Dear Diary Series: December 1997 II

This Dear Diary series should get renamed to I Love [ fill in the blank] series instead. If love had a max fill line, my cup runneth over. To be honest all the love is a bit embarrassing, but if my homework was to be uncomfortable than I’d get an A+ because this week’s entry is way worse!

Quick recap: I am magic and my family is possibly magic, too. The verdict is still out on Pops but I’m convinced his love is magic (according to the drawing). I think bus crush Neil has been left in the dust of “loves lost” and have moved on to someone named Andrew. 

There’s a real possibility I try to find my yearbooks so we have some faces to go with names, but my lawyer hasn’t gotten back to me. 

JK. Lawyer is code name for conscience. 

Here is December 1997 part II.


December 11, 97
Loves
<3

December 12, 97
I love
Scooby Doo!

December 12, 97
I love Frosty the
snowman!

December 12, 97
I love
Santa

December 12, 97
and I 
the song 
of Frosty!

December 12, 97
We made a Snowman   now
we can name 
it Frosty the
Snowman!

December 12, 97
I wish
Frosty would
come to 
life.

December 12, 97
I wish
Santa could
play to
with us!

December 12, 97
I am going 
to have my Diarys for
ever

December 12, 97
I will have
my Dairy keys
for ever!

December 12 97
on homealone 
that guy
I love him

December 12, 97
On home alone
that old guy
I love him

December 14, 97
I am pen pals with my teacher and friends

December 19, 97
:)

December 12, 97
I got this
Diary on my
brithyday

December 12, 97
I got this
Diary from my
Grandma S. 

December 12, 97
On home alone this old giy is nice!!
L <3

December 13, 97
My family is
pepper, Kelly, James,
Mom, Dad. 

December 13, 97
I love
pepper

December 13, 97
I love Kelly

December 13, 97
I love James

December, 13, 97
I love Mom
pritty

December 13, 97
I love Dad
handosm

December 13, 97
And I love
myself

December 13, 97
James is
handsom.

December 14, 97
I love 
Johnny
Bravo

December 16, 97
name my eagle 
evenger

December 16, 97
I like 
the
70s dance

I love couisen
it on the adam's
family. 

I love Fester

I love Bascket
Ball

I love pepper

I love all sorts of
dogs!!!

Are you as exhausted as I am by reading all of those I Love Yous?

I sound a little manic, desperately writing down every single piece of information possible about who I love so I won’t forget. Why was I so worried about forgetting?

This phase grew from writing it down on paper to taking photos. An entire afternoon during 5th grade was spent lining up every possession I owned so each item could be photographed. An elephant never forgets, so neither should I. 

It’s entirely possible this obsessive need to remember came after my grandpa died and learned about death for the first time at  six years old. 

I’m happy to announce the anxiety driven panic has been slowly stiffened over the years, but can still rear its head when seemingly fit. 

Can we talk about the old guy from Home Alone? You know who I’m talking about, right? Shoveled snow while mean muggin and creepy music played? 

Old Man Marley ends up saving Kevin at the end and isn’t as scary as once believed. Underrated characters who turn out to be the hero in the end are my favorite. 

Oh yeah, and I’m positive my 8-year-old self would be pleased to know this diary has lasted forever. 


But I hate to tell ya kid, those keys have been long gone.

[NEXT] Oh, Santa. How I believed in your magic for far too long. I was in middle school when a friend started to pick on me about believing. I ended it the only way I knew how,

“Say Santa is real or I won’t give you your Christmas gift!” 

Like most little kids who like getting gifts, she complied. Pretty sure that was the extent of my bullying. I bullied for Santa’s sake.

If you’d like to dig up some of your old dirt and have it featured on the Dear Diary series, email it to ramblinrandol@gmail.com 

Dear Diary Series Signature - Love Shannon

PS: I think my siblings would be pleased to know I loved them so much I wrote it down a zillion times.

PSS: My spelling errors are phonetic enough that spellcheck tries to correct them to the proper spelling for me every time. 

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Bitch

Is there a magical age you reach in life where the unwarranted advice about how to live your life stops?

I’m almost 27, paid my way through college, moved out at 18, lived in several states and has never been or asked to be bailed out financially by my parents or anyone else for that matter. Thanks, I think I’ve got it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve smashed my face into the wall of life plenty of times but I eventually figure it out–problem solve.

Who else feels like the constant input from inside and outside sources does more damage than good? Not to say advice isn’t given without good intentions, but damn. If it were socially acceptable to scream SHUT IT as an adult, without being labeled as an immature jackass, I think I’d spend most my time screaming it.

When does advice become detrimental to the person receiving it? We all know there’s no such thing as a perfect person, but hotdog do people forget so easily.

I hate being corrected, but there is a time and place when it needs to happen. For example: I’m going into a meeting with a person from a big magazine and two seconds prior to that meeting I mispronounce the big wig’s last name. Yes, correct me.

I’m talking in a casual conversation around people I’m comfortable with and I switch up words, mistakenly, but you know I know what I meant and instead of allowing the conversation to continue, you interrupt to correct me.

Expect a donkey punch to your crack. Or at least know I’m imagining the event of giving you a swift kick in the ass. 

When did it become acceptable for a strong and independent woman to relish in the compliment of being a bitch?  Yes, there are exceptions.

(1) You are called one by a friend(s) you’ve known long enough that it won’t annoy you. I have two friends I wouldn’t immediately want to knock in the nose if they in passing called me a bitch, but I’ve also known them for 5+ years and have been through life moments with them. They are also the only two people I call friends. They’re my exception. 

Call me old fashion, but the word bitch means we’re about to fight.

(2) You call yourself a bitch in front of others and it sparks the conversation. I’m not going to flip my shit when I brought up the adjective myself. 

These are the only exceptions I can fathom allowing the word bitch to be used. Yet, I find myself being described as a bitch by all who come in contact with me.

But why? I couldn’t tell you. My only insight to the matter is because I don’t frolic in a flowerbed, chasing rainbows and walking around with a plastic smile 24/7.

I like football, getting sweaty and have a fondness for the swear word, fuck.

That must be it, I like the word fuck so I can’t be described as sweet. Silly Shannon, fuck is for bitches! 

Know it alls and one uppers. Aren’t you tired of trying to keep up? How do you suck wind in-between always rocking a messy bun as well and explaining the difference between mundane topics nobody asked for you to explain?

Do you just pass out at night exhausted from trying to keep up, or lay in bed thinking of scenarios you can respond to the next day…

How come when good people do asinine events, said asinine event is washed away because they’re a good person and didn’t mean it. But when somebody like me, cough bitch, does something stupid or insensitive, I’m expected to apologize.

Alex, I’ll take life is unfair [no shit] for $500.

How many readers assume I’m bashing my keys into oblivion while I write this? And envisioning my face red with anger while steam comes out of all orifices on my face.

Live your own life people, stop pointing at the human currently feeling like she’s living in a fish bowl.

Currently: [[wanting tamales]] [[watching dateline]]  & [[wondering if this post could be made into a standup routine]]

 

 

 

 

Hello From The Other Side

Yes, in my Adele voice.

It’s been awhile.

Helllloooooo again WordPress I haven’t forgotten about you, but I will admit I have forgotten about how to enjoy the parts that make me me.

Sidebar: You ever watch a movie that makes you rethink the way you’ve been operating lately, or in  entirety? I watched one of those kind of movies tonight. Ugh — fine, it was The Intern.

Damn Robert De Niro playing a sweet old man. When did he change from an everyday mobster to a kind older gentleman? Maybe that’s the secret to old age, or movies. Anyways … 

I’ve been through a lot of change in the last three months, and I think inadvertently let the things that make me me, slip.

I haven’t read a good book in ages. I haven’t written about anything that wasn’t expected of me. I began to think I didn’t have a love for words, or communicating with the masses.

After finally moving into my own place (again) and diving deeper into my new (awesome) job, I watched The Intern and immediately felt like I’ve let myself slide.

Another curse to my being. I’m too hard on myself.

I’m tired and transition takes time.

You ever feel all the change that’s happened over time hit you in one moment and it knocks you on your own feet?

Or keep yourself so busy you forget to take a deep breath and remember what’s really important. 

It’s hard to remember life is short and you have to enjoy it.

 

So why am I feeling sappy?

Because of Ben (De Nero).

He’s a widower — married 42 years, was a business man for half his life and is trying to navigate retirement. He sees a flyer for a “senior internship” program and applies because he still wants to learn and despite his perceived loneliness, views life through an optimistic spread of light.

I know, it’s a movie. The point is about how it got my wheels turning.

I hope I can always remind myself I’m never too old to learn.

I’m never too tired to let my passion slip, and I’m never too discombobulated to remember I’m only human.

So, hello from the other side — learning life after landing a career.

Musicians don’t retire, they stop when there’s no more music in them – Louis Armstrong

I still have plenty of music left in me.

 

 

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IX

My follow up interview was at 3:30 Monday afternoon, and I did as much cleaning, exercising and organizing to settle my nerves.

I was meeting the rest of the team at the Marconi Automotive Museum, and to not test the jinx rule, I wouldn’t allow myself to get too excited just yet, and it was hard to keep my emotions level.

But I kept my chant of why not me going in the back of my head.

True to form I showed up early, but not as early as the previous interview. I still had a case of the nerves, and I felt more anxious than I had the Friday before. Probably due to the fact I knew I could possibly get the answer I had been waiting for, for the past 10 weeks since graduation.

I was potentially going to become a productive member of society, and I could almost taste the sweet nectar of victory.

An hour later, after meeting the rest of the Marconi squad, I was pleased with how comfortable I felt during this interview, too. They all seemed like motivated, successful and fun women to work with, and I was hopeful I would be added to their team.

As the interview began to wrap up …..

I WAS OFFERED THE JOB. 

Say hello to the new marketing coordinator for the Marconi Automotive Museum!

It’s a wonderful thing when the universe works in your favor. As my FIL would say, “when it happens, because it doesn’t happen often, it’s like you understand everything completely. The path you took now makes all the sense in the world.”

And it’s true. I think the universe knew I didn’t want to live in Texas for another tornado season. It knew I wasn’t made to be a Texan for life and that California living could be the place for me. But due to my stubbornness it also knew I had to feel like I had given it my best shot before exploring other options seemed plausible.

Why not me. 

I will hopefully never serve another cup of coffee or Thanksgiving dinner as a waitress. I was able to make my phone call home and scream “you’re moving to California, I got the job!” And I was able to jump up and down with my in-laws (still too early to be nerdy with the Marconi squad) singing I got the job, I got the job!

I can’t wait to learn and grow as a communicator and begin this new chapter in life. A special thanks to my husband for pulling the trigger and shipping me to California, because he knew I needed the change and helping push. To my in-laws for housing me and loving me like their own, and to my parents, thank you for the constant support. I am who I am today because of you.

Life is good.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VIII

My interview with the Marconi Automotive Museum was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday. After the fiasco on Wednesday with a previous company, I was hopeful I couldn’t have two wonky interviews in a row. Plus, my family is filled with gear heads. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

My Hubs is attending UTI (an automotive school) and is currently in the top percentage of his class. And to brag a little because I’m super proud and excited for him, he’s been receiving offers from top manufacturers to attend their additional training courses after he gradates. Ironically, a majority are located in Southern California.

My father-in-law eats, breathes and dreams about rebuilding old American muscle cars, and has an ’07 Shelby getting a facelift in his garage as we speak. Him and my Hubs spent some time rebuilding a Chevy Impala when the Hubby was in high school. Not to mention, my FIL’s garage is what man dreams are made of …

My pops has always had a love for motorcycles. He wasn’t ever a fan of the sporty bikes, but enjoyed the classics that are meant for cruisin’. And his father, my grandfather, had a hobby of rebuilding cars when my pops was a kid.

Almost to good to be true, right?

I didn’t want to jinx it and get my hopes too high. I’m a believer of the jinx, and partially because I’ve been a Buffalo Bills fan for the entirety of my life, rightfully so, the Bills have annually managed to break my heart.

I arrived to the interview an hour early. I was able to drive my in-laws ’06 Mustang and I think the beaut gave me an extra pep in my step and shot of confidence. The front of the building was all glass and after 10-15 minutes I realized I didn’t want to look like a creeper. So I went in 40 minutes early. No such thing as being too early, right?

I told the receptionist I was here for an interview and that I was much too early because traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. She offered to let me walk around the museum and would have my interviewer, Missy, come get me when I was ready.

The warehouse is huge and it’s filled with fast rare cars. Mr. Marconi was definitely a fan of the Lamborghinis. I had checked out its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress pages. And I felt like I got a good understanding of what the company was about; No weird California laws prohibited its openness (see previous post about wonky interview).

The company was everything I hoped I could land after graduation. It’s a nonprofit that gives its proceeds to a hearty amount of charities for children. The space is used as a venue to host events such as: weddings, birthdays, office Christmas parties, etc. And the job description was almost a mirror image of my resume.

Is this real life?

Many people will warn you throughout the higher education path that you’ll most likely not land a position in your desired field, because it’s difficult and companies are looking for somebody with more than entry level experience. This common conversation pushed myself to gain as much real world experience as I could before I’d walk across a stage (for the last time) and receive my diploma.

I was determined to land a job I would enjoy. This doesn’t mean I was arrogant to jobs I wasn’t too thrilled about. I applied to as many communication, writing and planning jobs I came across, because ultimately my goal was to get out of the food industry. I promised myself I wouldn’t work another Thanksgiving this year, and I had a few months to meet my deadline upon graduating.

I anxiously awaited for my interview to begin as I strolled through the impressive warehouse. I started to get a bit too excited and began imagining all the possibilities I could do if hired as the marketing coordinator. And before I could get way to excited, my interview began.

After an hour and a half of speaking with the Marconi ladies, I was asked to come back the following Monday for an additional interview. And yes, it was hard not to leap for joy into their arms and jump up and down with them in unison. Thankfully, I understand that would be awkward and probably a tad bit unprofessional.

I felt at ease during the conversation. It felt like I was catching up with two friends whom I hadn’t seen in some time. I didn’t have to search for the answers to their questions, I just knew them. And I wasn’t anxious, fidgety or afraid of saying the wrong thing. I couldn’t imagine it going any better.

I could hardly wait to tell my husband and family how well it went. As soon as I left on the train a few Mondays ago, I hoped I would be able to call the Hubs and scream I got a job and we’re officially moving to California, pack your bags!

Earlier that morning, before my interview, my FIL stopped at the bottom of the stairs (my bedroom / Hubs former bedroom is at the top of the stairs) and said a silent prayer for me to have a wonderful interview and to have all the right words.

My MIL anxiously waited for 1 o’clock to strike before bowing her head at her desk and prayed for the exact same thing.

Call it coincidence, karma or divine intervention; I had the best interview of my life. Now, I just need to make it through the weekend.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VII

After one week I landed my first interview. I was excited to have at least one hit on an application and spoke with HR to set up a time and date to interview.

Before I responded to the offer, I looked them up online and did some research. I suggest all future applicants of any kind check out the magic world of Google and Glassdoor. I inspected its website and social media pages as well. It seemed legit. I even dug further to make sure I wasn’t pulling just the top posts that made them look reputable.

All good.

The only issue I found was nowhere did it explain exactly what the company’s function was and what brands it collaborated with. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least go through the interview process to see what came out of it, plus, there’s no harm in practicing your interview skills.

I booked the interview.

A few hours later the pit of my stomach told me to continue searching, because there wouldn’t be any harm in being more informed. And I’m glad I did.

The company has affiliates all over the country, so the reviews I had read and dug through weren’t for the specific location I had landed. When I noticed my error I Glassdoor-ed its specific location in Orange County and realized far more negative reviews than positive.

“They promise you a chance to move up in position, but instead keep you in a low hourly wage position. They have a high turnover rate.”

“I was hired as the marketing coordinator under the impression I would be working on campaigns, but I ended up selling products in Costco at a booth.”

“It’s all a lie.”

“If you want to work in grocery stores at a booth all over Orange County and never get reimbursed for gas, this is the job for you.”

Needless to say my heart sank well into my stomach.

I had already agreed to come in for an interview and kept in mind, if anything this would be for practice.

I spoke to family, explained the situation and how it angered me a company thought it was ethical to imply it was a marketing job, when actually it seemed like a sales position. I went over questions I would ask to see if the reviews had been true, and told the Hubs numerous times I wouldn’t be suckered in, I wouldn’t take another waitressing job with a different title.

My mother-in-law scouted the Internet for additional job listings and emailed links to apply. I spent the next two-isn hours applying to as many jobs my fingers would allow before cramping. I will find an honest job.

***

I got to the offices an hour early. I wasn’t too nervous, but more anxious to see what would be said about the company. When I walked into the lobby it was filled with older men wearing suits, all filling out an application on a standard clipboard. This could be a good sign, right? 

I figured I would be waiting for quite some time because of the number of people ahead of me in the waiting area, and was surprised to hear my name called 10 minutes later.

A lady escorted me to her office and closed the door, and with any conversation it started out with regular chitchat. I explained what type of position I was looking for, why I was interested in communication and how I ended up in California. I mentioned I wasn’t too sure what the company provided for its clients and if she could elaborate both the position I was interviewing for, and the company’s mission.

This is where it went wonky.

She explained because of weird California laws she wasn’t permitted to discuss the business aspect of the company on its website. I think because she knew I was new to the area, this would make sense to me, because what would I know about California? 

They worked for small brands trying to make an impact in the consumer world and promoted products at different events. She continued the conversation about what her job description was and her daily roles. That she needed help managing the 40+ events she manages daily.

I was taught to listen and observe while attending journalism school, and I noticed she never actually answered my question. So I asked again, using different terminology. And again, she circled back to what is expected of her in the business, this time including “big marketing words” to sell the company’s mission. She was trying to sell me the job. 

After she finished, I asked again what exactly my daily function would be in this office. And again, she circled back to her job description and the company’s mission.

By this point I was almost certain I would end up at a booth in Costco selling vegan corn chips to busy shoppers who didn’t want to be bothered.*

 I finally asked, “Would you be putting me in a Costco to sell these products on a regular basis. I have read some reviews about this company and would like to know if these are true, because that isn’t something I would be interested in.”

She didn’t appreciate my question.

“Well, I can’t just hire you into an executive role without proper training. We can discuss your role further at another time.”

And with that she stood up, extended her hand, thanked me for coming in and showed me the door. I held in my fits of giggle until I had left the lobby doors. I wasn’t even upset; I was liberated.

I almost wet myself replaying the interview in my head and especially enjoyed the executive position remark. I mean, when did I imply I wanted to be hired as a top dog? I asked multiple times what my daily duties were, and she couldn’t give me an answer without patting herself on the back, or speaking about how wonderful of a service they do for their brands and business partners.

I was polite, I let her finish her rambles, I smiled and asked questions (which heads-up, you’re allowed to do!). She realized she wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and I wasn’t falling for her sale’s pitch, so she dismissed me. I cried laughing the entire drive home.

***

After I got home, I called immediate family and relived the bazaar interview over and over again. I was pleased I hadn’t allowed her to distract or circle talk me away from my original, perfectly understandable, questions. And I felt validated everyone agreed.

I didn’t barge in to the interview demanding high wages. I didn’t feel I acted like I was above any job because I had my bachelors. And most importantly, I didn’t imply I was desperate for employment. Plus, I learned a little something to watch out for in future interviews.

It took about two hours to inform my family before I sat down at the computer to check out more job listings. I wanted to check my emails first, not that I was expecting a second interview. Sitting at the top of my inbox was an offer from a nonprofit to schedule an interview.

I responded quickly and crossed my fingers it wold be better than the last.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part VI

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I got my hurr did. 🙂

I’m starting to feel like a whole new woman, and it’s only been a few days. I got my hair and nails done. It’s amazing what a fresh cut and color will do to your sense of being. My rat’s nest hadn’t been unleashed from a bun or pony tail in over a year.

I was rockin’ an overgrown bob with dead ends drier than the Sahara desert. Woof.

I reworked my morning routine and started to feel more at home. After a cup of joe I’d throw the tennis ball for their two goldens. I’d go on the treadmill or ride a bike down to the beach, and in-between I applied and reached out to as many people, organizations and jobs I could manage before my eyes would go cross-eyed. IMG_5218IMG_5164

I was able to explore the freeway system. Yes, the infamous 405 freeway where the rest of America watched OJ Simpson flee police after the murder of his wife.

I’ve driven many places, but driving in a borrowed car made me more uneasy. If I happened to fender bender with anything, I’d rather with my own car.

I was pleasantly surprised the freeways are a helluva more direct than the construction fiasco ones in Texas. I think got too used to feeling like a mouse weaving through tight lanes chasing the cheese. I forgot it wasn’t normal.

The on-ramps were long, signs were clear and you had an ample amount of time to change lanes to get on the correct exit. Knock on wood, the driving wasn’t bad, and I got more comfortable each time I ventured out.

Feelin' the Pacific.

Feelin’ the Pacific.

I also got to dip my toes into the much cooler Pacific Ocean.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs

And I traveled east out to Palm Springs. Where the rat pack liked to vacation and party.

One week down, and hopefully only a few more to go. I want a job, I need a job, I’ll get a job. Why not me.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part V

By the second night, I was an expert on how to achieve sleep on a train. It also helped we were allowed to spread out, and I got the seat next to me back.

And a word to the wise: The train car attendants are there to do their job. If you want to spread out, just ask if it’s okay to move seats. They’ll more than likely oblige if there’s enough room and they aren’t expecting anymore passengers to board.

Smiley, and a few other passengers, thought it was appropriate to argue and raise their voices when the female attendant asked them to go back to their assigned seats. A majority of the unruly passengers were male, and I assume weren’t pleased about a female telling them what to do. 

I made sure to express my gratitude and that God bless her for keeping her cool. As a waitress, I know the public can be rough. 

***

I got almost four straight hours of sleep and then dozed off for another two hours. I felt like I won the sleep battle. I woke with a little over 45-minutes left of my trip, I was almost finished with my 36-hour Christopher Columbus-esque trip, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

As the train pulled into Union Station in Los Angeles, I almost leaped off the platform. I had a busy day ahead of me and a lot of unchartered waters to sail through. I was here to find a job, I was here to take a chance and make a change, and I was here to escape the continent (my couch) of postgrad depression.

***

Getting the star treatment with the FIL <3

Getting the star treatment with the FIL <3

I had about four-five hours of down time before it was time to get ready for Habitat for Humanity’s Builders Ball.

It would be a great opportunity to network and put my name out in a sea of people who all had jobs and knew people who needed to hire, and that somebody could be me!

It was held at The Wilshire Hotel, also known as the hotel in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts stays with the handsome Richard Gere. Swoon. 

I got to walk the infamous Rodeo Drive in search of a Starbucks. We had been up since 3:30 a.m. and were going to need liquid energy to make it until 10:00 p.m.

Before guests arrived.

Before guests arrived.


The room filled.

The room filled.

It was gorgeous.

The ball was a first for Habitat, and its main purpose was to highlight the work it does for the community, the organization’s biggest donors/contributors and to raise money to continue the work it does for the greater Los Angeles area.

Oh yeah, and Magic Johnson was there.

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No big deal, right?

My first night in California I went to a ball, met some awesome Habitat for Humanity peeps and listened to Magic Johnson hustle people during his personal auction of two Laker tickets (floor seats), a signed basketball and jersey…

I have to say, not a bad start.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part IV

I had the the whole day on the train, but it felt nice to know I was halfway done with the trip. Traveling by train is interesting and definitely something I can check off my bucket list, but I’d suggest traveling by train would be more enjoyable with a friend.

I went to the cafe car and bought some milk for my breakfast. I had brought my granola cereal and a few bananas to mimic my normal morning routine. The price of food is equivalent to eating at any arena events. To cut some costs, especially if traveling long distances, I would recommend bringing your own snacks and bottled water.

After I finished my breakfast I hung out in the observation car. The windows are larger and the seats are roomier, plus it’s an awesome way to break up the time sitting in your paid seat. I was still in Texas, but the landscape began to show we were headed closer to New Mexico.

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As the train stopped in El Paso, I was shocked to see what the real border between Mexico and the U.S. looked like….

I had traveled to Cozumel a few years ago and understood it was the touristy part of the country, but I had never seen the vast differences of the two countries side-by-side.

As I gazed down the rusted barbed-wire fence, it was apparent which country was which, even though the landscaping was the same, the way it was used was vastly different. Our roads were paved, cut into the mountains and rocky environment. Mexico’s houses were plopped on uneven surfaces up steep rocky roads. It looked miserable, homes barley had roofs or windows.

The fence was a physical representation of where dreams began and ended; a literal and concrete meaning of the “American Dream.” It was humbling to see it with my own eyes, and a reminder to not take what I have for granted. Not a single soul gets to pick what country they’re born in, and I should be forever grateful for my homeland luck.

***

The time zone changes were starving my stomach, because dinner kept getting pushed back later and later. I had also ran out of snacks. When my reservation number (you must reserve a dinner seat earlier in the afternoon with a train attendant) was called over the speakers, I flew quicker than The Flash to the dining car.

The waitresses assign you a place to sit and if you’re a party of one, you’ll be dining with four other strangers. It was a bit odd at first because I sat with three other older gentlemen. One was from England while the other two were Americans.

Halfway through my meal, the man sitting in front of me asked why I was on the train and where I was headed (a normal conversation starter while traveling by train). I gave an edited version of my reasons and of hopes to find a job in California. After learning of my recent graduation he asked what I got my degree in and what I wanted to do.

I expressed my passion for nonprofits, how I had worked for the American Red Cross over the summer and enjoyed every minute assisting during disaster relief efforts and writing blogs for the organization. His response, I kid you not was:

“Man, you sound like the perfect politician. A writer and spin doctor who enjoys working for crooks,” said Mr. Arrogant American.

My other two dining car buddies immediately shoveled more rice and salad into their stomachs. A zillion remarks zipped through my head in the matter of milliseconds. Instead of educating him or throwing my plate at his head, I resorted to a sarcastic quip about how it’s a shame so many people are uninformed.

#winning

Dinner was okay, I questioned how much of the chicken was chicken, but I was too hungry to truly care. I had one more night’s sleep in a coach seat, a few more movies to watch, and then I’d be greeted by my in-laws on the platform where my journey to what opportunities I could create in California would begin.

Unemployment Diaries: California Edition Part III

The past few hours have been interesting. I finally mustered up the courage to leave my seat and use the restroom. I didn’t fall down the stairs, or up them for that matter and all of my possessions were still sitting where I left them.

When I ventured to the cafe car, I did make a fool of myself, naturally. I couldn’t figure out how the door that separated one train car from the next opened. Mind you, there was a huge button in the middle of the door that said PUSH. When I pushed nothing happened, so I tried to open the contraption like a sliding class door. Nothing. So I tried again and then again. After what felt like forever I finally punched the button that said push and it opened …..

A crew member was on the other side watching me struggle and I muttered, “sorry, apparently I can’t read,” as I walked by. I could do nothing but laugh, typical Shannon move.

My train, and I couldn't help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of ...

My train, and I couldn’t help but get a picture of a guy taking a picture of what I was taking a picture of …

The train stopped in Austin, Texas, by far the biggest city we’ve trucked through, and I soon found out a bigger city means more people waiting to board the train. I lost the seat next to me and am now making friends with an older women who’s headed up to San Fransisco.

She takes the train every time she travels to Oklahoma to see her sister. And even with my fear of flying, I tell myself she’s nuts for taking this long of a trip twice a year. I realize I might have to suck it up and fly if I can’t find a job in California. There’s no way I’d want to wait two days to see my Hubs again. 

I figure my passenger buddy lottery lucked out and at least I didn’t get stuck with someone creepy. After all, I will be sleeping next to this person for the rest of the night. We are now parked in San Antonio waiting for another train to arrive that we’ll hook up to, to make the rest of the trip west.

It’s there, standing outside of my temporary home for the next two nights, I get my first whiff of home sickness. I want my bed, I want my puppies and I want my husband. When did I turn into such a big baby? I used to pride myself on my independance and my ability to step out of my comfort zone. Now, I couldn’t be more anxious to get home.

After a long chat with my mother-in-law and a few crocodile tears later, I felt a bit better about what I was doing. And a few hours later I realized why I was feeling so overwhelmed and emotional. It comes every month and I’m not sure why it still surprises me, duh.

Because the layover in San Antonio was long, many passengers left the station to visit a bar and stretch their legs. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’d be correct. I thought I was going to have a rumble at 2:30 a.m. when they all showed back up to make the departure. Smiley stomped up to the second level and shouting about how he couldn’t find his seat.

When the train hooked up to the other train, the crew members came on board and turned the seats around, so the passengers would be sitting forward when it began moving again. Yes, slightly confusing for the sober person, but impossible to navigate for the drunk.

He stopped by my seat twice to ask loudly what the f**k happened to his seat. I was huddled under my blanket and snuggled into my pillow trying to figure out the most least comfortable position to fall asleep in. The last time Smiley stopped to bark, I ripped the covers off my head and gave him the meanest stink eye I could muster.

It must’ve worked. I didn’t hear a peep from him for the rest of the night. I wish I could say that about the other members of his drunken party. It’s funny, people say New Yorkers are the biggest arseholes of the country, yet I had enough common sense to not stomp around, talk on my cellphone (who the hell is up to talking at 2:00 a.m. any ways?) or chat with my passenger buddy like it was 2 p.m. in the afternoon…..

Overall, I got about thresh hours of sleep my first night. I had planned ahead and brought my own blanket and pillows, so my head wouldn’t be trying to find a comfortable resting place on the arm rest. I also brought Wet Wipes to mimic a shower before bed. I didn’t have to use the mace I kept tucked in my jacket pocket and I did manage to get some uninterrupted sleep.

PS: When you sleep on a train it’s almost impossible to not accidentally bump your seat buddy. Do your best to focus on counting sheep.