A New Job. A New Desk. An Old Memento.

Forty-eight hours after writing a post about the agony of post-job-interview waiting, I got a call:

Welcome to the Nook. Where schedules are made, emails sents, and galleries coordinated.

“So, when can you start?”

“When do you need me?”

“What’s today?”

“Friday.”

“Come in on Monday.”

My first day as the Exhibitions Coordinator for a large art not-for-profit passed in a flurry of paperwork, meetings, and how-tos. I was taken to “The Nook,” a u-shaped work station that I would share with my boss’s executive assistant. I looked at the desk that had been vacant for 5 months and was now mine. It had been turned into a storage shelf — boxes filled with leftover wall-hanging materials, stacks of postcards announcing opening receptions for exhibitions mounted 5 years ago, and a box of crocheting hooks.

Why do I have crochet hooks and "Blues Clues" temporary tattoos in my desk?

Before I could begin coordinating exhibitions, I needed to coordinate my desk. Clearing the rubble took the remainder of the afternoon, but left me with a blank workspace to decorate. I walked in the next day with an armload of items necessary to transform my half of  the Nook into a homey yet functional gallery-managing command center.

“Your corner has a personality!” Ali-Kat cried as she joined me at her station. “I dig it. Do you have Pandora? Because yours is the only computer with speakers. Let’s get the party started!”

I could tell we were going to be good Nook-mates.

Of all the things around my new desk, the photo in the corner of the bulletin board is the most meaningful

Of all the things adorning my command center, there’s one item that has particular symbolic meaning. In the upper right corner of my bulletin board I’ve placed a photo from my 2007 college graduation. Four of us stand arm in arm among thousands of undergraduates and graduates dressed in powder blue, all receiving our degrees. We look happy and tired, young and ready for battle.

The photo is there in part because the 3 guys standing with me are my dearest friends, mostly because that moment represents an entire journey from that day in May to this job, this desk, this future. We posed for the camera to remind ourselves that we had survived 4 years together. The next 4 years would be unpredictable — each followed paths entirely different from the ones routed for us as of May 2007.

Then we were 4 kids just starting out, uncertain of the purpose of our past and clueless about our futures. It’s hard to always know where you’re going, but the way I see it, it’s important to always know where you’ve been.

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My Father Always Told Me to Keep My Alternative Job Skills Honed

Our resumes get lost at sea, our cover letters messages in a digital human resouces bottle.

I’ve come to accept that the job hunt is a long and arduous process. Sometimes, you’re lucky to have a  family member or fairy godmother who can make a call and throw a little pixie dust into the air so that in the morning you wake up with a job, a book deal and a pony.

Most of us lack pixie dust. Instead, we rely on resilience, patience and padded resumes.

In one day,  I churned out 5 cover letters requesting to be considered for recent postings in a variety of fields:

  • Auction House Junior Specialist
  • Gallery Coordinator
  • Culture blogger for an online edition of a magazine
  • Documentary film researcher
  • Professional Wingwoman

The Professional Wingwoman was my father’s idea.

He has lots of ideas about what I could be doing for work: running a gourmet hot dog shop in our home town, hosting a “fresh baked farm bread” stand in upstate New York, working as a barista in my own NYC cafe. Very few of his suggestions are practical or have to do with art history, though he’ll argue a cafe is a great place to hang paintings.

I've had years of experience in the job. I'd be a natural professional wingwoman

The wingwoman option struck him while he was watching Rachel Ray (!?!). The founder of wingwomen.com, a dating service for men who lack game — the only thing they can pick up at a bar is their own tab, and only if it’s very short — was a guest. My father thought it was a natural fit given that my college years were spent mostly in the company of sporty guys with ivy-league degrees and monosyllabic names. Indeed, I had 4+ years of wingwoman training.

Figuring it was better to have more lines in the sea, I took my father’s suggestion and went fishing again. I updated my CV, uploaded a photo and submitted an application.

I’ve only just started to receive interview requests on job applications that went out in November. Who knows if I’ll hear back from wingwomen.com. But maybe, just maybe, in May instead of “art historian,” I’ll have a new career teaching another art form — the art of the pick-up.

Mind the Gap: Love at First Sight On the 1 Train

Waiting on the platform = Waiting for Love?

A future President is about to be sworn in, his parents smile proudly from the audience, and we’re quickly sent on a journey back through the years to the beginning. A man stands on a platform in a train station. In an instant, he locks eyes with the woman surely destined to be the love of his life. The one problem? She’s on another train and it’s about to leave the station. He changes his ticket on his nifty smart phone and before the 30 second clip is over, he’s seated next to her on the train. Life happens.

So goes the  AT&T commercial that inevitably produces a sigh whenever I see it.

In the neat fantasy world of 30-second advertisements, instant connections made in Penn Station or the JFK terminal are never missed. In 30 seconds or less, everyone lives happily ever after.

In the real world, we need Craigslist. If our smart phone fails us on the platform, Craigslist offers us a second chance. Of course, the catch is that our missed connection has to log on and tune in to our broadcast. Isn’t there always a catch in the game of love?

About a year ago, I started reading “Missed Connections” every night before bed. There’s no secret hope that Mr. Right had spied me on the 1 train and tried to reach out through the interweb to find me. Rather, the habit stems from the same inner romantic who religiously peruses the Sunday NYTimes Wedding Announcements. I bask in the possibility that two people can find each other in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Stars collide. Life happens. The cynic in me loves the good giggle some posts inevitably inspire.

An MC post can take one of many guises. Sometimes it’s a digital catcall — a wooowooo directed at a leggy, busty blond walking past a guy on a street corner. Sometimes, it’s a desperate, if not beautiful, attempt at capturing a fleeting electric connection with another human being.

If I were to sit and do a survey, I’d say the number 1 location for a missed connection is the subway. The A train. The 1 line. The B, C, and F. Sometimes the 2/3. Perhaps, in a city like New York, that’s not a surprise. We New Yorkers spend as much time on the move as we do in our offices or out on the town — why shouldn’t we run into the loves of our lives on our morning commute? My parents met one morning in an elevator en route to their respective laboratories at University of Toronto. Perhaps my child’s parents will have met on the 6-train.

Connections are made. Connections are missed. Someone posts an add on Craigslist.

Life happens… in 30 seconds or less.

People passing in by in NYC's Grand Central Station. A missed connection every second