Searching for a job is obviously the last level of hell. I once thought it was moving – you know, the perpetual packing and the boxes and the paper and the junk that multiplies even as you’re trying to purge and wrestling with the guilt of maybe tossing something someone gave you who would likely not even remember but what if they do and then ask about it five years from now when they’re at your house…. But no, I was wrong, it’s job-hunting. Add to it the touch of desperation that comes with not having been this broke since the Divine Miss M was a baby, like most new parents, and well, it’s definitely the final level of hell. The thing is, when you’re a poor new parent, you’re all googly-eyed over the new baby who is so endlessly fascinating you hardly notice all you’ve had for lunch every weekday for a month is a peanut butter sandwich. A new business isn’t quite so fascinating and coincidentally, that previous baby is an increasingly sassy 12-year-old so let’s just say, I’m noticing the sandwiches.
Currently, I’m averaging three employment rejections per week. Most of the time, I don’t even get to an actual interview but last Monday was an exception and I was asked to participate in the first round of interviews for a municipal position. Also, the first interviews were to be conducted by phone. I thought this might be an advantage for me since they wouldn’t be in fear of my flailing hands, and maybe I could tape a post-it note as a reminder to “Shut up after three minutes!” The phone call came and this seemed like a great plan until I answered the first question and realized how badly my voice was shaking, which is when I realized one drawback is they can’t see that I’m not in danger of actually bursting into tears. But I plowed through and reminded myself at least they couldn’t see my shaking hands and maybe I would still talk less.
I didn’t make the cut for the second interviews. I finally decided I had nothing to lose and sent a very carefully worded inquiry asking for advice and insight with regard to not being selected to advance. Maybe the person could give me a clue as to what exactly I am doing so wrong that employers retreat from me like I’m the plague. The person did respond (by phone) and explained that it wasn’t my approach or friendliness or anything like that but because I’d mentioned I enjoyed research and writing as an attorney, they thought this position wouldn’t be a good fit since it didn’t provide opportunities for either of those but was more direct customer service. Um, I actually figured that out prior to applying since the job description was four pages long. Why would they assume I wouldn’t like it if I obviously would have known that prior to applying? Also, I like research and writing as an alternative to litigation, which I loathe due to the adversarial nature of it. And if that was a concern, couldn’t they have just asked me about it while we were on the phone? I actually found the fast-paced customer service nature of the job quite appealing, which I thought I said but perhaps not.
I don’t navigate social circles well. I find people confusing and occasionally nonsensical. I’m sure this is why I like my chosen tribe so much.
I know them and if they do something seemingly absurd, I just ask because god knows, they’ll answer. Bluntly. It’s part of their charm. Plus, I already know all our unwritten rules and nuances like the Bean Counter’s poke-you-in-the-eye honesty never has any actual malice behind it, the Labor Coach simply doesn’t acknowledge less than happy things if she can possibly help it and you shouldn’t count “5, 6, 7, 8” in front of the Dancer as her feet will start moving, she’s competitive. Likewise, they know I don’t like when people say my name in a sentence as it feels like I’m being chastised. This sort of knowledge cuts both ways of course since conversely, they know if I use someone’s name when addressing them, I’m annoyed. Anyway, job-hunting feels a lot like navigating social circles but each one is new so you don’t know the unwritten rules yet, you can’t decipher any subtle cues and there is no way to anticipate and therefore, guard against how they’re going to interpret some random statement you make.
The Artist said maybe next time, I should just plead the 5th. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea since clearly, everything I say may be used to incriminate me.
Having said all of that, in the midst of these
crappy events, we had to attend two holiday functions yesterday, both for LGBT organizations. It feels like a fine line sometimes between celebrating our ability to be an open, out and happy family and not reaching a point of feeling we’re defined by being a same-sex family. But yesterday, we were at PFLAG’s holiday banquet and listening to my friend, Ash, do the same talk about closets that she did for TEDx, and listening to the Divine Miss M tell someone that having two Moms is a complete non-issue with other kids in Boulder, unlike in Oklahoma. During Ash’s performance, my head was resting on Jodi’s shoulder and M’s was resting on mine and I felt so ridiculously fortunate, and may have whispered something really cheesy in Jodi’s ear. We were surrounded the whole evening by new friends who seem to adore and celebrate us as a family. They actually celebrate our family and others like us. It’s still such a novel feeling. I’m not going to exaggerate and say that makes it okay to wonder about whether we can pay this month’s bills but it definitely adds perspective. It’s not a slight thing to feel overwhelmed with how lucky we are.