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straphanger1
I know that the application deadline has passed for the first NYC Civic Corps class, but do you know when/if a second class will begin; and when you will begin accepting applications? I recently left New York City in search of greener grass, but just can't stay away. I'd love to return and help the city when it needs me most. I can return any time in August or this fall.

Thanks, Straphanger1


Full Disclosure: Burlington’s a great place to be, and you’ll seldom hear a bad word about this town from me. Moving up here, IMO, was one of the best decisions I've made. It's friendlier, simpler and slower than the City that Never Sleeps. But it's not for me. 
But when I returned to NYC this past weekend, it was like having my eyes re-opened. If you miss the subway, you’re gonna be mad, but there’ll be another one five minutes later. There are literally thousands of Meetup groups out there, waiting for you to join. Churches have dozens, if not hundreds, of small groups divvied up by neighborhood, sometimes by interest or age. If it’s 1:45 in the morning and you want a fresh cup of coffee or a Big Gulp, there’s no damn reason you can’t put some shoes on and go get it. I don’t care what kind of event you go to, whether it’s for Crackheads Anonymous, Singles with Poodles or Affluent, Poker Playing Tax Collectors, if it’s in Manhattan, you will not find the words “Ample Free Parking Available,” and you will not be expected to drive there.

The economy sucks. Sure does. The economy sucks more than a vacuum cleaner with the engine of a Mustang. Thing is, you can take the guy out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the guy. And Lord knows, I tried for six years of college and immediate post-college living. And three months (and counting) here in the Green Mountain State. The economy sucks everywhere. 

Fuck the economy. I need a city where the "things to do" schedule is so long that you couldn't possibly do half the things available. On a Monday night. Where if one church, or one small group, doesn't work out, I can easily find another one without having to wonder how I can finagle a ride. Where, recession or not, the opportunities aren't limited to a handful of industries. Where you get as much of a rush from being in the city as you would from sticking a fork in the wall socket. Where, in every way, the sky's the limit. 

I must be crazy. I've got a good thing here in Burlington - I'm living with one of my best friends from college, the baristas here greet me with a smile and already know what I'm going to order, and to a degree, it is somewhat easier to get involved in things and to have your voice heard. Not to mention that I have a room of my own, with posters on the walls and storage space - quite the upgrade from Mom's couch. I really like it up here, but it's just not the same. I feel a little like Adam and Eve must have once they bit into the forbidden apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (don't know the story? find a Bible). All was hunky-dory before I headed home for Memorial Day weekend, but now that my eyes have been opened, how can I close them again? Plus, I feel like a douche for getting my friend's hopes up about having me here in town, only to split - or to want to split - after a few months. 

It won't be perfect. You'll probably read entries of mine, bitching about temp agencies, high unemployment, and self-centered jerks on the subway - I guarantee that if I make it back to New York, you will - but no place is. Every place has its good aspects and bad aspects; you have to find a place that matches your pace and temprament and be willing to put up with the bad along with the good. Even if you have to remind yourself 50 times a day why you chose to live where you do (especially if you're giving up a smaller, cleaner and more laid back place), that's what you have to do. Otherwise, you'll lose sight of whatever your goal is, and become angry, disillusioned and bitter. 

It won't be a waste. I'd like to think that I've grown as a person, and changed for the better, for having lived here in Vermont, even these three months. I've gotten to know my BFF, her husband and family better. I've become more relaxed and less angry. I've probably been nudged closer to God, which is no easy feat in a state of rocky spiritial soil (don't know the reference? find a Bible). I've made a few friends/friendquaintances, and I've learned how to deal with people in a way that doesn't lead to anger and seeing red. Maybe I had to temporarily leave The City to realize what a good thing I really had down there.

I'm here all week. And all summer - I'm taking some computer classes so that I'll have more skills under my belt, and look thatmuch better to potential employers. Not to mention that I have much more quality time to get in. And the absolute last thing I'd want to do is to burn any bridges on my way out of town.  However, there's a huge family reunion in The Bronx over Labor Day weekend. Maybe I can get there with a MetroCard rather than an Amtrak ticket.
Speaking of MetroCards...

PS: Let’s keep this between you and me, eh? In other words, tell anyone I wrote this and I’ll carve the internet out of your computer with a sharpened MetroCard.
PPS: I heard back from the NYC Corps people this morning. It's a pilot program, so they only have funding for this first year so far. Ah well. 

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Current Location: Burlington, VT
Current Mood: determined
Current Music: The White Stripes

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What is your favorite macro? Why?

I dunno. But I spent the summer working for a company called Macro back in the day. The one damn summer my friends were in town, I was slaving away on the phone, interrupting people's dinners and reality TV-watching to get them to do a survey over the phone. On the bright side, my rent was always on time, and I had all the Hot Pockets I could eat.

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Current Location: South Burlington, VT
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: the theme song from Rocky

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Last Saturday night, I bounced up the front steps of my apartment building, after one last Saturday sojourn in the suburbs, with visions of change-of-address forms dancing in my mind (works wonders for remembering to do stuff like that), and popped open the mailbox. Couple pieces of government rigamarole for Mom, park membership postcards that've been gathering dust since last summer, and whoa boy, a copy of Complex Magazine!
Complex Magazine is, to put it lightly, the kind of mens magazine that tells you how to be a man - if you keep an ear cocked, you can hear a voice shouting out of the mailbox, "You're gonna like your clothes stylish and flashy, your video games off the hook, and your chicks experienced! And don't even tell me you don't like sports!" And you know that the voice could probably put you in traction with one hand cuffed to the bar.
Trouble is, I don't know why they come. Sometime early last year, during my time at the library, the first issue came ("Yo, you gonna take me outta this mailbox or what? I'm freezin' in here!"), and roughly every month since. Kind of like a dog that finds its family again after they'd moved to Colorado; but without the inspirational tint and the magazine hunting roadside weasels and taking refuge from thunderstorms in caves. So, on that note, I won't be filling out that change-of-address form. Best way to keep the traffic flowin' here is to personally give people (namely, the people who keep my cell phone in working order, and associated others) the new address. As for those automatic mailings - the park membership postcards, the SuperSaver coupon books, the sophisticated mens' magazine - what they don't know won't bother me.
(Full Disclosure: makes for interesting bathroom reading, but the message goes in one ear and out the other)

Speaking of mail and full disclosures, I've been on the emailing list of a conservative organization with links to the Grand Old Party for some time now. Again, the commentary is very interesting, and usually a good read. But, I'm going to have to unsubscribe after one too many "Defeat the Stimulus Package!"-headlined emails (cue: image of ostriches in head-in-sand mode). Millions are out of work, the headlines get worse by the day (and have been for the last 9 months), yet, some very vocal people want to stop the thing dead in its tracks. Not simply cut the pork out or deny the special interest groups their fair share, but kill the entire thing deader than a 70s rock star.
Yes, it is an unimaginable amount of government spending, and almost a troubling amount of zeroes, and yes, I was wrong, horribly wrong, about the last bailout. But somebody has to get the electric paddles warmed up to jump-start the economy - the frozen credit, the miserably low consumer confidence - and I don't see the private sector doing much more than laying off low-level workers by the thousands while sending their highest-level workers on taxpayer-paid vacations and refurbishing their offices.

And the conservative organization's idea? Just do nothing, it's only short-term misery. Let the people eat what they can catch.
(Full Disclosure: this is why I'm not a Republican or a Democrat.)

Speaking of government, I have an appointment next Tuesday afternoon at the Vermont DMV to take an eye exam and a written test for a learner's permit, and feed my New York State permit into the shredder. I could care less about owning a car ($8 grand a year for gas, maintenance and insurance, versus $500 a year for a bus pass?), but it is as good a piece of ID as you can get. Plus, it'll solve a little problem of mine.

I moved back home from Albany 3 1/2 years ago, in the summer of 2005, and never updated my address with the New York State DMV. I tried, I sure did! But I saw how crowded the office was, realized that with the high number I had, I'd be waiting until after closing time, and just went back downtown to get something to eat.

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Current Location: New York, NY
Current Mood: recumbent recumbent

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It's been awhile since I've blogged about work, so I'm gonna do that this week. 

Last Wednesday, I worked a one-day conference for Lookit.com, a marketing company here in the City That No Longer Works. Pretty simple, straightforward stuff; putting together folders for attendees, handing out nametags, and all that good stuff. It was a fun gig, and the other five temps were cool - plus, one of them was a temp I'd sortakinda worked with last year at the library. Bonus. 

And that's pretty much what the job was. We put together folders in the morning, sat around and talked, and when the professional finance people started coming, we handed out nametags. Not to mention the place had a sweeeeet refreshments table. I'm talking brownies that gave you cavities just from looking at them, sugar cookies, chocolate covered pretzels... nom nom nom. I don't care much for or about sugar cookies, but anyplace where there's chocolate covered pretzels, that's where I'll be. 

Things calmed down once everybody was registered and had taken their seats to listen to the long and boring presentations about the magical things that this new product can do, and half of our group of six were sent home early. I almost got the early axe, but I'd chosen/been chosen by lot to circulate through the last long and boring presentation of the afternoon. And that was what I did. At 4:15, I relieved Kathy (the library gal), and circulated through the audience with a microphone. Basically, it's kinda like on Springer; somebody in the audience wants to know why the train wrecks on stage still live together if they've cheated with all the in-laws, so an anonymous staff member goes up there with a cordless mike. Except that my audience had technical questions in finance jargon, and there were no shouting or "amens." Overall, having to climb the steps with the mike was one of the only things that kept me awake - along with having to remain standing upright.

Afterward, the cocktail party began, the rest of us temps were sent home (with 30 bonus minutes on our timesheets!), and that ended my working adventures in New York City.

The following day, I took the train down to Western Staffing to hand in my timecard (I could've faxed it from Kinko's, but the last I checked, we were recessing out, and trying to make up for decades without saving two red cents), and heard two amazing, mind-boggling things from Rebecca the assistant. 
Firstly, she had four hundred resumes to go through, just from that week. That's kind of unusual, but then again, these are unusual times. But the thing she told me that really made my head spin? People are still moving here to New York City, shitty economy and all. Why? Granted, we're eating the financial slice of the economic turd sandwich (as opposed to the foreclosure slice or the manufacturing slice), but that's a pretty big freaking slice. I mentioned a couple entries ago just how many jobs we're on track to lose this year. And that was before our Nanny Mayor decided to cut 23,000 city jobs near the end of the week. 
So, if any wannabe New Yorkers stumble across this entry (maybe for my admirable sense of humor, colorful layout or what have you), read the below: 

For your own good, DO NOT MOVE HERE. That's all. DO. NOT. COME. Panhandling is a growth industry, but we already have plenty of workers and not enough commission to go around. 
If you're independently wealthy, on the other hand, c'mon out and share the wealth.
 
 In the meantime, I'm gonna go back to job hunting. This stuff is hard as hell once you turn your back on Craigslist. 

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Current Location: New York Ci-tay
Current Mood: content content

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 "Can you stop looking at my friend like you want to eat her crotch with your face?" the firebrand on the other side of the Albany-Troy bus demanded of a panhandler sitting in the seat just ahead of me. (this was about five minutes after a stringy-haired blonde had rebuked the same friend, a drugged-out looking girl, for falling asleep on the bus)
"STFU 'fore I wile out and beat y'all up!"
"Shut up, crackhead!"
"Your mother's a crackhead." (by now, he'd gotten up and drifted up front)
"My mother's rich!" (the firebrand's male companion, adorned in the kind of red coat found in Canada and other year-round sub-freezing climes, sat with a bored look on his face, as if this kind of thing happened every day)
"Yeah, that's why you ridin' the bus." (the part where the panhandler pulled her princess card)
"I don't have nothin' to do with her!" (instead of replying to her, the panhandler said something to a random standee, just behind the white line)
A few minutes later, the panhandler abandoned his pursuit of return bus fare and disembarked in the picturesque village of Menands.
"What'chu gonna do," she yelled at the random standee, "blow up the bus? Is that what your backpack's for?!" (wisely, the standee chose not to respond)
The rest of the ride over the bridge to Troy was uneventful until the firebrand's drugged-out, and previously quiet, friend held up the bus for five minutes as she peppered the driver with questions about where to catch the bus to HVCC, when it came, et al. Thank God I no longer go to Hudson Valley Community College. I can only hope to come across such quality eavesdropping on the Burlington city buses. Yep, I decided to make the move. Rebecca was ecstatic when I mentioned it last week - in a way, having yours truly move to the area is a bit like winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse. Except that instead of Ed McMahon, you get... me. And how many amusing blog entries and Facebook updates does Ed McMahon do? What's that? I thought so. And does Ed McMahon do dishes? Probably not.
It will likely be pricey in the long run, as a fellow blogger pointed out, but I think it'll be more than worthwhile. I'm usually very bitter, angry and discouraged here in New York (the whole "unemployed loner" thing does not a happy life make), so a fresh start, a clean slate, and lots more quality time with friends, will go a long way. Besides, I just learned in the news today that New York City's on track to lose 181,000 jobs this year, so my timing couldn't be better. One hundred and eighty-one thousand. So on the bright side, I was in the Capital District again this weekend to escape the city for a couple of days and to see some friends again. I crashed with Karen and Bernard this time, walked on some of the worst-maintained sidewalks I've ever seen (upstate New York doesn't really believe in shoveling sidewalks), managed to get lost in Crossgates Mall, and got to hang out with John, my former college roommate. Good guy, good times as always. Before I do leave the city, I must be about updating - and doing the things on - my bucket list. 

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Current Location: Astor Place
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: Relient K

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 Me: I'd like to be a temp. Manager: Got your resume? *I hand over the resume, and she glances over it* Manager: This was your last job? Me: Yep. Manager: Why'd you leave? Me: It was a temp position, and it ended. Manager: Okay. How much did you make? Me: Twelve an hour. Manager: How much you looking for? Me: Twelve to fourteen an hour. Manager: Computer skills? Me: Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint; I type 55wpm... Manager: Can we call you the same day? Me: Sure. Manager: Okay, I'll register you today; something comes in, we'll give you a call. And that was it. No W-4 to fill out, no application to do, no business card and timesheets as a door prize. After an interview shorter than a Saturday Night Live skit, and before my back ever made contact with the chair I was sitting in, I was going back down the stairs, and out into the cold, soggy day. The interview was at an agency called 21st Century Staffing, which holds open interviews (come one, come all, come on in) Monday-Friday from morning 'til afternoon. According to the Craigslist job ads, they're relatively busy, so I figured it was worth a try. And so, we'll see. Best case scenario, a nameless woman from 21st Century will call, and I'll have to remind her that we never filled out my payroll paperwork; worst case scenario is that life will go on. And I'll continue plotting and planning to leave New York. On that note, I don't do New Year's resolutions (who needs that kind of guilt at the end of January?), but I do want and intend to leave New York this year. Starbucks is cutting back its hours (very bad for a guy who writes his best work after midnight), the Transit Authority is cutting back subway and bus service (while raising the fares), and employers have been cutting back their staff since before "crisis" became the Word of the Year. The Capital District (<a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?q=washington,+dc&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=image">not this one</a>; <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?q=albany,+ny&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=image">this one</a>) and I have some history together. I blogged about it years ago. YEARS. Things are better; the bus service has improved, I have friends there, friends who can pass resumes to their employers' HR departments and the like. Vermont is another option. It's much smaller (the entire state has less than half as many people as the island of Manhattan), but Burlington is walkable, has decent transportation, again, I have friends there, and it's nice. Crunchy, let's-recycle-TP-to-save-the-earth kind of nice. The economy is so-so, but if God provides work there, it would be a much nicer change of pace. Not to mention that I've always wanted to work and live in an honest-to-goodness college town, and that's exactly what Burlington is - a college town. The biggest foreseeable problems are that, as a non-driver, I'd have a bit of difficulty getting dates; and if I end up in a gathering of guys talking about hemi engines and transmission flushes, I won't have much to contribute to that conversation. I've said much more about my job hunt already than I like to (let's just say that it needs prayer), so that's that - though I did come across an interesting position as a skip tracer/investigator for a debt collection agency. I'm not planning to apply for it - the less those moneygrubbing vultures know about me, the better - but I thought I'd put that out there. I'm finally writing again for the first time in over a month. Writer's block sucks, and it's not the easiest thing to slog through... but my slogging may be over for the time being. Bible study doesn't start up again for another week and a half, but hopefully it'll be better than it had been last year. It's not easy contributing to conversations as the only non-Columbia U-affiliated person. Not to mention one of very few guys who aren't enrolled in law school.

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Current Location: White Plains, NY
Current Mood: cold cold
Current Music: Still watching The Onion

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26-year-old actor Matt Smith was anointed as the eleventh Doctor Who this week. If you were in charge of casting, who would you cast as your ideal Doctor and why?
Beats me. Doctor Pepper, maybe Doctor Thunder?

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Current Location: White Plains, NY
Current Music: Watchin' The Onion, sucka

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I arrived in Burlington at 12:23 Monday morning, chugging into the Essex Junction station an amazing three hours and forty minutes late. Rebecca, the awesome best friend, non-biological sister, and real trooper she is, waited at the station about 2 1/2 hours (I called a little before 8:45, when we were in Claremont, NH, and again at 9:45 - an hour after we should've rolled into Essex - when we were at White River Junction). One of the people she met at the station was a local cabbie who told of having helped a rival cabbie get out of the snow - for twenty-five bucks. His philosophy, the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, is a little different from the Golden Rule - and dorkier. Being a nosy guy, I looked up the <a href="http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Rules_of_Acquisition">Rules of Acquisition</a> while blogging away. Interesting stuff - if aliens, sci-fi and mammon are your thing. Looks like Wall Street probably learned a thing or two from these guys, and we all know how that turned out. Christmas was good, albeit low-key - pretty small gathering with Rebecca, another friend Rebecca invited, hubby Jason and the little ones, Lana and Gabriel. In the meantime, there hasn't been much to blog about - and that - compared to my usual existence of job hunting and the like - is a good thing. I did get to see an old friend of mine with a bit of history, one afternoon last week. Long ago and not that far away, in the spring of 2004 over in Plattsburgh, I struck up a friendship with a gal in Denver, who happened to be moving here to Burlington in May. Between February and May, there were many enjoyable long nights chatting on AIM from the comfort of my dorm room. Conversations were conversed, friendship happened, and bada bing, bada boom, it's late May, college is over, and we're getting together for lunch at the Friendly's on the other end of town while she passed through town en route to Burlington. Yes oh yes, we hit it off. Very, very well. We attended Rebecca and Jason's wedding together, spent lots of weekends over here in Burlington (Plattsburgh's dead as a doornail when college is out, and that goes double on the weekends), and then went our separate ways in late July. We're Facebook friends, though she doesn't know that I blog, and we've emailed back and forth a few times. So it was good to see my old friend and catch up a bit over coffee, albeit with her two babysitting charges in tow. We talked about present plans and doings - her college classes, my writing - though one of the kids had a real knack for derailing the conversation. I'm here in Burlington through Wednesday, so hopefully we can get together again - without the kids. 

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Current Location: Burlington, VT
Current Mood: content content
Current Music: Eli

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One of my first crushes was a girl from Yonkers. We met online when I was in the 11th grade and she was in the 10th grade. Blonde, softspoken, kind of petite, good sense of humor - that was Liz. We hung out here and there, in Yonkers' open-air flea market, and at the real mall in White Plains, up until my last semester of high school. Liz and I never progressed beyond friends, we never were an item, and we lost touch after I went to college. They say you can find anyone or anything on Google, but I can prove them wrong with two words - Liz Teifer. 

I'd hauled my antisocial ass down to a writer's group at my church last night, the prompt was "your first crush," and Miss Royal, the girl I handed it to (we paired off and compared writing pieces), liked the picture that I painted. Hers was a shorter poem about a fellow she'd met in grade school, and painted a nice picture as well. Miss Royal is a shoe designer who did a bit of writing in college, and wants to start writing more often again. To help with this endeavor, one of her friends gave her an ancient, rambling Royal typewriter as a gift - along with accountability. Dude, how awesome is that?!?! Built six months after the Gutenberg press, doesn't plug in, probably has the ghosts of a hundred years of writers powering it - now that's old school. And Miss Royal - easy smile, perky, fellow aspiring writer... I am so going back to writer's group next month. And will be asking about her writing. 

In other news, I went and got myself locked in a damn stairwell a couple hours beforehand. I'd left the WorkforceNot center at one of the city's finer community colleges, and opted to take the stairs rather than wait for one of the crowded, slow elevators. Epic fail. Got downstairs to the first floor, turned on the knob to pull the door open, and... pow, bang, boom! Nothin'. The WorkforceNot people called security. No-show. After ten minutes of waiting for a rent-a-cop to show up, I called the real cops, Rescue 911-style. Let's just say that if there hadn't been oxygen in that stairwell, this Straphanger might've ended up on that subway in the sky. Tried the door on the second floor. Bingo. When I got down to the first floor again (the elevators were far less crowded now), I saw that the security desk was maybe 100 feet from my locked door of doom. Whatever.

Next week's entry will be written in scenic Burlington, Vermont. There will be hippies, granola, ten hours on Amtrak, and my earnest prayers for a female seatmate with a flair for conversation. 

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Current Location: Scarsdale, NY
Current Mood: content content
Current Music: Salt n' Pepa

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 The thief alarm starts shrieking as I walked out of Barnes and Noble, and I slowed down, lowered my phone and turned around to see an angry-looking bookseller standing near the exit. "Should I come back?" I asked. "Yes you should," she replied. Guilty before being proven innocent. "The alarm went off, and I need to see what's in your bag." The Asshole came out, and I obliged, plunking my laptop in her hands. "I've got a laptop" - I plunked it in her hands, and she rested it on a display of new paperbacks, "a library book," - I plunked it onto the laptop, getting angrier with each item that came out of my bag, "another library book," - I plunked another one onto the laptop (okay, so I'm an avid reader.), "and a newspaper" - and out came this week's Onion. (headline: Supreme Court Overturns Bush vs. Gore) She passed the first library book quietly past the perp detector, and then the second, which made it start shrieking again. "The bar code in one of your books must've gotten mixed up," she explained. "Damn skippy," I replied, a regular ray of sunshine. "There's no reason to speak to me that way," she protested. "Maybe next time." And with that, I resumed my phone call and turned my back on the bookstore and the small number of late lingerers who'd been hoping to see a thief get caught. The shoplifter scanner did not shriek a third time. 
I ever mention that I hate being accused of things I haven't done? I've been held before, I was even once permanently banned from a store just on the suspicion that I was even thinking about shoplifting. I've heard these stupidass thief detectors shriek out so many false alarms, so many times, that I no longer even stop. But something told me tonight, some flicker of intuition, to stop. Mind you, I've never stolen as much as a stick of bubblegum, but one of the quickest ways to stir up some unChristlike anger is to accuse me of something I hadn't done. 
On the bright side, I was talking to my friend Karen - who heard the whole episode over my phone from her new home in Scotia. We caught up for awhile (close to an hour), and she asked if I was coming back to the Capital District (I visited some old college friends up there last weekend, and she was the second to ask). 
What almost surprises - and kind of scares me - is that, honest to God, I'm thinking about it.
I had a rough - and very cold - nine months there straight out of college, and left on Memorial Day 2005, vowing never to return.  But over the past week, I've been thinking about it through new eyes (actually, it's been an occasionally recurring idea here and there this year). This time around, I have friends in the area (most of my college friends are from the Saratoga Springs area, and were still in school in '04-'05), some of whom could hopefully get my foot in the door somewhere, and if the last year and a half has taught me nothing else, it's taught me a thing or two about job hunting. Before stepping off the bus from New York City. Lord knows it wouldn't quite be my pace (far, far too suburban - and being deprived of the soul-nurturing urban terrain of the big city would almost feel like being the smartest kid in special ed), but I'd eventually learn how to deal. Besides, it would be a stepping stone - I won't be aiming for a Prius and a townhouse in Clifton Park, but I would (will?) be aiming to move on to Boston after a couple of years, with positive landlord and supervisor references. In the meantime, a somewhat less competitive job market and some of that fresh upstate air couldn't hurt. 

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Current Location: New York, NY
Current Mood: cold cold
Current Music: Alanis Morissette

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