Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Qué será será

What ever will be, will be.
The future is not ours to see.
Qué será, será.

I loved this song when I was a little girl. My family owned a radio station for three generations, so we hosted an extensive collection of various vinyl records from years past. I used to pillage through the stacks of records, dig through the cedar closet for a dress up gown and twirl around my basement to the static of the song as the record player ambled along. Though I often would audition a new record or two, I'd always return to the romantic cadence of this one.

I have always wanted to plan out and know the future. I like to feel a sense of preparation, and to anticipate the forthcoming events. Allowing things to evolve as fate should have them, and accept that I might not be able to predict the course of events provokes a feeling of vulnerability. But as my nineteen year old sister reminded me, "You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather."

Two weeks ago, I sat next to a French ex-patriot on a routine flight to San Diego. After the initial indulgence of casual niceties, we breached the PC divide between casual small talk and we began to drill deep into the core of our political beliefs, our dreams and philosophies on life. Thierry trumped me by about 30-40 years, so his outlook on life carried years of tethered experience. Though I found Thierry to be undeniably fascinating, there was one line that shook me inside and reverberated through me:

Life isn't always champagne. Sometimes it is just flat wine.
I have had some glamorous, sparkling moments in my life where I fizzled and popped inside with excitement. Parts of my life, especially my professional life, have been nothing more than cheap, flat wine. The little girl that used to spin around in vintage gowns and in my cousins hand-me-down tap dance costumes envisioned a life bursting with bubbles and fizzy moments. Even though I wish every moment could be seen through the golden glint of exploding champagne bubbles, I'm learning that finding those special moments in between the flat wine ones makes those minutes or hours even more special.

I'd love to know what will happen next-
will there be rainbows day after day?
will I be pretty?
will I be rich?

but I guess I have to wait to see if I'll swim in champagne, or perhaps tread water for some time more in flat wine.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Left Turn

After I was published in the Wall Street Journal Blog, several readers commented on my laments about becoming an adult and the strife in landing the role I wanted. A few commented that my efforts to attract a unfamiliar recruiter/employer through emailed resumes and cover letters was a flawed attempt; the reader continued that it's through networking that interested candidates can get their foot in the door, not through flooding inboxes. When I saw the comment, I wasn't surprised. I knew that the zillions of cover letters and resumes I'd tailored for countless jobs more than likely were never even opened, but I kept falling back on the comfortable excuses that I'm new to San Francisco; I'm not from here; I don't know anyone. Well, then the answer was simple: I needed to meet someone.

When I first moved to San Francisco, I had to build my social circle from scratch. I didn't have a single friend that lived in the city. I waited to happen across friends, clinging to the few connections I had made early on through alumni associations and work, yet still feeling like I needed to meet more people to satisfy my extrovert tendencies. Finally I forced myself to pull my nose out of books and join some sports teams: soccer, softball and flag football. I didn't know the other players on the team and was a "free agent" responder to Craig's List Want Ads for extra players. Not only did joining the sports teams fill up my calendar with healthy activities, but I met some of my now closest friends and made this city transform from a "current location" to home. So when it came to getting my career settled, why wasn't I doing the same thing?

I decided to take action: I joined the local chapter of Public Relations Society of America. Tonight was my first PRSA event, hosted across the bay in Oakland. It's not too often I spend my evenings in Oakland, and even rarer that I dare to brave rush hour traffic across the Bay Bridge. Despite the draw of taking an evening to finally have time to jog across Crissy Field and prepare for my weekend trip, I opted to forge through the stampede of cars escaping across the bridge to the sunshine of the East Bay.

Upon arrival I realized I was much younger than all of the other professionals: JACK POT. The best thing about being the lone young buck in a networking event is that you stick out. Not only that, but with age comes more experience, more connections and a higher likelihood that they want to help. I ordered a small glass of Chardonnay and began my circling around the room hunting for a wandering eye that I could pray on to strike up a conversation. At the end of the night, I'd grabbed a few cards and left with more hope and inspiration than I'd felt in a long time. I couldn't fight the smile on my face and even felt tempted to dance along with the drunk homeless man bouncing along to his own silent music.

I know I'd previously written that I felt there were blatant signs proving that change was eminent, but two months later, I still haven't secured a plan that speaks to my ambitions. Yet tonight, as I pulled out of the parking garage, satisfied and exuberant with the connections made at the networking event I saw this sign:

Perhaps I'll still be working this same job next month, and the following and the following... maybe nothing will fall into place in the immediate future; however, I finally stopped waiting to make the left turn. I stopped complacently allowing myself to accept the rules of the road. I stopped looking for shortcuts. Tonight, for the truly first time, I started making the turns that will take me to where I want to be.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I never miss a kick off;

I bleed Blue & White;

I worship Joe Paterno;

My first reaction when I hear a pause after "We are" is to shout back, "Penn State",

and I am obnoxiously proud anytime my Alma mater is ranked high in any regard, but this just surpassed the Richter scale:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yard Sale

Last time I had a yard sale, it was a metaphorical sense of the word: I clipped an edge on a steep slope in Lake Tahoe, lost control and decorated the run with my poles and skis. This time my yard sale was premeditated and meant to clear out the garage clutter at my new place to earn some extra cash for me and my roommates.

I woke up Saturday morning and dragged the various kitchenware, bookshelves and lamps onto the curb, propped my feet up and cracked open my book while I attended the sale. It's now the start of Indian summer- the time of year when San Francisco finally gets so hot afternoons and clear, blue skies. The sun was glaring down and blinding me with the reflection off of the silverware. Beautiful summer days are rare in San Francisco, and I lamented the fact that I was cooped up along the street surrounded by unwanted home goods instead of running along Crissy Field or soaking up some rays in the back yard.

After just one hour of standing guard, and only one sale ($1 for some IKEA spoons to my landlady...) and one visitor (the pregnant woman that lives across the street that sauntered over to kill time while her husband retrieved their car), my dedication to the cause waned and I began to favor dumping the junk off at Goodwill. When two friends passed by on their way back from some morning tennis en route to watch some college football, I called it quits and pushed my collection back into the garage.

Much as I love San Francisco, had I hosted this sale in Amish Country, I could have left the items on the sidewalk with a price tag and a cash box. Many Amish and local farmers will post stands flanking the sides of road with fresh produce and a jar where buyers drop in their coins and dollar bills. Of course there are some that are dishonest, but most people abide by the system and farmers are able to sell off excess produce for some extra income. Had I left some items on the street in San Francisco, they'd surely get taken... right along with the cash box.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life in the Commune

Since I dedicated myself to this blog, I’ve been fairly consistent in my entries, with minimal lag time in between new postings. After I was published in the WSJ, my daily activity grew exponentially derailing me significantly from my usual blogging routine. While I assumed that traveling four out of five weekends in August, a week vacation, executing two special events for work, hosting house guests and moving would be a manageable, I nearly choked on all the items filling up my calendar and to-do list. But, somehow I tend to function best when overwhelmed with stress, and now am fully settled in my new place and finally refreshed to have some free time to reflect on the whirlwind the past few weeks.

Last week I scheduled movers for Monday evening to transport all of my big furniture items to my new place. Because I’d taken a week off at the beginning of the month for vacation and had only two remaining unscheduled vacation days, I was ambitious and naïve enough to plan on completing all of my moving and organizing during the evenings- and within two days. On top of the chaos of long work hours and my old landlady heckling me with every load of personal items I dragged down the stairs, I have a personality complex that prohibits me from relaxing amidst disorganization. Once things were in my room, the clutter and disarray of my clothes forced me to spring out of bed at odd hours throughout the night and push around the hangers until I felt at ease with the order of my closet. (I was the kid that had to have 100% of her school supplies as soon as the lists were distributed- and my particularity in specific folders and notebooks could never be compromised.)

My new place is a stark difference from my old one: I went from two walk-in closets and one girl roommate (that treated the apartment more like a vacation home from her primary residency at her boyfriend’s place) to occupying one bedroom in a 6-bedroom place with co-ed roommates.

Though the official name for my new abode on Foursquare is The Chateau, I’ve affectionately nicknamed the place The Commune for one simple reason: it is one! The building is split into three apartments: two-two bedroom apartments occupying the second story level, and my 6-bedroom apartment on the first and basement level. All the inhabitants are 20-somethings to early 30s and use the back stair case doorways as communal entry ways to pop into each other’s kitchens.

On top of the cooperative-style format for the building, I now split one bathroom with three other people- two of which are boys. Growing up I shared a bathroom with my older brother, but there is an unspoken understanding among siblings about the secrecy of bathroom conduct behind the closed door. Any sounds or excessive occupation of the bathroom with siblings doesn’t create the awkward glances in the hall or embarrassing collisions in transit like sharing a bathroom with new, male roommates does. Yet, despite the bathroom deviants, living with boys has its extreme benefits: there is always beer stocked in the fridge, I’m never expected to take out the trash, and I can fall back on them to kill spiders or lift heavy items.

The major plus with my new home is the backyard: 25x130 feet of grass- in San Francisco! I even was commissioned by my landlord to compost and maintain a garden out back in exchange for reduced monthly rent. While I’m thrilled to start composting and harvesting fresh herbs and vegetables from my own yard, I might have been a little presumptuous that my remedial childhood yard work in Amish Country has prepared me to take on the sandy soil of the bay. But I’ve always romanticized about plucking tomatoes and basil from my own garden to make a homemade bruschetta, and challenges have always been my raison d’être.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Journal- but this time not the WSJ

This evening as I completed my evening commute, I was overwhelmed with a storm of words and thoughts that were aching to be etched across the blank slate of a white page. It’s been several months since I use a pen and paper to transcribe my prose or thoughts, having shifted my need to write onto the rhythmic taps along my keyboard, but the beads of words strung around my mind this evening were the kind that flow naturally only from mind, to hand, to pen to paper.

Driving home, the words kept flooding my mind, rising higher and higher until I feared they may have overflowed and spilled out, escaping the embankment of my memory. I scanned the sparse shopping centers and towns along 880 N, and even consider taking the Oakland exit in pursuit of a journal and a quiet spot along Lake Merit to park and scribble away frantically. Yet (as I’d divulged in a previous blog post) I’m quite particular when it comes to the commitment of a new journal. I’d even already envisioned the exact journal I wanted: malleable leather bound cover encasing a hearty bundle of stark, crisp white pages purchased from a hole-in-wall San Franciscan book shop buried deep in the belly of the city. I was desperate to write, but I knew giving in to my haste would only later result in a disappointing jolt when I realized that the burst of inspiration had lessened my ability to discern properly in my selection.

There are a few things I look for when searching for a new journal: a nondescript cover, faint or no lines at all, and pages crisp enough to purr as you thumb along them. These elements are crucial to the inherent openness necessary for a true journal.

I’d once been gifted a journal decorated with ornate mystical scenes with the word dreams italicized across the cover in a misty gold text and thick black lines smeared across soft pages. I use my diaries and journals in a liberal sense: there is no underlying theme interlocking the entries; the pages are molded by the ever-changing sequence of events of my life. Chunks of sorrow, happiness, worry, insight and a various array of feelings create miniature chapters in the adventures of my journey through childhood, adolescence and now "emerging adulthood".

But when I was using the “DREAMS” journal, I felt obligated to twirl about my handwriting in cursive sashays, yet ensuring not to cross over the restrictive black guidelines. I felt forced to record intangible scenes from my dreams and fake insight into their meaning. I even felt a wash of guilt when I’d reach for the journal, intending to smothering the pages with vehement frustration before I exploded, yet feeling judged by the pages for even thinking of corrupting its gentile covers with angry passion.

No, I like my journals to be basic and blank. That's why I enjoy opening up a fresh word document each time I embark on a new blog entry. There is no prompt. It's just whatever flows... and oh, how well it flows in my new journal.