san francisco

Guess Who’s Employed?

Obviously it’s me, because it would be pretty weird if I were writing this post about someone else. I’m sure you’d all be polite about it, but secretly you’d be thinking “what the fuck do I care?” but since you take the time to read my blog about me, you presumably care that I am employed. So yay!

Normally I try and keep my social media and work separate, like church and state. And it’s totally like church and state in the United States because it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where I’ve worked and on what brands because I occasionally support stuff via social media and I have a LinkedIn profile. Kind of like how our elected politicians like to spend so much of their salaried time arguing about gay marriage and abortions, totally has nothing to do with their religious views, because they’re totally separate. On a related note, A. told me this weekend that I have to warn him when I’m going to start talking politics at things like rehearsal dinners so he can bail. I told him our secret word can be “republicans.” It actually wasn’t my fault, I was just curious if the woman I was talking to had insight on the Republican Senators voting to sell off our National Forests because she is a National Park employee.

Anyways, so this is a bit of an anomaly to post about a job, but it’s obviously pertinent due to the craziness that my life has gone through in the last year. My normal life starts tomorrow. And once I get things settled, Wally gets to come too. It’s somewhere I was hoping to work before all of this insanity happened and am very excited that it’s worked out. Anyone thinking I should have taken more time off before starting, My last day at my last job was March 18th or so. I’ve had plenty of time off. It’s going to be a little rough on Wally pup until I can start taking him, but I bought him a new squeaky toy and some treats to distract him.

And now some stories of applying for a job when you need a job rather than have the luxury of looking for a job you want. (Details have been altered to protect the innocent).

1. I applied to at least 20 places/job postings. I think it was more, but that’s the amount I can actually confirm. These ranged from actual postings to informational interview requests at agencies and in-house at companies. I’ve had five places I’ve been talking to over the last three weeks. There were a lot of exciting sounding jobs that then turned into “we don’t know when we’re hiring” scenarios upon meeting. I also got a lot of people that wanted to help me find a job but couldn’t hire me, crazy nice, but not a job. Even with the economy doing pretty well right now, it’s tough out there.

2. I took at least 6 different online personality quizzes and only two of those were for a corporate position. I think online quizzes for a role that I’m qualified for indicate a lack of confidence in hiring. Trust yourself, you’ll make a better judgement than a robot will. Plus, the two quizzes I have taken and seen my results for (one was last year for something different) I fell right in the middle of the results. Which means that the very specific descriptions are often totally off about me, such as “Even as a child you were likely quite industrious and showed respect for your parents and other authority figures…. Supervisors (my category) typically wish nothing more than to do what they’re supposed to do. As a result, your type is not one to question teachers’ assignments, methods of instruction, standards, or authority.” That noise you hear right now is all of my teachers laughing out loud at this. I did tell one company that I would not be able to finish their fourth online test because one of the questions asked me to rate in order of importance “Our taxes should be spent on…” and “faith-based initiatives, military spending, and balancing the budget” were three of the five options. No dice. To their credit though, they scheduled me for a second interview that I later turned down for the job I accepted.

3. The fun game of talking to people and never hearing from them again. I interviewed at one place for over an hour and half with the guy at a very well known place and he told me they were going to make a decision the next week. That was the beginning of February. Still waiting to hear. Another place I interviewed on the phone and was told they’d be setting up another interview in two days with me. That was two weeks ago. This is my biggest pet peeve about the hiring process. It take two minutes to send an email, just send one. To me it’s a black mark against that company down the road should I ever be looking again. Be professional, once we’ve talked you owe me an email. We’re both adults, I promise I’m not going to cry or key your car, I’m just going to move on with my job search knowing your company is no longer in the running. I also had a guy respond to my informational interview email request asking what brought me to New Orleans and then never responded to me again after that. That one was especially weird.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs since graduating college in ’06. I’ve interviewed at one agency three different times and then they tried to recruit me for a fourth go a couple of years ago. My last agency I interviewed for a junior role in ’09 and then came back and started as an account executive in ’12. My first ad agency job I started the application process in October and had my first day the end of May. I’ve been interviewed many many times and I’ve lost track of all of the ‘thank you’ card and emails I’ve sent. But so it goes with the hustle.


Weddings Cure Cancer

At least that’s my theory. And I don’t mean planning a wedding for yourself, that may cause cancer. Another theory. I mean weddings where you get to watch two friends make that special commitment to each other and you get dressed up and then you get to eat delicious things and drink for free. It is like an explosion of happy things and if that doesn’t cure cancer I guess we’ll have to turn to science.

I have three compelling examples supporting this theory:

1. The first trip I made after my initial surgery, which I had a really tough time recovering from, was for my childhood friend’s wedding. In an example of the universe aligning, she happened to be marrying a friend of mine from high school so it was great to see two people I knew and cared for separately find each other and make each other happy. I wasn’t sure how I’d do, but I made it to the wedding and through the ceremony and it was wonderful. I really love the photo I got of us too.

Maria's wedding

Maria’s wedding

1. In early December when my immune system was at one of it’s lowest points, I flew connecting flights to SF for a wedding and did not get sick. I did wear the shameful SARS mask, but whatever. It was flu season and I rode on four airplanes and spent time in 4 different airports, two of them multiple times. I also managed to do everything I had planned. I also got on a plane four days after getting dosed with poison and still had a great time. The only low point was when I wanted to murder the Southwest desk lady who suggested I waited for everyone to board if I was having a tough time, right before announcing that anyone with children or disabilities that need to pre-board should see her. I still wish some bad things on her that I will not put in print.

2. I had my final big surgery the beginning of March and a wedding in Kansas City last weekend. I made it and even danced. This is just ridiculous because I was told 4-6 weeks to be able to go back to work (if I had a job) and that the drains usually stay in really long in the hip. I got those suckers out in record time and was off the pain meds after two weeks. Advil is a good friend of mine these days, but only intermittently. It also came in perfect time because I was feeling really low. I think it was a mix of recovery (pretty normal for major surgeries) and being home a lot by myself (and fuzzy companions that never want to talk about Rob Kardashian posting that photo of the Gone Girl covered in blood and comparing it to Kim, I mean WTF?). I wasn’t homesick for SF, but I was really homesick for my friends and family in SF. The KC wedding included a lot of them which was an amazing pick me up when I really needed it.

Next up we have three more weddings between now and the end of May and then another in November. I’m pretty sure this means I’ll never get cancer again.

Hello 2015

I haven’t done one of these posts since 2012 because I got lazy with my blog, so time to start again. It’s been a banger of a year for sure. 2014 sucked but it was also awesome, it’s definitely the most complex year I’ve ever had and hope never to have again. It’s tough when you have something like a cancer diagnosis take up 1/2 the year because it’s easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but there were too many good things that happened to do that, so instead I’m just going to record my year’s highlights.

1. Work. I got promoted towards the end of 2013 and finally caught my title up to my experience. It was a discouraging process and I am grateful that I found an agency who recognized my experience and didn’t just string me along as I’d had happen a bit with past employers (amazing how often places love to work you far above your title, but are so reluctant to pay you for it). I was only there for three months out of 2014 but I accomplished a lot. I traveled for work more than I ever have which helped me feel more independent and see new places. I made awesome new friends and spent quality time with existing ones. I worked on probably the most complicated project I will ever work on and am really proud of how it turned out. Professionally I felt very fulfilled and sad to leave.

2. Thailand. A. and I decided since we were moving across the country we would take off for a month and bum around Thailand. It was amazing. We played with elephants, rode hundreds of miles on scooters, ate everything (except curry for me), snorkeled, swam in beautiful places, and best of all, got to see a whole new part of the world. We could have easily stayed another month and not gotten tired of it.

3. Leaving SF. This was easy and hard to do. It was easy because we’ve been talking about moving to New Orleans for most of our relationship and it was really exciting to finally be going. For me I’d reached a bit of a rut in terms of wanting to not live in an apartment anymore, get a dog, be closer to our families, and start thinking about kids. SF didn’t feel like the right place to do this and it felt like life was on hold. However, it was also so so so so hard to leave our friends and family in SF. These are the people that we grew into adults with and have been able to take for granted and enjoy their company almost the entire time we’ve lived in SF. Moving to New Orleans is not a little move and leaving everyone was really hard. I also miss burritos.

California Thanksgiving

California Thanksgiving

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Totally the best breakfast burrito in SF

4. Cross Country Trip. Our car didn’t break down this time! We got to do everything and see everything we wanted to and it was all amazing. The driving wasn’t too rough and we had great weather for the whole trip. I especially loved Portland and it will be on my list of regrets never getting to live there. Yellowstone was another huge highlight for me, I love animals. Hiking over 7 miles in Glacier was a big accomplishment for me and one I’m glad I got to do before getting laid up the back half of the year.

5. Coming home again. Although the extended circumstances sucked, I still got 5 months in Vermont where I really got to feel home again and see and do everything I could want. I reconnected with some old friends, spent lots of time with my family, and had a beautiful summer and fall.

6. Cancer. Cancer sucks. I’ve got nothing positive to say about this one. It’s still mind boggling to me that I had cancer at 30, how does that even happen? It’s insane. It has taken a lot from me in health, days, and experiences and I’ll be looking to make up for those soon. A family friend told me to look for the gifts and this is one I go back and forth on weekly/daily. Some days I think of all of the support and love I’ve gotten through this and all of the friends that have made time to see me while I’m down and out. It’s been amazing and wouldn’t have happened without this. I feel very very fortunate I have you all. However, I’d trade it all in a hot second to not have gotten cancer which I know isn’t the point, but I think it’s hard to think of it as a gift related to my diagnosis and more of a gift in my life in general (hopefully you’d all love me still with no cancer even though I’d hear from you less). Feeling grateful in relationship to cancer is an up and down experience too, sometimes I’m flooded with it and sometimes I want to tell the world to fuck off. I’m still in the thick of things though so only time will tell on how I’ll eventually reflect back on this.



7. New Orleans. We finally made it here. I feel really good about how I planned things out. In the beginning my doctors were pushing me to get chemo before surgery and I am so glad that I pushed back and did it the way I did it. Chemo was worse than surgery and I can’t imagine mentally having to go into surgical recovery after getting through this and I also think one of the reasons I’ve healed so well is that my immune system and body were in fighting shape when I had surgery which is certainly not the case now. I’d also be in the position of probably still being in Vermont where it’s cold and dark and isolating as opposed to being down here where we’re moving into our place, getting a dog, and starting a new life. Everyone’s treatment plan is different and one of the few things I feel very secure about making a decisions on is my treatment schedule. I picked the right one for me.

I usually don’t do resolutions, I’m more of a no pressure or maybe things I hope for in the new year rather than try and set up a strict list of things I probably won’t follow through on. This year is different though. Given my more fragile lease on life I think it’s appropriate to come out of this and have something to focus on. I don’t have to resolve to be more healthy because that’s a rule from my doctor. Since my cancer is triple negative (no hormone receptors) I won’t be able to take any medication to prevent reoccurrence. Those meds tend to have all sorts of fun side effects (like causing cancer) so I’m not sad about this, but it is more scary because I just have to hope my body can do a better job this time around and that the chemo worked. The only thing I can do is keep a healthy BMI through eating well, exercising, and drinking moderately. So this one doesn’t count as a resolution because I actually medically need to do it.

Anyways, my resolution for 2015 is to say “yes” to more things. I’m not a big “yes” person. I tend to not like a lot of plans and be just as happy staying in on my couch or in my bed. However I just moved to a new city and need to meet people and experience things. I also have had 5 months of having to say “no” to a lot of things because of my health and I think it’s time to reclaim my life through saying “yes”. Please notice that I said “to more things” and specifically not “to everything”. I’m not trying to be a new person, just more of a person.

We’re moving into our new place tomorrow and hopefully obtaining a puppy this weekend so 2015 is off and rolling.

Hello Lover

We lived in San Francisco for almost 8 years and returned to it after 5 months of living in my parents and 3 weeks of living with a friend in New Orleans (our new home). Our stuff was in boxes in three different states, neither of us had jobs yet, and we’re living in this surreal cancer world where life hasn’t been normal for a long time.

Visiting San Francisco in our current situation is like what I envision spending a week with your ex that you were in love with but broke up with because you wanted different things but you haven’t moved on to someone new yet must be like. You look really good San Francisco.

It’s wonderful, sad, and surreal all at the same time. We hung out with our friends, going the places we used to go, and nothing there has really changed. It still fits like a glove and that’s hard and confusing.

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Our welcome committee that spawned the week long teddy bear wars

It was also the perfect chemo vacation. We stayed with friends in a neighborhood that had a lot nearby that we could walk to. This was key because I decided taking Muni (the public transportation system) was a bad idea with my weak immune system since it’s flu season and riding Muni is a like sharing a dirty needle. Because we lived there so long and left this year I didn’t feel like there was anything I had to see so it was ok being really limited (I can’t walk very far either). I already did my farewell to San Francisco tour in March. Our friends and family were also all willing to come to us and keep things low key. We were there for a wedding and it was wonderful to get really dressed up and go to a party where everyone was dressed up after living in PJs and yoga pants for the last 4 months. In a funny turn of events, A. forgot his suit and I forgot my dress. You know, the only two articles of clothing we actually needed to bring. I got to have a dress montage at the apt with two friends lending me an assortment of options.

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A, Mark, me, and Ash: wedding glam.

We got there via Southwest for a couple of reasons. There are direct flights between SF and NOLA through United (that’s for you SF friends and family), but we had left things that wouldn’t fit in our car to come back for and we also knew we might have to leave early because of me so free checked bags and no fees for canceling or changing flights won the game (I’m available for hire Southwest). I didn’t wear a wig because I thought that might get weird with security and also didn’t want it to look all ragged from wearing it on a plane all day so I balded it up with my face mask. They let us pre-board which is pretty sweet since you can choose your seat, it was also necessary because I get tired doing a lot of standing and the find your seat shuffle would have been tough. It was the first time I have ever not been delayed between LA and SF, it was a cancer miracle. We didnt have anyone sit next to us for for the first plane because my face mask, baldness, and sad cancer look I gave everyone walking down the aisle. I eased up after that.

I didn’t know how my second taxol treatment would go and was cautiously hopeful. I made plans, but caveated that they could all fall apart. I also didn’t make other plans because I knew I’d be exhausted and might be sick on top of that. A typical day in SF for me was a plan with someone (like lunch), a few hours of resting, another plan, and then going to bed way before everyone else. All part of my being 65 years old right now. This obviously limited my ability to see people and that was the hardest part.  I also couldn’t do a big meet up because bars aren’t really a great place for me right now and I get too tired to interact with a ton of people.

My big accomplishment was being able to see everyone that I made plans with and do everything I planned. It helped me feel like a person and not just a patient. I also felt good because I paced myself well enough to get through it all. I still had some rough spots, but that’s chemo. Monday I got lunch and went for a little walk in my old hood the Upper Haight with a friend. I had a true Upper Haight experience in buying a $4 cup of coffee and having to avoid poo on the sidewalk every few feet. Stay classy SF. Anyways in this short excursion I plummeted in how I felt, going from fine to exhausted, dizzy, and unpleasant feeling. No rhyme or reason as to why the worst I felt from this treatment was a week from the dose. My tiredness came and went too. One night I’d be up until 11pm and another I’d barely be able to keep my eyes open at 9:45. I fortunately didn’t get any fevers while I was in SF which was my biggest concern. No trips to the emergency room in SF!

One of the best and the hardest times was visiting my old office. I spent around 4 hours at the office just going from aisle to aisle and sitting and talking to people and I still didn’t have enough time. On one hand it felt so good to see everyone and on the other it just wasn’t enough. I wanted more time to spend with my friends and catch up in person on their lives and also just enjoy time together without the pressure of making the most of it. I left when I got exhausted, well maybe a while after I got exhausted, and still wanted more.

I think it will be a long time before a year will pass when A. and I don’t make a trip to SF because of our friends and family there so I just have to pacify myself knowing I’ll be back and next time I’ll be able to do so much more.

We got rained in and had a bonus day in SF. Fortunately our flight was cancelled before we got up so we didn’t have to sit around a crowded airport waiting on delays. We spent the day in the apt with our friends hosting us and it was a much needed rest day for me and bonus time with them. The storm of the century was pretty unimpressive from where we were staying and we never lost power or internet.

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That flower bed is like totally flooded. Storm of the century!

The ride back we had delays from SF and from LA which were pretty lame. Also lame that an airport the size of LAX doesn’t have decent food options. I paid $17 for a sandwich that sucked and a water. I expect a movie with those prices. A. got some guff from the SF Southwest gate attendant about getting pre-boarding for me. She apparently said that we could get on last instead. I kind of wanted to cancer shame/punch her in the face when he told me. And by “kind of”, I mean that I fantasized about it for the rest of the time we waited to board and exercised a lot of restraint especially when she announced that anyone who needed to pre-board should come see her. I’m not wishing that she gets cancer, but I definitely wish something bad happens to her, worse than my usual go-to of a bird pooping on her head. I never said that I’m not vindictive.

I expected to be really sad when we left and feel weird about leaving. I didn’t. I looked forward to coming home to New Orleans and I think that was a really important step in my breakup with San Francisco. SF will always have a place in my heart and have been an important part of my life, but I’m moving on and excited about my future with New Orleans. It’s a new relationship and we have a lot to experience together still, but it feels right and I think it could be the one.

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Looking good San Francisco