31 December 2014

Game Changer

For a month that changed my life, April 2014 began with the deceptively mundane.

Lisa's cupcakes.
She never received them,
because she skipped her last night of trivia.
Lisa moved to New York. I was sad that she wouldn't be so close physically, but otherwise not really phased. Lisa loves New York. She used to live there, then moved here to meet me. Part of me knew she would go back, just like all of me knows she'll move back here. When I said goodbye to my friends after graduating college, we sobbed as if the world were ending. I've lived in three states and two time zones since then. Social media means I know more about my friends now than when I saw them every day. Goodbyes just don't hold the weight they used to hold.

I admitted a thing (to a boy) that I had been afraid to admit. But almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized they were wrong... or at least not as accurate as I thought. Long story short, I saw what I wanted and ignored what I didn't. The bottom line (as is usually the case) can be summarized in a song lyric; "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

Paula and I continued our boxing lessons - with shopping and / or eating to follow. I should talk more about Paula. We worked together a while ago. I like to make friends wherever I work, but there are only certain friends who make the effort once you don't see each other four or five days a week. Paula is one of those friends. Also, she's genuine and hilarious. A solid "win" in the friend category. Trust me.

In an excessively Bay Area move, I started learning to code. I was frustrated at not knowing the lingo or the acronyms. Yes, I recognize there are a lot of things I don't know. But I'm not around those things on a daily basis. I'm sure if economics were constantly in my periphery, I'd take an interest. Instead, I was, at points) surrounded by coding. So I decided to dig deeper.

On our way!
I went to Coachella. Remember John from Argentina? He had this crazy idea that we should camp out at a music festival in the dessert - basically the most un-Danie thing to be suggested in the history of Danie.
"A festival? In the desert? Oh my. Haven't you seen the horror movies? Is that something we do, as a people?" - One of my parents re: my going to Coachella
"And there's nowhere to wash is there? Or do you take a cowabunga leap off a rope with a tire on it and splash into a lake like in the horror shows?" - The other parent re: my going to Coachella
In a word, "yes." It was great. Yes, we overdid it in terms of supplies. I'd travel a lot lighter if I went again. For me, the experience was in deciding to go, planning the trip and executing it. It was mostly a success - I slept too much, packed my travel schedule too tightly and really had way too much stuff.

Too much?
Tent borrowed from Jesse.
Dead stowaway frog removed by John.
The site.

Jarad & Cate were there too!
Ellie G.

We made friends.
I came back from Coachella refreshed. (I really did get a lot of sleep.) And the next chapter of my life had started without me. As a rule, I don't write about work. I did once and I'll describe the result as a fantastic learning experience. In this instance however, writing about work can't be helped. I left for Coachella with a great job that I really really really liked. When I got back from Coachella it was gone. I don't want to write "I lost my job," because that's not what happened. I didn't misplace it. It was not taken from me and given to someone else. My job - the whole company actually - disappeared. It didn't happen overnight and it was a risk that I understood when I took the role. Still, it was surprising and I found myself in the position of being unemployed for the first time since I was 17. It did not compute at first.
"I think everyone should be unemployed at some point in their lives." 
An employed friend said that to an unemployed friend last year and it stuck with me. The employed friend had been unemployed before - so it's not that he didn't understand. He just thought it built character or experience or something. When faced with my own unemployment, I was at a loss for positives.
"Go back to the station."
This well meaning phrase would - over the following months - turn me into a lunatic. I get the intent. I liked news well enough. I was good at it. I could easily get a job doing the same thing and my life wouldn't have to miss a beat. Suggesting I return to my professional roots was logical to everyone who suggested it. Still, the idea of it reduced me to a frothing, ranting mess.
"Do you remember when I was in news? Do you remember when I was miserable? There are other things that I can do, other things that I can be good at. Do you think I can only be good at one thing? I'm too young to be professionally complacent. Why don't you care about what I want to do? Why don't you think I can succeed in another industry? Why should my goal be to work for a paycheck? I know what it's like to find your work satisfying and I will NOT GO BACK!" [insert panting]
When you don't have a job, people invite you to things.
Because really, you don't have anywhere else to be.
I mean I didn't start out like that, but it didn't take long for me to get there. In my defense, I wasn't soliciting advice or lamenting my situation. I did have fears that I would be forced backward professionally and when (again) well-meaning people suggested I regress voluntarily, I took it as a lack of faith in my abilities. I stopped sharing job prospects. I stopped giving updates. I stopped hanging out with people who couldn't talk about anything other than my employment. I retreated, because I needed to focus on me and I needed to be unwavering in that focus. I was thankful for everyone who had been unemployed, because they understood. They knew the right amount of conversation to have, the right tone to take and the right actions to suggest. As always, people allowed me to make the best of a "bad" situation.

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