Sunday, April 14, 2013

And then everything came together: the tale of my accidentally awesome April

“I know this is a long shot,” the text began. It was from my best friend, Yennifer, and it made my heart sink because she was right. Whatever she needed, whatever she was about to propose, I had a feeling I’d have to turn her down, which I did not want to do.

It was mid-March and, as usual, my life and finances were in chaos. I was struggling trying to balance my demanding day job, my ongoing freelance job which I’d just started weeks before, my social life and my marriage while struggling to get the bills paid. I knew I had no time or money to do whatever Yennifer was asking me.

But what she was asking me was simply too wonderful to pass up: returning to my beloved Las Vegas. She’d been planning the trip for months with her friend A, but when A contracted a horrible case of mono, Yennifer knew she wouldn’t be able to go. And for the cost of my flight, I could take A’s place. I told her I’d have to see, but inside I was already crunching numbers.

I requested the time off work, got my first freelance check as well as a check from another writing job, and booked a flight down for a remarkably low price. And right away, something shifted in me. While it won’t be my first or even my fifth trip to Sin City, I am just as excited to go as I was the first time. Just having that light at the end of the tunnel, a break in my daily routine with someone I have missed dearly, woke me up from a funk I didn’t even know I was in.

My mood improved. I started talking to my co-workers more and being nicer to strangers. If I started to feel down, I pictured myself sitting by the pool with Yennifer and the other ladies who are going, and I felt better.  I never would have been able to plan a Vegas trip at this point in my life, but having one placed lovingly into my lap like that was beyond awesome. By the beginning on April, I had an official itinerary and a ton of excitement.

Something else happened, too. While trying to raise money for all the overpriced Vegas entertainment, I started brainstorming creative ways to make money from my writing. I started writing an Ebook on Vegas (which I would publish if I had five minutes and a working laptop…seriously, I’ve killed two laptops in a month which is NO BUENO FOR MY WRITING CAREER). I started applying for more freelance jobs. And on one rainy Saturday afternoon, I applied for a writing job I found on Craigslist just for the hell of it. I have found a few gems on Craigslist, but overall I find it to be saturated with scammers and jerks who ask you to “write writing samples” they end up using and not paying for.

This particular job was for a website that made party invitations and stationery. They were looking for someone to write about parties, aka the perfect little side job for me. I fired off my resume and a cover letter, not expecting much since it was Craigslist. The following week I received an email stating that I was a top candidate, asking for a writing sample that they’d pay me for if they didn’t hire me. Fair enough. I spent a good deal of time on my writing sample, figuring if nothing else, I’d have a nice little bonus.

Then I had a phone interview with one of the owners, followed by an in person interview….followed by an offer not for a side job but for a full-time position. It all happened so fast, I couldn’t believe it. I asked for a day to think about it, laughing at the fact that my offer had come on April Fool’s Day and no one I texted believed me at first.

After a chat with Mr. W and a good night’s rest, I realized that this opportunity was exactly what I needed. It’s an awesome shot at helping a great company develop their voice and a chance to really get creative. It’s an escape from the stressful monotony my job has become. And best of all, they’ll allow me to work from home part-time. Saving an hour a day a few times a week will mean more workouts, less money spent on gas and more time to write about what I want to write about. That Wednesday I put in my notice at work and signed an offer letter to begin the new job upon my return.

So, completely by accident and within a month of feeling discouraged and lost, I’ve managed to line up the perfect April: finishing up my current job, taking a week off in between to relax and live it up in Vegas, and then starting something new that I’m really excited about. My friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive. My co-workers and managers seem genuinely bummed to see me go which means I must have done something right. A lot of other little life details have fallen into place too, so much so that I’m actually considering gambling in Vegas and seeing just how far I can ride this lucky streak.

I have always believed that life can change in an instant, but now I am living it. After two years in Seattle I can finally drop the “fake it ‘till you make it” mindset and just make it. After all, someone selected me to represent their company above hundreds of applicants based solely on my writing. In a city like Seattle that is full of genuine talent, that must mean something.

The best part is... I am just getting started.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Emerald City musings

It’s a little dreary here in Seattle today, but last weekend was chock full of sunshine and warmth. When that happens, the Emerald City morphs from a mumbling, passive aggressive, eye-contact-avoiding bunch to a hoard of happy people seemingly chasing tabs of Ecstasy with Prozac infused water. The difference is so noticeable that we've invented a term for it: sun drunk.

I'm guilty of it myself. It's not that I'm not friendly. I like saying hi to strangers and getting to know my neighbors. I'm just normally lost in my thoughts when I'm strolling through the city streets. Also, it’s tough to decipher between an unwashed hipster and a homeless person about to ask me for money, so I just avoid interaction. But when the sun is out, everyone becomes my best friend and everything they say is instantly hilarious.

The other day I laughed as I caught my reflection in a store window: black skinny pants tucked into my super-stylish rain boots, trench coat tied around my waist, scarf wrapped like a pro around my neck, Starbucks cup in hand. I was on my way to a local bookstore (no corporate chains!) to pick up the latest book for my feminist book club.

Could I BE any more Seattle right now?  I thought.

As of mid-March, I have been an official Seattle resident for two years. And while I still feel like a newb in some ways, there's no mistaking it: I have taken on some new habits and tendencies common of the local folk. For example:

  I can navigate my car through rush hour traffic on I 5 like it’s nothing. Insane traffic build-up by the on ramp? No problem, I will work my way in. Even my new Nissan Rogue, which has crazy blind spots, doesn’t deter me from jumping on the freeway if it gets me where I need to be.

·         I am busy… like, really crazy busy. I am busier than I have ever been in my life. A typical week for me involves dragging myself out of bed early enough to cram in a quick workout before I head to work, at which time I pack every possible thing into my evening before going to bed to do it all again. Happy hours, poetry readings, shows, art gallery openings and girls’ nights seem to happen constantly. During my limited downtime I work on creative writing and look for more writing opportunities. And I love it. I haven’t been bored for one single second since moving here. Not one.

·         I am officially a coffee snob. Though I defend Starbucks with my highest honor, I am well aware it’s far from the best stuff, especially in this city. And one cup is no longer enough to satisfy my daily caffeine craving. I can drink it well into the afternoon and still sleep like a baby that night. That’s definitely new. And don’t even get me started on how much of a food snob I’ve become. I cannot even fathom why Applebee’s exists.

But sometimes, even as I’m dressed like a Seattleite discussing the latest Capitol Hill bar happenings, my inner country girl returns with a vengeance. For example:

·         Instead of white guilt, I have pedestrian guilt. I know how tough driving here can be, especially in my neighborhood, and I refuse to be the asshole that sloooowly saunters across the street or screws a person out of making a left turn in time. I pay careful attention to the cars and anticipate their next move. If drivers do wave me over, I do a very awkward run. I believe this is good karma that returns to me, as more often than not I am blessed with pedestrians that hustle through crosswalks when I’m behind the wheel.

·         I hate… hate… horn honks. I understand they are necessary, but people in this city are entirely too honk-happy and it drives me insane. My nerves are permanently frazzled from being jerked out of a state of zen from a loud BEEP because some asshole decided the car in front of him isn’t going through a green light fast enough. I do use my horn when someone invades my lane or something, but very rarely will I honk out of anger. The other day a dude honked his horn because that was how he chose to tell me he thought I was pretty. I actually screamed. I hate horn honks.

·         I still hate getting rained on. I have come to accept the rain. I love the way it smells and I love the sound of it on my window. But I hate walking in it. The slightest drizzle makes me bust out my umbrella, which is considered a sign of weakness here. People look at me like I must be from out of town. Well, I am, and my hair is frizzy as hell, so I just smile back and strut down the street under my little cover.

I like this little blend of urban life with suburban tendencies I’ve got going on. As I enter my third year here in the city, I’ve come to realize there’s something really special about living here as an adult who didn’t grow up in the area. As transplants, we can appreciate our fresh perspectives while still remembering where we came from. But whether we’ve lived here for five minutes or fifty years, every Seattleite can agree on one thing… when returning to the city after time away, the first glimpse of the skyline takes our breath away. 

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