Monday, June 07, 2010
Last week was significant, not because I gained almost 4 lbs. (oops, too many restaurant meals, not enough working out) but because of signing the employment contract.
So ... I am working.
And it is a freakin' blast.
What happened was, I went to my usual networking-type rounds during the week but talked up not so much myself as the company. I didn't even have company business cards so I was writing the company name on my own.
Then on Thursday my boss and I got together for dinner and biz. We were supposed to be going to a barbecue place but I got there first and it was locked.
Back up a sec. I had decided to kinda go all out, as we were going to an event afterwards. It was fairly warm out so I put on a black skirt. Nope, didn't like that one, went with the black pencil skirt. Okay, now I have no pockets. Didn't want to wear a sweater. Okay, the black blazer. Now wearing sandals looks bad. Put on hose and black ballet slippers. Grabbed black heels and threw them in the car, just in case.
When I got to the originally planned restaurant, I left the blazer in the car. So I was wearing, um, a green top, black skirt, hose and the aforementioned ballet slippers. Nice but not super-formal. Then my boss came over from where he was parked. He works as a software engineer by day (I am still collecting Unemployment -- this is the life of being in a startup -- you make other $$ until the real funding comes in; hopefully very soon) and the dress is casual. He is wearing a tee shirt with a button down shirt over that, shorts and sandals.
Since the dude is over 2 decades younger than me, we really stand out as the odd couple. We end up going to a Mexican place. We're eating, chatting, talking biz and whatnot and I start writing down my food. I can't recall if he asked or if I volunteered it but I said, I've been writing down my food for over two years now.
Because I lost a lot of weight.
You don't need to lose weight, he says.
You haven't been looking at my website, have you? I say.
Uh, no. Sheepish grin.
We pull it up on his phone, and I direct him to the page about the weight loss. There's my before picture, front and center. His jaw drops.
What? Is that really YOU?
Yes, it is. I was 346 pounds.
Oh my God. It's ... I would never have guessed ... you look like you've always been thin.
Nope, I wasn't. But, thank you.
We finish dinner (neither of us finished our meals; I think diet talk has that effect on everyone) and go back to my car for me to drop off my briefcase and all. I grab the blazer, I change into heels. He looks me up and down.
Is it that formal there?
No, I say. I just felt like doing this.
We go in, we see a bunch of people I know, and a lot I don't. We have new business cards. We have a nonworking prototype with us. It's a little thing, smaller than the palm of my hand. I've put it into a little change purse I got from CVS. The change purse is zebra-striped. It is a tad silly, to be sure, but it stands out.
We have one of those evenings where you break apart, circle back, break apart again, etc. as you go along. We are joking with people. We are making impressions. People are smiling. A good blog is written up later, and it mentions us very favorably.
We just ... it was fantastic. It was that kind of give and take you want with, well, with everyone. And I was able to get out there and do it, shake my not-so-big-anymore hips in a skirt and show off my calves with higher heels than I've worn in a decade. So much of this business is sheer flirting (who'd've known that would be a good job skill for a legal job?). I never, ever thought I would be in sales and marketing.
I never had the confidence before.
When we went back to my car, I grabbed my boss's hand for a second and just said, "Thank you for believing in me."
Thanks to all of YOU, too.
And now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go back to stoking the star maker machinery.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Every song on the planet should start with the line that this one starts with:
'You Don't Have to Take this Crap."
And you don't have to.
Nope. Not YOU.
Now, you may be saying to yourself: what the heck is jes on about NOW? Gosh, she's not making any sense.
No. Wait. Hear (read) me out.
Almost everybody here got here because they settled.
They went along to get along.
They ate what was put in front of them.
They lazed when others did.
They finished the stuff off their children's plates so as not to waste it.
They took what was given or foisted upon them. Even if they didn't want it. Even if they were already full, they ate it. They settled, they compromised, they laid back and took it. They SWALLOWED it, both literally and figuratively.
But it does not have to be that way.
You can be the one who says no.
You can be the one who zigs where the others zag. Hell, where the others are standing still and doing absolutely nothing.
You do not have to wait for them. You do not have to live your life tailored to theirs. You do not have to live up to their expectations and be their good little girl or their darling boy.
You are you. You are an adult. They are not responsible for your happiness and your health. And you are not responsible for theirs, either.
Sure, it's nice to help them out. And it's great if you're not being undermined and sabotaged at every turn by all or some of them.
But, ultimately, it is on you.
And you can throw off the yoke of oppression and break free of the chains. You can be you. The beautiful, powerful, sexy, dynamic, focused world-beating YOU. The one who climbs the mountain. The one who gets the girl. The one who gets the promotion. The one who aces the test. The one who they line up for. The one with the happy ending.
I am not, specifically, talking about being thin. Sure, it is a great and grand thing. But the way things can be DOES NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR THAT.
It is independent of that.
YOU. You take control. You bring the power, and don't give it away to others. You forge the steel. You blaze the trail. And you are thin, or not, and it doesn't matter insofar as this kind of power and attitude are concerned.
But, you say, I am all alone. I am scared. I am in my home in Oshkosh or Dubai or Beijing or Moose Jaw and I am only one of a thousand, a million, a billion and it is so very, very hard to stand alone and keep back the tide.
I know. I really do. Oh God, do I know that feeling. You tremble inside, and you feel lost, and the world is black and bleak and your little candle is flickering and the wick is drowning in a pool of wax and about to sputter out.
I totally get that, because I have been there and I have held that dying candle, that dim and seemingly insignificant spark.
Here's some lighter fluid for it.
Unity and togetherness.
Teams. Gathering together. Making friends. Being as one. Because your little candle in Hicksville and mine in Boston and that other one in Siena and the one in Kiev and the one in Rio and and and they all add up and together, if we are together they are synergistic and they make more together than they ever could apart. 1 + 1 does not equal 2 here; it equals 20 and more and more and more.
"You don't have to take this crap
You don't have to sit back and relax
You can actually try changing it
I know we've always been taught to rely
Upon those in authority -
But you never know until you try
How things just might be -
If we came together so strongly
Are you gonna try to make this work
Or spend your days down in the dirt
You see things can change -
YES an' walls can come tumbling down!"
"And like Jericho - You see walls can come tumbling down!"
Let our unity be like Jericho. Let us break down the barriers between us and become the people we have always -- and I mean ALWAYS -- been meant to be.
Goodbye, walls. Hello, new, excellent you.
Damn, you're beautiful.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Oh, my. I've had quite a week.
I started it with meeting with a recruiter. Nothing for me, not too exciting, more of the same and more of the same of stuff that I don't really wish to do any more.
Then on Tuesday I went to a meeting of a nonprofit tech group. Lovely people, but I met no one knew and got no cards. They are ... not exactly the right pond. I need to fish elsewhere. The more I do this, the less tolerance I have for lovely people who cannot really help me. It's not a mercenary thing (at least, I don't think it is). Rather it's just that life is so full that I need to make choices. Contacts or comfort? I've had a lot of comfort lately. So contacts it is. Oh and I went to the gym that day, too.
Wednesday I went to a coffee that I love. That is almost pure comfort so I'm not totally bagging that aspect of things. But I do have to curtail it, allow one and not others.
Thursday I had no meetings and instead worked on robotics stuff all the livelong day. And I realized: I'm having a good time. Then the principal (B___) contacted me: we are looking to have a meeting on Sunday. Wanna come? Sure. Plus I went to the gym again, and this time talked to some folks. These are, well, they are probably neighbors. :)
Friday I had another networking meeting. This one is much more the correct pond, despite it being a lot of comfort. Perhaps I'm less eager to dump the comfort than I'd thought.
And then, after Saturday (Mr. J and I went out and played frisbee; it was fun) came, of course, Sunday.
I had cut up fruit and some rather junky store-bought cookies. Ready to go, I boarded the bus to Cambridge. Took me a while to find my way (the principal lives in Somerville, a vortex that I swear swallows people and cars), but I got there all right.
We got down to business once the other three arrived (they were driving in from the West). Talking, laughing, reading off a computer screen. I had prepared a report. They LOVED it. Just some graphs (I like graphs) showing how things are going. It's early and there is little to report, but I wanted to set a standard.
We talked about how much it would cost to manufacture a buncha units (they make robotics modules -- guts, not the outside). We discussed how to handle an upcoming meeting with a venture capitalist firm (I wouldn't be going to that). We talked social media marketing. We talked sales. We talked papers and patents.
Then the B___'s girlfriend walked in. How long you been meeting?
Uh, two hours.
No one had noticed the passage of time. We were all just so bound up in it all.
They are taking a chance on me, I know, we all know. I am new to this and eager to please, trying to get in a plan and a strategy and have it all make sense. And I am taking a chance on them, as there are no guarantees, there is no money yet, and my main source of income will continue to be Unemployment until funding kicks in, if ever. Risks abound. Rewards are uncertain.
Yet I am having more work fun than I have since I taught, which was almost 20 years ago. It is comfortable. Easy. Intelligent. Respectful yet playful. It feels like we're doing something important. Something that might really help people.
The dynamic is, admittedly, a tad odd. They remind me a tiny bit of these guys:
So I suppose that means this is me:
I am jazzed. I am pumped. I am so happy.
All I gotta do is work on the ears.
Monday, May 17, 2010
It was a great vacation. We had fun, got in some working out and ate well. Much more importantly, we both relaxed and just existed. It was truly necessary for both of us.
I'm feeling a lot better although yesterday, when we got home, I was a whirling dervish to try to get a number of things done for the week. I had been hoping to make tomato sauce but it was simply impossible, given the amount of time I had. Oof.
Hence today I'm a lil tired. I have a noon webinar and a meeting with a recruiter in the afternoon. The remainder of the week is three events and a second webinar, plus I'll be seeing my mentor from my last job on Wednesday and we'll go for a nice, long walk during her lunch break. I have not seen her since before surgery and I miss her. Plus we will catch up and I'll hear how her cats are doing, and in general how the old company is doing. I know that more IT workers were let go. I am concerned for them, but not too too much. There are definitely jobs out there and it is getting better. There are more job calls and the lists of jobs that I get sent to me automatically are, well, those lists are getting longer.
There is a light in this tunnel. I strongly suspect I will be working by about when my birthday rolls around (early September). And then I'll have to tell them I'm taking two days off, because I'm going to book a few more nights on the Cape in mid-September.
As for my robotics pal, I have heard from him a few times, sometimes with my prompting, sometimes on his own initiative. A thing I need to remember is: twentysomething guys are not terribly great at writing. Plus it's only been a week. Patience, here as in all things, is a virtue.
Doesn't mean it doesn't make me nuts sometimes, though.
Hence I am continuing to push out in all directions and not just that one, and make it easier on myself by putting my eggs (that is not a perimenopause joke) into several different baskets.
I am trying to make my actions as purposeful as possible, with the ends being getting a job or getting fit. A lot less time should be wasted on meaningless activities like just watching the tube. Not that I don't do that, of course, but I need to do even less of that as I'm on a few different missions right now. My fitness mission isn't necessarily one about weight loss and that's kinda similar to how I felt when I first started out. My original thought, back in January of 2008, was to simply treat myself better. And then I realized I could take alli and it became a lot more about weight loss.
But the fundamental nugget is treating myself better. Better food, more bodily movements, being kinder to myself and feeling like I've got a goal. Getting back to that thought has not been too difficult, actually, as it's a fairly gentle mindset.
The "get a job" (or at least get paid) mission is more complex. I am, much of the time, like a Jack Russell terrier, continually sniffing and jerking my head around and captivated for three seconds by something shiny and then onto the next good smell or belly rub. One of the things I did while on vacation was write out a number of blog entries (not for here, for my site) in longhand. They need to be cleaned up and I need to get the links, plus I need to data enter them, but I have a lot more in the can now. I had been simply reporting on various activities I was going to. While this was timely, and it gets some readership because everyone loves to read about themselves, it made me look more like a member of the amateur press than an actual worker in the social media field.
Hence my incipient blog entries are more about how to do it. Of course there are a thousand such blogs out there but perhaps my take on it will strike a chord with the right person(s). If nothing else, it will give me some inner satisfaction to be getting that information out there and hopefully helping people.
In the meantime, we took some photos. I feel okay about the pictures that were taken of me. I think my body looks fine, but I am seeing my age more and more. Hell, that's the ticket, though, eh? I will be 50 in less than 2 1/2 years. And so it goes. But if all I have to b*tch about it are a few lines around my mouth and eyes, as opposed to being horribly short of breath every time I climb a stair, I will take that exchange any day.
But it doesn't mean I don't want to hide those damned lines.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Actually, this week's title is totally and completely untrue.
I've had a dream, a constant dream, pounding in my head and ringing in my ears, keeping me up at night and snapping me out of my fugues as I get them.
The dream is to do what I want for a living. To do it and be happy, or at least content and feeling like I'm living the way I want to.
And today, oh today.
It was something that started off completely unauspiciously.
On April 13th, I went to a robotics job fair at MIT. This was attached to the back end of a seminar on robotics that I did not attend. Now, I don't know squadoo about robotics, but I figure, hey, spread business cards around like seeds and perhaps one of them will sprout.
I was standing just sort of staring into space, looking at the board showing the companies expected and thinking, man oh Manischewitz, I am *SO* out of place here. Feeling weird. When this young guy comes up and he's looking kinda lost, too, and he looks at me and says out loud, "What the hell!" and sticks his hand out.
And B__ turns out to be truly sweet and owns his own company and is looking for venture capitalist funding. And he is young. Oh, so young. Only a coupla years out of college. Whip smart. Pleasant. Gets my jokes. We trade cards and I send him a note the next day, saying it was nice to meet him. I don't expect much as I write to everyone after these things.
I let it go and go about my other business and attend other events.
I get an email about a week ago - so sorry I didn't write back - I've been busy, life's been crazy, your email's been starred for weeks and I meant to contact you.
No prob. We agree to meet.
I go to his site. Aha! He's got a community (my speciality). But it's tiny. As in, less than a dozen people. I realize: this is why there's a need to see me. And I'm thinking, okay, this is not work, it's just a talk. People have picked my brain before and I'm more or less okay with it. After all, this is how I polish my pitch and hone my craft.
This morning, I look at his site again, and really think about it while on the bus. I get there early, and the coffeehouse is playing The Smiths (hence the song). So I take out a pad of paper and start writing down ideas. He should write this, submit here, do that, answer a blog there. A page's worth of ideas. Basic ideas, nothing too fancy.
He gets there, we grab coffee and sit. We talk about the site, about the community. I flip to the page and read off what I've thought of. He knows most but not all of what I'm talking about. And we get down to the nitty gritty: he needs content. I can write content. He needs a community. I can manage a community. He needs Twitter to be updated. I can do that.
And there is a meeting of the minds.
Emails will be exchanged (I need to get passwords and whatnot). This first month is something of a trial, particularly as I don't know the industry. I will meet the other guys (all college or grad level).
Things will be clearer in a few weeks as we work to formalize things a bit. But we are both excited about this, and enjoying the process as much as I'd hoped we would. Good to talk business but also laugh and bounce ideas off an obviously smart individual. Good to see the clear connection and the obvious need/niche/fulfillment coming full circle. Who knows where it will all lead? I don't know, but I want to find out.
And my scattered seed has, well, it may have sprouted.
And the other piece is that I have been bored. I was not going to the gym, was not loving walking, not wanting to (or really being able to, to be perfectly honest) run any more than I had been. I woke up today (and my weight was up again) and I realized that this cannot go on. And so I am quitting my old gym (writing up the letter as soon as I finish this blog entry) and am instead joining the Y down the street.
The reason to not spend time commuting to the gym disappears. The Y is new and different so there's freshness there. And, huzzah!
It has a pool.
I rarely get to swim, and I'm lousy at it, but I don't care.
And so my seed might be getting a little water.
This week is a short vacation on the Cape. I received word that I didn't get that job I interviewed for a month ago, but that's okay. It is highly likely that I will interview for a far better temp position soon. That one is also 6 months, also data analysis. And no, I don't really want to do data analysis. But I'm okay with it if I can also be working with my robotics pal and continuing to chase my vision.
I get the feeling I'm about to catch it.
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