Killing Me With Kindness

I should have probably been more cautious when my friend, upon hearing of my job loss, offered to pull me out of my misery with a visit to Chicago. But, timing was right and, after all, she is a “friend”.

Don’t get me wrong, Chicago was fantastic. I saw some good improv and got to perform as well. I really enjoy big cities and as soon as I got there I longed to stay for good. There is something comforting to me about the pace of the city and the coziness of the skyscrapers.

Next time I go, I will just have to be more cautious in my lodgings so as to prevent choosing accommodations where the host is actively trying to kill me.

It started relatively innocuously, an offer of bagels in the morning with a cheery, “Oh, I totally forgot that you are gluten intolerant! What does that do to you again? Oh, anaphylaxis! Mmmm, sorry.” But, after the 5th day of being offered wheat products (at almost every meal – followed by giggling), I had to reconsider whether this was a mistake or a mission. There was also the morning cup of coffee retrieved from the building lobby. Sure, at first blush, this seems a lovely gesture until I open it and see the cream inside – though, to be fair, me having milk is as bad to those around me, as it is on me.

Then there was the consistent feeling of pending asthma attacks as I slept. It wasn’t until the 4th day there it was divulged I was wrapping myself in, and resting my head upon, down. How could I possibly complain about going gently into that good night – it was a cozy burrito of death.

Finally, I came down with some massive cold on Sunday. I am certain my drinks were laced with rhinovirus and that this cold had nothing to do with the man sneezing on me on my flight in.

Alas, her dastardly plan to do me in was thwarted by an impenetrable shield of ladybug luck. On my walk to the grocery store to get fixin’s for reparative soup on Monday, I came under attack – the cutest attack ever – by swarms of ladybugs. It was like the Pixar version of a Hitchcock movie. And, thank goodness! With all those ladybug luck-juices (that sounds dirty when I say it) all over me, I made it through the rest of my trip without any further incidents.

Although, I do still have that cold. And, if I am being truthful, a little schadenfreude at being the one on the plane ride home spreading the germs instead of receiving them.

#yesallwomen

Dear Chicago,

I love the attention you are giving me – to a point.

On the El ride in from the airport I got flirted with, that was sweet and nice. I have been complimented by strangers on my hair, my boots, my skirts, my lipstick color, my glasses, my sweater and generally seem to have made a good impression on you all around.

Then there was last night – or rather early this morning, I’d say around 1:30 is when this began. I transferred from the red line to the blue line in order to save 2 blocks of walking. At the time I was unaware that this was a bad idea and that the blue line can be a little shady. As I was waiting for the train to appear, playing Words With Friends, a man approached me and was very suddenly in my personal space. I took a startled step back and looked up.

He breathed alcohol all over me as he slurred out compliments and his unrequested and undesired digits. I explained to him my sincerest lack of interest and thanked him for the compliments. The train arrived and he waited for me to choose my car then got on the same. The train was delayed so I went to the next door got of the car and onto the adjacent car. 2 minutes later he followed me. I immediately got off the train and went from the frontmost car to the rear-most car. This time he didn’t follow me and the train left after another four minutes.

The next stop was mine. I got off and looked behind me and there was no one there. I got on the escalator to go up and looked behind me again and there was the same guy taking long strides while pulling his hoodie up.

Panicked, I ran up the escalator, through the turnstiles, up the stairs, onto the sidewalk and the quick right turn onto the street I am staying. I kept running at full pace. A white Ford F150 going in the opposite direction started honking its horn and the guys inside started lasciviously catcalling, “keep running girrrrl, that’s so hot, mmm nice tattoo.” My heart was now in my throat and my lungs were burning as if I’d smoked 7 packs of cigarettes before all out sprinting.

Right ahead of me on the sidewalk were two young men – maybe in their 20’s. I ran past them and almost froze with exhaustion and panic when I heard one of them start to speak, “Hey, are you okay?” I slowed down and said, “Yah, I’m just scared.” and when I looked behind them I saw no one following. “Thanks for asking.” I started walking (at a fast pace) and got the last block out before heading into the secured building where I am staying. In truth though, it wasn’t until I was in the apartment with the door locked behind me before I calmed down.

I eased my asthma attack with some albuterol. Reconsidered the previously planned morning run on behalf of my lungs and in respect of it being 2AM. Snuggled into the cozy comforter and regretted the early evening Starbucks run for another 2 hours while watching Netflix.

Hey, Chicago, I really like you, but could you be slightly less rape-y?

Thanks,

#yesallwomen

Hadas GOES to Chicago

This is the face of depression:

IMG_1953You may think the smile belies the statement, but it doesn’t. I have depression. Usually it hits pretty severely in August but this year I was too busy for it – it takes a lot of time and energy to hate one’s job.

Well, once my body sensed some spare time, depression found me – and hit me hard. For the past week it has been really hard to motivate myself out of bed. I have been forcing myself to brush my teeth. Getting out of the house is a constant negotiation. But I want to be clear, I am not sad. I am just utterly demotivated to participate in my life. It’s like a heavy weight is depressing me (hence the term “depression”). I have upped my dosage (and consistency) of vitamin D and have allowed myself forgiveness for canceling out on plans with people.

Tuesday felt a bit better – spending some time with friends helped. Wednesday even better – partly that is due to adventure.

I arrived at the airport at 7:40AM for my GOES interview. The interviewer arrived at his office about 10 minutes after I did. Obviously I was the first one scheduled. I dropped my luggage in the waiting area and sat across from him. He had floppy hair that I would have guessed to be a toupee had it been more well groomed, and was wearing a police-ish uniform that shouldn’t come in that size. I was apparently the first adult female he’d ever spoken to as he immediately started sing-song talking to me like I was four and dressed in my favorite princess outfit. “Do you understand what having global entry means?” I batted my eyelashes and in a warbly soprano, surrounded by woodland creatures, “Oh heavens, no. Do tell!”

For fifteen minutes he spoke down to me of all the fancy benefits and took my fingerprints. Finally he set me free and offered his hand to shake. The douche-chills ran down my spine but were slightly calmed by the sound of the next person to be interviewed shuffling around behind me. I mentally took a Silkwood shower and wandered over to the Alaskan Airlines counter to get my boarding pass and cajole them into adding my newly minted pre-check status.

Unfortunately, it takes about 24 hours for “the system” to process global entry so I had to line up with the proletariat, take off my boots and remove my laptop – like an animal.

I got to my gate with about 2 hours to spare. Chris Hardwick and I snuggled up and napped lightly. On the plane I pulled out my knitting and was extremely grateful for my noise canceling headphones as the man next to me was obviously trying to chat me up. I looked over to the man in the aisle across from me. He took an amazing amount of time to get settled and finally did with some sort of blanket shawl/scarf thing. He took two throat hits of Cēpacol, sneezed twice into the crook of his arm and fell right to sleep. I am pretty sure I now have Ebola (is it just me or is everyone using this :& as the Ebola emoticon?).

Several inches of knitting, a snack of salami and two Nerdists later we landed in O’Hare. I am in Chicago to visit my friend, who offered for me to come visit when she found out I was unemployed, and to participate in ComedySportz Midwest Invitational Tournament (Portland plays tonight!). My friend lives in Printers Row and told me to get on the Blue Line and off at LaSalle which is two blocks from her apartment. I went into the tunnels under O’Hare to find the El. I am not certain how far down those tunnels are – I was still getting cell reception – but by the temperature, I would guess we were only about fifty miles from hell – it was either sweltering or my :& fever had sunk in already.

I found the ticketing machine and took almost ten minutes and two failed attempts before I finally got my week long El and bus Ventra pass. I blame the :&, it’s melting my brain (also, now when I say Ebola in my head it sounds like the guy in the Ricola commercial). I then continued on the people movers to follow the blue signs to Terminal 1. It wasn’t until I actually got to Terminal 1 before I realized I was not heading to the Blue Line of the El but to a terminal in the airport. At some point I am going to have to stop blaming :& but I believe that point is in 21 days. I u-turned back to the ticket machine and found the actual Blue Line.

One stop in a man got up from his seat and offered it to me. “No thanks, I have been sitting all day.” Which started us into a lovely conversation. Shelly is an auditor for a marketing something or other. We talked projects, start-ups, Chicago, travel. He offered me his contact information, and told me I have another friend in Chicago. I took it (because, networking) and gave him my relationship status information. He took it well and mentioned something about us just being strangers on a train (I hope I don’t have to kill someone for him now). It was all very pleasant, even with my douche-meter needing recalibration from having been set off that morning, and the time zone change.

I found my way to my friend’s apartment with only going in the wrong direction once. I am now snuggled with a dog named Miley. Like the original she has short hair, drools all over the place and can’t really twerk despite all the tail wagging.

Shhh… Be Vewy Vewy Quiet…

It is officially rabbit duck job hunting season.

How can you tell Hadas is unemployed? The garage is spotless, the blog is updated, her Words With Friends average score has increased, she’s taking an online programming class, and the cats are in a catnip rehab clinic.

I know people call this time “funemployment” but to me it’s just a lot of time on my hands to figure out what to do next. I gave myself an entire week to mourn the loss of my job. I caught up on Property Brothers and rewatched Season1 of The Gilmore Girls. I told a friend of mine that I was going to take my time in finding my next job. I feel like two weeks is a good amount of time…

Now, my new job is officially looking for a new job – and in that, I consider myself an expert.

As an example, to get the job at Nike I found out who the CISO (department head) was, I LinkedIn connected with him and then directly emailed him and told him to hire me – which he did. If only that tactic had worked throughout the rest of my employment things would have worked out better. Reaching out isn’t rocket science and the best way to get a job is to stand out from the other people trying to get that same job. Right now, EVERYONE is trying to get that same job.

Another “trick” I use is to go through placement agencies. In Portland for IT I cannot recommend VanderHouwen and TEKSystems enough.  They are the most knowledgeable about the industry and are well respected by the companies they place people at. Placement agencies are a no-brainer. For free you now have an entire company (or several) trying to get you paid to do stuff you are qualified for. I don’t care if you are a janitor or a CEO there are placement agencies for you and the more you let them do for you, the more Bejeweled Blitz you can play while the job-hunt proceeds.

Finally, I cannot overemphasize the importance of networking. It sounds like such a complicated thing, but really it just means having coffee and lunch with people you have worked with, or that work in companies or jobs you are interested in – and often having them pay for said food or coffee (I mean you are the one out of work after all). I have had 6 such dates and have two more this coming week. When at lunch, tell those people what it is you are looking for. If they can’t give it to you they may be able to introduce you to someone who can. The more up front you are with this the better off you will be; make sure you are clear with what you want. Don’t be wishy washy about it – save that for dating.

Which leads me to yesterday. When I first published my blog about losing my job I got an interesting tweet from someone I follow on Twitter saying to contact his law group for next steps, if I was interested. Never one to let go of a networking opportunity (or interesting story) I followed up. This culminated in having a meeting with Jerry Carleton of Immex Law.

I showed up 10 minutes early for our appointment and he met with me at exactly 10. We sat in the large front conference room and Jerry dropped his legal pad on the table in preparation. For about a minute or two (which seemed a lot longer) we kind of just smiled at each other waiting for the other person to start the meeting. I finally broke the ice with “So, I’m not really sure why I am here.” It’s a strong opening for networking. We ended up chatting about our various paths since graduating from Lewis and Clark Law School (different years). Jerry has a very successful law firm in downtown and is doing things differently – as a lover of start-up culture, I admire when people find a new way of accomplishing things successfully. In the end he invited me to a monthly mixer and I referred his company to a friend looking for some non-profit start-up help. Who knows if anything will come of this, but I consider it a networking win.

I then went to the gym and did 5k run, 5k row and 6mile Airdyne (like a stationary bicycle, only from hell). One positive of being out of work is all the time it affords me to be active.

This time around, instead of finding the next job, I really want to find the right company. So, one thing I am doing is looking up companies based in Vancouver and Portland. Did you know there is a company that will fix your grammar, online (this blog was not sent to them)? And a company that wants updated access to old-style nerdiness? As I filter through these companies I try to find something that attracts me and gets me excited about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Other great places to find those companies are Silicon Florist and Angel.co. It is where Portland Startups are listed. Then you can go to each company’s website and stalk get to know their people through LinkedIn and Twitter.

I have yet to find my next job, but I have a lot of really positive leads.

Now I am off to Blitz some Bejewels.

Chchchchanges

One week before I started my Nike job I got into a motorcycle accident. I was merging on to one highway from another. As I was getting up to highway speeds traffic stopped suddenly. I slammed on my brakes and lost control of the bike. By the time I hit the ground I was probably going about 40MPH. Distinctly, I remember thinking, “I will ride again after this accident” as I slid with the bike for a bit and eventually came to a halt slamming my helmeted head on the asphalt.

Immediately I got up and assessed. No bones broken. The guy behind me had stopped and helped me right my bike. I was completely shaken. He called the highway patrol and proceeded to shout at the top of his lungs at anyone who looked put out by the traffic congestion I had created right before rush hour. He then explained to me that he had been in a motorcycle accident before as well.

I eventually got myself together. I called Andrew.

A: This is Andrew

(he always answers the phone like that even though he and I both know I am calling and he is answering)

Me: Hi, I am fine.

A: Uh Huh. Are you at the emergency room?

(It’s like he knows me)

Me: No. And I don’t think I need to go to one.

A: How many legs and arms are still attached to your body?

Me: No more or less than normal.

A: Okay

Me: So, there is no need to worry, but I got into a motorcycle accident. I am about to ride to my mechanic to drop the bike off and just need you to pick me up.

I drove my bike away from the scene and to my mechanic. I dropped off the key, Andrew picked me up and took me home where he filled me full of Motrin and a distinct lack of hovering or asking after me, just as I prefer it.

Eventually my bike was totaled and I bought a new-to-me bike with the insurance check.

It’s now been about 4 months. I was riding my bike to and from Nike. I was taking advantage of the summer. I was enjoying riding again – almost. Except, I was scared shitless. Every time a vehicle in front of me would brake I would over-react. Every time I was going downhill I would slow to a crawl. Every time I got off my bike my hands would be sore from squeezing the grips so hard.

Then, about three weeks ago, a woman in a Prius tried to kill me. She was upset that I had moved into the right hand lane on the highway to go slower than the rest of traffic when she had intended to go to the right hand lane to use it as a speedway. So, she honked her horn at me after getting in the lane behind me. Then she got in the left hand lane, passed me, got in front of me and slammed her brakes. I was so scared. I am still scared now. As I type this I remember how it felt to be on that bike and to really feel the aggression and anger of having someone literally try to hurt me. I followed (at a safe distance) this mad woman. I was seething with anger.

She pulled into a gas station. I pulled up next to her got off my bike and opened her passenger side door – I am not proud of these actions.

Me: I am so glad to know that the reason you almost killed me on the highway was for an important appointment with the gas station.

CFB: You cut me off.

Me: You crazy fucking bitch – you almost ACTUALLY KILLED ME.

CFB: Shut my door.

Me: YELLING YELLING YELLING YELLING SWEARING YELLING GAHHHHHHHH SHUT YOUR OWN DOOR

I have no idea what we were yelling at each other in the end – we were both at the top of our lungs. There was a lot of swearing. But, I left her passenger door open, got back on my motorcycle and drove safely home. I pulled my bike into the garage and put it up for sale on Craigslist; it sold on Sunday.

Maybe in the future I will be over the fact that I got in an accident and get the motorcycle riding bug again – I do still love the feeling of it. For now, however, I am too scared to ride safely. I was sad when the guy who bought my bike rode off.

And relieved.

Sausage Fest

My first birthday with Andrew, four years ago, he bought me season tickets to the Keller Broadway series. My response was super enthusiastic, there may have been squeeing and jumping up and down. But, then I looked him in the eye and said, “You do understand that although you will now buy these in subsequent years, this is the only year they count as a birthday present, right?”

He nodded and said something like, “I am aware.” (loosely translated to “I have the owner’s manual on you.”)

Last night was the first show for the 2014-15 season and it was Kinky Boots. I had a special affinity to this show in that PGMC had sung from it in our spring concert. To add to the excitement, it was date night.

For Andrew’s Birthday the last three years I have taken him to well-rated restaurants in the Portland area. The first was Le Pigeon, then Aviary and this year was Beast. While at Beast this year we came up with the idea that we should go monthly to a nice restaurant instead of just on his birthday. Then I looked at him and said, “You do understand that although we are going to do this more frequently, it will still qualify as your birthday present, right?”

He nodded and said something like, “I am aware.” (loosely translated to “Thanks, that’s what I was hoping for.”)

Last night’s installment of Hadas and Andrew eat Portland is brought to you by Olympic Provisions.

To start off, I was quite proud of myself for letting Andrew pick a place and surprise me. Apparently I wasn’t the only one impressed with myself because when we sat down I said, “Nice choice! I feel like I am smiling like an idiot.” and Andrew responded, “Yeah, I was surprised you didn’t badger me for the location over the past two days.” (I might ruin surprises sometimes)

Immediately I loved the place. It isn’t super decorated it looks a bit industrial. And they were playing country music – Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed, Dolly Parton – that and charcuterie? I was literally in hog heaven.

The waitress came by and, obviously not wanting to disturb us, started whispering the specials of the day. I asked her to speak up and she started talking to us in what can only be described as slightly audible. Andrew ordered our dinner.

The first item was a Spanish Sausage platter.

IMG_1931

Spanish Sausage Plate

As you can see it was delicious. The spot all the way to the left was hazelnuts and roasted bell peppers. Andrew is finishing the cheese on the right. In between was various chorizo, ham and sausages.

Our second course was butter lettuce salad with tarragon and Italian flat parsley with a lemon dressing:

IMG_1932

Butter Lettuce Salad

Also delicious. I ordered a Falanghina with it. It’s a nice lemony and melon-y dry-ish white. It went beautifully with the salad as the tart dressing dulled the lemon notes in the wine and enhanced the melon and pineapple.

The main course we share was a pork loin with artichokes and humongous beans and lemon soaked cipollinis (onions):

IMG_1935

Humongous Beans and Loin

See how huge the beans were.

Unfortunately I kept forgetting to take pictures of the food when it came to the table, but I assure you it looked as beautiful as it tasted. We ordered two chorizos to take home with us and headed to see Kinky Boots. The show was super glam and glitz. There was some unevenness in the characters and in the songs, but by and large it was entertaining and the man playing Simon/Lola was brilliant. He really portrayed the character with a lot of depth and not as a one-note trope.

IMG_1936

Glitz and Glam – as promised

I may not be the best photo journalist.

During intermission Andrew and I played hashtag wars with each other texting:

The category was #BadThemeParks:

#BadThemeParks @midnight

#BadThemeParks @midnight While we are on this subject, I am a huge Nerdist fan and I don’t understand why Chris Hardwick keeps saying he is single when he is totally my boyfren.

What delighted me the most about this was that Andrew and I were sitting right next to each other texting and laughing. I am certain the old lady next to us thought we were bonkers, but I am also certain that she was confused when Lola came out on stage dressed like a man.

On our way back to the car I said, “You are a really great date.” to which Andrew replied, “I am aware.” (loosely translated to, “I am aware.”)

Andrew has already picked out the next restaurant I hope I don’t implode with patience before then.

A Tale of Two Cities

Friday I got up at 8:15 to the sound of a purring in my ear.

The AirBnB I was staying at was a one bedroom apartment a few clicks (I’m so Canadian) out of downtown Vancouver. My host (B.E.) was staying in her bedroom and I had a “private” room – better defined as a fold-out in the living room. The privacy was provided by curtains she had hung between the kitchen and couch. She was a pleasant young girl if not a little bit chatty and her cat Maci was even chattier (but more snuggly).

I showered and dressed and looked out at the rainy day.

What I felt like doing was going to my couch at home and knitting in front of a black and white Audrey Hepburn movie while sipping on some whiskey-fied tea. But, damn it, I was on vacation. It was time to go tourist.

The light-rail was two blocks away and upon getting there I started to second guess the internal scoffing I did when B.E. showed me where the umbrella was. Three blocks of walking downtown looking for a breakfast place and I looked like I had just gotten done with an all day all access Splash Mountain visit. I found some warmth and sustenance and determined my day.

I still really wanted to knit. And drink. And watch a movie.

Instead, I got back on the tram and went to the waterfront. Once there I wandered around the gaslight area for a little while and stumbled upon a knit shop. Within a few minutes I found a project and made my purchases, I walked back out with a plan. I was going to go back to the apartment and knit and watch a movie on Netflix because really it was what I had wanted to do and apparently God wanted the same for me which is why that knit shop was right there where I was.

I got back to the apartment and did not run into any of the neighbors who I had been told were nice, but I was to say I was a friend visiting from out of town if they asked any questions. I dried off and got cozy with my knitting, the Lance Armstrong documentary, and Maci snuggled and purring on my lap.

About an hour in, I heard the door open and looked up to find a 20-something looking at me and chatting away in what I can easily pick out as an Israeli accent. It turns out that she was a friend of D.E. and was crashing at her apartment because she had just rented out her own apartment on AirBnB last minute and D.E. said it was cool. She was on a juice cleanse and was starving because the thought of drinking the juice she had made for herself was making her sick, but really, she needed to lose weight because her boyfriend was losing interest in her and also she owned a vegan juice bar so if she was going to recommend these things to her clients she should really try them herself. But, oops, she’d be right back because if there was one thing for certain the cleanse part of the cleanse is accurate.

While she was in the bathroom I quickly changed clothes and sped out of the apartment to some Malaysian food.

I sat at the restaurant knitting and listening to the conversations around me. All the while, I was trying to figure out what to do. Vancouver was pretty, but it was just like Portland – except I didn’t know where to go to have fun and the only people I knew were the magpies in the ever-shinking one bedroom I was staying in. I got back to the apartment, asked my host to show me how to work the TV and started chatting on the computer with various friends online.

One of my friends invited me to brunch the next morning. At that point, I had already considered going home the next day. Well, what the hell, it was 9:30PM and I was awake enough to drive. I packed myself up, said goodbye to my host, and hit the road.

The border crossing had a pretty decent line at it and I was already going through the many scenarios of questioning I would face. “Says here you were going to be in Canada until Sunday. Back so soon? Please follow the agent with the latex gloves into that room Miss.” But, once I got to the booth the guy took my card and asked where I was from. “Vancouver, Washington.” “Ahhh,” he nodded, “the real Vancouver.” handed me my ID and sent me on my way.

I got back to my house at 2:40 in the morning and slept like a log.

The rest of the weekend has been great. I got some knitting done, some brunching in, some friend time and 9 holes of golf this morning. It was the perfect vacation in Vancouver.

And now, I will knit, and drink, and watch an old black and white Hepburn.