Dreading a Feline Farewell

It’s terrible when your life changes in a big way and you still feel approximately the same way after but here we are. I was anxious about getting a job, then I got one and it was fine. Then I was anxious about starting the job, then I started it and it was fine (at least, it has been for the past two days). Now I’m just anxious about moving.

I’ve relocated a number of times in the past several years. Big relocations. Thousands of miles away, sometimes even to different countries. This will be a big move but it’s not to a different country. I’ve already met many coworkers since I’ve already started. I know some people in the general tri-state area of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts (it’s still not certain in which of those states I’ll reside, that’s how close to the corner of Vermont this place is).

I’m looking forward to the move in many ways but it’s also scary as ever and finding a place has already become a teensy bit of a nightmare (as one might imagine with the current way housing is, plus I’m not there myself, plus pandemic times). But one way or another, I’m headed out and I’ll stay somewhere, there’s nothing for it. Let’s just hope I find a decent place. With a decent oven.

One thing I will be sure to miss: cats. I’m not sure that I’m exactly cut out to be a full-time cat parent on my own. I’m not sure I want that. But I will absolutely miss having warm, soft to cuddle with. I mean:

She really is 95% floof and I count myself blessed when she deigns to share it with me. And:

What is he going to do if he can’t smash his face into my chin for twenty minutes every night?

Pros and cons to every change, that’s kind of their whole thing. Change change change, we get it. I’m thinking about how November first became my life-status-check-in month (a time sufficiently after moving to Ireland that I looked forward to being decently adjusted by then) and now I’ll be moving in November and absolutely will not be adjusted adequately in that month.

But so it goes. This is what I wanted, this will be good for me, this is the next thing.

Not Forward or Back, Just a Step

First, cats. Because of course.

I love how cuddly they are together

So. In a little more coherent place this week and I am prepared to offer a few details about my upcoming life change.

I got a job! I will be working in admissions for high school summer programs abroad, which I think will be cool. The position is remote until January-ish so they’re sending me a laptop–my very own work computer. It feels good to be moving in that sort of direction. I can’t wait to participate in bowtie Tuesdays again, especially this coming Tuesday which will be my first day!

The position is based in Vermont and I will be moving there before too long, though details on my moving are still a little up in the air (since I’ll be moving after I’ve started working but will need a week to drive there… we’ll see exactly how it all works out). But I’m really looking forward to it. A new place to live, new sights to see, a new job to learn. New new new new new.

I’ve only visited Vermont for Thanksgiving thus far, and only really seen Burlington. This job is rather far from Burlington (or, as far as could be while still being in Vermont, so not too far). We all know autumn isn’t my favorite season but it will be something to relocate to New England at this time. Should be pretty.


I’m also just really looking forward to being on my own again. Putting pictures on the walls, getting a comfy armchair, picking out silverware. Moving is not a ton of fun, anyone will tell you, but I do really love settling in. There’s something so energizing to me about unpacking, arranging furniture, finding nooks and crannies for various bits and bobs. One can always rearrange furniture after one is established in a place but somehow that always feels more like labor and settling in for the first time feels more like adventure.


Since tomorrow is my last day at Michaels, I do want to have a bit of a retrospective here because I think something like that is important. First, I just need to say that I hope I have worked my last midnight shift ever. I’m really not about that life.

I am so grateful to my parents for welcoming me back. Living at home wasn’t how I had hoped to spend the past two years but I’m so thankful that I had that option available and that it was such an easy time. There were some frictions, of course, but overall it’s been so nice. Baking together, watching shows and movies together, just talking and spending time together. Nice enough on their own but especially precious in such isolating and fractious times as these past two years have been.

It has also been lovely spending time with friends here, making new ones, and getting out into the outdoors Washington, which I will always love so much.


I feel a little annoyed at myself because I can tell that my perspective of this time has already changed. So I’ll put it down in writing now so that I believe it in the future when I’ve maybe forgotten how it was. This time has been so draining. Working at Michaels really ate away at my soul, not to mention the increasingly gross hours eating away at my body. The constant stream of rejections (and silence) from prospective employers made me feel worthless, hopeless, and incompetent. It’s been a lonely time, as much as I’ve appreciated having family and friends around.

But I did write a while ago about times that aren’t meant for putting down roots, that are instead about waiting for the right soil. I don’t know if Vermont is the right soil for me (I really hope so, at least right enough, because I’ve got to stay in one place for a while, my resume is begging me to and I can’t handle another job search for a good long while). But at the very least, I think I can look at this time as nourishing. Not blooming, not putting down roots, but helping me get to a place where I can do those things.

That’s what I’m putting down for myself to look back on. This was a very hard time on so many fronts. But it was always manageable. And it was, in many ways, restoring. I’m so ready to go to what’s next but I’m not fleeing. I’m just taking a step. And I’m glad that what’s come before this step has been as good as it has been. It’s been restful while also chaotic and trying. Or, as I’ve said before, joyful in the midst of discombobulation.

Spooky Cat Season

Since yesterday was the first astronomical day of autumn, the season of Halloween, here’s a picture of Bubba looming somewhat menacingly while in fact being annoyingly very cuddly.

He’s firmly requesting head smooshes

In other news, no news. Which isn’t exactly good news but I’m not disheartened. Current prospective employer #1 did request a list of references on Tuesday so that’s something. Dare I say even promising? Maybe even later today, I’ll have something exciting to report. Maybe not. So it goes.

I’d really love to get a move on for just so many reasons, not least of which being that I spent a good, long while at work on Tuesday setting an aisle for Christmas ornaments, which we’ve just started to receive at the store. So I don’t love that.

(Obviously, I am very pro-Christmas and very pro-celebrate Christmas all year long. But to be clear, those are personal opinions and inform how I live my private life. I do not condone corporate holiday seasons lasting any longer than strictly necessary.)

But if Christmas season is forced on me, I may as well take some of that hope and cross my fingers to hear what I want to hear very soon.

Happy autumn, if you’re into that sort of thing, and happy (private, personal) Christmas season for those of us who need that to get us through spooky cat season.

People Helping People

This past week, I issued an open call on Facebook for advice which, I’m sure you understand, I am generally loath to do. But an interview later today involves some things that I’m not familiar with and I know people in my larger sphere are, though I wasn’t sure who exactly to ask.

I am grateful to report that a number of people reached out and were very helpful. And if they couldn’t, they put me in touch with strangers who were happy to answer a few questions. It was just a really nice thing. People wanting to help. And being able to help. And helping. Friends and strangers alike. People I haven’t spoken to, or not spoken to much, in years.

Who knows how this interview will go. It’s in a matter of hours at time of posting (I obviously refuse to post this after exactly because no one knows how it’ll go). I’m nervous. I usually feel pretty good heading into interviews until like half an hour before, when I get that horrible pit in my stomach, but I’m experienced enough to get over it and I’m not overly nervous during. This time, I’ve been much more anxious about it because of the little bit I’ve not done before. Very out of my wheelhouse. But I’ve practiced with a couple people who know what they’re about and I think it’ll be okay.

Of course, it being okay does not mean I’ll get an offer but one does one’s best.

I just want to thank again the people who helped and who made themselves available to me. Don’t know how many of them read this but it was really lovely of them. It was, truly, super helpful and calmed me down a lot. It was also special to have a little moment of random people in my life–some only tangentially and some not actually in my life at all–giving me their time and knowledge. Just because they wanted to help.

A very nice moment.

Cats are also a very nice moment. I couldn’t resist a little photo shoot of her snuggled up in this small cubby. She seems to adore small places, especially in her dotage, and I adore seeing her in them.


Pandemic times have been filled with moving anecdotes of people helping people–friends, family, strangers. And a good thing, too, because pandemic times have also been rife with people really aggressively choosing not to help people. And that has been trying for me, not to mention how devastating it is for those in helping professions.

We know this. We’ve had this conversation around the world many times since March, 2020. But since we’re still here, I guess it bears repeating once more. Let’s help one another. Through pandemic times, through job search, through heartache and lifeache and alonesickness and whatever else we may need. Because we need the help. And, believe it or not, we have the help to give.

Know your limits, of course, but also know your strengths. If, for example, any of you are in need of some cat pictures to get you through the day, I have absolutely got you covered.

Nothing is Certain but Death and Pastries

I sometimes don’t have much idea what to talk about for a weekly blog post and don’t have the oomph or inspiration to make one of my little drafts into something. Occasionally, I’ll just have a little random post and that’s fine. Yesterday, I thought I’d google “blog post idea generator” or something like that and, sure enough, there are loads. I went to this one and, on a whim, entered my topic as baking.

The first title it gave me was “How Baking Changed the Way We Think about Death.” It also offered “How Baking Can Keep You from Marrying the Wrong Person” and possibly my favorite, “Why Baking is the Secret Ingredient.”

I don’t have any current Big Thoughts about death, even less thoughts about death related to baking. I don’t think I’m in any position to comment on how to avoid marrying the wrong person though I will say that if someone doesn’t love baked goods, they’re probably not the partner for me. That last one, though… It’s just excellent.

Absurd and delightful. There are no secret ingredients in baking (except I probably would say cardamom)– baking is the secret ingredient. Superb.


In other news, I am trying to cherish my time with Camaro because she is so floofy and soft and precious and I love her so much. She is very much just a lump of a cat and always has been–really living that ragdoll life–and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

I also appreciate how much she blends in with a variety of blankets in this house. And actually blends in, not just because everything is covered in her hair.


Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ve blown your mind with all these wild new ideas about the philosophy of baking but I hope so. Maybe baking will change your outlook on life. Or your marriage prospects. Or just be the spice of life you’ve been missing. Good luck.

Midas

In conversation with someone yesterday (via messaging app), someone sent a message that simply read, “Gay eggs.” We were discussion film adaptations of the novel Emma and I was utterly baffled. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book or seen the older movie (I haven’t seen the newer one). But that was it exactly: I hadn’t seen the newer one and mentioned the older and my friend clarified with “Gwyneth,” rendered as gay egg via two consecutive, egregious autocorrect fails.

But it just so happened that I was talking with another gay man so we speculated about what gay eggs could mean. Is it, I suggested, what happens when one of us makes quiche? No, he returned, just touching something doesn’t make it gay. We don’t have some kind of gay Midas touch.

Too right that we do not, conservative rhetoric notwithstanding. And a shame it is, almost as great as the shame that if we had such a power and touched Chris Evans, we agreed, he would in turn fall in love with some other hot, gay celebrity and then we might be even sadder than when he was straight. Alas. The curse of the gay Midas touch.


Last weekend, I did visit Jackson’s mom to attempt to bake something and, as per usual, it didn’t end up quite right. And, as is often the case, we’re not sure what exactly went wrong. But it was a new recipe and so I’m torn about whether or not I want to try again. As it was, definitely not worth a second attempt. But I know that as it was wasn’t as it should have been. We’ll see.

But the visit did mean some quality time with Jackson which is always a treat.


The only other news I have this week is that I am glad I do not live in an era of bloodletting. I’m reading a book that takes place in Georgian England and I’m just really not here for doctors, having taken just the slightest look at an unconscious patient, immediately deciding that they need to bleed the patient a bit. I am just thrilled that we’ve mostly moved past that. I really prefer my blood inside me.

The End of August

The last full week of August is drawing to a close and it’s kind of a bummer for me. This is not news to longtime readers of this blog but autumn is my least favorite season (which I believe it starts on 1 September) and I’m just not ready for it. I said to myself a few weeks ago that I was ready for cooler weather and that’s true, both in that I love sweater weather and hot hot does not work well for me, but I am happy enough with the return to mid-70s that we’ve had here this week-ish.

Regardless of how I feel about it, however, the year marches onward. There’s nothing for it but to see what November has in store, literally and metaphorically. I’d really love to be in a different position by then, setting my metaphorical November for maybe January or February, but only time will tell. Second interview tomorrow with a place, I’d be ecstatic to hear a yes from them.

It’s the end of summer, and a rough summer at that; I am in need of some good news.


In the meantime, I have two of my favorite things to while away the hours: cats and baking. Jenny continues to be a very cute little kitty and I love her very much.

Most recent baking adventure was danishes with the help of my brother. Another complicated lamination moment, making Vienna-type pastry. For the uninitiated, that means and enriched yeasted dough (basically, with eggs and stuff) that one then folds around a sheet of butter, rolling out and folding and rolling out many times to create a zillion little butter layers. That ‘lamination’ gives certain pastries like croissants their characteristic flakiness.

This dough included cardamom so obviously I was super into it. Our dough ended up being inexplicably (we’ve looked into it and can’t tell why) super yeasty. And I think all those air pockets over the course of rolling out and chilling broke up our butter so it’s not in super even sheets as when we successfully made pain au chocolat, but still flaky and still delicious.

I do want to take a moment to point out that I have kept trying yeasted recipes in spite of my great fear of them but I will also note that I continue to avoid bread. Pastries, yes please, bread too hard.

Our main obstacle to perfect danish execution ended up being unfolding, an issue I’ve had before with cute shapes I’ve made in other pastry. We tried our best to secure the dough but most of our shapes somewhat or completely disassembled themselves while baking. Even so, they were delicious and it was fun at least learning how to make (in theory) all kinds of differently shaped danishes. We had strawberry and cheese fillings.

My best examples on top: star/flower front and center, a braid back right, and what I might call half-Duchess back left (the only one that didn’t unfold even a little)

There are a lot of Other Thoughts I kind of have about unfolding but I think those are better left unwritten at this juncture. Maybe we’ll get there.


I went on a hike with a friend last Friday and, after a scorching summer fueled by global warming and sadness, it was a teensy bit disappointing but mostly fabulous to have a Very Washington Hike up on Mt Rainier. Not quite raining but not just foggy, cool and damp and mysterious. No views of grand vistas were had, allowing us to view more closely that which was close.

May your September begin well whether hot or misty, mysterious or predictable, perfectly baked or completely unfolded. And may there be cats.

O My Luve

Events in the world are weighing heavily this week.

Here is a cat to help us feel better:

And here is a song that has been making me feel a little better this week.

And after we feel a bit better, I hope we all can do something to help. Especially if you live in the Puget Sound area, look into signing up to be a volunteer as Afghan refugees will be settling around here.


My brother asked me a few days ago what topics I thought there should be more songs about. My answer was kind of vague, I wasn’t–and I’m still not–really sure. Popular songs, you know. Love is pretty much the main thing, every once in a while it’ll be friends or family but love all the same. I told him something nature-y would be good.

Listening to that song yesterday and reflecting more, I think there should be more songs about flowers. That song is a love song but it’s also about flowers. Thyme and heather, picking flowers and looking at flowers and being among flowers.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday listening to folk songs, hence the recommendation, and it struck me that those were the “pop” songs of their eras. The songs everyone knew and would ask for from a musician or sing along with on long trips.

Having spent many years in choir, I know a fair few traditional folk songs (mostly but not exclusively of English-speaking peoples). They have much the same content of contemporary pop songs: love, drinking, friends. But I do feel like they talk about flowers more often. Or maybe I should say plants in general, not forgetting that great Irish folk song, the love epic called Dúlamán–you know, Seaweed.

Anyway. Whether it’s because your love is a red, red rose or because you’re gathering herbs in lieu of going to the fair or because the yellow seaweed has a nice pair of shoes, I think we should have more plant life in our pop songs. Let us enjoy the flowers in our lives while we may.

Wish Me Luck, Again

I’m not going to apologize for having yet another Camaro picture in this blog this week. I love having a variety of cats featured but what am I supposed to do when she does things like crawl into my headboard cabinet and look like this:

She has long loved climbing into little enclosed spaces but this is a new favorite of hers. When she was a kitten, she was always trying to get into the lowest kitchen cabinets whenever we opened them. Sometimes, we didn’t realized that she made it in and we’d look all over for her before realizing. Now, she’s very old and I guess what they say about old people reverting to childhood is true for cats, too. To a degree.


Yesterday afternoon, I was shocked to receive an interview offer for later today (there were a number of time options given, to which I obviously said “Literally whenever, I am entirely at your disposal, please hire me” and they went for the option less than 24 hours later). Which is fine, I had no plans today so I’ll be happy to get it out of the way and maybe hear back from them that much sooner.

I was shocked, though, because it was a position I really definitely did not expect to hear back about. I applied to four jobs at this organization last week (also shocked because what a quick turnaround after applying) and this one was decidedly the one I am least qualified for. I mean, I think I’m plenty qualified for it but my resume doesn’t exactly scream THIS IS THE POSITION FOR ME, if you know what I mean. According to their desired and required qualifications. But I’m plenty happy to have the interview regardless.

Sometimes, in my job search, I dismiss openings because, even if I think I could do it, I’m so far outside their required qualifications that my applying just seems like a waste of time for me and for them. Usually, though, I apply anyway if it’s something that appeals at least a little. Particularly if it’s at an institution I’ve already applied to and with a system that makes it easier to apply to multiple jobs after completing an initial profile or whatever.

Last week, for example, I applied to four jobs at UW, four at this interviewing organization, and three at another organization. Because they all made it very easy for me. For which I am very grateful. Given the state of technology and things right now, I cannot express to you how frustrating it can be applying at certain places that don’t seem to make the least effort to make their applications reasonable or simple.

Anyway, I’m very grateful for the recent trend in more interviews for me because the years-long trend of not hiring me has also continued. I had an interview a couple weeks ago and received their rejection earlier this week. And, when I followed up asking for any feedback or advice or anything, they said that my interview was great and they really liked me and that was it. Nice to hear but, you know, not helpful at all. More experience needed. Not something I can do a whole lot about if no one hires me, even for entry level positions (where they hire the person with more experience).

As long as interviews keep happening, though, I can at least browse apartments in various places and dream. And as long as people keep telling me that I interview well, I can resist being crushed by more rejections. Mostly. I’m alright.


I’ve also finally gotten some important things off of my old laptop and asked it to reset and it’s been at 99% complete for like four straight days now. If anyone has any tips on that beyond what googling can offer, I’m all ears. I mean, it’s a very slow computer, that’s why I got a new one a few years ago, but it got up to 99% in only like six hours so.


The tail end of this week is another heat wave here, though thankfully not as merciless as the one in June. Global warming is the worst, can confirm. To close out this post, I just want to take a moment to encourage my readers to do what they can personally to shrink the size of their environmental footprint and also to use whatever political processes are available to you to help make change happen on a larger scale.

I just really want you voting with the environment in mind. Remember, without an environment, there aren’t any other politics. So probably we should try to protect that first and then talk about other issues. Also, please vote. The recent primary/vote here in Washington had incredibly low turnout. But those things matter, school boards matter, fire districts matter.

Good luck.