Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Year of Gratitude - Day One Hundred Eighty-five

Day 185 - Carnival Mirrors
Today was not one of my best days.  I was still disappointed, and a bit disillusioned, by the job rejection that came yesterday; I was feeling frustrated and hopeless, and wondered if the meetings I was scheduled to attend would lead anywhere.  I wondered (again) whether I was even employable.  If I hadn’t committed myself (and in the case of the luncheon, prepaid) to attend these meetings, I would likely have just driven back to Portland and crawled into bed.
But I had committed, so I went.  The first meeting was a SHRM Seattle special interest group for those of us in “career transition.”  There were four of us looking for work (a college senior graduating in June, a recent grad, a woman reentering the workforce after staying home for awhile - reason undisclosed, and me); there were three employed people - two were co-moderating the group and the other was the SHRM Seattle VP of Special Interest Groups who was there to observe the meeting.  
It was a pleasant conversation, but unless one of the employed people could actually help, it was certainly not a “quick fix” for me.  No worries - long term relationships with colleagues are always good to have, and they seemed like nice women.
After spending $12 to park in the building garage for less than 90 minutes (and spending the next few minutes trying to digest the sticker shock), I returned to Amy’s to gather my things and pack the car before going to the GSBA luncheon.  As I said, I wasn’t feeling motivated, and if I hadn’t paid almost $40 to attend this luncheon, I’d have skipped it.
Just as I was finishing loading the car, I stepped in dog feces.  Great.  How anyone can own a dog - taking it for walks, buying it expensive toys and spending outrageous amounts of money for vet bills - and not pick up after it is beyond my comprehension; though I imagine they probably treat their kids even worse.  I began to wonder if this were an indication of how the rest of my day would go.
I scraped the sole of my shoe on the curb as best I could, and then retrieved a paper napkin from the glove compartment to remove the smelly mess.  And a mess it was.  There must have been a huge pile hidden among the unraked leaves on the parking strip.  (...Is taking care of your yard a lost art these days?  Did they stop manufacturing leaf rakes?)  I tried to keep my hands clean as I wiped the stuff from my shoes, only to realize I had stepped with my other shoe in what I had just removed.  I tried to clean the other shoe, and got something on my hand.  I pulled my one remaining Wet Wipe from the console box to clean my hands, noticing I had smeared this shit on the shoe leather.  Really?!  I used the Wet Wipe to clean my shoe again.  
I now had no time to spare if I wanted to arrive at the luncheon on time.  I gave up, frustrated and angry, leaving the soiled napkin and Wet Wipe on the ground (and feeling awful about littering).  I imagined my networking experience ruined by the stench of dog droppings wafting up from under the banquet table.  Just as I was getting on the road, my daughter called.  Her cheery voice contrasted sharply with my black mood; I felt terrible knowing I couldn’t hide it from her.
“Hi Dad!  How are you?”
“I’m OK.  I just stepped in dog poop, and I am on my way to a networking lunch.”
“Oh... you don’t sound happy.”
I don’t get to talk to my kids often enough, and I have been in a sour mood the last two times Lizzie has called.  It made me feel even worse (which, until the phone rang, seemed impossible) that she had to put up with my negativity.  I had to put on a good face in ten minutes, and I was failing miserably before I started.  I asked if I could call her back later, to which she quickly agreed.
I parked the car in the Renaissance Seattle’s self-parking, thanking my lucky stars that I thought to put my extra pair of shoes within easy reach as I changed footwear.  These Donald Pliners were more casual than what I had messed up, but at least they were a good match to the clothes I was wearing.  And they didn’t reek.  I then went directly to the restroom to wash my hands.  (I also thanked those same stars when I found out our parking was discounted to $5.)
Neither of the GSBA members I already knew were at the function, so I was on my own.  As I scanned the room, I saw a man who looked - and sounded - a lot like a hotel General Manager I met back in 2004 at an IGLTA symposium in Chicago.  Sure enough, it was Harold Cohen.  We caught up a bit, and sat next to each other for the luncheon.  During our conversation, he told me about some of the employment activity he knew of, and promised to forward my contact information to the key players.
I met a few people at the luncheon who I hoped might somehow pick up on my need for some networking assistance.  (“If there is anyone you think I should meet to expand my network, I would be grateful for an introduction” - subtle, no?)  The GSBA seemed like a good group - well organized with a lot of activity, drive and commitment - better and probably more effective than what one finds in Portland and Los Angeles.
After lunch, I hit the road for Portland.  I was weary, and wanted to be back in familiar surroundings.  The drive was fast and easy - I made it to the Interstate Bridge in only 2.5 hours, where I had the first rain of my trip; it seemed appropriate that Oregon welcomed me home with its best-known resource.  As I approached a particularly thick band of clouds, it looked to me like a big fluffy blanket under which I would be warm and safe.  Odd, I know, but I’ll take whatever comfort I can get.
The day came full-circle when I called Lizzie back and we laughed about the events of the day.  Fortunately, my bad attitude was forgiven, and we had a great conversation.  It was like a carnival mirror - the image you see may not be pretty, but if you can laugh at yourself, the experience can still be fun.

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