Archive for the ‘The DC’ Category

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.

So the polar vortex was lots of fun. It caused the pipes to burst in both neighbor’s houses. With the neighbor to the north of my house, pipes burst on their 3rd floor, causing water to flow between our houses and bubbled up one one side of my bedroom. That didn’t explain the water leaking through the walls on the other side of my bedroom. That was caused by a leak in the house to the south of mine. So I spent much of yesterday mopping and wringing out things in my room. Luckily the water was not very deep – less than 1/4″. So only my cheap-ass old computer desk got wet. We shall see how the mold progresses in the spring, however. Basement units suck and are nothing but drama. But it was the best I could do upon my quick arrival in DC. To add to it all, for some reason our water heater capacity has dropped, making for only about 3 minutes of hot water for a shower. The landlord is on it and I’m in touch with my renter’s insurance agency for a desk replacement. Fortunately my furniture is crap so there wasn’t much of value lost.

In better news, I have an interview with the institute of higher learning where I worked about 6 years ago. It’s a lot of the same of what I used to do there – communications for an academic department – and wouldn’t be a step up in my career path. But after a year and three months out of the job market I need to take what comes in this bad economy. I also have an acquaintance who has pushed my resume aggressively in another organization downtown. We’ll see how this develops. Sadly, I’ll have to trim down my big lumberjack beard I’ve grown out for the winter. I’ll try to get a decent photo of befur and after for documentation.

Hey, I’m doing OK. Just haven’t had much to blog about lately. My short-term contracting gig has kept me busy at odd hours. It’s sort of on-demand and hourly, but the pay is good and it beats temping. It’s work on proposal development, and I work when a draft is done and I then have to add/edit stuff. It’s a good team to work with for the most part, and it will get me through the holidays. If we win the contract, I will be very busy, but won’t know how that will go until at least January, if not later.

So I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for longer-term opportunities. I got a screening call from one organization but haven’t heard back from them since before Thanksgiving. There have been a couple of jobs open with a higher ed institution I’ve applied to, and several federal jobs as well. I don’t know what’s up with the federal jobs lately – they post announcements, I’m qualified for them and apply to them, but then never hear a thing back from any I’ve applied to. I can’t help but wonder if they’re jobs that are called for already.

My roomate moved in and now there is no space left for anything. There wasn’t a lot of storage space to begin with. I’m looking around for storage options but am loathe to rent storage space. The prices in DC are ridiculous, and I don’t have that much stuff to put away. So I’m asking around to see if anyone has space for a table and two boxes.

I dogsat for a friend recently. The dog was quite furry and dander-y, and discovered after a couple of days with her that I’m now allergic to dogs. Areas where she laid down now congest me and make my eyes burn. So I guess it’s just goldfish for me here on out, which is OK since I like goldfish.

typical DC streetscape in winterIt happened like clockwork after the daylight savings time change earlier this month. My mood dropped, it was an effort to get motivated, and I noted an increasing reluctance to go out. The temperature changes didn’t help either, but I’m aware of these mood changes this time of year and work to recognize these mood changes. I do things to go against these urges like work out, ride my bike, and make sure I get out to socialize. These things help a lot.

This has always been a challenge for me in DC. I often explain to others that our winters are like the scenes from the Sleepy Hollow animated feature and movie. It’s worth noting I didn’t feel this way this time of year in Portland. I was warned that their winters were miserable in a different way. Granted, I wasn’t working and was able to go out in the day to get some amount of UV through the cloud cover. But Portland was somewhat warmer despite being drippier with all the rain. I think the tipping point for me is the colder temperatures in DC.

The other thing comparing winters between the two cities was that I noticed that not everyone in Portland did proactive things to combat the winter blahs. Not everyone in DC does either, but considering the reputation of the winters in the Pacific Northwest, you would think more people would do things to actively combat the blahs. Anyway my conclusion from all of this is that DC doesn’t have the reputation for having horrid winter blahs, but should. It is just as bad here as in the Pacific Northwest, but not as rainy. Just cold and dark.

looking?The other way DC is much like Sleepy Hollow is that we have a lot of headless torsos running around. I mean like people not showing their faces on mobile apps like Scruff. We have far more headless horsemen in DC than in Portland. I attribute this to some sort of cultural thing having to do with remnants of Puritanism or Southern propriety. And despite being recently hailed by the New York Times as one of the gayest places in America, there are still a lot of closet cases – or maybe people who think being seen on an app is indicative of their whorishness. This wasn’t the case in Portland, where people didn’t give a shit and showed their faces.

I think there were just as many open relationships in Portland as there are in DC. But again they were simply honest about their open status in Portland, which was very refreshing. In DC relationship statuses in online profiles are often left blank, where I simply assume they are in a relationship, open, and they think they are being sneaky about it. I much prefer to be fully disclosed on someone’s relationship status, then we can both go from there with all cards on the table. I don’t care if you’re an online whore or in an open relationship, I just want to be informed that you have a boyfriend. It helps interactions go much smoother. And believe me gurl, if you think I won’t find out you have a boyfriend at home, think again. My agents are everywhere.

Good news: while things are still rolling for a permanent job, I secured a short-term contracting gig that could possibly turn into a very lucrative long-term gig. It’s helping to write a proposal to assist as a contractor with the agency I formerly worked for. It’s the next best thing to actually getting right back with my former workplace. So right now it’s just helping to write a proposal as a “subject matter expert.” It’s nice to be recognized for my expertise after a year and a month of esteem-crushing joblessness. The irony is that they found me and actively recruited me without me having contacted them at all. This is after applying to 100+ jobs and networking my ass off for a year. I can’t complain, I guess this is how things work out. Now to turn on my UV lamp and get my happy self to work on Monday.

I have mixed feelings about Movember. On the one hand it’s great that people are raising awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer. On the other hand, the “rules” for the event encourage men to start growing a ’stache from scratch. Unless you are Turkish or a Wookiee, a month’s growth of ’stache will only result in something cheesy-looking. And ultimately many shave their caterpillars off by the end of the month, which makes me sad. You get much better results shaving down from a fully-grown beard – AND KEEPING THE ‘STACHE FOREVER. Now that’s dedication to a cause.

So I was tickled to see U.S. rugger Seamus Kelly (left) sporting a ’stache this weekend at the U.S. Eagles vs. New Zealand Māori All Blacks match in Philadelphia. It was a good game – I was expecting the Americans to get crushed but the final score was very close. It was good to go see some live rugby with the Renegades.

STILL LOOKING FOR WORK. Granted it’s only been a month since I got here, and the job application and networking machine is just getting started. But it would be nice to get back to work. Government jobs are not plentiful due to the sequester and, well, simply no budget set, so agencies aren’t willing or even able to open new positions. And from what I’ve been hearing from my former coworkers, the cuts have taken a toll on productivity and morale. They’ve been cutting back for years, despite what you’ve heard in the news, and could use some new blood. Hello, I’m here!

So I’ve been focusing more on contracting firms and nonprofits, who are hiring. I actually had a soft offer for a job that was inaccessible by public transit, so I had to turn it down. There have been opportunities here and there but I’m discovering I’m at an ambiguous point in my career. I’m too experienced for more junior-level communications positions, but don’t feel I have the management experience for senior level jobs in my field either. Shoot low and I have to settle for a low salary. Shoot too high and risk applying for a job I’m underqualified for.

In other news, in the month I’ve been here I’ve set up the house, cleaned up the jungle that was the back deck, got wireless Internets set up and finally got a roommate. It took a while to find one, which is surprising. The last time I looked for the same address I had five people come look at the place in a week, where one offered up two month’s rent up front. This time it was a mere trickle, and many were only marginally interested. The guy I ended up with is a good fit – he’s a long-time resident of the neighborhood who is merely moving from across the street. He’s mellow, likes birding and is a global traveller. He does not have a mustache, which is disappointing.