Obsessed

Hello, dear readers! I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday. Time has felt particularly nebulous this week.

On Friday, my new octave mandolin arrived, and I am obsessed with it. I’ve played almost every day since it arrived. It’s beautiful and everything I wanted.

Here’s a video of me playing “Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór,” one of my favorite songs to play on mandolin. I’m a little rusty, but i love how this instrument sounds.

I don’t have a lot of other news this week, but I’d like to leave you with this article. It pulls no punches and is a hard read, but I believe it’s important for framing our conversations about racism.

I hope you’re hanging in there. Wear a mask when you go out, and take care of yourself and your people!

Victory in Uncertainty

Happy(?) Thursday, dear readers! How’s everybody holding up?

The week here has been a bit of a mixed bag. I’m still wrestling a bit with some leftover queasiness from last week, and the realization that we really don’t know what the future holds right now is steadily sinking in.

However, in the midst of all this uncertainty, I did have a major victory this week – I paid my credit card down to $0 for the first time since we moved to Chicago 7.5 years ago.

Some history on this: I had paid it all off before we moved, but when we got here, we we both very much underemployed, and, well…we had to eat. I leaned on the credit card because it was the option we had. Then our job situations improved, but I was in the habit of using the credit card, and…it got out of control. By August of 2017, I had accumulated nearly $16,000 in debt. So, I made a plan, and since September of 2017 I have been aggressively paying down my debt, dedicating about a third of my monthly income to credit card payments.

I had some setbacks, for sure (retail therapy is a hard habit to break). I originally thought I’d have it paid off in two years, then by the end of 2019, and finally it was clear it was going to take until June of 2020. However, I was able to sneak a couple extra payments in thanks to the pandemic stimulus check and my new job, and I am now debt free a month ahead of where I thought I’d be.

It’s a surreal feeling, but mostly, I feel like I can breathe again, and that’s a really great experience. I recognize that I am privileged beyond measure to be able to achieve something like this during such stressful and uncertain times, and I don’t want to take that for granted.

The other fun news from this week: I started playing the mandolin again, and am taking a class online at the Old Town School to get my playing back up-to-speed. I’m remembering all the reasons why I fell in love with the instrument almost 9 years ago, and am a little sorry I put it down for so long (I haven’t played much in probably 5 years now…been focusing much more on guitar). It’s the only instrument I can play where I can pick it up and just noodle around and make up melodies that sound nice.

I hope you’re all hanging in there and finding your own victories (big or small – they all count) to brighten up your days.

Whoops

Hey there, readers! I’m late with this week’s post – sorry about that. The week got away from me.

The week has been a mixed bag. I ate something Monday that disagreed with me (possibly lettuce I didn’t wash well enough?), which meant I didn’t have therapy that night, which was…yeah, not the greatest. Tuesday I still felt off, so I ended up signing off from work a couple hours early. Wednesday was pretty nondescript, and today I ended up working over an hour past when I usually sign off, because my advice to a customer triggered a bug right before I was about to sign off. Sigh.

It’s also just been an emotionally tender week. COVID keeps creeping closer, and it’s scary and sad.

But tonight I made quesadillas and we watched Dolly Parton read a bedtime story, so that was nice?

I hope you’re all hanging in there.

Dazed and Confused

Hello, dear readers! I apologize for the later-than-usual post – I only just realized that it’s Thursday, despite the fact that I had my usual Thursday check-in with my boss an hour ago. Whoops.

Working from home/sheltering in place continues, and I am really glad I’m still working, because that’s the only thing giving me much of a connection to the passage of time. As it is, I am still frequently confused about what day it is. Monday and Tuesday this week I kept thinking it was Friday, and I’m still half-convinced that today is Wednesday, and I don’t know where actual Wednesday went.

We went to the grocery store yesterday for the first time in over two weeks, and stocked up on enough things that I think we’ll be able to avoid another trip for at least a few more. It was…stressful. Some people were doing a great job of social distancing and maintaining space between themselves and other shoppers. But some people just…weren’t. Like, there were people (mostly middle-aged or older men, but not exclusively) who just had ZERO awareness of the existence of other people or the fact that we were all trying to respect the CDC guidelines. Which was disheartening, and again, stressful. I did manage to make it through the trip without touching my face, though, so that was an accomplishment (my allergies are so bad right now, y’all…I just constantly look like I’m crying).

This continues to be a weird time, but I’m also coming to terms with the fact that this is the new normal, and we need to figure out how to survive within it.

I’d love to hear from you all! How are you coping? What strategies are you finding helpful for maintaining a sense of groundedness and routine in your lives? Or how are you not coping? (After getting home from grocery shopping, I had a dinner of cereal and Cheetos, because that’s what I wanted in the moment, and I have no regrets.) Please, let’s keep reaching out and looking out for each other as much as we can (while staying in our own homes).

What Day Is It?

Greetings, readers, from my home to yours. (I really hope you’re all at home. This is what we need to do to keep each other safe right now.)

It’s a weird time. The fact that I am working helps give me a bit of structure, but I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time keeping track of my days. Everything’s sort of blending together. I missed my usual 9am deadline for posting this morning because I kind of forgot it was Thursday.

I’ve gotten my first two support tickets at my new job, so I’m actually doing work now instead of just reading about how to do work, which is a nice change of pace. I’m learning a lot and ending pretty much every day exhausted from the amount of information I’m taking in.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Chicago, so after work I ordered a pizza for pickup. As I walked to the restaurant, I was…alarmed by how many people do not seem to be taking the social distancing thing seriously. It was a toss up – some people that I passed were considerate and moved to the opposite side of the sidewalk or the grass so we could maintain 6ft of distance…a lot of people did not. I went pretty quickly from enjoying the beautiful weather to just being really anxious.

There’s a musician acquaintance of mine who lives in northern Italy. He’s been posting about some of his experiences in English for his American friends. The posts are incredibly sobering. I worry about him every day…and I worry about us, here in America, because we’re just not responding well to this crisis.

I’m worried a lot of the time right now. I worry about my nephew, who has asthma. I worry about my mom, who’s a nurse and at an age where she’s probably more vulnerable to this thing. I worry about my friends and family members who are out of work right now, or who are still having to go to work rather than working from home. I try not to worry too much about myself, but I’m allergic to many things outside right now, and every time I cough or sniffle I have to suppress the urge to panic.

But I’m also trying to find the light in all of this. We’re connecting with a lot of people virtually. Last weekend we had virtual brunch with a friend that we have regular brunch with every couple of weeks via Google Hangouts. I played Monsterhearts 2 with friends on a Discord server. We had a little song circle with Song School friends in California via Zoom. We’re in frequent contact with family and friends and I feel really held by the communities I’m a part of, even as I do my best to hold them. If anything good comes of this mess, I think it’s going to be a greater sense of connection. I am so grateful to live in this time where physical isolation doesn’t have to be social/emotional isolation. While it is hard to balance not being glued to a screen reading the news and using that screen to stay connected, I think it’s worth it.

I hope you’re all hanging in there (and staying at home). Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. If we’re going to get through this, it’ll be together (from our own places of residence) or not at all.

Social Distancing

So…what a week it’s been, huh? I was in the office at my new job for all of four days before we moved to remote work, which we’ll be doing…indefinitely, at this point. My partner is off work entirely (thankfully, still getting paid) through at least the first week of April. It’s weird.

We’re both introverts, and it’s a good thing we like each other, because sharing a one bedroom apartment basically 24/7 with another introvert can be…interesting. Thankfully, there’s a better delineation of space and more places to sit in this apartment than there were in the old one, so we’re managing pretty well so far. I’m trying not to worry about next week and focus on today.

Everything’s suddenly moved online. Therapy. Songwriting class. Hangouts with friends (shoutout to L for suggesting a remote viewing of Star Wars: Episode IV last night). I’m grateful to be living in this age of technology where I have the privilege of easy access to means of connection with friends when I can’t see them face to face.

It’s a weird, wild time, y’all. Take care of yourselves. Check in on your loved ones. Even as we’re all trying to keep out distance, don’t stop reaching out.

What a Time

Hello, lovely readers! I’m a little over halfway through my first week at the new job, and things are going well, at least on that front. I like my coworkers a lot, I’m learning, the commute is easy, and the office is great.

It’s also possible that my second week will be working from home, because, well, COVID-19.

I’m okay, but we’re getting at least one email a day from leadership updating us as to the company’s policy. Thankfully, working from home is possible for me (although it’ll be weird to do all my onboarding and training remotely). I have a pretty good chance of job security.

My partner works at a museum. We don’t know if they’ll end up closing. We don’t think there’s much chance that he’d lose his job if they closed for a while, but who knows what the pay situation would be. It’s scary to think about, but ultimately, all we can really do is take it one day at a time.

Despite the global pandemic, there have been some bright spots for me personally this week, so let’s end on a high note:

  • I left my job of 6.5 years on a high note, and got a lot of sweet well-wishes from colleagues.
  • I started my new job and seem to fit in well here!
  • Wednesday night we got to see some of our favorite musician friends, Heather Mae and Crys Matthews, play a show. (Support your favorite independent musicians, folks – it’s a rough time out there with shows getting canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.) It was so great to see them – I am consistently blown away by the talented, fabulous people I’m so fortunate to know.

Winding Down; Gearing Up

I’m on my way into work for the penultimate day at the job I’ve held for the past six and a half years. It’s a little surreal.

I’ve tied up most of the loose ends I can tie up. Today I’m going to pack up the odds and ends on and around my desk. I’m getting lunch with some coworkers. I’m going to try to give one of my office mates a crash course in using Crystal Reports.

I’m increasingly antsy. I’m ready to shift to the next thing, and I’m struggling with the waiting. I’m doing what I can to set myself up for success – looking at some better ways to keep myself organized and on top of things.

My new employer sent me an email about the first day and asked a few questions – including whether I have any dietary restrictions and what my pronouns are. So that’s exciting.

Two more days. And then the weekend, and then I start the new gig on Monday. It’s really happening!

Good News!

Hello, dear readers! At long last, I can share with you the good news I’ve been hinting at for the past couple of weeks – I got a new job! Starting March 9 I’ll be moving out of the nonprofit world and into doing tech support at an app company. I could not be more excited.

It’s been a wild ride getting here. Back in October, I was very casually looking at positions online, and I came across a posting for this company that I thought looked really interesting. They were based in New York, but were gearing up to open a Chicago office. I applied, and in December ended up having a couple of great interviews with them. I didn’t get the job, but when they sent the rejection, they told me they wanted to stay in touch.

Now, I didn’t want to read too much into that, but it didn’t seem like quite the standard, “Sorry, you’re not a good fit for us,” email. So when I noticed a new, similar position go up at the end of January, I decided to take a chance. I emailed the HR recruiter I’d been talking to in December, and asked if the hiring manager was the same person, so I could address my cover letter more personally. I didn’t really expect to hear back…and I didn’t, for about a week.

Just as I was about to go ahead and apply, I got a response apologizing for the delay (she’d been on vacation), and letting me know that, yes, it was the same hiring manager. She also said she had a meeting scheduled with that hiring manager later in the week and would be happy to mention to him that I was interested. She encouraged me to apply, so I did.

The very next day, I got a response. They let me know that since I’d interviewed so recently and had already talked with the hiring manager, they were skipping over the initial interview part of the process, and dropping me directly into the next step, which was a trial project (basically using their help materials to answer some sample client questions). I took the afternoon off to go home and work on it (since at that point, I was too excited to focus on existing work very well). I did what I thought was the best job I could do, and sent it in.

About a week later, I heard back that they were impressed by my project and wanted to move me along to the final interview stage. After a last-minute reschedule, I ended up having the final interview last Tuesday. I had great conversations with three people on the team. The hiring manager made a point to let me know that my trial project was the best work he’d seen on that in a long time. I felt like I nailed it. I was told I’d hear back by the end of the week.

Fast-forward…about 24 hours. Wednesday afternoon I got an email from the HR recruiter saying she and the hiring manager wanted to give me an update, and could I spare 15 minutes for a phone call that day? I responded with my availability and sent several, “cross all your appendages for me!” texts to the friends who knew I’d had the interview.

I got an offer. I was expecting, based on the conversations I’d had in December, to be offered a salary that was a bit below what I wanted, and was prepared to argue for more. Instead, the number they offered me was my pie-in-the-sky, I-don’t-think-I’m-allowed-to-ask-for-this, never-gonna-happen number. I said yes.

This all happened in a span of 15 days.

Last Thursday, I turned in my two-weeks’ notice at my current job and informed my teammates. Friday I wrapped up telling the folks I needed to tell privately, and then Friday afternoon my boss sent out the official announcement to the agency. I’m getting a lot of practice in setting emotional boundaries and not trying to manage other people’s emotions (my therapist is going to be so proud). There’s a lot of sadness, and a fair bit of anxiety about what’s next.

And part of me is sad, too. I’ve worked with really great people, and I’m sorry to say goodbye to them. I’ve also learned a lot at this job – when I started, I had zero IT experience. I’m grateful for my time here.

I’m also really, really excited for what’s next. Every person I’ve talked to at this company has gotten me more excited about working there. It’s a great opportunity, and the way things fell into place, it feels like it’s exactly where I’m meant to be right now.

So that’s my big news! Special thanks to everyone who’s reached out in the past couple of weeks to check in and get updates – it’s been great to have your support. I’m a lucky queer.

Write Write Write

I am writing this on Wednesday night. It is the 12th of February, and so far I’ve written a song a day all month. If I can make it two more days, I’ll “win” FAWM by the time the month is only half over!

I’m actually rather liking a lot of what I’ve written so far, too. Few things feel finished finished, but that’s fine. I’m signed up for “Finish Your Damn Songs” at the Old Town School starting in March, and there’s no rush, really, as I can’t imagine I’ll be trying to record this tarot project until at least late next year.

Every year, FAWM reminds me how great it is to be part of this worldwide community of songwriters. When I started writing songs, I mostly did it for myself, but the longer I do this thing, the more I believe that songs are meant to be shared. They’re a powerful tool for connecting with people.

It’s been an exciting week for other reasons, too, but not ones I can talk about yet. What I can talk about is the fact that we have a good friend coming to visit this weekend, and I’m very excited for that. They’re a low-maintenance houseguest and a delight to have around.

Once again, I’m going to leave you with a song I’m happy about from the past week of writing. This is the song for XIII – Death, which is not always about death (it’s often more about endings birthing new beginnings), but I leaned into the archetype for this one. It features some kind of spooky harmonica, too, so that’s fun.