I think I got a job because of this

I’m starting a new job tomorrow- same company, different job. It’s basically a writing job. I’ll be creating content and copy for my company’s website and social media channels. This is exactly the kind of step I have wanted to take for years, and I’ve tried to find every little extra thing I could do outside of my regular job responsibilities to put on my resume while trying to convince a anyone that would give me an interview that what I don’t know, I will learn quickly. It’s pretty incredible to have someone finally believe you and give you a shot.

The first step in the interview process was a writing test. Part of it was a sample blog that would go on the website and a sample e-mail that would go to prospective clients. The final piece was just to write about the last trip I took, and I think this is what got me the job based on comments I received in interviews.

So…here it is. Approximately 600 words about the last trip I took.

For the last nine years, my partner and I have gone to New York to visit his family for Christmas. When I tell people that my partner grew up about an hour from New York City, and that I have spent Christmas there for so many years, the typical reaction is, “You are so lucky!” It’s true. I am lucky to have a reason to go to the greatest city in the world during the most wonderful time of year.

It probably surprises no one that the most wonderful time of the year is also the most crowded time of the year in New York City. Sometime around my seventh New York Christmas, the novelty had worn off. I was tired of the holiday traveling and the crowded city.

Still, I begrudgingly packed my bags for my ninth New York Christmas last December. This was a bit of a special Christmas for my partner’s family. His sister had recently gotten engaged, and his brother had returned to the United States after spending several years teaching English in Turkey, where he also met a girl and got married. It would be her first Christmas in the states after receiving her Green Card.  

My partner and I always try to sneak away from family to spend a few days in the city, avoiding the areas overrun with tourists if we can. On our first train ride into the city, we had yet to establish any plan for when we arrived at Grand Central Station. Being musical theater fans on a budget, Broadway can be a challenge. We are both skeptics of secondary ticketing services, but we decided to give it a try. Much to our surprise, we found tickets to Moulin Rouge for a steal. Moulin Rouge happens to be one of my favorite movies and was recently turned into a Broadway show. My attitude about our trip shifted immediately. We arrived to the theater just in time after a mad dash through Times Square.

The last night of our trip, we visited a cat café near Chinatown after eating some delicious vegan food and visiting a chemistry inspired tea shop. While we were trying to lure some kittens out of a cave in the wall with a toy, we decided to check the ticket app one more time. Tickets to Hadestown were available for a fraction of what they would normally cost. We were elated. How was it possible that we would see two of most acclaimed shows of the year within just a few days? Again, we weaved through the crowds of mid-town Manhattan and arrived at the theater just in time.

I left New York on an emotional high and with a cold I picked up somewhere along the way. From vegan food to cat cafes to Broadway shows, we made that city uniquely ours for a few days. That’s what makes New York City special.

Broadway went dark just a few months later as New York City became the biggest COVID-19 hotspot in the country. The cat café we visited had to place all of their cats in fosters and began selling cloth face masks to survive. Knowing now how quickly things can change, I treasure that trip. It’s likely we will not be traveling at all this year, New York or otherwise. It will truly be an extraordinary thing when we can get back to the experiences connect us and bring us joy.

Heavy

Miles – our cat – almost died last weekend. He had an asthma attack last Saturday night, and we rushed him to an emergency vet at about midnight. He was put on oxygen, had x-rays taken, and within 30 minutes was diagnosed with feline asthma, which none of the vets he’s seen since his breathing problems started a few years ago even mentioned checking for. He was hospitalized for 2 days.

A few days after we brought him home, we took him back to the vet because he had lost interest in all kinds of food. Didn’t matter what I presented to him, he wanted nothing to do with it.

About $2500 and a lifetime prospect of medication later, he did start eating and seems to be doing better. We just need to keep on the better side of this. Any (good) pet owner will tell you how incredibly devastating it is to have a sick pet. It’s been an incredibly emotional and exhausting week.

I went to yoga class after work tonight. I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the “dharma” or themes some teachers talk about at the beginning of class. Tonight, the teacher discussed familiar situations suddenly feeling different.

And then it happened…

When she queued Warrior II, I felt an incredible weight. My arms could not stay up. I mean, my arms are often tired in this pose. By the time Warrior II comes up in a sequence, we’ve been supporting our weight in Planks and Downward Facing Dog poses, and we’ve reached up to the sky in Chair or Crescent poses.

It was more than tired arms tonight. It was like I was holding something very heavy or someone was pushing my arms down, and I was trying like hell to keep them up. A pose I had done a million times felt totally different.

I started thinking about the last week and how difficult and exhausting it’s been.

(If you’re one of those people who scoffs at someone missing work due to the death of a pet or questions why people spend money to heal their pets rather than euthanizing them or surrendering them to a shelter only to then get a new, young, and healthy pet, as if your pet is just property you own for strictly for your enjoyment that does you no good when it’s “broken,” stop reading now, you sociopath. Actually, you probably should have stopped reading in the first paragraph. Why are you still here?)

I felt the weight of the vet bill and the cost of his ongoing care. I felt the weight of likely having to give him medication daily for the rest of his life, and trusting Harrison with it when I’m not home. What about when we travel? I worried about finding a new regular vet for him and Billie, his sister, because how could I go back to the vet who never considered this problem? I thought about the possibility that he could have died, and he would not be tucked under my left arm with his head on my chest as I type this. I felt the weight of trying to make sure Billie gets equal love and attention that is not in the form of treats because… uh… she fat. I guess that is also a less metaphorical weight. I felt the exhaustion of the sleepless nights when I was getting up to check on him or try to get him to eat.

Fine, they’re cats. Just pets, right? (Again, why are you people still here? We will never be friends.) My cats, or any other pets I might someday have, are likely the closest thing I will have to kids.

I guess this was all a very long way of saying that loving something carries a weight that manifests at unusual times like in a yoga class. Somedays you feel strong and are able steadily carry all of the worry of things you hold dear or maybe someone is helping carry the weight, and other days, you feel crushed by the weight, alone. In this case, loving something is worth it.

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My heart.

Maybe when I have all the money, I’ll care about close seats, too.

Me: Do you want to go to the Nuggets game on March 2nd? I can get $14 tickets through work.

Dad: Where are the seats?

Here we go.

Me: In the 300s. They’re $14.

Dad: We want to go, but we would want to sit closer.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? IS IT AN OLD PERSON VISION THING?!?! THERE’S A JUMBO-TRON! Also DAD, I have to have fun on a budget because of those student loans I’m paying because of that college you thought I should have to pay for literally for the rest of my life because of bootstraps or something. 

Me: I didn’t look at the price of those. I’ll check.

Dad: Okay, well if you and Harrison want to go and the tickets are more expensive, you can just pay me the $14, and I’ll cover the rest.

I’m a 32 year old woman with a job and am about to agree to allow my dad to subsidize a closer seat to a Nuggets game.

Me: They’re $57.

Yikes.

Dad: Let’s do it.

Okay………… That’ll be $200.

The difference between Boomers and Millennials is how close they care to be to the court.

 

Professional networking is my personal hell

If there is one thing I’ve learned from people I know who have found new career opportunities, it’s that those opportunities have come to them through a connection they’ve made. I have heard no less than 2 people in the last month say, “This just kind of fell in my lap.”

WHAT?! HOW?!!!!

My lap covers some territory, and I’m not over here catching any specks of good fortune on the career front.

My stepmom always says, “You have to get in front of the right people.”

Well, shit.

I don’t exactly love being in front of people or being the center of attention. My most comfortable state is completely alone, anonymous, observing rather than participating. I recently took a personality test that put me at 86% Introvert and only 14% Extrovert. Basically, 14% of the time I want to be with other humans, and that sounds…uh…correct.

When I’m not at work, you might find me watching TV or reading a book alone. I prefer to run errands alone. I prefer to shop alone, and am often reminded of this whenever I invite a friend to the mall with me because I’ve forgotten how much I dislike shopping with other people. I go to yoga alone and speak to no one except when I give the teacher my name at the front desk.

My dudes and dudettes, this level of introversion is not a joke.

Harrison used to ask me, “Is this really all you’re going to do tonight?” as he leaves me on the couch with a book or a very deep Netflix queue on a Friday night to go to (probably) a comedy show or open mic. Then he stopped asking because my answer was always, “YES.”  Harrison spends a lot of evenings out at open mics, so our relationship has been incredibly accommodating. Some might say enabling.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have a new friend who is constantly inviting me to get involved in things despite her own innate inclination to stay home. And as much as I don’t want to, I know I need to.

I spent the last two evenings at engagements geared toward young professionals with her. One of them is actually a choir, and I’m legit excited about that. I loved singing in choirs when I was younger, and at least I’m in a room with people working toward a common goal. The singing part I can handle, but the conversing with fellow singers is the hard part.

The other event was a happy hour for young professional at a fancy hotel bar and um, it was the worst.

First of all, I’m not fancy, and I always feel out of place in those environments. I own exactly one blazer that I think I’ve worn exactly twice. At a young professionals happy hour, you better bring your blazer. I am also THE MOST AWKWARD. I’m bad at starting conversations, and I am really terrible and feigning interest in things that I find absolutely dull. I wear my heart on my face. Eye contact with strangers? Lol. Please. I usually find myself following around the one person I know trying to interject myself in their conversations and doing a very bad job of it.

Introversion is not a condition that needs to be cured, but damn it’s hard to be an introvert in a world that places so much value the charismatic and gregarious over the quiet observers.

I’ll just be over here…tired from all the people-y stuff I’ve had to do and wishing I were at home.

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Via GIPHY

 

With or without you…but preferably with you

Harrison got a new job this year. It’s kind of his first real adult job with real adult pay and real adult benefits. Although, he has yet to go to the dentist, despite the fact that he knows he probably desperately needs to. One thing we did not expect was that he would have to travel for this job as much as he has. He has been to the Washington, D.C. office three times now; the first time he traveled to the D.C. office, his trip was extended, so he could go to the New York office for a day. It was planned to be a five day trip and was extended to an eight day trip, which I felt was quite long. We’ve both traveled without the other throughout our relationship for work and pleasure, but it had never exceeded five days at a time until Harrison started this job.

Whenever he is preparing to leave, I am faced with the initial blow of painful anxiety about the loneliness I am sure to feel while he’s gone. Now, maybe some would think that is a sign of a healthy, loving relationship. Maybe it is, but I can’t help but be reminded of the codependency my mother had for my (former) stepdad, and really, any man I ever saw her in a relationship with.

This same conversation has come up again and again in my head through our 7 ½ year relationship. I am half of a partnership but still one whole person. I am holding on to my independence for dear life. I can’t be like her. I can’t. I’m better than that. I am okay on my own. I always have been, and I always will be.

The first time Harrison went out of town for work, I was a complete mess. As a life-long insomniac who is finally getting a handle on it, a change to my routine or sleep environment completely destroys any progress made. I barely slept that week. At one point, I went to Harrison’s weed stash hoping that what he had would be what he refers to “sleepy-time weed” because I can’t keep the actual strains straight. (If you ever say inidca or sativa in conversation with me, I’ll pretend I know what you’re talking about, but I don’t.) I took a risk that night, and I lost. I had a serious panic attack and was convinced that when I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up. This is what happens when I smoke the wrong kind of weed. I am certain I will die.

I went through the same initial motions the second time he went out of town for work and again this week. When he left for his most recent trip, I had a few brief freak-outs, I Googled, “Is it normal to feel separation anxiety when your partner travels for work?” Answer: this is totally normal. Phew.

I also cried  in a Target parking lot. Going to Target has become a weird couples ritual for Harrison and me. We grocery shop there, because Red Card + Cartwheel= getting that money…or um, just spending less of it. And we make a pretty good team. We plan our meals, make lists, we get in and out in under and hour, and we keep each other from buying things we don’t need. When I’m there alone, trying to get the things that only I need for the week ahead, I feel a little lost, and I’m suddenly wandering around putting random things that look okay to consume in a basket.

I do this solo grocery shopping with the best of intentions, but deep down, I know the food may not ever be eaten because I hate cooking for one. I will inevitably be a frequent flyer at the Taco Bell drive thru.

Something was different about his last trip, though. I’d had some practice. I was able to comfortably settle into the solitude of the week alone. And it was very alone. Since his trip had him gone the week and weekend before Thanksgiving, most of my close friends were also away or had family in town. Sure, I still did not eat particularly healthily. I still went to Taco Bell, one more time than is probably acceptable. But I did slightly better than I had before. I stuck to what would be our normal routine in order to prevent severe insomnia, and that went well with the exception of the first night. I made plans for the weekend with only a short period of indecisiveness, and I actually really enjoyed my time alone. It was a great time to go see that movie that Harrison said sounded like “a total bummer.”

Harrison came home, laid down in bed and was immediately engulfed by our cats. And everything was in its rightful place again.

He’s probably going to have more trips in the coming months, and he’s going on a quick comedy tour in February. The thing I have to remind myself of is that I’ve done the solo thing before – before Harrison and for brief stints during our relationship. And damnit, I’m good at it. It’s just not my normal state after this many years of steady companionship. I have someone to go to plan meals with, to shop with, to see a movie with. I love that. But it’s easy to lose yourself in it. I’ll always be excited for him to come home, but I’m getting to a place of content and gratitude for the time I have to be alone and grow and just be.

Tips for Extroverts with Introvert Friends

I recently read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Reading this book was like reading about myself. Why do I get so burnt out? Why do I have such a hard time taking on other commitments outside of work, especially commitments involving people? Why do I love the days when the weather quiets the city and keeps people indoors? Why do I get so annoyed when I’m interrupted in the middle of a task at work? Why am I risk-averse? I am an introvert.

This book was incredibly validating. It even gave me some insight as to why some relationships in my life can sometimes feel strained without any fault on either side being at fault. I deeply value people who are more on the extroverted side of the spectrum because without them, I would probably miss out of a lot of great experiences. At the same time, my alone time is of serious importance for me. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I process a problem I’m having or destress. I don’t want to be pressured out of that time. I also don’t want to upset a friend by turning down an invitation. Let’s be real—invitations. Plural. It isn’t personal. I just need a little less stimulation. I came up with a list of tips based on my own experiences for extroverts who have introverted friends. Obviously, communication on both sides is very important, but I can only speak from my perspective. So, here we go.

1. It’s not personal.

I just said this, but I feel like this is worth restating. Not wanting to participate in a particular activity doesn’t mean we don’t like you, or that we’re mad at you. It probably means we need a break.

2. No means no.

Seriously though. We’re adults. Why are we still peer pressuring each other? If your introvert friend says, “no, thank you” to an invitation, I can assure you we are not looking for you to show us how bad you want us to go by begging obnoxiously. Another thing Cain points out in “Quiet” is that introverts is that we feel a higher level of guilt than others. Sure, if you beg us, we’ll probably go, but we won’t be happy about it. We’ll probably be a little annoyed with you, too.

3. Give us a minute.

A few years ago, Harrison and I took a trip to Arizona with his family. Five days… in a timeshare… with my mother-in-law… who is, um, long-winded. The first day I was back in Denver, a friend of mine immediately started to talk to me about weekend plans, and I’m pretty sure I snapped at her, which I immediately felt bad about. I didn’t understand why I did that. The truth is, I had reached my limit. Being presented with an invitation to partake in further human interaction was too much. I needed some time to recharge before making more plans, and I needed my friend to back off. Just for a little while.

4. We are bad multi-taskers.

This was a huge epiphany for me because I have thought for the longest time that I multi-task like a pro. That was incorrect. I’m just efficient, and I know how to prioritize multiple tasks and go back and forth between them. Since I read this book, I started to understand why my stress level gets as high as it does. For example, I have Skype for Business at work. This if, of course, rarely used for business. Sometimes chatting with co-workers is a great way to get through the day, but if I have too much work to get done, and I have co-workers trying to chat with me, I start to get really anxious about all of the directions I’m being pulled in. So, I ignore the blinking Skype box.

5. We know what we need.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch recently. I was sad, stressed out, unhappy with my job…all of it. A friend kept asking me to do things, and I kept saying that I just wanted to stay home and not be around people. She replied that it sometimes helps to do “low-key” things with people when you’re stressed. I’m pretty sure I wanted to throw my phone at that moment. I had just stated what I wanted—what I felt I needed at the moment, and she questioned that. I understand the inclination toward offering solutions to “fix” a problem, and that it takes an especially enlightened person to understand that most of the time, that is not possible. In a lot of cases, the best thing you can do is say, “That sucks. I’m sorry. Please let me know if you need anything.” This doesn’t only apply to an extrovert/introvert friendship. It applies to basically everyone. If someone tells you they need something, who are you to think you know better what that actually need? I know I’ve probably done this to people, too. And I am deeply sorry for that. I’

6. Calling us misanthropic might hurt our feelings.

Introverts are not misanthropes. This is about stimulation not any individual or group of people. If you read this blog or know me personally, you know I have an affinity for yoga. I know some people find yoga strange because it’s a workout with an ideology attached. But that ideology is one of loving yourself and others. I take that seriously. I believe all humans are valuable. Everyone has something to offer. Accusing someone of essentially being hateful toward others just because they recharge by being alone is rude, hurtful, and incorrect.

For these relationships to work, each side has to try to meet the other where they’re at, which is difficult. Introverts have to set boundaries for their own self-care, but also be willing to get out of their comfort zones sometimes. There might be a cool experience waiting on the other side of that comfort zone. Extroverts have to respect boundaries and be willing to back off sometimes. Sometimes, we just need different things.