January 20, 2009

Recap, Catch Up, Move On

Last I wrote, I was in Wyoming, hanging out with Mom and Dad, taking photos, being a teenager again and waiting out the interminable process of getting approved for my UK work permit. Yea, fun. I'm not good at waiting and I'm less good at waiting with nothing to do, so I looked for a job. Turns out, none of the architecture firms in town wanted me. From my interview with the largest firm, it would seem the reason was I was from Dublin. Why would I want to come live back in Wyoming when I'd been out on the international stage? Could I even be happy living in Wyoming again after all these years?

Clearly, my little attempt at a "truthful lie" failed. I didn't get the job.

So then I decided to fulfill one of my long held dreams: I applied at both of Casper's wine bars. Casper has changed since I got my first degree there. Spas all over the place, coffee bars, indy bookstores. It's all so very gentrified. So I figured I'd try to get myself hired at a wine spot and brush up on my American wine education.

No takers.

I realize I'm over-qualified but Casper has 2% unemployment and people are desperate for help. Clearly not my help. So I went to the restaurant with Dad in the mornings. I washed dishes, which is the only thing I've never done in a restaurant. It is a grimy job and the one thing that can bring a place to its knees in a rush if things go badly. Being the boss's daughter and all, well, it was a bit of pressure. I'm happy to report I kept up just fine but it was a pretty slow morning. I only filled that role once. The rest of the time I chopped veggies, filled the buffet, stocked the line for them, whatever needed done. Mostly, I sat at the counter, chatting with the girls and the regulars, letting Lisa over-caffeinate me. Those were good mornings in truth. There is nothing like Dad's chicken friend steak and eggs for breakfast.

I met my friend Kate one evening and was complaining about the lack of enthusiasm for my resume and willingness to do honest work and she, being a sort of informal Welcome Wagon Hostess, called a bunch of friends and got me a job; 1 shift a week at FYE, a music store in the mall. I know nothing about music, release dates, what the new albums are vs. the old ones... I still call them albums, for pete's sake, which should give you an idea of how ill suited I was for this job. In truth, my whole reason for being was to give the staff coffee and cigarette breaks.  But it got me out of the house and a 30% discount. I spent my entire paycheck in the store. Honestly, I don't know why they even wrote me one. My shifts were spent shopping; browsing the cds and dvds, pulling things back to purchase later. But they were happy with me and I enjoyed it.

Bolstered by my success, and perhaps high from finding Muse on sale for $8, I then did something devious. I lied on my resume to get another job. Yep, I broke the first cardinal rule of employment. I told Macys I was an interior designer with only a bit of college behind me. They bought it and hired me on the spot.

I don't think, when the cardinal rule of employment was written, they meant underselling your qualifications to get a job. I'm pretty sure most people over-inflate their experience to get, well, a better job than they had. But not me, boy. Nope. I dumbed it down to work retail. I cut my salary in order to get a job that paid minimum wage. I got my first check and when Dad asked how much it was, we both laughed. $232.58. 

But I lost 5 pounds my first week. And gained about 700 bruises. When they say retail is a tough industry, I didn't realize it would be so physical. I was in the housewares department, shifting boxes, picking up blenders and coffee makers for old ladies. One afternoon I spent building a display out of cast iron casserole dishes. No one can tell me that isn't hard work. My back was sore, I was sweating and short of breath. I had no need for a gym and that made me quite happy.

That was my life for awhile. I was truly a teenager again. Working at the mall. Sleeping in a twin bed in the spare room. No phone calls after 10pm. Posting my schedule on the fridge so I could get a ride to work. Sneaking food in the grocery cart and hoping they would neither notice nor object. At least I got to hit the liquor store this time around, teaching my mother about wines since her doctor said it was good for her. At night, I'd lie on the floor in the living room, watching TV with them, asking permission to go on the Internet... Then I had a date. That was interesting. 

Well, humiliating in truth to utter this: I'm not pathetic I swear, but I'm a middle age woman who lives with her parents and you'll have to come in the house and meet them before we go to dinner. 

Had the tables been turned, I'd have run like hell. Luckily men aren't as daunted. Plus, he was home with his parents too. His dad had surgery on his knees and needed the help, so Pool Boy came to the rescue. (Yep, Pool Boy. He works for a company in Florida that sells commercial pool equipment. How can you mess with a built in nickname like that?) So there we were, in our late 30s, watching movies in the basement, trying not to get caught making out.

Once Christmas arrived, my visa finally arrived and I was free to go. And go, did I, with all due spped. The day after Christmas, I was on the plane back to New York. I'd had enough of snow and ice and -18 degrees. I stayed a couple of nights in the city with Christine, who is a godsend. We had a great time really, drinking wine and watching design shows on HGTV. Very girly. And then, it was time to finally return to Dublin. 8 months after I left. No job in sight but visa in hand.

I landed here on a clear and sunny morning. Suzie picked me up and we had a great chat over breakfast.  I've been meeting the friends, slowly. It's a quiet time of year normally, but all the more so since the construction recession. You wouldn't know the rest of the country is hurting from the scenes around town. Pubs are full, shops are busy, walking down Grafton Street is just as crowded as before. Yet 40% of the architects in the country are unemployed. England is in worse shape, with many stalwarts of the retail game folding. It's bleak news for a girl who spent 8 months gaining permission to work there. No jobs here, no jobs there. The Middle East has even slowed to a halt.

With nowhere obvious to go, I've been sitting here in Dublin, trying to decide what best to do, looking for a clear way forward. In truth, I was sort of waiting for something to fall in my lap like Ireland did 4 years ago.

Instead, it was subtler than that though no less crazy. My way forward is really a way back. In early February, I'll be joining Pool Boy in sunny south Florida, working on my tan (ha!), getting a job, and seeing if what we started is really real or just a Christmas Romance EP. I always find Christmas the most romantic time of the year, so I could be blinded here. I'll be the first to admit this might not be a good idea. I've never been a boyfriend follower, far too independent for that. I could be moving back in 6 months, you never know. Then again, it might be a great idea. Everyone needs to take a leap of faith now and then. This might be a brilliant move for me. Only one way to find out.

So I'm spending my final days in Dublin packing and sorting, calling moving companies and visiting my favorite spots around town. I'm sad to be going but I'm quite looking forward to my next step. 

And yes, I'm taking the chair.

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