Around and Out
The job search continues. There was a job for which i had two interviews, both of which went very well, but I didn't wind up getting it. Riverpoint, the agency with whom I was working to get hired was trying to backfill their position, and the client, VML, apparently didn't see things that way. They took it upon themselves to go and work with another agency to fill the position, without telling Riverpoint about it. It would seem that the relationship the two companies have isn't quite as sterling as they went through pains to impress upon me. So, long story short, I'm still jobless and still looking.
I'm still optimistic though. Brad shot me a line on a job with his company. But even so, I think that because of the time of year, it isn't very likely that I'll get hired by anyone outside of extraordinary circumstances, before 2009.
With that in mind, I think I'm going to do a little jetsetting, on a train. I'll head up to Chicago on Tuesday and spend some time with Brian, Kathleen, Craig, Amber, Todd, Margie, Ben, and whoever else I can manage to see. Then after a couple of days, I'll hop on another train and run to Cincinnati, and spend some time with Julie and Nathan before my sister comes to town on Saturday, and we'll go to my first ever NFL game. Then I'll ride with Julia back to Detroit and spend the next week and a half with her, up until we both head to Peoria for Christmas with the family. I'll ride back to KC on the Friday or Saturday that follows.
All told, I'm looking at approximately twenty days out of town, with a place to stay every night. Some of the details are still being worked out, and I still need to talk to some people, but it looks like it's going to happen.
I'll keep you informed.
11:45 AM, Dec 10, 2008
The Trip and Naperville
I'm in Naperville, IL. I arrived yesterday after arriving on time, after waiting ninety seconds at the train station in KC, after catching the bus right as it pulled up. In other words, my trip went perfectly.
Brian and I went to Fry's in Lisle or Westmont or Wheaton or something, and wandered around gawking at computer hardware and impractically large televisions. We drove back to the apartment in Naperville through suddenly acutely wintry weather. We sat down and watched the first half of Star Wars: Clone Wars while we waited for Kathleen to get home.
Kathleen arrived, and after some administrative shuffling we set to making dinner: chicken nachos. I was called upon to produce the guacamole. Though I had never made it before, I introduced Brian and Kathleen to the miracle of salt, as in ingredient. Dinner was delicious and the conversation was lovely.
We sat down in the living room and split a large Unibroue-made bottle of something marketed as a Trader Joe's beer. It tasted familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
Sleep came quickly, soon after. Though by about 2:30am, my eyes came open as if I had no business sleeping. I was wide awake. As the acid built up in my stomach, I milled around drinking water until I got the ide to turn on a light and read. That did the trick, though it took the entire Beren and Luthien chapter of The Silmarillion
to restore my sleepiness. By roughly 4am I was asleep again, and I slept deeply until about 11am when bright daylight woke me up.
Today, I'll munch on something around here, do some web stuff, and leave by 2 or 3 to get some pictures and wander around downtown Naperville.
Naperville and Chicago
I wandered into downtown Naperville and found a shopping district akin to the Country Club Plaza, Zona Rosa, or parts of Village West, back home. Brian had told me a little bit about a new beer bar therein, called the Grumpy Bulldog. I found it without a great deal of trouble, and found that it's actually a pretty great place. Twelve carefully-selected draughts and about 100 bottles make for a very nice selection in a place where such things largely go unnoticed and unappreciated. Nick behind the bar was happy to answer any questions I had, and to make enthusiastic recommendations. I spent perhaps two hours there before Brian came to pick me up.
While I was doing my thing, I got a call from my grandcentral
number. That's my "home" number; the number I give to people I don't know. I give it out without hesitation, and it's the number attached to all my accounts and services. It's also the number on my resume. So, if I ever receive a call on that phone it either means that I owe someone money, or someone wants to talk about a job. Since all my accounts are in order at the moment, I had to assume the call was about the latter, so I hastened outside in my rolled-up sleeves and shivered through a call in which an interview was set up for the Wednesday after I get back home. So here's to hope!
Anyway, Brian and I went back to the apartment and waited for Kathleen to get home, which turned out to happen about five minutes later. We gathered ourselves up and made what speed we could to the Bavarian Lodge
in Lisle. I had a fantastic chicken paprikash, along with a draught of Furious, a delicious pale ale from Minnesota's Surly Brewing Company. Filled to our gastronomic brims, we retired to the apartment and slept heavily. My visit with Brian and Kathleen was wonderful.
The next morning I caught the Metra into the city. Seventy minutes later, I was doing laps at Union Station, looking for a CTA machine from which I might be able to purchase a day pass. No such luck did I have. So, I walked over to State Street, underneath which is the miles-long red line station. I promptly found come CTA machines, but none that would dispense a day pass. So, I slipped a twenty into a normal machine, and never got any prompts of any kind as to what dollar amount I wished to purchase. It had been a while since I'd ridden the CTA, and I assumed that some semblance of modern convenience would have infiltrated its automated systems in the intervening time. I assumed wrong.
Putting a twenty into a machine gives you a $20 card. If you want a smaller amount on your card, then don't put so much money in, stupid! Feeling slightly sorry for myself, I walked over to some hot dog place and got a soft, cheap hamburger. After lunch I walked back over to State Street, and caught the 146 or 156 bus- something like that -and rode it to the Field Museum, where Kathleen works. She gave me a fantastic behind-the scenes tour of one of the world's foremost natural history museums, complete with a walk through their specimen stacks. She enlisted my help in opening a immense tank containing two fully preserved, full-grown Komodo dragons. It was a great experience.
I said good-bye, picked my increasingly heavy bags back up, and hopped on the first bus that arrived. I took that back to State Street, where I took the red line to Jackson, and walked down the long tunnel to the blue line, which I then took to Western. I walked outside, turned right on Armitage, and walked the half mile to my second favorite bar in the world: The Map Room. I was meeting some people there, but I was still about an hour early for any of them to arrive. So I did what I came to do: drink beer and talk to people. I struck up a conversation with Kevin, two stools down, and we talked about baseball until Todd arrived. Todd and I grabbed a table, and then Craig came in. Soon afterward, Margie came in, followed shortly by Amber. We had a nice group around a table at the Map Room, and it was exactly what I always wish for when I'm at a bar I love: good friends, good beer, and good conversation.
It was a school night, so everyone dispersed by about 9:30pm. Amber and Craig and I drove up to their apartment near Lincoln Square, and talked some more while they gave me the dime tour of their place. They showed me to my room- yes, I had my own room -and I fell asleep with a book on my face.
12:53 PM, Dec 15, 2008
Waiting for the Train
The rest of the trip was a lot of fun, but I don't have the inclination to rehash it all right now. I'll just say that I had a great time, despite cold for which I was ill-prepared.
I decided to cut the trip a day short, and drove up to Chicago last night, instead of today. This decision proved to be wise beyond my ability to make decisions, as my trip was speedy and untroubled by the ravages of nature. I-74, I-65, I-80, and I-294 were as clear of traffic as I could ever hope for them to be. The real blessing though, is that I seem to have arrived in Chicago safely and easily, in the very nick of time.
The temperature was in the 50s when I left Cincinnati, and I have been told that such was the case in Chicago too. In the five hours it took to drive, the temperature dropped fifteen degrees, and the rain was steadily falling at O'Hare when I dropped off the car. As Brian and I walked inside from the car in Naperville, the rain was unpleasantly cold. When I woke up at about 10am I looked at the windows, and they were covered with frost and ice- on the inside.
It's currently 10 degrees outside, and everything within 100 miles of Chicago is covered with a layer of ice. My train leaves in two hours, and I couldn't be more pleased that Brian and Kathleen live literally right next to the Naperville station.
So, when the time comes, I'll gather my effects and amble on downstairs to catch the train to KC. See you there!
The Paper Office
I had another preliminary interview this week. It was in Overland Park, regarding a contract position for a company in Overland Park. Working in Overland Park has never appealed to me, as it's just about as bad as it gets in the KC area, regarding suburban hell. I know it's actually worse in Eastern Jackson county with its disjointed hilly, littoral nature, but College and Metcalf, right next to where I had my interview, is the epicenter of Johnson County's commitment to the automobile as the end-all be-all of infrastructure and transportation. Also, compared to the city, it's a bitch to get there.
This can all be discounted however, as I knew it going in, and have known for years that in my line of work, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and work in Overland Park. I arrived, and of course had to call for additional help in getting there. Every "address" there is of a building standing at an artistic angle in a landscaped parking lot, set back at least a hundred yards from the highway-like street. As such, it's completely impossible to know any addresses for any buildings without having seen them before and committed them to memory.
I parked, walked inside, and talked with a predictably attractive woman named Abby, who asked me basically to reiterate what's on my resume, which was right in front of her. As with just about every interview I've ever had with a recruiter, she obviously had no idea what any of my qualifications really were, and nodded when I would answer any of her questions. I could honestly have just made things up, and it would have been the same. After perhaps ten minutes of being grilled about my resume, she told me it was great to have talked with me, and would be "submitting" me for two positions, also in Overland Park.
Then she disappeared, and it seemed that it was time to go. I handed the receptionist my clipboard with identification materials and light paperwork on it, and as I reached for the door with a pleasant smile, I was told by the receptionist that there was "a little" more paperwork to fill out. She then handed me roughly fifteen runoff sheets of paper, and assured me that I could fill it all out at my leisure and, "just fax it back when it's done." What decade is this? Besides the legal brief I filed on their website as part of my, "profile," I had just filled out a few more pages of paperwork. And now, I was being told to fill out even more. I told her, to her incredulity, that it'd be easier for me to stay at their office for another hour filling out redundant paperwork than it would be for me to find and use a Carter Administration-FAX machine.
Over ninety percent of what I filled out that day was already available on the, "profile," they made me fill out on their website, and the rest was in my resume. This proves to me that they don't use computers in the office except for email and instant messaging with their sportsfan husbands. Why? Why do you put people through all of this? Doesn't it seem like an incredible contradiction that an IT recruiting firm
avails itself of almost none of the technology that they claim to expertly bring to their clients?
The whole experience put a bad taste in my mouth. We'll see if anything comes of it, though I doubt it will. I have another interview next week, which will cut short my holiday visit to Peoria. So I hope it's worth it. It's in Overland Park too.
4:54 PM, Dec 30, 2008
A Week Long
Since getting back to town from celebrating Christmas with the family on the weekend before it, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on amusement with friends who are in town for the holiday, or are just of a temperament that suits the imbibing of beverages until the night is old. There are too many nights to report, so I'll just focus on the main things, and on last night. It was as good a night as any.
First off, I have a date on Friday, and I'm pretty excited about it. I still haven't decided what we'll do yet though. I came back to town on Monday night(the 22nd), and met up with some friends at the Brick for their notoriously excellent karaoke night. They don't appear to accept legal tender as a means by which individuals may circumvent the queue of people awaiting their turn, and by the time I put my name in for a song, the queue was substantial. As such, I had already gone home by the time they called my name for a song.
That said, I met a beautiful, funny, amazingly single woman while I was there, and we somehow got along. Awkward, cheesy smiles and contact information were exchanged as I left early, as I had to get home to get some sleep for an interview at 10am. And yeah, we're going out to a destination or destinations I have yet to decide on Friday, and when I do decide, I won't be telling you psychos. I know how you paparazzi operate.
Last night I agreed to meet up with Chris at Grinders, but Sarah was holding an official birthday celebration at the Foundry in Westport, so I needed to make it to both. I got to Grinders right on time and came face to face with the woman I was looking forward to dating on Friday, who came with her sister, who was invited by Nick, who was invited by me. A hearty laugh was shared by all, and we quickly set about discussing music and beer. I left and hurried to Westport, where a crowd of equal size was congregated to wish Sarah a happy 26th. Sarah bought everyone shots. She loves buying rounds of shots.
I went home by about 1am, and drank three or four glasses of water before going to sleep to avoid a noxious hangover. I woke up and felt fine. Score.