jo vs the workforce

so job training was Not Awful, though my morning was – slept really badly, started crying about other upsetting things in the bathroom while I tried to do my makeup, gulped a mound of coffee grounds, forgot to plan ahead for things like, you know, breakfast, and ended up eating half a slice of pita; also I somehow contrived to leave my wallet on the floor, which I didn’t realise until I was twelve minutes away at the subway station. (protip: when you’re already viciously anxious, having to cheat your way onto a train does not help.) spent most of train ride crying quietly, then managed to come out of the ground on a street I don’t usually come out in and promptly started rushing in the opposite direction of where I ought to have been going, when I was already running late. 

fortunately one other person arrived later than me. maybe no one will remember. 

anyway we filled out paperwork and went over protocol and guidelines and got our company t-shirts, which are really cute, actually, and code for what to wear them with is essentially “anything reasonably respectable; make your call”, so I don’t have to be trapped in khakis or anything similarly hellish. (I do have to wear a baseball cap, but we’ll see how long that lasts.) 

I don’t know how often I’ll be working with my cashier coworkers – there should only be one, maybe two people working a shift at once – but I liked them. one girl has long burgundy-pink hair, which she initially hid under a very convincing black wig, and then asked for the okay from the boss, who’s completely fine with it – so I asked and got an explicit okay with dyeing my hair turquoise again in the near future. (as several coworkers have facial piercings, my nose piercing ambition seems on target as well.) 

wages seem to be… quite good??? and we get tips, and weekly checks, so that’s… encouraging. I don’t want to think about it too hard because you’re not supposed to be able to get almost-liveable jobs and I feel like I’m making a mistake or I’m misunderstanding an important catch. but. I’ll trip over that bridge when I come to it, I guess. 

we get free meals when we’re working and have free reign of all non-alcoholic drinks (fancy sodas!!!), so that’s neat. food meeting on Tuesday probably where we learn the menu by eating it I’m really excited about this meeting. 

so like… good things. but I feel so un-good right how that having something go right without an obvious catch is making me feel confused and guilty and resentful (resentful that now I have to feel positive about something when that’s hard work and it feels like it invalidates all the other negative feelings that are pretty all-consuming and rooted in issues that have yet to disappear), and I’m really tired of being optimistic about things because I have been relentlessly optimistic about new opportunities constantly for six months and they keep going all to hell. I don’t know. this is not the moral I should be taking away from today. but I still didn’t have a wallet, so I went straight back to Brooklyn without even a chocolate stop at Rite Aid on the way to the apartment (because no wallet) and crawled into bed, which is where I have mostly been. tomorrow I’ll get celebratory wine or something, but tomorrow has its own Dreaded Thing, so. 

guys, I had my first actual shift behind the register today! my restaurant is real and open! which is really cool, because my bosses (who are brother and sister, aww) got to see their dream realised today, and all things considered things went really well – we did a soft opening for friends and family of D. and Y., and a massive chaotic testing ground for us register folk to learn how to ring up orders quickly and efficiently. (the software is really intuitive, but you can tell yourself how to quickly modify a sandwich so the cooks know to give it a different kind of mayo, and then add three salads, and it’s a whole different animal when you’re at the register with an impatiant customer at the other side of the counter.) and like! people came! they ate! they really liked the food! I only hit my head on the thing hanging over the basement stairs twice! I made a bunch of minor errors and got really panicked and almost wanted to cry but nobody really noticed or yelled at me for not doing important steps in the right order! my coworkers are really neat! (one girl cosplays as a hobby and has hundreds of high quality realistic-looking wigs, and has promised Lady Boss she will wear a different wig every shift. today it was fire red and yellow and matched her Bloodmilk leggings. she says she has a wig for every pair of leggings she owns and is super cute and nerdy although I am Not Versed in cartoons and gaming, like, at all, which makes me feel a little left out and sad, but. she likes electro swing! I will make her rec me electro swing bands! aaaah.) 

and like, adrenaline rushes are good for me. being in the East Village is good for me. doing useful work and seeing people and making money is good for me. we split the tip jar four ways and I still left with a decent sum of money for groceries. (this is what happens when a lot of rich people get their sandwiches for free, I guess. they put twenties in the tip jar.) 

anyway things keep going terrifyingly UP! and then DOWN! but tonight is UP! for now. my job is probably good. I got to see somebody’s dream come true. I also had a damn good sandwich. 

here I am in the local paper! what a weird reporter, though, fixating on the kind of trees (THIS TOWN IS SO WEIRD) and also using the flippant part of my answer (I said I chose the spot because of its proximity to several popular restaurants as well as being in the midst of the downtown area in general; it’s right in front of the general parking lot so I get people both coming and going and also it’s city ground so I’m not on any of the businesses’ property BASICALLY I WAS ALL STRATEGIC ABOUT IT AND HE TOOK THE FLIPPANT ADD-ON PART OF MY ANSWER FOR THE ARTICLE BAH) (also “go to Boston” is a huge simplification but whatever my personal issues needn’t be in the paper anyway)

and also the photo is much better in person but I have no desire to wrestle with the scanner.

BACK FROM INTERVIEW; I THINK IT WENT REALLY WELL the library director and I connected well at least and uh… my passion for library work… was definitely apparent… (I’M A GIDDY WEIRDO, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLETELY DISGUISE)

and I also got to tell them, as an example of my organisational skills, about the time I spent about six months compiling from multiple sources a Sindarin Elvish dictionary, complete with basic instruction on grammar and sentence structure… which they… seemed to enjoy… 

and they’re finishing up interviews today so I should find out in the next couple of days

fnnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr living in blanket cave under desk for the interim 

today I had the Greatest Work Training of All Time, because it was Try All the Sandwiches Day, and by God, did we ever try all the sandwiches. walking out of the restaurant afterwards was A Challenge.

(we were also the first people ever to eat in the restaurant! so that’s exciting.)

look, I was going to beg everyone to drop by to see me at work, but now I am going to beg everyone to drop by because you need these sandwiches in your life.

(here is the menu. I thought it looked really good. then I tasted it. everything is at least twice as good as it looks.)

also I had no idea I would love pickled cherries and tomatoes so much. 

I like my new co-workers a lot although I feel left out and like I came in late somehow, as usual – everyone talking about theatre (I know so little about theatre, though I’d like to), and people they’ve dated, and school, and just bonding so quickly, and I’m just… listening. occasionally babbling.

oh well. it’s not like this is new. I’m amazing at connecting with customers, but never manage to get in on the inner circle. it’ll be fine. 

anyway I had a Good Day (a relief after feeling worryingly dead all day yesterday – couldn’t summon up any emotions, even after a brisk walk), and even the rain felt good – I can smell that cool fresh spring rain smell, and the hot smell of the pavement cooling. I retrieved some things from my storage unit, and went to a film screening my church’s theology circle was holding (Another Earth, which was fantastic, and also the woman who composed the musical saw piece in the film came to the screening and talked about it and performed for us. NEW YORK!), and was in good enough spirits that having to bum subway fare off someone and then walk the quarter mile from my last stop to my apartment in pouring rain was just sort of pleasantly terrible, with a warm bed at the end of it. 

so I have to do a terrifying thing today and it’s kind of freaking me out?

the library is HIRING. according to the classifieds, they are looking for “self-motivated, responsible, and detail-oriented persons for 2 positions performing library research and customer service tasks. Must be helpful, friendly, customer service oriented, and have technology aptitude.” the only education requirements are a high school diploma, and it’s a potential thirty-hour-a-week job. 

do I sort of like and at least not-hate my current job? yes. but it is retail, which means it often also sucks. and, you know, obviously, library work is WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. 

they want a resume/application? HOW DO I WRITE THAT? I AM USED TO JOB APPLICATIONS WHERE YOU FILL OUT A PAPER. I’m going to go talk to them about it today, but I am SCARED TO DEATH OF IT, and I also have to… pay my fines… before I talk to them… because I had an anxiety block about returning some books (they are returned now) and thus haven’t been to the library in about a month. (I KNOW. ANXIETY’S BLOODY STUPID, MAN.) which means I have to break into my money-in-the-desk because it’s… not a small amount of fines… and I FEEL LIKE THIS WILL MAKE ME LOOK REALLY BAD… but they know me and know I want to eventually become a librarian myself…? research and customer service? THESE ARE THE THINGS I AM BEST AT IN THE WORLD AND LIKE DOING THE MOST. 

ANYWAY I AM BLOODY TERRIFIED and actually kind of want to just forget the whole thing, keep being an ordinary dead-end person who works retail because it’s safe, and put a blanket on my head, but I know I will hate myself if I don’t at least try. BUT I AM SCARED. IT’S WORSE THAT I KNOW THEM BECAUSE IT’LL FEEL PERSONAL IF THEY REJECT ME. BUT I WOULD BE SO GOOD AT THIS AND I HAVE SO MUCH TO OFFER THE COMMUNITY AS A LIBRARY WORKER. 


I’m so tired that I went out to a cafe in smudged post-crying post-soup-consumption makeup with soup all over my shirt but here’s some stuff that’s been happening lately:

  • I started working full time on Monday. I’m working for Appco Group, a sales and marketing company, in their charity division – basically, I do door-to-door charity fundraising all over the five boroughs of New York City, mostly for charities directly providing medical care and food and education to children in poverty. it can be pretty exhausting, especially as I’m still learning, and I have to get used to working full time and from an office with things like board meetings and salaries for the first time in my life. I… get a salary? instead of hourly pay? and commissions and bonuses????? like some kind of ADULT?????????
  • the office is pretty cool; a lot of my coworkers are around my age and the environment is very natural. they encourage office community in a way that is mostly actually really great and doesn’t annoy me (and I’m easily annoyed by forced work enthusiasm). but I can also respect the company from what I’ve seen; they encourage good, persistent, ethical work, and I get to explore a lot of New York. 
  • also we’re having an all-expenses-paid (including drinks) night at a really nice karaoke bar on Saturday night. MY WORKPLACE IS PAYING FOR ME TO DRINK AND SING BOB DYLAN*.
  • all our prayers came through under the wire and somehow the money’s been made available for my parents to fly me to Kentucky just in time for Christmas. I didn’t think I’d find a way to spend Christmas with my family as we’re both spectacularly broke (I won’t even see my first paycheck for a week or more, though I’ll have a weekly direct deposit after that), but couldn’t… you know. think about any other options. mostly I’ve just been filtering Christmas out, half-consciously, and getting embarrassingly weepy hearing bad renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” in department stores for weeks. Dad and I are working out tickets right now but it looks like I’ll be flying out early Christmas Eve (and as I love air travel it’s not a shabby way for me to spend half of Christmas Eve) and getting back evening on the 31st.
  • I sound really matter-of-fact about this but my mother called me at work to tell me they’d managed to get money to fly me home and I started crying and had to take a break from work because I couldn’t stop. I can’t remember if or when I've ever cried, much less sobbed, from happiness before. 
  • some people have been really great I will try to acknowledge this better when I am free in the weekend 
  • I have cried a lot today and it’s weird.
  • bullet points continue to exist!!!!!!!!!!11

* if you know what you’re doing, “Like A Rolling Stone” is one of the greatest karaoke songs in existence.

why i shouldn't be allowed to talk at work any more:

CO-WORKER: “oh, red velvet cake! red velvet cake is my favourite!”
ME: “but Michelle, red velvet cake is A HIDEOUS LIE.”
ME: “it’s only food colouring! it’s not even a kind of cake! IT’S MADE OF LIES!”
CO-WORKER: “…I mean, I know, but it still tastes so good…”
ME: ”…“
ME: "I’m gonna go fold things." 

so I’ve just been thinking lately about Me Right Now and Me A Year Ago This Time, and A Year Ago This Time I had been off my medication for three months and counting because my insurance unceremoniously dumped me, and I was working a job that I hated and that exhausted me and that I felt was swallowing up all the rest of my life, and I was so miserable that I was crying nearly every day and semi-regularly having very loud and ugly emotional breakdowns and sneaking into the bathrooms at work to cry nearly every shift and for a while nearly forgot that having anxiety symptoms of not being able to get enough breath in my lungs and feeling panicked about nothing at all times always was not the normal state of the human body.

to be quite honest most of July through December of 2011 was one of the absolute worst periods of my entire life. and I’ve had some ugly spots, let me tell you.

the only things that kept me wanting to get up in the morning were the terror of failure and disappointing people if I didn’t, and also Marwick and the people I love and who inexplicably love me back. (sometimes writing Marwick in my head was all that got me through the workday without collapsing. because it was someplace good I could disappear and feel like I was creating, not retreating.)

and now I have a job again and while it can be tiring and frustrating it is also okay and I sometimes even rather like it and it hasn’t made me cry even once and it isn’t eating my life and I’m decently comfortable with my co-workers and they don’t try to make me talk all the time or date other co-workers that I don’t even like anyway. and I have medication and income and people who love me and I’m lonely and still a depressed anxious tangle of nerves but I can usually deal with it. (deal with it, not shove it under a metaphorical bed and pretend it’s not there.) and someday I’ll be less lonely and I won’t live here any more and I’ll go to college and be a librarian and publish a novel and maybe even fall in love, but a year ago there were times when I was psychologically incapable of imagining myself doing anything other than mopping floors at one in the morning and trying to cry without anyone seeing.

I’ve just been thinking about this a lot, I guess, because time is always linked, for me, and now and a-year-ago-now are linked enough that I can look across from one to the other. and I’m glad you were there then and I’m glad you’re still here, and I guess I want to thank you for being there then and now and not giving up on me, and giving me something not to give up on.

ha ha ha ha so I get the night off tonight!!!! because I just got fired!!!!!!!

came into work, one of the endlessly rotating managers immediately pulled me aside to tell me “we’ve decided to just stick with [new shot girl they hired a few weeks ago despite not having enough hours for me], sorry!” AND I WAS TOO STUNNED TO REACT AND WAS POLITE AND TRIED TO MAKE HIM FEEL BETTER

no warning that I wasn’t meeting standards or whatever the hell! no requests to do or not do something! I’ve worked my ass off and have an exemplary selling record and have gone above and beyond in almost every respect!

after MAKING THE MANAGER WHO FIRED ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT HIMSELF I walked blindly out of the restaurant for about a block before curling up and crying hysterically on the sidewalk!!

yes I start a non-demeaning full-time job on Monday but I don’t know when I’m going to get paid and I WAS REALLY COUNTING ON TONIGHT’S TIPS!!!!!


also I might have accidentally landed a part-time retail job at a novelty store a few blocks away?

I’m… more than mildly terrified at the idea of trying to juggle two jobs, but. money. if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, I guess. and money. and I probably wouldn’t have got up the nerve to pursue it if I hadn’t got a call out of the blue from a place I’d left a resume at weeks ago. (came in and talked to the manager today, she said someone had just quit and she had a few shifts available and she’d call me asap to see if I could work them. so.) 

it’s a one-room shop with lots of weird nonsense and postcards and things. 

also paranoia that I’d either somehow got my number wrong on my resumes or that my phone can’t receive calls debunked, so that’s nice. 

dropped off resume and cover letter (thank you all so much for your help!); library director was not at the moment in but the folder has gone on her desk. now, my instinct tells me, I forget any of this ever happened until I receive a form letter informing me the positions have been filled, thank you for applying. 

according to the narrative logic I persist against all evidence in believing, the library should absolutely hire me. all the signs are in place: something I wanted very much came to me when I wasn’t actively looking for it; there was a very nice montage of me passionately writing a cover letter while balanced precariously with my legs on the desk singing along to Neko Case; the events of my life and the structures of my passions and personality have made me becoming a librarian a narrative inevitability. unfortunately the world in which I largely live and believe does not exactly EXIST; the world is made up far more of chaos and coincidence than I am comfortable allowing, and narrative inevitability doesn’t mean a damn thing. 

anyway I’m going to hibernate now.

today I really didn’t want to go busking but I did anyway and I kind of made seventy dollars and fifty cents???

mostly because a sweet middle-aged gentleman talked to me briefly (“was that you in the paper the other day? you want to go to Boston?”) and then dropped three twenties into my hat. I thought it was only one twenty so I didn’t thank him as magnificently as I would have liked, although even twenty is A RIDICULOUSLY GENEROUS TIP; even fives are scarce. then it turned out there were three of them folded together; the world got sort of bendy and surreal for a moment there.

I also talked to a five-year-old girl named Nellie (the same age as my sister, but twice Leandra’s height) who’s just starting to learn the play the ukulele and was super delighted to see me playing mine; and a girl named Maura with beautiful black and white-blonde hair and a gloriously firm handshake who gave me five dollars and said she’d seen me some days ago and hadn’t been able to come over then but she’d really, really wanted to find me.

like. sometimes this weird gig is really draining, and sometimes I’m just like I DON’T WANT TO PLAY MUSIC EVER AGAIN, and the fact that I need money keeps me going, but sometimes the best part about it is the people I get to snatch into my life for a few minutes.