Commute Stories

There is an escalator I go down every time I go to work. Today it wasn’t moving. The reason it wasn’t moving was because there was a woman at the bottom with the hem of her dress stuck in the steps.

Great. Now I have something else to be afraid of.

*****

There is a bank I go to in DC where they always offer you a miniature candy bar when you visit the teller. Today, deep in a yearning for snacks on my way home from work, I think I actually said, “Oh thank God” out loud when the guy passed me a mini-Krackel.

*****

In other escalator news, I have to go down and up this escalator every day that I go to work.

Photo from the bottom of three escalators stretching way up into the distance.

It is the longest set of single span escalators in the Western Hemisphere.

If you just stand on the thing, it takes 2 minutes and 45 seconds to travel from top to bottom or vice versa.

It’s kinda my nemesis.

When I started working, I would walk carefully down, gripping the side rail. Now I jog down. I hope when I inevitably take my fall that I am at least near the bottom.

I’m also working on jogging up the thing, although on Thank God for Krackel Days, I just stand on it. Sometimes I’ll read a chapter of a book as it carries me slowly up. My usual routine is to walk up about 2/3 of it, take a long rest, and then finish.

It’s a whole thing.

*****

This isn’t about my commute, but I realized something the other day. It is almost exactly a year since I started working. I realized something else as well. Ever since I’ve started leaving the house to go to work, I haven’t had any long depressed stretches like I’d gotten used to.

Yeah, it’s been harder to fit in some of the things I want to do and I still don’t have perfect mental health and it turns out that people who have jobs actually DO sometimes get a case of the Mondays, but I’ve discovered that purpose and structure are really good for me.

So, hooray for jobs. And even commutes.

Dipshit Friday: Bad, Even For Me, Edition

Welcome to Dipshit Friday, where today I will be sharing with you one of my biggest job interview failures. This particular failure took place back when I was in college.

As now, I was a much better writer than I was at presenting myself in person. I was also young and unschooled in the idea that one might want to, you know, prepare for a job interview.

I don’t even remember what year in college it was, but I had applied to be a summer intern at Spy Magazine in New Yawk City. Do you remember that magazine? It was fantastic and I think I would be a great asset to it.

Now.

Too bad it no longer exists.

I’d submitted some humor pieces and, lo and behold, the powers-that-be at Spy actually liked them. They invited me to interview in New York and I moved heaven and earth and called in a favor to get a place to stay. Well, I made my sister call in a favor, but it’s kinda the same thing.

Anywho, I spent a weekend in New York, which was fun and all, but what I really want to tell you about was the hour I spent interviewing.

First of all, I dressed as a Berkeley college student, and an ill-fashioned one at that. In case you’re wondering, haphazard Berkeley college student doesn’t scream New York. Especially if that haphazard Berkeley college student wears a short, yellow, flowered dress with black knit tights.

But that wasn’t the worst thing. I started off WAY on the wrong foot by not being able to locate the front door of the building I was supposed to go to. Being Stimey though, I did find the back door and rode up in the freight elevator making my triumphant entrance into THE BREAK ROOM of Spy Magazine.

Shortly thereafter I managed to locate the front desk and, by the way, fantastic way to impress your potential bosses with your intelligence by showing them that you can’t find the front door of A GIANT OFFICE BUILDING.

 I was summoned by the managing editor of the magazine, who led me back to the office where I would be doing my interview. I stepped on the back of her shoe, tripping both of us.

I have no recollection of the man who interviewed me, mostly because I was so traumatized by the too-late realization that this was an actual job interview, which might have required more preparation than just subscribing to the magazine.

I very adeptly demonstrated my complete cluenessness about the magazine, at the same time managing to tell them that I sure did prefer the short, funny, front-of-the-book pieces to the much longer and harder to read actual articles that came later.

It gets kind of fuzzy after that.

It may come as a shock to you that I wasn’t hired for this particular position, but I did learn a valuable lesson about job interview skills. Also? They were kind enough to kick my idiot ass out the front door.

DCMM: It’s Hard to Be a Journalist Without Talking to Anyone

When I applied to journalism school, I was drawn to the idea of immersing myself in dawn to dusk work to to cover important events and take part in history. I badly wanted to be part of the media mix. I may be the only person who was admitted to journalism graduate school by citing Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 as an inspiration.

However, it only took a few courses and a few stressful interviews for me to realize that my extreme social anxiety and inability to effectively schmooze might keep me from my goal of being a world-class journalist. Seizing on my task- and detail-oriented abilities, I veered into the world of copy editing instead. If I couldn’t report on history, I could at least make sure it was spelled correctly.

After I got my master’s degree in print journalism, I had a lot of jobs. Some of them had to do with print journalism, many of them had to do with dogs (a stint as a vet receptionist and a worker at a doggy day care among them). I have since returned to writing through blogging, but have shied away from interviews, as they are one of my biggest anxiety triggers.

Since I started writing about autism in my online column, Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities, I’ve had several recent opportunities to interview people for profile pieces. There are people I want to talk to and write about, but it is difficult to do so without communicating with them. And unfortunately, most of these people want to participate in telephone interviews rather than email interviews.

The first telephone interview I conducted recently was with a neurodiversity rights activist named Jonathan Mooney. As his primary disability is dyslexia, I wasn’t hopeful that he would take me up on my half-hearted suggestion of an email interview. Sure enough, I was given a phone number and escalating panic as our agreed upon call time got closer.

One of the problems with this particular interview is that Mooney intimidates the hell out of me. More than anything, I didn’t want to sound like an idiot when I interviewed him. It didn’t help that I was out of practice either—or that the interview was over the phone, because along with my many other neuroses, a phobia of the phone ranks high. I’m much better in person. Usually.

As the hours, minutes, and seconds before our interview slipped away, my nerves got exponentially edgier. I started to wonder if I could plead sick due to my increasing heart palpitations.

Fortunately for me, my drive to be reliable is stronger than my near-paralyzing panic. At the appointed time on the dot, I made my phone call and croaked out my introduction. Listening to my recording later, I realized that I sounded about six years old when I started.

Thankfully, I was prepared, having done my homework and written out questions ahead of time as well as having set up a call recording system so I didn’t have to worry so much about taking notes. As the interview progressed, I think I started to sound less like a nervous nelly, although I really do have to work on blathering less in my questions.

In the end, the finished piece was well worth the stress that went into the process. Plus, I conducted another phone interview the following week with a substantially smaller pre-call freak out. Just this week, I was able to chat on the phone with a source while simultaneously ignoring my melting down child, who was mad because he had been sent to his room. I’m getting better.

I’m still not ready to schmooze on a regular basis, and I’ll never be someone for whom interviews, particularly phone interviews, are easy, but it’s kind of fun to be back doing the things at which I once hoped to kick ass.

This is an original DC Metro Moms Blog. Jean blogs at Stimeyland because she can talk and talk and talk, without actually having to TALK to anyone. She also runs an autism events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her babbling to the universe on Twitter as @Stimey.

The Perfect Storm Kicked My Ass This Weekend

Oh, hi! Guess who has a sorely neglected blog? Also guess who was happy to get her unread posts in her Google reader to under 800? Hint: It’s the same person.

I was hit by a perfect story of busyness this weekend. Thank God for that third day of no school/no work for Alex, is all I can say.

(And by “no work,” I mean “no work outside the home,” lest the stay-at-home gods strike me down.)

Here’s the problem with maintaining jobs and interest in, like, a dozen different enterprises: Every once in a while they all have deadlines at the exact. same. time.

Consequently, I didn’t have any time to write this week/weekend.

Further consequently (it is too a cromulent phrase), now that I have a free few minutes, I have nothing to write about.

Don’t feel obligated to comment. I’m just letting you know that I still exist.

If you do feel like commenting, why don’t you let me know if you have suggestions for Camp Stimey topics for this summer. Last summer we did transportation, government, science, sports, and some other ones that I am too addled to remember.

The only topic I have so far is a week on the Human Body, which will include a day on Sexuality because I keep waiting for Sam to ask and he keeps not asking and I figure he needs to know because he’s almost nine.

You may not want to come to the Camp Stimey Meet-Up that day.

Bone Tired

Oh my. I had a weekend. I don’t think I’ve been this tired for a long time.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of videotaping a wedding for the brother of a friend, and it was so much fun. It was the first wedding I’ve taped, and it was amazing. The only problem is that the reception was so fun I wish I could have been there dancing instead of taping all the people having so much fun.

That, and the fact that my right arm was so tired after ten hours of holding a large video camera that it kind of wants to fall off. I can’t wait to go back and look at all the footage.

Then Sunday was Sam’s birthday party, which was all kinds of fun, but involved me leading 18 kids in a sports-themed party, meaning I got to run them through obstacle courses and relay races.

AND I sent each kid home with a metal whistle in their goody bags, which makes me the best mom ever, but the very worst friend. It was terrifically loud for the last five minutes of the party, when the kids found the whistles. I’m laying down bets on how many of the parents have “lost” the whistles by now.

I have all kinds of things to write about, including the cardinal that has been flying into my mom’s window over and over for nearly a week now, but it’s 8:49 p.m. on Sunday and I’m going to bed.

There Will Be Crank*

Holy crap, people, I’m in deep. I have meetings or appointments every night this week. Quinn stayed home sick (and I use that term loosely) from school on Monday, so Wednesday is the only day I have two hours to myself to get shit done. My mother-in-law (Hi, Claudia!) is coming to visit this Friday. Sam’s birthday is next week and his birthday party is Sunday. I have come up with an ambitious plan for his party, but it requires semi-substantial prep time. I will be out of my house all day Saturday for a videography job. My regular work at home job is in a heavy week.

Consequently, I have just marked 450 posts in my Google Reader as “read.” Let me know if I missed anything really important. I will be scarce around here and on The Junk Pyramid. I had this great idea for a post about Sam and Jack at school and homework and how Sam is a rock-star big brother, and I was going to throw into the mix that Jack’s wonderful aide from last year has located my blog (Hi, J!), but instead, you get this drivel.

I will be panicking and frantically making to-do lists that don’t get done and thinking about cleaning my house, when really I am blankly staring at my computer or my children. I will be thrown completely off by the fact that the chicken I was going to make for dinner is in a Ziploc of marinade instead of in its package like I thought. I guess that means my kids get to eat air for dinner tonight. (Updated to add: Frozen pizza! I forgot about frozen pizza! And because I forgot to turn off the oven that I was preheating for the chicken, the oven is already ready to go! Do I sound like a fucking lunatic basketcase? ‘Cause I am.)

I will be cranky.

I will be back and happy on Monday. Or Tuesday. Totally Wednesday at the latest. Definitely by Halloween.

* Not that kind of crank.

Updated even later to add: I’m okay. This was mostly supposed to be a silly little post about how you might not see a lot of me here for a while. I’m a little brain dead right now. So don’t worry. I’m fine and not tooooo stressed. Just super busy. And, for me, busy is good. But still. I will be cranky.

Happy Math (Well, For Some of Us)

Take a preschooler whose school ended two weeks before his big brothers. Add two cousins visiting from out of town. Subtract those two older brothers. Come up with the best week ever for a portion of my family and a whole slew of photos that I can never show to Sam and Jack.

Ice cream INSIDE cookies.
Need I say more?

Quinn IS the man in the moon.

Moon rock = awesome.

Building at the, you know, Building Museum. (Really.)

There was ONE other family at this open gym session.

“Give me a head with hair, long, beautiful hair,
shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen…”

We did this during the five minutes it didn’t rain last week.

Think he had a good week?

*****

I’m going to be pretty scarce around here for the rest of the month. I’ve over-promised and under-delivered on a videography project that is due by the end of the month. I should probably get started on it, huh? I’ll probably be scarce in my comments to all of you as well. Of course, y’all know that I just can’t stop blathering about nothing, so I’m sure I’ll be here more than I think.