3/27/07

Got Work.

Yahoo, I got a job today! Which is just terrific because blogging, quite frankly, sucks.

I’ve lost two posts this past week because seconds before I would go to upload, I’d lose the whole bloody thing. Bloody as in lovely words killed by the random exception of fatal errors. I’ve never understood that fatal exception thing. The fatal part, yes, because it killed my beloved words. But the exceptional error part seems so oxymoronic. It pisses me off. Anyways, I’m stupid that way. Blogging without saving or typing it first in Word. There are worse things I suppose...I just can’t think of any in the moment.

So yeah, I got a job. I’ll be lending my meeting and event skills to helping design global sustainability forums this spring for a non-profit organization renowned for its work in international microfinance.


All Work, No Pay

The pay is incredible, mostly I guess, because there actually isn’t any whatsoever attached to the job. Yes, it’s a volunteer gig, that much is true, but I’m following the law of karma. Meaning what goes around, comes around. And so, believing strongly as I do in the notions of paying it forward and that money has soul, I’m going to do this hoping something wonderful my way will come. Something wonderful called gainful employment.

So even though I will be out of pocket with gas money, according to the AAA’s recent study that suggests a 20 mile trip now costs somewhere around $10.00, I am choosing to look at it as though I will be microlending my services in trust to the global village of poverty such that we we will all get fed in the long run.

I will also be taking on a part-time volunteer position doing adult education seminars for another local non-profit agency. I’m hoping to lead their immigration prep. classes if only because (a) there would be great irony in doing so and I’m nothing if not ironic; and (b) it would be terrific advance study should we end up going down the same path in the years to come. I doubt they’ll allow a resident alien to lead such classes but what they don’t know won’t hurt them. And except for the small matter that I talk funny, my alien-ness is really not all that apparent.


I’mMigration
On that note, hubby has recently begun hiding away his Canadian-ness under the need-to-know basis file category in all his conversational engagements. He has discovered, (rightly so I think), that planting his Canadian roots into a conversation is a bit like throwing weed killer on a dandelion.

Well-meaning locals try desperately to establish some grounds for connection when you mention you’re from Canada. As in, “oh, I’ve been to Vancouver, nice city.” This next awakens the need to recall some other Canadianism gleaned from the world, invariably leading to, “so, I bet it's cold where you're from.” And then the conversation will trail off and so will they, to the couple a few feet over who, lo and behold, attended the same high school and who share exact same worldview and history. It's all very understandable, I enter into the same kind of inane conversation with Koreans I meet; but according to hubby, it's also strategically avoidable for Canadians.

Assimilation is a mandatory requirement in American immigration, or so Bush-speak would have it, regardless of the fact that loosely translated, assimilation actually means to "make an ass of oneself while trying to emulate others of a different culture."
This is why hubby is also getting anxious for us to shed our Canadian plates. I'm less in a hurry to do so, perhaps because I have a tendency to cut people off in traffic ~ I’m doing my part to fit in is all. But I see his point and raise it ten.

Were it not for the fact that I keep failing the sample test, I wouldn’t be so reluctant. You see, I may have a bachelor’s degree but the only correlation between said higher learning and said drivers test is that my GPA corresponds loosely to the number of questions I can expect to answer correctly. To be fair, I did manage to correctly answer one question regarding the number of days one is permitted to maintain one’s out-of-state license. 30 days.

Not to be confused with the 517 days I have managed to hang onto mine since moving here. Although translate that to metric and you would see: I’ve really not been all that tardy.

Yup that will be my traffic cop argument, if and when. As futile a tactic as the illogic I once heard during my stint as a traffic court reporter: but occifer, I was just going the speed of the guy in front of me.

Distances, schmistances though. And signs, schmigns. I mean don’t ask me, what do I know? I just drive.



Games Without Frontiers
Yeah, it’s all fun and games. Driving tests, insurance, college, scholarships, career, house hunting.

Which is why I love the game of Life. Always have. Ever since the first time I played it at a sleepover at Arden Lupul’s house when I was 8. I remember she had the most amazing home – architecturally-quirky with nooks, crannies, lofts and hordes of board games like the game of Life, which I had never even heard of, which meant it had to be cool.

I remember feeling so empowered by the concept of the game. That you could spin the wheel and be anything you wanted to be and have this great fairy tale life.

My kids have taken to the game with the same enthusiasm.
Hubby, unfortunately, has not. He will do almost anything to avoid playing Life, including doing chores far down his procrastination list. Rather than nag him about these, I have discovered that all I need do is agree to the kid's pleas for a family game night around the coffee table, with the Life board spread eagle and the cars lined in eager anticipation. This alone spurs him into chore mania.
I’ll admit, I take way more risks in the board game version than I do in real life. I like to mix things up now. While I’m still inclined to take the college path before career (in that mama duck way of having my little ducks follow suit), I’m more eclectic in my spousal choices. I usually end up marrying a girl and having two girl babies. There’s something so Thelma and Louisey and Pinky Tuscadaro about this kind of girlie power, pro-choice stance; having all that pink exposed in my rag-top, plastic car, as we all race madcap through life.

And the kids giggle about this because they think it’s fun, too. Until one of us gets a flat tire, lands the best career and salary card, or I lose to the kids ~ whichever comes first.

High, Low, Jolly Go Pepper
So that’s why I’m not going to sweat the freebie work too much.
Instead, I’m going to draw my own arbitrary salary card out of the hat for doing the good work of volunteerism. Hmmm, what should my compensation look like?
A salary of $101,000 seems a fitting sum for the first meeting planning job. After all, having a stake in eradicating global poverty, promoting micro-entrepreneurship and building global sustainability is nothing if not six-figure work.

As to the second volunteer gig of life-skills teaching, I figure that since it’s more part-time and local in scope, I’ll apply an hourly fee of $50.00 to this stint instead. The agency serves as a conduit between the privileged and less privileged in the community by providing the necessary resources and tools for the poor, disabled and newly-immigrant to get a leg up.

It’s hard to fathom that such a dichotomy between rich and poor exists here, and yet it does. I am so firmly squished in the middle class that I have to confess to rarely having been intimately exposed to either extreme before.
Admittedly, the lines are quickly being redrawn as I blog, with new stats suggesting that a six-figure household income is the bare minimum required for new home ownership locally. Good thing then that I have landed two good paying jobs in the same day.

This middle class business is a little like living on the edge though.
There were moments in my childhood that were supreme touch and go. Like when our house burned down and we lived for a time in an abandoned shack with no indoor plumbing. Or the not-so-good-ole days, post-receivership (my mother's diplomatic way of avoiding the word bankruptcy), when my parents faced two failed business ventures and soaring interest rates back in the early 80s.
Or the lean, mean time in my mid-to-late teens, when I sponged off the goodwill of my brother, and my meal plan consisted of popcorn on Wednesday nights and canned corn with butter on Thursday nights (note to self: really must go back to that corn diet ~ I was skinny then).


Again in Pakistan, years later, we were exposed to the outer limits of both poverty and wealth, living as we did in a leased house on scenic Margalla Road, in an affluent Islamabad neighborhood blocks from the Prime Minister’s home, mere steps from Embassy leaders, and downwind from the Pakistan’s own version of royalty, the Mir of Hunza.
Yet in the streets, shoeless, even footless beggars reminded us daily of the true plight of the many, as did the makeshift squalor of the Christian village our cook deigned to call home.

And here we live again, sandwiched in a tired if quaint neighborhood with ample greenery; flanked between pockets of poverty to the south and pockets of extreme wealth to the hilltop east, lakeside west, and uptown north.

Our shopping sensibilities even reflect this. We shop not at Wal-Mart (too sleazy locally), nor at Nordstrom (too expensive), but at Target (just right). Such is not the case, however, for an unnamed gal I know.
Despite barely making ends meet as she relies on child support from her ex and free housing from her mother, this gal opts for the extravagance of a $200.00 white Coach designer handbag. I emphasize white because to my way of thinking, if you’re gonna splurge on a silly little purse while your kids wear flood pants, at least choose one with year-round appeal. Thus blogs the woman who carries a cheap, black plastic LeSportsac purse 1/10th the price of the Coach bag. Egads. Perhaps this might explain my inability to procure paid employment.

Tacky tastes aside, I think us middle class types are uniquely and ideally poised between both rich man and poor man. I liken it to the double dutch jump roper who dances precariously between the two disparate, skipping ropes – one proletariat and one bourgeoisie. Jump into the literal fray of the jump roper sometime and you’ll see it’s a similar viewpoint; that betwixt and between place at the centre of two overlapping circles.

And so it is with this same spirit of blind faith that I shall look forward to these volunteer ventures.

I will be hop, skip and jumping along to work to the beat of high, low, jolly go pepper and to the tune of hi, ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go. And of course, I’ll be sporting my chic alor, new lunch pail, the one I bought at my friendly, neighborhood Targete.

I’m sure I’ll fit right in at the office. That's right. Ass.im.ilate. Said in my best Mr. Rogers 'I like the way you say that' voice.
Somewhere between the billionaire philanthropist who founded the organization and the illegal immigrant cleaning crew who comes in to vacuum after hours.

14 comments:

Natalie said...

I just bought a new purse today. My old one, which wasn't really old but I had bought it at a thrift store, was a Liz Claiborne and I loved it. Alas, I over-used the zipper and it went kaput. So, today, S and the kids and I went to Ross Dress for Less and bought us new purses. Out of over 300 purses... I found exactly one that I liked. Yep; 22.99... my kinda purse. It has three zippers so I can zip to my hearts' desire.
I swear to God I am never saying "Eh." again.
Seattle is as expensive as San Francisco; I could never do it and consider my life within the "quality" that I've become accustomed. Southwestern living may be kind of "hick-like" at times but it's affordable. You can still buy a decent home for around 175k.
Volunteer work is a great way to network. It sucks that the paying jobs haven't materialized but I guess that's just how it's supposed to go for now. I can't even get anyone to call me back. *sigh*
Have you walked through any of the malls lately? We went to the mall today to go to Lenscrafters as all of us needed our glasses adjusted. We decided to cruise the mall and, wow, I've gotta tell ya; there's a whole world of under-paid, disgruntled, and could care-less workers out there. As S said, "Can you imagine working in that job?" Nope. And I sure as hell-fire hope I don't have to.
Being just two paychecks away from not being able to pay bills without dipping into the emergency fund is terrible. Many, many people are in this position while there are almost just as many that never have to worry about having an emergency fund.
It's the great divide. Not very continental, if you ask me.
If I had to hang with either the billionaire or the janitor... I'd choose the janitor.
In my humble opinion, they eat better, are kinder, and I wouldn't be sitting there wondering how I could get them to adopt me.
lol
Congrats on the jobs... blogging does suck and the pay is about the same. 'Tis best to get out there in the big, big world and get some face time with potentials.
Enjoy yourself... something is right around the corner.
;)

HOLY said...

Nat, if you stop saying eh, I'll reach across the continental divide and slap you.

I'm just saying that there's a tendency for Canadians to migrate south and shut up about being Canadian (check out this link and you see one of Canada's ummm larger exports not to mention a list of famous Canucks who are not so clearly Canadian anymore - http://www.canadians.ca/top20.htm).

And you said it....your job is right there around that next corner. If you swung your new zippy purse, there it would be.

Isn't everyone just a mortgage payment or two from despair or rainy day fund depletion - I swear that's the true defining feature of this middle class edge.

Seattle is insanely stupid. You can't even find a studio apartment here for $175K...how sad is that.

Anyways, speaking of NM, I just learned tonight while state coin surfing for our collector son, that NM didn't join the states until 1949. Talk about being a no-mind, dumbass, hick Canuck, eh? What can I say - I had my head stuck in an igloo all this time.

And speaking of janitors, I swear the kid's school custodian is the kindest, wisest man on the face of the earth. He's like Socrates in Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I love the man to pieces and his affect on all 500 kids is staggering. Now that's what touching lives means.

And on the volunteer gig, as hubby noted, and I'll quote, "great opportunity, mingling and having adult conversations, plus dealing with health, poverty and environmental issues." Roger that.

Jorge said...

Microfinance is a great way to empower people to help themselves, and to eventually help others. I have a good friend who's been in this area for a number of years, and through her, I've become more educated in the tremendous underlying power of the concept. Good for you! I'll be interested to read more of your experiences in this arena, as well as all the other places your fertile miond takes you. Be well,
J.

Jungle Mama said...

Congrats on the job! I can relate to the risk you're taking in life . . . even the immigration thing. Only I cannot hide my alieness as you can and there is so much the Dutch want to have in common with the place I come from. It's true that I was warned the Dutch really wouldn't take kindly to me because of the president I helped elect into office, but in reality they all seem to like the planet I come from. I've had more negative comments thrown my direction from my own nationality than from this foreign soil.

VENTL8R said...

Sneaky way of getting Hubs to cross of items on his Honey-do list.

Must find something of the same nature for Steve......

Jeri said...

Oooh... this is me, doing the happy dance for you! They are so not gonna know what hit 'em. I hope you do still find time to post, we'd sure miss you if you didn't.

On the driver's test... when we moved to WA, hubby reported to DMV within 30 days and took his written exam to get his WA license. I, on the other hand, procrastinated well past my 30 days. And when I went in to take my written exam, was my wickedness punished? Nooooo... in fact, they'd changed the regulation in the interim so that, with a valid out of state license, all I had to do was take the eye exam. Hubby had unflattering things to say about my character that night!

Don't even open blogger and begin to write! I write all my posts in Wordpad (because it doesn't add bizarro formatting code like Word does), hit Ctrl-S to save, then paste. Yeah, I still tweak in the post interface, like you I'm a constant rewriter, but it's mostly there by the time it leave a desktop-saved file for blogger.

The Beast Mom said...

Hey Holy,

So, like, you only have one tank in Canada, huh? Huh? Huh? Do Canadians really live in igloos? What's with the blinking yellow traffic lights up there? Victoria is sure purty.

:)

Am I annoying you yet??? huhhuhhuh

Ok, I'm shutting my grinning American mouth now.

So the job front...if you feel in your heart that you are doing the right thing, in spite of what the world might call foolish (lack of compensation for valuable time), you will live free and happy anyway. And there's no amt of smart, fair, compensation that pays you like a happy heart and free spirit and the knowledge that you helped those that most wouldn't help. I raise my glass to anyone who has a genuine heart to serve others.

-bm

Becca said...

Congratulations on the job! You are going to knock em dead! Hey my purses are more functional than fashionable..think geek with a purpose!

Hugs,
B

Natalie said...

Eh.
;)
By the way, I forgot to mention that both S and I are taking the NM driving test this Friday. Freaky Friday. This outta be intresssstin'. We should ACE it considering how people drive in this state.
You know, my little tuque (or is it toque?) friend, if I was Canadian and living in the USofFreakin'A, I'd be tellin' everyone that I'm Canadian. It is an embarrassment to say I'm an American at this juncture.
All of this "I don't recall", "I can't remember", "I have no recollections" shit from the government employees is really pissing me off. It's so Reagan-ish which, in and of itself, has always boggled my mind that there weren't more disparities against the man who's "I can't recall" eventually caught up to him and bit him in his Karmic ass with Alzheimers.
All I can say at this point is, "Yo! Republicans! Careful what you wish for..."
Geez.
*smooches*

Lynn said...

Congrats on the jobs! I think you'll be much happier out of the house at last, finally doing something that makes you feel more productive, even if the pay is the same for the work you do at home now. At least you're outta the house, eh?!

Target is the cadillac of department stores for the stingy-inclined, isn't it? I can't stand to pay premium prices for things I could get just as cheap at the Dollar General, but then, shopping at the DG makes me feel Poor. And the kids clothes are so much cuter there! *sigh*
Lordy, my life...all I've got to say about anything anymore is kid-related.
Try #3 on the Word Verification thingy!!!

HOLY said...

Jorge: Here's a not-so-secret confession - microfinance gives me goosebumps...the power and empowerment it gives women (mostly) to make a difference in their villages - wow...a little money does go a long way. I'm excited about this. I actually had to apply with my resume to get the freebie job - that's funny.

JM: We are lucky that way on the immigration thing - we can blend right in and just be but there is something so rich about your ex-pat experience. I remember when we lived in our little insular ex-pat world, everyone judged everybody else according to what nation they hailed from...so Americans were considered rude and arrogant but tons of fun, the Brits threw the best parties, the Europeans were demanding and often strange, and the Canadians were the laid back, beer drinkers...must be that we have curling and hockey in our blood.

Ventl8r: Aversion to kid-pressure family games is a great way to get those pesky projects done. I would suggest getting the repair projects out, line them up on the counter in an easy-to-spot place, and then plant the bug in Jenna's ear when she gets older. There's bound to a game or activity she'll want to do that he doesn't....

Jeri: I wish it was a simple case of out of state license. Out-of-country necessitates starting from scratch....if I wasn't such a rebel, it would all be good. My daughter just joined a soccer team and one of the kid's dads is a cop. I'll be flaunting my out of state plates each week there so I'd best get studying toot suite.

BM: I know my American disses, slights, slanders and jabs annoy and rub you the wrong way and I never intend that for any blog reader to take my commentary personally - it is my subjective take on a very objective reality. You, who read the entire library before the age of 10 and knows something about every topic out there, are far from the average Joe or Josephine I refer to.

My realtor, however, is not. She was bragging to me the other day about how her son had to do a project on the providence of Alberta. I smiled. Rather than tell her that yes, there is a certain providence to the whole notion of Alberta because we Albertans consider it God's country, or ask her if she was mistaken and actually meant to speak of Rhode Island, I simply said, yes, Alberta is an impressive province with very diverse industry sectors.

Becca: Function before fashion. Works for me too!

Nat: good luck to both of you this Friday - considering that you've been around the block and back again in a few states...you'll totally ace it.

You know, post-9/11, it was eerie as hell to watch the US go into victim mode, button down the hatches and shut the world out. Alberta beef was taboo and banned for a time, and everyone just went into a kind of shell. But then of course the tables turned from victim to aggressor,such that all the anti-war, anti-imperialists and anti-Bush regime types have come out of the woodwork. There are voices nattering now, and books and media debates everywhere and it's complex stuff. And that's good, because it's also helping dispel the myth that 'average' Americans are simply this or that....there is no simple, average American. And so I like where this is going. But then I'm very hopeful for a Democratic win in the next election, if only so I can see the looks on Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter's faces.

If people can swing the vote to keep Sanjay in the American Idol running, surely we can start a Vote for the Worst dot com with a "Democratic dummy" a la Robin Williams in Man of the Year, and then and aim it at young Republicans who want to feel as though their vote can make a difference. Think about it.

Lynn: I love Target. Used to make trips across the border just to stop at Target. And on the kid-related, I so hear ya, sista'. Hubby and I looked at each other wide eyed last night. What the hell happened to our life that it became sucked into the vortex of 24/7 kid-stuff. No wonder I'm begging for volunteer work at an NGO.

Do I have word verification on? I should turn that off...I thought I was always the one that failed the test 3 times - glad to see there are others. It's the kids' fault, dontcha know. They make us blurry and bleary-eyed. :)

Alison said...

Holy...

What life is complete without the lean mean times that we trot out to excuse our extravagances now? For example...I just spent $90 on a new bathing suit and am heading to Chapters to lay down about $90 for books to read while I lounge in said bathing suit by the pool in the house we are renting in Florida.

Soooo...I need to counteract that by telling you that for two years, while studying in Toronto, I had less than $9 a week for groceries and subway fare. I was skinny then, too...ate lots of rice and walked everywhere. Actually, if I went back to that budget, I could have spent more on a bathing suit that had a hell of a lot less material...

Now...which philanthropic billionaire are you working for? Not the one who is all buddy-buddy with my Irish boyfriend?!

I think the salaries you granted yourself were rather low. Don't be afraid to pay yourself what you are really worth. If you don't value yourself, who will?! ;)

And money does have soul and if you believe in karma, it will come. You will be fine. I hope you love every moment in your new job!

c said...

just thought it was time I add my (very) delayed congratulations on the new job. I love the concept of the microfinance loan and had the opportunity to see it in action a little in India. Definitely powerful. I keep hoping that I'll be able to move more so into the volunteer realm from the for profit arena in the nearish future. Still have to get those pesky student debts under control though. Plus, now I'm contemplating a little venture into my masters.... definitely not in my current field of work though.

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