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Category Archives: Life

Well THAT Was Easy

…So, uh, I think I may have the next job lined up already.  We’ve done the deal verbally, still waiting for the paperwork.

Job hunting is never fun for anyone, but for me it’s especially fraught because the first time I ever really had to devote attention to such a search was right after the financial collapse of 2008/2009.  Before that I sort of stumbled into both a day job and all my theater gigs pretty quickly; my very first post-college job came via a call from my university’s internship office that came the morning after graduation, and I just stuck with the person helming that particular project for the next eight years.  Then I kicked up the theater career and signed up for temping, and got easily placed in spots for about ten more years, with one gig lasting four years alone (and it probably would have gone on even longer if the economy had lasted).  So the first time I ever tried to deliberately look for a job was in 2009, when such a search usually dragged on for months and months while your savings dwindled and your debt soared and you were living on ramen.  That…was kind of a scarring experience.

So I was girding my loins for a very, very lean year while I was searching – only to have this come along in under a month.  And I realized that my last job search was also comparatively quick.  It’s given me food for thought – and the space to dream a little bigger.  I’m still going to stay put at this new place for a good while (even when it’s fast, job searches suck), but I’m also seeing that this is letting me turn my attention back to “hey, you were going to try eating out more” and “ooh now you can get wonton skins, didn’t you want to use that cookbook more?”

Part of the idea behind the Year Of Challenges was just to get myself out and moving around more – because that’s how you find more connections and more things to involve yourself in out in the wider world.   Life doesn’t have to just be a slog to your job and then a slog home, and I had forgotten that.

Case in point – I was looking for a place to see one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, and discovered a little teeny community space up in Greenpoint was showing a couple.  I went out to one last night – it’s a tiiiiiiny theater space, which they also use for art galleries and video gaming contests, with an equally-cozy coffee house as well.  There were only four of us there for the movie, so the guy behind the concessions counter came in to offer us all a free glass of wine as well, for the heck of it.  I was intrigued enough by the space that I chatted with the staff for a few minutes after, even suggesting a couple films.  But it got me thinking, as I was heading home, that if I ever wanted to launch some kind of a local movie event, they might be down with that….

I mean, I’m still a train, two busses and about fifteen bucks in a cab away from doing that.  But the fact that I even was thinking along those lines is a sign of hope that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

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State Of The Kim: Of Resolutions And Rejuvenation

So I’ve recovered from the employment shock a bit, and I think I’m going to be okay.  I dove into job-hunt mode for a few days and have stashed a whole ton of irons into the fire, I have a bit of a game plan set into motion and I even have the promise of some temporary income streams coming in that will sustain me for at least the next two or three months.  In fact, the prospect of the next two or three weeks potentially being “downtime” actually sounds…attractive, instead of being a cause for blind panic.  I’m still going to be browsing job postings every day, but I’m also going to be going on long walks with my camera, checking out local museums with “free weekday” deals, and Marie Kondo-ing the hell out of a couple closets.

Best of all – since most of the challenges I set up for myself in the Year Of Challenges  don’t involve any cash outlay, I can stick with it. Maybe temporarily tweak a couple of them and make up for it later.

In fact, let’s check in on how I did in January.

  • Visit a New Neighborhood: ….Er, I haven’t just yet.  I may save the “January” plan for the first week of February to distract myself from the first couple days of “oh crap I don’t have a job to go to today”.
  • Eat lunch at a restaurant in my neighborhood:  I think I can be excused this. I may also have to put this on hold for a couple months, and double up when I’m in funds again. But there’s a fish sandwich place that opened up on my actual block last week that I have my eye on as the first visit.
  • Reading Challenge: now, this is interesting. I initially signed up and planned to do the Penguin Books UK Classic Reading Challenge, thinking that there was going to be a specified list of books they’d mapped out for the month.  But when two weeks elapsed and I never saw any notice about that, I finally just scoured my own bookshelves and gathered a little stack of Things I’m Meaning To Read and dove into that instead.  But then just when I was finishing the first book….I finally got an email from Penguin, with January’s title on their Classics challenge.  And….so I read both.  I think I may just keep going at that rate – one from my own stack, then one from Penguin.  This first month, the first book was Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis – an unusual construction, sort of like a cross between Memento and Benjamin Button, but with Nazis.  (I have made total hash of that description, but trust me, it’s applicable.)  Penguin suggested Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! which was…alright, but a little too hand-over-heart embrace-the-salt-of-the-earth for my taste.  But – that’s double the success rate on the reading challenge.  Go me!
  • Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday: Yep, did that. Didn’t avail myself of any of the special events they have each time, but I rarely do anyway; I tend to prefer to visit some of my own favorite corners. Although I was drawn to a couple quirky things on display; there’s a retrospective of the museum’s feminist art collection there, and one of the pieces was a series by the artist Wendy Red Star, who found a series of five photos taken of Crow tribe chiefs in the 19th Century at a time when they were visiting Washington DC to negotiate land rights. Wendy Red Star’s work is a series of extensive notations on each photo, describing some of the symbolic elements of each chief’s attire and giving details about their lives.
  • Chinese Cookbook: ….So, I’m cutting myself slack on this for this month. My grocery list for the next few weeks is going to have to be trimmed and simplified, so I don’t quite have the money to spend on some of the specialty ingredients I’d have to buy for this (a shame, as I had my eye on making wontons).  However, there are some recipes that can be made using regular supermarket fare, and I just need to find those and then re-launch.  However, I have another cooking challenge I’m going to add to make up for it:
  • NEW Soup Cookbook Challenge. I also have another overlooked cookbook, this one concerning simple seasonal soups; it’s written by an actual monk, sharing recipes from his own kitchen at his actual monastery, so there’s also an intrinsic frugality there.  I’ve used this one a little more – but there are still quite a few recipes I’ve never tried.   So I’m also going to dive into that one over the course of the coming year.  Brother Victoire-Antoine also helpfully organizes the book with a separate chapter for each month of the year, so I can keep track.  (Coming up in February: mostly bean and vegetable soups, mostly French.  I’m down.)
  • Five Photos every weekend: Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.  We’ve had a couple of BITTER cold weekends, but I’ve still stuck with at least picking up the camera and trying to find photo material indoors.  Also, I’m not so hung up on the “five photos” part as I am on the “every weekend” part; one weekend I only took three photos, but at least I took photos.  Last weekend I also signed up for a “photo walk” with a local photographer and birder; it was a friendly group of people who’d gone on walks with him before, and me, so the focus was mostly on people just diving in and taking pictures.  Exactly what I needed.  He led us on a ramble through some of the residential back corners of Coney Island, finishing with a stroll down the boardwalk back towards the subways. And I found a wealth of subjects…
  • Hike: According to my Fitbit the walk around Coney Island Creek counts as a hike, so there.
  • Craft Projects: I finished something!!! I have been working on a throw blanket for a couple years now; I’d had the yarn salvaged from a more complicated throw blanket kit I’d purchased some years ago, started, and decided I didn’t want to fiddle with it.  But that left me with a couple oddball balls of yarn that wouldn’t really work in other things; it’s a weird sort of fuzzy yarn, really lightweight and fuzzy, so not suitable for a garment. But the quantity was just enough for a simpler lap blanket, which is finally done and gracing the living room. img_5439

Bit Of A Bobble

So things got an eensy bit quiet in here for a couple days and I should probably explain why.

A few days ago, I learned that the company I work for is closing its office in New York City.  There is no option for me to do my job remotely.

So….yeah.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) this is not a wholly new situation for me.  The bulk of my employment history was during the ten years following the financial collapse, and for a few years temporary work was all there was to be had.  So I’ve thrown myself full-tilt into a job search, and am pretty confident this will just be a few months’ bobble, and I’ll console myself by humming “Another Suitcase In Another Hall” now and then.

In the meantime – I’m keeping up with the Movie Crash Course, of course, and am going to definitely keep up with some of my other resolutions, especially the five-photos-a-week and the new-neighborhood-a-month.  A lot of the things I was planning on doing will require nothing more than time to accomplish anyway – and time is something I’ll have a little more of than planned for a few weeks.

Right.  Onward.

Non-Movie Checking In

Right! So let’s see how I’m doing when I’m not doing movies.

  • I have been spending the past couple days trying to set up the new home for the Movie Crash Course so that it does not look like a smacked ass.  Once I do that, then comes the fun of copying the past 136-and-counting reviews over to that site, and then I go live.  (I’ll post reviews both here AND there until the end of January, I think, before turning the movies off here; I will post copious links to the new site so people can switch over, fret not.)
  • I made it out to the Brooklyn Museum for their first First Saturday.  As is my wont, I steered clear of all the special programs and just confined myself to wandering the galleries proper, visiting a couple of my favorite works.
  • I think I’m getting the hang of my camera.  It was cold as balls when I went to take a photo this weekend, though.
  • After signing up for the Penguin UK challenge, I heard….nothing.  So I’m going to do something a little different – I also have a copy of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die book, and heck, the movie list is doing well by me; so I’m going to try reading 12 books out of that list I haven’t read yet.  I’ve somehow acquired a copy of something by Maritn Amis and am already diving in.
  • And finally, I’ve stumbled upon a dippy list of “French-inspired resolutions for the year,” and think I’ll adopt a couple; a monthly visit to a cafe and a monthly movie in a movie theater sound like fine ideas.

Whither WadsWords: The Year Of Challenges

Right.

You will recall that I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do with this here blog once I roll out the Movie Crash Course into its own home (that should happen within a couple weeks, and I’ll post reviews in both places for the first couple weeks or so to encourage people to follow me over there).  I’d decided to set up some self-challenges to get myself to just plain do more this year; I’ve felt like things are a little off-balance for me.

I have the beginnings of a plan in place.

  • I will visit one new neighborhood in this city every month.  This is getting back to the old “Neighborhoods New York” challenge that I set for myself at some point and have been woefully neglecting.
  • I will eat out (a lunch on a weekend) at one new-to-me restaurant in my neighborhood each month.  There are scores of gorgeous restaurants in my neighborhood which I’ve never tried out.
  • I will try to take at least five photos every weekend with my beautiful and glorious new camera.  Granted, I have to figure out how the blasted thing works first, but…yeah.
  • I will do the Penguin Books UK classics reading challenge (one classic book a month), and maybe one other.  This is on top of my existing book club, which should be interesting.
  • I will complete about half of all of the unfinished craft projects I have lingering in the house by the end of the year.  I have a lot of lingering knitting and decoupage ideas sitting in dusty corners, and a couple of tired old things that I have been meaning to spruce up…it’s time to finally do it.
  • I will hike once a month.  New York City is loaded with hiking trails in its furthest corners, and when I exhaust that, then the Hudson Valley is only a short jaunt.
  • I will attend the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday event every month.  Brooklyn Museum plans all kinds of wacky special events each Saturday, but for me the appeal is the free admission; if none of the events speak to me, I can just slip off to some of the other galleries and wander a little.
  • I am still deciding the speed and rate and frequency, but: I will try more recipes out of this gorgeous cookbook.  I got it a while back and have used it exactly once; it’s a gorgeous deep dive into the various regional cuisines of China, with an eye towards “what is actually achievable for a Western Cook”.  The author doesn’t “Westernize” the recipes, from what I’ve seen, she simply focuses on including mostly recipes with ingredients you can actually get in your average supermarket.  ….Alex has already expressed great interest in helping eat the results.

So there it is.  I have a review in the works for the latest movie, but this is also a point of focus.

 

Whither “WadsWords”, Part 2

So about a month ago I mentioned that even though I was going to roll out the movie blog onto its own thing, I was going to keep this blog here and keep doing other things with it.  I just hadn’t yet figured out….what.

Well.

This morning I made a bit of an early New Year’s resolution; to stretch a little and do a few new things.  I’ve been doing a little bit too much of lazy-lump sitting as of late (a blog where you watch movies on a DVD player does lead to those kinds of habits), and wanted to shake things up.

Fortunately the blogging world is all but carpeted with lots of challenges: cooking, reading, music, knitting, sports, photography, you name it.  Basically, for every interest out there, someone’s found a way to turn it into a challenge – pick a thing, pledge that you’ll commit to doing it at some frequency for some length of time, chronicle your progress.

So that’s what I’m going to do – except I’m not going to stop at just one.  I have already resolved that 2019 is going to be, for me, the Year Of Challenges.  Alongside watching all of the 1001+ movies with the Crash Course, I’m going to be trying to do a few other things: some kind of reading challenge, a photo challenge or two, and a couple other things I have yet to discover – cooking, local travel, the field is currently wide open.

But I think I’m going to commit to one right now – for some reason, last year I got myself a copy of All Under Heaven, a gorgeous and very detailed cookbook covering several of China’s different regional cuisines.  And today I can’t even remember what prompted me to buy it – I think maybe I was on a hunt for some Central Asian recipes, saw that this book had a section on that region and it sounded interesting.  I think I’ve made exactly one thing from the book since, and I think something needs to be done about that.

Right now it looks like I’ll be rolling out the new Movie Crash Course blog in early January – and by then I’ll also come up with the full list of the Year Of Challenges….challenges, and then it’s off to the races.

The Whirlwind Begins

So. I said I was going to start writing more about other parts of life on this blog more often, and keep it thus when I send the movie stuff out into its own blog (now anticipating a 2019 rollout).  And towards that end…

Alex is now departed for two weeks, and I took advantage of that to start the whole planning-of-Christmas-decor overhaul.  I mentioned that I was going to go for a kind of rustic homespun repurpose-junk-you-have-around-the-house vibe; so towards that end, I just started the day by pulling out everything I owned that could possibly be pressed into service as a decor element.

Y’all, it’s covering half the floor of the living room.

I have about ten jars of various sizes and shapes; three bags of pine cones; about 20 candle containers, about ten pounds of candle wax (some of it already even colored red), wicks, and a pint of “Mountain Lodge” candle scent to make my own candles; about five iron-look metal candle holders, one of which even is shaped like a spray of pine; a cheap ceramic cupcake tier stand; two lanterns; two sprays of fake greenery; a wood dough bowl; about six baskets; an antique souvenir drinking glass from the Christmas railroad my uncle used to manage when I was a kid; cookie tins in about five different sizes; two bark berry baskets; a bark-covered planter just big enough for two candles; an enamelware pot I found in the street (someone had drilled a couple holes in the bottom to use it as a planter, but then got rid of it); an Ikea planter in white metal that I could make look like it’s enamelware just by touching up the edge with a Sharpie pen; an antique Santa doll that is riiiiiight on the edge between “cute” and “creepy”; a teddy bear that’s squarely in the category of “cute” (it’s in a wee little green coat with matching beret); a metal TV tray that I’ve been meaning to fix up with a bit of paint; and about seven or eight other random collectible Christmas themed geegaws.

I even have craft projects – I stumbled upon a couple tutorials for making wee little skis and sleds out of popsicle sticks, and have the popsicle sticks to make them up.  I just need a pack of jewelry findings.  I’m also going to attempt to gussy up some of my umpteen mason jars with ribbon or burlap or something, and am even entertaining picking up some cheap plain white mugs from my local dollar store and stenciling something on them (a pine cone? a moose? something like that).

I also have only 75% of the top floor of a Brooklyn brownstone to decorate (even though Alex said that he has no objection to decoration, he would probably not look kindly upon my festooning his actual bedroom or office in his absence).  I’m seriously considering temporarily relocating some things to the hall closet to make room.

But that will come after the apartment gets a much-needed deep clean and polish. It’s not a mess or anything, but it could be gussied up some, with an emphasis on organizing and decluttering.  And fortunately it looks like the only things I may have to purchase are those dollar store mugs and a bit of burlap and ribbon.  And a couple of new covers for some throw pillows that I needed to get anyway.

….But you are all in luck (if you wanted to see any of this), because I have a new camera!  After that mishap with my old one, I’ve been in a sort of a round-robin conversation with Colin and my parents (Colin recommending new cameras, my parents hinting heavily that this could be my Christmas gift), and right before Thanksgiving my father discovered that one of the cameras Colin suggested was part of a local Black Friday sale.  My parents have never done the Black Friday thing before, so they got really into the idea of doing it just this once, waking up at midnight and driving two towns over to get it.  We met up this Saturday, and they presented it to me, telling me about the crowd like they were anthropologists presenting a set of findings.  ….I’ve yet to open the box, so I don’t have a picture for you now, but sometime after I’ve given the apartment an initial clean I’ll try to get you the “before” before I deck the halls for the “after.”