Thursday, March 31, 2005
2. Not even me.
3. Particularly not at 7 in the morning.
4. In fact, I can't think of anyone that looks cute at 7 in the morning. And I've seen a few.
5. Who the hell are all these people coming to Starbucks at 7 in the morning?!
6. And why are they all wearing cell phone headsets?!
7. People in Beverly Hills totally match the stereotypes.
8. Not me, though. No sirree.
9. I mean, just because I have a tan and highlights and my parents have a membership at a country club...
11. The Spanish are totally onto something with that siesta idea. Getting up at 6 a.m. with only five or six hours of sleep has led to a few involuntary naps.
12. Now I get grouchy if I miss my nap.
13. If by 'grouchy' you mean...
14. People actually order regular coffee at Starbucks.
15. That coffee is served hot.
16. They must know something I don't about how to cool it down before drinking it. That or they've killed all the nerve endings in their mouths and that's why they don't bother paying for anything fancier than coffee.
17. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing behind the espresso bar.
18. Or the cash register.
19. But smiling and acting like I do seems to be working.
20. My clothes smell like coffee when I go home.
21. I have ceased to enjoy the smell of coffee.
22. I have not, however, ceased to enjoy any of Starbucks' beverages.
23. It totally rocks to be able to get all the chai tea lattes and mochas and frappucinos that I want for free.
24. Even if that is an unhealthy amount of caffiene. I need it.
25. Damn, I'm tired.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
"Like, I breathed a sigh of relief when I filled out all the paperwork necessary for Starbucks to actually consider paying me, but I guess it was beginner's luck or something. Cuz, like, that was at the beginning of the day, because I'd overslept until the time I was actually supposed to be there, and then at the end of the day things totally didn't go as well."
Ms. Graves began what she hopes will be a short-term employment as a part-time employee at a local Starbucks, despite coming close to "fucking it all up" by arriving late for her very first day. "I dunno what happened... my cat woke me up at like 6 a.m. and I was awake till 7, but when the alarm actually went off at 8 I turned it off or something because next thing I knew my cell phone was ringing and woke me up at 10:30. At which point I was like, 'Oh shit, I was supposed to be at Starbucks, like, now.' "
Luck was with the local Integrated Marketing Communications Master of Science, however, and her verbal job offer of the previous day was not revoked. She begins formal training in the barista arts tomorrow at 11, presuming a timely arrival.
Unfortunately, it seems she blew all her good luck early in the day. When she returned from a dinner out with her parents that evening, they discovered that a power outage had occurred, and were reduced to doing "whatever it was people in the olden days did when they didn't have, like, light."
In this particular instance, the Graves family agreed upon a candle-lit game of Scrabble. Neither Adrienne nor her father had played in some years, when Adrienne's younger brother had incurred a constant reminder of his humiliation when he attempted to add the letters 'D', 'E' and 'F', in that order, to the preexisting word 'blast.' He had since refused to play and thus obstructed any familial attempts at the pasttime. Mrs. Graves had reportedly never been a fan of the game and had abstained since any of the participants could remember.
Adrienne might have done well to have chosen that particular course of action in this instance.
"I don't know what she was thinking; except for that one game when her brother tried to do the word 'defblast', I don't think I've ever lost to either of my kids," Mr. Graves said.
Things started out promisingly enough for Adrienne, as she was allowed the double word score benefit of placing the first word, 'doves', on the board. However, she soon fell behind, a fact that was made all too clear when Mr. Graves earned 69 points from a single word by exploiting one she'd just added. "Noooooo!" and "Oh my God!" constituted the bulk of her reaction.
"We basically thought the game was over right then," Mr. Graves said. "I was very surprised when she made a comeback not too long after that."
It seems luck did not completely abandon Ms. Graves; it only stayed with her long enough to get her hopes up. "I couldn't even believe how I lucked out with those three letters," she said. "Both of us were convinced there was nothing else to be done, that there wasn't even anywhere else to put a word, and all of a sudden I notice that putting 'jig' [vertically] next to 'rope' [horizontally] makes an actual word, 'grope.' And I got 57 points out of it. Too bad I wasn't able to maintain my lead, though."
Indeed, despite an admirable effort on Adrienne's part, her language skills proved no match for those of her father, who eventually won the game. "It was a good game," he said. "We both used up all the letters, and the final score was only 265 to 276." Nonetheless, it is evident that "the Scrabble gods totally had it in for me," Adrienne said. "I mean, after a comeback like that, how do you still lose?! Sure, it's no match for that one-word 69-pointer, but that's just unnatural. What're the odds of getting a double letter score on a 'Z' and then getting a triple word score?! That's crap."
It seems the Graves family will suffer another Scrabble drought. "Dude, I'm never playing that game again," Adrienne reported. "That's bullshit."
Friday, March 18, 2005
I absolutely loathe cover letters. It’s the part of your job search that actually requires some thought, preferably the creative kind. It’s easy to send your resume--once the damned thing has reached an acceptable level of completeness (because as we’ve heard recruiters say time and again, there’s always room for improvement. Blast improvement. Recruiters too.) it’s done--you just upload it and press send. Maybe a minor modification is needed here and there to emphasize a particular area of expertise that makes you sound like a better fit for the job. Eventually you have several copies of your resume, each geared towards a slightly different career. No more modifications are needed.
But cover letters, now… you have to show personality. It has to be customized for the particular company, industry, job description. You need appropriate language and examples. Sometimes you have to write a whole new one from scratch! (I hate those times.) And all this on the off-chance that someone actually reads it. Someone who can appreciate your subtle wit, or the intelligence implied by the fact that you found a way to insert some Latin phrase like ipso facto (note to self: find out what ipso facto means), or your modesty regarding your exceptional achievements (“During my time as company president, I felt it my duty to work as hard as I possibly could to ensure Microsoft’s success, but always felt it was those with whom I worked who were really responsible for our double-digit annual growth.”).
Most frustrating of all is when you’re applying for a job that you actually really want. A job where you’d give your left arm for an interview. In these cases, you’re faced with knowing that you and this job were made for each other, that it’s a perfect fit, and that you are the only person in the world so convinced. Remember that major crush you had in middle school? Kind of like that. But candygrams were a feasible means of communication. You still had to grapple with linguistic choices: "Should I put 'love' instead of 'from'? Is that too obvious? Is that too subtle?" "Should I throw in a clever, sarcastic comment to show how cool I am? What they don't know what I'm talking about? Or if they don't know who I am?" "Should I use red crayon or black crayon?"
Important questions all, ones to which I never really did figure out the answers (except for the crayon one--I always make sure to use red crayon to write my cover letters). And it's still the same problem: how do you communicate sheer desperation (but, like, the positive kind, not the potential stalker kind)? I find it impossible to reconcile what I want to say with how I want to sound. For example, there’s an opening at Google for which I’m applying as soon as I figure out how to translate the following into something remotely appropriate:
oh my god this job is PERFECT for me i LOVE search engine marketing, think it’s SO cool and even wrote a paper on it. i got a degree in imc which you probably haven’t heard of but which is about customer-centric marketing or something and what’s more customer-centric than ads based on stuff you know people are looking for?! i followed everything going on with the IPO, was one of the first gmail account holders because i had a blogger account (which it’s so cool you guys bought! it’s so much better now! go you!) and then discovered that website where people promise stuff for a gmail account and i even wrote a letter to the WSJ about it. i’m constantly amazed by all the new stuff you guys put out, like that new sms service, and think that marketing one of your products would be SO so cool, i’d love to do it and i know i can, so please please please hire me, i SWEAR you’ll be glad you chose me, this job is perfect for me!
(For those of you who think I’m just making all that up, it is my sad duty to inform you that no, I’m not.)
Unfortunately it’s the last phrase that’s kind of telling. A job that’s perfect for you doesn’t mean you are perfect for it. There are lots of jobs that are perfect for me. Like being Paris Hilton. I’d love to do that. Or be a travel columnist: new place each week. That would fucking rule. However, I think that an argument could be made that I’m not really qualified to be Paris Hilton. Her parents would likely be at the forefront of that one, quickly followed by, like, the rest of the civilized world. (Maybe the uncivilized part, too… they’d probably say that I just don’t look like a
At any rate, I’m not faced with actually trying to convince anyone else that I’m perfect for either of those jobs. (If I thought I had a shot in hell, though, believe me I’d take it.) But there are marketing jobs that I hear about and the job description sounds like a walk in the park compared to what I did in grad school. But the thing is, the person I’m writing to doesn’t know what I did in grad school, and I don’t know how to even begin telling them. They don’t know my interests, either, to understand how perfectly they fit, and it’s hard to follow the rule of ‘show not tell’ when you haven’t got anything to show because THIS IS YOUR FIRST JOB SO HOW ABOUT A FUCKING BREAK, HUH?!
Yeah, I need to learn how to convey that sentiment as well, but in a “I deserve a break and won’t you feel good about yourself if you give me one” kind of way rather than a “My behavior will lead to a lawsuit within the year” kind of way.
I think I need more practice.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
A friend sent me this link this morning. It's comforting to know that, if I get really desperate for cash, I can just take a cute animal hostage. Hell, I already have a pet named Toby, I'm halfway there.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Those are all just future plans, to be undertaken when I can afford them (a tolerance for drive time, unfortunately, is not synonymous with being able to afford all the gasoline required). Closer to home, I have continued with my efforts to learn golf and surfing, both with decidedly laughable results. I've had one lesson in each and have managed to regress, if that's possible. I practiced putting the other day and became so discouraged that I didn't even get to chipping. And I never learned driving--I seem to recall that when I was forced into lessons at the age of 8, I thought driving was really cool until I tried it and missed the ball completely on three out of four swings. When I did make contact, I topped it. Hardly the smooth, solid swing I'd envisioned.
And then there's surfing. I gave it a shot again today, down at Manhattan Beach. I borrowed a foam board from a friend (the first thing ever that was so big I couldn't fit it in my car) and spent maybe 45 minutes in the water. It was a perfect day. Cloudless, close to 70, 1 to 3 foot waves. I even found a place where, when the waves got closer to shore, the bottom suddenly dropped down a few feet to really soft sand, which is much friendlier to fall onto than 6 inches of water covering sand that had slightly less give than rock. I caught a few waves, and even attempted to stand up a few times (it was one of those that led me to make that last assessment). However, I remain convinced that there's some error in how other people assess the height of waves. Most of the time I was dealing with 3 to 5-footers, but then every so often (actually far too often) this massive 10-foot wave would suddenly form. And I was inevitably where it broke. In the overall scheme of things, that's a very bad place to be, even with respect to waves that are shorter than you are (you haven't felt like a jackass until you've eaten it because of a wave that only came up to your chest when you were standing in two and a half feet of water). What I used to think was pretty--the crest of a wave rising up and sparkling in the sun shortly before it crashed into white foam--now strikes terror into my heart. Because it sucks to be under that thing when it crashes. I have a headache and a rash on my left ankle from where the leash kept pulling.
Nevertheless, I shall persevere. I'm sure that when I actually undertake some of the other outdoor activities mentioned here with such zeal, I'll have similar-sounding tales of defeat. I think it's safe to say that, in almost anything I attempt outdoors (and probably most things indoors as well), Mother Nature has me beat. But hey, it builds character. And it doesn't cost too much. I mean, can you really put a price on dignity?
All my favorite bands come through here, too. Well, except BTE, who seem to prefer hanging out in the South. But the Killers are here this month. Keane and Snow Patrol will be at Coachella at the end of next month (I really need to find someone to go to that with me). Rhett Miller, of Old 97's, is doing a solo act soon. I saw Guster at the Greek Theater in September. And I saw Aimee Mann, one of my favorite singers of all time, on Saturday at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Great show, even from behind a row of heads on the second floor (note to self: always get there early enough to avoid getting stuck on the second floor).
Hmm, now if only I had a job, I could actually afford tickets to go see all these people...
Friday, March 11, 2005
I'm calling Northwestern and asking for my money back. (I'll address the issue of my soul at a later date, like after I've become rich and powerful.)
Now I'm not scared by all the playing around with statistics they do in this article. (I really resent it when people try to pass off proportions as absolute numbers, and vice versa. It's always done to further a specific objective that has nothing to do with objectivity, in this case fearmongering, and few readers pay enough attention to catch what the numbers really represent. I could go on, but this is another entry for another time.) They say that the proportion of long-term jobless (i.e. people who have been unemployed for more than six months) to the total number of unemployed is climbing and is now above 20%. Yeah, that sounds scary, but doesn't it make sense that people who are chronically out of a job will stay that way whereas those who have been in the work force more recently and have a better history with employment will get jobs again as soon as more jobs are available--which they are--thus increasing the proportion because there are fewer unemployed people in the pool? They use a couple of anecdotes about formerly hard-working people who have had bad luck recently to make it sound like all long-term jobless are like that. This is how I know PR is not for me: I can't stand reporters.
Anyway, the truth is there are more jobs now than there used to be. The unemployment rate is at the lowest it's been in several years. What scares me is that a greater proportion of the long-term jobless have college degrees. A couple of my favorite quotes:
The advantages of a college degree "are being erased," said Marcus Courtenay, president of a branch of the Communications Workers of America that represents technology employees in the Seattle area. "The same thing that happened to non- college-educated employees during the last recession is now happening to college-educated employees."
andI really like that second one.
"When there's a lot of people out in the marketplace, companies can afford to say we want someone truly with this experience, not someone who just says, 'Well, I've taken a couple of classes in this area,' " he said.
I notice that they don't mention the overall proportion of college-educated to the total number of unemployed. Maybe because it doesn't sound as threatening as "long-term jobless": you can really catch the eye of your target audience (a large proportion of whom are college-educated) if you say that a degree won't save you from *gasp* long-term unemployment. Given current sentiment regarding the economy, no one expects their college degree to keep them from being laid off. But the proportion of college graduates to the total number of unemployed would probably put the "nearly one in five" long-term jobless rate in perspective. I tried to find the former on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website but education, for some reason, is not considered as important a factor as age, sex or race to unemployment and my browser wasn't cooperating with their customized tables feature. Google wasn't helpful either, though I did find an article that will further fuel one reader's smugness over choosing a life in academia rather than one in the real world. It was written ten years ago, but I'm sure that won't stop him.
As much as I distrust most of the article, though, I can't argue with the fact that more people in the unemployment pool have college degrees. I have a master's degree as well, but it means less without the experience to back it up. And that's a big stumbling block in a job market that is so undeniably competitive.
You probably won't believe me when I say this, but I had fun. No sarcasm there, either (like I would ever be sarcastic). Sure, it was challenging, but the water is one of the few places where I actually feel comfortable. I'm never afraid that I'm going to drown or something like that. I have even more evidence for that now, too, given the sheer number of wipeouts I experienced (at one point I was actually pulled into a full somersault under a broken wave... that was kinda cool) and the fact that my first instinct, upon reaching the surface, was to, well, breathe, but right after that it was to laugh. Sure, my ears still have sand in them, but I still think that picture of people totally eating it is a funny one, and can somehow manage to enjoy it even from a first-person standpoint.
So I think I'll try it again this weekend (if I can find a surfboard to borrow), and my brother and I are going together again on Wednesday.
Um, don't ask about my progress with golf. Or learning Spanish. Or really anything else on that list. However, I can tell you that I've accomplished the rental and viewing of every available dvd from the first season of Alias at my local Hollywood Video. Hey, it's hard work, but I think my sense of discipline may finally be coming around.
Update: It seems the LA Times is claiming that waves yesterday were in the vicinity of 5 to 8 feet, with the occasional 10-footer. All I have to say is, I don't know what these people's method of measurement is, but I looked down from the tops of a couple of those mofo's (and got brief glimpses of them from below, as well, though such should probably not be trusted given the head trauma that shortly followed in every case) and could have sworn they were all in excess of, like, 50 feet. I took into account the effects of subjective assessment, my poor depth perception, and the complete lack of any kind of measurement tools and adjusted my estimates accordingly to the numbers mentioned above. I'm nothing if not scientific.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The problem is, what kind of job should I look for? Waitressing? A bookstore? Starbucks? Or should I try to go white collar and become an office bitch? Should I temp or look for something more permanent than that, and deny the temping agency the pleasure of garnishing my wages (yeah, take that)? Should I try for something at a company I might actually want to work for long term, or something with no accountability whatsoever so I can blow it off at will?
Christ, now I have to find two jobs.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Not that they needed more money, but Google is going after another revenue source: mobile information. You text queries to a certain number and get back business listings, movie showtimes, product pricing, weather, even answers to math problems. Check it out.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
1. Learn how to play golf.
I've been making fun of it for years, but if I'm going to take this white collar career thing seriously, I might as well suck it up and start playing already. Walk the walk, and all that. Or in my case, limp... my hand-eye coordination has sucked for years and there's no reason to believe it's going to change now.
Pros: Get to while away my days in the lovely, artificial greenery of a private Southern California golf course, including the odd meal back at the clubhouse.
Cons: Any tan lines I get will look really stupid, thanks to the dress code. Also, I'll be playing golf.
2. Learn Spanish.
Not that French hasn't come in really handy, seeing as how I've actually spent time in places where people speak French, but it could be argued that I've spent a lot more time in places where people speak Spanish. Like the 21 years I spent growing up in Los Angeles. Not that I'd ever use it here, but I would like to visit South America someday and think it might be useful at that time. I'm also due for another trip to Spain, preferably at a time of year when the sun will actually shine.
Pros: Above-stated travel benefits; also, can cuss out the locals convincingly.
Cons: I think discipline might be required for this plan to actually work.
3. Make the rounds of LA-area museums.
There are a few here that I have yet to visit, and it's probably about time I did. Namely the Skirball Center, MOCA, and the Museum of Tolerance.
Pros: I really am that geeky that I enjoy going to museums. Art museums are my favorite, but you never know what fun facts you'll pick up at the ones where you're supposed to actually learn something (example, courtesy of the Southern Explorer Museum in Christchurch: living in an exceptionally cold climate such as Antarctica causes body hair to grow twice as fast.)
Cons: Um... parking?
4. Learn how to surf.
This may be a bit far-fetched, given the cold and the fact that my balance is right up there with my hand-eye coordination. Still, it'd be fun to know how to do, and it won't take that much longer for boredom to convince me that those first two points can be overcome.
Pros: Surfing means getting out of the house.
Cons: Hypothermia means landing in the hospital.
6. Make some headway in my reading list.
Also far-fetched, since the reading list is now so long that I can't even remember half the books on it. I'll settle for just reading (and finishing) every book currently in my possession.
Pros: I'll be gettin' me some book-learnin'; also it's a remarkably effective way to kill time.
Cons: Becoming overwhelmed at the thought of the sheer numbers involved.
7. Get a life.
As it currently stands, I know like 5 people in LA and none of them return my calls (with the notable exception of Ben, who rocks for inviting me to dinner last week). Not that I mind doing stuff on my own, but the prospect of that being my only option is a depressing one. It also has serious consequences for my alcohol consumption (I've never been one to get drunk alone... unless I'm drinking wine, and then it's getting cultured).
Pros: Keep the ol' tolerance up, and have fun doing it!
Cons: I'm poor, and may have to invest in a flask... and by flask, I mean old water bottle.
There are a few more, like 'clean my room,' and 'eat healthy,' and that pesky, ever-present 'get a job'. But whereas the first two are basically platitudes, I'm still harboring illusions about that last one. Maybe I should focus on how many rejections I receive, rather than interviews, as the former is beginning to prove itself a far more lucrative source of feedback. Yeah, that's what I need for motivation.
It takes another kind of person to actually watch all seven episodes (taking a short break to mix it up by watching a bit of Goldmember) the same night she gets her hands on them.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Girl 2: No, it's antianxiety.
Girl 1: I love it. If you take it when you drink, then you get all giddy.
Girl 3: Valium's my favorite.
Girl 2: Valium?
Girl 3: I had to take it every Sunday night.
Girl 1: Why Sunday?
Girl 3: My boss is nuts. But I've gotten better... now I don't need to take anything to go to sleep.
Is this a great town or what?
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
It seems they're used to working later over there, though, because I got a call back a little after 3. My concentration had moved from statistical analysis and the credit card industry to wondering who was hotter, Captain Jack Sparrow or Danny Ocean... there's just something about the guy who seems to have everything figured out, and while Danny Ocean looks very cool in sunglasses, Jack Sparrow just seems more like a party kind of guy, more fun, but then again he has those dreads, and... well, anyway. The questioning began with, "If the Empire State Building were covered in shaving cream, how would you figure out how many cans were needed to cover it?"
This was actually the easiest question out of the entire interview. I remember my geometry pretty well, and was able to give a reasonably intelligent-sounding answer. Unfortunately, later case questions were grounded in reality, and I had to actually demonstrate the statistical knowledge that I've been trying to ignore for the past 3 months, leaving me with an even smaller supply than I had back when I had to sound intelligent about it, like, several days a week.
I'm not really sure how the interview went. I'm hoping ok, but it's hard to assess the reaction of your interviewer when all you have to go on is a voice. Cross your fingers for me.
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