Sunday, August 31, 2008

Historically adjacent

I don't know about you, but I really like the way that headline sounds. And this week it seems even more relevant than usual.

You see, I live in Minneapolis, and beginning tomorrow is the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Personally, unless I need to drive over there for a re-scheduled doctor's appointment, I plan to avoid St. Paul like the plague until after Thursday when everyone leaves. After all, they've already closed a bunch of the freeway ramps into St. Paul, barricaded some areas to prohibit protesters, and splashed red, white and blue elephants on anything that didn't move. I plan to watch the RNC on TV like everyone else. (Or, more likely, to not watch it...)

And this isn't the first time I have been History-adjacent since I moved out here a few years ago. Last year we were on our way to downtown Minneapolis for a concert at Orchestra Hall on the night of the 35W bridge collapse. 

It's kind of strange and humbling--as well as being massively surreal--to be so close to things going on in the world, but only being able to watch them on TV.

A few days after the bridge collapse, I was trying to get back to my normal life and doing my best to drive where I needed to go, which was a more difficult task without the 35W bridge. So I did my best to loop around the site of the collapse and found myself stuck in traffic sitting on an overpass which had been half-closed after the accident. But it hadn't been closed for any accident-related reason. The right two lanes had been closed to allow enough space for the national news teams to set up their reporters in front of massive cameras and floodlights. From my vantage point, even in the middle of the closest overpass to the bridge site, all I could see was the news crews. They completely blocked the view of the collapsed bridge. So my only chance for a view was to come home and watch it on the news. (Like I said... it was a little surreal.)

So this week I plan to sit at home and occasionally channel surf my way past what's happening in St. Paul. I'll watch the news to find out which nondescript gatherings of people have been raided by St. Paul/state or federal officers. I'll check the web to see who is speaking and what they said. I'll tune my radio to hear the latest soundbites. 

And, on Friday, I'll consider putting downtown St. Paul back on my list of places to go, glad that the Convention is History.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kicking John Barrowman Out of Bed

File under: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing...

Last night (I'm a bachelor this weekend, remember), I went to bed with John Barrowman, and ended up kicking him out of bed. *sigh* I couldn't even type that with a straight face. After all, anyone who knows me knows that I certainly wouldn't kick him (and/or his husband) out of bed--even if they were eating crackers.

Back in the realm of reality, last night I finished reading John Barrowman's autobiography "Anything Goes." It was an imported birthday present from my partner this past May. And, in fact, he gave it to me 3 weeks prior to my birthday on the day I lost my job, since he thought (correctly) that it would be a bright spot in an otherwise pretty crappy day. No. It didn't take me almost 4 months to read it--I had a couple of other books on my list before it, so I started it just a little while ago, reading a chapter every night or so before bed. (And occasionally lingering over the pictures, I admit.)

If you don't know who John Barrowman is, I strongly suggest you start learning. He's a Scottish-American actor, singer, dancer, TV host, gay activist, husband (who got married to Scott Gill while looking hot in a kilt), cocker spaniel lover, and--yes--author, who just happens to also be cute and sexy with a variable accent and a wicked sense of humor. I first came across him (but didn't realize it) when watching the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (he sings the incredibly romantic "Night and Day" duet with Kevin Kline). But he's basically my age, so he's been doing musical theater and entertaining since we were high school age. (And he's one of those people who make me glad I did NOT try to pursue a career in theater! I so could not have competed!) Most recently, Barrowman is Captain Jack on the BBC series Torchwood and its "parent" (what do you call the show something spins-off from?) Dr. Who--where he gets to be smart and sexy and sassy and everything that makes him great fun to lust after.

But... to Barrowman's autobiography... I realized not too far into it that I don't know that I could work with him. He's proud of being a prankster and a bit of a trouble-maker when he's working. He's a daredevil, as well as someone who enjoys making fun of himself. And I have always been way too serious and conservative for that kind of thing. I never enjoyed the off-stage antics when I was in theater. And I've never been a brash adventure seeker. But he's also a proud man--proud of his family and friends, proud of his heritage, proud of what he has done with his life--who still remembers to be thankful for all he has. (Or at least comes across that way when he's writing about himself!)

My partner kept asking me whether I was enjoying reading "Anything Goes" and I kept having to say "yes and no," because I loved reading it--the prose was incredibly enjoyable--but I found that it was killing a few of my fantasies about the onscreen John Barrowman. Not to mention the fact that I was sitting at home, unemployed, reading about this virtual peer of mine who has such a completely different life. (Oh. And his use of the good British word "sweeties" when referring to "candy" really started to get to me, but that's a whole different discussion which makes me wonder if an American version of the book is in the works for people who don't want to deal with English to English translations.) 

So last night I came to the very well-written final lines of this book with probably a better understanding of John Barrowman, a little better understanding of myself, and a continued desire to have the Barrowman-Gills over to dinner with my partner and me the next time they happen to be in Minnesota. I'm weird that way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Celebrating Three Years

Yesterday, in case you were wondering, was the third anniversary of my first date with my partner. 

We've been referring to it as our Third Anniversary with our friends, but I started to think this week that--if that is our Anniversary, then what will we call it after we have a wedding? Not that we've got one of those in our immediate future, since technically we can't have a wedding. But... well... if we have a commitment ceremony/ gay wedding, then we'll have to start counting again. And what will we call the 28th of August? 

We had a mostly normal Thursday, all things considered. He went to work, I stayed home, ran errands, and job searched. The biggest change was that we met up for Happy Hour with a friend of ours who was celebrating her last day of work. Yep. One more person I can now make plans to go to lunch with--since we have the time (if not the money). But I have to admit that it was a glorious afternoon in downtown Minneapolis, sunny and with a light breeze, and we sat outside of The Local Irish Pub for a couple of hours and had a really nice time. 

A little after 6, my partner and I left to go to dinner and headed into "NorthEast" Mineapolis for dinner at Erte--one of our favorite places to eat. He had Top Sirloin and hashbrowns, I had the Faux Fried Chicken (yes, again--I can't ever get myself to choose anything else because it's just SO good!). And on the way home I picked up a French Silk Pie from Lund's for dessert. It was great, but the evening also included me watching my partner pack for a long Labor Day weekend trip to Missouri. (Yes... I'm looking for sympathy, here.)

We finished the night by heading for bed and spooning ourselves to sleep. (Or something like that.) I know that it sounds really boring, but it was a great day and a wonderful evening. And it makes me wonder what we'll get to call the celebration of the day we met once we have a chance to marry. (But SHHHHH don't tell him... He doesn't know that I'm contemplating the whole "stand in front of god and everyone in tuxes" event...)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chasing "Henry Poole"

File under: The best laid plans...

For two weeks now I have been trying to go to see the movie "Henry Poole is Here" with a friend of mine. It's one of those indy-ish films that just looks like it might be a fun evening--not a bad thing to have when you're less-than-employed.

So last Wednesday I got to the theater and the 7:20 showing (which we were meeting at) wasn't listed on the board. I checked with the ticketlady, and she said that they were showing a sneak preview of "Elegy," instead. She even offered me tickets to Elegy, but I really was in the mood for Henry Poole, and Elegy... well... with a name like that it just seems like it might be a little more serious than I was looking for. We ended up going to another movie theater and seeing "Vicky Christina Barcelona," instead.

Yesterday, I was smarter and did a last-minute check on the movie times. But--you guessed it--now Henry Poole has been completely replaced by Elegy. So I called my movie companion and we opted to still meet at the same theater, but to go to "Bottle Shock." We're going to try to see Henry Poole next week at another near-ish theater--assuming it's still playing after the Labor Day weekend.

Oh. In case you're wondering what I thought of the other movies...

Vicky Christina Barcelona - It's a Woody Allen film, so there's a lot of talking. But the cast is very strong (Javier Bardem is incredibly sexy and Penelope Cruz is... well... she plays manic really well), and the settings are gorgeous. I wasn't sure whether I was enjoying it, but at the end Kelly and I looked at each other and agreed that we could have watched more to see what happened next. That's a good thing.

Bottle Shock - If you've seen the trailers then you know that it's--in essence--about a 1976 wine competition between the French and the Californians. It has a good cast, and the story is interesting, and I really wanted to like it. But... well... I probably should have waited until it was on DVD and had a glass or two of wine with it.
**sidenote** Have I mentioned that I really like watching TV? Two of my main reasons for going to the movie are connected to TV. Eliza Dushku (Faith on Buffy) and Mary Pat Gleason (Ida on The Middleman) are both in it in small-ish, yet important roles. **end sidenote**

Wish me luck on catching Henry Poole next week...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Survived the Interview... now what?

Okay... So I survived the Group Interview, yesterday, and am now in a holding pattern for the next week waiting for a call to find out whether I'm going on to the One-on-One interview stage. And, you guessed it, I'm unsure whether getting a call back would be better or worse than NOT getting one. (want more details? see yesterday's post)

On the one hand, the call back would mean I'd be closer to a steady income, good benefits, and the chance to start having my normal life back. On the other hand, getting that next interview would mean that I'd have to jump through more hoops--all for the "opportunity" to got back into a job arena that I really don't care for. 

Do you want to know who else I was "non-competing" with in the interview? (see yesterday's entry for why I call it that) There were a few older women who were looking for something fun to do, a couple of women (in power suits for our "casual" interview) who are contemplating career changes, one woman who is looking for an out before her job gets downsized, and a young guy right out of college who really kind of came across like a used car salesman. We were interviewed by two guys: the General Manager of the store and another guy from the Managerial team. The GM has been with the company for 7 years and, unfortunately, it seemed his smile had been plastered on his face for that long, too. The other guy only joined the company 5 weeks ago, and relied way too much on his script during the interview. 

Although the interview went well enough, I found myself wishing I could be conducting it. I know who I'd have hired immediately, and who I'd have been able to say no to before they left the room. And, yes, there were a couple of people I'd have had to bring in for second interviews (unfortunately, I would put the two interviewers into that category).

So I filled out my availability form, made some notes on the bottom, and went on my way across the in-process-of-being-tarred parking lot. I stopped at Dino's to pick up a Sampler Plate for dinner, and came home and half-sulked for the evening. 

But at least my day was better than my nephew's--he's 4 years old and dealing with the aftermath of surgery to put tubes in his ears and an adenoidectomy (or something like that). Basically, it should help him avoid earaches and sinus issues, but I can't imagine what it must be like to be 4 years old and have facial surgery aftermath to deal with. Yuck. I'll take a mediocre interview any day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The interview dilemma

Congratulate me!

For the first time in a while, I've got an interview scheduled for this afternoon. Usually, when you're looking for work, that is a good thing. Especially in this day and age when even "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is rapidly being replaced with "it's not who or what you know, it's how well a computer can find keywords in your resume." I don't know the last time I sent a resume to an actual person's attention. These days I find myself simply emailing attachments to "hiring@[insertcompanyhere]" So even getting to the point of an interview is a good thing. Right?

However - as any of you who have been or are currently unemployed probably know - if they offer me a position at less than my current Unemployment "pay", I'll be stuck deciding whether to stay unemployed (paying COBRA a ton of money every month so I have insurance, watching the employment gap on my resume get longer and longer, and wondering what happens when my savings runs dry), or to take a job with benefits but still not be able to make the rest of my ends meet. Which makes the topic of pay (and the current lack thereof) dilemma point #1.

To make matters more dilemmical (not sure that's a word, but it looks good doesn't it?), the interview is for a job in Retail. I've done Retail. I grew up in Retail (literally - I put in time in my parents' store from about the age of 5), and I'm not bad at sales, but I just SO don't want to do it any more. When I applied with the company, I put in for a managerial position (I'm a good people manager. Really. Ask 95% of the people I've hired/trained/managed/supervised over the years and they'll tell you so. The other 5%?... well... you can't please everyone...). The hiring people were nice enough (no sarcasm intended) to write back and say that "although the managerial positions were filled," they would like to talk to me about other positions. I emailed back and forth about Administrative, Training and Visual Merchandising positions, but today's interview is a dreaded Group Interview, which means we're all going to be assessed for generic position filling. Ugh. 

**sidenote** Why do companies, when using Group Interviews, insist that there is no competition involved? I know it may not be intentional, but in a group setting we all compare person A to person B, C or D. It's just what we do. I've conducted Group Interviews in the past. I know that, no matter how hard I tried, I always compared people. So why not just admit it at the outset? **end sidenote**

Dilemma point #3 (don't tell any of the ancient Greeks that I've gone beyond two choices in this dilemma) is that I have to figure out what to wear. I've been told the company is "sophisticated casual," and that I should wear "khakis and a casual shirt" to the interview. But, although that sounds really tempting (especially since I have to go to the grocery store after the interview), I can't get my mind around doing that - especially since I'm hoping for a job off the salesfloor. I guess it's the "dress for the job you want" mindset. Which, considering this is Retail (see point #2), is even more difficult.

But... Well... I seem to be wandering off-topic. May main point of the day is that I'm a tad worried that I'll wear the right thing, that I'll conduct myself with aplomb in the interview, and that I'll be offered a position in Retail at less than my current rate of "Unemployment pay." At which point I'll have to come home and agonize about what to do. 

Or, maybe, they won't offer me a position and then I'll have to figure out whether it was something I wore, something I did or didn't do, how I'll survive on my savings, and what in the world to do next. 

Or, possibly scariest of all, I'll wear the right thing, I'll conduct myself appropriately, and I'll be offered a great paying position at a good company, where I can work 40 hours per week while attempting to pursue my other life goals in my off-time. After all, if it all works out and I'm still not happy, then what do I do?

Wish me luck. (I'll let you figure out which one to hope for.) 

I'll keep you posted. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Robert's First Blog Entry

Having contemplated whether or not to write a blog for some time, I finally decided to put pen to paper (as it were) and launch myself into the blogosphere.
I promise to do my best to keep this updated and interesting (both of which may prove to be difficult at times, I fully admit).
Here's to trying something new!