God loves U…enjoy the sandwhiches

Stop right there, I know. That is not how you spell sandwhiches. Is there a story? But of course. Let me explain,

I want to talk about a concept that has been in the back of my mind for a while now. It is something that I think has been bugging and awing me for the past for months. This thought is one that rarely gets much attention. However I believe it deserves all the credit in the world for how relationships between all individuals operate.

It is the concept of capacity.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Capacity: the maximum amount or number that can be contained or accommodated

Centered at the front of my attention, this concept of capacity has been on my mind for a while. While the definition seems simple, I think the word means so much more. I think it is a loaded word, pregnant with so much life and substance. I think it is a word the defines relationships. I think it is a word that contributes to who we are as individuals, citizens, friends, lovers, workers, humans and so much more.

The capacity at which a person can love.

The capacity at which a person can hate.

The capacity at which a person can forgive.

The capacity at which a person can forget.

The capacity at which a person can determine priority.

There is a capacity that each of us allows to feel from others and a capacity that we allow others to feel. And beyond relationships, I think capacity can apply to tangible things as well (This will come into play with the post’s title).

In my line of work, I deal with people at their rock bottom. For some being homeless is the lowest level of low that one can possibly be at. I see people in their most genuine form of survival and their capacity to survive. What I think blows my mind day after day is their capacity to act on what they feel will help them survive.

A few weeks ago the housing specialist came to my desk to let me know that a woman would be coming into the shelter to obtain homeless status to be eligible for a housing grant that we have access to. She asked if I could take care of her paperwork and assessment. I agreed and a few nights later her ID was dropped on my desk.

I had no idea of who this woman was or what her situation was. The grant we have access to is to help people who need financial assistance with moving into their own homes. Almost anyone can be eligible for it, but they need homeless status and to acquire that, they need to stay in the shelter at least one night.

With her ID on my desk, I prepared her assessment paperwork like I do for the dozens of new people entering the shelter every week who I assist in transitioning. I walked out front and saw her sitting on the front bench, shaking. I smiled and introduced myself. Her voice shook as she reached out her hand to introduce herself. I explained the intake procedure and we walked back to my office. We sat down and like I do with any client before beginning the technical stuff  I just asked,

Why are you here?

Every day I go in I think nothing could ever shock me again, and every day I am proven wrong.

This was one story that stuck with me. It was her birthday back in 2011. Her husband woke her up with breakfast in bed. He kissed her good morning and said eat up. When she was done, they got dressed and he suggested they go on a birthday walk. She told me how in love they were. Their 3-year-old daughter was staying at her grandmother’s house so they could spend the day together. They went out walking. She stopped and stared at me. Her look went right through me and I felt the shift within her. Her eyes welled up. When they were walking he tripped. He stumbled and fell into the road. She said everything happened so fast that no one knew what happened. She didn’t. He didn’t. The driver of the car didn’t. She watched him get hit and just dropped.

Fast forward a year and a few months later. She had spent months in mental health recovery and while any specialist could tell you that isn’t nearly enough time, she came out of recovery for her daughter’s sake. She lost her home because they couldn’t afford it without his income. Her mother took them in. But in the time since he passed, she was finally able to secure a job. She just couldn’t afford that first lump payment for an apartment and heard about our financial assistance. When our housing specialist said she would need to stay in shelter one night to acquire homeless status, she became nervous. We sat in my office, very fragile. When we finished the paperwork, she said, what’s next? I told her now she left the office area and went into the shelter. The tears started coming and she said, oh of course. She dropped her bags and frantically collected them.

I said her name and she looked up, broken, all I asked was if she wanted to sit with me a little longer to prolong her inevitable stay in the shelter. She breathed out and said thank you. I’ve never seen someone so grateful just to stay sitting in an office. I said, tell me about your daughter. She went on and on. And I realized, despite all the trauma this poor woman had been through, she was putting herself through more, all for her daughter.

I couldn’t even comprehend the capacity of love she had for her daughter. Despite all the loss and pain, she wasn’t phased for a second when it came to the love and sacrifice she would go through for her daughter. I cried when I left work that night because of how tragically beautiful the story I heard was.

Now, while a person’s capacity to love can be immense and so powerful. Their capacity to hate can be just as immense and what’s more, take a much bigger toll on us.

Last week was the worst week it could have possibly been. I couldn’t have woken up last Monday morning possibly conceiving it would be a worse week. From the moment I walked into work to the moment I left Friday afternoon, just awful.

And during this whole awful week the concept of capacity stayed focused in my mind.

The capacity to throw 4 months of meticulous work, a college education and low-cost housing all out the window. The capacity to throw it all away.

The capacity to have someone risk their job for your health and then disregard them for your own selfish reasons. The capacity to use others.

The capacity to tell someone with anger and hate filling your bones that you wanted nothing more than to slice your wrists open and it was their fault. The capacity to be angry. The capacity to hate.

Such negative emotions. Fueled by what? No one knows. I don’t anyways. But being at the end of all the hate, selfishness, anger. It burnt me out.

People said one thing when I started this job.

Don’t get burned out.

But when I woke up Monday morning, I felt it. I didn’t want to go to work. But I did. I’m not just going to not show up. Fortunately, I had a 1-on-1 with my boss. We sat down and I told her everything. And like she does, she asked me my self-care areas.

I work out, I write, I pray.

Those get me through the day. And when I left I thought, I am going to work out tonight and maybe I should write about this too. But I didn’t think about prayer.

I went to the kitchen and asked the director if there were any lunches left. He said there were some bag lunches in the fridge. I grabbed one and walked back to my office. I sat down with a sense of exhaustion and defeat. But I opened my bag lunch and noticed a piece of paper inside. I reached in and pulled it out.

God loves U...eat the sandwhiches

God loves U…eat the sandwhiches

I almost teared up because of how happy it made me. I don’t know who put it in or where it came from. I could have grabbed any number of random bags. But that is the one I grabbed. And I grabbed it for a reason. Despite all the pain and sadness from the week before. I forgot about my own capacity. My capacity to trust in my faith. To trust in the fact that I am loved and watched over by someone so much greater than anyone.

The capacity to do anything is great. I believe capacity to love, hate, trust, forgive, forget, be humble, be great, be good, makes us who we are. And by the definition, is what separates us, making us unique and allows us stand up and stand apart from others.

Anyone has the ability to possess those qualities. But to possess the capacity to truly understand and demonstrate them, is something completely different.

Thank you for watching out over me.

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The “One Direction” Incident

Do you ever have those moments where you just stop in utter amazement and remain speechless at just how small of a world we live in? I have been all around the world and despite this concept, it is pretty big. Yet so often despite the hastle of planes, trains and automobiles, and the time it takes to get from one destination to another, somehow the mysteries of this universe and fate combined can totally disregard distance and bring us face to face with experiences and people who make us stop and go,

“What a small world?”

I once said if I were to ever talk about friends in my blog I would give them nicknames. So this is a story about myself and one of my closest friends Slingshot and how we wound up having a “small world” moment. I could easily skip to the end of the night when this incident happened, but why not share a story about a good night. If you are really not interested in our shenanigans, skip to the bold down below and enjoy the shortened version.

Something you have to understand about Slingshot and I is that we never just go out casually. When we get together, we usually have to brace ourselves for the unknown. It isn’t that we go looking for these crazy experiences, but somehow between my shameless attitude and his capability to just not shut off, we end up in silly situations that make for enjoyable stories later on. As well, this is not a story that I’m telling as an example of our shenanigans. He is too nervous for me to write about those stories just yet. But this was one that I couldn’t help but share.

So last Friday morning I woke up getting ready for work and he sent me a message saying,

“Drinks and dinner tonight?”

It was the end of the week and I had no other plans for the night.

“Yes Sir!”

I was scheduled at work until 7pm but I received another message from at 6:20 saying he had just been in a car accident. I asked the team on call if they needed help and they encouraged me to make sure he was ok. I got to his house around 7:15. The car wasn’t in bad shape but he was definitely shook up. I told him that coming out with me would definitely make him feel better and that was all it took to put a smile on his face and get him excited to go out. When we went downstairs, his parents who were already frustrated with the accident, were not thrilled that he was going out. After some awkward silence I told them there would be nothing to worry about since we were walking for the night. We hadn’t discussed this yet but he jumped onboard real quick when their attitudes lightened.

I called my sister and asked if she would drive us there so we could walk back at the end of the night. She agreed and we left. When we got to my house we sat in the basement and shared our first drink.

Now here is the danger of having the option to walk home instead of drive. Ever since graduation, I have toned down nights out quite a considerable level. A lot to do with being a professional graduate but also because, I don’t like relying on DD’s and if I’m not at home, I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I am unable to drive. In college, there are discount cabs everywhere and if you want to walk back, you are most likely only a mile or two away from school. But when you live in the depths of the South Shore in Massachusetts, there is no public transportation and the enjoyable bars are all in either Boston or Plymouth. So if you are going to one of those spots for a fun night out, you either have to have lodgings within walking distance or have some access to public transport. If you know me and my obsession with my own bed, I am not sacrificing a night of sleep to be reckless and stay in Boston or on a friend’s floor unless it is a special occassion. And in the South Shore there is NO public transport unless you want to empty your bank account on a cab.

So usually, fun nights out in the South Shore are far and few between. However about a mile from my house is a growing local hot spot called Venus III. It is no college bar and it is no Boston / Plymouth classic. But for the area it is in and the crowd surrounding it, they do quite well. So after a little bit, my sister picked us up and dropped us off. So here we are in walking distance of my home (where my bed is) and no need to worry about limits. It was going to be a fun night.

The thing I love about Slingshot is that he is as personable as I am in social situations. He has no problem going up to new people, bartenders, waitresses, bouncers, patrons, males, females, anyone really and becoming best friends. That is also the thing I enjoy about a good townie bar, if you slightly recognize anyone or are willing to say cheers, you can become best friends for the night. I rarely paid for drinks in Worcester because the bars we went to involved buying pitchers of the cheapest thing and filling up everyone’s cup. I always made it a point to know the bartenders who would either

A. Give me cheap/free drinks.

or

B. Toss me an empty cup and point to the guy who just bought a pitcher.

In Worcester it wasn’t hard to know who the bartenders were. We went to the bar that primarily employed Assumption students because the bar itself was known as the unofficial Assumption bar. When I would go there in my junior year, the bartender was a guy who shared my major and was a decent aquaintance. Like I said, in a townie bar that is all it takes to make the connection. My senior year I lucked out. The girl who was hired to be the new bartender was a girl I just started helping out in a photography class. In return for some classroom tips, she never let me down on a Thursday night.

Outside of Worcester, it can be a little trickier, but really not that complicated. You just have to have the right raport with people. Namely the kind of raport that Slingshot and I both share. So when the waitress came over to take our order, we introduced ourselves. She was a little surprised that we were this friendly without having any kind of drink and right off the bat took to liking our attitudes. After a few rounds a girl came over to the table and Slingshot jumped up.

It happened to be a girl we went to high school with. Of course she recognized him. Slingshot has looked the same since about 7th grade. Nobody from high school recognizes me anymore which I for one don’t mind. After he hugged her hello, we quickly realized, this girl was very intoxicated. At first glance, we laughed. This girl we hadn’t seen in almost 5 years had one too many at a bar in Hanson, MA. This wasn’t going to bode well for her. A few moments later a couple came over and asked how she was. This turned out to be a couple that she babysat for. I don’t know about them, but after witnessing this scene, I wouldn’t be leaving my kids with this girl anytime soon. Her sloppy display attracted the sight of many, including the bouncers. They came over and gave the “one more mishap and you’re out” spiel.

It was 9:45. And she was getting this. Finally the girl in the couple said she was going to take her home. So we stayed with her boyfriend who was actually a really cool gent. He did electrical work for cathedrals in Boston. Who has a job like that? After a little while and taking turns buying rounds, the lady rejoined and they went off dancing. This was a fun and very enjoyable couple to be around.

We joined them for a few moments dancing in front of the live band and after a few minutes of being goofs, I slipped on the dance floor. The bouncer rushed over seeing if I was “that bad”. I stood right up and gestured at the floor which was soaking wet. He made sure I was ok and walked off. My friends and I just laughed. Slingshot and I decided to get one last drink and head home after a decent night out.

For those skimming the story, here is the SMALL WORLD bit. 

We walked over to the bar and a woman from across the bar called out to me,

“That was a nice fall!”

I did a little bow and she laughed. Slingshot and I took our drinks and went back to our table. As we finished up we stood up to put our jackets on. When all of a sudden the woman who called out to me at the bar approached me at the table. She came up with another woman and asked me if they could ask a question. I agreed not expecting the following at all,

“Are you from the band One Direction?”

Now, I very vaguely know who they are. But to my (later confirmed) knowledge, they are like 8 years old. So my first reaction was confusion. In a dumbfounded voice I said,

“No?”

“Oh damn! You look so much like one of them.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Yes he is very attractive.” This made me feel better after being accused of being a pre-teen singer. But the following surprised me even more,

“Could I take a picture with you and tell people I met him?”

Slingshot just laughed and I really wasn’t sure what to say. I told a different friend about this and he hoped I said no. But in the midst of confusion and flattery, I agreed. Her friend took the picture of us and she said,

“Thank you! I can’t wait to pretend I met him.” I really didn’t understand the appeal in taking a picture with someone who “looks” like a celebrity. Who doesn’t see a handful of look-a-likes at any given time? It doesn’t mean I have an urge to take a picture with them. Regardless, Slingshot and I finished our drinks and walked out laughing that it actually happened.

We went home and crashed. The next morning I drove him home and wished him luck with the car. That night I met up with my cousins and we had dinner. My younger cousin is actually a fan of the band One Direction so I told her the story and asked which one I looked like. She couldn’t really tell. But we laughed about it nonetheless. Afterward we went to their house and just watched TV. I was messaging a few people and not paying attention when I opened a text message with the following picture,

photo

My jaw dropped. That was the picture!? In a moment of pure confusion and shock, I flipped back to see who just texted me this picture. When I saw the name, I was mortified. My cousins saw me staring at my phone a little freaked and asked what was wrong?

The girl who sent me this picture was one of my former students this past summer at PCC (who for reference called me Dad). The message with the picture said,

“Hey DAD, I see you met me aunt tonight!”

This woman was the aunt of one of my former students and had sent the picture to her saying,

“Look at the cute guy I met at the bar last night! Doesn’t he look like one of the guys from One Direction?”

My student’s response was,

“Umm, that is Mr. Frazier… I call him Dad.”

I guess I don’t know why I was so horrified. Maybe because a former student knew I was at a bar? We really maintain a level of innocence as proctors. Maybe because a former student’s aunt pseudo hit on me? That just seems weird.

I immediately called Slingshot and told him the story. He just laughed and all we could say was,

“What a SMALL WORLD?” It is true. While sure PCC is a South Shore program and the chances of running into someone or their family outside is pretty decent, it is still baffling that somewhere in the tangled web of human existence, these associations bring us all together in some unexplainable way.

I guess if there is a lesson to this story, it is that you really always have to watch yourself. It should be pretty common sense, but you never know who is around.

To quote a good friend (with a small adjustment),

“Once a leader, always a leader.” She meant this in the sense of when someone meets us, they will always compare us to that initial meeting.

To quote one of my favorite films (Superbad),

“People don’t forget!”

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Thank you to my readers!

For the year 2012, WordPress created a stats report for their bloggers. My blog was read on all but one continent. There is some other great data in there, but that one blows my mind. Thank you so much to all who read my blog. Thank you so much to my friends who after every post text me with critiques and comments. You’re persistence and pestering has always pushed me to keep writing. Again, thank you all so much.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Alive with the Glory of Love

Before you read this, go to Youtube or your iTunes library and play the song “Alive with the Glory of Love” by Say Anything.

I remember the first time I heard this song by Say Anything. It was in the season 6 season finale of my all time favorite show Scrubs. The scene shows Eliot and JD laying on a bed together discussing the past, the present and the future. The episode is entitled “The Point of No Return”. While JD is about to have a baby with his old GF and Eliot is about to get married to her longterm fiancé, they reminisce over their shared love together. What got me about this scene was that as they discussed their old and buried love for one another, they discovered this ever-present yet fleeting moment of brief emotion digging up from within begging the question,

“Could we be making the biggest mistake of our lives?”

The scene cuts to black just before they kiss. When season 7 starts back up, they are in the same place and what happens? They don’t kiss. And I remember when I was 17 and I saw this, I thought,

“I guess old love can’t be relit.”

We have our one chance at love with someone and that is it. And when I went to college, I stopped watching the show. But about two years later I was talking to the friend who originally showed me the show and when we were sharing stories of the past, he asked,

“Did you ever catch the finale to Scrubs?” And when I said I hadn’t you would have thought his dropping jaw was going to knock our table over.

“You have to go home and watch it now.” I told him I would, but I really didn’t get around to it…

Until about a year later. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I hadn’t watched the show in near three years and all I could think about was the big let down of them not having this ever possible chance to love one another. But when I started the last season, I quickly realized, they were together, and they were in love. And it made me question myself,

“Can old love be relit?”

I was a boy raised in a home where the love between a man and a woman was non-existent. Everything I learned about love was from chic flicks and well written TV. As I sit here and admit that to myself and on the page, I think about how much it explains in my life.

I was a boy raised with the belief that second chances made love possible. I was a boy raised with the belief that love withstood anything. I was a boy raised by the belief that love was not something that ever went away.

When I first began to fall in love, I thought, this is nothing like the shows and rom-coms I have been taking thorough notes of for the past 10 years. But as I grew up and my capabilities of love grew and I learned, it started to make sense. And as someone who was raised by witty flicks with heart breaking one liners, my favorite description about how you know you’re in love was from a wonderful show called Castle,

“All the songs make sense.”

In those moments of pure heart stopping, gut wrenching, cold sweat causing, teary eye wiping, emotionally frustrated gesturing, passionate, mindless, unconditional, painful, agonizing, desperate, peaceful, hopeful, enduring, brain melting, selfless, true,

 L  O  V  E 

Everything makes sense… And yet nothing does. But somehow, all the billboard toppers seem to come over the radio and I find myself continuously changing them because despite how angry I am that in this moment of internal struggle, Taylor Swift seems to say the right things to hit the right buttons and make me just belt out in the sweet safety of my car,

“You are so right TAYLOR SWIFT!”

Love has taught me so much in the past 6 years. I have learned that despite being able to run through 10,000 volts of electricity on a casual Sunday afternoon, love can be more painful than anything on this earth. It is one of the most powerful emotions we as human beings can feel. I say powerful very confidently for a reason which some might find insignificant but one which I find relevant.

When I am lifting at the gym, I tend to rely on my emotions to give me the boost of energy to push for another rep or to add more weight. When I am lifting and I’m filled with love, I feel more powerful than anyone.

Love has the ability to give us power. Give us power over one another and over ourselves.

It can be used for good and bad.

It can be used to hurt and to heal.

It can be given and it can be taken away.

But despite the question of how one can use love, I believe there is one thing that remains true about love.

Love NEVER dies.

I was raised in a household where I saw love die. And in my lifetime, I refuse to let it. If I believed love could die, I don’t think I could believe in much anymore.

It is for that reason that I shared with a friend one cold night a small fact I rarely share with people. We were talking about life difficulties and challenges and she asked how I was able to remain happy through them and I said,

“I try to fall in love everyday.” Because while love can be used to hurt us in the most cruel and torturous ways. It can make us happy. And there is so little in this earth that provides us with pure happiness. And I think in that respect, love never fails.

Fall in love everyday. With a trait, a song, a sound, a smell, a quality, a feeling, a sight, a fact, a name, a story, a phrase, a belief, a moral, a value, an idea, and maybe if you’re lucky,

a very special person.

With all the lessons I’ve learned over the years, I’ve learned a lot about love. I’ve learned a lot and yet so little. And while it isn’t the best for a boy to grow up learning love from the big pictures and prime time lineups, it gave him hope.

It gave him hope that despite all the odds. Despite poor timing. Despite mistakes made. Despite judgements past. Despite old relationships. Despite new relationships. Despite beliefs. Despite goals. Despite let downs. Despite successes. Despite all the evil. Despite all the good.

Love. Never. Dies. 

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SUIT UP! Getting the job

So after that week, I was really disheartened. Despite learning a lot, I was empty-handed. I didn’t really know what to think about my current position, but I knew that I couldn’t stop. Despite the scams and let downs, this was job hunting. This wasn’t something I could just say,

“Oh well” and walk away from. Post college job hunting is a fight that doesn’t stop until you win. So despite the frustration, I was in no position to complain. This battle had just begun.

Or so I thought.

On the following Monday I sat at my desk with my resume and my legal pad to prepare for my phone interview. It was with a non-profit company called Father Bill’s & Mainspring, an agency working to end homelessness. It was for the position of Triage Worker. An old family friend recommended it to me and so I followed through with the company.

My interview was with a woman named Caitlin Kelley. She called and we chatted for about a half hour and I thought it went really well. She told me she’d call me the following day if they wanted to follow through with an in-person interview. Which she did. I came in later that week to their Quincy facility. It was a homeless shelter and I was honestly a  little taken back. I wasn’t expecting to actually be at a shelter, and what might have made it worse, I suited up. I came to a locked door and a man came and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was there to meet Caitlin. I had a seat on a bench and watched as people cleaned around the shelter, not knowing who was homeless and who wasn’t. But after a few minutes a woman came to the lobby and said,

“Nicholas?”

I looked up and she looked very much like a girl I had just graduated with. I was expecting an older woman, but she couldn’t have been much older than me. She brought me into an office with a different woman named Shannon. We sat down and talked for about an hour. Again, by the end, I felt very good about it. I however, followed my own rules. I asked what I would be doing. They said, I would spend my days meeting 1 on 1 with homeless individuals assessing their areas of needs and helping them back to self-sufficiency. I would be given the resources necessary to help them and work from there. I loved this idea. If there is one thing my friends know about me, it is that I love helping people.

With that said, I was told they would review my information and I would either get a call from their manager for a third and final interview or a less than desired phone call.

That was on Thursday. The weekend that came after that was my first alumni weekend at school. I found it very interesting to go back to school and see how in just a short period of time, so much had changed amongst my former classmates. We all had grown in such different ways. Our lives had taken different paths. But nonetheless, we were all back to the place we once called home. Whenever people asked me what I was doing, I just told them I was trying to get involved with a non-profit and help people. I returned home feeling a little anxious still not having a phone call.

But then the next day I was out to lunch with my mother and my phone rang. It was a woman named Jill St. Martin and she was offering me my final interview. I jumped up in the restaurant with such excitement. She told me my interview would be in a week and a half. While I was a little anxious that I had to wait so long, it was something.

The day of the interview came and I suited up again. I wore my black suit with a grey shirt and my favorite tie. I needed to feel good if I was going to nail this interview. I drove to the Brockton office and waited. A few people told me she was running late and would be there soon. I waited about 15 minutes. She came and met me and I swear, this is what I remember about the interview.

We walked into her office. I sat down in her office and the first thing I noticed was that it was a tad warm. When I get hot… I sweat. When I sweat… I sweat more. So we started talking and then I felt the first drop of sweat on my forehead. Then I realized…shit, I’m sweating.

All I could think was

“STOP SWEATING!” But of course, that made me sweat more. I couldn’t tell you what she was saying, but I could tell you that I was starting to sweat a lot. How could I tell you this? Because the next thing out of her mouth was,

“You can take your suit jacket off if you’re hot?” My response?

“No no, I’m not hot.” WHY DID I SAY THAT? She then proceeded to go turn her fan on… on me. Because I was visibly sweating so much. So as the interview continued I became more nervous about the fact that not only was I profusely sweating, she took note of it. So as she continued to talk, I made the decision to take my jacket off and when I shifted to do so I became aware of something. I was wearing a grey shirt and was sweating.

So yes, pit stains were unfortunately all too present. As discretely as I could I took my jacket off and kept my arms in. In all honesty, she probably totally absolutely saw them. Cause that’s what you want in an interview. So despite the sweat, I finished the interview. It finished with her saying I would either receive this position or an interview for a different position. I liked my odds, but to this day couldn’t tell you what we actually discussed in that interview. I freaked out the whole time. The interview was on Wednesday and I would find out on Friday.

I got home and my mother asked how it went and I said,

“I don’t know, I sweat the whole time.” She laughed and we agreed to just hope for the best. The next day I received a phone call from Caitlin. She was calling to offer me the position and I couldn’t hold back my excitement. I accepted the job on the spot and she said we’d start-up in a week and a half.

So despite all the frustrations of the first week. I ultimately ended up with a job that today, 3 months later, I love. And while yes it is a non-profit. I get to help save and changed lives every day. And I couldn’t ask for anything more in the work that I do.

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SUIT UP! The Job Hunt

I originally wrote this in September and took it down when a friend’s father told me that it might not look good to future employers, especially when my blog was on my resume which was going out at least 30 times a day during my job search. So this is the original post with a few twists and a happier ending. 

People who know me might agree that I am a decently chill person. I tend to not be a stressed person or one that worries about much. But there is one thing that can stress me out instantly. No matter how calm or collected I may be, this one little thing can send me over the edge without even taking a poke. Money. Since before I can remember, money has always been an issue. In my whole family, money problems have swam through our veins like a disease that destroys and deteriorates from within. All throughout college, money nagged at my life. When it came time to take out loans, I begrudgingly signed my name and soul away to different banks so that I could enjoy my college life. Even while at college I worked long hours at a frustrating work-study job so that I could afford going out with friends and enjoying the common pleasantries of life. But no matter how hard I worked, how much money I made or how much I saved, money was always a problem.

Upon graduation, I made the decision to enjoy the summer, working at PCC, training for tough mudder and finally taking a moment to breathe after a long hard year. I believed I deserved it and enjoyed every moment of it. But PCC ended, tough mudder happened and I took many deep breaths. As sweet sweet summer began to come to end, it meant the beginning of real life was approaching quickly.

Similar to being a relaxed individual, I also tend to be a jumper, a go-getter. I don’t shy away from a challenge. I tend to dive in with everything I have, fighting for what I want and typically coming out the other end successful. But those who know that I do this know sometimes I can get in to deep. While I always get myself out,  there is often some struggle. So when it came time to begin the job hunt I was going in head first expecting to come out with what I wanted. Not exactly what happened.

About three weeks ago I received a call from one of the private lenders who granted me a loan. While during the call they asked how I was and congratulated me on my graduation, I could tell they were discretely saying, “WE OWN YOU!” After I hung up the phone, the anxieties started to set in. I very quickly fell victim to the mindset that I needed a career, NOW.

I met my dad at a family function last Saturday and he told me about a job he saw on Monster.com. He urged me to apply and the following morning when I woke up, I created a profile on the job hunt site and began to distinguish myself in the career profile to appear attractive to anyone willing to take a glance. I sent my resume to ten companies on the first day.

Monday 

I woke up this morning with about 5 emails from companies asking to come interview with them. My excitement grew. It had been less than 24 hours since creating a career portfolio and there was already an interest. This morning I went to the doctor for a physical. After the nurse finished taking down information and making small talk she pulled out the blood pressure cuff. She took it and made a weary face. She asked if I was nervous. I said no. She took it again and said it was high. She decided to take it manually and hope the machine was just getting a bad read. Still really high. She left for a moment and brought back another nurse to confirm her finding. Still high. They both looked at me like I was dying. I asked if it was THAT bad, they were the ones making me nervous. They said no but for an active man my age, it should NOT be this high. The original said she’d ask the doctor to check it out.

He came in and did the usual check up and we sat down to talk. I told him about senior year, the summer and my nerves about the future. He pondered and just said, you miss your routine. You miss being stressed with work and in the weeds. After senior year being the most stressful year ever, I couldn’t imagine that I MISSED the stress. He explained that after 16 years in school, your body misses the routine. His prescription, start living your life. It wasn’t a deal of being nostalgic, it just was really THAT time.

By the end of the day, I had 4 interviews lined up for the week. After the conversation with the doc, I knew it was time to start it up.

Tuesday

I’ll be honest, Tuesday wasn’t that eventful. I had a phone interview with a company and they called me back later to invite me to a second interview in their office on Wednesday. That is where the story gets interesting. I will also say now that I am not using names of companies or individuals. That would simply be in poor taste. The things that I am going to share are exact details of what I experienced last week. So while it may sound poor or negative, it is true.

Wednesday

I woke up Wednesday morning prepared for my first interview at the only place I finished the week happy with.

Woke up early.

Went for a run.

Ate breakfast and showered.

SUITED UP!

Prepared my legal folder with a stack of fresh resumes.

Drove to first interview for a graphic design teaching position at an after school program.

I walked up the front desk and asked for the individual. I was directed upstairs to a large closet converted into a double office. I walked in to meet a woman with long dreadlocks, a flowing black dress and sweater and a cup of tea. I shook her hand and she offered me a cup. She then asked the question I had been waiting to hear for years. “What can you do for me?” Four years summed up in a few sentences I explained my experience in art and teaching. She was pleased and offered my the opportunity to design my own graphic arts classroom, equipment and all, and create my own design curriculum to begin teaching in November. We talked a little longer, shook hands and I left. As I walked to my car hiding the satisfied smile, I began feeling good about the week.

Started the car.

Headed home to get some materials for the second interview.

Got a phone call. This call was offering me an interview for a position in a marketing firm to write and pitch campaigns to company clients. The job sounded too good to be true. The time was set for the next day. I hung up gleaming. This week was going so well already. But that would quickly take a turn.

Arrived home.

Ate lunch.

Gathered materials.

Back in the car, GPS estimated commute = 1 hour.

Arrived at industrial park.

Elevator to 4th floor.

Interviewing at my first full-time job ever in my life had me a little anxious, but in a crisp suit with a fresh resume in hand, I was ready.

“Nick?” I turned around and there was a woman who couldn’t have been much older than 30 standing in the doorway. Shaking her hand, she introduced herself and we walked to her office. Sitting down, I was asked for the second time today, “What can you do for us?” Now this job was listed as “(Company Name) Event Coordinator.” The job description talked about coordinating Boston-based events promoting retail. I liked the idea of coordinating events in Boston. I proceeded to talk about my ability to thrive in a social environment and my enjoyment in working with people. After 7 minutes, SEVEN, of talking she asked, “Would you like to go to an event now?” She said that she enjoyed very much hearing what I had to say and wanted to move to the next interview phase. She organized and sifted through some paperwork to pull a sheet. This part of the interview was to see how I did in the atmosphere and judge more so if I would fit. Again, being that it was my first real job interview ever, I agreed without question. She handed me the sheet with the address and contact. She shook my hand and I proceeded back to my car. I hadn’t been there for more than 12 minutes and when I got in my car to GPS the next location, it would all seem so much worse. The next location was an hour away from the company and an hour and a half from my house. But what choice did I have?

Turned the car on.

Estimated commute = 1 hour.

Arrived at… this can’t be right.

Called contact, “am I at the right place?”

“Yes I am at the front door.”

I parked my car and stared. I was in a Sam’s Club parking lot. If you don’t know,  Sam’s Club, Costco, BJs are large department stores that sell big bulk items at cheap prices. Not only was I an hour and a half away from Boston, but I couldn’t fathom what events I would be coordinating at this spot. The man I met at the front door could only really be described as the manager from the movie Waiting, which is a film about a restaurant with a manager who believes himself to run a Fortune 500 company. That was this guy. He asked for my resume and led me over to the Sam’s Club cafe sitting area. We sat down and he started marking up my resume. He then proceeded to read a script sitting behind his legal folder of information that had been reiterated to me twice now by the individuals who had interviewed me at the company’s location. He gave me a lot of attitude and just belittled me throughout the whole interview. He then said, “We are going to go see an event like the ones you’ll be coordinating, I want you to take mental notes of what is going on and when we come back, I’m going to quiz you on what you saw.” With this smug sense about him, he lead me to the back of Sam’s Club to a woman at a booth trying to sell people heating pads. Thank God for my inner sense of professionalism because otherwise my jaw would have dropped. Not only does this company seem to have a VERY LOOSE definition of the word event, I quickly learned that my position wouldn’t even be overseeing people like her, I would be her. I would be a product demonstrator. We stood for about fifteen minutes and the guy walked me back. He then began grilling me with questions about all the skills you need to have for this job. I stayed professional and ended the interview strong.

Got in my car.

Estimated commute home = 1 1/2 hours.

Gas tank is empty.

Got home.

Took off suit.

Laid in bed. What the hell was that? A few hours later I got a phone call from my dad. He asked how the interviews were and admitted not great. As I explained to him the day, he seemed to think I was whining about starting so low and began pushing me to understand that I was going to have to work my way up. I explained that I understood and was willing to do that, but not in this company. He asked for the name and after giving it and holding a few moments of silence, he came back with a different tone. He looked up the company and couldn’t find their website, but was able to find another site called ENTRY LEVEL JOB SCAMS. This company was number one on their list for doing exactly what I had experienced.

A. They advertise a very extravagant job.

B. Make you drive all over without reimbursement.

C. Extravagant job ends up being product demonstration.

So after a long day of driving and disappointments, I headed out for my Wednesday night beer with my close friend. Every hump day we meet at a local restaurant bar for a few beers to catch up. He was already there when I walked in. Being that we’ve become regulars, a nice cold one was waiting for me when I walked in. I told him the story and he couldn’t stop laughing at my misfortune. At the time I was so frustrated, now I’m laughing at the ridiculous situation and thankful for the HUGE lessons that came out of it. I told him I was going to two more interviews on Thursday and had one for Friday so hopefully more would come.

Thursday

Didn’t wake up early.

Ate a quick breakfast.

Showered.

SUITED UP!

Estimated commute = 30 minutes.

Arrive at small office park.

When contacted for this position, I was told that it would be for a copy writing position at an insurance agency. So when I walked in and said I’m here for my interview, I was a bit surprised when they said it wasn’t for a copy writing position, it was for an insurance agent. They had me sign in and wait. A woman came in and asked me to follow her. She handed me a packet and showed me to a conference room with about 10 others. I found myself sitting in on a presentation about what it would be like to be an insurance agent. It didn’t sound half bad. This woman was really enticing when she started saying things like 6-figure income in my first year. By the end we had to fill out a survey to judge if we would be a good fit. Leaving this place would put me in a mindset that I would really regret later on.

Got back in the car.

Loosened the tie.

Estimated commute to next interview = 1 hour 20 minutes.

Actual interview not for 2 1/2 hours but I figured I’d kill time out there.

Finally arrived.

Located the office.

Lunch at Subway.

I found myself sitting in a Starbucks across the street reading about life as an insurance agent. I read the pay structure packet very thoroughly. Like I said, when I dive in, I dive in hard. I learned every way I could possibly make money as an insurance agent and how in 4 years, I could be up to 1/4 million a year. For someone with deep seeded money issues and financial insecurity, this career path really seemed enticing.

(Not in original post: Something I hadn’t mentioned when I originally wrote this post was that I had a phone interview with a different company at 3pm. My interview at this moment was for about 2:15 so I figured I would cut it close.)

Time for the next interview.

Tighten the tie.

I walked in to an office where I felt such a vibrant energy filling the halls. A very sweet girl stood up behind the desk and extended her hand. I shook it and introduced myself. She handed me a survey and showed me where I could sit to fill it out. I sat down in front of a massive big screen TV which was playing The Office, one of my all time favorite TV shows, I could get used to this. After the survey was filled out a younger looking guy walked out and called my name. He led me down the hall to a decent sized office with another massive TV, a PlayStation, a Fantasy Football stats sheet on the wall next to a Hangover poster. This place seemed awesome. We started talking and as I proceeded to go on my interview rant of why they NEED me, he was hooked. He said he was ready to offer my the job, but since I needed to go through the standard route, he offered my a second interview for the following day. Now we were coming to the question I had been waiting for the whole interview. He asked,

“Do you have any questions for me?” After the mess of a day I had before, I wasn’t about to hold back and so I asked,

“What would I do here?” It was like I spoke in Korean because the guy did not expect it and was not ready to answer. RED FLAG. I asked if I were to be hired right now, what would I do. He began to use some pretty fancy and elaborate language to describe a position that I could not understand. So I tried to ask again, what is it I would do here? After about 5 minutes of prying, it came out. This was a position for a door to door salesman for a company that I am not going to name. But immediately my heart sank. This guy proceeded to say that the work environment was the best. Every other Thursday night was tournament night. That night was a big dodge ball tournament. The one before was beruit. He said if there was anything enticing about this job, it was the work environment. I left wondering, “Is it worth it?”

Got in the car.

(Not in original post: I had two missed calls from the other company and a voicemail. It was a woman leaving me a message to call back when I could. I called her back a few times and got nothing. I also left a voicemail saying I was free and apologized for missing the first phone call)

Took off the tie.

Estimated commute home = 1 hour.

Actual commute time home = 2 hours.

This company was on the other side of Boston so I hit every bit of rush hour traffic coming home. I straggled into my house. I suited down and collapsed into my bed. My dad called again and this time when he started pushing on me how I needed to work my way up, I snapped at him. He snapped back and the conversation ended. I sat up in bed to stare at the growing pile of loan documents filling up my desk. I could feel my blood pressure rising as the anxiety built up. This was not going well.

Friday

Woke up literally 15 minutes before I needed to leave.

Half suited up.

Estimated commute = 40 minutes.

Arrived 2 minutes before interview.

I walked into a big office building and found the location of the interview. The funny thing about this one, I had literally no idea what the name of the company was, where I was going or what I was interviewing for. The woman who called me said they found my resume, I sounded good and wanted me to come in. She gave me the company name and address but I was driving so I got the last half and figured I’d wing it. Luckily 6 years of speech and debate have trained me well for improv moments. Now this gentleman who called my name was quite the character. This man had a raspy voice with a hairy eyeball and I felt as though after the interview he was going to sell me something from his inner jacket. I hope that gives you a decent read on his gent. We started talking and despite not knowing anything about what I was there for, I got an offer for the second interview. Basically it was another insurance agency. I walked out after politely bidding farewell.

Tie was off before I got to the car.

Estimated Commute = 40 minutes.

Once I got home I was suited down and back in bed exhausted from three days of disheartening job hunts. I went to the kitchen to get some lunch and when I went to go to my room with a bag of chips (a big bag) and a coke my mother stopped me.  She somewhat sarcastically yelled that she wasn’t going to let me stress eat me weight back up. She let me return to my room with the sandwich and a water. She told me if I wanted to relieve stress to go to the gym.

So I did.

I went and started boxing. While I was there I started thinking, I love this. Why don’t I do this? And I proceeded to think, I love lots of things,

WRITING

ART

Why aren’t I looking at those jobs? Sure I am not going to get my dream job right away, but I am not even looking in those fields! It was then that it hit me that in one week, I had slowly sacrificed what I love for the filthy need to make money. Not one full-time job I looked into had anything to do with what I loved doing in life. Why wasn’t I pursuing any of those?

(Not in original post: After I got home from the gym I received a phone call from the woman at the company I missed the phone interview with the day before. She said she was a bit busy at the moment and wondered if Monday we could have a phone interview.

That night I started my first night working as a Teen Night supervisor at the YMCA in the town next to mine. I felt happy doing work I enjoyed. Despite not making much money, it was work that made me happy. And shouldn’t that be any work that we do? Of course it is going to be hard, if it were easy anyone would do it. But the challenge is what makes us fight harder for what we want and love in this life.

Saturday

By this morning I had received two job offers from companies I interviewed with during the week. I said no thank you to both. While it was flattering to receive the offers. They weren’t jobs I wanted. They weren’t jobs that I should have.

I met with a close friend from college in the afternoon and she asked how the week went and all I could say was, I learned a lot. I didn’t get my dream job or a job at that. But I started a hunt for something that would last for years, possibly decades. But it is something so worth the fight. It is the work that will enable you to live your life however you choose. It is something so worth all your time, energy and love. It better be worth it.

Six Lessons I learned that week

I’ve always done well in interviews, but these are facts that I wish I had reinforced in my head before the week started. If you’ve read this far and you are entering this world, these might help. I’m sure I’ll learn much more.

  1. Have your clothes laid out the night before.
  2. Be as comfortable as you can be for your interview (eat before, go to the bathroom before, etc.).
  3. Bring a pen and multiple copies of your resume.
  4. Figure out at least three words that describe yourself in a professional workplace and be able to elaborate on why.
  5. Know what kind of salary you want and figure out if the job is commission or salary based.
  6. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING IF HIRED. That should be the absolute first thing you know. Even if it is before the interview and you scrap it all together.

If it isn’t what you want to do, why would you do it at all?

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I Will Wait

About two months ago I heard the song I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons and just had this drive to write. I wrote it and read it and reread it and to this moment, I’m not sure what it was that made me want to write it all. But the lyrics and rhythms moved me for whatever reason to just put words on paper. While searching around on my computer, I found this and just thought something about it was either tragically beautiful or beautifully tragic. But again, no clue what exactly was going through my mind at the time of writing it, perhaps just a doodle.

 

 

And I came home, like a stone, and I fell heavy into your arms

It was late at night when the door was shut. I collapsed on the floor and into your arms. As you breathed in my scent. Wrapping arms around mine and pulled in as tight as you could. I smelt that scent familiar for years. The playful memories springing to mind from the clean cut fresh smell of an old top. Wiping the tears and whispering, it will be ok.

These days of dust, which we’ve known, will blow away with this new sun

Everything familiar comes to an end. We sat like we always had, shoulders touching, feet dangling, fingers unsure of where to interlock. Soaking in the silence was always a beautiful treasure for us. The voices surrounding us always grew loud and the chances we had to stop for a minute were always valued.

And I’ll kneel down, wait for now, and I’ll kneel down, know my ground

I ran. I ran hard. My body grasped at loose straws in search of relief. You weren’t there. Not where you were supposed to be. One can only take so much before they crash onto their knees. The elbows meet the cold gravel. The forehead presses down in prayer and solace. The soul searches for something to make it all better. Where has it all gone?

And I will wait, I will wait for you

When we had finished our time together. When each foot met the descending steps. Your echo sounded the hollow well. My glance shifted to see the sincerity in your words and actions. Will you? The only question remained in this puzzle. Will your words be validated by what future, by what you do not know? You are betting on yourself now.

So break my step, and relent, you forgave and I won’t forget

It was more than your kind soul that let me pass. I choose to believe it was the broken boy you saw. No matter how much you didn’t like what you saw, you’re loss of words wouldn’t stop that traditional gesture. And as you reached out ready to catch the falling, you got it. You had what you wanted, you weren’t letting go. No one was asking you too. Hold it close and cherish it with all the warmth you possess.

Know what we’ve seen, and him with less, now in some way, shake the excess

We filled the pages of all the leather bound books in our reach with our memories. Whether it was passing it back to me or gifting it to you, we shared what there was. You didn’t even know it existed. I remembered looking in your eyes while licking my thumb to turn the page. Prove it you said, with your victorious tone. But I produced the product of spent effort in your hands. I didn’t let you have what it was you wanted. But I promised it would come.

But I will wait, I will wait for you

You said it through the sobs and the tears. Hands clenched around a last hope. Clearing the stains in the mirrors which I looked at myself in so many times before. There was hope. There was desperation. The soft sound of youth proving how much that seed needed to grow. And as the clench loosened and the farewells were bid, the pain swelled from a fresh hit.

So I’ll be bold, as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart

You are never done learning. My mother didn’t give up teaching. And if I couldn’t learn from her, I would learn from another. Would it be you? Could it be? The things I’ve learned. The things you’ve taught. The methods executed and experiences made were stepping stones to bigger and better things. I am not the teacher. I never claimed to be. I gave what I could and you took it all.

So take my flesh, and fix my eyes, that tethered mind free from the lies

Beaten to the ground we screamed and we cried. We fought for our freedoms. We yearned for knowledge and hungered for more. But as it came to be, we would be better off. The pure of heart and good intentions come later. But the process to learn, to be better, would always exist. It wasn’t to be soon forgotten. It was one to take with you always.

But I’ll kneel down, wait for now

And though that sometimes means that what we want and need most is just out of reach. The patience demonstrated will be long worth the struggle. I’ve only lived for so long. You’ve more to go. You’ve more to learn. I have a whole life to live. I will create while you experience. Don’t let the withering pictures in my memory hold you to that place.

Raise my hands, paint my spirit gold, and bow my head, keep my heart slow

Happiness is an easy route. People argue and debate that so much is needed to achieve peace. It isn’t one for the rich or the pampered. It is one for the persistent and the hungry and for those to desire and those to fight. You are so many and so few. You have so much. You have so little. You won’t know soon what to do or who to be. Life has brought you and taken you. Don’t belittle yourself to words or actions or experiences. Compare yourself only to what you will become, not to who you were.

Cause I will wait, I will wait for you

There will always be someone to wait.

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