Monday, September 25, 2006

New City, New Life

So Jacqui and I arrived in Columbus approximately three weeks ago. It was weird moving to a city that we'd never actually been to. Weird and yet somehow not weird at all. Mostly because some of our friends are already here. Right now we're living with Nick and Beth and Karl and Jessie live, literally, right next door. Relationships like that are interesting. Jacqui and I hadn't seen any of these friends since our wedding, which at last count was approaching a year and a half, but their hospitality and joy in having us here helped make the transition easier.

Not that we don't miss every other part of our pre-Columbus lives like crazy.

In fact just last night, even after a few weeks of settling in, hanging out and finding our way, both Jacqui and I realized how much we missed the old parts of our lives: our year in Vancouver, our summer in Grand Rapids. Sometimes living like nomads is hard and every time the tent stakes get pulled up their is definitely a process of letting go, of grieving for the places you're leaving behind.

A big part of our time here has been spent trying to find employment for me (Jacqui can't quite work yet because of immigration stuff). Early last week I had what looked like a pretty sweet gig lined up managing a independent house cleaning business called Helping Hands. The people who owned it were great--super self starters and extremely passionate about what they do. My job would have eventually been training new employees, working on scheduling and cleaning homes about 20-30% of the time cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. The training and scheduling sounded great, the cleaning I wasn't sure about but I thought I'd give it a go. My first day on the job I worked by myself cleaning an entire house out in the suburbs. It did not go well. It took me almost twice as long as it was scheduled to and I pretty much hated every minute of it. There was just too much pressure, too many things to keep track of ( for those of you who know me I have trouble finding my keys and here I had about 30 different cleaning tools and products to keep track of as I trekked from room to room. It was not pretty.) and the work itself just wasn't rewarding enough. So even though the salary was pretty great I decided that I didn't want to frustrate the owners by staying on and having them invest time in me, when it wasn't something I really be passionate about.

In the meantime I had applied at a whole litany of other establishments: Jeni's ice cream, Peabody's Paper, World Market, Barnes and Noble, Panera, Stoph's Coffee house, Lifetime fitness, and Spinelli's deli among others. None of them were proving very fruitful. One day about a week ago Jessie suggested a nearby restaurant called The Northstar Cafe. She had nothing but glowing things to say about the place: the food was great (mostly all fresh, organic and locally grown), the place itself was a cool (very clean lines, chic, lots of natural light) , the people were all really nice (and not just fake "food service nice" but really genuinely nice.) , they offer benefits, etc.

So I went to check it out and was immediately intrigued. Everything Jessie had said about it was indeed true and the people that I talked to were extremely optimistic and encouraging about the possibility of a position. Today I met with one of their head guys and tomorrow I start a preview shift to see how I fit in. My job is what they call a "linebacker", basically it's a prep-cook who specifically works on the important side items on their menu. My job will mostly be cleaning and preparing the various greens they use in salads, making a kick ass rice salad, and roasting many, many rotisserie chickens.

So I'm hoping that it works out and after a fairly long employment hiatus I'm excited about the prospect of doing something rewarding and fun with my time.

So that's life right now. It's a totally new, exciting, frustrating, joyful, discouraging, challenging, fun and tiring all at the same time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Take a page out of my book...

Earlier today, in celebration of my 25 birthday I was engaging in a favorite past time: reading in a cafe before noon. Now don't get me wrong, I like reading in cafes after noon as well but there's something about the early to mid-morning hours that are sort of magical to me. My favorite time of the day is probably between 9am and 11am. Between these hours the day is still so full of promise, brimming with undiscovered potential and not yet dog-eared by the realization that each new day is often very much the same as the day before. (The worst time of day for me is the hours between 3pm and 5pm. I find that these hours are often the drudge hours; the stretched-to-thin pockets of time that serve as the no-mans land hinge of time, swinging between my promising morning and my anticipated evening.)

So there I was: hearty book in hand, coveted table by the window claimed and ready for some serious recreational page thumbing. Right now I'm reading a book by a Canadian author named Robertson Davies. He passed away a few years ago and wrote most of his major books in the 60's and 70's. He's quite an interesting guy: a one time actor at the Old Vic in England, a University Professor, a playwright and a well traveled novelist. He also has a great photo of himself on the back of the book which embodies the romanticism of what I would imagine a deceased, educated, jack-of-all-trades, absent minded professor/literate novelist to look like (that or an intellectual Santa Clause).

Also, his books also have some great titles: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and A Mixture of Frailties to name a few. I'm currently reading What's Bred in the Bone the middle novel of a trilogy which I purchased at a used book store. I bought all three books bound in a single volume so the final page count at the end of the third book is quite high clocking in at 1136 pages, making the entirety of the book cumbersome to tote around but also impressive to view.

I was about five pages into my special birthday read when something strange happened. My book rebelled against me. I'll explain. There I was, thoroughly enjoying page 566, when all of a sudden I was brusquely catapulted to page 599. Thirty-three pages had somehow been skipped entirely! My first instinct was panic. I scoured the thick volume back to front thinking that maybe these pages had simply been misplaced or perhaps, in a moment of uncharacteristic discontentment, had not enjoyed their chronology and decided to relocate to what they thought a more interesting section of the novel. Sadly, this was not the case. The pages had simply not been included.

To add insult to injury the last bit of type of pg 566 was a hyphenated punch to the gut: "He never married; no ne-". To confuse matters further before I realized the omission I spent a good 48 seconds trying to make sense out of the continuing text from page 599 which read "uniting powder with lilac oil to make a splendid ultramarine." I almost went on reading, thinking that perhaps "neuniting" was just a word not in my personal lexicon, until I noticed the disjointed page numbers.

So now I'm left with a birthday conundrum. Do I try and find another copy of this semi-obscure book? And then even if I find a copy do I purchase it just to read 33 pages or do I try and read it in whatever establishment happens to have it on hand? Also, in the meantime will my fidelity to this book remain unwavering or will I slowly lose interest and find solace in the pages of a fun, flirty, literary fling? As I lay sleeping peacefully last night, a confident young man of 24, who could have guessed that the advent of my 25th year would be fraught with such a challenge? Is this what life is going to be like from here on out? Curse you pages 567-598!