Recent Musings

I’m still fighting off the last lovely symptoms of my lingering cold, which has been going strong now for over a week. I can’t decide if it’s the sickness that makes me more prone to melancholy and general laziness, or the fact that I just came back from a really nice 2+ week vacation (Germany solo, and then Oxford/Bath/Windsor with my mom and grandmother). Both of those scenarios (being sick, and post-vacation blues) are probably compounding to set the stage for a really whiny blog post. Enjoy!

As much as I pretend my job rejections aren’t getting to me, and as much as I tell myself that I didn’t want those entry-level admin positions anyway, well…that’s a lie. It’s difficult to swallow constructive criticism like, “Clea interviewed very well and is personable and wonderful and blah blah blah BUT her confidence wavered on this meaningless Excel-wizardry task and sales presentation and she did not do as well as expected.” It’s the “as expected” that really gets to me, because I don’t like disappointing people. It tells me that I didn’t live up to some inflated expectation that my CV seems to imply.

It also comes at a sharp contrast to my rejection from this morning, “Clea did well…so much so, that we think this entry-level job would not be the right role…she would be suited to a role with more responsibility.” Maybe I’m alone in this, but what if I don’t want more responsibility? “Responsibility” promises creativity, independence, and productivity, but too often ends up delivering headaches, blame, and unnecessary burdens. Why won’t you just let me do meaningless paperwork and leave at 5 o’clock? Okay, I’m starting to annoy myself, so enough of that.

I think my general dissatisfaction with the job market is starting to bleed over into the kitchen, too. I’ve made some pretty terrible creations recently: applesauce that tastes 100% like cloves and nothing else, bread that somehow remained gummy and moist and not in a good way, a pucker-y apple crisp that overdosed on lemon juice, and forgotten caramelized onions that burnt the bottom of my pot to a nice, charred crisp.

On that note, we’re going out to dinner– I’m handing over the responsibility of a good meal to hands more capable than mine. But before that, I’m going to get out of my pajamas, out of the house, and out of this self-imposed rut.

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Zora

A few months after moving in together in 2008, in our derelict one-bedroom on Spring Garden above our basement-dwelling neighbor who yelled sporadically throughout the day and night, John and I decided to get a cat. She favored men (and therefore John), but was snuggly enough with me too, and instantly made our apartment feel more like a home.

I didn’t want to write about this, but I’m weak when it comes to dealing with death, and getting it all out in a poorly-edited blog post is better than mentioning it in passing to friends and family. Maybe this way, I can warn you what not to say (“I’m sorry” – honestly, does this ever make anyone feel better? And what do I even say in response…”it’s okay?”) Maybe this way, I can be a little more eloquent in sharing what she meant to me, because in person, I’ll just grumble about cars speeding on our road and say I knew it was coming, eventually. I did know, but knowing doesn’t do anything to prepare you for the inevitable.

John and I had just finished breakfast on Monday, the day after I got back from a week in Nurnberg and dropped my grandmother and mom off at the guest house. I was drinking Wawa’s Pumpkin Spice coffee and thinking back to when John and I would get in our car and drive the half-mile to the gas station for our daily fall fix. Then, our neighbor knocked at the door.

“Is this your cat?”

I’d sort of written her off as a crazy cat lady, as her backyard (visible from our house) is always a mess, and she always has strays roaming around. But when I saw how upset she was, holding a limp and lifeless Zora in her hands, I realized that I’m a crazy cat lady too, and in no place to judge. Zora was always running into the street, with her no-fear attitude and penchant for rolling around on the curb and getting dirty in the sunshine. I don’t know how many times I heard cars honking, thinking “shit, Zora,” and shaking my head in disapproval at her careless behavior. But, she’s a cat, and she was never happy cooped up in our tiny flat. We knew we were taking a risk letting her roam outside, but her palpable happiness as she pranced around in the garden, and on that busy street, somehow made it worth it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, to avoid playing “What if?” over and over in my head and wishing we kept her confined to our small quarters.

I want to fast forward a few months, hoping to lighten this burden, this loss. There’s nothing I can do to feel better right now, and it’s hard, and it sucks. That’s about as eloquent as I can be. I’ve lost pets before, and I know others who have shared this experience can relate (what a weird concept, by the way- losing a person or animal. I didn’t misplace them; they died).

Maybe I can just take comfort in knowing that everything dies eventually, or breaks, and that fact doesn’t take away the good memories that were created along the way. Zora was family, and I’ll always miss her, but I’m glad we had 6 years together. They were good ones.

1 Month of Unemployment

It’s been one month since I stopped getting a paycheck and started getting my life back (slight exaggeration). I thought I might have a job again by now, but that would have required a little more enthusiasm (and lying) during my many rounds of interviews. I also thought I might be bored by now. It’s actually nice to be wrong on both counts.

Sure, I didn’t get the job I actually wanted, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still slightly bitter about it. But I don’t believe in fate, or even one right path, so I trust that something good will come along eventually. Or at least something tolerable. I feel very different from my friends (at least the rose-tinted view I gain through Facebook), most of whom are climbing up the career ladder and/or working in a field that actually interests them. Occasionally, I do feel like I’m just aimlessly floating around, as I still have no clue what I actually want to be when I “grow up.” When I start feeling sorry for myself, though, I remember that I’m pretty damn lucky to be here in Oxford, having adventures with John and meeting some wonderful people along the way. Life, to me, has always been about more than a good career. Life is what happens beyond the 9-5 (or 9-8 — I still don’t understand why people stay at work later than they are obligated to, without extra pay. But that’s another story).

Where was I going with this? Oh, right. I thought I might be bored by now. John thought I’d be bored by now, too. Yet every day still feels different, special, full of opportunity. It’s not all glamour – some days I don’t brush my teeth ’til after dinner, and stay in my pajamas all day (lovely, I know). Luckily, those days are rare. I try to get outside as much as I can, exploring the familiar and unfamiliar corners of my neighborhood and the city. I move a little slower, soaking it in. I read, cook, play with my cats, do yoga, half-heartedly apply for jobs, meditate, write a bit. There’s a routine to it, I guess, but it feels different from the “work” routine.

Soon, I’ll get back to that, and I’ll appreciate getting paid, and hopefully doing some good work that contributes to mankind (or at least a friendly, smart team of people). In the meantime, I’m enjoying this time for what it is- a chance to step back, reflect, and grow in small, personal ways. When I look back in a few years, or even months, I’ll be glad that I had this room and space between jobs. I’m lucky that my cheapskate ways have let me save up a bit of cash and I’m not desperate for whatever comes next. Very lucky.

Next week, it’s off to Germany, and then my mom and Oma are coming to Oxford. Can’t wait to show them our little (and I do mean little) abode, and the stunning city I currently call home.