have to pay the agency around $10,000. I told him I thought that might be an issue, so I was fine either way (if they call or if they don’t).

In the meantime, I’m looking around. I have a phone interview set up for Monday for a three-week gig in San Francisco. Sounds like it would involve me and one other designer creating annual trade-show graphics. Great for the portfolio and fun as well.


Jrex is doing one final (please, God!!) round of mouse injections. It’s a 30 day experiment where he has to inject 32 mice twice a day. No fun! He’s gone by 7:30 and back around 9. On the positive side, I love going to movies alone, so tonight I’m hoping to run home, walk and feed the dog and then go see Knocked Up. Anyone have more exciting weekend plans than taking the dog to the dog park, updating an on-line portfolio and finishing a novel?