Self-Making

Hello readers (if you’re still out there?)

I know. It’s been a long time. A tree could have grown with enough rings to be mistaken for Grandmother Willow since my last post. On the bright side, that means I have heaps of updates.

To recap from my last entry in June, I was still very much in the process of tying up loose ends at work (previous employer!), beginning my foray into strategic packing, and looking for a new job somewhere on the east coast. With so much news to share and so much of it significant to the grand voyage of my writing life, I think it’s important to focus this post on the Big Changes.

 

New Job:

My excel spreadsheet of job applications filled out quickly and before I moved, I’d essentially applied for everything relevant within my geographic range that appeared on job sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, and the targeted recruiting firms like Creative Group and Creative Circle. I had also been spreading the word through my social and career networks, posting on the Facebook alum page dedicated to career news, and reaching out to second and third connections who could keep me in the loop with particular organizations. June rolled into July with almost no follow up from the dozens upon dozens of applications, and my coworkers, family, and friends regularly asked if I’d found anything yet. It steadily became apparent that I would not be moving with a job lined up.

The thought of moving without a job and relatively little in savings gave me that particular yet familiar taste of bitterness for the whole process of job hunting. All of my previous jobs had come through connections, but this job hunt and related networking had not revealed any promising leads. I was dispirited. Speaking plainly, I am not a fan of networking. I love people, as a general conglomerate/idea, but interacting with individuals – strangers – is horrible. Trying to forge genuine connections through some kind of chance overlap in fate or life choices feels like forcing a smile and holding it until your cheeks deteriorate and your skull is simply baring it’s teeth at another skull. But you’re still pretending you have flesh, because desperate bones don’t get jobs, silly! So, just. Pretend. Harder.

While I was searching for a job my senior year of college, I read somewhere that the majority of jobs now are secured through some kind of personal connection. It’s all about knowing the right people at the right time. And with few leads in this job hunt, I expected several weeks if not months of joblessness even after moving. I was relying on others, not only to connect me to job opportunities, but also to support me in the interim. How long could my family and friends support me before I became a burden?

A disappointment?

How long would it take for this leap of faith to become a mistake?

I value the strength and balance it takes to reach out for help and to really use that help from others. That’s why we have networks in the first place. But I hated the sense of helplessness. I could only do so much until waiting was all I had left.

But then something unexpected happened. A few days after I applied for a “Writer” position on Indeed, I received an email from the company wanting to clarify some information about my application and set up a phone interview. The interview was scheduled promptly during my last working week in Cincinnati. After moving to the Baltimore area, I had two in-person interviews. By late August, I accepted a job offer from Silvergate Evaluations as a Legal Writer.

This was a significant moment for me. Not only did I secure this job without any prior connection to the company, no insider friend or recommendation, I also successfully negotiated for a higher pay. The whole process was enough to make me pull out all of my eyebrow hairs (not literally…though a fair few did find themselves sacrificed at the alter of stress habits). But I did this. With my credentials, my record of work, and my interview conduct, reinforced by the recommendation from my former mentor, I was able to secure a job as a writer. No nepotism required.

 

New Car:

My old car, a base 2012 Chevy Cruze LS, was a perfectly competent car, and we’ve gone far together. Latter years of college, around Virginia and Maryland to visit friends, and then to Ohio when I moved right after graduating, followed by lots of back and forth from Cincinnati to Maryland or Virginia, to return to my two home bases. Or at least what I thought of as my home bases. When I lived in Virginia, visiting Maryland always felt like exactly that: a visit. But after I moved to Cincinnati, passing the “Welcome to Maryland” gave me that same sense of homecoming. Certainly the families of my writing compatriot added to this warmth and contentment. Cincinnati, by comparison, was simply a place I happened to be, tethered by a job and the necessary evil of an apartment lease, whiling away the days, weeks, months before I could stabilize enough to make the launch back east. It was an adventure with plenty of useful lessons and a beneficial impact on my school loans and my social network, but not one I want to repeat.

Between the 8+ hour/500-mile, one-way, weekend road trips “home” and the daily commute to and from work, I tacked on more than 60,000 miles in three years. (For reference, the yearly average is between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year.) There is also a me-sized dent in the driver seat, and I experienced an almost Pavlovian fatigue when settling myself into it for any trek.

Having moved to the Baltimore area and secured a job, I decided that it was time to go after the car I’ve been pseudo ogling since a particular episode of top gear: a VW Golf.

Of additional consideration was the fact that my youngest sibling is in her final year of grad school and her faithful companion Carl, a 2002 Honda (Accord?) had become slightly less faithful in his old age. There was a certain sense of harmony in passing on the Cruze to her, to complete the circuit of siblings. Now all three of us will have begun different phases of our lives in that car, and I can feel a little more comfortable knowing that my sister is darting around the congested concrete maze of NoVa in a car that has a safety system from this decade.

Initially I was thinking I would spring for a GTI, that oh-so-alluring hothatch that made even me feel excited to drive. But even used, GTI’s are quite the pretty penny, so I lowered my tier to a Golf SE. I was however set on procuring a Golf in a particular blue – they call it silk blue metallic – that had so thoroughly charmed me. Saucy temptress color though! The closest one at a dealer with any kind of positive reputation was 99 miles away, and while I was still wavering, it found a home with someone else.

With no options available in the Golf pool that came close to my wishlist, I began searching for alternatives and had plans to look at a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek and a Ford Focus hatchback, both with similar slate blue color exterior and heated seats. I admit to some degree of despondency though – everything was going so well, and yet here I was, thwarted by the specificity of the convergence of my hopes. For once, I knew exactly what I wanted (friends and family can confirm my overall indecisiveness), but my dream car was not to be found.

Until there was one. It popped up on my search in the middle of the week. It was the right color. The right trim level. The right features and then some. Low mileage. In my price range.

I jumped on it. No more waiting or thinking or hesitating. I went to the dealer and I bought a car.

Her name is Hedwig.

Related image
Obviously not the actual Hedwig, but a representation that hints at the magnificence of her livery. I mean really, how did they get the blue of my soul into a car paint?

 


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