Archive for the ‘The DC’ Category

I have a new roomate. The other one was great but he followed his girlfriend to NYC. Strangely, this new one was my roomate when I lived upstairs, so I know we get along. BUT he seems to have gathered a tremendous amount of stuff this time around. Either that or the first time he never intended to stay for long. He’s still unpacking and I don’t know where it’s all going to go. I hope he has a toaster because I left mine in Portland somewhere.

I went to the premiere of “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. I know a few of the producers and was contacted by the director for consulting regarding a very brief scene in which Cheyenne Jackson is playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a good movie and you should go see it.

I’ve been so busy on the job hunt and travelling, I didn’t realize I hadn’t been biking or going to the gym as much as I usually do. On Labor Day I got to the gym and a long bike ride, and it felt real good. I also got caught in a rainstorm, but there was a rainbow afterwards, even though congress does not deserve a rainbow:

I forgot to mention I’ve gotten back to rugby. Of course I first had to get health insurance, as it would be stupid to play rugby without it. I went through the DC health exchange (“Obamacare”) and I must say that process really sucked. It took about 2 1/2 days to process my application, and that was with a specialist trained in holding people’s hands through the process. That and the website sucked. I mean, I just finished a webmaster gig so I know a few things, and found out I had to log-in or log-out on this or that screen, or clear the browser cache before this screen worked. Extremely user unfriendly website. And what if I was a struggling mother working 3 part-time jobs? I wouldn’t have the time to navigate this system that takes almost three days to process.

Anyway, rugby has been good. I’m slower than I used to be, but my body is still intact. Getting back to rugby has given me a sense of normalcy and practices offer two hours where I’m not obsessing over my career recovery. And the guys are nice to look at, of course.

I was on my way to check out the crowd at Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw and ogled a new coffee joint in the works a mere block away. Compass Coffee will be opening soon at 1535 7th Street NW, and promise a hefty buzz for the local residents. Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) gave me a quick tour and it looks like it’s gonna be a spacious joint with fresh roasted beans.
Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) of Compass Coffee
They’re excited about it and it will surely be a fueling spot for all the residents of the nearby developments. Even better, they promise a mean cold brew. It turns out Haft and Suarez are DC natives and served as Marines together. The Washington Post has an ongoing series about their business development. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Hello again. Been workin’ hard but have adjusted to the new job, just in time for it to end by the close of June. It is a contract position, and while it’s been good revisiting web content management and managing people (I think I’m good at it!) I am told we will likely be done with the web migration by the end of June.

While I have been looking for and applying to jobs this whole time, the push begins again in earnest. Still looking for long-term/permanent public affairs/communications employment, preferably for the government, preferably for a science- natural resources- or ag-based organization. So your help is appreciated dear readers – leads are always received graciously. It has been a rocky and fruitless job situation since September 2012 and I could really use some good news and developments.

Last month I actually had a phone interview for a job I was genetically engineered for: performing public affairs work for a sage grouse conservation program in Oregon. But despite two follow-up emails I have not heard anything back from them. As I recall Portlanders avoid conflict, so bad news is probably not going to be received at all.

We have had some heavy rains in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Potomac has been swollen:flotsam and jetsam
A few weeks ago “ten million ‘real’ Americans” gathered on the National Mall to protest Obama/Benghazi/buttsex or something. I only counted about ten teabagger loons. And for the record I’m tired of hearing these people dictate who “real” Americans are. Teabaggers STFU and go home.
TenMillionMurcans
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, we went for a bike ride along the Potomac River. The shad were running, and we observed herons eating them from this platform (which I think is a flow measurement station):
Flow Station
Under a nearby bridge, me and Bubbles contemplated the meaning of ‘BE’ and the flag of the District of Columbia:
DC Flag, and BE
I celebrated Memoral Day by sleeping in, going to the gym, and another bike ride. I took a picture of John S. Logan in Logan Circle. The dude founded Memorial Day:

I’m going to a Nationals baseball game tomorrow. Sadly woofy Bryce Harper is not playing these days, but super-beardy Jayson Werth will be playing.

Suddenly spring arrived. I went for a hike with friends on the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Virginia. There was a gun show:

I spotted a bald eagle and a baby snapping turtle.

Later that month, we went to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas in bloom:

Bubbles and me. Photo by GURL.


This weekend, a friend with a vineyard asked us to help plant vines:
I dig alone. Photo by GURL.
I carried the vines on my head:

I did not plant the vines as the Overseer preferred, so I soon changed to watering the plants rather than planting them:

As the sun set and we completed the project, we squinted in unison:

There were cute Jack Russel terriers present:

I don’t know what it is about spring that makes me remember things, particular things so clearly. Maybe it’s because the fog from the winter blahs lifts, or maybe it’s some chemical change in my head. But I always remember things in spring and often catch myself staring off while I reminisce.

Even though Portland is already having its spring and we aren’t (we just had 48 hours of rain/sleet snow – I do not exaggerate this) I remember riding my bike to my volunteer job in Portland last spring, and looking at that one house with all the beautiful tulips and grape hyacinths near Vancouver Avenue. I think an exceptionally shitty winter here in DC has not helped my state of mind thinking the grass was greener over there. It literally was greener over there, but I’m still not sure from the figurative sense. It was exciting to meet new people there and explore new places, but the job instability I was experiencing there made me crave familiarity. From it all I know I gained an appreciation for DC and my friends here.

Anyway enough navel-gazing. My job is going well and it’s good to have income. I get along with my coworkers. I’m a manager of four associates there. This is funny because despite having an M.S. in management, I’ve never actually managed people before. I think I’m doing all right at it, but it feels very awkward having me as the one assigning tasks to others. The idea of me as a manger seems odd. But so far it’s not been a bad experience. Other thoughts on managing:

- It takes time to consider and assign tasks to people. This may cut in on time you need to finish your work.
- People will ask you for guidance. Make a confident decision or otherwise have the balls to say “I don’t know but I will look it up and get back to you.” Then follow up with that promise.
- Every worker has different needs. Some need more work, others may need reassurance.
- Every worker has their strengths. So far I have identified my four associates as The Workhorse, Eagle Eye, Troubleshooter and Meticulous.
- A manager needs a level of self-awareness to watch what he says and how he says it. I have to remind myself that people can be sensitive and may be in a state of anxiety.

Blogosphere hivemind: any suggestions for shade- and excessive-heat tolerant flowers?
Our back deck doesn’t get much direct sun, but at least I have space to plant stuff.

Testing…does the BLINK tag still work in HTML 5?

I guess not. Those were the good ‘ol days…

The job is going well so far. Just training in the new content management system we’ll be using to migrate the site.

Interesting observation: when you wear a tie, people open the doors for you. Not just at work but elsewhere as well. Since I have to wear a tie I’ve noticed people treat you differently while out and about. And this change in behavior cannot be attributed to the possibility that people in downtown DC happen to be overly polite. Because that can’t be possible.

It has been a while since I’ve worked downtown. I’d previously been working out in Maryland for over 8 years. I’d forgotten how downtown DC gets lousy with tourists milling about. I will have to learn patience…and by the way Shake Shack is a ripoff! $6 for a milkshake? I will avoid it in the future – it’s a tourist trap.

Been busy lately going to workshops on career mapping, optimizing federal resumes and of course, job hunting. I’m just about trained to the brim on how to conduct a job search every which way possible. Fortunately, I’ve landed a six-month assignment at a prestigious nonprofit mentioned frequently on NPR. The interiors of the place sort of look like scenes from the film Gattica, and I expect my DNA to get scrubbed every time I check in to work:
Just another day at work.
I landed the job through a creative temp agency, which was about as challenging as landing a job on your own. These days you apply for temp jobs through the temp agency website, rather than get interviewed and placed by an agency. It took me a while to get my head around this idea, as things have changed on how you do it. When you go through a temp agency – at least at my career level – it’s more like a headhunter service. In fact I think the lines have blurred between the two. Anyway, they’re hectic at the temp agency and you have to keep in touch with your agent, pestering them when things get slow. I wonder if I had known this if things would have been different in Portland, considering I was using the same temp agency there. Anyway, you live and learn, and here I am.

I will be serving as a senior web content producer for this nonprofit, helping them with a major website redesign and migration. They want to hire like a dozen more people at the associate level, but as I recall it didn’t take that many people to redesign and migrate pages. We’ll see what’s up. From my experience you can move a site with hundreds of pages with a few people. I guess I’ll have to show them I can do that, and save them money!

Career-wise, web content work is something I did a few jobs ago, and my career has moved on more towards public affairs. But web content (blogs, social media, website presence) is still an outward-facing aspect of public affairs.

Anyway, the workplace is very businesslike, and I was a little intimidated by the interiors. And they dress conservatively, even for DC. But the pay is good and I will dress well and keep my beard presentable to do the work. I start a week from today. After a year and 5 months without long-term employment I am excited to get back to work.

Sadly the snowy owl in DC was hit by a bus. He’s doing well in raptor rehab, and to their credit, the DC police trailed the owl for hours before it was captured after injury. Snowy owls prefer wide open spaces, and there isn’t a whole lot of that in downtown DC. He gave it a good try though.

I am only just starting to feel better from being sick for a month. An especially snotty cold that started on New Year’s Eve turned into sinus congestion and then an infection there and in the lungs. Between the flooding, cold weather, and sinus/chest congestion I’ll have to say January sucked. On the bright side, my renter’s insurance covered a replacement for my computer desk, the funds more likely to go to rent and food.

The contracting job that got me through the holidays is now over, and I’m now just looking for any kind of cash flow. I’ve been exploring temp agencies and am noticing hourly wages are lower than they used to be. I think advertised annual salaries are lower too. I didn’t realize what a good salary I had with my previous job that I left. Of course rent and overall cost of living has not dropped. If I don’t get a decent source of income soon, I have about a month or two before rent and food start to become a struggle. I don’t know what I am going to do at that point.

It looks like the job I interviewed for at the institute of higher learning where I used to work is not going to pan out. My sources in that office say they seem to be on the next round of interviews, which I have not been invited to. I understand that my experience may have eclipsed a more junior level position. It’s clear that I have done the work they’re asking for, but I suspect they’re looking for someone younger or with less experience. That’s the conundrum I’ve been experiencing lately. I think I’m ready for a more senior-level position, and have been targeting those kinds of jobs for the long run.

Recent polar surges have pushed snowy owls southward in the last month. The mammals they feed on burrow in and enter a torpid state when it’s freezing out, so snowy owls are forced to fly to where they can find food. A few snowy owls have been spotted in the DC area the past few weeks, and I was finally able to see one downtown at 15th & L Streets NW:
Snowy Owl
He was there for a few hours, not 30′ above the street. He seemed unfazed by the crowds watching him. I was glad city folk got to see this unusual sighting. It’s interesting that I saw a whole parliament of snowy owls almost a year ago in Oregon.

I was on my way to the community clinic to get my nasty sinuses taken care of. I got a cold around New Year’s Eve which persisted and turned into a sinus infection and possibly bronchitis. Having no income nor health insurance, I avoided getting it taken care of as long as possible. But it got so painful and just malingering I finally broke down and went to the community clinic. Turns out the experience wasn’t so bad, nor expensive and I got some antibiotics. I’m also signed up for “Obamacare,” we’ll see how affordable that actually is. Anyway, I got a snowy owl selfie pic taken of me. I am grimacing because my molars and sinuses hurt:
Snowy Owl Selfie
It was also really cold out so that might account for some of the grimace as well.