theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

How going on a lot of bad dates can make you a more successful job hunter

I didn’t get the Marketing Consultant job I interviewed for in Boston. The kind recruiter sent me a personalized email, before I received the nauseating system-generated rejection email, to give me a heads up about the “not so good news.” Maybe she liked me. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Maybe she felt she should feed the Good Karma machine that currently keeps her employed. Who the fuck knows. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never find out.

Of course, this made the over-anxious, neurotic Keebler Elves in my brain start over-thinking as they sifted flour and beat eggs while making their Pecan Sandies and Chips Deluxe, which no doubt contained Xanax and a shitload of sugar.

And here is the point at which I arrived after all the thinking and when the Elves went into sugary Xanax shock: Job-hunting is a lot like dating, just without all the fun, booze and (sometimes) good sex. But there are similarities (both can be torturous and frustrating, for one), and valuable lessons can be learned from dating, which translate into being a more realistic, creative and resilient job seeker.

DATING CAN HELP YOU DETERMINE YOUR TRANSFERABLE (OR SOFT) JOB SKILLS

It’s a crying shame that my career counselor strongly urged me (actually, forced is more like it) to remove “More than 20 years of dating experience” from my resume’s career summary. Pshaw. That should count for something, right? They talk about transferable skills in these resume workshops, and over the years, copious amounts of dating have left me with many soft skills of which naive early-marriage-adoptors should be jealous:

  • Works well under stress: (Tampa, 1997) After I was invited into his apartment for a drink post-first-date, my date came out of the kitchen with gin & tonics, but without pants or underwear (yet, oddly, he was still wearing his shirt). I told him to put his pants on, calmly grabbed my purse, left his apartment (while screaming, “Hey there’s a crazy naked man in #301” throughout his apartment complex courtyard) and took a cab home.
  • Creative problem solver: (Gainesville, 2000) One boy-man took me out for Chinese, proceeded to order the entire menu and then said, “Oops, I forgot my wallet can you cover me?” when the bill came. Prior to settling up the tab, I excused myself to use the restroom and covertly walked out the front door. Maybe he is still there, 12 years later, washing greasy Chicken Chow Mein off of plates.
  • Strong communication skills*: (Providence, 2006) The first guy I dated in this city (for three insufferable months) was angry because he thought I loved my dog more than him (of course I did) and gave me the silent treatment during dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I left as soon as the bill came and waited outside in the fresh air for him to take me home. He came out, got into his car and drove off. W I T H O U T me. After I got home, thanks to a kind friend, I had a message waiting on my land-line phone (not the cell phone I was carrying) that said “I hope you had a nice fucking walk home alone in the dark.” He showed up at my apartment the next day, CRYING and apologetic, and I said “Why don’t you go tell your mommy what you did to me and if she thinks it’s okay and respectable for you to make a woman walk 2 miles home alone in the dark, I might take you back. Oh wait, I won’t. Have a nice fucking life.” I shut the door. (*He is now married – who marries these assholes?)
  • Experience with social media: (Various locations and years) I can defriend a recent ex on Facebook within 2 seconds of the break-up and deflect – in hockey-goalie fashion – ex-boyfriends who message me “wanting to be your friend now” or who are looking for a booty call. Booty call? Really dipshit? Did you notice that I live in New England now and you are still living in the same lame-ass town I grew up in 1,200 miles away. (I used to only date the moody poets, obviously not the mathematicians who still have possession of their frontal lobes.)
  • Works well as a member of a team: (Tampa, 1996-2000, various bars and clubs) During my 20s I often went out with a gaggle of singletons (who have since happily moved on to Smug Marrieds-land and lots of diapers). We attracted a broad spectrum of single guys, ranging from recent parolees and crack-heads, to UT grads who did mind-eraser shots until they puked into our laps and Hugh Hefners who thought the size of their paycheck could make up for the fact that they were quite simply gross old men hitting on 26-year-olds. We protected each other from the scumbags and made sure we were visible to the “good” ones (even though we were wearing beer goggles most of the time). But the thing is this: We never left anyone behind and we kept each other safe. We were a team, a drunken, slightly slutty team, but a team nonetheless.

IT HELPS YOU BUILD A TOUGH SKIN FOR THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS REJECTION OF THE JOB HUNT…

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Welcome mats and doormats

Yesterday I approached my Meals on Wheels route with a heavy heart. I can’t explain it. I think it was because that damn Bon Iver song “Skinny Love” was playing on the radio as I pulled out of the food distribution center. That song makes me sad. I fumbled with the dial, trying to find Bananarama or something else stupid and peppy and retro. Nope, Bauhaus was playing for fuck’s sake. Radio. Turned. Off.

I ruminated about my mood as I drove to my first meal drop-off. I decided it was because I felt like an empty vessel – and today of all days I needed to be shooting compassionate and patient pixie dust out of my ass. These people relied on me. Yet, I had nothing to give. As my wise friend Karen says to me when I’m facing a difficult task or visit home: “Just send your better self. Just for this one thing. It will get you through it.” So I tried to summon my better self, but I wasn’t sure if she was the one driving the car at the moment.

My first drop-off  was easy – I just had to put the food in the cooler, as was the case with the following two deliveries. No human interaction required, yet I still cried in my car between these easy drop-offs. Better self, where are you? I asked myself.

Next on the list: Ed. Sometimes he waited outside for his food, sunning himself on the back deck; other days he left a cooler for me. With twinkly blue eyes and ruddy Irish skin, he reminds me of my grandfather, had my grandfather lived to see his late 70s, instead of only his early 60s.

I pulled up to his house and headed to the back of the house. The cooler was there on the back deck, in place of Ed. Alas, there was no ice, and I’m not allowed to leave the food in the cooler unless it contains an ice-pack.

I knocked.

“Who is it?” said a gruff voice.

“It’s Meals on Wheels,” my better self cheerfully shouted through the closed door.

“What a glorious voice,” he said as he opened the back door.

I handed him his his meal and asked, “How are you doing today, Ed?”

“Tired. I just woke up. But my day just got better the minute I saw you. You look like a damn movie star. A movie star! It should be a crime to be as pretty as you are.”

Taken off guard, I squeaked, “You know, Ed, I was having a difficult morning, and you just made my day.” Putting my hand on my chest I said with less-squeaky conviction, “I will carry your compliment in my heart all day long. Thank you. You have a great day yourself.”

I practically skipped back to my car, with tears in my eyes but a big grin on my face. Yeah, yeah, Ed is practically blind, which probably makes my bovine-sized thighs look super-model svelte, but perhaps he can sense inner beauty. Or maybe I am pretty. Huh. Foreign concept for me.

After a few more easy stops, I reached Meg’s house. She always tries to give me something: brownies, eggplant, earrings, necklaces, a wooden angel. She won’t take no for an answer. We chatted for awhile and then she showed me her garden, as if for the first time, even through she shows it to me every time I visit her. I don’t mind. I like gardens. Besides, it’s a testament to her strength: 88 years old with a bad leg, she spends hours out in her garden, tending to the tomatoes and zucchini and beans.

“I have something for you,” she said, grabbing my hand and leading me out to the garage.

“Meg, I can’t possibly take anything else from you, you have been more than generous,” I argued.

She opened the garage and presented me with an empty Kmart shopping cart.

“I grabbed this when the store down the street closed. I’ve got no use for it, in fact I have an identical one in the basement.”

I stifled a laugh. A shopping cart? Too bad she didn’t have a job or boyfriend waiting for me in the garage.

“Meg, you are so sweet. I can’t possibly take this. I live on the third floor, in a 500 square foot apartment.”

She signed resignedly and said okay. I hugged her and walked down the driveway giggling to myself. “See you next week,” I shouted over my shoulder.

As the morning rolled by, I visited with two other of my favorites, and managed to coax another one of the clients outside her door. She usually leaves the door open just wide enough for me to slip the food through. Victory.

My better self finally emerged, due in no small part to the welcome mat that always seems to be put out for me. Whether I visit with these people or am left with a cooler (but no person) to deliver to, I feel welcome, needed, maybe even loved.

However, my day wasn’t over yet. On an afternoon walk with my dog, I would find out that the welcome mat doesn’t exist in some people’s lives; instead they seek to treat others like doormats. These days, I prefer actively stepping over the threshold of the welcome mat, not being the passive doormat. And the Cruella De Vil who tangled with me yesterday afternoon was met with my better, non-doormat self’s smart mouth and a sense of new-found confidence.

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Four weddings and a divorce?

I would feel un-American if I didn’t wish everyone a Happy July 4. I don’t really know what this day means anymore; this country has veered so far off the Founding Fathers’ path. In a perfect world, I would mandate that Congress work today, creating jobs and regulating Big Banks, rather than taking the day off, only to return after their 4,000th recess this year, where the useless agenda will include repealing Obamacare and taking away low-cost healthcare and birth control for women, among other stupid things. (Jeez, that was a long sentence.)

Okay, so Happy 4th. And now on to my totally non-Independence Day-related post, as I take a nose-dive off my soapbox.

My sister called me two Sundays ago. I didn’t answer. I texted her and told her I would call her Monday. I just wasn’t in a chatty mood and was feeling a bit funky.

She texted me back: “You’re reading the NY Times wedding announcements, aren’t you? Put that shit down. Better yet, set it on fire. It just makes you feel like crap.”

Busted. (But it was not why I felt like not talking. The culprit was a migraine coupled with obsessing about my looming unemployment.)

Yes, I am addicted to the wedding section of the Times. The obsession began about 10 years ago, when I started subscribing to the paper. I waited for that blue-plastic bag to hit my driveway each Sunday, after which I would greedily devour each and every wedding announcement. Shame spiral commencing now…

What attracts me to it? I’m not a person who has dreamed of a princess wedding since I was in the 8th grade, nor is marriage a goal in my life. Finding a companion is, I know that for sure. But marriage may never be in the cards for me, and I am okay with that. Plus, I don’t want to have children, which is sometimes (but not all the time) a good reason for matrimony. I came from a tidy little nuclear family, and look how well I turned out, hahaha.

Anyway, the reason for my unabashed attraction to the wedding announcements is that I feel like I’m reading fiction and creating fiction at the same time. These little parcels, little nuggets of life, fascinate me. I love reading them and then filling in the holes.

First off, it is fiction because the Crest-White-Strips smiles, glowing complexions and Ivy League pedigrees don’t seem real to me. For the most part, these couples have multiple degrees from top universities (mostly Harvard, Brown, Yale and Princeton) and have uber-important sounding jobs. For example:

Mrs. X, 28, will be taking her husband’s name. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, where the couple met, and has a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard. She is currently working on the cure for cancer. Her IQ is 170.

Mr. X, 33, has an MBA from Wharton School of Business and a law degree from Harvard. He currently works as Vice President of Asset Management Schematics & Technology & Wealth Management Logistics at XX Bank.

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On pins and needles

I arrived at Providence Community Acupuncture yesterday, not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t scared. Needles don’t freak me out as long as my eyes are closed and I can’t see them. And I have a ginormous threshold for pain. (I am descended from such folk: my mother can stick her bare hands into a 500-degree oven and pull a pan out, without flinching; and I once watched my physician father try to sew part of his finger back on after an unfortunate hedge-clipping incident.)

Why am I doing this? Because I’m sick of feeling like shit. I am feeling much better since taking up Pilates again. And I met with a nutritionist last week and am going dairy-free (and pretty much meat-free) for the next couple of weeks to see how I feel. After only five days of the diet, I feel pretty damn good, even though I desperately miss my best friend Mr. Cheese.

So I’m on a good path. But I eventually want to stop taking Klonopin and maybe scale back on some of the other meds. I want to have a good mind/body connection. And pretty soon I’m going to start making hemp clothing, become a freegan and join a commune. Yeah, right.

Anyway, back to yesterday. First, I filled out some paperwork, asking me about my every ache, pain, malady and medication, and then I paid the fee (sliding scale – very reasonable). Anna, my acupuncturist led me into a back room, where she asked me what I hoped to achieve from acupuncture (for me: relief of anxiety, depression and headaches, relaxation) and gave me a brief overview of this ancient Chinese alternative medical technique. She checked my pulse (which I guess was slow, because she asked me if I typically had low blood pressure). She also checked my tongue to determine the shape and color. I guess my tongue is tongue-shaped? As for the color, she said it was purple, which means my liver and spleen are all out of whack.

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised about the liver. Although I am alcohol-free now, I’ve done some heavy drinking over the past 20 years, in a futile attempt to self-medicate my anxiety and depression. I had labs done two weeks ago and my liver enzymes were fine, but I attribute those healthy numbers to my hearty Irish liver. I come from a long line of fair-haired, freckled, blue-eyed drinkers whose livers kept ticking to the bitter end. Cancer was what got the best (and worst) of them, not cirrhosis.

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