Saturday, February 28, 2009

Interviews ... I mean ... meetings

So I had an interview yesterday. Or at least I think it was an interview -- the interviewers had copies of my resume, I brought work samples, and we talked about future work possibilities.

But it wasn't an interview in the traditional sense: there was no coveted job on the line, and my expectations were (and remain) fairly low.

Now, I have gone for many an interview. Some have been fantastic, leading to successful stints and professional relationships that lasted long after I left the employer. Others ... notsomuch. I remember one particularly awful experience in the basement of a ski lodge that left me crying, broken down by the sheer struggle of working in a field that didn't fit. Needles to say I didn't get the job.

As a freelancer I have a much different frame of reference when it comes to dealing with higher-ups. When I meet or speak by phone with editors it's mostly about content, results, projects. We try to find what will fit -- we don't try to find that elusive bi-weekly paycheque. And I've been told (I believe it was by Craig Silverman at a PWAC event last year) that face-time really counts when it comes to getting gigs as a freelance journalist.

I could definitely have been more prepared for this 'meeting,' but I took the advice of a contact who has worked for years with this organization. She said be yourself -- so I was. Doesn't mean that self -- skill set, and all -- can't change, but they should know the truth about where I am now. I don't need to fake enthusiasm or sincerity, at least with this employer. I feel it's my dream employer and I feel like I've entered some other, better world when I consume their content.

So I will do more of this, and get better at it. I will take what I've got and see what they have, and see if we can't make something fit.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Montreal Discoveries

Went to Montreal yesterday with Kirstin the Materialist and one of her stylish friends. A few discoveries:

Jeans by Bedo!
Mission: accomplished. It has literally been years (over five) since I have purchased a new pair of jeans. I've been wearing one pair from Tristan that I scooped at a clothing exchange, but even those are only for 'skinny' days. This new pair, though ... wow. High-waisted without being extreme, dark denim, front seam adding shape and sophistication... and only $50! Yay.

The Joys of Shotgun
Usually I don't get this front-row seat, or it comes at the expense of personal sanity, as I instinctively brake on an imaginary wheel everytime the driver lacks what I deem appropriate caution. But Endeman was cool ... so cool were we, in fact, that we missed the exit to Montreal while we caught up. I know our backseat passenger was miffed, but I took it as a sign that I can relax, enjoy the scenery. After all, Montreal turned out to be experiencing quite the blizzard, so this was part of our 'strolling' approach to the day.

Breakfast Breasts

A less enjoyable aspect came when we tracked down a breakfast joint. It took three or four blocks of somewhat anxious searching around St. Laurent and Rue Arthur, but we soon found a place that was not too expensive and still gave us that chic-we're-in-Montreal feeling. Unfortunately, it also gave us that don't-look-now-but-you-can-see-that-girls-thong feeling. American Apparel dresses on breakfast servers? AND WHERE IS OUR BILL? Perhaps it got lost somewhere in between the cleavage and the smiling, well-dressed men ... w. the potential of thick tips. In any case, we were relieved to get out of there, despite the fact that the poached eggs were near-perfect.

Deep now, deep thoughts
After an hour or so of Montreal strolling (so quiet as the snow piled up on the side streets), we got into Montreal/ Quebec politics. One suggested that the city was in a better place before the language laws pushed out big business; I mused that maybe Montrealers are happy with the trade off, that preserving culture, as they see it, is worth the decreased national and international position.
Then we took a right, through a sweet little snowy park en route to Arthur. We continued to gape at turrets and fantasize about a life in downtown Montreal. The politics continued but we also made room for stiletto complaints and price-point comparisons.
While the other girls talked shop, I considered snow removal. Who gets more snow, Ottawa or Montreal? Who has better snow removal? And how would this be judged?
Of course this train of thought was spurred by a snow removal vehicle, and as I came out of my speculative trance I saw the vehicle's driver staring at me. I stared back. I swear we were having a stand-off of stares, when finally another vehicle came around and he was forced to change his focus. But what's up with that?
The only answer I could find was a by-product of the earlier conversation. I thought he was staring at me, the nerve! But maybe I was staring at him, and he was like, 'who does she think she is?'
And maybe, just maybe, it's an uncomfortable trade-off of a free society.
You can stare at me, and I can stare at you.
We might not like it, or we might. We might even find ourselves blogging about it nearly 24 hours later! Though a Craigslist missed connection it is not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The atheist bus ads

So -- perhaps not surprisingly -- Ottawa said no to the atheist bus ads that read:

There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

What came as a more pleasant discovery was the editorial by Atheist Bus proponent (and Freethought Association of Canada president) Justin Trottier in today's Citizen. Expecting a confrontational tirade on Ottawa's conservative approach and the slippery slope of censorship, I was surprised to find a relaxed, fact-based (23% of Canadians don't believe in any god?) argument that called for continued discussion (and some talk of free speech, rightly so).

So here I am, Justin, trying to keep the conversation up.

I took interest in the mention of public transit as an ideal space for moving this discussion into the mainstream, and the suggestion that the United Church and other groups are in support of this dialogue.

Good defence on the money-well-spent front, and I've never really heard atheism summed up so succinctly:

"While atheism is not itself an ethical system, secular and humanistic values are crucial to an open society. They are the values of individual autonomy and universal human rights. They include the belief that evidence, reason and free inquiry form the best way of seeking solutions to shared problems. Try fitting all that on the side of a bus."

I've been following most of said discussion, but I'm still left wondering: how did you come up with the text for this ad?

I know you couldn't fit all of the above on the side of a bus, but as a Christian I'm confused. My belief in God doesn't make me enjoy life less. Rather, the exact opposite. I worry, sure, but doesn't everyone, regardless of their worldview? And I don't worry that much. Maybe that means I'm not a real Christian.

In any case, in all the debate I haven't heard where this text came from -- and I'd love to.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Work/ life balance

Following my last post on the career/ marriage balance, I've been re-assessing priorities and taking stock of what really matters. Lots of 'in the moment' thinking and dishwashing daydreams.

While part of it accompanies the whole seven-months-before-I-say-I-do phase, these contemplative thoughts are also a result of a recent mini-tragedy in my home: my roommate broke her arm.

It's a pretty bad break and they don't know if she'll need surgery. She's doing acupuncture and Chinese medicine, not to mention legal action. This all adds up to a pile of appointments, plus the usual cooking, cleaning, opening and closing that people do with their right arm.

Being the stay-at-home freelancer that I am, I not only have the flexibility to help out, but I also have the financial "situation" that made me quite open to her mom's offer of compensation for running my roommate -- and good friend -- around town. (Basically, she paid off the debt I owed to said roommate.)

While I might not be the most cheerful of fetchers, I'm actually enjoying the process. It makes me organize my time (up earlier, at my desk later), but perhaps more importantly, it has made me think about my priorities.

When we're sick or hurt we can't help but put our life first. We can't type with a broken hand, we can't speak coherently on heavy pain meds. But if we're so removed from putting some importance on 'life' stuff like health and food and fitness and laughing, when we're blindsided with sickness or injury it's easy to panic, unable to imagine life beyond work.

But it's out there!