Thursday, February 10, 2005

An ode to my sister Julie

Monday morning.

I wake up before my alarm goes off and already begin to dread the day.
Today I will find a job. Today I will find a job.
I keep repeating my mantra but begin to remind myself of the awful mother from American Beauty "I will sell this house today", so I stop.

I have never, in all my 23 years, had to look for a job.
This is going to be difficult for me.
This is going to be good for me.

We start off at the IEP office and I email my resume to a couple of nannying agencies.
I've made up 3 different versions of my resume by now: one service, one office, one childcare
I'm willing to take anything that comes my way.
I look at the job postings in the office, jot down some phone numbers and begin to make some calls.

Five phone calls down, no positions available.
Ok. Don't start to panic...You're one hour into the job search, it's fine.

I kiss Jeff and tell him that I'm "hitting the streets"
I do this casually, pretending this isn't the first time I've gone out by myself into this strange country I've been in for only 6 days.
We'll meet up later, keep each other updated on how the search is going.

I leave the building.
I'm out in the city, by myself.
I feel like I'm going to puke.
I start walking, and walking, and get horribly lost.
This is good, I tell myself, I need this, I need to do this on my own, to find my own way, to start to understand the city myself, and what better way than to get hopelessly lost in what looks to be the only industrial district of Sydney.

Take a deep breath. Look around, and start walking again.
I find my way back to the harbour. I am standing outside store fronts.
Normal people do this all the time, they just walk in and ask if they're hiring.
I force myself into storefront after storefront. No positions open.

Ok, time to text Jeff, ask how it's going with him.
No response. Ok, keep walking. Stay focused
Head to the mall by our place. There's got to be something there.
Jeff texts me back, he's on the phone with some agencies...
I text him again, telling him I'm starting to feel the panic setting in. I am starting to freak out. He says he feels like I'm a dove he's set free...I tell him that this dove is freaking out!
No response

Walk into the mall, and approach a countless number of places. No one is looking to fill any positions.
I've never had to do this.
Where is Jeff? Why won't he respond to my text message?
I'm alone in the middle of this damn country and I can't get ahold of the one person that can help me feel a little less lost!

I do not like being rejected, especially from some little ice cream shop in the mall.
I start to really panic and I can feel the tears coming to my eyes.
Maybe I can't do this. Maybe this is too much for me to handle. I've been spoiled all my life when it comes to getting jobs.

A text from Jeff:
"Mary, I have total and complete faith in you. Stay cool and optimistic, it's so early, still. I'm here in the bunker with you."

I'm crying now. And I'm trying to tell myself to calm down.
I need to get my shit together. I walk out of the mall.
I look up at the sky and I take a deep breath.
I'm walking by some construction workers and one of them yells something suggestive to me.
I laugh a little, well at least the construction workers are the same, no matter where you go.

I get to our place, and I go to the computers in the lobby. I look on one of the message boards for jobs and see someone has posted one this morning. Looking for 2 part-time servers onboard the Floating Restaurant...3-4 months, 25-40 hours a week. I jot down the number.

I call and she asks me to come in and fill out an application.

I arrive to find this massive ship in the Darling Harbour. It's called the South Steyne Floating Restaurant ( I fill out my application, hand it to the manager Sarah, and she asks if I'm available to work tonight at 5.

I manage to force out the word yes, and I'm on my way back home.
I text Jeff and say that I got a job
I'm shocked.
I'm terrified.
How fitting...terrified of not finding a job, and then terrified when I do find one.

Jeff walks me over and also fills out an application before my shift starts. We'd been discussing how it would be nice if we could both land jobs there and have around the same hours.

We're sitting outside the boat and I tell him I feel like this is the first day of preschool, and I don't want him to leave just yet. I ask him if he can stand outside the boat all night long so when I look out I can see that he's still there. He laughs and give me a kiss and tells me I'll do fine.

I start my first night of work as a waitress...except tonight I'm simply showing people to their tables and running food.

I will not survive tonight.
My fingers will give out on me.
My arms are burning.
My body aches in a way that it never has before.
And I don't even have any tables yet!!

How does Julie do this?

I remember casually mentioning before I left that perhaps I would try waitressing in Sydney. Julie chuckled and said that I would return with a newfound respect for what she does.

She has no idea what respect I found for waitressing.

It's not like I am thinking, this is really hard, but I'll get through, I'll manage.

It's more like, I am not going to make it. I am going to collapse here and die, buried in plates of fillet mignon, and they will have to put that as my cause of death, how very sad.

I only get through the first night by promising myself that when I am finished I will quit. This night will mark the beginning and the end of my career in waitressing.

Funny thing happened though, at the end of my shift.
I got through and I thought, I can do this again.

So I did.
I showed up the next night and I did it all over again.
And it was just as hard.
And again I promised myself I would quit at the end of the night.

Yet when the end of the night came and I walked out to find Jeff waiting for me at the end of the pier to hold my hand as we walked home, just as he had the night before, I thought again, I can do this.

It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life.
It's different than anything I've ever done. And it's completely out of my realm of what it comfortable...
This is going to be good for me.

Tonight I work for a 3rd time. And I know the drill. In the middle of my shift I'll again promise my own resignation, but more likely than not, I'll survive, and I'll show up for work the next day.

Thank you Julie, for showing me not only that it can be done, but it can be done very well and with an amazing attitude and a constant smile. When my arms feel their weakest and when my fingers are about to fall off, I draw strength from you.



At 6:18 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Mary...out of anyone that I know, you have the most amazing ability to rise to the occasion and get the job done! I know that you are feeling overwhelmed, but look at how much you've already accomplished. I have total faith in you and I know that you'll be running the show in no time! Hey, if you can write a 10 page research paper in one night, you can do anything! I lova ya Mary! Take care :)


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Amy Boyd said...

I can't tell you how many times I got lost in LA and how many times I'd sit in a parking lot of a restaurant or some terrible telemarketing job I had and cried. It is hard to find balance when you are getting use to a new place, missing your family, and basically worrying about everything. Hang in there...and cry all you want! God knows I did, and still am. (haha) I check your blog a few times a day, just to read things over. (I'm totally living through you, it's great!) It reminds me of my move out to LA. I sometimes wish I could do it all again, even the horrible first year. Being away from everyone and everything, allows you to find out who you are and what you want. There's nothing better. Enjoy it, even the hard parts. I'll leave you with my favorite quote from my LA experience. Love you!
"Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it."

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Dancing Butterfly said...

I love you. I am soooooo happy you found a job! CONGRATS! Stay focused stay strong. You can do anything, in any time zone. Security is born within yourself. You are home , wherever you are. Thank you for your tribute. Always, Peace.

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

I'm so impressed that you got a job before Jeff. It sounds like you experienced a little fight or flight and went out on your own and got your first job. I still can't believe that you've never had to look for a job before. I knew it, but seeing it in print made me so envious. I'm also glad you went off on your own and got lost in Sydney. You should take Jeff and show him around, as I imagine its something you know and he doesn't. Role reversal. You feel your bearings in the place yet? Does it feel like you're there for the long haul or still temporarily? I love hearing about pools and warm weather, because Chicago took a turn here in February and its getting cold again. Stupid month.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Amy Boyd said...

It was so great to hear your voice! We had the ringer turned off and were in the living room talking about you and all of a sudden we hear your voice! very cool! I've never seen Rob move so fast! especially for a phone call. "Ray" was pretty good very long! Guess who is in it.. Toby form West Wing... but he has hair in the movie. Looks very different. Have a good day!

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Random thought that I meant to tell you about...
I tried to watch "Tilt" just because Jimmy was in it, but I couldn't even handle one episode. Too bad, cuz he's still quite good looking!! Love ya, talk to you soon!

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Jack said...

Mary Boyd, you have taught me (more than anyone in my life) that nothing is too hard to do. You have overcome so much in your young 23 years, weak arms and waitressing will not get the best of you. I'm glad you found a job that is not like you to take, you'll get more out of it that way. My parents both say hi and my dad wants to know what you mean when you say "all construction workers are the same:)" He also asked when you were going to go fishing with him. Anyway...maybe one day you will start your own restaurant now:) what do you think? Just hang in there kid and keep a smile on. I forgot to tell you we watched my birthday video about 5 times now. Man...I can't believe how harsh you girls were:) You are so lucky I was drunk that first time I saw it. Oh yeah, one more thing about fear....WE JUMPED OFF A 40 FOOT CLIFF DRUNK IN JAMAICA-TWICE! Considering that boat ride and all the craziness-i know you can handle anything:)
Alright, this kid is out! Love you and miss you hun!

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that you are freaking out a little. Bold move taking the waitress job as your first real occupational endeavour. Bold and admirable. Just remember that YOU are in Australia, and in about three minutes I, on the other hand, will be in the basement of a building with virtually no windows playing with wires and lasers for the next three and a half hours. After which, i get to go write about it for another four hours.
So keep having fun.

Can't be bothered.


At 1:39 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Jeez, you got this thing up and running again? I couldn't believe you got "hacked" before. I mean, honestly, who spends their time hacking blogs? If I had that kind of time, I would rule the world by now, hands down. Consequently, my time being as precious as it is, I felt that I should grace your site with a comment. Perhaps I shall do so more often in the future. Anyhow, congrats on getting a job, and I'm sorry to see that all your weight training with those 2 pound little dinky things that you have didn't really pay off in the face of adversity. I'm glad you have this running again so I can annoy you from afar, and it's great to hear you're doing well. Later Mare...

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary-Thank you so much for sending your journal! I am so jealous that you are experiencing so much in Australia. I don't have much time to read books or anything, so reading your posts is like reading a little short story every day!! Except it's real life!!

You are so brave - so I am always so surprised to see you write that you're terrified. Enjoy every minute of your time. In a few years you'll look back and realize just how amazing it was - so enjoy and take care. LOVE,DEED

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary, It's Mom.
This posting is a little late, but I hope you check past postings. This one was amazin "An ode to my sister Julie.
I was laughing my head off. It's wonderfully funny... didn't know you could write funny stuff also. I just love your descriptions of your feelings. They are so REAL. Take it from one who knows you so well and is a lot like you.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Aunt Jude said...

You're amazing! I love your self awareness, your sense of humor, and most of all your honesty! I know I'm a little late in getting into your blog. Somehow I was not copied on your original eMail. I have some catching up to do. But, I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.
I love you!
Aunt Jude


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