Day 42 – The Lawyers, The Sitch and The Walk-in Wardrobe

Bring on the tunes
Bring on the tunes

It’s been a week since I’ve written. It’s not because I’m lazy, I promise. So much to say, and this three-hour plane ride from Houston to Newark is the perfect time to get it all down. Especially since Captain Hilarity, the funniest flight attendant in the skies comically inspires me. He started with something about those in the exit rows who just don’t give a function and ended with calling attention to a woman standing holding up 145 other passengers. Ah, the little laughs get me every time.

This guy gives a function
This guy gives a function

TUESDAY: OK let’s start from the beginning. Got on a plane in Newark and headed to Austin, Texas, for my final interviewing stage. The agency I have been speaking with for almost two months booked me a hotel, got me a car and I believed were ready to SHOW ME THE MONEY! But first, I did what all people do in a new city. I went on a date 🙂

His name is tree hugging, Earth-loving, environmental lawyer and I met him in an airport in New York a couple months ago. I really love airports apparently. Really nice, Austin-born gentleman found me on LinkedIn and we’ve exchanged a few emails. Basically, if you ever make it to Austin, let’s grab a drink. So, he picked me up at my hotel and in the warm dusk of night we had a drink (outside!) and some wonderful dinner and then we shared a gigantic piece of red velvet cake. I’m in love. Seriously. It was the best cake I’ve ever had (and you thought I was going to say something else). With early agency meetings, it was an early night and with a quick kiss on the cheek I bid my cowboy adieu.

Cake and Champagne
Cake and Champagne

WEDNESDAY: The agency lies in the Hill Country part of town and as I drove (like a grandma) up the multi-lane highway I saw monstrous mansions aligning the tops of the cliffs overlooking the city of Austin. Maybe one day I’ll get to see the view from up there. I bet it is stunning, you know being God’s country and all.

Walking into a new potential job is a little like walking into high school for the first time. You’re the no-named new guy. I did feel like that. Until I actually made it down the hall and immediately saw the chalk board wall full of song requests, a couple of turn tables, a shelving unit full or DJ equipment and records and music festival and band posters lining every inch of space. As a music lover, nothing makes me feel more at ease than a real life soundtrack. From there, it just got better.

After a couple of meetings with directors, CMOs, fellow writers and persons of all advertising walks of life, I was done. Part 2 of my day consisted of meeting with my agency-appointed broker, Steve. Steve is awesome and his apartment locating services are free. Remember, I don’t have an offer, so telling Steve my budget is a little like a guessing game. I have ZERO idea what a salary offer would be, so I gave him a range.

Me: $850 – $1300.

Steve: Are you serious? That’s everything in Austin. I have 11,000 listings.

Me: I’m leaving Thursday, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Steve: OK, what are you looking for? What’s a deal breaker.

Me: Washer, Dryer, Pool, Gym, Updated kitchen, Dishwasher, Hardwood Floors, Carpeted Bedroom, Walk-in-Closet, Hot Single Neighbors.

Steve: Oh, dear Lord.

Believe it or not, this man found me an apartment with EVERYTHING I asked for in all ranges of budget. A 1980s gem for $850, a brand spanking new resort NEXT DOOR to “my office” for $1050 and the well-known, cosmopolitan apartments known as The Domain for $1225. Every single one of them could have fit my full-sized bed I kept in my tiny one-room apartment in the wardrobe. I’m in renter’s heaven—700-800 square foot bachelorette pads just waiting for me.

Even the pools are shaped like Texas
Even the pools are shaped like Texas

Oh, and did I mention the security deposits in Austin are around $150. I’m not kidding. You don’t need first and last month + 1 month security. I had to fork over almost 4 grand for my UES joint. I can get one of these for a $45 application fee and a smile. Alas, no job, no apartment. I left Steve. Feeling confused, longing for an offer and went back to the hotel.

Exhausted, I put myself to bed early… until my other lawyer friend called and told me if I came downtown around 9:30 to see a band called The Spazmatics I wouldn’t be disappointed. Hell, if this guy, Mr. All Business is making such promising claims I had to take his word for it. I got there before him and he showed up with two beautiful ladies. It sorta crossed my mind, who wouldn’t be disappointed tonight? It turned out to be a fun night and I’m glad to got to hang out outside, see the nerdy 80s cover band and Mr. All Business and I had at least 3 things we agreed on. RECORD! (I can get into our friendship later)

The Spazmatics nerd out on Wednesday's
The Spazmatics nerd out on Wednesday’s

Thursday: Lunch date with a couple of the folks over at the agency. We had a great time, talked, and got to know each other. But, what was it all for? Where was the offer? Would there be an offer? With a trip to LA approaching in less than 48 hours I was determined to know what was next.

I got my answers in the Austin airport an hour later. My contact and future boss called me to offer me the job! With a brief discussion about the logistics we both agreed that after two months we were happily committing to employee/employer.

Thumbs up to exciting news
Thumbs up to exciting news

So, here I am, 42 days after being let go from a special hell, solo celebrating with a G&T on my flight back to the northeast for the last time until TBD. Unemployed no longer starting TBD. I feel great. I feel more than great. I’m elated. I’m going to say goodbye to my spectacularly supportive parents and head out into the great (un)known. Maybe I’ll even stop in Tennessee, but that’s another story.

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It’s a Whine Bottle Kinda Night

I may punch mother nature
I may punch mother nature

Not a typo. Is it just me, or is everyone else living in the eastern seaboard just like fucking fed up with this weather?! Every week it’s snowing or going to snow or sleeting or raining or just flat out ruining shit. Now, given my circumstances, I’m pretty flexible. I don’t have to trudge through wet, slippery subways or go into an office that’s been left empty by Jersians who didn’t make it in, or those (managers) working remotely. I realize that.

That being said, after almost 7 weeks of interviewing with an agency in Austin, my final step was canceled due to this incoming snow storm. The agency booked me a flight, car and hotel for Thursday to Friday, and that was no easy task in itself. We had to communicate frequently for timing and after 2 days on the phone I was good to go. Until Southwest Airlines sent me a text saying EWR was closed. CLOSED?! How is an entire airport closed?

Now it could be worse. I could be asked NOT to come. I could no longer be considered a candidate. But these are Texans and as I hear it, Texans are welcoming folks. Even to the point where these Texans have paired me with an apartment broker who can work with me remotely to find the housing of my dreams. Now that I’ve sold all my stuff maybe my dreams just come with an air mattress and strong shower head (I will be alone after all).

So tonight, instead of printing boarding passes and ironing shirts I’m foregoing dinner for a Hersey’s Chocolate Bar and bottle of white, with a side of whine. There is good news. The agency isn’t holding me accountable for the weather (Texan’s are smart) and after many more frustrating back-and-forth phone calls, I’ll be heading to Austin next Tuesday through Thursday.

This HAS to be the final decision by both them and myself because on Saturday I leave for L.A. with a one way plane ticket, and from there I am headed to San Diego or starting a life in Austin. Both are exciting prospects and the best part… NO SNOW! So, I guess I don’t really have anything to whine about. I mean it could be worse. My friend Amanda is stuck in Asia with canceled flights for days.

Now… who has advice on “must-dos” in L.A.? I’m thinking hiking in Malibu, tackling my fear of heights at Universal Studios and of course seeing the Hollywood sign.

 

 

A One-way Ticket to Paradise

As soon as my time runs out to cancel this flight without consequence, Austin will call.
As soon as my time runs out to cancel this flight without consequence, Austin will call.

The wavering is gone! West coast here I come. For weeks I’ve put my airplane ticket purchase on hold because I’ve been unsure what may arise with the agency in Austin. No, I haven’t heard back other than, we’re still making decisions. It’s been confirmed several times that I am still in the running, and for that I am excited, but I can’t just sit here and wait. I’m not doing myself any good waiting for the long, drawn out interview process to work (or not work) in my favor.

So maybe “the” wavering isn’t gone, but more accurately, mine is. On February 22, aboard a nonstop Virgin America plane, I will land at LAX to start my new west coast life. I’m staying with my talented friend Logan in North Hollywood for about a week. While there, I hope to see many friends I only know these days through Facebook, check out the L.A. scene (it is my first time after all) and even get a small freelance interview. Who knows? Anything is possible with the right outlook and attitude.

Logan's View
Logan’s View

At the end of the month I will head south. San Diego will take the place of my residence for an undetermined amount of time. This is where it gets interesting…

My brother, sister-in-law and almost 3-year-old niece live in San Diego. When we discussed me coming out there in December we set some basic and understandable ground rules that had the overall feel of let’s see what happens. My hope is that everything goes smoothly and respectfully, obviously. But everyone knows that house guests, like fish, go bad after 3 days. I hope this isn’t true. I need more time!

And speaking of time, many things are happening between now and getting on that plane. But I guess you’ll have to tune in to find out.

Bigger picture: After lots of research, I think I ultimately want to end up in Australia. I’ve been doing some investigating on creative writing programs down under and there are some really interesting and inspiring offerings. If you’ve been to the University of Sydney or the University of Western Sydney, I’d love to hear from you. Better yet, if you’ve done a writing program there (or in Australia in general), and have any advice or warnings, let me know. Applications are due around April for postgraduate courses, so I should get started. You never know, I could be blogging half way around the world by July!

But, back to reality. Time for country people things! Shoveling the never-ending falling snow from the driveway and baking brownies.

And this was taken 5 hours ago...
And this was taken 5 hours ago…