Friday, April 27, 2012

The Chicks I Dig are Flakes

The title is irrelevant, though true, just to warn you. I will likely change it eventually, but nothing immediately comes to mind and this ought to get me some impulse reads.

Boy oh boy, it feels strange to set down again to muse in this medium for the sake of musing. A great deal of my absence can be contributed, in part, to the tolls of a 7:45-5:15 writing-centric workday taking the buzz out of sitting down to type for a bit. The remaining blame can be given to my lack of cable and no real means of tracking the NBA to the extent that I'm accustomed. I feel like I've said that monologue before, but it kind of bears repeating, I suppose.

Anyway, when my grandfather passed away, (I swear this is not a bring-you-down post) I kind of wrote a blog  post following the actual passing and proceedings that didn't refer to that tough time, just to kind of keep my posts chronological, even in tone, and mercifully short(er). Well now, I'm going to do the opposite and write about my recent exodus from the Amish-land in this post and scribe a separate post that will take you through my past two weekends in York, full of lifelong memories.

Right, for those not in the loop, and those coming to the latent realization that the previous paragraph did indeed say that I have left Pennsylvania... I have left Pennsylvania. To put it really simply, my time at Clark Associates was among the most growing times in my life. Through that job, I learned much about the true nature of the professional post-grad environment, gained true post college independence in terms of living truly alone and fending for myself during the highs and lows and day-to-day issues of said independence, and learned a lot about my own character and what I want out of a work environment and job description going forward.

In short, while I met some great, supportive, and welcoming  people, the job just wasn't a fit for me. I think the nature of a retail environment in general, is kind of a "be quiet and perform" kind of place. Don't get me wrong, I believe in a work-first-and-hard-play-later-and-harder atmosphere (Just to be clear, by "play harder" I mean play basketball, read, and listen to jazz, while spending time with friends and catching a buzz about once every two weeks. I don't want people thinking I've suddenly become some sort of party animal), but I think an environment where you can literally count on your fingers the amount of words you say to your co-workers is, right off the bat, not really my scene. I was not, by any stretch, failing at the job. I will admit that I did screw-up pretty boneheaded-ly on one occasion, but overall, I was really doing okay with the job, considering my experience level. With that said, it just got to a point where I was drained before I even walked into the building most days.

I will say that I believe another reason the job kind of wore on me was not so much that it was a high-pressure job, but it was also that I was kind of socially living for the weekends. Don't get me wrong, "lonely" is a strong word. I definitely met some great people in my excursions in the Lanc, and even found a watering hole (also mentioned previously) where I was known on a semi-first-name basis (Godspell didn't catch on, thank...God.), but I don't think I ever had enough of a support system or important enough activity schedule to kind of truly take my mind off the job. So, in a sense, I was going to work, coming home and thinking about work while trading basketball opinions with some nice enough people at the bar, and shooting some hoops every now and again. After a while, the repetition just took its toll and I realized that I needed to make a change. I thought for a good week about what my next step would be and finally decided to talk with my boss to let him know where my head was at.

I told him a lot about what I thought of the job, obviously not as much about my leisure time, but he agreed that the particular brand of stress brought about by this retail work environment strongly conflicted with my personality and kind of nullified some of my social and creative strengths. Much to my surprise, that was about as unflattering as the conversation got. He noted my work ethic and talent that I did posess and admired my accountablity and desire to succeed. It was then that I kind of took the conversation down the road I knew we were on and essentially said that I could no longer look him in the eye and say that this company and business is a good fit for me. We then spoke some more and he said some really moving things that I'd rather keep private (not that we wept in each other's arms or anything, but it was a very human moment that I'll always remember) and I formally gave my notice and he thanked me for giving it a shot and let me know that if I needed a referral, he'd be happy to write it. To be honest, that meant more to me than anything else said before in that conference room. I was working in a field where people would tell you if you were dirt without blinking an eye. The fact that in the face of that atmosphere, I was offered a positive word whenever I needed, meant worlds to me as a person and professional. I admit, it's very rewarding to know that my character was apparent in that place. It never crossed my mind that I was leaving as a failure, but any doubts I did have were wiped clean in that moment.

As I've basically already said, in the past two months I have grown as a man by leaps and bounds. I'm back on Long Island not entirely knowing what my next step will be, but I feel as equipped to take on that question mark as I've ever been in my whole life. You know, I thought I meant this after I got my college diploma, but now this statement takes on an even deeper meaning: Bring on the months of waiting tables or working at Stop and Shop. I can look anyone dead in the face and say that I have absolutely nothing to prove. I acknowledge the fact that I had the 8 to 5 life in my grasp and said "no thank you" but I also know that I've taken one step back as a wiser man to hopefully take that much bigger of a step forward.

I thank absolutely everyone at Clark Associates for their help, support, patience, and kindness during my time there. I wish you all the best and thank you for the positive impact on my life and experience I'll never forget. Also, a thank you to my friends and family for their support and sharing in the tough, but right, decision with me.

In closing, my favorite Clark memory will always be Jake scolding the spider and Emily swooping in with a less forgiving stapler.

Posts about my previous two weekends to follow, including a visit from a man who knows what my boxers look like better than most, Steve Murillo, and a bit of theatrical history.

Song of the Day: She's Electric-Oasis
Jazz Song of the Day: November-Noah Preminger

Monday, April 2, 2012

He Who Covers All His Bases Runs Nowhere

Every city is static, every planet a barstool.

A couple of weekends ago, my family took the time to toil on the soil of Lancaster and check out my digs of work, play, and miscellaneous. It was solid to see them and show them around as best I could. However, old habits, it seems, die hard. I met my parents in York for perhaps one last time as I had the chance to check out Courtney and Renee's recital and my family, always one for culture and the advancement of the arts, was kind enough to join me. It was great to see some friends to sprinkled in the audience, but mostly it was tremendous to hear Renee and Courtney perform in their own element. Admittedly, due to a mixture of apathy and WVYC commitments, with the exception of the "rugged" performance of "Elijah" I hadn't much heard either one of the lovely ladies sing tunes of the comfortable confines of the melopop provided by Rhapsody. It was a real pleasure to hear their performance for more refined audiences and they both really did a great job.

Following the show, I bolted pretty quickly to seize as much of the day as possible in Lancaster with the folks. I actually had a nice little day planned for us, but intermittant rain forced us to doctor our plans a bit. The weather did anything but cooperate, as it was rainy at best throughout the duration of the visit. Plans to visit the Central Market were ruined, and Marion Court was a shell of itself in the gloom of clouds and drizzles, but nonetheless I think I showed them I live a pretty modest, but active life here in Amish country.

The night of their arrival, I wound up spending the night in their hotel and it seems that life in the Lanc got a little too active. Apparently, while I was away, a now former-roommate with a questionable past fell in with some old friends and old habits and wound up making quite a mess for himself. When I arrived with family in tow the next morning, you could tell something was up, but my current housemates and even the guy who I later found out was in the process of being evicted kept everything really mellow, I guess, out of respect for me and my family. I really do appreciate that. The only reason I even knew something was up was because there was an uncommon amount of traffic upstairs where I live. That's usually a place that's pretty much visitor free, unless I'm the one letting them up. I wish the guy the best in getting back on his feet and I only bring this up to point out the extremes of good and...not evil...(at least not in this case) I guess, thoughtlessness? that people are capable of. A really strange moment in hindsight. A lot of layers to it.

One spot I did venture to show my family in the safety of the light of day was my weekday watering hole known as the House of Pizza, where we dared to nosh a bit while Baylor was getting its camouflaged teeth kicked in by America's favorite uni-brow and the rest of the Wildcats. No hiding from that I suppose.

Shortly after halftime of that game, which might as well have been the final buzzer, I said goodbye and after catching up on the subtle commotion of the early mid-morning and adjusting to life alone on the top floor once again, I headed back to the House to watch the second game. When I entered, Jeremiah, the kindly bartender, pulled me aside and said, "Man, you're lucky this place was dead when you brought your family in here." Truer words were never spoken and apparently I had dodged many a bullet that weekend.

In other news that I more or less broke sufficiently on Facebook so I'll provide the redux version here in the blog. As I was casually scrolling my rarely checked upon YCP email account, being paranoid enough to look in there about once a month to make sure something of importance hasn't slipped in like, you know, a complete revocation of my degree, I came across a hidden gem of an email that explained that my Western of a year ago had been selected to be performed in YCP's One Act Festival. I wasn't exactly doing back flips (I played it a little cooler), but I was and am definitely pumped to see Horseplay come to life with the help of talented actors and a director. I look forward to a special time with all of my friends in York as we see it together. I've learned that the three men who inspired three of the cowpoke in the piece will be setting aside their obligations to attend this Western Tour de Farce. A gesture that certainly means a lot to me. I look forward to all of my friends sharing this special moment with me and getting a glimpse into a more blue area of my sense of humor that rarely makes an appearance in my more typical social/comedic interactions. If you want to know more about the play, dig the Facebook event, or get in touch with me. I will leave you with this, the fundamental question of the piece is this: Did he fuck the horse, or not? Happy viewing.

In a turn of events that can only be categorized as surprising, I have missed the playoffs in both of my fantasy basketball leagues. In one league my top two picks were D. Rose and Al Horford, who, this season, make Greg Oden look like Cal Ripken. In my other league, the injury bug bit at a time I could ill afford and I wound up missing the playoffs by a game. I give myself credit for playing meaningful basketball late in the season considering I played the last 4 weeks without TV. Very important in fantasy and striking while the iron, and players, are hot. However, it's hard to view the season as anything but a disappointment considering I was the defending champ (when we played for free). All is not lost however, as I've had an uncommonly good run in the field of bracketology and stand to win the work pool with a Kentucky W tonight place in both leagues I have money vested in should Kansas eek one out. So, I'm taking the good with bad and essentially using my winnings to pay for my NBA blunders, with maybe money for a green tea or two when the dust settles.

Once again, happy viewing.

Dare I say, some poetry in the works? Stay tuned.

Song of the Day: "Son Of Sam"-Elliott Smith
Jazz Song of the Day: "St. Thomas"-Sonny Rollins