Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: October 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Past and Present

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Four years ago, I was in a terrible relationship and I had a miserable job. My therapist would say, “Good mental health is determined by your love life and your job.” Well, if this was the case, I was institution bound. My boyfriend and I hated each other and fought consistently. My job was more like house arrest than work.

My then boyfriend and I had significant problems and we were still discussing marriage. I knew it was a terrible mistake but I really didn’t know what else to do. I figured it was what I was supposed to do, he made a good living, he would make a good father and he came from a great family. To add to my confusion, my father encouraged the bond and reinforced his encouragement by repeatedly telling me that “no marriage is perfect.”

At that time, I was working for a large consulting company in Chicago. I worked on the Global Events team for a Professional Services firm, we managed the sponsorship and hospitality for top tier events, i.e., the World Golf Championships, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, etc. Sounds fun, right? Well, I was miserable. I hated going to work every day, though my group was tight knit, I was the new girl and no one spoke to me. And, my boss was insane…insane in the membrane. I felt as though I was a robot, as if someone else was living my life. I was waking up, getting dressed and going through the motions of A life but not actually living MY life.

My therapist used to get very concerned, because given all my apparent misery, and there was significant misery, I was not depressed. My therapist would say, “Depression is a gauge for us, if we don’t feel depressed, we won’t change our situation.” She was right, I was not doing anything about my situation. I continued to allow a man who I knew was wrong for me occupy my life. I was afraid to leave him and I did not mind feeling complacent. I stayed in my horrible job because on the outside, as others saw it, it was a great job. I was working for one of the best companies in the United States, maybe the world, in a coveted position but I was so unhappy.

The boyfriend and I broke up that summer. After I lost the boyfriend, a new opportunity came along with a large, fancy restaurant. I thought that maybe if I had a job that I enjoyed more, I would be happier in general. My position was Event & Marketing Manager, it was a sales position and I had nearly seven years Event Marketing Experience in Advertising and Marketing. I interviewed for the position and it was offered to me almost immediately.

When I started with the restaurant, I actually did become depressed, finally. The reality of my 2.5 year relationship ending was hitting me hard and I didn’t know how to handle it. The boyfriend had offered security, entertainment, love, companionship, a future, a focus and many other things that I felt disappeared when he walked out of my life. Coupled with the fact that he had secured his next love interest before exiting with me, I was hurting! He had his new girlfriend in place and she moved in before I could even sell all my jewelry on eBay. I tried not to blame him for this, it was his Modus Operandi and I knew that when I met him. I blamed ME for being unable to move on. And I blamed myself for staying as long as I had stayed.

In an effort to move on, I threw myself into work. I worked hard, I didn’t want to do anything but make money. I went to every networking event I could find, I joined business organizations and stay connected with many local business leaders. I encouraged the restaurant to participate in charitable events that were in line with our target market in order to increase our exposure, and hopefully, leave a positive impact on the community. I booked as many corporate events and B2B events as I could – big or small.

It was the first time I felt as though I was actually working while at work. There were not any silly meetings discussing a whole bunch of nothing. I cold-called, I emailed out information and I booked events. I grew the event business for the restaurant by over 40% and I loved every minute of it. I felt as though I was actually accomplishing something.

My first year at the restaurant was solely work driven. This was the year I got my feet wet and learned as much as I could about being a Catering Manager or a Sales Manager. The second year, I realized that I had no friends at work and that the staff basically hated me. When I started, I made a point to create a clear differentiation between me and everyone else. I wanted to make the distinction that I was not one of them. This only worked against me. I realized in my second year that the servers and bartenders were my best outlet to the guests that came into the restaurant when I was not there. I worked in the office from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, I didn’t know a single “regular” or investor but the staff knew them well. The staff was my best ally for reaching out to our existing client base. Maybe my initial intention for reaching out to the staff was selfish but ultimately it came from a place of caring.

Around that same time, many of my long time friends got married and moved on to the suburbs, leaving me alone in the city. I will never be a suburban dweller and losing my friends to the wastelands of the suburbs was not easy for me. My friends and I used to think of ourselves as a Tribe and their exodus left me with feelings of abandonment. The family I once had, my Tribe, which had supported me through almost everything was gone and they had left with such ease. I was happy for them and their new gain, but at the same time, I truly did not feel as though they had any empathy for my situation. I heard things like “While you’re in this in between stage.” Or, “When you get married you’ll understand.” "IN BETWEEN STAGE" how dare they? What makes them think their lives are any better than mine simply because they're married?

Unlike 99% of women, my goal in life has never been to get married OR move to the suburbs. I started taking public transportation downtown (alone or with friends) when I was about 13 years old, maybe younger. I have never dreamed of a beautiful, white wedding, never dreamed of the flowers or a husband. In fact, I always thought any wedding I might have would have fire breathers and sword swallowers and possibly stilt walkers as ushers and I would be wearing black or dark purple. Certainly NOT white. When I was little and I would talk to my mom about my future husband, I would say “I hope I marry a doctor or a traveling salesman.” Because I preferred for him to be gone for long periods of time so that I could be alone.

With the comfort zone my friends once afforded me gone, I needed to replenish the friend bin. The natural fit was the restaurant. I was there all the time and I did meet a few friends that were closer to my age and who shared my same set of values. Claudia, our AM manager, and her husband, we became good friends. I loved spending my days with Claudia, she was always positive and she enjoyed her life and was so happy to be where she was in life. Claudia had great stories about her past and even better hopes for her future. But of course Claudia quickly moved on to something better too, she now lives in NY with her husband.

David was 24 when we met and he was a funny and smart. He was a young "choch" and he was doing his best to "rip it". He hooked up with "hotties" in the stairwell of the restaurant and "boned" as often as he could. Then, on Monday morning, he took pride in sharing the gruesome details of his encounters with me in my office or in our manager meetings. We had picnics together, we went for coffee together and I purposely made him stroll down Oak Street with me on the weekends, hoping against hope that we would run into that ex of mine. I would be with my hot, young friend David and he would likely think that David was my boyfriend. My favorite David story was the time he ripped the seat of his pants (he only had two suits) and WORE IT ANYWAY. It was pretty bad.

I was also friends with a few servers, Kathryn, our AM server, a recent grad from Northwestern and aspiring actress, we would laugh for hours during the day and chit chat about stupid people who would come into the restaurant and do stupid things. Like the time the woman from Naperville came into the restaurant all drunk, staggered her way to a table and then demanded that she was being treated improperly. She accused Kathryn of not knowing who SHE was, and that she was from Naperville. In fact, she insisted that she lived in a mansion in Naperville. We still laugh about that, the words “mansion” and “Naperville” should not be used in the same sentence together....ever!

And then, there was Monica, our GM, she and I became fast friends. We enjoyed dining out, wine and took our jobs very seriously. She had a great head on her shoulders and managed the restaurant quite well. We shared the same vision for the restaurant and it made working there easy and fun. Monica was 24, many years my junior, but we were very similar and had many of the same hobbies - drinking and eating. Monica was driven and smart and it was refreshing to be around someone with a different perspective. She didn’t complain about not making enough money or about getting older or about her bad relationships, etc. like my friends in their 30s complained about. She was young and her perspective kept me positive.

Finally, there is Anthony. Anthony is a character, the best character. He is the happiest man in show business. He is never, ever in a bad mood and nothing can bring him down. Not even if orally ingested. For those four years, I came to work looking forward to his arrival at 4:00 PM. Anthony is never a minute late. Some weekends I watched him when he was in full force and I admired his stamina, his relentless energy. Working in a restaurant is not an easy job, people are mean, people have been trained to believe they can treat you however they wish, like they are above you and it all rolls off Anthony. In fact, Anthony just wins people over if they are slightly condescending or completely rude. He is incredible.

In the time that I ran the events and the marketing at the restaurant, I grew a tremendous amount. I learned how to run my own business with very few resources. I learned to be fully self sufficient (which never was priority previously) and I learned that the only thing that is important is waking up in the morning next to the person you want to be with and wanting to go to the place you’re going. And the restaurant was the first job I ever had that I truly looked forward to, the first job where I couldn’t wait for Monday morning.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Some Random Thoughts...

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Having too much time on your hands is never a good thing. After all, idle hands do the devil's work. But I have had time to meet some new friends and male callers through various online outlets and recollect some memories from my past with friends.

I recently joined a dating site and signed up for skype, learned how to use my video camera while chatting and didn't realize that there was a microphone that immediately turned on when the video camera went on. I was "chatting" with a fine Italian fellow, he asked me to turn on my camera and I obliged. I was on the phone with a friend while typing him and did not know HE COULD HEAR ME. I was describing the "not so bad looking, bald guy" that came up on my screen to my friend on the phone. The Italian fellow, the not-so-bad-looking-bald-guy, I was chatting with let me go on for about three to five minutes before he said, "you're so funny." I was surprised because, even though I am funny, I had not said anything that I thought was funny. He then alerted me that my microphone was on and that he could hear everything I was saying to my friend. Good times.

Next Subject...reflection.
I went to school in SOUTHERN ILLINOIS, very different than going to school on the East Coast or any other place on the planet. It is total hicksville. Which is actually nicer than being in many parts of the Chicagoland area because I prefer hicks to suburbanites, they have more flavor.

By flavor, I mean character, the people who live in small towns, particularly in the heartland, or "Little Egypt" as Southern Illinois is sometimes called - the land between two rivers, they are defined by their circumstances and those circumstances can be very different than what we in the north are accustomed to. We had this liquor store in Southern Illinois, Pick's and Mr. Pick, at one time, owned a fair portion of the town, he was then in his 80s, always wore a suit (usually a fair colored suit) and bollo tie to work every day. And, after 2 a.m., when the liquor stores closed, you could knock on the back door and Mr. Pick, or one of his employees, would open the back door for girls, he liked girls. You'd come in, he'd sell you what you wanted and chat you up for a few minutes in his office.

Mr. Pick had a picture of his lovely daughter on his desk, a plump blond with big curls, it was a "glamor shot" so the edges of the photo had the smoked over look and it was a head/neck shot and she had a feather boa on. Mr. Pick commented on what a fine lady she was and how well she could shoot a rifle.

When it came time to leave, Mr. Pick would go over to his file cabinet, take out his revolver, put it in the front of his pants and walk you out the back door on his way to his Cadillac. We would take our bottle of Jack or a 12 back of cheap beer and head over to an after hours party and Mr. Pick would drive home to Mrs. Pick.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Week is Shaping Up

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I had a minor breakdown last night, insecure thoughts on whether or not I could run my own business. I realize that these thoughts must be battled with alcohol - just kidding. These thoughts must be overcome by a few things...
  1. Organization - keeping my apartment & my thoughts thoroughly organized. Keeping my projects organized. Assigning days of the week, or hours of the day, to certain projects in an effort to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed.
  2. Affirmations and believing in myself. Luckily, I have a multitude of friends who offer support. My friends range from highly successful business executives, competent mothers, advertising executives, IT professionals and designers who are quick to offer helpful suggestions.
  3. Forget the competition....for now. Of course there are one million people who do what I do, but do they know who I know? Can they do it was well as I can? I have added value to offer and this is something I must remind myself.

I met with my designer this morning and we put together some concepts for a few projects that we've managed to secure. Our meeting was positive, I have a lot of work ahead of me today. I need to write some creative briefs, put together some copy and identify a target audience for two of our projects.

I have a number of vendors whose services all look fantastic! How easy success would be if I had numerous clients and I could retain all of these vendors and utilize their services. For now, with my budget, I must rely on small business methods - who you know and hours of blood, sweat and tears until I have a few clients where I can manage to justify these costs.

I emailed a freelance print producer friend of mine who offered her services (for my small project) as a favor. Now, I need to figure out what the hell all her jibber jabber means. I was confused by her "specs" and all her print world, fancy-speak but my designer will know :)

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with the Business Attache at a foreign embassy so I can try to get some work from their country. After my first meeting, I intend to schedule meetings various other Consulates from Arab nations. Part of my focus concentrates on business with the Middle East and Muslim countries because so few US companies are willing to go that route....But I will.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday...many days have past....much has happpened

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So, I have grown tired of the daily, chronological order of things that happens to me each day, even though I'm sure you love it. I think I can summarize everything that has gone horribly wrong and the things that have inspired me over the past few days.

Last week, I went to the Unemployment office and was wrongfully turned away for NOT having my Social Security card (but as I had suspected) I did not actually need my SS card. Idiot at the front desk was making my life difficult. I left the Unemployment line and headed towards the social security office to stand in line, once again, and get a new card. I waited there for nearly two hours but at least I was in a mixed crowd of civilization, much unlike the Unemployment Office earlier that day.

Day 2 of heading to the Unemployment Office, I decided I would get there very early, before they opened. I arrived just shy of 8:30 A.M. and I was horrified to see a line outside of the office. A line where I would soon have to stand as the only white person among many non-whites. It made me feel a little uneasy, and it made me feel a little humble, but I was not embarrassed or scared. I took a deep breath, got out of my car and apprehensively walked towards the line.

I stood outside and very quickly made a friend, they guy in line behind me was a bus driver for the CTA who had quit his job due to medical reasons. Well, the medical reasons turned out to be "stress" because he could not take the "shit" that his boss was asking him to to do anymore - you know, like show up on time and do what he was told. He was tired of the "shit" that everyone who rode the bus gave him too.

After waiting nearly two hours, my name was called and I started to walk up to the counter. I was all bouncy and excited! As I approach the counter, a woman walks up there and beats me to the counter. I was confused so I asked the man behind the counter to repeat the name he had just called, and it was confirmed that IT WAS my name. But, the other woman, Doris Clark, said..."I'm Doris Clark and I was here before her."

At first, I stood back because I was not entirely sure just what the hell Doris Clark was up to? But then she started to announce that she was in line before me, which she had to have known ONLY due to the fact that I was the only white person in the office. She started to make a scene, refusing to move from the counter. She insisted that her paperwork was before my paperwork and that the man behind the counter should "check his file!" He did, he checked the bin filled with applications and there was not an application for a Doris Clark. This enraged her even more.

Long/short of it, it escalated to the point where I said, "OK, step aside because it is my turn." She refused so I stepped up to the counter and started to hand my information to the man behind the counter. This is when Doris Clark shoved me. So, I yelled at the top of my lungs "Oh, hell no, you did not just push me!" But I did it in my most "white girl" voice. Three security guards were called, Doris still would not budge and eventually the police were phoned.

I started to worry about Doris and I asked her "why are you doing this? Do you really want to go to JAIL over who was next in line?" And this was her beautiful reply.... "Jail, I ain't goin to jail. You is goin' to jail. And even if I do go to Jail, I got the money to get out - do you? I don't think you do."

What? What Doris Clark? What the HELL are you saying? In what world is that an argument? A world where people brag about having bail money? "Go ahead, call the police, I gots the money to get out."

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday, otherwise known as Day 2 of Unemployment

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Last night was the highly anticipated Vice Presidential debate. My brother, his girlfriend, and I all went to my father's to watch the debate and have dinner. I indulged a little too heavily, opened several bottles of wine between the four of us, and by the time the debate was over, I was (as they say) lit. I woke up this morning, had trouble getting out of bed, drank a bottle of Gatorade and managed to start the day.

  • 7:00 a.m. Woke up and turned on Howard Stern

  • 8:00 a.m. Went over to the computer and tried to log back on to the State of Illinois website, realized I had not filed my '07 state taxes

  • 8:30 a.m. Phoned the State of Illinois and they confirmed that I had not filed and that I had until 10/15 to file my return. Because I could obtain a pin, I was instructed to mail in my taxes vs. filing online

  • 9:12 a.m. RCN came out and removed my VoIp modem and replced it with a normal modem

  • 9:30 a.m. Phoned Bob and agreed to meet at Bongo Room at 10:30

  • 10:53 a.m. I finally arrived at Bongo Room, my parking meter was broken and I had trouble crossing the street because of the traffic on Milwaukee

  • 12:45 p.m. Walked up/down Milwaukee with Bob, ran into his friend Katie who is an actress in his latest project

  • 1:12 p.m. Headed home, while driving down North Avenue, decided that a stop at Whole Foods was necessary. Picked up some groceries

  • 2:25 p.m. Came home, picked up my computer and headed out to get some work accomplished at a coffee shop

  • 2:30 p.m. Ran into Ben on Rush Street and was invited to join him for a cup of coffee with some of his friends abandoning my previous plan to get some work done

  • 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. Ordered a glass of Cosentino wine Had a very interesting time with Ben's friends. One particular person, we'll call him PP, spoke more loudly, dropped more names and talked about his country club unlike anyone I have ever met. The man bragged about graduating college in 1977, being in rehab with Stevie Nicks, he casually dropped the names of his Chicago socialite (supposed) friends, while some how casually throwing in the term "platinum pussy" followed by "fuck the bride, fist the groom" all in the same breath.

Tonight, I plan to make myself a nice steak, medium rare, and put in the movie Hostel. Another exciting night in the Leyla household.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Unemployment Diaries Day 1

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Yesterday, I was "let go" my by company. Partly due to the economy and partly due to it being a poor fit, and entirely mutual. I had about 10 days to prepare for the end, I was notified that the company in general, and my department in specific, was not making our financial goal. I could see that it was inevitable but it is never easy to face. Being it was the end of the Q3, I knew heads would roll on the 30th or the 1st of the month, Monday was the 29th - that day was tough, the anticipation was killing me. By Tuesday, I grew tired of waiting for the shoe to drop and by Wednesday I welcomed the release.

I worked really hard for the last 10 days hoping that something would turn around, I made some significant improvements, however, I think my efforts were futile. Yesterday, it became apparent that the decision was made 10 days earlier when I was first told of my possible release.

This is a daily account of what Unemployment is like...hopefully, I can keep it up.

Thursday, October 2nd

  • 6 a.m. I woke up and turned on Howard Stern

  • 7 a.m. Got out of bed and readied myself for my run (then I went on the run)

  • 8 a.m. Showered, searched for jobs on the internet, phoned a specialized management recruitment firm in the South West

  • 9 a.m. Called RCN and disconnected my home phone, which has not been used in well over three months, also found out that my "bundle" service was costing me about $4 more than if I simply didn't have the "bundle." I was able to upgrade my internet service and still benefit from a savings.

  • 10 a.m. Emailed a few people alerting them to my current situation and met Mark for coffee at his Design Studio

  • Between 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM Attempted to file for unemployment, text messaged some folks, ate lunch with high school kids at Jimmy Johns

  • 1:00 p.m. Totally bored

  • 3:20 p.m. Seriously considered day drinking

  • 3:21 p.m. Talked on the phone using my diminishing Whenever Minutes so I resorted to ONLY speaking those in my Fave Five

  • 3:34 p.m. Read a funny article on Sarah Palin to ready myself for the debate tonight and posted it to my facebook page

  • 3:35 p.m. Drew blue eyeliner on my driver's license photo

  • 3:36 p.m. In an effort to refrain from the previously mentioned notion of "Day Drinkng," substituted Vodka for strong coffee, brewed a pot and drank the whole thing

  • 4:00 p.m. Had a short back & forth with Traci via IM over the reasons why I don't care to have pictures of her dogs sent to me - at all....ever....even if it is under the guise of humor

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Friday, Otherwise Known as Day 2 of Unemployment

Monday... Many Days Have Passed... Much Has Happened