Saturday, August 16, 2008

Update on the job search

So, I've been here for almost two weeks and I think I have found a job. I interviewed last Tuesday with the Lion Brand Yarn Co. in Manhattan and they emailed me after checking my references to ask if I could come in on Thursday and Friday to work in the design department. Originally the plan was to have me work part time on a trial period and reassess at a later date, but after my first day they said they wanted me to work full time for three weeks as a trial period and reassess from there.

I won't be doing any of the designing, instead I will be assisting with day to day operations, handling all the shipping and maintain a database of all their projects. The work environment is really great. Everyone has been more than friendly and I look forward to working there on a more permanent basis.

If I am hired as staff I would also receive medical, dental, and vacation benefits, and while I won't be making a fortune, I will be making enough to pay for rent and other necessities, flights home and the all important Starbucks.

I am very excited about this: it's my first 9 to 5 job, and it's in Manhattan! I'll keep you updated as I learn more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My first day in Manhattan

I have been here for just over a week and have had many experiences in both the Bronx and Manhattan that are worth repeating here. Perhaps the most exciting is what happened the first day I went to Manhattan. I left the Bronx in search of several items necessary to my comfort: sheets, a pillow (with a pillowcase please), a blanket, and a fan (because the Bronx is hot in the summer). I took the train to Lincoln Center where I had been told there was a Bed, Bath and Beyond (which there was) and also came across a Barnes and Noble, an AMC Theater, the Gap, and Banana Republic. I wandered into Barnes and Noble because I couldn't help myself and I spent twenty minutes or so there being careful not to get too attached to anything I found because this shopping trip was designated for housewares only and everything I purchased had to be carried back uptown on the subway. When I had taken my fill, I walked out and was heading to Bed, Bath and Beyond when I noticed a poster in the bookstore's window. Joyce Carol Oates is reading Aug 8th at 7:30, it read. I was so disoriented because of my move that I didn't know what day it was, but after checking my phone I saw that it was the 8th and Mrs. Oates would be reading there in about four hours.

I first read Joyce Carol Oates at Green River Community College for an English class. Her short story "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?" was assigned reading. I loved it so much that over the years I read several of her novels as well: I'll Take You There, Beasts, The Tattooed Girl, The Falls, and Black Water. She often uses contemporary events as inspiration for her novels. For example, Her novel Blonde is about the last few days of the life of Marilyn Monroe. Her most recent novel My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skylar Rampike takes the JonBenet Ramsey case as its inspiration, though Oates is firm in her insistence that it is not about that particular case. She currently teaches creative writing at Princeton and has been published in the New Yorker.
She read from her new novel for about half an hour and interspersed the reading with anecdotes, comments, and insight into her writing style all of which was fascinating. Afterwords there was a Q & A session and finally a booksigning. I was very glad I had the opportunity to attend.
I also found the time to see Mamma Mia! that day which was light and funny. Meryl Streep was incredible, but I still can't get used to seeing Pierce Brosnan in a musical. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I've arrived: My first night in the Bronx.

Well, I made it. I woke up at about 5:oo and caught the plane at 7:40. We arrived about half an hour early which was fine with me because there were two babies that cried through the whole thing. I picked up my suitcase and headed for the AirTrain which took me to the E train at Jamaica station. I took the E to 7th Avenue where I transferred to the D train headed for the Bronx.

When I stepped out of the subway I realized how different my life was going to be living here. Looking around me I tried to think of somewhere I had been previously that was comparable. Madrid and Pioneer Square both came to mind. The buildings are all very old (or at least seem to be) and I am glad I speak some Spanish because many people here speak it (as well as Italian). I could tell I stuck out like a sore thumb with my back pack and suitcase, but I tried to make my way to my new building as quickly as I could.

Because the plane was early I had to wait at McDonald's until about 7:45 because my landlord couldn't meet me until then. When I did finally meet him I was relieved to find he was 1) an actual landlord and not a scam artist who was never going to show up, and 2) a nice guy. He showed me my room which is small, but big enough, and we moved in a new single size bed for me to sleep in.

By then I was exhausted, and hungry so I ventured out in search of provisions. The first thing I came across was a wine store. Thank god. I bought a bottle of yellow tail and a beautiful crystal glass, and went to drop it off at the apartment before finding food.

When I put my key in the lock, however, the handle didn't move. I tried again, still nothing. After several minutes, I decided to call the landlord to see what I was doing wrong. He came up (he lives on the bottom floor) and showed me that to open the door I have to insert the key, pull the door slightly toward myself (but only just slightly!) and turn the lock to the left...slowly. I tried and was finally able to do it. I thanked him, dropped off the wine and went out in search of food.

I live right in Little Italy and so, Italian food was close at hand. I stopped into a little place called the Two Star Restaurant. Trust me, it's better than it sounds. I had the Fettuccine Alfredo, and headed back to my place with the left overs. I put the key in the lock, pulled towards myself, and turned to the left, but the door would not open. I struggled for what felt like half an hour until someone came up behind me and asked if I was having trouble with the lock. I panicked slightly in the realization that I was obviously from out of town, semi-locked out of my place and it was about 10:00 in the Bronx. I confessed that I was having trouble and this person introduced himself. He lives on the second floor and wanted to show me how to work the lock.

He inserted the key, pulled the handle, and turned the lock, and for him it opened. I tried it a few more times and somehow, I was able to open it. I hope I still can later.

Today, I need to buy some things for my place, and start looking for a job. I still need to find time to explore Manhattan too!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm leaving Seattle...tomorrow!

I find it hard to believe that 24 hours from now I will be on a plane headed for JFK airport. From there I take the AirTrain to Manhattan where I transfer to the subway which takes me to E Fordham Rd. From there I walk to 187th st and Prospect where I will meet my new landlord and roommates. I am bringing one small suitcase and one backpack filled with the following: Norton Anthologies, my laptop, and knitting, knitting, knitting. My mother is shipping a selection of books and a big box of yarn to me as soon as I am settled.

Classes don't begin until September 3rd and I am registered for 20th C. Black Women Writers and Medieval Scottish Poetry. I have been waiting for the reading lists to be available, but as of yet, the wait continues. At the moment I am reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (author of The Handmaid's Tale). She astounded me when I read her novel Oryx and Crake a few months ago and she is quickly becoming one of my most favorite authors. She rivals even Virginia Woolf. I am also bringing some literary theory to read on the plane: Bodies that Matter by Judith Butler and Criticism and Ideology by Terry Eagleton.

I'm in a rush at the moment so I will post again when I have arrived in the Bronx and gotten settled. Stay tuned!