Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today I am Thirty One

Preface: I am going to illustrate the ideas in this post with stills from my all-time favourite 90 Day Fiancé's Beth and Danielle, because I can.

Have you ever climbed on one of those foam mats at the pool, trying to stand on top of the water? If you're lucky, you'll balance for a few seconds, and in that moment, the rush of defying the seemingly impossible is unlike anything your seven-year-old self has ever experienced. MOM MOM MOM MOM ARE YOU WATCHING? MOM OH MY GOD MOM 

Today I'm 31, and I feel like I'm back on that foam mat, with my immediate life beneath me as I balance, balance, balance. I've spent this past year - the first of my thirties - solving a Rubik's Cube comprised of the challenges of living abroad and trying to understand oneself in the process. Funny how the effects of leaving a career, familiar environment, and even part of yourself behind can back you into a corner like high school bullies. Who are you now? What are you doing? What do you care about? Redefine, redevelop, and balance - there is no escape and there are no distractions.

My goals for this 31st year of my life (or I suppose 32nd year actually..yikes) are to create familiarity in the unfamiliar, comfort in the foreign, and positivity in the chaos. (side note: Blogger doesn't recognize the word positivity. Who invited Negative Nancy to the potluck?) More specifically, I'm gonna try not to burst into flames/tears every time I come home from yet another interview where they showed up twenty minutes late and rolled their eyes as I described my Canadian work experience and the bus driver drove past me laughing and my bank account is down to a two-digit number.....because there are things you don't have control over, and they are not worth sweating.

Every year on my birthday, I try to encapsulate my most prominent ideas for the off-chance that they may be important to remember down the line as the years flash by. Some years it's about cake and other years end up being a bit more reflective.  The past few months have been incredibly challenging but in the process, I had a thought that helped calm the death-metal festival into which my stress has manifested in my brain: Find something you love about today, then find something you love about tomorrow. Learn to be grateful for those things- I'm pretty sure that's all life is about.

Well, that and flying to Vegas in a private jet... ayyyyyyyy

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Climbed a Fence, I Lost a Job

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Rocky win boxing training victory GIF  

This is the story of how I went from being the Planters Peanut of the interview world (or whatever you might associate with success) to literally running away from an interviewer. Or rather, this is another instalment of how things are going at the moment. 

As most people my age, I've had about seven hundred interviews in my life, and I have nailed them every single time. From jobs I didn't feel like doing, to jobs I wasn't qualified for, to jobs where I was sure the interviewer could see a French baguette edging out of my Marc Jacobs 'briefcase', I've gotten the job in every single situation. Typically, what I lack in experience I make up for in very comfortable, sharp, and of course, absolutely hilarious banter.  "Microsoft Access? Never heard of it but I'll access it tonight, and be a pro on it by Monday, Linda. Ehhhh!") Plus, I always wear shoulder pads, so no one ever doubts me anyway.  Here's how I usually look, and how I looked on the day my interviewee life unravelled:

A few weeks ago (and yes, it has taken that long for me to recover long enough to talk about it), I was invited to an interview for a charitable organization which shall remain nameless. The interview happened to fall on the exact same day I was getting an ultrasound done to determine whether I have a raging stomach ulcer. I was really excited to find out, and totally bummed out that the interview was just an hour after my appointment, and could not be moved. Anyway, fine. I had my appointment, and as I was leaving for my interview, I realized it had gone on far longer than expected and my power walk would need to be a run for me to make it. Fine, again. I started running, coat in hand, stomach sweating awkwardly (OR WAS IT SWEAT?!?). I got to the location at the address mentioned to me, and here is what I saw:

Oh my God. I was going to work inside a dumpster. Or, I needed to keep running, which I did, and finally found the interview place, just a few minutes prior to my start time. Phew, I thought, dusting off my Peanut monocle and cane, It's showtime. 

I walked up to the front doors of the building and realized they were locked. The receptionist stared at me as if I were a flasher, then casually walked over, and pressed a code on the door to let me in. I smiled him an "I'll be your boss soon" smile and walked super fucking confidently towards the office. This is precisely when everything went downhill.

You know when someone hates you the minute they see you? When the combination of every last detail of your being amounts to the word Idiot illuminating like a buzzing neon sign above your stupid head and no matter what comes out of your stupid mouth it just sounds, to them, like a fart sound? No? You don't know that? Then I invite you to read on, because that's what happened. My interviewer could not hold back from looking me up and down continuously with an expression of horrified judgment. She shook my hand while looking at the room we were going to walk into. We sat at a table so small that our knees were nearly rubbing, and the white sky coming through the window facing me was blinding. I went through my typical repertoire of light office humour a la "There I was, carrying six laptops while wearing six inch heels! What was I thinking? OFFICELOL" and she wouldn't flinch. My answers were met with nothingness. No feedback, no nodding, and no subsequent progression. And by that, I mean dead silence followed each of my replies as if it was never enough for her. Finally, I added "...and that's how I'd like to answer that!" At one point, I told her I don't like the sound of humans. At another point, I said we are all pieces of the puzzle of life. My spirit had floated out of my body and watched on in horror as I attempted to claw my way out of the pile of pure stupid I had melted into by the simple virtue of her assumptions about me. I was dying inside, and could feel what I now realized was ultrasound gel running down my shirt.

As the interview ended, she said, with great disappointment, "The bathrooms are down the hall" and I wasn't sure why she felt compelled to point that out, but I thanked her and walked off. I took my time in the stall, texting everyone I knew that my life was officially over and I would never live this embarrassment down. I spent about 12 minutes in the bathroom just trying to calm down. When I walked out, she happened to be standing by the door. She definitely saw me.  I walked into the elevator and mouthed the word fuck repeatedly at myself in the mirror all the way down to the ground floor. She saw me stay in the bathroom for 12 minutes. My face was a deep red and I was no longer human but a syrupy reduction of shame and the pieces of the puzzle of life. I pushed the front doors but they of course wouldn't budge until the receptionist came over and pressed more buttons and I walked out robotically and walked ahead to what I thought was a shortcut through the community garden proudly growing in front of the building. I thought it weird that I had to squeeze in between two metal bars to get into the garden, but my thoughts were clouded by the pounding in my face.

A few steps in, I looked around and realized there was no exit, and I was surrounded by a tall fence. The 'bars' I had squeezed between were actually some sort of evil one-way locking contraption. I had locked myself in. I looked around and looked up to see my interviewer looking down at me through her office window. The next few minutes were a blur, as I walked over to the fence, threw my purse over, and began hiking my leg over it in an attempt to climb it. Were my life normal, I would've climbed over it in one go, but my life is my life, and I didn't quite make it with the second leg, so I fell back. I looked up again, and a few more people had gathered to watch. I climbed again, this time falling over to the other side of the fence, and then, I started running. I ran until I was out of breath, trying very hard not to think of the impression I left - bombed the interview, sweat chunks of gel, took massive dump in toilet, locked herself in the garden, climbed a fence, and ran away.

The next day, my placement agent delicately told me that they went with "a stronger candidate" and while I was amazingly un-surprised, my mom made a really great point: how many other candidates would've gotten out of that garden on their own? Probably zero because nobody else would've walked into it to begin with. Regardless, despite my now tarnished interviewee record, I'm taking the most important stuff out of this one: when life hands you a fence, climb over. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dry January: A Dublin Update!

Here in Dublin, it's Dry January. That means people don't drink for an entire month, which I don't think actually happens because I don't think anyone here has a meal without a keg of Guinness to accompany it. Because I'm still unsure when I'll return to Canada, though it could be sooner than later, I thought I would give you a quick update with what's going on, and hopefully write enough of these updates to properly catalogue my memories for the future, when I'm back and missing the green isle.

A rose! In January!

I worked as an accounting assistant for six months, but quit about a month ago, accidentally leaving behind a legacy of an Excel document containing the word "fajitas" written 11 times and a .jpeg image of a flying cockroach. I now spend my days streaming  Lock-up: Women Behind Bars on Netflix, running, over-cooking rice, and basically occupying the title of Thirty Year Old Woman Trying Not To Freak Out Over Being Unemployed In A Foreign Country. Or, TYOWTNTFOOBUIAFC, for short.

Bettie gave her hubby some cornbread then she shot him with a shotgun!

When the majority of available jobs involve sandwich artistry, it can be hard to keep your chin up over 'real' job prospects, and on top of that, yesterday I had a placement agent call me simply to rip me a new one over the fact that my CV was organised by relevance and not by date. I never expected something as external to my sense of self as  'Current Job Situation' bleed into the way I feel in terms of my self-worth, and while the feeling hurts like hell, I have to say I am grateful for this experience. Not gonna lie, I ugly-sobbed after that call (Jeff wasn't home luckily), because in addition to yelling at me the agent also made sure to accentuate how unqualified I was for anything in Ireland, but then I got up, washed my face, walked to a coffee shop, and the barista gave me EIGHT coffee stamps "to get you started off" on my loyalty card. And guess what..I teared up, again, because in those moments, even the smallest act feels like a mountain of love. I'm grateful because this experience has led me to feel defeat (rather than the complacency I've been feeling in the comfort of my past jobs) and an unbelievable amount of thankfulness to that barista and also to the butcher who said I could just pay him some other day for my eggs because he didn't want me to worry about using a debit card. Yeah, that happened too. And then an old man smiled at me, and then I felt like I could survive another day, anyway.

happy excited yes win star trek

So, I apply for jobs, I run, I overcook rice, and then I do everything I can to take my mind off what I cannot control, and in the days when I want to run back to Ottawa to financial stability, I think of everything I couldn't have learned without these little experiences.

I've also been trying to get Jeff to eat less meat, so I've been spending a lot of time trying to make beans tasty. Pictured below are some of the things I've subjected the World's Biggest Carnivore to, and I won't pretend he doesn't still eat meat between meals, but what can ya do..

This is a black bean burger with sharp cheddar and Kozlik's mustard from Canada, topped with avo, lettuce and tomato, and a bit of mayo! It was ridiculously tall and impossible to eat without making a disastrous mess.

I have to say one of my top 3 favourite things about Dublin is how cheap food is. These things cost me a total of 8.50 Euro!

A salad made up of leafy greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce), cucumber, tomato, red onion, organic falafel, hummus, and Greek yogurt. I do not enjoy salad but this was good as salads get. 

A Mexican salsa bowl over basmati and long-grain rice, topped with cilantro dressing, cilantro, and you guessed it, Greek yogurt

Veggie sausages and the rest is pretty identifiable, I think! One of my favourite post-run brunches..

Kale chips, because these never, ever go out of style. I sprinkled them with nutritional yeast and a bit of salt and olive oil. They turned out lovely, as always..

Aside from this stuff, I've been on the hunt for a really good, sturdy umbrella, a drop-in ceramics workshop, and an all-natural deodorant that doesn't leave you looking like the perpetrator in the last scene of a Catfish episode. A girl can dream, and in the meantime, have a great January!

Sunset over Dublin, a view from my old office