Working Woman

It’s been a long time coming.

Moving with B and trying to work has been an experience. Way back in 2010, when we had been dating for a mere three months, he asked me to not resign my work contracts so that I could move to ND to be with him that summer. I agreed and quit two amazing jobs that fit me to a tee. Once up in ND, I realized that things were going to be tough but after about three weeks of running around the mall, I landed an assistant manager gig at a retail store. Only to find out the very next day that we were moving to Germany.

Thus started the pattern of finding jobs only to leave them before I was ready. In Germany I decided immediately to teach piano. It was what I knew and I was darned good at it. I charged in Euro which meant that while our friends were belly-aching about the exchange rate, we never had to think about that. In Turkey, I wanted to work more hours but ended up hating my job and returned to piano teaching. When we learned we were coming back to ND, I knew something had to give.

One thing I did figure out from teaching from home in Turkey is that I need to have a job outside of our home. Lots of people are cut out to work from home, but I am not one of them. I crave human interaction and being out and about, which was definitely limited when I worked from home.

I actually began the job application process back last November. I started rewriting my resume. I signed up for a paralegal certificate course because I thought it would be challenging, interesting, and would serve me wherever we lived. Even in small town ND, there were 2-3 jobs constantly listed online.

Until we moved here. I’ve lost count of the number of resumes I’ve submitted. I do know I’ve worked with three different versions of it. Everything lead to dead ends.

When I went to the job fair, I didn’t get my hopes up. I figured (correctly) that it would be aimed at military members transitioning out. Lots of openings for welders, mechanics, and truck drivers but less so for a spouse looking for administrative experience. I wanted to at least be in an administrative position so that I could build some experience that would be relevant to a paralegal career later down the line.

The only place that caught my eye was the local hospital. I had submitted an application through their website but never heard back from them. They told me to change job types and apply again. I rewrote my resume for the fourth time. Less than a week later I had an interview.

The day before we flew to California to pick up our car I went in to interview. The experience was great. They kept telling me they loved my answers and illustrations. I felt good. They told me that I would hear from them by Monday at the latest. The next day, when we landed at LAX, I had a missed call from them. In baggage claim, I jumped up and down like a fool as they told me they were offering me a job. Next week I finally start working full-time.

I’ll be a patient access representative for the radiology department. I get to work Monday through Friday from 8-5. It’s entry level, which stings with a master’s degree and five years in the work force behind me. But, it’s a job and it will be experience to build my resume. I’m excited to have coworkers and a purpose.

If only the next move wasn’t already on the horizon.

~The Countess~

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Empty

It’s amazing how quickly one adapts to one’s surroundings. When we first moved in to this apartment, I gaped at the emptiness. Big empty rooms, echo-y sounds, and the slightly alien feel of a new home. We’re closing in on two months here and it finally feels less empty and more like home.

Which is ironic.

Because we still don’t have any of our belongings. The internet guy came by the other day because of some issue that I still don’t understand. B had left the kitchen cabinets that our clothes are in open and the guy cracked a joke about having clothes in the kitchen cabinets. I looked at him, looked behind me to the two camping chairs in the living room, and just laughed. I pointed those out and told him we were making do.

Which we are.

I think I might actually miss some of the simplicity of living like this. There’s no debate over what to do in the evenings because we either watch something together on netflix or we play separately on our laptops. There is nothing else to do. I won’t miss not having a bed though, this floor pallet has been killer, especially with all the working out we’ve been doing. It’s been oddly fun to be camping in our apartment for the last two months.

Which is strange.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beyond old that we don’t have our belongings. I cry about it at least once every three or four days. I’m completely over every deadline passing and the company pretty much saying oops it’s still not there regarding our belongings. Today is the last day for it to get to town in time to be delivered before I start work.

Which is frustrating.

But until it does come in, I think I’ll embrace the last few days of emptiness. There’s something about it that just draws me in.

~The Countess~

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Dust

Every time I turn around, I find myself amazed at how quickly dust settles. Maybe my two dogs are to blame, but maybe not. It seems that I can dust and sweep one day, only to find my crying out for another dusting mere days later. Thus goes life. Without constant maintenance and care, cherished things fall by the wayside until you scarcely recognize them under all the dust of neglect. The moment of choice, looms a precipice – to care takes you down one path and to ignore another. They start so close that they seem the same, but the distance widens exponentially.

Friendships require such care. Somehow I missed this lesson in childhood. Friendship seemed easy back then. Go to school and play on the playground. Sleepovers, fingernail painting, and whispered secrets hardly seem like work. Yet, without those bonding rituals, I find myself left not knowing how to keep friends. Dust settles quickly, the newness wears off, and each person faces the choice to dust or not dust. Pick up the phone and call? Send a message? Or just let another day drift by lazily until the thickened dust obscures all memory of how to reach out?

I find that when we move somewhere new that I fastidiously clean the new home. I sweep and mop and dust two or three times a week. Not having a job plays a huge role in this, but more stems from wanting to cherish the new home. At the same time, though, I find myself less inclined to dust off friendships and other modes of communication. Those fall by the wayside as I cocoon inward. I wish I knew why I feel the need to protect myself that way. Because sometimes, by the time the dust settles, it’s too late to go back.

The only time is now. I cannot go back and dust the past away. All I can do, is start from now and try to do better moving forward.

~The Countess~

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A Whirl

I’m glad we’ve had the chance to talk, I just know we’re going to be best friends.

Even though the calendar read early March, the sun shone brightly over our heads, beating down with an intensity that teased at the summer to come. The temperature walked that perfect balance between hot and cold, making for ideal hiking weather. The nearby castle beckoned us away from base and none of us said no to adventure. She whirled into my life. I think she preferred to whirl into everything in her life. A storm of chaos, love, and friendship she offered all of herself until the wind blew her away.

I’m going to miss you. How am I supposed to survive without you?

Weeknight dinner after weekday lunch after Sunday night wine fest, we bonded over boys, booze, and more. Wedding planning talk turned to plans to go dress shopping together. We cried the night I told her I couldn’t see myself getting married without her there. Maybe it’s a military thing, maybe it’s me but I’m all about making hard and fast friends.

Call me when you can please.

The phone rang on eternally. Finally her voice message picked up. I left her my number, my skype info, and cursed at the eight time zones separating us. I agonized when she didn’t call back. I called again, left another message and waited some more. Finally, she responds via facebook, “just ask your husband, I told him everything.” Her breakup, the beginning of the end.

I’ve missed you so much. No one understands me like you do.

A long walk with small tubs of ice cream, we ate it too fast for it to melt. We laughed, we sniffled, we shared. We mended the broken spots, even if I still didn’t know where they originated. We renewed the promises to go shopping, pick the weekly dinners back up, and just enjoy life.

I would have done my ceremony last week if I wasn’t waiting for you.

She pinned on Captain the same day that my husband did. Prior to my trip, we arranged everything so I could pin both of them on without them having to share a ceremony. Excitement came close to describing my feelings, but never quite attained the level of what I actually felt. Until the day came. All weekend things felt off. Missed connections, stiff invitations, and balking on both sides. The morning of, I saw her car down the road at another friend’s house, she didn’t stop by as expected and I had to rush when I realized I needed to walk to the ceremony instead.

I don’t want to go to the beach tomorrow either, I’ll call you about lunch.

Her car drove by first thing in the morning. Back to our other friend’s house. We saw them load in and drive away while walking our dogs. I didn’t worry. We had lunch. Until lunchtime arrived and passed. I called her house phone. I messaged her on facebook. I called her cell phone. No answer. Much later she asked if B had upset me because I seemed tense. I told her that in fact she hurt me by promising to call and not doing so. She claimed to remember none of our conversation past my not desiring to go to the beach. I tried to believe her. Until it happened again the next weekend and the one after that as well, for good measure I suppose.

You were the only one who asked me if I had plans for my birthday.

I also had the distinct pleasure of being the only one not asked by her to celebrate her birthday. She polled other friends, but everyone deflected so they could get the joy of surprising her. Not all surprises are good ones. So much fell to the wayside that summer. She postponed wedding dress shopping three times before I finally called it off. Phone calls now went unanswered. Invitations to dinner left an empty plate at my table. Community gatherings that saw both of us attending usually involved a drunken pledge of friendship from her and a promise to do something sometime that never materialized.

You’re my closest friend, I cannot wait to be in your wedding.

I saw her last on our final night out in Turkey. She flitted into the bar with her new boyfriend and greeted every last soul with a dramatic hug. Except us of course. He came up to greet us, wish us well. We did the same for him seeing as he left the week after us. She’s hidden on my facebook news feed though I never quite manage to unfriend her. Tears sting my eyes when I view her pictures, because of course I check in on her weekly because I want her to be happy. I just wish that her happy still involved me.

I still don’t know where it went wrong. I doubt that I ever will. For a year she whirled through my life before leaving as abruptly as she entered. I miss her. I probably always will.

~The Countess~

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A journey

Inspired by the Scintilla Project’s urging to tell stories without prompts. I may not believe in myself, but I believe in their belief in me.

I closed my eyes against the soft pattering on my window. Never mind that my closed eyes could no more block out the snow falling than a strip of filmy gauze could block the sun. Jet lag had my body on schedule to be wide awake for an afternoon of teaching, not caring that reality placed the clock at the wee hours of the morning. Exhaustion, from hours of travel, from not enough sleep, from all the stress of delayed and cancelled flights, fled the instant the lights were out. Yet I closed my eyes, futile act of desperation, seeking oblivion. His arm slipped around me and pulled me closer. His breath, soft on my cheek, lulled me to sleep.

Upon awakening, the world outside bore a soft shroud of snow. Cars, bushes, roads and buildings, hid underneath the cloak of anonymity. Perfect, whiteness covered the worn out mask of every day mundanity. A perfect description of the day’s trajectory.

The sign proclaimed that check in started at noon. In spite of the solid hour remaining until that time, people filled the line. The agents willfully ignored their own sign, processing people as quickly as the machines let them. Our turn came, we filled out the paperwork, signed off on when the dogs ate and drank last, checked the box requesting they be given water if available, and laughed at the ease. Hand in hand we wandered away from dropping the dogs at security, joyful in taking another step closer to home.

I leaned my head against the window. No air conditioning while getting deiced. Sometimes rules suck. I closed my eyes against the frustration around me. Already two hours late when the pilot finally arrived. Deiced not once, but twice. Waiting on the plane for the runway to clear, when, “We never like making this announcement.” A comedy of errors never brought so many tears. Back to the gate to wait for maintenance. “If you want to leave the plane, we ask that you do so now.” Maintenance complete but someone forgot to dispatch the fuel truck. Refueling complete, now we need to deice. Take off, eight hours late.

The tears slipped down my face after I handed the phone back to the stranger. Mom knew not to expect us tonight. I finally acknowledged the same truth. Sobbing, I curled inward. Away from his anger at the airline, away from the chill of the window, and into the pain I felt. A feather light touch on my knee made me look up. His hand, slowly rubbing circles with his thumb. His eyes, begging me not to cry. I leaned into his shoulder and the let the sobs shudder out of me.

Half a dozen people spread out across the chairs. The tv blared pointless Olympic news. Every fifteen minutes, the security warning played over the loud speakers. Sleep, however fleeting, teased the edge of consciousness. It lured me into closing my eyes only to dart out of reach with every commercial change. We embraced the all-nighter and each other, plugged in headphones, and indulged in a marathon to finish American Horror Story.

Six in the morning brought the desire for food. Unlike yesterday, when they announced our delay five minutes after the only open restaurant closed, a plethora of restaurants competed for our business. Burgers and fries for breakfast? When sleep proves elusive for two days running and up and down point the same direction, then yes, burgers and fries for breakfast. True love is being the one to refill the soda as you both stuff your faces.

The mundanity of airline travel blanketed by snow. Cold, white perfection coating every day actions. Smothering trials taking a trip from easy regularity to extreme insanity. And deep beneath, the warmth of love making it all worthwhile.

The jet lag fled long ago in the wake of late nights followed by lazy mornings. The snow remains, alternating between falling softly to blowing fiercely past my window. The location changed rapidly, putting a theater set crew to shame – Baltimore, Atlanta, Texas, Kansas, and now, North Dakota. Home followed by home. Together, anywhere meets the description.

They say life happens in the journey. I’m inclined to believe them.

~The Countess~

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Tough Times

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I’m having a hard time knowing what to write. A hard time putting thoughts into words. A hard time capturing feelings and holding them still long enough to assess what they are, much less describe them here.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record.

Somewhere along the way though, moving got hard for me. Moving to Minot was easy and hard. Easy because B was there waiting for me along with out future and all it held. Hard because saying goodbye is never easy.

Moving to Germany was more difficult. So many new roles and I lost a little bit of myself in that shuffle. Moving to Turkey was rough. I completely lost myself in the hopelessness of starting over in a place we didn’t want to be.

I don’t want this cycle to continue. But not acknowledging it doesn’t change it.

I struggle with depression when we move. When I don’t have any friends in town. When I don’t have a job. When I’m completely dependent on B for in person interaction and he’s tired from a long day of work. When I’m scared of repeating the past. I struggle.

I’m fighting it the only way I know how. Texting my sister to talk about my nephew. Planning expensive dream vacations via text with my SIL. Setting up phone dates with friends. Running in circles on the track at the gym, chasing every tear away with every step that I take. Writing about it here.

It isn’t easy to say goodbye to four homes in three and a half years. It isn’t easy to walk away from four jobs in that time.

It isn’t easy starting over every time. New friends to make. New job to find. New home to unpack. New routine to settle into.

And always another move looming on the horizon.

~The Countess~

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Weekly Wishes

Who knew that you could go from freezing to derisive in sixteen degrees? North Dakota has brought on a whole new meaning to the word cold. I’ve always been the person to say that I’d rather be hot than cold because you can always put more on but there’s only so much you can take off. It turns out that there’s only so much you can put on and you’ll still be cold. We woke up this weekend to -40 and below windchill. And both of us mentioned several times that it wasn’t that cold in the sun and the wind blocked. You know, when the actual temperature was below -15. So when the weather told me that tomorrow’s high is 8 and that it will be “bitterly cold” I actually laughed. That’s not cold silly weather website, it’s 16 whole degrees warmer than today’s high.

Reflections – Lows:

Being cooped up in this hotel room all week. Between the cold, which has limited how often I’m willing to go outside and B actually having work to do this week, I spent most of it hanging out here. It was fun for the first morning and then I got bored.

Crying too much again. I hate the part of moving that involves me having nothing to do. Which makes me highly emotional. Which makes me cry at all sorts of things. I had multiple break downs this week. The most spectacular involving hitting myself in the eye with the knob from the dryer in the laundry room. Yeah, it was one of those nights.

Seeing our apartment and realizing it was smaller than I thought it would be. Significantly smaller to the point that I’m not sure how we’ll fit everything in. Also learning that our belongings that were supposed to be delivered in two days are still sitting in customs and are therefore a couple of weeks away from arriving. Major bummer.

Reflections – Highs:

Seeing our apartment and realizing that I love it, even if it is small. Our kitchen is quite stunning and I like the lay out even if I wish it were bigger. After all this transition, I’m just happy to have a place to call home again. Also, I unpacked my new pots and pans and I just love them so much.

I applied to six or seven jobs this week. Yes, I’ve lost count. I’m really hoping I hear back from someone soon. I’m pretty sure I’m most qualified for the job that I least want, but I won’t say no to a paycheck while we’re here.

I ran two consecutive miles with both of them below a 10 minute mile. I walked 2/10ths of a mile in between them. I’m pretty proud of this feat and it’s definitely reignited my passion for getting to the gym.

Intentions:

Keep applying to jobs. I need to not let fatigue set in and keep going with the applications. I also need to follow up with places where I emailed in my resume to see if they even received it. This is my least favorite stage of job hunting, so I know I need to focus on pushing through.

Get to the gym every day this next week. I need to redetermine my weight lifting routine and make sure that I’m getting intense enough cardio. Especially with all of the negatives (cooped up in the hotel, the cold, B working long hours already) I need all the extra help I can get from endorphins.

Eat at the hotel now that we bought groceries. I think we ate out at least once every day since arriving. Part of it was being around real restaurants again, part all the running around we needed to do in order to set things up, and part of it was not having groceries. However we solved that today. We have more than enough groceries for the week and now we just need to eat at home.

What’s on tap for you this week?

~The Countess~

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