easy joviality

On the Beach: Reality Sets In

So, here we are in India, la-di-da-di-da, enjoying the culture, the food, the high life- woot, woot- when, bam! Michelle gets staffed on a project in L.A. So unexpected, so out of the blue! I thought we were all in on this together, not being staffed until after we got back. I thought we were all going to be on the beach, pina coladas and sand and blow up palm trees every day in the New York office until we were staffed. I’m still trying to process this unexpected turn of events when BAM!! Josh gets staffed on the same project in L.A. The next thing you know, I look around and I’m just a homeless man on a deserted beach, and it’s about to storm.

The truth of the matter is that staffing is one of the most stressful things that have happened to me since the recruitment process started. And, it’s not supposed to be. It’s a fact of consulting life that we move in and out of projects, and sometimes it takes some time “on the beach” before we get placed on a project again. We chill out, work from home, maybe go into the office if we feel like it. What is there to worry about? Except for the fact that not being staffed means that you are not billable. Not being  billable means that you’re not making the company any money; you’re costing the company money. On top of all of that, it means that you’re not networking with clients, earning miles, or maintaining a status eligible for expenses. You pretty much become Tom Hanks, stuck on an island with a mangy volleyball to keep you company. Meanwhile, your new friends are earning miles, expensing their dinners and drinks together, and frolicking in the sunshine that embraces L.A in its bosom.

Granted, I don’t believe that any of my coworkers are any more qualified than I am. I know it’s more a matter of luck. And, I know that one day I’ll get off of this sad, sad island. But, how long will it take before I have to build my own raft, nearly drown, and lose the only companion that’s kept me sane (or as close to sane as I can possibly manage) all this time? Meanwhile, my friends have been coptered out. They savor their prime rib and buttered mashed potatoes while I try to stay optimistic with my humble portions of seaweed and sand.

God help us, Wilson. God help us.

Everything is everything

Hello good people. It’s been a few days since my last post, and I have quite a bit to catch you up on! But, baby steps; one thing at a time! First, I’ll address my last post, “On the Beach: Reality Sets In,” as that’s the most logical place to start.

As many of you know, my educational and career paths (along with my personal life, perhaps) have had their fair share of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like I can’t catch a break, you know? But, I also have this incredible ability to bounce back and bounce back fast. Well, in all honesty. I bounced back the day after I posted my frustrations with staffing, but I had no internet access. Do I feel capricious for having posted one thing and for now being in an entirely different state of mind? Not at all. I think sometimes people watch my bounce back without ever having witnessed the fall, and they think I never have my struggles. Some people, I know, think it’s easier for me than it is for themselves or for others. I don’t think this is so, and maybe I just have to do a better job of expressing my frustrations when they do arise for people to see that.

Anyway, back to my staffing status. As of right now, I’m still unstaffed, but I I’ve come to terms with it. As I’ve said, nothing in my life has yet gone as I’d planned. Even my current placement as a staff consultant in a large firm was not what I’d originally planned or wanted for myself. But, it’s all worked out. Almost all of my big, life plans have been shot down, and I’ve had to pull myself together and push on. I’ve had to re-evaluate my position, pull my shit together and start making moves. And, I have to say that I’m pretty happy with, and proud of, the results. I’ve trusted myself to get this far, and I shouldn’t think that I can’t work it out now.

I appreciate the support from all of you very much. I chuckle to myself when you tell me that they’re saving the best jobs for me, because I’m the best. I know they’re not saving anything for me in particular, and it’s okay. I’ll work with what I get and I’ll maneuver my way up. I’ve been lucky enough to have always done it up until now, and I don’t plan on stopping. Like good old Lauryn Hill says, “Everything is everything. What is meant to be will be.” I like to think that I’m meant to be at the top, even if I have to put in all the work to get there. 

Stephen

The Beached Consultant - A Stress Unmatched

It’s been a while, but it’s time for another Easy Jov update, and one from the States at that! I’m back from India, and I guess I’ve got things to say. Sort of… A lot of people have been asking what it means to be back from training, what my new life is like. They wonder if I’m really diving right into my life as a consultant. And, I have to say yes. Yes, I am. Because, you see, being on the beach is, I am being told over and over, a significant part of life as a consultant. And, we have some serious concerns, too. Here are a few, just for you to really get an idea of how stressful it is:

We have to decide where to work from: Life on the beach is essentially remote. We can be on any beach we like. We can be in any coffee shop. We can be in bed. And, all of those options make it really difficult to decide where to work from. Seriously, the stress is immobilizing.

We have to go out, because we have no excuse not to:The beached consultant’s morning starts whenever he wants it to. He can wake up at eight, if he so pleases, and he can sleep until eleven. This makes it extremely difficult to turn down a night out, any night out, Monday through Sunday. Because, he never has to get up for work. All valid work excuses are gone.

We have to figure out what to do with ourselves: We often find ourselves thumbing through old receipts, trying to figure out if we’re caught up on our expenses. We do a self-training here and there. We constantly refresh the home page on Facebook, waiting for somebody, anybody, to do something interesting so that we can comment on it. The beached consultant, you see, has no obligations and no one to report to. He is meant to do his best, and he must prove at the end of the year that he has done something. But, there is also no standard for what that something is. As long as he can argue it out, it’s valid. And, this sucks, because eventually his mind goes blank when trying to figure out all of the things that he can do with himself in the meantime. Really, it’s terrible, that feeling of endless opportunity.

These are just a few things that trouble the beached consultant. As you can see, it’s a highly stressful environment and not for everyone. I, for one, am attempting to make the most of it. I have a strict regimen filled with training after training, all with the hopes that I can be staffed and rise as fast as I can. But, as you can imagine, it’s still difficult to decide whether I should do it from the comfort of my home or in the cozy environment that is Starbucks, where I often get free coffee…

Stephen

Relaxation and Realizations

As I reach the crest of the small hill, I realize that even I wasn’t expecting this. They tell you that Goa is the best place in India. They say that it’s paradise. But, I can’t help but think of it in relation to what we’ve seen so far; India has been incredible, but I wouldn’t exactly call any of it “paradise.” It would be natural, then, for me to be taken aback by what I see.

White, deserted beaches and luscious palms fill my view as far as I can see in both directions. The sun is already halfway down the horizon, and the clouds in the distance are already scarlet and magenta. Holy shit, I think to myself. This is not India.

We walk down the beach, George, Ian and I, with looks of incredulity on each of our faces. We can’t help but break into wide grins as we slip off our sandals and step into the fine sand. As we walk toward the waves, we pass horses, and we pause at pools of water filled with starfish and hermit crabs. They are everywhere, along with thousands of full, unbroken shells and swimming fish. This place is tropical, it’s in India, and it’s more breathtaking than Hawaii. What am I doing here? What is this?

And then I realize that this is my life. Again, I’ll say it with emphasis. This is my life. I work- and I work hard- so that I can enjoy things like this. I work so that I can live. Although I enjoy my work, I do not live for it. I live for moments like this. I live for days when I walk down deserted beaches with friends, when I tread in the eighty-degree waves with a beer in my hand, talking with them about our biggest life-changing moments. I work so that I can afford to live, and it’s the living that is important, the living of my life.

No matter what I do, no matter how stressed I might get by what’s going on around me, I will always have this. I will always have my life, and I can always strive to make the most of it. I can complain sometimes about the hardships, but those complaints won’t get me anywhere anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong. They will still come. But, I will continue to remind myself that this is why I put myself through the stress. I do it so that I can have moments, hours, days like this. I do it so that I can experience the best that I possibly can. And, as I do, I begin to realize that the world’s not as big as it seems and the experiences not so few.

Adulthood - What is this thing I'm feeling?

There comes a moment, and it slips by unnoticed, when you suddenly miss your family more than you used to. You don’t know when it started; you just know it’s there. What they’re doing; how they’re feeling; if anything is new with them – you wonder all of these things. You wish you could finish the day and meet them for dinner. But, you can’t. So, you settle with phone calls and emails, texting and vacations home. And, you try to find meaningful, fulfilling relationships in your friends. Only now you understand that these relationships don’t replace those with your family. They’re merely supplements.

Friends come and go, they say, and it turns out that it’s true. But, it’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. No, you just start noticing that you miss certain people more than others. You find that you’re tired more, and some friends rejuvenate you, while others don’t. You find that instead of texting those friends, you email them. Maybe you even talk on the phone (sometimes you’re both too busy, but at least you find that you want to talk on the phone). Yes, you’re friends start changing, too.

And, really, you’re friends start changing, because you start changing. You’re much more independent than you were before, and that’s true no matter how independent you already were. You work, you come home, and you’re tired. Before, you would have called someone; you would have chosen from one of your many friends. Now, you sit on your couch and read with a glass of wine. You walk to the grocery store and watch the groups of people around you, not with a sense of longing but with a relief that you finally have some time to yourself. Don’t get me wrong; you still enjoy your social life. You just don’t need it to be quite as robust as it was before.

Because you’re now more selective about who you spend your time with, you’re also more selective about what you do. You often find that those people that rejuvenate you also have shared interests. You get together and you do those interests. And, then, when you’re alone, you do those things that you love to do but you never used to have time for. You read. You listen to music. You watch movies. You work out. You cook. You walk. You explore. You do what you always knew you wanted to do but were too busy, too dependent, too lazy, to do. You do it with the people you love, and you appreciate it so much more.

Adulthood, I think, is what they call it. And, It’s not so bad after all.

Your Friendly Consultant in Orlando - The Arrival at Last

Dear peoples,

            I am happy to update you from the lando of Or, where the sun generally shines and the temperature is similar to that of my native land. Although it is, indeed, only my second day here, I think it’s not so bad. Work seems manageable so far, and I don’t seem to mind the day’s passing. It will undoubtedly get more and more hectic as I gain more knowledge and capability, but I’ll deal with that when it comes. The people on my team are pretty nice, and I do, after all, have Liza here with me. Sometimes we don’t quite see eye-to-eye on the matter at hand, but when the workday ends, we seem capable of putting it all aside. We’ve had many more-than-amicable experiences so far, even just minutes after minor disputes or frustrations. It’s pretty safe to say that I’m incredibly glad she’s here with me.

            Other than that, I’m just spending my time adjusting to the travel, the city and the work. I am incredibly close to Walt Disney World (our hotel is just one freeway stop away), and I am contemplating buying a season pass. It is, however, $550ish dollars. It might take me a while to decide… I’m also planning a visit to Boston in a couple weeks to visit Nneka and Val, and I’m thinking about a trip to Kansas City in December or January to visit my cousin, Kelly. We’ll see how much weekend travel I can work out while still trying to get in time with the friends in New York (by the way, Grace Lee, don’t think I’ve forgotten about our trip to New Orleans).

            This weekend Allie Eto is visiting from North Carolina (I will always call you Allie, despite your nagging), and it is Nneka’s birthday-celebration time. I’ll also be building houses with Habitat for Humanity (and Deb) on Saturday, and I may try to sneak in some time with Alison if she’ll have me. It is, all around, a pretty hectic, busy lifestyle. Nothing I’m not already used to. ;)

Your Humble Consultant,

Stephen

Amalfi Coast, part deux - AMALFI

The morning started out much like the morning before it. You know, the usual: wake up; greet the morning sun whilst gazing out upon the azure sea from your beach-front terrace; indulge in a pastry and an espresso. All normal behavior. Only, unlike the previous day, we chose not to take the steps to Amalfi. Rather, we took a bus. Admittedly, our calves were a bit sore. 

Amalfi was not quite what Faustyna and I were expecting. It was a little touristy, and perhaps a bit crowded. But, that is to be expected. It is Amalfi, after all. We partook in a little beach time, enjoyed some paninis on the boardwalk, and then began exploring. 

Our explorations took us up along both mountainsides between which the town sits. The views were incredible, and we found ourselves winding beneath the city in cave-like passageways. It was an experience all of its own. We took a path up through the hills, passing homes on the hillside, until we found ourselves in the town of Atrani. Our goal was to take a SITA bus back to Minori. We found ourselves stranded at the last stop in Ravello. A bit tired, we once again took the steps down from Ravello to Minori. We bought some beers,and we once again enjoyed the early evening from the comfort of our terrace. We talked about life and how fortunate we are.

Dinner was lovely, involving wine and pasta, and we followed it with a bit of bedside yoga. It was to be our last night on the Amalfi coast before we set off toward Rome and our prospective homes, and it was all too enjoyable. 

A Love Letter to my Wife

Right now you are far, far away, and I feel the distance now more than ever before. I feel it with every day that passes, with every day that I don’t hear your laugh or see your smile. I feel it when I misspell a word or say something stupid and you’re not there to correct me. I feel it when I say something that I know is funny, and you’re not there to squint your cute, Polish eyes and utter a medium-pitched “hehe.” Because, we both know that even if you sing real deep, you laugh in a medium-pitched “hehe.” It’s not a “haha,” or a “heehee.” It’s a “hehe.”

I miss you when everyone around me is sometimes being a little too much and I draw into myself and my iPod and I look around and wonder why nobody gets it. Because, I know you would get it. We wouldn’t even have to say anything if you were there. We could just look at them and then look at each other and we would know. And then we would look out the window, maybe up or maybe down, over or across, and we would contemplate the greater vibe. We would contemplate it real deep, get right up in there. And then we would take a picture just to prove that we have deep thoughts sometimes.

I can’t deny that I wish you were here with me. I wish it so, so bad. But, I know that you have to this for you. I love you, and I know that you love me too, even if sometimes you don’t answer my ridiculously long love emails. I get it. You’re a busy girl, and sometimes you’re a bit lazy. It’s okay. I forgive your laziness for now. As long as you do you and you “get her done,” as they sometimes say on blue-collar television. At least I think that’s what they say. You know I don’t watch TV, and you don’t watch blue-collar, so it’s not like it matters anyway…

So the point of my story is that I love you. I love you to the moon and back. Nay, to the stars, or the galaxy and beyond. Whichever is farthest. And I hope that you are doing important things that are important because they are important to you. Because that’s really all that matters anyway.

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Song of the Day: Somebody That I Used To Know, cover by Walk off the Earth

Rome to Minori

A long day. That’s what it was. Our travel day to Minori involved an early(er) rise in order to get the train we needed to the coast. The train had no air conditioning, and Faustyna looked about as miserable as I’d ever seen her. We fell 50 minutes behind schedule, and after we arrived, we waited an hour and a half for the bus. Our dinner was mediocre. It was not the best of days. But, when we finally got to our apartment, I think we both had the feeling that it might all be worth it. Our place was 30 meters from the sea, which, if you don’t know too much about European metrics, basically means that we were the closest home to the beach. Our apartment was cozy, and so was the town. It was an exhausting day, but it was the perfect little home base for the days to come.