tales from the south

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welcome to my “office.” and by office i of course mean this rustic-industrial slab of desk in my new coworking space. 

coworking is the newfangled concept that people can and should work side by side, in harmony, on different things…in different industries, for different purposes, etc. it’s become more popular as our culture has grown to embrace unconventional working arrangements: remote employee, freelancer, self-employed, and so on. and it is the ultimate solution for the type of worker i am. 

in college, i was reluctant to admit this to myself. it was so much easier to write papers from my room, and being lazy, i often fooled myself into thinking i could be productive in my own living space. this was quite frequently inadequate. i procrastinated like a champ. what i should have realized earlier is that whenever i left to go to one of the art studios, for example, i was magically much more productive. 

at KDHQ, i struggled with productivity from time to time just like anyone would, but i was mostly focused. the routine was heaven-sent for someone in denial like myself: wake up, dress like a professional, leave your house, arrive at an office, work for 7.5 hours, then return to your house. there was definitely something to that work-life balance that just magically happened when i commuted between locations. the equation was there: all it needed was me. 

then came the move to Chapel Hill. as i already mentioned, it was tough to be underemployed. i had no routine to auto-correct my lazy tendencies.

i had already done some research about the idea of coworking. i heard about the concept on NPR and bookmarked it for future reference.  after subscribing to the local business journal (don’t laugh; it’s good for networking & understanding local commerce if you’re new to the area), i learned about an up & coming space in Durham that was making waves and growing like crazy. okay, i thought to myself, the triangle is definitely on board with these new work habits. 

luckily for me, i found one closer (and cheaper) than the one in Durham. it’s a small space - only 8 full-time desks and a common table - and it moonlights as an art gallery. we also share the floor with a wellness studio that houses yoga, an acupuncturist, and rotating wellness help groups.

i cannot explain the magic thing that transforms me into a functioning, working adult, but i know that it happens daily. others might find this idea silly (like my dad, who has worked from his home office in his bathrobe for many years), but it is so necessary for me.  i don’t necessarily dress like a professional like i did at KDHQ (heels are definitely not required), but i do get dressed…and that’s an important distinction i can live with. 

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I think this is so profound. And the interview has made me consider Lena like never before. http://www.npr.org/2014/09/29/352276798/lena-dunham-on-sex-oversharing-and-writing-about-lost-girls

I think this is so profound. And the interview has made me consider Lena like never before. http://www.npr.org/2014/09/29/352276798/lena-dunham-on-sex-oversharing-and-writing-about-lost-girls

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Observe: one sleepy puppy. #Riga #sleepypaws

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You had to be there. #Riga #scatteredshowers

You had to be there. #Riga #scatteredshowers

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i am now a full-time remote employee of the GIN System, a Gainesville, Fl. based technology company. we specialize in technology for member-based organizations, specifically Greek life. 

i am THE poster child for networking. and i truly had no intention of doing so, it just happened. if anyone wanted me to talk about my perceived success, i would shrug and say: networking happens when you’re not paying attention. clearly, i was not paying attention. 

let’s review shall we? O’Keeffe internship (made possible by KD) connected me with KD leadership > KDHQ, 3.5 years, 2 titles; extensive 3-year client-vendor relationship with the GIN system > employment with the GIN system from Chapel Hill. anyone else seeing a pattern here? 

and i really, really tried to fight it. i had my heart set on continuing my work in nonprofits, shaping up their communications one step at a time. it was crushing when they didn’t want me. but my KD family knew me better, and they could see from miles away that i should work for GIN. 

so then i went to Gainesville for the strangest week-long interview-ish thing of my life. we spent hours at dinner dissecting projects like the KD Connect (side bar: when someone you believe is brilliant thinks your pet-project is brilliant, it is extremely satisfying). they argued that even if i had landed the communications job of my dream, i would be bored. i must admit: i am scared of being bored…especially after being unemployed for a month. 

so that was that. i’ll return to my dream of working for an art museum one day if i can ever find one that wants to work with me (so far, 1-10 in that department). until then, you’ll likely find me enjoying my coworking space in Carborro or sprinting through the Atlanta or Charlotte airport trying to get to Gainesville. 

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the best advice i will probably ever give: if you are currently employed, and are thinking about leaving that job for any reason other than retirement: just don’t. 

it is tough out there, folks. 

during the past month, i have experienced every emotion on the spectrum at least twice. my life has varied wildly between that of a well-adjusted adult and a slacking college student. it has been absurd to go between these stages so quickly. but, i do believe my time-neglecting days are coming to a close…and to that, i’ll just breath a sigh of relief. 

here’s what i’ve learned:

  • i loved my job even more than i understood. it gave me an unmistakable sense of purpose and confidence. i did not realize how much i needed that boost until it wasn’t there any more. 
  • which leads me to think: wait, am i one of those crazy people who is addicted to work? not necessarily. i like working. i like structure. and i like time off. there is a TON of time in a day and an enormous amount of time in a week. far be it for me to come up with anything more worthwhile.
  • …because i failed to come up with anything more worthwhile. you see, take away that purpose and confidence, and your left with little tiny bits of purpose-pulp. and purpose-pulp is just sometimes not enough to make me want to do worthwhile things. sometimes its just really not enough to make me want to leave the house. 
  • on that note, i really can’t leave the house. because i am unemployed. you see, the world outside my house is filled with things that cost money, and guess what…i’m not making any. worthwhile-ness = foiled again. 
  • welcome to the college student phase! even though i am not the student in this household, i was sure acting like one. do you remember feeling homesick and overwhelmed in your college dorm? being broke? maybe even feeling a little depressed? i do. and as an adult, it still stinks and its still confusing. tiny silver lining: you might regain your ability to sleep in past 10am. that’s an accomplishment of sorts, right? 
  • but then, someone throws you a bone. well, a bone might be an overstatement…let’s call it a fragment. and i am actually so pulped and miserable that i consider it. it’s a good thing to think about my husband at times like these…that he needs me to excel right now in order for him to reach his goals. and so, even though it seems counter-intuitive, i cannot settle for a fragment. 
  • finally, you end up on the world’s longest and most dramatic interview. in this phase, i remembered what it was like to be a professional. i wore real shoes. i lingered in small-talk with my coworkers. i enthusiastically restored my former purpose and confidence through discussing past awesome projects (which are confirmed awesome by others…validation which i so desperately needed after dozens of unanswered cover letters). the world’s strangest interview concludes (appropriately) strangely and dramatically. 
  • i turn 26. i am employed on my birthday. and though i am still lost in the minutiae of learning a new job, the confusion is awesome. and i will tell you more when i can. 

here’s everything that happened while i was overcoming unemployment:

 

 

 

(i did not pay for this delicious meal. like a poor college student, i happily let someone else foot the bill.)

 

 

 

 

(mini-phase: many pictures of your dog, the only living thing that still depends on you for survival.) 

 

 

 

and beer. there’s a beer phase. 

remind me why we do crazy stuff like this again? 

oh yeah. that guy. i do really like him. 

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In my imagination, this is #Riga waiting for me to get home. #actuallythiswastakenyesterday

In my imagination, this is #Riga waiting for me to get home. #actuallythiswastakenyesterday

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Riga: flea free for three days and looking fierce in my scarves. #Riga

Riga: flea free for three days and looking fierce in my scarves. #Riga

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Humble pie

This was a good read & excellent juxtaposition to the kitchen rant in my most recent post. Things are not so bad. #butbeingarealadulttakescourage

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as i drove my subaru into chapel hill for the first time, i played two songs:

  • wagon wheel - OCMS
  • graceland - paul simon

it is remarkable that memphis became such a home for mr cs, riga and myself. there was no reason it should feel so welcoming. again and again, mr cs and i were confronted with conflicting values, astounding cultural quirks and shaky personal relationships. we dealt with all of that, plus oppressive airfare and unbearable distances from our families, and still fell head over heels in love with the city. it does not make sense. but paul simon was right. 

my head knows that this new chapter in chapel hill will be a great one. it has already demonstrated - in just six days of residency - that it’s prepared to fight for my love. and that’s excellent; i like being wooed. who doesn’t? 

still, as week two begins in our new home, i am lethargic and ambivalent about unpacking. my heart isn’t in this yet.

also unpacking is way worse than packing. i have no idea where 3/4 of this stuff should go in the new house. this could go own for weeks with no resolution! 

my final looks at memphis:

 

our last meal in memphis, just like our first, was at swankys taco shop. i actually sent mr cs to go buy muddy’s cupcakes right after we ordered so we could enjoy our favorite dessert, too. i am shameless.

 

little miss riga on her third birthday. she quickly learned that air mattress meant no-limits-on-morning-family-snuggles. as a birthday surprise, we stuffed her in a car for 10 hours…sorry riga!

 

 

 

yes, we took our most-impressive hostas with us. hey, mr cs made me leave my compost, so this was a good deal. no compost, but keep the compost product. now let’s just hope the deer in our new neighborhood keep a safe distance (yes, there are deer. we now live in the woods.)

 

 

memphis gave us a proper send-off with one last train track crossing in our neighborhood. mr cs and i also have a thing about seeing the front of a train toghether…couples do weird things. 

 

the tools of the road: iced coffee, water and walkie-talkies for our caravan. also, i would normally never drink evian water, but MLGW followed our instructions a little too well and cut power/water to our house several hours before we actually left. thank goodness we had already showered and brushed our teeth!

 

yes, that is actually the most i saw of riga the whole ride. as things shifted, her crate became more and more obscured from view. 

 

this gorgeous sunset as we entered the mountains was welcoming. 

 

the next morning, we started unpacking the truck. we are indebted to mr cs’s parents and pat, katie’s boyfriend, for their help. we are also thankful they stayed calm when mr cs and i discovered that water had leaked into the truck and damaged a number of things (side note: we do believe the TV is okay). also, several things had been improperly packed by the movers and were therefore broken. a small pity party followed in which i thought very seriously about driving back to memphis. my mental state was pretty fragile at this moment…you know, unemployed, exhausted, wet, with no answers to anything and no clue how to actually make our new house work for us. fact: there is only one drawer in our kitchen. one. try unpacking your kitchen with those limitations and get back to me. 

 

 

why yes, that is a hole in my preserved-wedding-dress box. 

you’ll notice this box is clearly marked fragile and it is also clearly crushed. 

 

but mr cs saved the day. for dinner, he drove us out of town (rather hilariously in circles) to this hole-in-the-wall mexican joint. and i melted when i tasted the best green chili sauce outside of santa fe. 

 

we found our new NPR station and discovered it is (no surprise) 10 zillion times better than memphis. it truly is the small things. 

we also had the best DMV experience ever (you’ll recall my experience in memphis was laughable)…as in i fully expect the universe threw me this bone so i wouldn’t explode and every DMV experience after this will be perfectly horrendous. seriously: in and out in 50 minutes. and the people were nice. and they knew what a passport was. hallelujah! 

 

but we are a family. riga has forgiven us for packing her in a car for 10 hours on her birthday and then locking her in a scary bathroom while we unpacked the truck. now she’s just interested in snuggles on the cuddle couch, which are much more frequent now that i’m partially employed and mr cs works from home. 

and full-time employment: i’m working on it. end of story. also on my to-do list: find a compost bin on craigslist, continue the impossible task of unpacking, convince our landlords to remodel a bathroom, find riga a new vet, hire an exterminator (or other creative solutions for swarms of mosquitoes), reconnect with good friends (!!!), conquer my fear of the other bathroom and shop for a new/reclaimed door for riga’s doggie door. if you need me, you’ll probably find me haphazardly wandering around my house trying to figure out where to begin. 

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