Hello From The Other Side

Yes, in my Adele voice.

It’s been awhile.

Helllloooooo again WordPress I haven’t forgotten about you, but I will admit I have forgotten about how to enjoy the parts that make me me.

Sidebar: You ever watch a movie that makes you rethink the way you’ve been operating lately, or in  entirety? I watched one of those kind of movies tonight. Ugh — fine, it was The Intern.

Damn Robert De Niro playing a sweet old man. When did he change from an everyday mobster to a kind older gentleman? Maybe that’s the secret to old age, or movies. Anyways … 

I’ve been through a lot of change in the last three months, and I think inadvertently let the things that make me me, slip.

I haven’t read a good book in ages. I haven’t written about anything that wasn’t expected of me. I began to think I didn’t have a love for words, or communicating with the masses.

After finally moving into my own place (again) and diving deeper into my new (awesome) job, I watched The Intern and immediately felt like I’ve let myself slide.

Another curse to my being. I’m too hard on myself.

I’m tired and transition takes time.

You ever feel all the change that’s happened over time hit you in one moment and it knocks you on your own feet?

Or keep yourself so busy you forget to take a deep breath and remember what’s really important. 

It’s hard to remember life is short and you have to enjoy it.

 

So why am I feeling sappy?

Because of Ben (De Nero).

He’s a widower — married 42 years, was a business man for half his life and is trying to navigate retirement. He sees a flyer for a “senior internship” program and applies because he still wants to learn and despite his perceived loneliness, views life through an optimistic spread of light.

I know, it’s a movie. The point is about how it got my wheels turning.

I hope I can always remind myself I’m never too old to learn.

I’m never too tired to let my passion slip, and I’m never too discombobulated to remember I’m only human.

So, hello from the other side — learning life after landing a career.

Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there’s no more music in them – Louis Armstrong

I still have plenty of music left in me.

 

 

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IX

My follow up interview was at 3:30 Monday afternoon, and I did as much cleaning, exercising and organizing to settle my nerves.

I was meeting the rest of the team at the Marconi Automotive Museum, and to not test the jinx rule, I wouldn’t allow myself to get too excited just yet, and it was hard to keep my emotions level.

But I kept my chant of why not me going in the back of my head.

True to form I showed up early, but not as early as the previous interview. I still had a case of the nerves, and I felt more anxious than I had the Friday before. Probably due to the fact I knew I could possibly get the answer I had been waiting for, for the past 10 weeks since graduation.

I was potentially going to become a productive member of society, and I could almost taste the sweet nectar of victory.

An hour later, after meeting the rest of the Marconi squad, I was pleased with how comfortable I felt during this interview, too. They all seemed like motivated, successful and fun women to work with, and I was hopeful I would be added to their team.

As the interview began to wrap up …..

I WAS OFFERED THE JOB. 

Say hello to the new marketing coordinator for the Marconi Automotive Museum!

It’s a wonderful thing when the universe works in your favor. As my FIL would say, “when it happens, because it doesn’t happen often, it’s like you understand everything completely. The path you took now makes all the sense in the world.”

And it’s true. I think the universe knew I didn’t want to live in Texas for another tornado season. It knew I wasn’t made to be a Texan for life and that California living could be the place for me. But due to my stubbornness it also knew I had to feel like I had given it my best shot before exploring other options seemed plausible.

Why not me. 

I will hopefully never serve another cup of coffee or Thanksgiving dinner as a waitress. I was able to make my phone call home and scream “you’re moving to California, I got the job!” And I was able to jump up and down with my in-laws (still too early to be nerdy with the Marconi squad) singing I got the job, I got the job!

I can’t wait to learn and grow as a communicator and begin this new chapter in life. A special thanks to my husband for pulling the trigger and shipping me to California, because he knew I needed the change and helping push. To my in-laws for housing me and loving me like their own, and to my parents, thank you for the constant support. I am who I am today because of you.

Life is good.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VIII

My interview with the Marconi Automotive Museum was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday. After the fiasco on Wednesday with a previous company, I was hopeful I couldn’t have two wonky interviews in a row. Plus, my family is filled with gear heads. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

My Hubs is attending UTI (an automotive school) and is currently in the top percentage of his class. And to brag a little because I’m super proud and excited for him, he’s been receiving offers from top manufacturers to attend their additional training courses after he gradates. Ironically, a majority are located in Southern California.

My father-in-law eats, breathes and dreams about rebuilding old American muscle cars, and has an ’07 Shelby getting a facelift in his garage as we speak. Him and my Hubs spent some time rebuilding a Chevy Impala when the Hubby was in high school. Not to mention, my FIL’s garage is what man dreams are made of …

My pops has always had a love for motorcycles. He wasn’t ever a fan of the sporty bikes, but enjoyed the classics that are meant for cruisin’. And his father, my grandfather, had a hobby of rebuilding cars when my pops was a kid.

Almost to good to be true, right?

I didn’t want to jinx it and get my hopes too high. I’m a believer of the jinx, and partially because I’ve been a Buffalo Bills fan for the entirety of my life, rightfully so, the Bills have annually managed to break my heart.

I arrived to the interview an hour early. I was able to drive my in-laws ’06 Mustang and I think the beaut gave me an extra pep in my step and shot of confidence. The front of the building was all glass and after 10-15 minutes I realized I didn’t want to look like a creeper. So I went in 40 minutes early. No such thing as being too early, right?

I told the receptionist I was here for an interview and that I was much too early because traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. She offered to let me walk around the museum and would have my interviewer, Missy, come get me when I was ready.

The warehouse is huge and it’s filled with fast rare cars. Mr. Marconi was definitely a fan of the Lamborghinis. I had checked out its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress pages. And I felt like I got a good understanding of what the company was about; No weird California laws prohibited its openness (see previous post about wonky interview).

The company was everything I hoped I could land after graduation. It’s a nonprofit that gives its proceeds to a hearty amount of charities for children. The space is used as a venue to host events such as: weddings, birthdays, office Christmas parties, etc. And the job description was almost a mirror image of my resume.

Is this real life?

Many people will warn you throughout the higher education path that you’ll most likely not land a position in your desired field, because it’s difficult and companies are looking for somebody with more than entry level experience. This common conversation pushed myself to gain as much real world experience as I could before I’d walk across a stage (for the last time) and receive my diploma.

I was determined to land a job I would enjoy. This doesn’t mean I was arrogant to jobs I wasn’t too thrilled about. I applied to as many communication, writing and planning jobs I came across, because ultimately my goal was to get out of the food industry. I promised myself I wouldn’t work another Thanksgiving this year, and I had a few months to meet my deadline upon graduating.

I anxiously awaited for my interview to begin as I strolled through the impressive warehouse. I started to get a bit too excited and began imagining all the possibilities I could do if hired as the marketing coordinator. And before I could get way to excited, my interview began.

After an hour and a half of speaking with the Marconi ladies, I was asked to come back the following Monday for an additional interview. And yes, it was hard not to leap for joy into their arms and jump up and down with them in unison. Thankfully, I understand that would be awkward and probably a tad bit unprofessional.

I felt at ease during the conversation. It felt like I was catching up with two friends whom I hadn’t seen in some time. I didn’t have to search for the answers to their questions, I just knew them. And I wasn’t anxious, fidgety or afraid of saying the wrong thing. I couldn’t imagine it going any better.

I could hardly wait to tell my husband and family how well it went. As soon as I left on the train a few Mondays ago, I hoped I would be able to call the Hubs and scream I got a job and we’re officially moving to California, pack your bags!

Earlier that morning, before my interview, my FIL stopped at the bottom of the stairs (my bedroom / Hubs former bedroom is at the top of the stairs) and said a silent prayer for me to have a wonderful interview and to have all the right words.

My MIL anxiously waited for 1 o’clock to strike before bowing her head at her desk and prayed for the exact same thing.

Call it coincidence, karma or divine intervention; I had the best interview of my life. Now, I just need to make it through the weekend.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VII

After one week I landed my first interview. I was excited to have at least one hit on an application and spoke with HR to set up a time and date to interview.

Before I responded to the offer, I looked them up online and did some research. I suggest all future applicants of any kind check out the magic world of Google and Glassdoor. I inspected its website and social media pages as well. It seemed legit. I even dug further to make sure I wasn’t pulling just the top posts that made them look reputable.

All good.

The only issue I found was nowhere did it explain exactly what the company’s function was and what brands it collaborated with. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least go through the interview process to see what came out of it, plus, there’s no harm in practicing your interview skills.

I booked the interview.

A few hours later the pit of my stomach told me to continue searching, because there wouldn’t be any harm in being more informed. And I’m glad I did.

The company has affiliates all over the country, so the reviews I had read and dug through weren’t for the specific location I had landed. When I noticed my error I Glassdoor-ed its specific location in Orange County and realized far more negative reviews than positive.

“They promise you a chance to move up in position, but instead keep you in a low hourly wage position. They have a high turnover rate.”

“I was hired as the marketing coordinator under the impression I would be working on campaigns, but I ended up selling products in Costco at a booth.”

“It’s all a lie.”

“If you want to work in grocery stores at a booth all over Orange County and never get reimbursed for gas, this is the job for you.”

Needless to say my heart sank well into my stomach.

I had already agreed to come in for an interview and kept in mind, if anything this would be for practice.

I spoke to family, explained the situation and how it angered me a company thought it was ethical to imply it was a marketing job, when actually it seemed like a sales position. I went over questions I would ask to see if the reviews had been true, and told the Hubs numerous times I wouldn’t be suckered in, I wouldn’t take another waitressing job with a different title.

My mother-in-law scouted the Internet for additional job listings and emailed links to apply. I spent the next two-isn hours applying to as many jobs my fingers would allow before cramping. I will find an honest job.

***

I got to the offices an hour early. I wasn’t too nervous, but more anxious to see what would be said about the company. When I walked into the lobby it was filled with older men wearing suits, all filling out an application on a standard clipboard. This could be a good sign, right? 

I figured I would be waiting for quite some time because of the number of people ahead of me in the waiting area, and was surprised to hear my name called 10 minutes later.

A lady escorted me to her office and closed the door, and with any conversation it started out with regular chitchat. I explained what type of position I was looking for, why I was interested in communication and how I ended up in California. I mentioned I wasn’t too sure what the company provided for its clients and if she could elaborate both the position I was interviewing for, and the company’s mission.

This is where it went wonky.

She explained because of weird California laws she wasn’t permitted to discuss the business aspect of the company on its website. I think because she knew I was new to the area, this would make sense to me, because what would I know about California? 

They worked for small brands trying to make an impact in the consumer world and promoted products at different events. She continued the conversation about what her job description was and her daily roles. That she needed help managing the 40+ events she manages daily.

I was taught to listen and observe while attending journalism school, and I noticed she never actually answered my question. So I asked again, using different terminology. And again, she circled back to what is expected of her in the business, this time including “big marketing words” to sell the company’s mission. She was trying to sell me the job. 

After she finished, I asked again what exactly my daily function would be in this office. And again, she circled back to her job description and the company’s mission.

By this point I was almost certain I would end up at a booth in Costco selling vegan corn chips to busy shoppers who didn’t want to be bothered.*

 I finally asked, “Would you be putting me in a Costco to sell these products on a regular basis. I have read some reviews about this company and would like to know if these are true, because that isn’t something I would be interested in.”

She didn’t appreciate my question.

“Well, I can’t just hire you into an executive role without proper training. We can discuss your role further at another time.”

And with that she stood up, extended her hand, thanked me for coming in and showed me the door. I held in my fits of giggle until I had left the lobby doors. I wasn’t even upset; I was liberated.

I almost wet myself replaying the interview in my head and especially enjoyed the executive position remark. I mean, when did I imply I wanted to be hired as a top dog? I asked multiple times what my daily duties were, and she couldn’t give me an answer without patting herself on the back, or speaking about how wonderful of a service they do for their brands and business partners.

I was polite, I let her finish her rambles, I smiled and asked questions (which heads-up, you’re allowed to do!). She realized she wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and I wasn’t falling for her sale’s pitch, so she dismissed me. I cried laughing the entire drive home.

***

After I got home, I called immediate family and relived the bazaar interview over and over again. I was pleased I hadn’t allowed her to distract or circle talk me away from my original, perfectly understandable, questions. And I felt validated everyone agreed.

I didn’t barge in to the interview demanding high wages. I didn’t feel I acted like I was above any job because I had my bachelors. And most importantly, I didn’t imply I was desperate for employment. Plus, I learned a little something to watch out for in future interviews.

It took about two hours to inform my family before I sat down at the computer to check out more job listings. I wanted to check my emails first, not that I was expecting a second interview. Sitting at the top of my inbox was an offer from a nonprofit to schedule an interview.

I responded quickly and crossed my fingers it wold be better than the last.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VI

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I got my hurr did. 🙂

I’m starting to feel like a whole new woman, and it’s only been a few days. I got my hair and nails done. It’s amazing what a fresh cut and color will do to your sense of being. My rat’s nest hadn’t been unleashed from a bun or pony tail in over a year.

I was rockin’ an overgrown bob with dead ends drier than the Sahara desert. Woof.

I reworked my morning routine and started to feel more at home. After a cup of joe I’d throw the tennis ball for their two goldens. I’d go on the treadmill or ride a bike down to the beach, and in-between I applied and reached out to as many people, organizations and jobs I could manage before my eyes would go cross-eyed. IMG_5218IMG_5164

I was able to explore the freeway system. Yes, the infamous 405 freeway where the rest of America watched OJ Simpson flee police after the murder of his wife.

I’ve driven many places, but driving in a borrowed car made me more uneasy. If I happened to fender bender with anything, I’d rather with my own car.

I was pleasantly surprised the freeways are a helluva more direct than the construction fiasco ones in Texas. I think got too used to feeling like a mouse weaving through tight lanes chasing the cheese. I forgot it wasn’t normal.

The on-ramps were long, signs were clear and you had an ample amount of time to change lanes to get on the correct exit. Knock on wood, the driving wasn’t bad, and I got more comfortable each time I ventured out.

Feelin' the Pacific.
Feelin’ the Pacific.

I also got to dip my toes into the much cooler Pacific Ocean.

Palm Springs
Palm Springs

And I traveled east out to Palm Springs. Where the rat pack liked to vacation and party.

One week down, and hopefully only a few more to go. I want a job, I need a job, I’ll get a job. Why not me.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part V

By the second night, I was an expert on how to achieve sleep on a train. It also helped we were allowed to spread out, and I got the seat next to me back.

And a word to the wise: The train car attendants are there to do their job. If you want to spread out, just ask if it’s okay to move seats. They’ll more than likely oblige if there’s enough room and they aren’t expecting anymore passengers to board.

Smiley, and a few other passengers, thought it was appropriate to argue and raise their voices when the female attendant asked them to go back to their assigned seats. A majority of the unruly passengers were male, and I assume weren’t pleased about a female telling them what to do. 

I made sure to express my gratitude and that God bless her for keeping her cool. As a waitress, I know the public can be rough. 

***

I got almost four straight hours of sleep and then dozed off for another two hours. I felt like I won the sleep battle. I woke with a little over 45-minutes left of my trip, I was almost finished with my 36-hour Christopher Columbus-esque trip, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

As the train pulled into Union Station in Los Angeles, I almost leaped off the platform. I had a busy day ahead of me and a lot of unchartered waters to sail through. I was here to find a job, I was here to take a chance and make a change, and I was here to escape the continent (my couch) of postgrad depression.

***

Getting the star treatment with the FIL <3
Getting the star treatment with the FIL ❤
I had about four-five hours of down time before it was time to get ready for Habitat for Humanity’s Builders Ball.

It would be a great opportunity to network and put my name out in a sea of people who all had jobs and knew people who needed to hire, and that somebody could be me!

It was held at The Wilshire Hotel, also known as the hotel in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts stays with the handsome Richard Gere. Swoon. 

I got to walk the infamous Rodeo Drive in search of a Starbucks. We had been up since 3:30 a.m. and were going to need liquid energy to make it until 10:00 p.m.

Before guests arrived.
Before guests arrived.

The room filled.
The room filled.
It was gorgeous.

The ball was a first for Habitat, and its main purpose was to highlight the work it does for the community, the organization’s biggest donors/contributors and to raise money to continue the work it does for the greater Los Angeles area.

Oh yeah, and Magic Johnson was there.

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No big deal, right?

My first night in California I went to a ball, met some awesome Habitat for Humanity peeps and listened to Magic Johnson hustle people during his personal auction of two Laker tickets (floor seats), a signed basketball and jersey…

I have to say, not a bad start.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IV

I had the the whole day on the train, but it felt nice to know I was halfway done with the trip. Traveling by train is interesting and definitely something I can check off my bucket list, but I’d suggest traveling by train would be more enjoyable with a friend.

I went to the cafe car and bought some milk for my breakfast. I had brought my granola cereal and a few bananas to mimic my normal morning routine. The price of food is equivalent to eating at any arena events. To cut some costs, especially if traveling long distances, I would recommend bringing your own snacks and bottled water.

After I finished my breakfast I hung out in the observation car. The windows are larger and the seats are roomier, plus it’s an awesome way to break up the time sitting in your paid seat. I was still in Texas, but the landscape began to show we were headed closer to New Mexico.

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As the train stopped in El Paso, I was shocked to see what the real border between Mexico and the U.S. looked like….

I had traveled to Cozumel a few years ago and understood it was the touristy part of the country, but I had never seen the vast differences of the two countries side-by-side.

As I gazed down the rusted barbed-wire fence, it was apparent which country was which, even though the landscaping was the same, the way it was used was vastly different. Our roads were paved, cut into the mountains and rocky environment. Mexico’s houses were plopped on uneven surfaces up steep rocky roads. It looked miserable, homes barley had roofs or windows.

The fence was a physical representation of where dreams began and ended; a literal and concrete meaning of the “American Dream.” It was humbling to see it with my own eyes, and a reminder to not take what I have for granted. Not a single soul gets to pick what country they’re born in, and I should be forever grateful for my homeland luck.

***

The time zone changes were starving my stomach, because dinner kept getting pushed back later and later. I had also ran out of snacks. When my reservation number (you must reserve a dinner seat earlier in the afternoon with a train attendant) was called over the speakers, I flew quicker than The Flash to the dining car.

The waitresses assign you a place to sit and if you’re a party of one, you’ll be dining with four other strangers. It was a bit odd at first because I sat with three other older gentlemen. One was from England while the other two were Americans.

Halfway through my meal, the man sitting in front of me asked why I was on the train and where I was headed (a normal conversation starter while traveling by train). I gave an edited version of my reasons and of hopes to find a job in California. After learning of my recent graduation he asked what I got my degree in and what I wanted to do.

I expressed my passion for nonprofits, how I had worked for the American Red Cross over the summer and enjoyed every minute assisting during disaster relief efforts and writing blogs for the organization. His response, I kid you not was:

“Man, you sound like the perfect politician. A writer and spin doctor who enjoys working for crooks,” said Mr. Arrogant American.

My other two dining car buddies immediately shoveled more rice and salad into their stomachs. A zillion remarks zipped through my head in the matter of milliseconds. Instead of educating him or throwing my plate at his head, I resorted to a sarcastic quip about how it’s a shame so many people are uninformed.

#winning

Dinner was okay, I questioned how much of the chicken was chicken, but I was too hungry to truly care. I had one more night’s sleep in a coach seat, a few more movies to watch, and then I’d be greeted by my in-laws on the platform where my journey to what opportunities I could create in California would begin.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part III

The past few hours have been interesting. I finally mustered up the courage to leave my seat and use the restroom. I didn’t fall down the stairs, or up them for that matter and all of my possessions were still sitting where I left them.

When I ventured to the cafe car, I did make a fool of myself, naturally. I couldn’t figure out how the door that separated one train car from the next opened. Mind you, there was a huge button in the middle of the door that said PUSH. When I pushed nothing happened, so I tried to open the contraption like a sliding class door. Nothing. So I tried again and then again. After what felt like forever I finally punched the button that said push and it opened …..

A crew member was on the other side watching me struggle and I muttered, “sorry, apparently I can’t read,” as I walked by. I could do nothing but laugh, typical Shannon move.

My train, and I couldn't help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of ...
My train, and I couldn’t help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of …

The train stopped in Austin, Texas, by far the biggest city we’ve trucked through, and I soon found out a bigger city means more people waiting to board the train. I lost the seat next to me and am now making friends with an older women who’s headed up to San Fransisco.

She takes the train every time she travels to Oklahoma to see her sister. And even with my fear of flying, I tell myself she’s nuts for taking this long of a trip twice a year. I realize I might have to suck it up and fly if I can’t find a job in California. There’s no way I’d want to wait two days to see my Hubs again. 

I figure my passenger buddy lottery lucked out and at least I didn’t get stuck with someone creepy. After all, I will be sleeping next to this person for the rest of the night. We are now parked in San Antonio waiting for another train to arrive that we’ll hook up to, to make the rest of the trip west.

It’s there, standing outside of my temporary home for the next two nights, I get my first whiff of home sickness. I want my bed, I want my puppies and I want my husband. When did I turn into such a big baby? I used to pride myself on my independance and my ability to step out of my comfort zone. Now, I couldn’t be more anxious to get home.

After a long chat with my mother-in-law and a few crocodile tears later, I felt a bit better about what I was doing. And a few hours later I realized why I was feeling so overwhelmed and emotional. It comes every month and I’m not sure why it still surprises me, duh.

Because the layover in San Antonio was long, many passengers left the station to visit a bar and stretch their legs. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’d be correct. I thought I was going to have a rumble at 2:30 a.m. when they all showed back up to make the departure. Smiley stomped up to the second level and shouting about how he couldn’t find his seat.

When the train hooked up to the other train, the crew members came on board and turned the seats around, so the passengers would be sitting forward when it began moving again. Yes, slightly confusing for the sober person, but impossible to navigate for the drunk.

He stopped by my seat twice to ask loudly what the f**k happened to his seat. I was huddled under my blanket and snuggled into my pillow trying to figure out the most least comfortable position to fall asleep in. The last time Smiley stopped to bark, I ripped the covers off my head and gave him the meanest stink eye I could muster.

It must’ve worked. I didn’t hear a peep from him for the rest of the night. I wish I could say that about the other members of his drunken party. It’s funny, people say New Yorkers are the biggest arseholes of the country, yet I had enough common sense to not stomp around, talk on my cellphone (who the hell is up to talking at 2:00 a.m. any ways?) or chat with my passenger buddy like it was 2 p.m. in the afternoon…..

Overall, I got about thresh hours of sleep my first night. I had planned ahead and brought my own blanket and pillows, so my head wouldn’t be trying to find a comfortable resting place on the arm rest. I also brought Wet Wipes to mimic a shower before bed. I didn’t have to use the mace I kept tucked in my jacket pocket and I did manage to get some uninterrupted sleep.

PS: When you sleep on a train it’s almost impossible to not accidentally bump your seat buddy. Do your best to focus on counting sheep.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part II

I’ve been caught up with applying to jobs out on the west coast, so I find it harder to sit down after hours of screen time to blog about it. But let me catch you up. 

***

Three hours into my first long distance train ride and I have no complaints. I’ve never rode an Amtrak train before. I’ve traveled by subway, trolleys, inner city trams, and traveled back in time with gold thieves who would hold up a vintage locomotive in order to find gold in the passenger’s pockets. The stairwell leading to the bottom car does smell like urine, but my fellow passengers don’t reek of it, yet.

The Golden Eagle Amtrak train route.
The Golden Eagle Amtrak train route.

To say I was nervous about my 5-hour layover in San Antonio would be putting it lightly. I’m supposed to sleep in this thing? To be fair, the seats did recline far enough to snuggle in for an awkward night’s sleep and the leg room was generous.

But I’m one of those strange people who has an unhealthy relationship with their bed. I can’t sleep anywhere unless it’s between my own sheets. When I would do sleepovers at a friend’s house, my mom had to warn the parents I would have to call them before I’d go to bed. I would get home sick and just want to go back to my own house, each time. My mom expected the call and would tell me she’d be there before sunrise if I didn’t have a good time. I guess I wanted reassurance my home would still be there for me the next day, who knows.

Me, reluctantly sitting in my seat.
Me, reluctantly sitting in my seat.

A hour into the train ride I got a dose of what my fellow travelers did outside of the speeding bullet. The man behind me spent a majority of the first leg of the train on his phone. His daughter’s car had overheated, she was stranded in a neighborhood, and he talked her through what she needed to do in order for the car to start and return home.

The man in front of me might be Mr. Bean. He fell asleep within seconds and passengers two cars ahead of us could hear him snoring. I kid you not. I have never heard the most such a disgusting snore come from ones throat, at times people were nervous he was going to choke. I immediately made a mental note to never complain about the light snoring my husband did.

A group of people in the far back talked mostly about sports, but oddly enough politics would swoop into the conversation every once in a while. The loud obnoxious one with smiley tattooed on his neck favored the 49-ers. An older couple sported Dallas Cowboy gear and complained about Tony Romo.

I’ve been through two cities thus far according to the map, but anywhere else in the country I think they’d just be considered a gathering of people who couldn’t ravel far enough inland. We went through the town Crawford, and no joke, I blinked and missed it entirely.

The Brazen River
The Brazen River

I had my first river crossing – the Brazen River which means the Arms of God. I was happy to reach the other side because of the nightmares I had the night before of derailing on a bridge, drowning to death. I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested – in my Sheldon Cooper voice. 

Flat land for days
Flat land for days

The scenery switches up between flat land, bushes texans call trees and run-down homes. And there were plenty of old cars sitting in some backyards, a gold mine for my car-crazed husband and father-in-law.

City of Crawford
City of Crawford

I’m not to keen on getting up and out of my seat, yet. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what is going on around me. I like to absorb the culture before I start to wander the train. Can I leave my stuff on my seat? Which way is the cafe car? Should I sit quietly or make a friend?

I think I’ll wait a couple more hours before I indulge myself of what I’ll call home for the next 35 hours.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition

Welp. This past Monday I was on a train headed to Los Angeles. A 36-hour tour (in my Gilligan’s voice) from North Texas to the West Coast.

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Last week I blogged about not being able to ignite my spark. I had forgotten that my spark was in the shape of a 5’8 good looking, former Californian – my husband. A few days prior to my Columbus Day voyage, my husband got home from work to announce he had pulled the trigger. I was leaving to see what opportunities lie out west.

I spent the majority of the rest of that day bawling my eyes out, and it shocked me I was taking such good news, terribly.

But duh, it’s the fear of the unknown, and I’ve always hated when people would use the cliché. My life has changed so many times I refused to believe I was afraid of the unknown. Hell, in four years I’ve moved to two different states with a possible third move on the way. How could I be afraid of the unknown?

It’s simple when you have a clear mind to think about it. I’m worried this trip will end in heartache. I’m afraid I won’t land a job in my field, the trip would be for nothing and a waste of money. I’m not sure when I’ll see my husband or puppies again and the same nagging question of if I could afford living in California, remains.

Knowing I don’t have a definite date of when I’ll be reunited with my tiny family is the hardest. I don’t think I realized how much of my stability, saneness and homey feelings resided in the Hubs. He had been deployed a few times, gone for weeks during work-ups and were used to the normal goodbye exchanges.

But I had never left him.

I had always done the dropping off and picking up.

In each goodbye, I would think how easy it was to be the one leaving and how hard it was to do the sitting and waiting. Ha. On the drive to the train station the Hubs and I had a great laugh about my ignorance. It ain’t easier leaving, it’s friggin’ harder.

I felt uneasy for the rest of the week, but was surprised to hear well wishes from coworkers and managers after I explained what I was going to be doing.

“That’s great you’re taking a chance!”

“Good for you! I think this is going to work out, I can feel it!”

“The best part about this is you’re getting out of your comfort zone to make a change. Many people wouldn’t and simply sit content, or accept it. You’re going out to grab it!”

It gave me an extra pep in my step the rest of the weekend, they were right, everyone I had told was right. This was an adventure and I should enjoy it. How many people are lucky enough to have in-laws who invite you into their home AND offer to help you find a job? I’m going to guess not many, or even if they wanted to, couldn’t.

The pep talks carried me as far as the platform out front of my locomotive. The Hubs had helped load my luggage onto the train and get me settled in a seat. We hugged, kissed and began to walk our separate ways, but I had to sneak one last hug before I could leave (I always need the extra freebie).  

Awhile back I kept the mantra, why not me singing in my head while writing and submitting my personal narrative to a writing competition. And I won. I can only hope past mojo can get me the same result.