Thursday, February 26, 2009

Last Day of Freedom

In honor of my last free day before starting my job, there's a SNOWSTORM!!! On my walk home from the hair salon (I look fab-u-lous!) it really started coming down. But even in Minnesota, snow is a real unifier that brings people together. I'm not exaggerating when I say every single person I passed on the street said hello and some variation of "Are you ready for 8 inches?" or "Be careful! It's slippery!" Was it ever?! I nearly wiped out at least once a block.

So, I got a professional new hairstyle to help me embark on my first day tomorrow. I'm also spending an enormous amount of mental energy deciding what outfit to wear. First impressions should not be discounted! So, here's the dilemma (my male readers will roll their eyes while my female readers will hopefully be sympathetic): I start on a Friday. Already, during my interviews I noticed it's an informal work environment so it's basically casual Friday everyday. But I can't wear jeans to my first day of work, right?? In the long run, though, I consider myself lucky. If I'd gotten a corporate job like Adam, I'd have to spend a good chunk of my paychecks buying tailored suits. At this place, I'll be able to wear just about everything in my closet!

As pretty as the snow is, it's gonna cramp my style. There's little to do except stay warm and dry indoors. I had been hoping to attend another young Jewish professionals happy hour because, hello! now I can finally join the club! Instead, I'm going to be lazy, watch HGTV, and cook a hearty soup.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I got the job! I got the job! I got the job! (It's this job.) Considering the company received over 150 applications, I should feel pretty proud to have been offered the position. And, to my credit, I've been in Minneapolis for 7 weeks during a period of recession and layoffs and still managed to get a decent paying job at a company I'll enjoy working for... can't ask for much more than that! I realize I'm tooting my own horn, but it should be nice and refreshing for you after sludging through all my self-pity.

To the few of you who are devoted readers wondering if I'll continue writing, the answer is yes! I may have to change my theme, but this blogging thing is addictive.

So how do I celebrate at 10:23 on a Tuesday morning???

Friday, February 20, 2009

If I Were a Trustfund Baby

With all this free time but no cash to play with, I've often daydreamed about how I'd go around squandering all my money. I have some ideas...

-Instead of once every 8 months, I'd definitely get a haircut every 4 weeks so that I could finally experiment with trendy, high-maintenance hairstyles. Bangs!
-I'd donate big bucks to art museums and be invited to exhibit premiere meet-and-greets. Champagne and light jazz in the afternoon!
-Shopping, obviously. (I don't even know if I'd enjoy the assortment at Neiman Marcus?)
-I would hire a personal trainer to coach me in pilates. My first choice would be the nicely mean woman who teaches cardio kick at the Y on Sundays and Tuesdays.
-Of course, I would have other rich/unemployed friends and we'd drink cocktails in posh hotel lounges.
-We'd live in a loft downtown, and I'd have frequent meetings with my interior decorator to discuss new acquisitions for our blend of shabby-chic-meets-modern decor.
-I'd be a regular patron of the theater.
-At the encouragement of my gallery-owner friends, I'd dabble in photography.
-Is it unreasonable to get weekly massages if you're not stressed?
-I would travel to exotic locations one week out of the month. It's probably warm in Greece right now.
-Eating at expensive restaurants with chef luminaries would be a must.

Recession? What recession?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I got the internship...

...but do I take it?? Remember, it's unpaid!

Poll Results: well, it was really all a ploy to see who was reading the blog, and I can now conclude that I have a whopping 12 readers. Actually, I have a hit counter, so I know it's more than that, so don't feel bad if you didn't participate! But, the clear winner- by a landslide- is AFRICA! However, as Jake mentioned in his comment, a mirror image of South America could have really been a strong poll contender.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Happens Next?

Without groveling, how do I appropriately convey to the women who interviewed me that I'm dying to work for them? Today I went to my interview at a small software development firm that specializes in EMS training/testing for a Customer Service Rep position. More than any job prospect yet, this seems not only the most promising but the most interesting, and it's a REAL salaried job. Because the company is small, my role would actually encompass a number of different jobs such as marketing, copywriting, event planning, and bookkeeping, which would allow me to develop a variety of skills and have a diverse workday. To me, that is the ideal work environment because you get to wear many hats and take initiative to be creative in managing your time and responsibilities.

At the interview, I got along great with the two young women I met (both former English majors!) to the point where I was completely at ease and there were even tangential moments in our conversation that felt like chit-chat. Minneapolis winters are surprisingly sunny despite the cold, and yes, I totally agree that I prefer this to gray and gloomy East Coast winters. Needless to say, I feel confident they liked me-- I just hope they also believe my skills and experience match what they're looking for.

So, I suppose this post is bittersweet. I'm broadcasting my desperation to be offered this job, but it could be a pleasant blog entry for posterity if it works out. Or, I will continue to be a waste of life unemployed and flinch when I re-read this. :-/

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interviews Galore

Three (3) interviews= "Galore." And, believe it or not, this is a job-related blog post, so it actually fits under the title of Unemployed in Minneapolis.

The first interview was last Friday at the literary center downtown, and I think it went well. Although it is an unpaid internship, I still believe that I stand to make great connections and gain invaluable experience in marketing/PR, non-profit work, and could even have the opportunity to learn marketable skills like grant writing. Plus, it would give me indescribable warm fuzzies to be in a writers' community again.

Today, I went to the law firm, which was an intense interview. It's a small practice, so I actually met with the partners. They asked me questions which, in theory, I should be prepared for, such as "tell us about your greatest weakness." To me, my pause seemed like an eternity, but I hope they interpreted it as a brief period of reflection. Another shining moment occurred when I was listing my strengths as my communication skills, both written and verbal. Unfortunately, I got tongue tied and never finished the sentence after announcing how articulate I am. Otherwise, they laughed at a couple jokes I made, and I'd be happy to take the job.

And... on my way to the interview this afternoon, I got a call from another job I'd applied to, which is in St. Paul. It would be a bit of a commute, and I'm unsure of how the Mpls > St. Paul traffic patterns work, but I'm not letting that deter me. I had a good gut feeling when I first applied to the job and checked out the company's web site. (Do your research, kiddies!) That interview is on Wednesday.

With such a busy interviewing schedule, who has time for work or self-pity? Good thing considering PBK might as well have fired me since I have zero (0) hours scheduled between now and who knows when? They're slashing payroll hours like crazy, but, truthfully, I won't mind not working there if I have a better job to replace it... And if I remain an active, casual employee there but am primarily working somewhere else, I will finally be able to afford to use my 40% discount!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, Part II

So, we enjoyed a delightful Italian dinner at a nice, step-above-Olive-Garden restaurant in downtown St. Paul. We had a lovely time and no premonition that Adam would get a parking ticket despite the sign that read NO PARKING. We were wrong. Adam is paying the $25 fine, but he also wishes to dispute his guilt.

Read his letter to the St. Paul Traffic Violation Department:

To whom it may concern,

On the night of February 14, 2009, I was issued a parking ticket for parking in a place which is reserved for permit holders and exempt on holidays. While I cannot begin to argue that I possess a permit, I do take notice that the date in which my violation occurred fell on a holiday. I am well aware that Valentine's Day, celebrating the life of the patron saint of love, is but a Hallmark holiday. However, according to my girlfriend, I must treat it with the same respect which I give to all federal holidays. Otherwise, she says, our relationship would cease to exist. Which is why on the night of February 14, 2009, I was celebrating the life of St. Valentine by taking my girlfriend to St. Paul's own Il Veno Visco. When I arrived, all parking lots were full due to the Wild game, and the only spot available was the spot which required a permit or a holiday--one of which fits into the current paradigm. And I know that since St. Valentine's Day is not a federal holiday, I am guilty of such infraction. For this very reason, I have included a check for $25. I do, however, hope that in the future, parking tickets will not be given on a day which most of mankind must participate in holiday-like activities in order to please their other half.


P.S. Although Adam would have liked to pen the above letter with a quill and ink, he did incorporate an old-fashioned flourish by stamping his Chinese name next to his signature.

Happy Valentine's Day

I know, I know. I'm one of the lucky ones who won't be alone on Valentine's Day. But don't hate me! I still wish everyone I know: single, dating, married, "it's complicated," and anti-VDay a ton of CHOCOLATE!

Here's a Washington Post article about kissing. Warning: this racy exposé on the decline of kissing will give you the urge to makeout--make sure someone willing is nearby!

And since I'm a huge nerd, I subscribe to Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day in anticipation of ever having to re-take the SAT. The words are usually pretty interesting and often topical on holidays. I thought I'd share 2/14/09's word with you today.

Word of the Day
February 14

\SPOO-nee\ Audio Pronunciation
Play Podcast

1 : silly, foolish; especially : unduly sentimental
*2 : being sentimentally in love

Example Sentence
It was Valentine's Day and spoony couples were enjoying romantic candlelit dinners at the city's many fine restaurants.

Did you know?
In 19th-century British slang, "spoon" meant "simpleton" (a meaning that may have been influenced by the "shallowness" of some spoons). That use of "spoon" brought about the adjective "spoony" to describe a silly or foolish person. In time, the foolish manner implied by "spoony" began to take on sentimental and amorous overtones, and it soon became the perfect word for those foolishly head over heels in love. Another "spoon" is a verb referring to love-making or necking. That use of "spoon" may stem from a Welsh custom in which an engaged man presented his fiancé with an elaborately carved wooden spoon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Birthmark Poll

A poll inspired by my 25 Random Things! Please visit the sidebar to vote for which continent or Purim pastry you think my birthmark most resembles.

The two pictures should help you decide--and just so it's clear, the birthmark is on the inside of my left leg. Also, to make this even easier for you, refer to this world map for a reminder of what each continent looks like.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have two--yes, two--interviews! On Friday, I'm meeting with the Intern--yes, intern--Coordinator to interview for an unpaid internship. If you'd asked me last fall my opinion on college graduates performing unpaid internships, I'd have told you they should be categorized under slave labor. Now, however, I am using spin to re-label unpaid internships that are of interest to me... it's volunteering. The internship is at a literary center in Minneapolis that hosts a smorgasbord of events, readings, and workshops. Honestly, sounds fun: it's only a small time commitment, and who knows which esteemed authors I could meet! Think of me on Friday morning and send me good juju vibes.

Next Monday (astonishing realization: people in the corporate world don't observe President's Day?!) I'll be interviewing to be an administrative assistant at a law firm. I found the job on Craigslist, and the job description was vague, but I think that clerical tasks at a law firm have the potential to be more thoughtful than at, say, a dentist's office.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When Boredom Strikes

25 Things You Know About Me Now If You Didn’t Already

I know this note belongs on Facebook, but I just can’t bring myself to submit to the collective public cry for attention trend. It’s so self-indulgent and yet I flatter myself to think that I could compile a really kick ass list. Plus, if I did post it on Facebook, I wouldn’t tag 25 friends (because I don’t know 25 people who would care). Instead, I would find as many “friends” on Facebook that I either don’t know or am only randomly acquainted with after meeting once--and tag them.

Also, for a pretty clever parody of this Facebook phenomenon, read this Washington Post humor piece.

1. I have a birthmark on my leg in the shape of Africa. Or is it South America? Someone once suggested Australia. It’s the greatest life-long poll ever.

2. I share a birthday with Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys. In 6th grade, I pretended I didn’t have a crush on the band to be different, but of course I secretly did like them.

3. Last year, I drunkenly crowned myself Funniest Person of 2008 and have been known to challenge strangers in bars to dance-offs. My signature move is performing the Marcarena in double time.

4. Alcohol really disagrees with me. I’ve been hospitalized three times for two incidents. That was enough for me to decide once and for all to quit imbibing liquor.

5. I feel my most mysterious when I’m riding public transportation. Especially subways. And definitely if I’m wearing a smart outfit.

6. My favorite books are the ones I wish I had the talent to write.

7. My life will be incomplete if I never, at some point, can call New York City home.

8. I love country music in the summertime. It makes me homesick for a slice of Americana I’ve never known.

9. Although I played violin for seven years, I never once was able to memorize a piece of music. If I picked up the instrument today, I doubt I could play a scale.

10. After my Bat Mitzvah, I experienced a brief desire to become a rabbi.

11. Now that I’m confident I have emerged from it, I recognize that my “awkward stage” lasted from age 11 to 18. I blame braces and everyone I know who never introduced me to tweezers.

12. I have recurring nightmares that burglars are trying to get into my house and I can’t lock all the doors in time.

13. My first real concert was Mariah Carey’s Rainbow tour.

14. My obsession with home buying and home makeover TV shows should obviously be telling me I am destined for a career in real estate and yet I’m lukewarm about the idea.

15. I am passionate about Impressionist Art and believe it can be attributed to the children’s book Linnea in Monet’s Garden.

16. I never learned to skate. I’d like to now, but when I try, I am paralyzed by my fear of falling.

17. I can proudly claim that by age 21, I had been to two Olympics. (Atlanta 1996; Beijing 2008)

18. Thanks in part to Paideia’s short term, I’ve begun to learn six different languages (Hebrew, French, Latin, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin). I’m neither fluent nor proficient in any of them.

19. My mom swears she didn’t know any other Rach(a)els when she named me. I know at least two other girls with the name Rachel Elizabeth.

20. My boyfriend Adam and I first met at a party the second or third weekend of freshman year (September 2004). It was lust at first sight.

21. My least favorite household chore is doing laundry because there are so many steps involved over a prolonged period of time.

22. Because there are a couple careers I’d like to have, my only clear life goal is to be an awesome mom some day.

23. Those dream careers include: working for a book publisher, writing for a magazine, teaching English at a private high school, and being responsible for educational programming at an art museum.

24. I’m terrible at picking up the phone to call long-distance friends and keep in touch. But I do miss them.

25. One of my two front teeth is fake and can’t be seen under black light.

P.S./26. I'm embarrassed I wrote this but after taking the time to type it all up, I couldn't not post it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February Thaw

When I last parked Adam's car, it was on the curb. Now it's a foot away. Why is that? Above freezing temperatures! Hurray! Only, I wish I could say that tiptoeing puddles with icy slush was less treacherous than slipping on hard packed snow, but it's not.

So, in this period of relative heat wave, how do I keep myself entertained? By still staying indoors of course. Here is my daily routine:

Wake up late: After being awake from 6:20-7:15 when Adam is getting ready for work, I fall back hard asleep. I'm convinced I get my deepest REM sleep after that early morning disruption.

Next: Do nothing. For hours. I peruse all the job sites to see what's new. Alter my cover letters and apply accordingly. I try not to watch TV but I'll admit to following Gilmore Girls on ABC Family. (Episodes air at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time.) I do try to read, but sometimes it's just too quiet. When I consider going to a coffee house to read, I remember that I will have to buy a cup of coffee and why do that when I have coffee at home?

Later: Decide that I can't have Adam come home at 5:30 and see me still in my pajamas. I lazily go to the gym, work out, and then feel better. Re-energized and enthused to come back home to sit on the couch and hope a potential employer has sent me an email.

Inbox: empty.

Post-shower: I cook dinner. Assuming all the housewifely duties since I am not currently contributing to rent, I take pride in keeping the apartment tidy and trying to expand my cooking repertoire beyond stirfry.

OK! ENOUGH! Are you as bored from reading this as I am with my day??? Someone please hire me!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Elevator Introductions

An elevator introduction was described to me as a brief 60 second window of time to introduce myself and explain what I'm doing/looking for/interested in doing in order to network. At the UJF Casino Night, I met a few new people, and the question of "what do you do?" inevitably came up many times. Now, it's in my personality to be witty and self-deprecating (read: charming). But, as Adam pointed out to me after the evening was over, I was sending the wrong message. Here's a sample conversation of what I had been telling people:

Person: So, Adam works at Target. What do you do?
Me: Well, I graduated college in May with a degree in English.
Person: Do you want to teach?
Me: Maybe. Eventually. I think I'd like to work in the creative field, but no one is really hiring right now.
Person: Yeah, times are tough.
Me: Right, so I'm just really open-minded right now. I'm just looking for anything. I need to earn some money and get out of the apartment!
Person: Sure, well good luck.

What's wrong with this? Well, self-evaluation can be rough on my ego, but Adam is absolutely right. I don't sound confident or self-assured-- I sound frustrated and uncertain. The truth is, I don't know what I want to do long-term, but an elevator introduction doesn't have to go into that. I need to capitalize on the opportunity to make a strong first impression and give a definitive, assertive answer about what I want to do, so the person I meet has an idea if they could help me.

Improved Elevator Introduction to Practice:
Person: So, Adam works at Target. What do you do?
Me: My dream job is to work in publishing. But, right now, I'm also looking to find a job in public relations or communications.
Person: Oh, really? What's your background?
Me: I graduated last May with a degree in English and I love to write.
Person: Great, I'll think if I know anyone who I can put you in contact with.

In this scenario, I'm not waffling or letting my pride get in the way. I'd love to believe that if the economy was better, I'd have had a job six months ago, but, again, that doesn't matter to someone I've just met. From now on, even if I just meet some Joe Shmo in the bar, I'm going to rehearse my new & improved elevator introduction!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Another reason I graduated GW too early: through the GW English blog, I stumbled upon this guy who recently gave a lecture at Lisner Auditorium. His name is Pete Warren, and he started this public art project several years ago to solicit people to send anonymous secrets on postcards. The idea is everyone hides things they're afraid to tell other people, but the catharsis of writing it down and sending it out into the universe must be strangely exhilarating and freeing. Warren is now famous (but not so famous I hadn't already heard of him) for his collection of secrets and has published a series of books featuring these postcards. For a better idea of the types of secrets and imaginative, creative postcards he receives, visit his blog, which he updates weekly.

Now, it may sound like a simple idea, but it's really scratched into my brain and stayed there. Of course I have secrets, but if I could write down just one sentence on a postcard in order to mail it away, what would I say? Even if I can't be completely honest with others, it's an interesting exercise in trying to at least be honest with myself.

In this semi-anonymous forum of blogging, I have a couple new secrets to share. They aren't the major ones I'd save for a postcard no one who knows me would read. Or no one who knows me would read it and know I was the author. But maybe I'll still feel better for sending my confessions off into cyberspace. Or writing it will make them less consequential, even trivial.

1. I am on a strict budget and yet I spent $50 at Banana Republic last week. I bought four sweaters for an average price of $12, which is actually a great bargain, but I knew I shouldn't spend money on anything but necessities. I didn't tell anyone because I felt guilty.

2. I didn't leave the apartment except to go to the gym for the last three days. I feel like I should want to jump out of my skin, but I don't. I worry that maybe I enjoy being alone.

Your turn. Think about your secrets.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Job Prospects?

Nothing too eventful--barring the STEELERS SUPERBOWL WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!-- has happened recently. But let me upgrade (oops, too much Beyoncé!) update you.

Last Friday I went to a temp agency to take a skills assessment test and have a face-to-face interview with a recruiter. The first test was an Excel exam and a kick in the butt reminder that experimenting with Excel in college doesn't exactly make me a proficient data entry girl. Did you enjoy that alliteration? The computer asked all kinds of questions that I absolutely didn't know the answer to, but I ask: Do you know how to make a pie chart with the data in column 2 with one keystroke? I'm happy to report I fared much better in the Word and typing portions of the test.

My recruiter, Briton, sat down with me and we discussed my resume and how the temp agency functions as an extension of my job search. So far, they've called me about a job that is not in my desired location nor for my desired pay, but hey, keep pushing that resume around Briton!

As for my own resume pushing, I'm currently in a period of lethargy. Only one person has responded to my cover letter emails, and she only wanted more preliminary info before she'd invite me to interview. Can cross my fingers there, but I'm not holding my breath. (Two cliches in one sentence!)

I still look daily on the job search sites, but I've stopped applying to jobs I wouldn't want to do anyway, which is resulting in fewer options. Looking at the calendar, I've been in Minneapolis not quite one month. I'm still keeping my head above water, but I'm watching my checking account dwindle into chump change. Not including a meager paycheck from PBK a week from Friday, my only immediate hope for cashflow is a tax refund. The good news is that, thanks to Adam's and my parents' support, I'm not in danger of eating Ramen noodles anytime soon... unless I suffer from a severe sodium deficiency.

So, that's about where I am now. Sort of waiting, still looking, pondering writing the next great American novel now that John Updike [RIP] has passed. But I'm curious if something will pan out in the next week or two because I recently had a fortune cookie that read "An opportunity too good to pass up is near."